Connections: solutions

Thank you for your patience. Here now is the set of links connecting the 1964 Morris Monaco to the 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato.

1964 Morris Monaco: source

BMC sold the Morris Six in Denmark as the Morris Monaco sometime between 1964 and 1976. You might be intrigued to know that a rear centre arm-rest only became available a month after sales began. More interesting than that is that Pininfarina were involved in mitigating Alex Issigonis’ design intentions. I suppose they tidied things here and there though there is still a very great deal wrong with the shape. For the next connection we must Continue reading “Connections: solutions”

Connections

Instread of launching into the obligatory 1100 words, I will merely ask readers to try to find the connection between the 1964 Morris Monaco (sold in Denmark) and the 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato.

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A word of warning. The trail of connections moves through time and space and does not always proceed in chronological order. Also, this is more like a game of dominoes. It’s not a version of “degrees of Kevin Bacon” where one person links everything somewhat tenuously.

If you are curious just

Continue reading “Connections”

Sorry Ms. Jackson

As Citroën reveals the European version of the C5 Aircross CUV, we examine its likely significance within CEO, Linda Jackson’s ‘people-focused’ double chevron reinvention.

Image credit: (c) Citroen UK

Last week, Citroën announced the European debut of its new marque flagship, the C5 Aircross CUV, introduced to the Chinese market last autumn to help arrest the double chevron’s faltering sales performance; PSA citing sales of 40,000 units to the year end. A nice round sum.

The C5 Aircross is significant in three ways to European eyes. Firstly, because it allows us to Continue reading “Sorry Ms. Jackson”

Deep Below The Surface Of The Water In A Glass

A little while back I had a trawl through the press releases from a variety of  manufacturers. I mentioned MG in passing and now I return to look at what they are selling right at this moment.

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2018 MG ZS: source

Having come back from the dead, MG has been transformed into a maker of inexpensive hatchbacks with no identifiable MGness about them at all.

Older readers will probably have an image of MG as a maker of inexpensive sporty cars (the MG roadster is the archetype). Less old readers may recall the dark days of MGified vehicles which amounted to trim variants of existing Rover cars (e.g. the MG ZS).

Now owned by SAIC, MG is situated in a high-cost country which is cutting itself off from Europe ** and it (the car company) has a rather low-rent image. This little presentation reveals the key facts that a) the MG3 costs about 8K, b) the MG ZS starts at twelve and a half, c) the MG GS costs fifteen thousand and d) the range is mixed up visually and pricewise.

Never mind that let’s jolly well and for goodness’ sake Continue reading “Deep Below The Surface Of The Water In A Glass”

Tea With the Ayatollah

PSA’s close links with Iran may have placed Carlos Tavares in an invidious position regarding his North American plans. We investigate.

Image credit: motorpage

One has to have some sympathy for PSA’s Carlos Tavares. Having taken the French carmaker from sick man to industry darling, of late, headwinds have been intensifying. A significant strand of Tavares’ Push to Pass strategy has been an expansion into Eastern developing markets, such as India and the CIS region – one which has been paying dividends, PSA posting a strong global sales performance in 2017, with over 3.7m vehicles made, a jump of 15.4% over the previous year.

But additionally, he’s promised a return of some form to the United States, from which PSA have been absent for almost three decades. It has remained unclear exactly how Continue reading “Tea With the Ayatollah”

Car Design And Philosophy

Apart from matters of horsepower, handling and ashtrays car design is a lens through which one can view a number of philosophical questions.

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Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham: source

So today I will have a go sketching out what these might be. This list is not exhaustive, and is more a set of sign-posts pointing at some on-going problems which may not be resolvable: form versus function, aesthetics, semiotics, hermeneutics, phenomenology, approaches to engineering design. I wouldn’t Continue reading “Car Design And Philosophy”

Eurochild

Vittorio Ghidella presided over one of Fiat Auto’s rare periods of growth and prosperity. The 1988 Tipo exemplified his pragmatic approach, but all gains would become subject to the Fiat Charter.

Don’t worry, it’s galvanised! 1988 Tipo perilously close to water. Image credit: stubs.centreblog

Boom and bust appears to have been as essential a part of the Fiat charter as ill-judged facelifts. Periods of prosperity punctuated by blind panic when the balance sheet nosedived. In 1979, Gianni Agnelli appointed former engineer, Vittorio Ghidella to head the Fiat Auto division. The Turin carmaker was in desperate straits, emerging from the 1970s battered from the legacies of the ’73 fuel crisis and from labour disputes which threatened the future of the business.

