Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – 1993 Renault Twingo

Patrick Le Quement´s little wonder, the Twingo. A reference for anthropomorphic design.

1993 Renault Twingo exterior
Twenty one years later, the Renault Twingo still holds up as both a very decidedly un-threatening car and a solid bit of industrial design. Seldom are cuteness and aesthetic discipline united in such a successful way.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – 1993 Renault Twingo”

What are Alfa Romeo Selling? Just Wondered.

Alfa Romeo’s fight-back continues for its third straight decade.

Alfa´s complete UK model-line up
Alfa´s complete UK model-line up

The image is a screen shot of Alfa Romeo UK’s website. Notice that there is a rather glaring gap to the right. They do actually sell (or try to sell) three cars but only show two. I wondered why this might be. Are they so strapped for cash that they don’t have the resources to insert the third car into the image? Or is there another “third car” coming soon to Continue reading “What are Alfa Romeo Selling? Just Wondered.”

Idle Thoughts: ボディカラー

A good question relates to the state of Mitsubishi in the UK car market. I am asking it today.

1984 Mitsubishi Colt turbo

1984 Mitsubishi Colt: sold out

What do Mitsubishi sell today? Though the Lancer and Colt are still listed in Mitsubishi UK’s website, they are described as sold out. The remaining range consists of an electric car, a sub-B hatch called the Mirage, several flavours of sport utility vehicles and the very specialised Evolution X FQ-440 MR. This oddity fits into the range as well as an adult “toy” in a shop selling golfing equipment. Continue reading “Idle Thoughts: ボディカラー”

Industrial Design Archaeology: New Edge to Kinetic Design

After “New Edge” came what exactly? And when? And why

2004 Ford Focus blue

For some considerable time I have been wondering about the legacy of Ford Europe’s design director, Chris Bird. What did he achieve and where is he now? First a short review of the received wisdom. Prior to taking up his position at Ford in 1999, Bird was at Audi (where he did the first A8) then renowned for its ice-cool design approach. Continue reading “Industrial Design Archaeology: New Edge to Kinetic Design”

Internal Correspondence 3

I decided to avoid that hungry tramping around that one typically endures when looking for food in a foreign town. Thus the Brasserie Lipp became my “cantine” and I just took a taxi there every evening.

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2014 Biofore concept car interior: an important Geneva show car

Dear Simon:

Nice to have you back. I met Eoin (briefly) at the Geneva show. He was very busy and I didn´t want to disturb him. For my part, it was a successful show and I really feel as if I´ve covered the most important vehicles plus the little black and white job above. Great to see Eoin mopping up the details. The Hotel des Bergues was even better than expected (did you get the fax with the bill?) and the room service sublime. Continue reading “Internal Correspondence 3”

Something Rotten in […] Denmark: Lancia Delta

The Lancia Delta nameplate deserved better than this.

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The first Lancia Delta (1979 to 1994) was two things. It was an neatly uninteresting, Italdesign five door, front-drive car of little obvious merit. And later in life the same car was a high-performance sporting hatch. From 1993 to 1999 Lancia tried to cash in on the Lancia Delta name with this iteration, sold (if it sold at all) in three and five door guise. The second version was a badly considered blend of the predecessor so it had moderately sporting capability and almost, but not quite totally bland styling. Continue reading “Something Rotten in […] Denmark: Lancia Delta”

After the Great Leap Forward

Qoros are not selling on looks and they are not selling on price. What then?

2014 Qoros side view

The 2014 Geneva expo had among its new car launches the Qoros 3 hatch, a variant of the Qoros 3 saloon. Founded in 2007, Qoros’ first car was presented at Geneva last year. This time around they have chopped some length off the car to woo customers in a lower price range.

