To Judge And To Foresee

From 1972 to 1981 BMW sold the E12, part of its small range of sport saloons. We think of them as quintessentially German. Are they?

1972-1981 BMW E-20 525

When I saw this recently I couldn’t help noticing the almost subliminal Italian feel along with a certain French lightness. How would that be explained? If you Continue reading “To Judge And To Foresee”

Can’t, And Will Anyway

After sighting a few dark and tatty examples I saw this conveniently clean and pale W-201 yesterday. Where’s quality hiding?

Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.6 and boring Danish architecture

I asked this of a BMW 3-series (E-30) recently. Both came out the same year, 1982 (as did the Ford Sierra). So, presumably the cars gestated at the same time and without a large likelihood of designers and clay modellers migrating between studios. First let’s take a close look to find Ms. Quality… Continue reading “Can’t, And Will Anyway”

Gorfe’s Granadas: 1983 Granada Ghia 2.8

“Mouthwatering is the only way to sum up a description of this rolling mansion of Ford quality”, writes our acting assistant motor classics corresponding editor, Myles Gorfe. 

Brilliant. 1983 Ford Granada interior: source.

By the early 80s Ford was at the top of its game with the Granada. The cars had been honed to a sharp pitch, with superb interiors, tonnes of kit and strong, reliable engines. No wonder they sold themselves. Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1983 Granada Ghia 2.8”

Charbo Sbarro Renault

Philippe Charbonneaux is known for this work on the Renault 8, the Renault 21 and the Renault 16. In 1984 he teamed up with Franco Sbarro to produce a proposal for a Renault 25-based limousine.

1984 Charbonneaux R25 limousine: source

Charbonneaux showed the car at the 1984 Paris automobile salon. Sbarro fabricated the showcar while Charbo (hereafter) conceived the theme – an antimodern limousine. If the actual Renault 25 is a study in French design rationalism, the limousine version seems to be a study in undoing most of that concept.

In revising the R25, Charbo sought to make a car that would Continue reading “Charbo Sbarro Renault”

A Photo for Sunday (Micropost): 2001 Opel Combo

Other sites may concern themselves with exotica and luxury brands.

2001 Opel Combo

Well, we do too but we also have space for bread-and-margarine cars like this 2001-2011 Opel Combo (C). Was this the car that prompted a jealous Mercedes Benz to launch the VaneoContinue reading “A Photo for Sunday (Micropost): 2001 Opel Combo”

A Ewe Assays Askance the Closing Crook

Which colours will be catching our eyes soon?  This one is about coatings, a topic we have touched upon at DTW a few times before. Here and here and here (but not here. )

2017 BASF automotive colour predictions: source

BASF have revealed their predictions for the colours of 2018 – something of a self-fulfilling prophecy or else whistling down the wind. By that I mean that the “prediction” could shape preferences, in which case it’s not a prediction but an influence on the market. Alternatively, people will choose their colours regardless and BASF´s prediction will be disproved.

What do they say? Continue reading “A Ewe Assays Askance the Closing Crook”

Far From the Mainstream: Landwind

Landwind is a company with a sketchy history. This car is being sold as a Landwind SC2. But Wikipedia denies its existence. There are three** Landwinds on sale at Mobile.de at the moment. 

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“Landwind is an automobile marque owned by the Chinese automaker Jiangling Motor Holding, a joint venture between Changan Auto and Jiangling Motors Corporation” is what Wikipedia says, in case you Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Landwind”

Not Now, Mr Loos

We’ve already had a little look at the Suzuki Ignis now let us look at a little bit of it. 

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Overall, the Ignis is a neat little car with a robust appearance that belies its size. I am a little unsure if I am as enamoured of its reference to earlier Suzukis as I was originally; the previous Ignis was delightfully, eccentrically its own. See below.  Continue reading “Not Now, Mr Loos”

Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?

So goes the old saying anyway. In the year 2000 when we were supposed to be floating on hover-drones and wearing alufoil skinsuits, Porsche still had the engine in the back even if air cooling was out.

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And BMW offered the 1950s-inspired Z8 while Aston pursued girth and heft with the Aston Martin Vantage Volante, a V12 topless GT. Where did the future actually go to?

It is hard to be sure of if the three convertibles are comparable even if period reviews seemed to think so.

Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Should We Talk, Should We Pray?”