Within a decade, the picture would be vastly different. Fiat Auto was profitable, nudging VW to become Europe’s largest carmaker by volume, bouyed by the huge success of the B-segment Uno, the sales resurgence of Lancia and the 1988 introduction of the Tipo, arguably the most significant model programme in Fiat’s history and perhaps its most far-seeing. Continue reading “Eurochild”

Evolution – Much Ado About Nothing

Exactly three years ago, DTW introduced its monthly theme called ‘Evolution’. So why not come back to it and extend it with a nice example?

Two generations of Subaru XV

This sight of two Subaru XVs in our house’s parking garage is very striking indeed, as it gave me the rare opportunity of seeing two generations of a car next to each other. The colour was perfect too, both cars in white which makes it easy to read the design. This coincidence made me Continue reading “Evolution – Much Ado About Nothing”

I won’t be coming to your wedding, Brian.

Sometimes you have to go in search of news. It won’t come looking for you. Read on to learn which of their cars Ford UK considers “large”.

1998 Infiniti Q45: source

Let’s get going! Honda UK announced that the four-door Civic is going to be sold in the UK and that it is made in Turkey. Eager customers must wait until August to get their hands on their own example. A single petrol version with  1.0 litre i-VTEC will vie with the 1.6 litre diesel for sales. The gear ratio race is now up to nine cogs at Honda and you can have such a set-up in either manual or CVT automatic form.

Because the saloon is wider, longer and lower it can take up the demand unsatisfied by the gaping Accord-shaped hole in Honda’s line-up. The payoff is a lot of room inside: “class leading,” claim Honda modestly.

Persist in reading this to find out which marque has the least up-to-date press release. Is it Toyota, Mitsubishi or someone else entirely? Plus, have Ford let the cat out of the bag regarding car sizes? Continue reading “I won’t be coming to your wedding, Brian.”

L’Estrema Unzione

Amid reports suggesting Fiat will shortly abandon Italian car production, Driven to Write posits a requiem.

Fiat’s Mirafiori car plant. Image credit: kollectium

So it has come to this. After almost 120 years of car production, Fiat cars, for so long synonymous with the place of their birth will no longer be produced there. Yesterday, we examined Automotive News’ report outlining FCA’s plans to shift Fiat’s entire production output to low-cost outposts outside of Italy. Instead, Fiat’s domestic plants will be refitted to produce upmarket models as FCA transitions towards high-return product.

There is a certain inevitability to this of course, given both the pattern of FCA’s fortunes and the path the wider motor industry is taking, but regardless of Continue reading “L’Estrema Unzione”

Under The Moon’s Burning Glare

Good old Automotive News reported some juicy gossip regarding Fiat Chrysler Automotive. 

2002 Fiat Stilo, decent seller with with 3 doors: Parkers.co.uk

The gist of it is that FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne thinks making smaller cars in Italy is a waste of time and money. He is concerned that smaller cars are going to be commoditised and that the real margins lie in making larger cars. Resulting from this set of assumptions, stalwarts of the Fiat range will be axed and anything small and plausibly profitable shifted to outside Europe. The Punto – once a European top-ten car – and the MiTo (never a European top ten car) will be discontinued.

With the production lines thus freed up it will be possible to Continue reading “Under The Moon’s Burning Glare”

AUTOpsy: Porsche Cayenne S (2002)

Porsche’s SUV trailblazer not such much established a new automotive sector combining seemingly opposing characteristics, but fully established the power of brand cachet. 

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The Cayenne didn’t save Porsche – the Boxster and 996 models so despised by Neunelfer anoraks did. And yet, the Cayenne is viewed mostly as a necessary evil, the high-margin, high-sales perfume that subsidises the artful haute couture.

Due to the Cayenne’s merits usually being considered relative (‘it drives great… for an SUV’; ‘it doesn’t look that bad’), the car isn’t viewed through the same prism as other automobiles that are not as inherently compromised.

On this basis alone, the first-generation Cayenne, the car that truly proved to the masses that an SUV could really Continue reading “AUTOpsy: Porsche Cayenne S (2002)”

A Photoseries for Sunday: Working Decay

This isn’t a discussion about BMW motorbikes. It’s more about wear and tear which are together a bad thing, generally.

I noticed this old BMW motorbike and the working decay had an appealing character to it. My own bicycle is heading for the same style of worn tattiness which is something I cultivate as I don’t want the thing stolen.

