Sketches of Andalucía [1]

Italy, via Spain.

All images: The author

Occasionally, we get the opportunity to glimpse other possible lives. These are commonly known as holidays, although I prefer to imagine them as being more akin to dreamscapes. For the first time since before the Covid pandemic, I (very) recently found the opportunity to return to the Andalucían coast, and despite the lateness of the year, was mostly blessed by the weather deities.

As is now habitual, I spent a sizeable amount of time getting a feeling for the place, which involved a good deal of legwork – a happy consequence of which was that there was usually something notable (or simply unusual) lurking down a side street[1].

The Spanish do tend to hold on to their cars, I have noticed. Cars after all are expensive to purchase, and wages are probably not all that high owing to the seasonal nature of a lot of the work around these parts – that would be my largely unscientific reading of the situation at least. Furthermore, the climate here is kinder to older cars, even if the incessant sun does tend to play hell with paintwork and seat fabric.

Not in every case, however.

In one of those happy coincidences which only ever seem to occur on holiday, I happened upon this incredibly tidy looking Fiat Brava, which was parked next to a local building site (see lead photo above). A clearly well-cared for example, Fiats of this age have become vanishingly rare, even here. Always the better looking of the twin B-segment mid-90s Fiat range, to my eyes at least, this Brava has weathered the Costa del climate with remarkable aplomb[2].

Double-parked outside a downtown pharmacy, hazard lamps a-flashing, this Lancia Ypsilon maintained its proud bearing, despite the slightly awkward circumstances. A last-gasp mission for some emergency Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier perhaps, simply picking up a prescription, or obtaining something for the weekend? Either way, the little ε elicited a gasp of pleasurable recognition from your correspondent – the shield and flag being as thin on the ground in Spain as in most places these days.

Parked a short distance from my apartment – and hence a frequent sight – was this daily-driver early-era Fiat Barchetta. Apart from a good coating of dust and road grime, this dainty little boat looked yare from all angles. Fiat Auto (and its subsidiaries) really were on a creative roll during the mid to late 1990s – but it is perhaps best not to repick old wounds.

Not that it was all high-water marks at Mirafiori of course. This facelifted Fiat Croma presented a more sobering sight, for two principal reasons. Firstly, because it was looking decidedly the worse for wear[3] (if quite rust-free) and second, because whatever one might think of the Croma as an aesthetic object, the Fiat Charter®[4] facelift it received excised what visual character the Giugiaro original possessed. This one may not be very long for this world.

I wrote about the Fiat Linea back in 2019, so I’ll spare you the repetition, but unlike my previous visit, the Punto sedan has become a surprisingly common sight here – at least as much as its hatchback sibling. Almost a handsome shape, but neither time, nor (relative) familiarity has softened the effect of the more egregious of its stylistic missteps. Today’s equivalent, the Tipo, seems to sell almost entirely as a hatchback now. The Spanish, like most other once saloon-loving nations, appear to have lost their predilection for three volumes.

We conclude today’s Andalucían sketch with a reminder of small Fiats past. Or in this case, Seat; the model in question being an 850D. Not quite the last of the rear-engined Fiats to be built in Spain, the reskinned 133 from 1974 bears that honour. This one moves of its own volition as well, it would appear. A couple of days after this photo was taken, it had vanished.

More Andalucían sketches will follow.

[1] No, you haven’t blundered onto Curbside Classic, although you might be forgiven for thinking so. The vehicles featured may not be all that surprising to you, but they all spoke to me for a variety of reasons – anyway, I make no apology for my choices.

[2] I started to think this car was following me, so often did I see it around town. Upon closer inspection, I realised it had been repainted – in an original colour and to a commendably high standard. Someone clearly loves this car. Brava! (Sorry…)

[3] The interior was in remarkably good order.

[4] With thanks to R. Parizitas.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

98 thoughts on “Sketches of Andalucía [1]”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. Nice finds. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Brava, let alone one in this condition.

    I returned from a trip to Japan yesterday. My trip wasn’t about seeing cars this time, but I had a few interesting observations along the way. I hardly took any photos of vehicles, though.

  2. No need to apologise for your photo choices. A visit to another place affords not just a chance to gape at different sorts of buildings and drink to-go coffee at huge volumes. It´s not just the opportunities to eat cakes and rest in cafés. To my family/relatives´/spouse´s despair, I will stop randomly and admire something which is invisible to them. I might as well be looking at pavement joints or cracks in flagstones. Not only that, I will re-look at ordinary things. “My that black painted Corsa looks good… don´t you understand, they are seldom sold in that colour?”. The Brava you photographed is as much of that car I am going to see for a long time. For a while a Fiat like in the last photo shared space in the UG garage I use. It never moved and one day was gone. I had to look three times and read the text to be sure the dark saloon was a Croma or anything beyond a generic saloon.