A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Audi Coupe

1988. Let’s read that back: nineteen eighty eight. Which is half a year short of three decades.

1988 Audi Coupe

There really is something about the form language of industrial design that is verging on the timeless. Credit for this car goes to one J Mays who penned the Audi 80 in 1983. This one is known as the B3 (35i). While there are a few oddities on the car, they are far below the detection limit of normal humans.

The Audi coupe has a very subtle detail which is worth looking closer at. I will come to that later. Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1988 Audi Coupe”

Micropost: 1995 Ford Fiesta Ashtray

From 1995 t0 2002 this was the Ford Fiesta, an evergreen staple of the supermini sector. 

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The same dashboard ended up in the Ford Puma too as well as the Mazda 121. It’s the ashtray we are interested in here, a pull-out drawer, designed to accommodate the presence or absence of the centre cubby which was not fitted in some markets. The cigar lighter is positioned in the drawer. The position is not quite optimum as the gear lever gets in the way when in 1st, 3rd and 5th gear.  Continue reading “Micropost: 1995 Ford Fiesta Ashtray”

Micropost: W-201 Mercedes 190E Driver’s Ashtray

How come the 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190E was W-201 and the 1984 200E cars were coded W-124?

Mercedes-Benz 190E

We see in this quite small car the effect of the well-evolved centre console. The ashtray is situated in an undercut of the fascia and it’s a decent sized ashtray too. The ashtray is a chromed metal item, with a cigarette lighter built into the drawer. Under that is a cubby for bit and bobs. Continue reading “Micropost: W-201 Mercedes 190E Driver’s Ashtray”

Micropost: Mercedes-Benz W-140 Rear Ashtray

This is something of a marvel, a relic from the Ulm Design School ethos at Untertuerkheim.

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This article is one of three items today which pay special regard to ashtrays.

For the 1991 W-140 rear ashtray the designers located the tray and adjusted it to the surrounding forms and materials. That meant it got a matching carpeted panel when, purely functionally, a one-piece cover in plastic might have sufficed. The Ulm attitude involved taking great care to Continue reading “Micropost: Mercedes-Benz W-140 Rear Ashtray”

Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By

Not all of the products wearing the Porsche label have received good press. Burns hot, too expensive, can’t breathe. Which Porsche merited these criticisms?

Porsche Design Pipe: source

Well, as a clue, this Porsche is not made in Stuttgart but Holland. Even new it cost in the region of a few hundred euros and it weighed under a 75 grams. The Porsche in question was a pipe, designed by the Porsche Design studio rather than the automotive design studio.

Not unlike Pininifarina and Zagato, Porsche has separate divisions for industrial design and licencing. Rather unusually, I think, for a design consultancy, they tend to stamp all their projects with a distinct look and, indeed, with an actual label saying “Porsche Design”. At Copenhagen Airport one can Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – If Only Tomorrow Could Pass Us By”

Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?

Porsche makes a good business out of selling endless variants of the 911. This one seems to have been a bit forgotten. Why?

Forgotten? 2001 Porsche 911 GT2: topcar rating

The 911 GT2 did what buyers expected of Porsche: supply lots of power with a forceful gob of acceleration and a butch price to match. For this version, the 2001 GT2, Porsche’s engineers eschewed all-wheel drive, sending 461 bhp to the rear wheels only. The top speed got close enough to 200 mph too. Was it a bit too much though? Why did … they?

Actually Porsche wanted less weight for this hence the raw result. It was the only weigh to go. Deleting all-wheel drive meant the car weighed a whole Clarkson less than the four-wheel drive variant. However, they didn’t Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – And For the Lady, an Umbrella?”

Tom Tjaarda

Car designer Tom Tjaarda has died. He was 82. DTW takes a look back at his career.

1959 Ghia Selene, Tjaarda´s first car: 95octane.com

Two things stand out about Tom Tjaarda. One was the prolific and varied body of work: the 1976 Ford Fiesta, the de Tomaso Deauville, the 1964 Ferrari 330 GT2+2 and Fiat 2300 coupe. The other thing is that he wasn’t as well known as Giugiario, Gandini or even quite a few younger designers with only a few cars from the same brand to their name.

As well as having talent, Tjaarda arrived in the world of car design at a time when there was considerably more room to flourish, not unlike Danish architect Arne Jacobsen – both had space into which their abilities could be projected.  Tjaarda designed a wide range of cars and Jacobsen could do everything from door handles to buildings. Continue reading “Tom Tjaarda”

Long

The most interesting part of this car is on the inside

1993-1999 Cadillac Fleetwood stretch limousine.

But my phone ran out of power. Drat.