Continue reading “A Photoseries for Sunday: Working Decay”

Gatto di Caprie

Bertone’s Marcello Gandini had about as much luck with leaping cats as he did with prancing horses; this 1977 proposal being another in a long line of cars which could have been Citroëns. So much so, it ended up becoming one.

“The only Jaguar thing I want to see is the leaper on the front!” 1977 Bertone Ascot concept. Image credit: (c) Car Design News

Over time, the Italian carrozzieri made numerous attempts to reimagine the work of Jaguar’s stylists, but with decidedly mixed results and limited success. Pininfarina, Ghia and Bertone had reconfigured various Jaguar models during the 1950s, while Michelotti also once rebodied a D-Type along radically different lines. But despite Jaguar’s Sir William Lyons maintaining both cordial relations and a weather eye on the major Italian styling studios, it took Bertone’s 1966 S-Type based FT concept to really capture his attention.

The first complete Bertone concept by senior designer, Marcello Gandini, the four-seater coupé was seriously evaluated at Browns Lane in both styling and engineering terms, with the Jaguar board that year exploring possible production. Gandini, like many within the Italian design community was keen to Continue reading “Gatto di Caprie”

7JP-546-E (ii)

Matt Prior at Autocropley has wondered if cars are becoming less practical. I have another question…

Mitsubiishi Lancer

Mr Prior is chiefly concerned about the practical impact of size. He thinks many cars are too wide for European conditions. Before I read the article I thought maybe he would write about the fact some large cars have surprisingly small loadbays, have hatches compromised by goofy lamp shapes or have cant rails that are angled so shallowly that you bang your head getting in to the car.  He didn’t actually Continue reading “7JP-546-E (ii)”

The Born Identity

Like another much-loved ’80s C-sector stalwart, Volvo’s turn of the decade hatchback was aimed at two market sectors concurrently, satisfying neither. We ask, was the 440-series Volvo’s Maestro?

1988 Volvo 440. Image credit: (c) autoevolution

Volvo’s long-lived 300-series proved something of a mixed blessing for the Swedish car maker by the late 1980s. On one hand, a firm and remarkably consistent seller (a regular in the UK’s top ten), while on the other, something of an embarrassment given its age, hapless dynamics and the fact that it was a car Gothenburg engineers never had much appreciation for in the first place.

Volvo were understandably keen to Continue reading “The Born Identity”

The Year Before Monday

Sometimes my academic work overlaps with the kind of thing we do here at Driven to write. At the moment, I am immersed (again) in Gestalt Theory.

Old-school headlamp with nice panel-gap management.

This is not the first time I have handled this topic. In January 2015 (happy days!) I used Gestalt theory to discuss why the 1993 Citroen Xantia’s graphics failed to be seen as the designer intended. This time the cases are not examples of failure but show how Gestalt theory can explain what is happening in the world of headlamp fashion trends style stuff.

It took me a while to Continue reading “The Year Before Monday”

Boys of Summer

The turn of the century saw the Blue Oval vainly attempting to revisit its late ’50s heyday. But the past steadfastly remains a foreign country.

Ford Thunderbird. Image credit: (c) youtube

The 1984 Grammy-winning Don Henley single, Boys of Summer is a meditation on reminiscence and regret. It plays on the slick US West Coast values of the author’s Eagles heyday, subverting its MOR sheen to underline the more mature themes of ageing and loss.

Looking back to the past can be instructive, indeed for some of us, it’s a virtual necessity. However, true folly lies in attempts to Continue reading “Boys of Summer”

Eating the Endocrinologist’s Lunch

Yesterday evening I noticed two cars, a fourth generation 3-door Seat Ibiza and a DS DS 3. One was a bit of a holdover and the DS was, I imagined, the shape of three door cars today.

2011 Citroen DS3: Citroen UK

They haven’t really gone away (though they are a much diminished presence) these three door cars but have changed form a bit. Some have anyway. The Corsa and Fiesta are pretty much the same as they ever were.

Before proceeding, I should note that the 3-door Ibiza went the way of the ear trumpet in 2017 with the introduction of the fifth generation model. That is such a subliminal model-change that I had to cross-check photos.

So, who makes a smallish three door car today?  Continue reading “Eating the Endocrinologist’s Lunch”

Inflammatory Writ

Every story needs an origin fable. Today, we look to a time before the light, when darkness cloaked the earth and the ground trembled beneath the wheels of the Dominator.

1996 Bentley Dominator. Image credit: (c) Motor 1

In the beginning the Lord created Cayenne. And the Lord saw that it was good, and he blessed it and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it”, and it was so. And lo, as the profits had foreseen, Cayenne begat Bentayga  who begat Urus, who begat Cullinan. And the Lord looked upon his works, and he was pleased.