  3. Good morning Eóin and thank you for sharing your holiday photos. As you say, one of the real pleasures of foreign parts are the sensory pleasures to be found in the sights, sounds and even smells of a totally different and unfamiliar environment.

    Turning to matters automotive, I remember the first time I went to Ibiza in my late teens. I was fascinated by SEATs and identifying their subtle differences to the Fiats on which they were based. Even today, I can spot that little triangular air vent at the trailing corner of the SEAT 850’s rear side window, something that never featured on the equivalent Fiat.

    I’ve always thought the Linea a rather attractive looking small saloon, much better executed than the usual ‘hatchback-with-a-boot-tacked-on’ efforts seen elsewhere.

    1. The mince pies will still be frozen!
      By the way, this is the time of the year to make your Christmas puddings if you have not done so already.

    2. Richard, I agree with Daniel here. When it came out, I always thought the Linea had a sort of modern Fiat 1100 air to it, I guess that came from the large, square-mesh front grille and slightly awkward stance. Now that I’m in the battle as well and this being a post about carspotting in Andalucía, may I suggest we throw croquetas instead?

    3. Agreed on the Linea, Daniel. The overall effect might be Euro-bland (or however ‘Euro’ a C-segment sedan can be) but it’s far from offensive as far as ‘street-furniture’ goes. The rear styling evokes the C-segment Cobalt that Chevrolet sold here in the U.S. through the late 2000s, and I’d even argue that the Punto-converted Linea makes a stronger styling case than the sedan-and-coupe-only Cobalt:

      Isn’t it interesting that we enthusiasts consider compact hatches a more ‘premium’ offering due to their mainstream European target audience despite the whole notion of the compact sedan in developing markets as more ‘premium’ than its hatch equivalent? Obviously that way of thinking includes the United States as well, a fact that makes Subaru’s abandonment of the Impreza sedan in its new generation all the more puzzling, though no doubt they sell enough crossovers here to more than make up the difference.

    4. On my first day in Tokyo I saw a black Cadillac Escalade. It had a lot of chrome and lights. Alas no pictures. Other American metal I spotted included a late 80’s Firebird, two Lincoln Navigators, A Chevy El Camino and a Chevy K5 Blazer.

      My favorite of the bunch was, of course, the legend that is the AMC Pacer Wagon. Alive and well in Meguro, Tokyo.

      (to be continued)

    5. Good morning Freerk. Not only a wagon, but the uglified facelifted version too! What are the chances? Well spotted! 👍

      As an aside, one would have expected Japanese clean air legislation to have banned such vehicles from urban streets.

    6. …and with wood trim! (Or was that standard?) I’d imagine that Tokyo, like many other places, has exemptions for classics. This isn’t your conventional classic, but still.

      Nice street view by the way, Freerk.

    7. Thanks, Daniel and Tom 🙂 You don’t see many classics on the road. I would think Japan has on average the newest fleet of cars I have seen so far.

    8. Thanks Freerk, thanks gooddog: that Prius GR might have been an inspiration for the just-introduced newest generation, with its body-coloured vanity panel (instead of the black one that seems to extend the glasshouse on the un-GR models) creating a similar four-light DLO look.

      It’s also an interesting juxtaposition: the Toyota that tries to do it all in one model (and has been doing so for some 25 years) and Mercedes opting for two distinct model families: ICE/hybrid vs. EVs. Of course, Toyota is following suit now with its own distinct line of EVs with, er… ‘challenging’ names. I don’t think there’s a definite answer to the conundrum yet, since things are in flux, but it is interesting.

      Nice weather, by the way.

    9. Yes, I wonder what he was saying too. I speak Japanese, but only on a basic level. Speaking of cityscapes here’s a shot I took standing on Nogizakaritu Bridge in Tokyo. I find the red lines on the road particularly interesting.

      The layering of the different flows of traffic is also interesting. I’m standing on a roundabout for pedestrians with roads crossing above and below. It’s close to Shibuya station.

    10. Yes, they certainly are interesting, and a little confusing. The straight-ahead lane for oncoming traffic seems to disappear into them. I find the traffic lights interesting as well, the caps seem angled differently on different ones. Are they static? I wouldn’t put it past the Japanese to produce caps that rotate as the light changes through the day…

      The second picture looks nice as well, the walkway looks to me like it was added later than the viaduct. From a Dutch perspective, it’s quite interesting that there are some bicycles, but almost no infrastructure, let alone bicycle lanes, visible. They also seem to be in ‘interesting’ places. Equally from a Dutch perspective I’m pretty sure that walkway would be swarming with bicycles if it were in our country.

      I’m not much of a traveler, so I enjoy these photos. Thanks. Speaking a little Japanese would make it easier to travel there, I’d imagine. Especially since I don’t think many Japanese would speak English. I think I’d like the country.

    11. Yes, that’s what I thought about the lane disappearing as well. The caps on the traffic lights are different from the ones in The Netherlands, but I didn’t wait long enough to see if they actually move. Interesting thought.

