Lionel Rewrote A List

In recent articles we’ve been looking at over-styling of one form or another. I’ve also been considering the driving forces behind the phenomenon. Counterfactual time…

Another bloody Merc

Let’s take a trip in our time machine. It looks like a W-114 Mercedes but when the car gets to 45 kmph and the fan speed is set to high the car slips back in time to 1990. It also gives the driver the power to Continue reading “Lionel Rewrote A List”

Here’s Your Samarra, The Tinders And Brush Await You

Today we have a Twix of an article, considering two recent offerings from DS and BMW with a side-order of architectural musing.

1979 Citroen CX GTi: mobile.de

At the risk of being pretentious, these designs ask one to reflect on what Farshid Moussavi discusses as the function of style (in relation to buildings but it is true of design generally).

“What is style? Whether used to identify an individual architect’s oeuvre, or to indicate some common features in a place or a period, “style” has historically been the word employed. Embedded within this usage,” writes Moussavi “are several dubious and conflicting assumptions. Firstly that style consists in the repetition of formal elements. Second that style is the product of an individual personality. Thirdly, that style relates to something larger and less tangible than the actual buildings that Continue reading “Here’s Your Samarra, The Tinders And Brush Await You”

More Cruel Than Pombal, Lovelier Than Life Itself

Driventowrite is in cheeky, quizzical mood today. So, a gauntlet will be placed carefully and politely at your collective feet. 

1957 Wolseley advert: source

After all the hard work and testing, the result of the collective labour of hundreds of women and men over several years, every car gets summed up in a few short words. The following is a selection of verdicts on cars produced in recent years. Can you Continue reading “More Cruel Than Pombal, Lovelier Than Life Itself”

A Photo For Sunday: 2011-2017 Ford Focus Saloon

Driventowrite is the name and to some extent the “driven” part corresponds to a form of sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder related to arm-rests in mid-size passenger cars. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

Good grief. It’s a 2011-2018 Ford Focus saloon.

That’s why today’s car is here**. I would absolutely love to  know what decision-making process led Opel to drop the rear-centre arm-rest in their “J” series Astra (2009-2015) while Ford decided that the rear-centre arm-rest would grace the saloon version of today´s Focus (but not the estate or hatchback). Actually I think I know… we’ll
Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 2011-2017 Ford Focus Saloon”

Rathcahir’s Folk Would Withold Even A Grain Of Truth

We return once more to my desperate attempt to make design semantics interesting to people outside the design profession.

1970 Bentley T-1**: source

Far from being a distant irrelevance to those practicing design, researchers cotton on to things which merely take time to be understood.  If we are wondering today why current design is so over-wrought, there are those to whom this will not be a surprise.  Should you be so diligent as to

Continue reading “Rathcahir’s Folk Would Withold Even A Grain Of Truth”

“What It Is Really Like To Be A Fictional Person”

Coincidences happen and don’t mean anything. Still, they add a touch of poetic interest to our otherwise unstructured and meaningless lives. Here’s one that actually happened to me!

2018 Nissan Pulsar: Nissan UK

About a week ago I was walking home from the supermarket. I think I’d bought some onions and some sliced bread (I like toast in the morning sometimes). Exactly as I passed the doorway of the rather good hamburger joint on the street, my subconscious mind notified my conscious mind that I could not Continue reading ““What It Is Really Like To Be A Fictional Person””

The Last Letters Of Carpenter

Very recently this author was immersed for three days in the world of the aesthetics of design. Dieter Rams’ name came up.

2011 Nissan Juke rear: carmagazine.co.uk

Deiter Rams worked as Braun’s chief designer, having a desk there from 1961 to 1995. It occurred to me that I agree with the whole lot of Rams’ principles which are opposed to zany, aggressive styling and yet I am a known liker of cars such as the Nissan Juke and Toyota CH-R.

People will also know of other zany and aggresssive designs  which offend to a degree and I don’t dislike all of them. I have come to accept some zaniness is quite okay (maybe it’s resignation). Is there any way I can Continue reading “The Last Letters Of Carpenter”

After The джудже The исполин Will Be Among Us

A few days ago, I wondered which marque offered the most badge engineered cars in its range. So, shall we make an effort to investigate this?