On the seventh day, the Lord was tired, and he thought; “a little nap wouldn’t kill me” And so, the Lord slept but while he slumbered, the confounded things proliferated like the seven plagues, so when the Lord awoke, he was greatly vexed and rent his garment. And the Lord wailed, “what have I done?”

Most ideas appear good in isolation. It’s only when they are tested in real world conditions that one can Continue reading “Inflammatory Writ”

Honey and Bleach

Hanging about on my camera/s are photos which never seem to make it into an article of any kind. Today, I will try to get some of them out into the public domain and free up some space on my memory cards.

1995-2002 Toyota Corolla

The images constitutes a preliminary non-verbal note to myself. After a while I lose a strong sense of what motivated the images, many of which are not especially striking or nicely composed (as you can see here). On a photo -by-photo basis I have to ask myself what on earth made me Continue reading “Honey and Bleach”

Iceberg Right Ahead

Rolls Royce’s Cullinan SUV has landed. Is this the price of luxury?

The sheer face of ultimate luxury. Image credit: (c) BMW Blog

Flawed diamond

In 1971, the unthinkable occurred. The once impregnable Rolls Royce entered receivership, owing to costs incurred developing the RB211 turbojet engine programme. Many viewed it as a watershed – after all, if RR could go under, who was safe? In the years that followed, Rolls Royce Motors stayed afloat, if only by the skin of their teeth. By the time Vickers bailed in 1988, it was clear the Silver Lady had lost more than her spirit.

Today, there are no such dangers. Not only is Rolls Royce well-funded and protected within the BMW mothership, but the market for ultra-luxury vehicles has never Continue reading “Iceberg Right Ahead”

DTW’s Top-Twenty Two Great European Cars – Part 5

Today we take up once again the baton carried by earlier instalments of this mind-provoking series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

2002 Lancia Phedra: source

In the last instalment, we reached number six. The pace will slow down as we near the summit. Today we consider only number 5, an example of the “Italian art of living”.

No list of great European cars would be complete without a Lancia, one of Europe’s most storied and, some would say, venerable marques. Lancia embodies low-key classiness, comfort and style with many landmark cars to its credit. Its great cars include the elegant Flaminia, the ground-breaking Aurelia, the innovative Beta, the nimble Fulvia, the rally champion Delta, the aristocratic Flavia, the agile and distinctive Trevi and the practical and refined Lybra.

In the case of the stylish Phedra you can Continue reading “DTW’s Top-Twenty Two Great European Cars – Part 5”

Broken Rhythm

The early promise of Fiat’s X1/38 design theme was quickly extinguished within centro stile Fiat. Was it a loss of confidence or something more seismic?

Still want that Regata? An unattributed styling proposal for a three volume Ritmo. Image credit: (c) Pinterest

It was perhaps Fiat’s misfortune that the Ritmo arrived at a point where the design zeitgeist was shifting away from the stark modernism of the early ’70s to a more polished, yet more conservative aesthetic. This shift is vividly illustrated by the transition from Ritmo to the three volume Regata model upon which it was based. Continue reading “Broken Rhythm”

Cherry Stones and Orange Pips, Apple Seeds and Olive Pits

In another time and another place the founding authors of Driven to write discussed forgotten cars (if we can remember them). To first forget a car you have to have known about it in the first place. So, that’s why this car wasn’t mentioned first-time around.

2002-2007 Honda Accord estate

The 2002-2007 Honda Accord estate might be a car I knew about for a few minutes in 2002. After being informed of its existence, I must have promptly forgotten all about it. I can’t really be said to have known about it in the way I know about/forgot about the Honda Legend, the Mazda Demio or Porche Cayenne. The estate version must have been a slow seller as I have not seen enough of them to register its existence (or re-register its existence) until a week or so back.

Something about the car puzzled me but I could not Continue reading “Cherry Stones and Orange Pips, Apple Seeds and Olive Pits”

Ritmo Della Strada

Fiat’s Seventies C-segment style statement is largely a neglected footnote today, but there’s more to the Ritmo than a bunch of robots and some confusion over its name.

Style statement. Image credit: cargurus

Was any decade as truly modern as the 1970s? One retrospectively characterised in a roseate glow of giddy colours and lurid sartorial fashions; of long hair, beards, beads and ABBA songs, what chroniclers choose to ignore was how genuinely, thrillingly new it all appeared at the time and after an interval of four decades, seems even more so now.