      In some parts of Tokyo there are dedicated bicycle lanes, but unlike the Netherlands, where they are usually one step below the pavement, they are on the same level on the pavement and the only way to tell them apart is a line, a different color and a bicycle symbol that is repeated at certain intervals. I think this was mainly done because there are very few bicycles around and pedestrians will walk on the dedicated bicycle lane when there are no cyclists.

      In the center of Tokyo you don’t need to speak Japanese. The English knowledge of the people you interact with is enough to ask for directions and order meals in restaurants. Some of them speak it really well. When you get to the areas where there are only narrow streets and small scale buildings it really is useful to have some knowledge of the Japanese language. In the more rural areas people don’t speak English’s, except maybe ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

      I’m running out of car photos. I have a shot of a 356, a firetruck and another shot of the same Toyota Roomy I posted here before. I did spot more interesting cars and cars I hadn’t seen before in the metal, but was unable to take a photo. Like two Porsches 928, one silver, one green, I spotted on the bus ride from Hokane to the nearby train station. Both hadn’t run for quite a while judging by the way they looked. Another car I spotted from the Shinkansen near Kabe was a Citroën C6. I had no clue they were actually sold in Japan. And I also spotted a couple of R232 SL’s (not a typical DTW car I reckon).

      I’ll leave you with a shot I took from the railway station in Hokane, looking onto the main road. The photo might suggest it’s relatively quiet, but the main road is busy.

    12. There was an Opel version of the Astra in saloon form. That means good old GM made two saloons of this car. That´s a form of madness especially as the Cobalt´s boot doesn´t improve on the Opel one at all. It looks like it is from a different car.

    13. Yes, Richard, you’re right and here it is, the Astra G saloon:

      GM did this a lot, producing marginally different versions of cars for different markets, where only one version would be sold, so they didn’t need to look different at all. The 198I GM J-body cars come to mind in this regard. The European Opel Ascona C / Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 shared no external body panels with the US Chevrolet Cavalier and its many siblings. They were neither better nor worse looking, just different, for no apparent reason, other than to allow GM’s divisions a veneer of creative input and independence.

    14. The Astra G looks just great. The lip over the bootlid is a neat touch. And yes, GM didn´t get world cars while Munich and Stuttgart and Ingolstadt sent over whatever the locals were having. The proliferation of J-bodies perhaps reflects the fact pressing was done locally so they go their own tools. But really, did they have to?

    15. The respectable Opel/Vauxhall/Holden/Chevrolet (Latin America)/Saturn Astra H isn’t technically on the same platform as the crappy Cobalt, their wheelbases differ, for example.

    16. Thanks a lot Freerk, I enjoyed these pictures. From them, I get the idea that Toyota is more dominant in Japan than I realised – I knew they’d be big on home turf, but there seem to be fewer Hondas and Nissans than I imagined. The FJ Cruiser on your last picture is very nice, as is the kei-width Jimny in front of it.

      I suppose that English will be spoken in most major capitals in the world, though it must be difficult to learn it if your native language is so different (you should know, speaking Japanese). Japan looks quite beautiful in that last picture as well.

  4. I don’t think you’d ever need to apologise for posting pictures of well-designed cars. That 850D is obviously well cared for: I love the whitewall tires! The Brava is shown from what I think is its best angle showing how neatly the DLO is resolved with relatively unobtrusive filler panels at each end (re the discussion on the new Prius) and how the rest of the car reacts to that.

    Your linked article really sums up the Linea nicely: fine at first blush, disappointing (in a similar way to many of these conversions) on closer inspection. Much digital ink has indeed been spilled on Fiat’s demise and I hesitate to add further to it, but the Linea does put me in mind of the tragic fate of the (Grande) Punto, such a nice design left to wither on the vine for ages, even if under the skin it was a Corsa.

    Welcome back Freerk, I hope to read some of your interesting encounters as and when appropriate, even if there are no photographs.

    1. There’s a Quantum of Solace fou you, Tom.
      If you look under the skin of a Corsa, you’ll find that it is vety much a Fiat Punto.

    2. Quantum of Solace… wasn’t that a Ford badged Fiat 500? 😁 The SCCS platform underpinning the Corsa D and E, the Grande Punto and the MiTo was a co-development by GM and Fiat, I don’t think any other Puntos and Corsas were related, were they? Given enough time, there might be an Opel Corsa (well: Peugeot 208) under the skin of a new Punto, should such a thing ever arrive.

      It occurred to me that the DLO of the Brava might have influenced that of the 500X, which to my eyes similarlty revolves around the relatively strong DLO, although in this case the rest of the car is a bit less convincing.