The company is a joint venture between Israel Corporation and Chery Automotive; for a while the firm was called Chery Quantum Automotive but a new product demanded a new name, hence the change. Whilst you may have heard of Chery, you might not Continue reading “After the Great Leap Forward”

Specifications May Vary

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Like finding empty spaces in a tray of chocolates, but worse

In a perfect world there would be no such thing as a switch blank. You´d have enough money to buy the car with every conceivable feature fitted. Or, if you wanted a simpler, lighter car, that version would have a console and switch panel designed for that exact level of trim. If there were four switches required  for the four functions, there would not be a fifth and sixth hole stoppered with an unmarked plastic plug. Continue reading “Specifications May Vary”

Also Starring : Sideshows at the 2014 Geneva Salon

Some of the less well-known faces at Geneva 2014

2014 XLV front

The Geneva motor show is usually the place for the major manufacturers to display their latest models and concept cars. I decided to see what was being presented by less well-known firms, some of which are tiny and new and some of which are massive but not much in the public eye. And there’s Giugiaro, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of VAG and, I would guess, eventually to share the same fate as Ghia, Ford’s one-time laboratory for innovation. Continue reading “Also Starring : Sideshows at the 2014 Geneva Salon”

The Long Shadows of the Past

The Ascona C (1980-1988) has cast a long shadow over Opel. Is this the car that created the persistent impression of dullness that tarnishes the Opel badge?

1983 Opel Ascona

Today’s inspiration is an Opel Ascona 2-door saloon, spotted in the north of Aarhus. The recent resurgence (maybe that’s only in my own mind) of Opel has made me reconsider where, precisely, it all went wrong for Adam Opel AG. Lying on my psychiatrist’s couch I turned over my impressions and images of Opel. Continue reading “The Long Shadows of the Past”

Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A

It might not look dangerous but this car wiped out the dinosaurs.

1975 Datsun 100-A
What is significant about this car is not merely that it exists at all but that it inspired an unheard-of level of loyalty with its customers. Just as it was becoming apparent that buying European was not a guarantee of quality, the Japanese makers were beginning their exploration of exportation.

Continue reading “Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A”

Beyond the Motoring Mainstream

Some recent developments in the Chinese light-vehicle market

2010 Gonow Minivan
If you have a few extra hours to spend at Stansted because flight FU 436 has been indefinitely delayed and you find Departure Gate 199 is becoming your home from home, you might be tempted to Continue reading “Beyond the Motoring Mainstream”

Internal Correspondence 2

If all goes well I´ll be inviting Piech and Marchionne to an evening dinner to take them through the main features of the blog. Can you get someone to re-write that item about Marchionne so it´s less abrasive?

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Dear Simon:

Just a quick note. I am planning to attend the Geneva show. As usual I will be staying at the Hotel De Bergues (below). Daily rates are a reasonable Continue reading “Internal Correspondence 2”

Something Rotten in […] Denmark: The Baby Bentley

The quality of the interior has held up better than the quality of the concept of the Rover 827.

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Given the depredations of the Danish climate and the fact this car was assembled in the UK, today’s discovery, a Rover 827 coupe, has held up rather well. Goodness, the leather interior is even developing a patina which I used think was only possible on cars made before I was born. Continue reading “Something Rotten in […] Denmark: The Baby Bentley”

大きな開口部だから、横も後ろも積み降ろしラクラク

Honda have a secret life as a maker of a wide variety of vehicles. They are indeed big in Japan.

2014 Fit Shuttle

Honda are more than a manufacturer of Civics and lawnmowers. In Japan, their range shows clear signs of Galapagos syndrome. It is flourishing. Whereas the difficult European environment has forced Honda to sell a comparatively small range of cars, in Japan the range extends to what looks like enough models to fill the carpark of a moderately sized country hotel.

I turned to this website driven by the parochial nature of both British and American websites.There is a lot we hear little about.

Continue reading “大きな開口部だから、横も後ろも積み降ろしラクラク”

Internal Correspondence 1

Dear Simon:

Please find attached the invoice for my recent posts, as discussed.

The restaurant bill will be sent as a hard copy by post. My sources provided a lot of valuable information on the topics and, in my view, the trip to Milan was entirely unavoidable. As you will readily agree, that my source was three days late entirely explains the duration of my stay at the Principe de Savoia. I´d recommend it for our next team-building workshop.

Vis à vis the other team members, I trust you´ll keep my remarks private.

Best,

R

Richard. There seems a bit of a glitch here. Your bloody note to me has come up on our front page. I emphasised that your trip was strictly ‘Black Ops’ didn’t I? Please exercise more discretion in future. I can’t work out how to delete this post but, as soon as that IT Chappy comes in next week, I’ll take it down. If anyone else is reading this, please don’t! Simon

Not For Sale: Car Museums

A sermon about why car museums are to be avoided if you like old cars.