I paid close attention to the dashboard and trim and didn’t find very much to criticise. Specifically, I looked at the dashboard which is a terrific slab of shiny wood and convincing plastic with an immense dual ashtray (hanging open – unphotographed). The two things which let it down were the coarse steering column cover which had rather crude detailing and the ashtray liners which were zinc-coated stamped items that were far smaller than you’d expect given the 15 cm width of the drawer they sat in.  Continue reading “Long”

Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour

This little number is up for sale in Jutland. It’s too good to fall under the rubric of Something Rotten In Denmark.

1966 Datsun Bluebird: source.

The photo is a screenshot (a deliberate choice). Bilbasen should adjust their web-page so as to show the complete photo; evidently the entire photo is uploaded but it is cropped to fit the box. A thumbnail in the screen shot shows the entire car. What about the design story? Continue reading “Nice Old Datsun With Italian Flavour”

Pomegranate Luncheon and the Landgrave

Rolls-Royce revealed a custom-made car, the Sweptail, at Villa d’Este. What does DTW think?

2017 Rolls Royce Sweptail: source

The Sweptail draws inspiration from a 1925 car called the Phantom Round Door and takes a little from the Phantom II and has some Park Ward features (say, the 20/25 Limousine Coupé). I see a little 1971 Buick Riviera in the shape of the glasshouse but perhaps that car was also drawing on Rolls-Royce influences. Continue reading “Pomegranate Luncheon and the Landgrave”

A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade

Reader Shant F. kindly sent this photo which summed up some of the week’s subjects.

1993 Fiat Punto and 1995 Lancia Y in Milan

This week we discussed the Fiat Punto, quondam class-leader among superminis. The Lancia Kappa came up for more scrutiny (I have to test drive one). Driven to Write also applied its bifocals to rear bumpers – these cars have those. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Jam and Marmalade”

Theme: Aftermarket – The Months of the Year and What We Did With Them

As Simon Kearne so eloquently pointed out in his introduction to this month’s theme, the world of aftermarket is one richly populated with products.

The list of the top-ten most popular aftermarket products probably includes alloy wheels, car-seat covers, satellite-navigator armatures, chrome strips for the edges of doors, fog-lamps and spoilers.

Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – The Months of the Year and What We Did With Them”

Micropost: Alfa Romeo Giulia Has No Rear Centre Armrest Shock

Even the top-of-the-range AR Giulia has no rear centre armrest.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

This is the Quadrifoglio version with a 6-cylinder engine and Brembos all around. An absent rear centre arm-rest is a characteristic of cars from two classss down costing a quarter of the Alfa’s asking price.

Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?

I will try to focus this one on the aftermarket wheels and not the car they happen to adorn.

1991 Opel Omega B2

It’s a 1999-2003 Opel Omega (B2 to those in the know). As I said before, in the aftermarket we find tricky ground. Who am I to say these wheels are not the ones for this car? My argument is that the wheels have really low-profile rubber and they do not help the rest of the suspension do its job which in this car’s case was high-speed stability and comfort rather than maximum grip at intermediate speeds. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?”

Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall

Yet again we return to the  Lancia Kappa. The excuse this time is that I managed to nab some photos of the interior.

1994-2000 Lancia Kappa interior (I  like the wood effect)

Not a very few of these still rattle around Denmark, not many either. Up the road from me a chap has a Kappa estate, would you believe. Let’s take a close look at the car…
Continue reading “Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall”

Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?

If memory serves, Piet Mondrian had a huge row with Paul Klee or Wassily Kandinsky about whether diagonal lines should be allowed in art.  Has there been such an argument in car design?

2015 Peugeot 508 rear bumper

It’s to do with bumper to body shutlines which leads to what might be the only semi-scholarly study of the evolution of the rear car bumper on the whole of continental Europe.

Continue reading “Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?”

And They Remembered the Garrison’s Granary and the Strawberry Trees

After quite a hiatus, it is time to have another focus on ashtrays. Today we admire the dainty ashtray of the 1976 Citroen CX. 

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This fine pair of photos has been sent to us by our Hamburg correspondent, Kris, who appears to have been inside one of the cars recently. Lucky him.

This ashtray is quite well positioned: on the top of the rear door. The chrome frame is a generous touch. I have my doubts about the crackle-finish of the flap. Why not neutral chrome too? It is a rear-hinged flip-over design and, in terms of affordance, a little unhelpful. Does one press the front or back edge to open it?  This could be quite a good place for the tray but it must be a small bowl. Citroen could have made the door a bit deeper here to allow for a more substantial ashtray.