      I could even imagine it having influenced in some way the DLO of the 500 proper, seeing as how that’s different from the 1950’s inspiration, although they might also have arrived at that by blacking out the area between the rain gutter and the upper shoulder line of the older car (and myriad other ways, just pointing out a similarity):

    3. During the unhappy years of the GM/Fiat joint venture Fiat was responsible for development of small cars (Punto and Corsa), diesel engines and medium size premium cars (159).
      If you look under the skin of the resulting Corsa for example the complete front axle is unmistakably pure Fiat and much of the rest of the mechanical componentry is, too.

      A couple of model generations ago one could have said that basing both cars on a PSA platform would be positive (think Fiat Punto with 205 road manners or the first proper handling Opel for at least fifty years) but nowadays the French cars are just as dynamically inept.

    4. Alexander: the first Megane saloon was very nice indeed. A friend of mine in Ireland had one. It was super plush inside and rode very well. I think the saloon adaptation worked out nicely.

    5. Tom and Richard, I will post some photos and report my findings here in the next few days. Unfortunately I have fallen ill this morning, so I will need a little time.

    6. Dankjewel, Tom, thanks. When I arrived at Haneda airport I moved to the Minato ward. The main roads are wide, busy during the day, but rather empty at night. You don’t see that many kei cars here during the day. The German trio, Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz were present as well as Porsche. The photo is from Hibaya Dori Avenue looking in the direction of Mita Station.

    7. As soon as you leave the bigger avenues you will find smaller JDM cars that we don’t get in Europe. Here is a shot of Honda Freed (I think it’s pronounced Freedo in Japanese).

      I am a native Frisian speaker and Freed (pronounced as afraid, without the first a) means Friday in Frisian. I send a photo of this car on Saturday and told them it was yesterday’s car, a joke the folks at home enjoyed. The photo isn’t very good as it was a very quick shot.

      (to be continued)

    8. Many thanks, Freerk.

      Quite a few Toyotas at first sight: two white Alphard MPVs and if I’m not mistaken a recent Prius. Further up the road on the right, maybe the white round shapes of a Nissan March/Micra? Then two I can’t make out and then an also white Toyota Crown or one of its sister models. The rear lights at the back are more difficult to discern to me.

    9. Bûter, brea en griene tsiis, and all that… I have some Frisian blood, but don’t know Frisian (and thus cannot pronounce that first part properly 😉). Funny how such different parts of the world (although the Honda’s name probably comes from English, which is closely related to Frisian) produce similar words.

      Shame this one isn’t sold in Frisia… I’m not particularly partial to MPVs but I do like them a whole lot better than SUVs. At least they’re practical.

    10. We’re still in Minato. In the background you can see the Tokyo Tower and Shiba park. Two Daihatsu Hijet and a Suzuki Every if I’m not mistaken.

      (to be continued)

    11. Lovely, thanks Freerk. As I understand it both are Kei cars now, but used to be (and in some versions still are) those tiny cab over vans we got over in Europe as well (a Daihatsu Hijet version was built in Italy for a long time):

      The Suzuki Every seems to have started as a variant of the Carry, which was also exported to Europe:

    12. Piaggio built – or at least assembled – several generations of Daihatsu Hi-Jets at Pontedera.

      The latest one is from a different source, this time BAIC Foton and is said to have been completely re-engineered for Eurpe. I’ve seen a few on my travels and it’s a bigger beast altogether, around 1700mm wide and with wheelbase options of 2650–3250 mm.

      Up to 1650kg load capacity with these twin rear wheels:

    13. The Foton-sourced Porter also gets an impressive looking 1.5 litre petrol engine, with Piaggio branding:

    14. Ah, the Carry. I hadn’t seen one in ages, but about a week or so before I went to Japan I spotted on here in The Netherlands. Weren’t these nicknamed as luizenbusje (lice’s van)? Anyway here’s a shot of a Nissan Mono, a car I wasn’t aware of existed. The photo is taken in almost the same location as the one with the two Daihatsus and Suzuki.

      (to be continued)

    15. I’m afraid I don’t know many nicknames for cars, but ‘luizenbusje’ sounds very plausible (it means ‘flea bus’). I’ve always liked those kinds of mini trucks (apart from the Daihatsu and Robertas’ BAIC Piaggio make a host of small trucks, I think). Staatbosbeheer (the Dutch forest authority) uses Suzuki Jimnys, which on its own might be a reason to apply for a job, especially since you probably won’t be driving the thing on the road much. I gather that’s not an unqualified pleasure.

      I’d never heard of the Nissan Mono either. Comically, an internet search turns up results for Nissan Murano, quite a different kettle of fish…

      Thanks, Freerk!

    16. Actually it’s Nissan Moco. Spellcheck and all that 🙂

    17. Ah, that explains 🙂, I’d searched for “Nissan kei car” and came across a few, including the Suzuki MR Wagon (the Moco’s twin), but earlier generations looked quite different, so I didn’t clock it:

      It contrasts nicely with the “let’s keep things restrained” era Honda next to it.