2018 Fiat Talento: source

Naturally, I will have to go back to Fiat first. What do you think the result will be? Well, Fiat didn’t really Continue reading “After The джудже The исполин Will Be Among Us”

Only Then Can The Quietude Commence

DTW’s keen eye for a bad detail espied this mechanically adequate A-pilllar recently.

Title title tile

While some Chryslers left the showrooms wearing Lancia badges in recent years, Fiat also had a chance to Continue reading “Only Then Can The Quietude Commence”

Great European Cars: Number 3

The tension must be mounting at this point. Driventowrite is nearing the summit of the European motoring pantheon.

1965 Wartburg 31

The thin air makes every upward centimetre a struggle against gravity. The cold gnaws into the core of your bones. To put it another way, the competition is fierce as more and more cars struggle to be near the epicentre of the best European motoring has offered. So many vehicles and only one can Continue reading “Great European Cars: Number 3”

Micropost: 2018 Kia Venga

Among my pet hates in Photoshop imagery is lens-flare. This advert for the Kia Venga adds some extra hatefulness and incompetence to that.

Revolting: source

The scene depicts not martians landing on the roof of the Vatican but a kid and a parent playing gleefully around the car. This could have been done in real life – why spend a whole day messing with Photoshop? The perspective is wrong as well. And the light is wrong: the sun is casting light towards the camera but the shadows are falling away from the camera.

Why spend a whole day on what is really a scene of cringe-making sentimentality? Finally, the setting: the almost bare front yard. It’ll be baking hot on a summers’ day and horrible at night too. Ads like this contribute to the worsening of our public spaces.

A Photo For Sunday

It’s in many ways just an ordinary sight south of the Alps yet I can’t help my fascination with these fine cars. You don’t see them much in Denmark, so rarity is part of the appeal. But…

Lancia Ypsilon in Brixen, Sudtirol

… I will concede this interest is definitely peculiar to me, that among the short list of cars I will always stop and look at for as long as I can is included a car like the one above: Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday”

Manchester, patronage of tanning salons in (1983-1987)

Quite possibly the most exciting aspect of today’s post is this rather splendid photo. The rest of it is about product semantics.

I never tire of looking at this car. Source

After having considered why is difficult to understand the visual (it’s about cognition), the next tricky thing is to understand design as compromise (all design is failure). And the next level of complexity deals with understanding that even geometrically exquisite lines are open to interpretation. That means semantics or the meaning of the thing or the meaning of the parts of things. If you think you somehow Continue reading “Manchester, patronage of tanning salons in (1983-1987)”

All The VZX 450.3-CN-90 (b) You Can Get Your Hands On

Our good friends at Automotive News reported that after 40 years in production the dear old Lada Niva 4×4 is being radically revised.

The new Lada Niva: source

If I had not seen one of the originals lately I’d possibly have ignored this news. And if I was not a fan of Suzuki’s gradualist approach to their re-working of the Jimny, I might not have thought too hard about this new design from Mr Steve Mattin’s team at Lada.

However I have thought about gradualism in the evolution of niche products like off-roaders, sports cars and luxury cars. And I have seen the current decades old Lada Niva. That means I think the decision to Continue reading “All The VZX 450.3-CN-90 (b) You Can Get Your Hands On”

Micropost: W-140 redesign

In response to the lively discussion about the W-220’s predecessor, I have posted this little gallery of how one might go about redesigning the rear end.

1993 Mercedes S600 coupe: source

The initial problem is the narrow boot aperture and the odd business of the visible weld in the middle of what looks like one part.

I can see from Daniel Callaghan’s proposal that if you simply extend the lamps to the existing boot aperture one ends up with very small radii on the lamps’ inner corner. Mercedes did not want the lamps to have sharp corners: the whole car has quite large radii but especially the lamps are all given relatively rounded corners.

So, if one is to Continue reading “Micropost: W-140 redesign”

In Darkness They Wandered By The Waal

These are a long way from being all that good as photos. However, it is a rare chance to show a Honda Prelude in the wild.