A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria

The hunt for quality: where does the perception of goodness reside in this car? 

1992 BMW 3-series E30.

Recently the opportunity afforded itself for me to take a lot of photos of a car Clarkson called an over-priced Escort, a chance to hunt for quality. What did I find? Continue reading “A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria”

The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats

Whilom a two-door coupe often featured in a manufacturer’s line-up, they are now something of a rarity as we have already discussed.

Honda beforetime sold quite a few different versions of their Civic and Accord cars. This vehicle is from the tail end of the last part of the final bit of the glory days of sub-model variation Golden Age.

As a global car, the Accord has a complex life-history. My search for information started badly because I thought the car looked like a Civic so I went after them. It looks rather small, you see. Further research led me to Continue reading “The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats”

The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile

This is very likely the most striking car on sale today, the Toyota C-HR.

Inside and out, the car uses extremely expressive forms, taking the deconstructed appearance seen on some front-ends and bringing them around the sides. The exterior is conceived of in a rather different way compared to what, up until now, we have considered standard. It is available as normal petrol-engined car or as a hybrid but that’s not where the interest lies. No, madam.

Continue reading “The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile”

Theme: Aftermarket – Plato’s Garments Cloak the Sunrise

Fun fact: for Ireland only this car came with a 1.4 L petrol engine.

That had something to do with Ireland’s punitive car taxation system. Still, it’s a puzzle. The Celtic Tiger roared loudest around then: was Rover (Irl.) Ltd so desperate to sell cars that they had to
Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Plato’s Garments Cloak the Sunrise”

Theme: Aftermarket – They Who Call the Piper Tune The Player

The matter of tuning demands a little diplomacy. 

This photo is as good a representative of tuner culture. You’ll notice the sticker affirming the primacy of self-reliance even if it leads to failure. It says “I’d rather lose by a mile than win by inch if I made didn’t make myself”.

From my own personal experience, tuners seem to be perpetually in search of a new project. They are not alone in this. This is also true of bicycle enthusiasts who are often swapping out parts in the quest to Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – They Who Call the Piper Tune The Player”

The Two Mares From the Wild Fellow’s Forest

How do two of Stuttgart’s finest compare?

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Some time back I harvested a set of detailed photos of a Mercedes W-123. It wasn’t until recently I had a chance to take a corresponding set of its replacement. Alas the correspondence is not complete. Some details are paired for comparison and the rest are dumped in a ragbag of two slideshows. The conclusion is that in replacing the W-123 Mercedes merely wanted to Continue reading “The Two Mares From the Wild Fellow’s Forest”

A Moment Within A Moment Passes

This vehicle hid in the backlot of an Opel dealer near me. 

It would have been difficult to take many photos without attracting attention so this is all I have. It must be among the very first of the new Insignias in Denmark. What do I think?

Continue reading “A Moment Within A Moment Passes”

Slowly Spun Cerulean and Azure in the Rays

Another bang from the past, this: the much-lauded but penultimately and then ultimately rather awful Chrysler Stratus

Tom Gale thought this car the bee´s legs.

Whenever I get a chance I take random bike rides or walks around Basel. For many Anglo-Saxons it’s an unknown city, perhaps one that causes confusion as it reminds them of silly toff first names or green leafed herbs used in pesto. Perhaps it suggests a certain degree of Mittel-European obscurity. To some Switzerland is a bit obscure and Basel is a part of that, making it extra exotic. Continue reading “Slowly Spun Cerulean and Azure in the Rays”

The Faint Trails and the Unearthing

That Maserati Biturbo interior caused some discussion here and I thought I’d present a little gallery of the possible inspirations for the design (of the seats and armrest). 

1985 Maserati Biturbo interior: source

Actually, it is not as easy a search as you might think. The search term is “Italian sofa 1979” and what you get if you Continue reading “The Faint Trails and the Unearthing”

Unseen Portents Hammer Air, Water Trembles

The usual place to start with the Kia Opirus is the front. 

The US market had a better grille

Followed by a look around the sides and the back. Most of what is said or thought about the Opirus hinges on its looks (the E-class lights and unfortunate grille) and that it’s no match for anything except a rusted-out E-class on concrete blocks. Continue reading “Unseen Portents Hammer Air, Water Trembles”

Not Alone Is The Winter’s Chalice Replenished

Very clearly the work of one person’s vision, Michel Boué, the Renault 5 impresses with the clarity of its concept. This example shows how it could be more than a basic conveyance.