      Speaking of translingual car names, said Suzuki MR Wagon is also available as “Wit”. In English, the meaning of the word is pretty clear, but in Dutch it means “white”, which makes this a very aptly named car:

    18. Recently DTW covered a few cars that hat been fitted with bodywork to make them resemble older metal. I spotted this one, next to two Tokyo taxis. The photo is not that great. I had to be quick as I felt a bit like an intruder taking this picture 😉

    19. It’s a great idea, really, why suffer the unreliability of a true classic when you can have something that looks like it but drives like a modern car? The Nissan 1300.

      I also seem to remember vaguely (but I tread on cultural matters here, so I’ll try to be circumspect) that the Japanese have a slightly different notion of “original” or “historical” than the west does. Over here, we’re obsessed with the original materials, where in Japan it’s much less of an issue to rebuild something and still regard it as historic, the meaning of the word (or its Japanese equivalent) perhaps being more spiritual than in the west.

      Have those Tokyo taxis ever been featured on DTW?

    20. Yeah, I remember Bruno writing about that one. In some ways the Japanese version of this beast:

    21. Exactly, Tom. The other Tokyo taxis look like a modernized London cab. Here’s a Century. I saw a handful of those in Tokyo. I also went to Kyoto, Osaka, Okutama and Hakone. Centuries were absent there.

    22. Gosh, BMW really set a template when they reinvented the Rolls, didn’t they? What’s even more impressive is that it’s a template that works as a template: it makes a car look modern and chic, and gives a manufacturer some room to design their own details. This Century clearly cleaves to the template, but also looks like its own car – and a very neat design at that.

      Thanks a bunch, Freerk!

    23. You’re welcome, Tom. I have two more photos of the Century. I will post them when I get back from work 😉

    24. As promised here are the two photos of the Century. The grey car was photographed near Tokyo Station. The dark blue one was in the Akasaka district.

    25. Thanks also from me, Freerk. The Toyota Century is a favourite of mine, elegant and formal, but without a hint of ostentatiousness. It is a car that whispers, because it doesn’t need to shout. It’s nice to see one in silver too, rather than the usual black.

    26. Very nice, it really is a well resolved design, I think. Nice street view again as well.

    27. Good morning, Daniel and Tom. Oh, I’d definitely agree. The Century is great. I’m not the target audience for such a car, but it would be on the top of my list if I was.

      I experienced Japan by train, subway, bus, monorail and lots walking, both on and off the beaten track. However I did sit behind the wheel of this Lexus, if only on the showroom floor, close to Hibiya park.

      I’ve only stumbled upon the LC500 twice in the Netherlands. The first one being a red coupé, only days after the car was available in The Netherlands, the second one being a green soft top I saw one day before I left for Japan.

    28. Heh, I’m definitely not the target audience for a car like that, but I do appreciate it as an object. I really can’t remember whether I’ve seen the LC500 in real life. I don’t see that many Lexuses around anyway, I think: maybe the odd UX and a few older RX SUVs. Not many saloons, apart from a rare IS that’s either kept alive by a careful owner or found its way into the “enthusiast” circuit instead of an old BMW or Merc A-class, both with oodles of plastic cladding. The CT used to be incredibly common, but has disappeared rapidly as subsidies changed (these being at least as important as fashions for the car market). Most of them have probably been exported by now.

      The Lexus design language seems to me an interesting way to update what are relatively well-established templates for luxury sedans, coupés and SUVs. It doesn’t quite work for me personally, but I very much appreciate the effort. I’m not the intended target anyway, so it’s not supposed to appeal to me personally.

    29. My experience with Lexus is rather limited. You don’t see them a lot on the Dutch roads, apart from indeed the CT200h. When new it was successful because of the tax benefit that came with it for people who had a company car. Now these are exported as the secondhand buyer isn’t very keen on them.

      One of my friends had an LS43o and now an ES350h. Another friend has an IS300h F Sportline. I’ve been in all three, but I’ve only driven the IS. It has excellent seats, a great driving position, build quality is excellent and it drives beautifully. However, sporty it’s not. It could do with a bit more performance and the infotainment system is a nightmare.

      The LC500 will be similar I think, but power will be enough. It’s beautifully build, the seats and driving position are excellent. I didn’t get to drive, obviously, but I’m sure it’s good.

      As a contrast I give you the Honda Super Cub. It is missing two wheels and a whole lot more, but it’s very much a Honda. This one was in the Tokyo National Museum. I didn’t see a single one in use on the roads in Tokyo, but I did see a few zooming around in Kyoto.

    30. Ah, Japan’s national two-wheeler… and with Japan’s national two-legged creature in the background, too 🦖😉. Very nice! Quite the contrast to the Lexus indeed. Of course, Honda’s well established on both two and four wheels.

    31. Another shot it Tokyo. I am not on par with all the new metal the industry is selling to the buying public. I recognize all the Benzes in the back, but the car in front looks familiar, but I can’t tell you what it is.