Image source: The Truth About Cars

Every car museum I have visited in the last 2.25 decades has been a disappointment. Cars are inherently space-consuming selfish monsters and even when they are caught, killed and pinned to plinths this quality does not diminish. They need plenty of room, alive or dead.

Alive, the car needs sufficient space for portly passengers to Continue reading “Not For Sale: Car Museums”

Something Rotten

Richard Herriott introduces an occasional series, kicking tyres in Denmark.

1990 Citroen XM arctic white

Marcellus said to Hamlet “There’s something rotten….isn’t there?” Hamlet turned back, puzzled. “Come again?” Marcellus pulled a mildly irritated expression. “There’s something rotten…you know…something rotten-in-the-state-of-Denmark….” Hamlet’s face clouded. “This no time for cryptic clues, Marcellus….my dad’s been poisoned and I am pretty ticked off about the whole deal. What are you trying to say?” Taking a deep breath Marcellus then sighed. “I mean, Hamlet, there’s something profoundly wrong with things. Denmark is a metaphor for the situation we’re in. And all is not well. It’s a figure of speech… sorry I mentioned it.”

Continue reading “Something Rotten”

1981 Lancia Trevi Review

“Even Beta: Lancia’s thrilling new Trevi.” Archie Vicar takes a look at an exciting new sporting luxury saloon from Italy’s respected Lancia marque.

1980 Lancia Trevi 1

Track & Motoring, July 1981. Photos by Greg Orford. Owing to an overwhelming cyan-blue colour cast affecting the original images, stock photography has been employed.

Introduction

Without any doubt Lancia’s engineers have been scratching their heads since 1972, trying to think of a way to top the terrific Beta. Despite its front-drive handicap and an engine donated by Fiat, it really is a cracking car, with much to commend it. So how do they Continue reading “1981 Lancia Trevi Review”

1979 Peugeot 505 Review 1

“Another Mill From Peugeot.” Archie Vicar takes a closer look at the latest offering from Peugeot – the 505.

1979 Peugeot 505 front white

The Monthly Car Review February 1979. Photos by Parker Pettiswode.

Here are two items about Peugeot’s famous saloon, the much-loved 505. It is viewed as an icon today and has a strong classic following. If you see an older Peugeot on the road today, chances are it’s a 505 in immaculate condition. These two articles show how the motoring press received the car.

The test drive took place (as of going to press) some fifteen weeks ago. Since then I have found myself polishing shoes and trying to think of an opening paragraph. I shared Boxing day luncheon with my nephew who wanted some advice. I spent most of the meal wondering how I would describe the car (the 505) instead of offering sound counsel. With a quiet pipe of Old Latakia and a few pints at the Bishop’s Head pub in Great Malvern (eight weeks ago) I wondered if it would be permitted simply not to Continue reading “1979 Peugeot 505 Review 1”

1979 Peugeot 505 Review 2

“Point Counterpoint.” Archie Vicar muses on the meaning of Peugeot’s exciting new saloon, the 505.

1979 Peugeot 505 brochure

Drivers & Motorists Monthly (February 1979). Photo by Crispin Darling. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photos have been employed.

The keenly contested large car sector is very profitable. 2.46 million large cars were bought in Europe in 1976. Manufacturers pick different weapons with which to capture these customers. Ford uses keen pricing and generous specifications to help the set-square Granada find its customers (300,000 a year!). Vauxhall tries to Continue reading “1979 Peugeot 505 Review 2”

1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review

Encore Again! Archie Vicar tests Citroen’s long-wheelbase CX Prestige.

1976 Citroen CX Prestige Profile

“Driver & Motorist”, July 1976.Photographs by Dick Trevithick. Owing to poor quality originals, stock photographs have been used.

Despite producing some technically intriguing cars such as the GS, Citroen’s finances are not in the best condition. And despite this, Citroen devoted more of their precious francs to developing the CX yet further, with this long wheel base limousine, the Prestige. At least this proves that Peugeot are not going to interfere too much in Citroen’s engineering activities. Continue reading “1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review”

1976 Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 Review

Prancing horse or lame nag? Archie Vicar samples Ferrari’s 4-seater oddity, the 365 GT4 2+2.

