The Death of Romance

A (modest) commercial success, but ultimately a creative failure, the 2007 XF opened Jaguar up to a non-traditional audience, but in the final analysis, probably cast too many values on the fire.

Image: Car and Driver

By 2005, Ford’s ambitious growth strategy for Jaguar lay in tatters following a series of misguided creative decisions based on a discredited retro aesthetic. As Ford’s Premier Automotive Group began its slow dissolve, the storied luxury car maker’s consistent inability to Continue reading “The Death of Romance”

What a Year It Has Been!! Part 2

As promised here is a very tedious run-down of the year’s news.

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio QF: Alfa Romeo UK

Launches, launches, launches. Alfa Stelvio. Range Rover coupe. Porsche 911 GT3. Renaultsport Megane RS. Porsche 911 GT2RS. Volvo XC40. Kia Stinger. Bugatti Chiron. Rolls-Royce Phantom. Aston Martin V8. Ford GT. Koenigsegg Regera. Audi A8. Bentley Continental GT. BMW X3. Lamborghini Urus. That’s the list according to one of the car magazines. DTW wrote about the Bentley and the Lamborghini and we didn’t really like them. We also didn’t much like the Stelvio, describing it as a tall Giulia, if memory serves.

If falls to me to

Continue reading “What a Year It Has Been!! Part 2”

Terrible Angel

The 1957 Lotus Type 14 was uncommonly beautiful, brilliantly courageous but ultimately doomed.

Image: MK14 Components

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic Orders? And even if one were to suddenly take me to its heart, I would vanish into its stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.”  René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke – First Elegy.

Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman was no angel, but a visionary, risk-taker, rascal, genius? He’s been called many of these things and indeed some of them may Continue reading “Terrible Angel”

Westminster Sketches 2: Len Lord’s Revolt Into Style

1955 was a decisive year for the British Motor Corporation, as it set its product direction for the next decade. A certain gentleman of Graeco-German parentage was said to have played an important part in the process.

The person I refer to is not, as some might think, the confirmed bachelor from Smyrna, but the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

It is unlikely that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was aware of Alec Issigonis’ imminent return to BMC when he visited Longbridge on 8 December 1955, but the supposed interaction of Lord and the duke, and the repercussions thereof have become part of the daemonology of BMC.

The widely reported version is that the royal visitor was taken Continue reading “Westminster Sketches 2: Len Lord’s Revolt Into Style”

Paths Of Glory

The most visual social media network, Instagram, provides car designers with the perfect platform to present their work. Or themselves. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 18.05.02
Nothing Can Keep Gordenstagram Down

In a sense, Harley Earl was too early (no pun intended). If he’d waited three quarters of a century before pursuing his career as chief designer and PR innovator, he wouldn’t have needed lavish GM roadshows and the likes to showcase the fruit of his and his underlings’ labour. He could just Continue reading “Paths Of Glory”

What A Year It Has Been (Part 1)

So, there fades and fizzles 2017, nearly gone. Au revoir and good riddance. What can I remember without cheating by using Google Memories*?

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

Or without cheating and looking at a back issue of a car magazine? Unaided I can hesitantly say about the only stand-outs are something to do with a Toyota and an Alfa Romeo. AR launched the Stelvio this year** and many suppose it to be quite good. I haven’t seen one yet so I can’t say. I haven’t seen many Giulias either for that matter and it was launched, oh, what, two years ago.

Jaguar released images of the E-Pace and, again, one of those has not appeared anywhere near my district. Or maybe they aren’t on sale yet. Is that news? Or is it a real car? I am not sure***.

I can see as I struggle to Continue reading “What A Year It Has Been (Part 1)”

A Star Appeared One Silent Night

DTW’s editor, Simon A Kearne, would like to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.

Simon would write this if he were available. He has taken a well-deserved break at his usual getaway in the Malverns and has delegated the work. On his behalf then, the team hopes also  that our numerous continental readers have had a lovely 24th of December.  Continue reading “A Star Appeared One Silent Night”

Micropost: Was It The Chrysanthemum?