    32. Thanks, Gooddog. Next up is some more European metal. It’s not definitely not the DTW bread and butter, but I had to include it here. This photo is taken close the Olympic stadium. I’ve never seen one in the metal. Nobody on the street seemed impressed.

      No worries, more Japanese cars are coming up

    33. Interesting how the vanity panel on that Prius GR is body-coloured, foreshadowing to an extent the DLO of the newest model:

      On regular models it’s black, thus visually extending the DLO.

      I suppose in a city like Tokyo (like London) there’s always the chance to run into a unique car like the Bugatti, but it’s still unique. It’s too much of a vanity project for me to really like the thing, but there is design integrity there, to me at least (though more so in this car’s predecessor). Even in a segment of wild and unique supercars, you’re going to recognise the Bugatti.

    34. I don’t really care if a car is made for the masses or for the happy few, but overall the Bugatti left me unmoved. I can’t say the same of my next encounter, the RX7 FD. Too bad this one is modified, like almost all the rest. The shadow of the car and its wing is quite interesting in my view, as is the image of a yellow car in a street lined with yellow trees.

    35. I think that’s what I meant: the Bugatti is a tour the force no doubt, but it’s at heart an unemotional and impersonal beast.

      That is a great picture! Very evocative: the trees, the people (some of whom are wearing yellow also, if my eyes don’t deceive me) and the RX7. I’ve always been fascinated by its design: the proportions are classic, but the design and the detailing is anything but. It’s immediately recognisable as a sports car, but it’s impossible to confuse this RX7 with any other sports car. Other cars have that quality, but few are as (to me) achingly beautiful as the Mazda (and some are downright ugly). It is a real pity about the modifications indeed.

      This picture made me realise my dream garage needs an extra space: next to the Civic Mk3 and the Alfa Junior Zagato, this generation RX7 needs a parking space, though without modifications.

    36. Good, isn’t it? I’ve always liked the RX7, but when the FD came along it was a bit of a shock. I absolutely loved it and still do. Sadly, I’ve never driven one, but I sat behind the wheel of yellow example, without the mods. The rest of the world agrees as good examples have gone up in price considerably over the last few years.

      Here’s a shot of Honda N-Box in one of the carparks you can find in the more residential areas of Tokyo. It reminds me a bit of a fridge, but it still has some cuteness. The thing that stands out for me is the window in what I shall now refer to as a double A-pillar. I’m not sure if it enhances the visibility outward, but it is distinctive.

    37. The N-box certainly isn’t conventionally beautiful, or cleave to many other notions of automotive attractiveness (sportiness, ruggedness, chicness), but it looks like it is conceived to be as space-efficient as possible, whilst not being completely utilitarian in its design.

      The Double A Pillar (©️ Freerk de Ruiter) is certainly distinctive, the car further down the line has it too. I suspect (after searching Wikipedia…) that it’s a Daihatsu Thor:“SA_II”_(DBA-M900S)_front.jpg

      “What would you rather have: Boon or Thor?”

    38. Here’s a Toyota JPN Taxi. I’m guessing JPN stands for Japan, but I think these are also used in Hong Kong. It has a hybrid powertrain. The rear doors are interesting. On the side shown in the photograph it has a conventional door, the other side has an electrically operated sliding door.

    39. I find myself slightly fascinated by the piece of paper that seems to be floating through the air right in front of the rear tire.

      According to Wikipedia, the JPN Taxi was developed according to Japanese government guidelines and can indeed also be found in Hong Kong. It shares its floorpan (but little else) with the Toyota Sienta (not to be confused with the Sienna), the first generation of which seems nice enough, and can also be seen in the background of your Honda N-Box picture:

      The second generation is a little more… adventurous?

      As can be seen, no body shell parts have been carried over for the Taxi.

    40. That piece of paper is indeed fascinating. There is very little litter in Japan. I see more of it on my way to the supermarket here compared to my two weeks stay in Japan. Here’s another Kei car. A Suzuki Every this time.

    41. In the full performance of its duties. Very nice. Shame that regulations are making it ever more difficult for Japanese companies to export these cars. That said, Nissan has introduced an electric kei car, the Sakura:

      (image It gets 112 miles (180 km) on a charge, which isn’t a lot, but should suffice in the city. That probably takes care of the emissions side of things, but there are also safety regulations and simple economics to consider. There are quite a few Suzukis and Daihatsus still pottering around over here, performing their duties for pennies.

      From litter to Covid response (particularly the public’s adherence to regulations): there seems to be a pronounced difference in western (European/American) and Asian public conduct. Unfortunately I’ve never been to Asia, so I don’t know from personal experience, only reports. I suspect I’d rather like it, though.

    42. The Sakura is an electric version of the IC Nissan Dayz K Car:

      Both are based on the Mitsubishi eK, and built by the Mitsubishi side of the alliance within an Alliance.