1999 Honda Prelude: pronounced understatement

I am not any kind of Helmut Newton so I have to present this messy collection of mediocre images of the now-quite-rare Honda Prelude. Over the course of a week I had many opportunities to Continue reading “In Darkness They Wandered By The Waal”

Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?

By way of advertising its continued health and vitality – or even its renewed health and vitality –  Opel showed off its GT X Experimental the other day.

More genius from Mark Adams: source

It’s intended as a design for an electric car and that’s going to be Opel’s engineering task in future.

Nobody hates television and talking-head You Tube rubbish more than this correspondent. Despite my loathing of the glue tube, I have to say that this little documentary showed what is not so clear in the static images which accompanied other articles about the GT X. After seeing the little video item I decided I absolutely had to Continue reading “Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?”

That Isn’t What We Think You Really Want, Des.

We have had 23 years to come to terms with the Mk1 Renault Megane. That much is easy to state. What’s harder to express is why this design’s strangeness didn’t come across until recently. 

When I say strange, I don’t mean bad strange. I mean good strange, the oddness of the original and the idiosyncratic. The q-word doesn’t apply here though because this is not like an Ami or Multipla. It doesn’t jump out at you so much as whispers.

The start point of this little rumination is what happens when you Continue reading “That Isn’t What We Think You Really Want, Des.”

No, Stand Not By The Yonder Line

It’s not commonly known outside Denmark and northern Germany that the Danish border has only been in its current place since 1921. Before then much of what we call southern Denmark was in German hands.

1878 Rover SD-1 windscreen

Near the old border which runs east to west from Kolding, I found this car, a 1978 Rover SD1 which had been redecorated as a post-1982 Rover Vitesse (it’s a mash up). I am not an SD-1 expert so I restrict my comments to the vehicle shown in these photos. I passed by the car in order to visit Askov, a small town famous for its folk high-school which sojourn took me by the hand and led me to Continue reading “No, Stand Not By The Yonder Line”

The Desert Has No Summit

Like our old friend the Suzuki Jimny, this little fellow seems to be a very long lived and stable design.

Lada Niva

To my eyes it looks like a vehicle derived in part from the basic architecture of the Fiat 127, launched in 1971. A bit of research reveals that its designers wanted to create something equivalent to a Renault 5 with four-wheel drive. Its inception is credited to a call from the USSR’s political leadership for a utility vehicle for rural areas. Readers may be surprised to
Continue reading “The Desert Has No Summit”

Ashtrays: Nissan Primera (P10)

As the years go by, one can see a car design more clearly. And some ashtray concepts are timeless. Today, Nissan’s Primera Mk2, timelessness personified.

1996 Nissan Primera

This is the P10 Primera, code-name fans. It is one to remember because this version of the Primera hit the sweet spot in terms of its size, tractability, quality and ashtrays. The previous car was the Bluebird, a form of sensory deprivation and the successor nice to look at but disappointing to steer.

When you feel like you might want to Continue reading “Ashtrays: Nissan Primera (P10)”

Micropost: Solution to the So 1998 Puzzle

Thank you, readers for engaging with the puzzle I set during the summer and which I have so far neglected to return to. Relief is at hand!

1996 Opel Calibra: source

The question was “What is the connection between the Opel Vectra “A” and the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph?” If you wish to find out the answer you must Continue reading “Micropost: Solution to the So 1998 Puzzle”

Gorfe’s Granadas: 1981-1985 Ford Granada 2.3 LX

Here is another example of Ford’s unfailing talent at large cars, writes Myles Gorfe who is currently Driven To Write’s Acting Assistant Senior Classic Cars Editor-At-Large.

Ford Granada 2.3 LX

Driven To Write is looking for an Assistant Senior Classic Cars Editor-At-Large so if you are interested, send a CV soon, please.

Myles Gorfe writes: “This great car was spotted by Richard in Denmark and not me. I was sorry not to see it myself because you absolutely have to Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1981-1985 Ford Granada 2.3 LX”

Ashtrays: Alfa Romeo Alfetta 1.6

Imagine Helmut Newton coming back from a shoot and discovering he’s managed to omit the model.

