A Camel Drowns By The Oasis

The Frankfurt motor show is upon us again. Thoughts?

Severe disfigurement: source

The official IAA image is frightening, isn’t it?

It seems like only about six months since the last one closed and, dear, oh, dear, here is another one. I went to Autocropley to have a gander at their list of launches and unveilingments. I can’t say much of it tickled my fancy. The Audi A7 is top of the list for alphabetical reasons and, if it is anything like the new A8, it´ll be a bit much on a too small plate. The A7 is one of the nicest looking cars in production and the new A7 is not going down that path – as with all launches of replacement models and many new ones, the dial is being turned up to 11, especially in the grille department. The A8’s could be from an articulated truck apart from the quite astonishing amount of brightwork. The first A8 set a standard Audi have failed to Continue reading “A Camel Drowns By The Oasis”

George’s Pet Anachronism

This post is something of a ragbag and it’s missing one photo. 

Aston Martin Rapide

A Maserati Ghibli pulled up next to me at traffic lights yesterday. As ever, I checked out the brightwork around the sideglass. Much to my amazement, Maserati opted for two pieces, instead of one, around the rearmost pane. For the kind of money Maserati want, I’d expect one single part. Opel and Kia can do it.

What’s this got to do with the Rapide? Continue reading “George’s Pet Anachronism”

Holy Moley Cannoli

Today we have another chance to document the ordinary but now rare E80 Corolla.

The grille is similar to the contemporary Carina.

To be precise it’s the EE80 three door hatchback, 1985 to 1987.

We’ve documented the saloon here and I argued that it’s a collection of near-neutralities. The hatch has the same basic simplicity (the surfaces have the least possible curvature) yet there is a hint more expression noticeable. It’s in the rake of Continue reading “Holy Moley Cannoli”

17.5 Billion Hours a Year

I have done some desk-work and put together a few assumptions to see how self-driving transport adds up. What are the problems with self-driving cars or the idea behind them?

Self-driving car

Without leaving the kitchen table, I was able to identify some conceptual problems with self-driving cars and ways to improve the efficiency of car use.

If a car drives on average 12,000 miles per year and does an average of 60 miles per hour then that means 200 hours of driving per year. (Cars are spent after just 1400 to 2000 hours of use).

The occupancy rate in relation to hours per year is very low. There are 8760 hours in year. Cars are driven for 200 hours a year, typically. For 8560 hours a year a car is unused. Thus there are 43.8 times more hours of use available than are used each year. If you drove all year, you would still Continue reading “17.5 Billion Hours a Year”

Under the Upside

Not a lot of information exists on this car. I think it’s a 2007.

It is a Microcar MC-2 and appears to be a peculiar blend of the Renault Avantime and Audi A2. It’s one of three microcars I’ve spotted recently. More can be read here. One sees a lot of them in Germany and none in Ireland or Denmark. Continue reading “Under the Upside”

A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.

To speak comparatively, this is funnier than a Steve Martin essay: the 1991-1996 Ford Escort. 

1991-1996 Ford Escort (US model).

The US Ford Escort here occupied showrooms from 1991 to 1996. The EU versions straddled this: 1986 to 1992 and 1990 to 1997 (there’s a year when Ford sold all three). In order to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.”

DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review

“The new Saab 99 tested. Is it more than the anti-Volvo”?

Marking the Saab 99’s 50th anniversary, we revisit this transcript where the legendary motoring writer Archie Vicar samples what is now viewed as one of the top-ten great Saabs. First published Nov 7, 2014.

Library photo
Library photo

From “Mass Motorist” Dec. 1968. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

Introduction

When people think of Sweden and Swedish cars, they often think of Volvo who make sturdy machines capable of withstanding the horrors of the Scandinavian climate. But it’s worth remembering that Sweden has a second car maker, Saab, who also make fighter jets. Like our friends at Bristol, Saab use the experience they have gained in aerospace to Continue reading “DTW Summer Re-Issue: 1968 Saab 99 Review”

Micropost: Over the Curling Sky

DTW has a thing about brightwork. We also have a thing about quality.

1994 Lexus LS400

The 1990 Lexus LS400 famously had nitrogen-filled tyres because mere air caused a resonance. Despite the car’s astonishingly careful conception, these aren’t much loved and few are they now in number. It’s successor (above) is a crouton in the same soup bowl. Yesterday I got a chance to

Continue reading “Micropost: Over the Curling Sky”

The bottom half of the glass is empty

… it’s full from the middle up. We’re talking of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, naturally.