      What amazes me is the work which has gone into translating every element of Nissan’s current “Athletic” design vocabulary on to a tiny, upright, slab-sided box vehicle.

      Others can judge the designers’ success in applying a style intended for larger and more conventionally proportioned SUVs, hatchbacks and sedans.

    43. Thanks Robertas, the Dayz looks a little timid like this, I think. Overall though, given the limitations of the kei dimensions (and the wildness of some other designs), I rather like it. The other picture I posted doesn’t display properly when I view it, but this one from Nissan’s own website, should:

      On such a small car, the more expressive design actually works nicely, I think. As it does on this alternative front treatment of the Dayz:

      Frankly, the amount of design work going into the kei category as a whole is surprising (and joyful).

    44. Here’s a Daihatsu Tocot in it’s natural habitat. I expected these to be popular, but I only saw few.

      Apparently the name “Tocot” is derived from “To Character”, “To Comfortableness” and “To Convenience”.

    45. What a delightful car! The whole design works very well, I think. Effective wheel cover design as well.

      I noticed the Fuji TV logo in the background (from watching the Japanese GP 😁) and had a look on their website. I noticed an anime called “The Heike Story” which reminded me of your story about the Freed, Heike sounding vaguely Frisian. Heike turns out not to be a Frisian name, but a Japanese name for a powerful medieval family (the Taira clan). Funny how similar sounds can be found all over the world.

    46. Ah, yes, I remembered the Tocot covered here. It’s a lovely car, but somehow it looked a bit bigger in real life than I expected.

      Here’a a workhorse from Toyota. the S400 Liteace, if I’m not mistaken, which is basically a badge engineered Daihatsu Gran Max. It’s manufactured in Indonesia. Very basic in white with steelies and just the company logo to distinguish it from the rest. It looks ‘right’ to my eyes.

    47. Ah, the LiteAce: an illustrious name connected to some fine cab-over vans, produced over quite some time:

      From the mid-1990s onward it became more conventional. According to Wikipedia, this iteration is indeed a badge engineered version of the Daihatsu Gran Max. I very much agree it looks fine like this, utilitarian and fit for purpose, but also very neat. That’s quite an impressive chain gate mechanism by the way.

    48. Good morning, everyone. My next photo subject is the eight generation Suzuki Alto, produced from 2014 to 2021. Back in the days the Alto was a regular sight on Dutch roads, but the model was dropped. This car has a domestic appliance kind of look to it, more so because of the white color. I spotted one or two in silver and one in black, but white was the dominant color here.

      The rear lights are placed in the bumper. Not the ideal location as they sit low and can be damaged easily. Having said that, the condition of the Japanese fleet is remarkable. The cars are new, undamaged and clean.

    49. There are a few more photos coming. Unfortunately I won’t be able to post tomorrow. Next photo should be on Sunday 🙂

    50. I see what you mean about white goods, Freerk, but it still looks rather satisfying to me. I’m no shutline fanatic like-er… some others here… 😁 but they are quite visible on this white car and they look nicely managed. The acres of metal comprising the boot aren’t ideal, but not a deal breaker in this case, for me at least. The vulnerable position of the rear lights might be an expression of the level of care that Japanese motorists usually have for their metal steed?

      The Alto has a rich and varied stylistic history (perhaps also an advantage of the overall dimensions staying much the same). The jump between the first and second generation (only five years) is perhaps biggest, though:

    51. Tom, I rather like the Suzuki too. It’s neat and clean. Here’s a shot of a kei van. I don’t know what this is exactly.

    52. Why, that’s a Citroën HY isn’t it? 😁 Looks like a vending van to me, with that side panel. French delicacies? What a great little thing.

    53. Ah, an HY van, of course 😉 This is another car with a double A-pillar. Not a Honda, but Toyota this time. It’s called Roomy. This is one of those instances where a car does what it says on the tin, literally.

    54. Lovely. According to Wikipedia, the other names it’s known under are less descriptive though no less delightful: Daihatsu Thor, Toyota Tank and, good old favourite: Subaru Justy.

      I see shades of Fiat in there (in a good way), but cannot exactly pinpoint why. It’s not I car I’d drive, but to me there is something satisfying about a car that is designed to be fit for a clearly defined purpose, to be Roomy in this case. The purpose doesn’t really matter: a BMW 3 series (up until recently) was designed to be a sports sedan with a relatively well defined set of desired characteristics.

    55. Here’s a 2023 Toyota Crown. Another car we won’t be getting in Europe, at least for the time being.

    56. That’s nice to run into, the Toyota Crown. With this generation morphed into a veritable sub brand with four distinct models (this is the crossover). Impressive model offensive, I think, with distinct identities for the different models. Not everything has turned out as well, though: the crossover frankly reminds me of the Citroën C4:

      I’m mildly astonished to say that the C4 is more or less growing on me, though.