Here we have another gloomy night photo. It’s a Hyundai i20**

2017 Hyundai i20

Despite being the Thompson and Thompson of the car world, the Kia/Hyundai pair do pretty well, don’t they? In this photo you can observe the essence of the graphic concept. The car remains quite recognisable even if only the body-in-white is visible. Do designers ever work in partial darkness?  Under those conditions one could accentuate the features so they were extra clear. Note, it’s a three-door. Not a five. Continue reading “Micropost: Was It The Chrysanthemum?”

Christmas Tipples

It’s the Christmas break for many of our readers. Naturally you will be spending quality time with Driven To Write now that you have some free moments. What can we recommend you enjoy responsibly?

Belsazar Rose, Carpano Dry and friends

I have gained access to editor Simon A. Kearne’s “filing cabinet” and have been sampling some of the adult beverages therein.

Lillet is known for its blanc version (a favourite of James Bond). The less well-known Lillet rouge can be understood as a thinking-person’s Dubonnet. If you’ve tried to   Continue reading “Christmas Tipples”

Little Fluffy Cloud

Heralding a stylistic revolution to follow, the 1996 Alfa Romeo Nuvola would underline in the most eloquent fashion the power of the past.

Image: autodesignmagazine

Alfa Romeo’s mid ’90s output was a mixture of the sublime and, if not entirely ridiculous, the at least unconvincing. On one hand we had the ageing, but still elegant 164, the sharp-looking 145, and the strikingly handsome 916-series GTV / Spider, while on the other, there was the 146 and 155 – hardly Alfa designs for the ages.

But change was in the offing, with both the 936-series 166 and 932-series 156 nearing completion; both designs Continue reading “Little Fluffy Cloud”

Beauty Stab

Commonly regarded as the most beautiful Alfa Romeo saloon shape of recent times, the Alfa 156’s svelte lines remain a credit to its designer. But questions remain as to its authorship.

alfa 156
Image: cars data

Over the past sixty-odd years, Alfa Romeo berlinas and the notion of ravishing beauty were (for the most part) mutually exclusive. Now of course this doesn’t necessarily mean Arese wasn’t home to some very fine and finely wrought motorcars, but it’s difficult to avoid the view that the habitual centro stile fare hasn’t exactly been an art curator’s dream.

The 1992 Alfa 155 certainly wasn’t. Based on the Tipo-derived Type Three corporate platform, its tall, narrow-looking silhouette combined with skin surfacing endowed with an over-abundance of character lines, and clumsily placed shutlines was a clear evolution of its 75 predecessor, but hardly a car to Continue reading “Beauty Stab”

Micropost: Emerald Was The Light In Her Heart

Goodness: 1987. David Bowie released Never Let Me Down that year and Toyota this E90 Corolla…

1987 Toyota Corolla 3-door, today.

Both album and car deserve re-appraisal. Stylistically the Corolla has faired better than Bowie’s album, which is faint praise. While you need to listen past the overproduction to hear some good songs on NLMD**, you only need to look with your naked eyes to see that Toyota’s stylists produced a very consistent design with this iteration. Should you wish to Continue reading “Micropost: Emerald Was The Light In Her Heart”

Like Brabo, Take the Hand of Druon Antigoon

Up until these monsters remained a minority interest, I didn’t really mind them. And they came in vibrant colours too.

1995 Toyota Landcruiser 3-door

The two-tone paint humanises what you could call, after all, a gas-guzzling leviathan. It’s the kind of thing which ought not to be let out of fields or to leave private green lanes. But it’s hard to dislike this car, isn’t it? I always felt that Toyota Landcruisers were for people serious about off-roading – it’s these UN use and not LR’s dodgy toys.

Here this one stands, shiny and clean and entirely unmarked, on my street. I am happy to

Continue reading “Like Brabo, Take the Hand of Druon Antigoon”

Rearview: 1987 Honda Integra EX16

Forgive me for insisting on writing about cars I have either driven or owned – I think it’s some kind of automotive catharsis. You may have noticed a taste for what could be described as the slightly offbeat, leftfield, or maybe just unloved. So, humour me as I bore you with the Honda Integra.