Is this the shape of things to come, asks Archie Vicar?
Is this the shape of things to come, asks Archie Vicar?

From Motor Enthusiast, October 1976. Photos by Edward Blayliss. Owing to the excessive lens flare of Mr. Blayless’ images, stock photography has been used.

It’s quite peculiar to review a car that already exists. As the only motoring writer in Britain who has been permitted to officially test drive Bristol’s new four-seater, the 603, I can reveal Ferrari’s 365 GT4 2+2 is the same car but worse. Far be it for me to criticise the long, hard lunches put in by Mr Ferrari’s assistants but the 365 GT4 is a rather poor show. And Bristol’s car, despite its slightly brash Chrysler lump, trumps the 365 in every major respect.

Let us consider the ash receptacles. Bristol places theirs near the steering wheel while Ferrari throws theirs somewhere down by one’s knees. Both cars are 4-seater GTs. Both cost a king’s ransom but one car will unfailingly Continue reading “1976 Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 Review”

1975 Triumph Dolomite Review

Archie Vicar tests three sporting saloons: Triumph’s Dolomite, Lancia’s Fulvia and Alfa Romeo’s evergreen Giulia.

1975 Triumph Dolomite

From the Driving & Motoring Weekly Guide, 1975. Photos by Nigel de la Warr. Owing to the loss of Mr. De la Warr’s Nikons, stock photography has been used.

Small sporting saloons are becoming an important if quite tiny part of the market place. Naturally, the large family car will always remain the most popular choice for the suburban motorist and business-man on the move. But, for the fellow who likes energetic driving and who also needs to Continue reading “1975 Triumph Dolomite Review”

1974 Volvo 244: Review

“No mashed Swedes!” Archie Vicar on the Volvo 244 saloon.

1974 Volvo 244 saloon
1974 Volvo 244 saloon

Automotorist, September, 1974, pages 23-29. Photos by Ian Cambridgeshire. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

The Swedish like eating tinned rotten fish. It’s an acquired taste, I am told by those with experience in such things. One is advised to open the tin can under water so as to contain the noxious aromas that would otherwise emanate. And one is also advised to drink plenty of schnapps to kill the taste. That’s really the only part of the whole palaver I can really see my way to agreeing with. I mention all of this by way of an introduction to Sweden’s other acquired taste, their Volvos.

And they have a new one on the way, the 244. It’s in the spirit of fellowship between our two great nations that I Continue reading “1974 Volvo 244: Review”

1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Review

Alfa Resurgent! Archie Vicar takes a look at the new executive car from Alfa Romeo, the Alfetta 1.8

1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta
1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta.
Cars and Vehicle Magazine, May 1973. Photos by Reggie Parnassus-Greeb. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

For too long Alfas have been a car for the heart, but can they build one for the head too? The answer could now be “si.” For those of us fond of the Italian maker Alfa Romeo, there are clear signs that there really is a resurgence afoot. “The Alfetta is a new chapter in Alfa Romeo’s history,” said Angelo Scoria, chief of Public Relations, in a press release.

“The Alfetta is full of new engineering thinking and will be a more modern car, one built to a high standard too. It will be a future classic, we believe.” So, reasons to be optimistic. For a very long time Alfa has indeed been guilty of making cars that have Continue reading “1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Review”

1970 Ford Cortina Review

Cortina, Maxi and Victor group test. By Archie Vicar.

1970 Ford Cortina GXL page

From “Driving & Leisure” April 1970. Photography by C. Wadsway. Owing to the unexplained disappearance of Mr. C. Wadsway, stock photography has been used.

When Harold MacMillan declared a few years ago that “you have never had it so good,” he wasn’t thinking of motor cars but perhaps he could have been so doing. Mr and Mrs Average now enjoy the comforts of cosy semi-detached homes away from the bustle of the city and all around England´s towns and villages, the large new supercentres and shopping markets that are sprouting up are a clear sign of the advances being made by business and enterprise. The old is being swept away. Continue reading “1970 Ford Cortina Review”

1969 Austin Maxi: Road Test

Something old, something new! Archibald Vicar, Dip. Eng. tries the latest sensation from BMC, the Austin “Maxi.”