Alfa Romeo Alfetta 1.6

A little of that level of carelessness applies here since I left out a big part of the main focus on the car’s key feature.  My only defence is that these are holiday photos and, anyway, when did you last see one of these in the metal? If you did maybe you’d be too mouth-smashed to keep your head clear too.  I was bowled over and perhaps my critical faculties fell out of the window. So we must make of this what we can so will have no choice but to Continue reading “Ashtrays: Alfa Romeo Alfetta 1.6”

Manchester, arrest for theft of pavement from

Making this week one to note in your journals, dear readers, is the double whammy of the demise of the Fiat Punto and VW Beetle.

No more of these, please.

You can find the background to the Punto’s demise here. Fiatgroupsworld reported it here. And you can find a report here as well. Naturally we covered these seismic events here. VW of Oneonta reports the Beetle’s demise here. How many of you have been to Oneonta, by the way? I have! The Sacramento Bee reports the Beetle’s end this way: click thisThis is a report from a UK source. And Autocropley reflects on the car’s life and times by making the decision to Continue reading “Manchester, arrest for theft of pavement from”

In The Gaps Between The Many Universes

…which is the kind of image that is worth a science fiction story, I feel. 

If anyone wants to spin a science-fiction story off that idea, they are welcome to use it as long as they are kind enough to credit the idea to me.

The notion suggested in the phrase is that there are spaces between the universes which are all packed together like multidimensional foam on a huge scale. Think of the gaps between tennis balls in a bag of tennis balls. That’s the rough shape of the spaces between the universes.

You could hide a fleet of space-ships in those voids. You could Continue reading “In The Gaps Between The Many Universes”

We Will Certainly Be At Your Wedding, Brian

A single black and white photo of a 1982-1992 F-body Chevrolet Camaro or Pontiac Firebird, seen in my district. But what does it portend?

I could bemoan the proportions. That´s pointless. Maybe a potted model history? No, thanks. The photo could lead us down a rabbit hole regarding General Motors’ body nomenclature. Considering the depth, breadth and sheer squiggliness of that byzantine horror, I am not sure if I can force myself to Continue reading “We Will Certainly Be At Your Wedding, Brian”

Re-1998 Part 8 : ダイハツ シリオン

Initially the plan was to write about the Peugeot 406 Coupé, pictured below. The plan deviated when news came in that the Daihatsu Sirion+ celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month and as a present, I’ll give it some airtime.

Peugeot 406 coupé

James May is today one of the three huge faces carved out of the Mount Rushmore of motoring journalism, along with Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson. In August 1998 he still wrote for Car magazine, and could be found offering interesting and balanced views. That month he wrote up the Daihatsu Sirion +, (ダイハツ シリオン in Japanese) as it was called officially.

May was able to Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 8 : ダイハツ シリオン”

It Is Only Proper And Right And Proper

Seeing one of these is something of an event so I went to town with the photography. This is very probably the same one I saw last time, in another part of town.

As well as its brief life, the iQ is famous for being a latter day Cadillac Cimarron. Aston Martin smothered iQs in leather and sold them as posh city runabouts. Aston Martin understandably don’t want to disown their heritage, yes. When you read this kind of text you feel they might have overdone it though: “Cygnet was conceived, designed and built as a true Aston Martin. Including the many synonymous design cues featured across our model range including authentic zinc side-strakes, distinctive bonnet meshes, iconic grille and the legendary badge”.

If you want to know about the Aston Martin’s technical specification you only need to Continue reading “It Is Only Proper And Right And Proper”

Re-1998 Part 7 : Mercedes CLK 320 Convertible

£41,140 got you a 3.2 litre dohc 18 valve V6 engine that could pull the car to 60 mph in 8 seconds. Do we need more facts?

1998 Mercedes Benz CLK 320: source

The sky overhead is metallic grey

The steel roof gone too – a sky for a canopy

Among the wild horses of Swabia again?

Asphalt blurs, rolls, rips under alloy wheels

Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 7 : Mercedes CLK 320 Convertible”

Great European Cars Number 4

Slowly but surely, Driventowrite is advancing up to the top of the list of Great European cars like a mountaineer inching up the Eiger. Today, the French get their turn as another piton is hammered home.

Part 1 of the series is here. Part 2 of the series is not here but here.  The third part lives in this tiny dot For the fourth part, click this. And the fifth instalment exists here.