1986-1993 Cadillac Sedan De Ville

That’s what the photos show. However, more newsworthy is the announcement** that Joel P. is leaving his position as Ford’s European design chief to make way for Amko Leenarts, an RCA alumnus. Previously he oversaw Ford/Lincoln interiors at Dearborn. Joel P. goes back to Dearborn after a few short years to a newly created (read: not very powerful) position. That’s probably because he a) Continue reading “The bottom half of the glass is empty”

Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover

Excuse my deliberately wrong headline. Dodge sold this one as the Nitro, on the same platform as the Jeep Rendition*.

2007 Dodge Nitrolander: very simple surfaces.

It does look like they followed the same playbook as the 2002 Range Rover L322. It also looks like the pencil line thickness on the drawing guided the depth and breadth of the wheel arch lip grooves. It resembles a car to be seen from a good distance. Continue reading “Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover”

Ashtrays: 2013 BMW 760 Li

The fifth generation BMW 7 comes under scrutiny here.

2013 BMW 760 Li centre console.

Ah, the depths of my ignorance. Only a little bit of due diligence led me to discover that until the fifth generation 7er appeared in 2008, this line had McPherson struts at the front. BMW probably argued that if Lancia deemed Mackers good enough for the Trevi then they would suffice for their flagboat saloon.

Today I wish to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2013 BMW 760 Li”

The Gentian Bitter and the Honey Sweet

Many concept cars go nowhere. The 1981 Opel Tech 1 laid the groundwork for the 1986 Opel Omega and the rest of Opel’s cars for the decade.

Opel Omega “A” Club estate headlamp

This Club version of the Opel Omega attracted my attention recently. Audi justifiably get recognition for their strict rationalism. The Omega, it seems to me, demonstrates much the same seriousness. Continue reading “The Gentian Bitter and the Honey Sweet”

Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start

This one is just a single photo. The car drove off before I could get more shots and plus also the driver sat inside and didn’t seem like the kind of person who would appreciate my interest.

1983 Toyota Corolla E80

I have blurred the driver’s face, just in case. Normally I don’t photograph people in cars or cars if there are people in them.

Now: In 1983 Toyota presented the E80, the fifth generation of their answer to the VW Golf and Ford Escort. That makes it mainstream in the extreme. A look back at the previous four generations of Corollas shows cars that are studiously nothing much to look at. Maybe the second generation (1970-1974) had a touch of the American about it, not unlike the Cortina. Even that faint whiff of personality faded away for version three which managed to Continue reading “Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start”

Utmost Serene and Scything Calm the Farmer Fells the Green

 I miss Daihatsu. They withdrew from the European market a few years ago after offering a suite of small and interesting cars which few really liked.

image

There are a few importers of Japanese-market cars in Dublin which is why one can find rarities like this vehicle and, sometimes, unrecognizable saloons slipping past in the distance. I planned to Continue reading “Utmost Serene and Scything Calm the Farmer Fells the Green”

DTW Summer Re-Issue: “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?”

Recently we have been discussing the origins of the Citroën XM.

[First posted Nov 28, 2016, but well worth a second read as it’s a first rate bit of research.]

1989 Citroen XM
1989 Citroen XM

Here are as many of the influences I can find, not counting the aspects of the car that draw on Citroen’s own general heritage. The roll call is long and not exclusive. However, it begins with the 1974 Lotus Eclat which has a similar dropped window line, one of the XM’s signature features. Deschamp’s drawing looks like a saloon Eclat, if you Continue reading “DTW Summer Re-Issue: “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?””

The Unease Spirals Down

Recently I discussed how one detail can ruin a car.

Here we see the 1979 Ford Mustang which, overall, can’t claim to be a very strong or admirable bit of work. All the details accumulate to result in a deeply compromised design. Ford really struggled with this. The decision of production engineers to Continue reading “The Unease Spirals Down”

Micropost: Vastness Rescinded

DTW has a lot of time for Suzuki. Here we see a Jimny in its natural habitat.

1998-to date Suzuki Jimny

The Austrian Tirol asks for a car like the Jimny. The roads can be narrow, steep and snowy. Like the long-lived Defender, the Jimny has evolved and readers can use a lot of mental disc-space on the details of these. You should know it has a ladder-frame chassis (can we Continue reading “Micropost: Vastness Rescinded”

Microgripe: A Silly List

Autocropley ran this list some time back: “The market didn’t want these cars but you should”, it writes. 

1989 Citroen, officially a classic: oppositelock.kinja.com

So, it works like this: they jeer at these cars when they are new and when they are rare and used Autocar tells us how jolly good they are. It can’t be both (the list included the XM, the Scorpio, Rover 75 V8 estate, Volvo S80 V8 and Renault Espace Quadra and Opel Zafira VXR and 607). Continue reading “Microgripe: A Silly List”

Summer Drinks For Relaxing With DTW

Summer is a time for sitting about somewhere new. If you are sitting about on holidays you need two things: something to read (Driven to Write) and something to drink.