      For the other models, there are a lot of design influences at work as well: Crown Sports has distinct Porsche Cayenne overtones (not in the sense that it’s a copy but in the sense that it references the same rather distinct archetype), the Estate to me evokes several modern (electric, Chinese) models and the sedan (my favourite) strongly references Toyota’s own rather nice Mirai (the current generation, mind). For reference: here is the line up (image from Toyota’s own web site):

    57. Toyota definitely mean business with the Crown. I reckon it will do well in their prime markets.

      One you notice in Tokyo is that almost all cars appear new and clean. Commercial vehicles can be a bit rough, but even there you find examples that look really clean. There are plenty of trucks with added chrome like this one I saw in Shibuya. I even spotted one where the entire door of the cabin was chrome plated (or wrapped, I don’t know how it’s done).

    58. I do hope they sell well: it’s quite a commitment to radically reinvent an old and venerable name plate.

      That’s a big, white truck right there – oh wait, that’s a Mitsubishi. I’m not much of a traveler, but I do believe that trucks in the Americas and Asia are usually a bit (to a lot) more garish than those in Europe, so I suppose it’s no great surprise. Germany is known for it’s meticulously maintained cars, but they’re not always that clean. Some stereotypes do exist for a reason, I suppose. I do wonder how that would be outside Tokyo.

      That Mitsubishi would have been a regular sighting around here about a decade ago, but I don’t know if it’s even sold over here now. I would imagine it sells in the US, though.

    59. Yes, I agree, Tom. Here’s a shot of an R107, just 100 meters or so away from yesterday’s truck photo. You see very few classics in Tokyo. This Benz was parked at a gas station with a car wash.

    60. I once read an article about someone who basically kept their classic cars (two, if memory serves) in their apartment, because space is at such a premium in Japan. I could imagine that being a hindrance to all but the very wealthy.

      Lovely car, that SL (I see a DTW article promotion lurking: I think it was featured a while back). Usually, when you see a classic parked between current cars, it’s tiny, but that’s less pronounced here. The Lexus and Toyota next to it aren’t small cars, the Merc GLB is smallish in their current line up, but it’s not a small car as such. Perspective plays a part no doubt, the SL being a large car for its era and relatively square, seen from above, but low slung, certainly next to these SUVs.

    61. Space is definitely at a premium in Tokyo, Tom. Apart from the R107 I spotted a 356 in Tokyo traffic and the already mentioned American cars. The wealthy have chauffeur driven Century’s, Rollers or drive something exotic, sometimes with custom paint schemes. A car you also see really a lot (compared to The Netherlands), is the G wagon, usually tricked out with a lot of options. I saw more on my first day in Tokyo than I see in a year here.

    62. That Lambo is hilarious… somewhat clever, too. I hope those white lines are glow-in-the-dark. In the articles about the Maserati Biturbo, it was mentioned that at some point, the well to do wanted their cars to be inconspicuous due to the – er… political climate. This is not that.

      I’m interested by the policeman talking to the Mercedes driver in the background of the rather nice Rolls…

      And again, nice cityscapes.

  5. The Lancia Ypsilon is still available in Italy. And sold in great numbers. A car from a dead brand with a dead concept (small car with 2-doors).

    The Fiat Linea is by far the only member of the Small-Sedan-Car Class, i would not be embarrassed to own it.
    Its the class of the Suzuki Liana, the Dacia Logan 1 or the Chevrolet Aveo, the Linea was pure elegance.

    I am glad, the Hyundai Aura was not sold in Europe.×338/Hyundai_Aura_1623156447293_1623156451697.JPG

    1. I’d argue Renault has always done a decent styling job with its Megane saloon. (C-segment, as is the Linea) The less said about the awkward Fluence that stood in its place for the Mk3 Megane, the better.

    2. Hi Alexander. Coincidentally, I saw one of those Megane saloons for the first time yesterday. They are sold here in Ireland, but not in the UK. I agree that it’s not bad looking at all and certainly doesn’t look like a mutated hatchback.

    3. Markus, you really should have warned us as to what was hiding behind that innocent looking link! 😁

      For those that didn’t follow it, here is the Aura in all its lumpy dumpy glory:

    4. Markus: your comments are valued but it was a bit cruel to put such a revolting vehicle in that link without an eye-ball warning. I am having to lie down now.

  6. Eóin, looks like you’ve been vacationing close to me! While the Spanish car fleet median age is record high, it has been years since I saw a Croma. Expensive and unreliable, not too many were sold around. The 190E was popular but survivors are few, I only regularly see a couple of them from time to time. The 850 is a classic and yours is clearly a very well kept example. The SEAT 600 and 850 prices are going up as they’re popular classics, and easy to run as you can still get original components at reasonable prices. The Linea wasn’t too popular and it has been ages since I have seen an Opel Adam, which sold rather poorly. Bravas were very popular and I still see one from time to time and there’s plenty C class Mercs and E-32 BMWs and the odd E-30

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