Today. Today we have the car embodying the essential key elements of French car design and it was a strong seller too rather than being merely some much admired, often repaired, seldom driven garage queen. You won’t be surprised to Continue reading “Great European Cars Number 4”

Re-1998 Part 6 : 현대 쏘나타 V6

Ever the fan of underdogs, DTW reminds readers that in 1998 Hyundai was not the Hyundai we know today. It made cars like the Sonata. And you know what? This article does not end the way you’d expect.

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The Sonata wasn’t that bad at all though. Autocar liked it and I do too, in a way. How can you possibly Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 6 : 현대 쏘나타 V6”

Re-1998 Part 5 : Kangoo and Berlingo

If you’d asked me in 1998 what were the most important car design trends I’d have thought it was MPVs and vans serving as family transport.

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Cars like the Berlingo and Kangoo fall into the second category. And interestingly, if I Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 5 : Kangoo and Berlingo”

Manchester, second arrest in

There are other websites with better photos than the ones I take. I gave up taking arty photos of cars ages ago because I am simply no good at making a good car look any better than it might be.

Some cars are easier than others to work off though and this Saab is one of them. It also helps that the owner has chosen to give the car some steam-punk charisma. Is there a small vogue for this in my little area I wonder because if I
Continue reading “Manchester, second arrest in”

Re-1998 Part 4 : Suzuki Grand Vitara

DTW seems to really like Suzuki. Autocropley hated the 1998 Ignis. We like it anyway because we like Suzuki.

It´s bigger than you think: 1998 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Today we will get our loafers muddy as we venture off road in order to Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 4 : Suzuki Grand Vitara”

Re-1998 Part 3 : Skoda Octavia

You wouldn’t call the 1998 Skoda Octavia an interesting car. From any other manufacturer at any other time it would have been damned as finally as the last Escort or legendary Mitsubishi Carisma.

1998 Skoda Octavia: wikipedia

But like the Datsun 1oo-A or first Corollas the Skoda is a car that had the amazing power to Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 3 : Skoda Octavia”

Re-1998 Part 2 – Ford Fiesta Versus Some Other Cars

We carry on our saunter down memory avenue with this look back to the champions of the summer of 1998. Where were you then?

1998 Renault Megane Scenic**: source

I don’t want to talk about it. It was the second worst time of my life. Times weren’t good at Mercedes either. The A-Class had been moosed and that took some of the attention from its revolutionary cheapening of the Mercedes name and its quite hideous styling.

Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 2 – Ford Fiesta Versus Some Other Cars”

Re-1998 Part 1: Volvo S80

I know we’ve talked about this car before but the theme is summer 1998 and around then, a worrying two-decades back, this car was fresh and  new.

1998 Volvo S80.

“Volvo S80 takes the fight to BMW,” roared What Car in 72 point lettering. “It may be unmistakably Volvo but the all-new S80 has enough style and appeal to give rival luxury saloons a fright. And it won’t cost the earth either,” they continued. This claim x or y car will frighten BMW et al is a constant.

Somewhere (I’ve lost it) I have a copy of Autocropley with a headline saying Continue reading “Re-1998 Part 1: Volvo S80”

Re-1998 : Introduction

The summer is here and DTW’s offices become ferociously stuffy, a maelstrom of dandruff, cigar ash and wine-label dust dancing in the shafts of half-light.

1998 Alfa Romeo 166 rear view: Wikipedia.org

Simon Kearne, the editor, moves his collection of sherry and cooking marsala to his summer residence (location: secret) and Myles Gorfe’s padded rally jacket disappears off his swivel chair. We never see him, or him taking it. He has gone, like a swallow in September.

So, this writer is also fleeing DTW’s dusty, cramped, byzantine, magazine-clogged rooms on the ninth floor for a summer pause. However, I am not going to display complete dereliction of duty and so have left a trove of articles on automotive life in 1998. which I have tagged Re-1998. They will appear over  the coming weeks.

To see what I might have picked out you don’t need to do much more than Continue reading “Re-1998 : Introduction”

Manchester, various hiding places in

2019 might seem so very far away now. Who knows what the world will be like then. One thing we do know now is that Ford won’t be present at the 2019 Geneva motor show.