In terms of product design, little that occurred in the decade that followed came even close to the impact of the ’70s. Unfortunately this was probably equally true in other areas. Ah Italy. Bastion of culture, impeccable taste; leaders in industrial innovation and design, but fatally prey to political instability. Certainly no product of this land can Continue reading “Ritmo Della Strada”

A Fiesta For Sunday

It ought to have been a PfS (as it is now referred to by fans, cognoscenti and insiders) but something happened while I was taking photographs of the cars. That means we will be instead applying aesthetic theory to a car to see what happens.

2005 Ford Fiesta

If you had asked me my opinion of this car, a white Fiesta,  in 2003, I would not have been able to say much other than to suggest it was nothing special or wasn’t bad.

Fifteen years later I seem to be in a better position to discuss its merits. Merit number one relates to the fact the car is demanding my attention in ways other cars don’t. When I look at it in a variety of ways (in detail and overall gaze) I am noticing that I am registering a lot of impressions (thoughts) and eye-feelings.

“Eye feeling” is a coinage of my own and refers to a sense that is located in the visual system where light lands on the eye. I can’t put words on the precise feeling – it not that I see a car. It is that this and that bit of the car stimulate sensations of things that are not precisely the same as the geometry parked out there on the street.

If you want to Continue reading “A Fiesta For Sunday”

All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands

To the accompaniment of grinding metal, Driven to Write takes a decidedly Eurocentric view of Ford’s recent retrenchment on domestic saloons. 

A visual metaphor. Image credit: autoevolution

Last week’s announcement by Ford to discontinue their entire US market saloon lineup, while a shock to some, was not without some fairly broad hints being laid. In movie parlance, we’ve been hearing the ominous cellos in the background for some time, because the US market mood music on sedans has long been of a less than upbeat tempo.

The American car market has been gravitating to high riding vehicles for decades, for reasons that are as manifold as they are nuanced. Of course it’s massively simplistic to Continue reading “All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands”

Wright or Wrong

Clandestinely, a minor piece of both automotive and architecture history has been destroyed. And not in Italy either. 

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Photo (c) Pinterest.com

Austrian-American car importer, Max Hoffman, is best known for his crucial role in establishing European (mostly West German) car makers in the US market after the Second World War. What is less well known is the fact that Hoffman, was a bonafide connoisseur of architecture.

As such, Hoffman was particularly fond of the seminal work of Frank Lloyd Wright. For this reason, Hoffman commissioned the architect to Continue reading “Wright or Wrong”

Laughing Stock

For every alleged innovation there is always a precedent. Come now, you hardly imagine the Gorden comes up with this stuff on his own, do you?

AMC Eagle Sedan: Image credit: favcars

When Daimler’s Chief Design Officer, Gorden Wagener turned up in his immaculate sport-casual attire for the debut of the Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept, he told assembled journalists it represented “a totally new archetype of kind never seen before.” Of course even the most empty phrases contain a grain of truth because in the manner of a stopped clock, he’s half right.

It’s entirely possible that Daimler’s CDO neither knows nor cares that his verbiage-laden uttering lacked much by way of substance. After all, Mercedes’ resident believer in beauty and intelligence is unlikely to Continue reading “Laughing Stock”

Listen Out For The Samidova’s Song

We were pondering high-end luxury the other day and there was some debate about the Maybach’s interior. What is it up against?

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It is up against almost everyone selling a car for more than 50,000 euros. Almost any car firm can produce a very impressive interior if they put their mind to it**.  Take a look at the two images in the slide show and have a guess which one is the most recent. Then we’ll take a little look at what you can sit in for less than the kind of money Maybach/Mercedes might ask for.

Should one really want to Continue reading “Listen Out For The Samidova’s Song”

Vive la France … Vive la Différence!

As well as sampling a 308 SW, our correspondent’s spring break in France also presented a chance to get the local perspective on how the indigenous competition measures up.

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Yes, I did just take a photo of the cover of the magazine lying on the carpet in our spare room.

When in France, I always take the chance to go to a Maison de la Presse and search through the car magazines. In recent years, this has allowed me to discover publications dedicated to ‘classic’ Citroëns, Panhards and other wonders, proving to myself and sceptical family members that there are others out there with a passion for the quirky and yet banal.

I usually also buy a more mainstream monthly, and more often than not it’s L’Automobile; on this occasion, I bought the March 2018 issue.

L’Automobile is, to my mind, the closest that France has to Continue reading “Vive la France … Vive la Différence!”