Integra Image
Sorry, it’s the best image I could find …. Source: Performance Car

Being precise for a moment, Wiki informs that the version to which I am referring is the AV Series which was built between 1985 and 1989. It was known in other territories as the Quint Integra and also, in Australia, was sold as a Rover 416 (all these years I have thought myself to be a bit of a BL/ ARG/ Rover Group/ MGR officianado and I never knew that until now).

As mentioned by others in previous pieces, Continue reading “Rearview: 1987 Honda Integra EX16”

Anniversary Waltz 2017 : Wirtschaftswunder-Wagen

Three German cars, each of which share a birthdate and a complex web of gestational links, share one further distinction. Each helped put post-war Germany back on four wheels.

1957 BMW 600. Image: MODern deSign

Sixty years ago, Europe was still reeling from the effects of World War Two. Germany was inching its way back to political credibility and prosperity thanks to the economic miracle and a little help from an American named Marshall. Mobility was very much the name of the game, with most domestic manufacturers focusing on simple, affordable cars for everyman.

BMW’s Eisenach works found itself on the wrong side of history by the end of hostilities, situated in what had become the Russian sector of a partitioned Germany. Producing exclusive and unprofitable V8 engined luxury cars wasn’t going to Continue reading “Anniversary Waltz 2017 : Wirtschaftswunder-Wagen”

Sensuelle Pureté

An oddball concept car by an almost forgotten French coachbuilder retrospectively turns out to be an almost eerily prescient source of inspiration. 

1996-heuliez-intruder-concept
Was this on Gorden Wagener’s bedroom wall? photo (c) motor1.com

Daimler AG Chief Creative Officer and creator of hot & cool Sensual Purity®, Gorden Wagener, once stated that he doesn’t worship any other car designer, preferring to Continue reading “Sensuelle Pureté”

A Concept for Sunday – Boating for Beginners.

Fiat tested the waters for their subsequent two-seater offering in 1993 with the Maggiore Scia – a concept car which genuinely deserved the term, ‘little boat’.

Fiat-Maggiore Scia concept. Image: fiatbarchetta

With the 1989 demise of the long-running X1/9 model, Fiat, for the first time in decades, lacked a two-seater roadster in its lineup; a state of affairs which wouldn’t have elicited much concern apart from the fact that such vehicles were making something of a popular comeback by then.

This was largely a result of Continue reading “A Concept for Sunday – Boating for Beginners.”

Leaping Sideways Into the Morning

I know very little about the history of European automotive engines. Were I to spend five months finding out about the topic, this is how I would organise the information…

Image: gamma.consortium

First, I would outline the principles of petrol engine design: thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and on to cylinder count, cylinder arrangement, displacement, cam design and further on. But I can’t cover it all so I would define a period to cover, say 1955 to 1995 (which is the most interesting for me). Next I would try to Continue reading “Leaping Sideways Into the Morning”

Anniversary Waltz 2017 : A History of Lessons

A decade ago, Alfa Romeo wowed the faithful with the 8C Competizione, a car which ultimately amounted to less than the sum of its parts. But weren’t we here before?

8C Competizione. Image: autocar

The philosopher, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás once essayed the line, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Following this logic, amnesia clearly runs as deeply within Alfa Romeo as blind optimism. The perennially crisis-ridden Italian car brand seems locked into a habitual cycle of hope and despair, with each new dawn promising that this time all will Continue reading “Anniversary Waltz 2017 : A History of Lessons”

A Bit of an i-Sore

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is currently getting a bit of coverage as it is launched to the UK press. I’m delighted that Hyundai is bringing it to these shores, but something has caught my eye.

Nice looking car which loses marks for the misalignment of the lower edges of the bonnet and the A-pillar. Image credit: Hyundai

Overall, I rather like the look of this car. It provides a touch more elegance and panache than the standard 5-door hatch. Arguably, it can be said to rival the Audi A3 and, perhaps more credibly, the Mazda3 Fastback (albeit both of those are 4-door saloons, this is a 5-door), and Skoda Octavia. It also extends choice to the market, and with my basic grounding in economics, I’ve been conditioned to Continue reading “A Bit of an i-Sore”

LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback

A few months after having left my now ex-go-to-work wheels in a Skoda dealer’s customer parking bay, I thought I should put a full-stop on the sporadic LTT that I sometimes provided on these pages.  