Renault 5 TX automatic

In this instance we have here a really tidy, timewarp example with very little sign of tear or wear. We’ll get to the interior in a moment, with its comfortable sports seats and very inviting ambience.

Continue reading “Not Alone Is The Winter’s Chalice Replenished”

And the Lightness Edged Gold Across the Sky

When this car first parked on my street the light had fallen. By early morning it had driven off. Would I ever see it again?

Solid rarity

Some good fortune meant that I did, as the photos attest. The Granada is both banal and not uninteresting. How’s that? Continue reading “And the Lightness Edged Gold Across the Sky”

Chicken Or Egg?

Does the Golf have ten engines because VW believes it leads to increased sales (twice as many as the next most popular car)?

A bit of Golf

Or does such huge sales volume mean VW can pamper its clientele like no clientele has been pampered before? To answer this I needed to crunch some numbers. Statistical research of the most basic kind is very dull indeed. It does reveal some interesting things in return however. Such work is the reverse of golf, I think, which sport some say is fun to do but which is clearly boring to look at. In that spirit (“ah, look, the tassles are flying”) I decided to get stuck in and see what it takes to be in the top ten, engineswise. There was no point in hand-waving. Some maths had to be involved.

And if you want to find out more about why I would want to Continue reading “Chicken Or Egg?”

Mystery Car

Our correspondent in Dublin, Mick, has kindly sent us a blurry close-up which might be a candidate for a mystery car competition.

… or not a mystery at all?

What is remarkable is that among our readers are people with the skill to recognise what this car is without having seen one in the metal for what could be years. This says something about how much visual consistency is applied at all scales of a car compared to a building, for example.

I would guess that if you pick 1% of the surface of a car and 1% of the surface of a building then the cars would be easier to identify. Another interesting point is whether a car from today is more or less easily identified from a 1% sample compared to one from, say, 1960. That’s a researchable question!

Behold

While I poked around Suzuki’s Japanese homepage I found the Hustler interior which is worth another look. 

Source

That is the power of orange. However, the iPhone white interior is good too. I notice they offer two orange shades. That’s an interesting and odd thing to do. Why not a cool shade? Or black or boring grey?

There is a 4wd version of this as well.

Ignis Inspection

As promised… a closer look at the new Suzuki Ignis.

These photos are very grey and very dank and really only serve to prove I did go to take a look at an Ignis with its wrapping still on. Curiously, all of the cars at the dealer had darkened rear windows so I could not see the interior properly. So, in the metal is the new Ignis going to live up to the burden of expectations? Continue reading “Ignis Inspection”

Genesis GV80 Design Notes

Genesis have shown this concept car at the New York Auto show.

Great stance: source

Some of the images are too smooth and bland to be anything but CGI so perhaps the car will look more substantial in the metal.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about articulation and ways designers show depth and substance on a form. Mercedes used to insist on big radii to express the thickness of the metal (you can’t bend thick sheet steel as tightly as thin stuff). Flushness suggest flimsiness as do sharp edges. I notice architects often Continue reading “Genesis GV80 Design Notes”

Postcard from Schleswig 2

If only there had been more time to study this one: a 1976-1979 Cadillac Seville. 

Standard of the world

With some impatient passengers in the car, I promised this was the last time I’d stop and photograph something interesting that day. Patience was wearing thin. By the time I got back after two minutes and five snaps a brawl had already broken out. I sensed a small battle by photo four.

If had a chance to Continue reading “Postcard from Schleswig 2”

Postcard From Schleswig 4

This is a vignette more than a postcard. I did see these two in Schleswig, on the way west.

Facelift, original.

We stopped in a supermarket and I thought to stock up on provisions: some JJ Darboven coffee and German-market Aperol which is 15% rather than 11%. In the carpark I noticed an early series 1 Peugeot 406 and a Series 2.

Continue reading “Postcard From Schleswig 4”

Postcard From Schleswig 5

Or Wanderup,  to be more precise. It is about 7km from Flensburg. Making a change from the more prevalent Ruesselsheim cars is this Taunus 1600 seen there (by me).

1970-1975 Ford Taunus 1600

From 1970 Ford paired the Taunus with the British Cortina. Arguably the Taunus name sat better with the car’s image than the somewhat/extremely pretentious Cortina moniker.  Continue reading “Postcard From Schleswig 5”