From left: Antica Formula, Dubonnet, Punt e Mes, Luis Paez Fino, St Raphael, Lillet, Curatolo Arini marsala

And a chair. Three things then. Driven to write has a host of articles for you to trawl through and there will be another one due in a few hours. As you are sitting about you are not driving so you can enjoy a tipple. We can recommend a few things. Continue reading “Summer Drinks For Relaxing With DTW”

Micropost: The Detriment

The public lost interest in these cars: inexpensive coupes. 

1999 Toyota Celica A-pillar. Bodge.

The flame flickered out between 1999 and 2006 for the seventh generation Celica. It had one engine in two states of tune and this terrible A-pillar. Continue reading “Micropost: The Detriment”

Within and Beyond

Interesting this: Wikipedia does not note the existence of the three-door estate. It does list a 2-d00r saloon, a 4 door saloon, a coupe and a five door wagon plus the enigmatic two-door van.

Mystery: Opel Rekord D

And a picture search reveals very little like this but does show the 5-door estate, and a two-door saloon in some numbers. Is this a Danish-market special? No, but it was not very widespread. Continue reading “Within and Beyond”

Idée Fixe – Styling Sketches

Working within the brief as set out by Steve Randle at the outset, Driven to Write’s Richard Herriott draws upon his design background to produce a series of sketches for our putative Citroën Grande Berline.

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Drawings 1-3 take a graphic rather than sculptural approach. Continue reading “Idée Fixe – Styling Sketches”

“All Things Considered”

In this text which is ostensibly a transcript of an authentic period review, the legendary motoring correspondent, Archie Vicar, hooks a gander at the Van Den Plas Princess 4-litre R.

1967 Van Den Plas Princess 4.0 litre: source

[The article titled “All things considered” is thought to have appeared in the Evening Post-Echo (extra edition) on March 23, 1967. Douglas Land-Windermere is credited with the photography. Due to the exceptionally poor quality of the originals, stock photos have been used.]

There can be no doubt about it but BMC is certainly in the middle of a winning streak. The Riley Kestrel, Mini Moke, Wolseley 1100/1300, Morris 1800, MGC and Austin 1800 are all in their showrooms having been launched in the recent past. Furthermore, BMC has acquired the ever-problematic Jaguar and looks set to put that ever-leaky ship on an even keel in no time at all. So, it cannot be surprising that a car like the Van Den Plas Princess 4-litre R is part of BMC´s vigorously competent team. Continue reading ““All Things Considered””

The Rush and the Rush and the Stop

This pleasantly painted Twingo caught my eye in Flensburg.

1993 Renault Twingo exterior

I had a longer look at the interior which had very playful use of colour. The door handles and window winders were highlighted in yellow. Buttons on the dashboard used the same plastic. The doors had body-coloured paint visible with the door cards inset and made of robust plastic. They made the most of economy, it seems. The design is very contemporary for 1993, the year of the launch. This kind of modernism is in short supply today. Continue reading “The Rush and the Rush and the Stop”

Theme of Last Month: Porsche – The Artemisia Flowers At Noon

Earlier in this series I wrote about Porsche’s design consultancy’s work on pipes and ladies’ jeans. Here’s the C88. It’s a car.

1994 Porsche C88 concept car: favcars.com

In January 1995 Car magazine described it as a 90’s Beetle for the Chinese: “a simple and utilitarian vehicle that could be partly developed by locals”.

Porsche showed the C88 at the Beijing Family Car Congress, a “light, simple and versatile vehicle” to be built at a low cost and to help motorise a nation of non-motorists. Given the already well-known problems with private transport this was as good an idea as introducing cigarettes to a nation of non-smokers.
Continue reading “Theme of Last Month: Porsche – The Artemisia Flowers At Noon”

As Athos Confounded Xerxes

Old Concept Cars is a fine resource for people looking back at forgotten designs. This one is the 1998 Lada Rapan.

1998 Lada Rapan: source.

Not a lot of information exists on this one. What I can gather is that it is under 4 metres long and is powered by a 25 kW electric motor. It´s a concept and no series production occurred. The car could manage 90 kmph and got to 60 kmph in 14 seconds. Presumably modern battery packs could dramatically improve those figures. AutoVaz showed the car at the 1998 Paris motor show.  Continue reading “As Athos Confounded Xerxes”

Theme: Porsche – Don’t say it: “To loud Irena”.

Porsche is a deeply irritating company for the casual on-looker.

1988 Porsche 944 S2: source

Porsche, eh. All I wanted to do was to present a small treatise on the Porsche 944. You know the score: a bit of technical background, some chronology and then a respectful look at the aesthetic elements. But Porsche don’t let outsiders in so easily. Their clubs must be full of people who crouch ready to pounce on those who can’t Continue reading “Theme: Porsche – Don’t say it: “To loud Irena”.”

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”