1969 Austin Maxi
Austin Maxi

From “Today’s Driver” February 1969. Photography by Patrick Lamperay. Due to the poor quality of the original source, stock photos have been used.

There it was, an Austin Maxi, Leyland’s latest motor car. And we were in Dublin, Eire, to test it. It was eight o’clock in the morning and photographer, Lamperey, and I were at British Leyland’s small factory in the middle of what was once the Empire’s second city. While I ought to have been taking in the generalities of the Maxi’s technicalities I was more cognisant of my rather delicate physical state, that of a rotten hangover.

Said hangover was largely as a result of my failed attempt to anaesthetise myself during the festival of mal de mer that was the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. The duty-free Guinness was at least remarkably cheap so the experience was merely disagreeable and not costly. I was also able to Continue reading “1969 Austin Maxi: Road Test”

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 Road Test: “A Load of Old Baltics” (Part 3)

Archie Vicar continues touring from London to Latvia in Jaguar’s new XJ-6. His mission, to test this important new saloon and to recover his hand-made shoes left behind on a previous jaunt.

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia
1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia

From “Private Motor Car Owner” (pages 34-39,  page 109, page 116, December, 1968). Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the very poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

Day Four
Getting into Latvia was a breeze. We presented our passports and sacrificed a few cherished boxes of Craven “A” cigarettes and we were in. Even the sight of the new Jaguar, in De Luxe trim and virtually rust free, didn’t make the unshaven brute at the border blink. It seemed like we would sail through under the dusty hem of the Iron Curtain.

But then we spent 9 hours waiting at a road-block deep in the middle of nowhere. Continue reading “1968 Jaguar XJ-6 Road Test: “A Load of Old Baltics” (Part 3)”

1967 Humber Super Snipe Review

“Uncommon the twain!” In what is probably a purported period review, the motoring writer Mr. A. Vicar considers the choices of car afforded to varietists enjoying a moderately higher-than-average income.

The super Humber Super Snipe
The super Humber Super Snipe

[From “The Motoring and Driving Register”, July 1967. Photography by Cyril Leadbeater. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photos have been used.]

This month’s motor vehicle comparison pits two well-established players against one another. For the gentleman of comfortable means life affords choice and what is choice if it is not among things that differ? What point is there in being offered a large range of very similar cars for a similar price as many makers seem to want to do these days? That is no choice at all. We can see at the more pedestrian end of the market – and indeed have done for some time now- that many car builders are merely shadowing one another so that were one to sit inside a Ford, a Vauxhall, an Austin, or a Hillman selling for, say, £800, one could not Continue reading “1967 Humber Super Snipe Review”

1965 Bentley “T”-Type Review

Sporting to a “T”. Archie Vicar drives to Sicily in the new motor carriage from Crewe.

Distinctive, sporting elegance.

From Motorist’s Illustrated Digest, Dec 1965. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the very poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

The Bentley marque conjours images of the driver Richard “Dick” Seaman charging along the Mulsanne Straight at a 100 mph. That he achieved this very respectable pace minus a tyre is a tribute to his Bentley and to his boundless idiocy. Great chap. He is very much missed in motoring circles. For a while Bentley’s sporting character has been as absent and as lamented as Mr Seaman. The last batches of Bentleys have, frankly, been a little hard to distinguish from their Rolls-Royce stablemates. Continue reading “1965 Bentley “T”-Type Review”

1959 Bentley S1 Flying Spur Continental Review

“Bentley makes its mark”. By Archie Vicar.

1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur
1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

From the Motorist’s Compendium and Driver’s Almanack, Dec 1959. Photographs by Marmaduke Orpington. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

Bentley seem to be finding their feet again after a spell in the shadows of their owner, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. This month it is our privilege to be invited to test drive the evidence of this resurgence, the S1 Continental Flying Spur.

First might I present a little history for younger readers. Bentley started offering steel bodywork in 1946 and many coachbuilders have been continuing to offer their own versions of these car, as if a ‘standard’ Bentley wasn’t sufficiently prestigious. But these later cars have apparently lacked a certain something. For this author, if were one to Continue reading “1959 Bentley S1 Flying Spur Continental Review”