Mazda3 Fastback
Ex-machina – I liked the looks, even if the colour was less interesting than I had hoped.

Time and the opportunity to compare it with the Octavia which replaced it provide context and perspective on my views. I spent just over two years and 33,000 miles with my Titanium Flash Mica hued Mazda saloon. To recap, I bought the car with the original intent of swapping my C6 in for it, but instead, through the benevolence of my family, I was able to keep the slightly exotic and eccentric Citroen ‘for pleasure’ and have the Mazda to take the burden of my extended daily commute.

I bought the car pre-registered and was fortunate to find one in the spec and colour I wanted. My ultimate preference would have been to Continue reading “LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback”

Celestial Being

Overshadowed by its more lionised ‘gullwing’ predecessor, the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster was in many ways the superior car. DTW recalls a time when Daimler-Benz was a superior motor company.

Image: Classics Honest John

Mercedes-Benz: A name that at one time symbolised a continuum stretching back to the dawn of motoring and an ethos that embodied the sternest, most rigourous engineering ideals with a relentless Swabian logic. By 1957, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was the most modern, most eloquent exponent of these principles and perhaps the most technically accomplished car in production – this side of a Citroën’s homegrown goddess anyway. Continue reading “Celestial Being”

In China They Eat Dogs

Chris Bangle has returned to car design, but isn’t back.

chris-bangle-reds-13
Yes. This is an Automobile. photo (c) CNET

The most influential car designer of the past two decades has returned to the automotive realm. His message is more radical than ever – but his audience is an altogether different one than in the past. We needn’t listen to what he has to say, for we are not his audience anymore. Continue reading “In China They Eat Dogs”

“Ne, hvala gospodaru!” he said.

During a hunt for some other information this image crossed my path. It is an attempt to visualise a Citroen XM coupe. 

Hypothetical Citroen XM coupe:  source

It interested me to see these because I had discussed the idea of Citroen XM coupe with our correspondent in Switerland, Simon, some time ago. As a result of that discussion I decided to rustle up some visuals but never did more than send them to Simon.  Those images are shown below the break.   Continue reading ““Ne, hvala gospodaru!” he said.”

Casting the Die

Lamborghini launched the Urus earlier this week, opening a ghastly new front in the SUV wars. But is its significance greater than simply its unabashed aggression? We have gathered some thoughts on the matter.

Weapons grade. Image: CNET

South of Revenna, and situated between the cities of Forli and Rimini, flows the Rubicone. From its source in the Apennine mountains, the river travels for about 80 km eastwards before meeting the Adriatic. In Roman times, it marked the border between Cisalpine Gaul and what we might call the greater Roman state. In 49 BC, General Gaius Julius Ceasar crossed this body of water with his army in direct contravention of the Republic’s laws, precipitating what can best be described as a military coup. As he did so, Ceasar not only unintentionally created a metaphor for the ages but is believed to have Continue reading “Casting the Die”

‘Car’, Car of the Year 1970

I recently purchased a reprint of Car’s Car of the Year 1970 feature (printed for publicity purposes for the UK distributor of a certain car company from the March 1971 issue by George Pulman and Sons Ltd Bletchley Bucks).  Almost (but not quite) as old as I am (what’s three years amongst friends?), it served to remind me what we are missing these days from motoring journalists.

WP_20171128_17_17_08_Pro
OK, so the cover rather gives the identity of the car and its manufacturer away, but I’m not here to write about either, honest!

First, I refuse to mention the main subject of the feature, the car which won this prestigious award in 1970, on the basis that we get complaints that the manufacturer of said winning car receives far too much coverage on this site. Second, it’s the quality of the journalism which has bewitched me, much as it was the featured car which captured my attention to said publication in the first place. Third, I’ve given up on Citroën these days in any case (damn!).

The first thing to note is Continue reading “‘Car’, Car of the Year 1970”

Westminster Sketches 1: The Pre-Farina Cars

 Austin’s Ford Zephyr and Vauxhall Velox rival of the mid-1950s is scarcely remembered now, but it turns out to be a something of a forgotten hero.

Source: The Austin Motor Company Ltd.