Ideal for the streets of London, Berlin and Dublin! Source

“Ford said the decision was made because the show’s timing didn’t fit its launch schedule and therefore wouldn’t represent good value,” wrote Automotive News Europe. Not launching enough cars, then Ford, eh? Furthermore, we need double quote marks for this next bit: “‘It costs a sizeable amount of money,’ a Ford of Europe spokesman said. ‘If you’re not going make a return on the investment in terms of media attention or people on the stand, why do it?’”.

Sizeable is relative. It costs lots of money in relation to my annual salary, yes, but a few million euros for some wooden stands and pretty ladies in Lycra is a rounding error in Ford’s turn-over, no?

In 2017 the car world rocked a bit when it was announced PSA would Continue reading “Manchester, various hiding places in”

Manchester, current location of

The main thrust of this little meditation rests on a sighting of the brightwork on a VW Troc.

“I love the lens flair, Jon… very original, atmospheric, you know…”

Alas, my camera did not lie within easy reach so I have to use a library photo. I can confirm, however that the car had the same paint coat as the one in the image you can see above.

The thought process lasted under a minute. My eventual conclusion is to wonder if I am some kind of relativist. Am I?

Continue reading “Manchester, current location of”

Trimming The Edges Of Reason

Let’s go back to 1999 right now. We will refresh our memories about the Isuzu KAI.

1999 Isuzu KAI: source

Isuzu ran a concept design studio in the UK, led by designer Simon Cox. Among the products of the studio was the Vehi-Cross (1997-2001). For the Kai Isuzu used very different form language, though one in keeping with the geometrical themes manifest most obviously in the Mk1 Ford Focus. If the surfacing and detailing are very 1999, the package is very now. Think of the BMW GT5 or Mercedes GLC. There is an arcing roofline and a raised chassis. It’s a hatchback on stilts in very simple terms. Continue reading “Trimming The Edges Of Reason”

Among The Humans The Lichen Stands Tall

This week Volvo showed off its new S60 saloon. We liked it. In 1997 Volvo put its S70 into the fray, up against the 528i SE and the Audi 2.8 3.0V.

1997 Volvo S70: source

Car magazine ran a giant test. Let’s  take a look back and see what’s the same and what’s different and see if we can Continue reading “Among The Humans The Lichen Stands Tall”

Hug Tight Your Futile Success

This is a short post for the early morning. Another longer one will be along shortly.

Car Magazine June 1978

The image is the front cover of Car magazine from June 1978. I often wonder about that time, or more precisely, 1979. Prompting this is the image of the Senator and the assumptions built into Car’s headline. I’d really like to Continue reading “Hug Tight Your Futile Success”

Smoking Quietly In The Opisthodomos

It’ll be hard to complain about this one. The people at Volvo unveiled the Volvo S60 saloon. You can read more about it here and here and here.

2019 Volvo S60: source

However, good and all as those websites are, not a single one of them will provide a close-up design analysis as you will find if you simply Continue reading “Smoking Quietly In The Opisthodomos”

I Really Thought You Said Sunday

Today I present a meta-review. I haven’t got around to having a chance to try to drive a 508 so instead I’ll report on two articles, one from Autocropley and the other from the Telegraph.

2019 Peugeot 508. Image: R Parazitas (the royalty’s in the post)

It goes without saying that I haven’t got an axe to grind for or against the 508. Like any car it deserves a fair judgement and something about these reviews suggests that whatever Peugeot does, the UK is a lost cause. If you read these reviews nothing would lead you to Continue reading “I Really Thought You Said Sunday”

A Photo For Sunday: 1994-1998 Mazda 323 saloon

This is beyond weird. I don’t even see interesting cars at the other end of the street.

1994-1998 Mazda 323 saloon. Immaculate.

These mysteries and these enigmas appear just on my bit of street, not the other three bits. Here we are with the kind of old man’s car the residents find irresistible. Usually that means Carinas, Astras and 406s. Today it’s a mint-condition Mazda 323 saloon in a pale golden metallic colour. I had a close look at it and all the black plastic is in lovely, dark condition, box fresh from Hofu. Yes, I know you can Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1994-1998 Mazda 323 saloon”