The Austin Westminster story began with the launch of the A90 series in October 1954, nearly four years before the start of the momentous eleven month period in which Farina’s new styling ‘language’ for BMC was unveiled, layer by layer.

Austin’s chief stylist, Buenos Aires-born Ricardo Burzi, was responsible for shaping the thoroughly up-to-date, unitary bodied saloons and estates. His hands were somewhat tied by Continue reading “Westminster Sketches 1: The Pre-Farina Cars”

How the Cnidarian Drifts in the Sapphire Waters

The Guardian reported that electric cars are cheaper to run than other powertrains. This might have implications other than only cheaper motoring in the near future. 

Not a classic. Image : pistonheads.com

“The researchers analysed the total csot of ownership of cars over four years, inlcuding the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and mantinance. They were suprised to find that pure elcectric cars came out cheepest in all the mrakets they examined: UK, Japan, Texas and California,” the Guardian wrote**. Last night I stood in the underground garage where my car is parked and it occurred to me that almost none of the vehicles parked there would Continue reading “How the Cnidarian Drifts in the Sapphire Waters”

Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)

With the third generation CLS, Mercedes-Benz dials down the Purity while ramping up the Sensuality. Oh Gorden!

Blessed be his name. Prof. Dr. h.c. Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG. Image: mercedes-benz

Having trudged through Mercedes-Benz’s predictably hyperbole-laden press release for the new CLS, (so you don’t have to) the temptation to point both barrels feels overwhelming, but the author nevertheless promises to do his best. Instead, I’d like to reflect upon whether nu-CLS embodies a return to form for a model which perhaps did more to Continue reading “Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)”

Thou Shalt Not Poke Fun

Compiling a list of The 100 Prettiest Cars Of All Time sounds like a fairly straightforward task. Until you ask Chris Bangle to cast a vote… 

chris_bangle-1
Chris Bangle, photo (c) car blogger.it

AutoBild Klassik, one of the leading German publications in the field, is currently celebrating its 100th issue with a list naming the 100 most beautiful cars of all time. The jury tasked with naming the entries includes quite a few illustrious names, such as that of Peter Schreyer, Leonardo Fioravanti, Paolo Tumminelli, Simon Kidston, Gorden Wagener, Henrik Fisker and Laurens van den Acker, among others. One name that isn’t included though is that of the most significant car designer of the past twenty years, Christopher Edward Bangle. Continue reading “Thou Shalt Not Poke Fun”

1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 Road Test

“Another new Alfa Romeo!” – Renowned motoring correspondent, Archie Vicar, takes a cursory look at the 1980 Giulietta 1.8 in what appears to be a verbatim transcript of period review.

1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta: source

Original photos by Douglas Land-Winbermere (sic). Due to damage in storage, stock photos replace the actual ones (which were damaged in storage). The article first appeared in the Canterbury Weekly Post June 2, 1980.

Introduction

The performance race continues unabated in these increasingly competitive times. Alfa Romeo have decided to add a 1.8 litre engine to their range of roomy family saloons. As if good looks and capable road-holding were insufficient, the famous Milanese firm has taken the decision to Continue reading “1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 Road Test”

A Brochure for Saturday – Austin A110 Westminster de Luxe

For a car which sits at the top of its marque’s range, the Westminster brochure is neither inspiring nor imposing. 

It’s a single-spread leaflet, in half-tone.  At least it’s densely packed with useful facts, but the narrative does little to allure the prospective buyer. The date is indeterminate. The specification is that of the 1964-onwards Mk.II, but there is no mention of this in the title or contents. Continue reading “A Brochure for Saturday – Austin A110 Westminster de Luxe”

A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations

Today DTW has a short look at some of the cars being presented at the LA Auto Show. Maybe ‘short look’ oversells it a bit. Read on to find out.

2018 Lincoln Nautilus nee MKX: caranddriver.com

After a scroll down Car & Driver’s list of highlights I didn’t find so much to dwell on. This makes me reflect on what there could have been instead. To be honest I can’t think of anything except that I remember a time when reports of American car shows revealed interesting models that were quite unlike anything we had over in Europe.

The death of Oldsmobile, Saturn and Pontiac along with the diminution of Buick has reduced GM’s opportunities to reveal cars we’d never Continue reading “A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations”