Cute. I’d been hearing it a lot that day. Moose Molloy’s gaze shifted towards the window and his expression changed slowly. It was like watching a landscape erode but, after that eternity had passed, there was a big lake of a smile rippling across his face and, somehow, I knew I was going to hear that C word again.
“Hey Marlowe, is that cute pink Figaro outside yours?”
A guy like Moose was big enough not to need to humiliate you with your choice of wheels, but I thought it best to offer him some clarification.
We ask whether aerodynamics’ post-war, post-aviation beginnings have anything in common with tomorrow’s hydrogen-powered wonders.
First published by Eóin Doyle in January 2015.
Car manufacturers have historically enjoyed a somewhat patchy relationship with the concept of aerodynamic theory. During the post-war period only a handful of motor manufacturers paid more than lip service and of those, most had their origins in aircraft manufacture. Bristol and Saab, for example were both forced to diversify during post-war austerity when demand for their mainstay aircraft businesses collapsed in peacetime. Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Aerodynamics – The Shape We’re In”
Arguably the Hyundai i30 Fastback’s spiritual ancestor, the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback is 30 years old this year.
First published by Eóin Doyle in July 2015.
It might surprise you, but the (AE92-series for Toyota geeks) Corolla, in 1.6 GLi Liftback guise at least, was considered an upmarket car in Ireland during the latter part of the 1980’s, before we became brand snobs like everyone else. This era also coincided with two other quite appealing, slightly upmarket Japanese hatchbacks – Mazda’s 323F and Honda’s 5-door Integra. Continue reading “Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback”
(First published by Simon A Kearne in January 2015)
The first cars were not fast enough for anyone to be particularly concerned about the amount of air that stood in the way of their progress. Therefore, although drivers soon learnt to hunch themselves over the wheel to reduce the passing air’s effect on themselves, it took longer to realise how important it might be to reduce their effect on the passing air.
Richard’s fine introduction on this topic began with two quotes, both holding a high degree of truth to advertising in general, yet both I’d suggest are not always relevant to that branch of advertising that deals with cars.
(First published by Sean Patrick in September 2014)
With Citroën occupying our collective minds this month, we celebrate the romance of the double chevron in this piece from the DTW archives.
Originally published by Richard Herriott on 7 November 2015.
Let’s accept there is not a lot of romance left in motoring today. That means we have to look back to when it was still romantic.
That’s around 1979 when Quatre Saisons was published. The book comprises a photo essay with the Citroën CX as the subject. Andre Martin’s images are themed around the four seasons, hence the title. The car speeds through snowy passes, through lavender fields and pauses in autumnal woodland: each shot evokes the mysterious potential of a motor car trip and also sings a hymn to the timeless modernism of the CX. Continue reading “Theme of Themes: Romance – The Four Seasons”
It’s that time of the year again, so in honour of Le Tour de France, we reprise this piece in praise of the racing bicycle.
(First published by Eoin Doyle in June 2014)
The sensation of speed is often as much a function of proximity as it is of velocity. The less there is between you and the road below, the more immersive the experience, as any Caterham owner will tell you as he attempts to draw your attention away from the rain soaked, hand-tooled moccasins he knew he shouldn’t have worn. But really, if you want to experience speed at its most unadulterated, the racing bicycle stands supreme. Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Speed – VELOcity”
Driven to Write will this month devote itself to drawing to your collective attention the works of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. Where to begin?
Normally it is appropriate to start with the facts. It is a fact that Driven To Write has not devoted so very much space to the cars of Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG. What we have written has even been about how difficult it can be to write about their output since 1931. It is a fact that Archie Vicar, the renowned motoring correspondent, wrote only one known review which you can read here. It also a fact that, on the face of it, Dr. Ing. H.C. F. Porsche AG’s reputation is either one that needs no burnishing or one that is decaying as rapidly as it can betray its reputation for treacherously mannered, rear-engined coupés. Continue reading “Theme : Porsche – Introduction”
Pity the car designer. They slave to produce concept sketches, fight with the competition to get them accepted then resist the attempts of mean-minded production engineers and cost accountants to dilute the design until, finally, their original idea is presented in the showroom in an approximation of a certain percentage of its original glory. You might think that, at last, they could rest and draw some contentment as the children of their imagination begin to populate the roads. Yet no, their problems have only started. Continue reading “Theme : Aftermarket – Introduction”
Simon gets his piece in before the others. Result!
The motor industry is, by nature, driven by rivalry. But unlike the more creative sort of rivalry, where two or more points of view are competing energetically for the same goal, much of our industry’s rivalry is in trying to persuade customers to choose their product over another one that is virtually just the same. It’s all rather dull, just football teams trying to prevent each other from scoring. Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – An Introduction”
We end this month’s theme with some good news for those of you mourning the loss of Simca.
We live in a world where brand has an enhanced currency. Familiar names are forever cropping up in unfamiliar places. Clothing manufacturer’s names appear on cars. Car manufacturer’s names appear on clothes. But, in terms of sheer scale, the continuation of the Simca brand takes some beating, being applied to 270 acres of lush, jungle covered island. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – Retirement Home”
For the first time, the month’s theme tackles a single manufacturer. An erstwhile giant of the French industry, often overlooked and even more often underestimated, yet for a time bigger than either Citroën or Peugeot.
From a multitude in the early days of motoring, through a reasonable glut after the end of the Second World War, culled by the possibly well-intended but drastically prescriptive Pons Plan, the French motor industry has now whittled itself away to three names, Renault, Peugeot and Citroën. Or you might say effectively just two. Except there was also Simca, and Simca doesn’t fit well into an easy history of the French industry as an essentially parochial one, blithely plowing its own furrow, haughtily ignoring the products of foreign makers. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – An Introduction”
The Editor is amazed at quite how quickly time flies. Is it really three years?
One most inclement evening in February 2014 two of my principals convened in the snug of a South London hostelry. The webpages of Driven to Write went ‘live’ that day, meaning the public were free to peruse its content. Sean and Eóin had already stocked the site with pieces written over several previous weeks. Now it could be seen. Think of it like opening a new restaurant. Would customers come? Would they want what was on offer? Had the toilets been cleaned? Continue reading “Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential”
Once upon a time the juvenile car lover in the UK looked towards Autumn as a period of plenty. For that was Motor Show time, when a glut of exciting new cars was guaranteed to surprise and delight. And if that car lover was fortunate, they travelled to Earls Court or, later, the NEC to attend the British International Motor Show. For many, great as the opportunity was to be able to see these new models in the metal, just as fine was the fact that they could struggle back home laden with a selection of lush brochures. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – Introduction”
The Editor tries to come up with a theme that everyone will like.
Hello again and welcome to 2017. This month’s theme smacks of Compromise. I’m torn between my absolute loathing for compromise in any shape of form, and my evangelical desire to broker compromise in any situation. So I’ll just say that compromise is, more or less, alright. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – An Introduction”
We’ve reached the end of a very strange year, in which conventions and expectations have been hugely shaken. In comparison, the world of the motor car seems to have been bumbling along. Unlike a few years ago, when even giants like GM seemed ready to topple never to rise, this year has been relatively uneventful. So much so that one might wonder if the industry ever learns from its lessons. In some circles Toyota’s treatment of its Prius hybrid has raised eyebrows, and there have been discreet coughs in the Member’s Lounge regarding the new Discovery’s suitability on the grouse moor. Continue reading “Another Uneventful Year”
Our Editor returns late to his desk following an unfortunate delay at the hands of an industry PR man holding a particularly fine Oloroso and is, for the first time in his life, late with his copy.
The year’s end approaches and our thoughts traditionally drift to where we have visited this year, and where we might visit next year. This last month, our minds have been on South America, a place that distance still renders as slightly mysterious and exotic to we Europeans.
If you travel with a car, it’s impossible to avoid noticing that its character can suddenly make more sense or, conversely, that it can become out of its depth, depending on where you are. It’s a matter of place. Continue reading “Theme : Places – Introduction”
Certain writers on this site spend a lot of time bemoaning the sad lot of Lancia, so it is remiss of the DTW News Desk in being so tardy in announcing the awarding of a major prize to a Lancia.
Admittedly it is 80 years too late, but the Pinin Farina (two words back then) bodied Astura that was awarded the Best Of Show at Pebble Beach in August looks a deserving winner, even if it is hard to see it as a conceptual ancestor of the Ypsilon. Continue reading “Lancia Finally Comes Out On Top”
You will have gathered that I am a firm believer in rules and formality, so it is with the greatest reluctance that I agreed to break my own rule about Theme titles. Our new theme originally consisted of two words in English, albeit hyphenated in a bogus effort at expediency. However, such was the outcry from our demanding readership that it was changed to the Spanish language name of the continent which is, fortunately, a single word.
Whatever the case, such is the depth and scope of the topic that I felt it necessary to find a way around my rule. South America is, quite obviously, a continent of car enthusiasts. Thirteen Formula 1 Championships alone have been won by South American drivers. Five countries have motor industries, and Brazil is the seventh largest manufacturer in the World. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Introduction”
Sean has returned from his holiday in Northern Spain bearing a present of a single bottle of an unspeakably foul sweet sherry, charmingly gift-wrapped in the plastic bag of the supermarket that he bought it from. Since Eoin and Richard prefer to keep themselves removed from DTW’s London nerve centre, and because all three skinflints who present themselves as my principals refuse to allow me a PA, Sean and I are the sole inhabitants of our editorial office. Although I am rather less heavily-jowled than Mr Wather Matthau, and Sean is no match for the trim, bright-eyed Mr Jack Lemmon, as we sit at our desks I am nevertheless put in mind of the once popular movie, ‘The Odd Couple’. By which you might gather that the ‘Film’ of this month’s theme is the cinematic kind although, in the DTW spirit of pragmatism, if one of our correspondents insists on submitting a piece on the flexible properties of polyester film in automotive applications, I will consider it. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Opening Credits”
Simon wonders whether we really have the breadth of choice we should have.
Once, it was common for a motor manufacturer to produce and sell just the running chassis. In some cases they might fit a particular body, either in-house or bought in but, otherwise, the customer could go to a coachbuilder and get it bodied to their particular specification. This might be to a stock pattern, a limited production run if you like which meant that you could find different makes of car looking remarkably similar from the scuttle back, or it might be to the client’s commissioned design. Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – Introduction”
Recent talk of 5 cylinders causes our Editor to conflate two of his pieces from DTW’s very early days
Many thanks to Eoin for his kind mention below of my recent little volume on Sir Basil Milford-Vestibule. I’ve been putting away the research material of late and was leafing through the long out-of-print autobiography of Len Brik, who will be remembered by many of us longer serving types as the charismatic Chief Engineer at Victory Cars. Following the merger of Victory Cars with Empire, he came into close rivalry with Sir Basil. Len was entirely self taught and there was mutual loathing between the two men. Sir Basil is usually reported as referring to Brik as ‘The Blacksmith’, though more exactly he used the phrase ‘The Blacksmith’s Dull Apprentice’, whilst Brik returned the compliment with ‘Sir Beryl’.Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Len & Now”
“May you live in interesting times” is the, apparently bogus, ancient Chinese curse which was, at one point, mentioned in our site introduction. It seems that 2016 is certainly shaping up as an ‘interesting’ year and, in Europe at least, many journalists are missing out on lazing on a beach, whilst their remaining colleagues have little chance to sit with their feet up embellishing stories of skateboarding gerbils in order to fill the gaps in what was, in quieter times, known as the ‘Silly Season’. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Another Introduction”
Colour. What a minefield that is! From your playground days, you might remember angry debates as to whether you had a right to nominate Green as your ‘favourite colour’. And, unlike many other childish foibles, the irrational and excessive reaction to colour doesn’t go away.
As you can see from the above collage provided to me by Sean Patrick, some people agonise over colour. Some years ago, the poor boy went to great lengths to decide which colour to respray his car though he tells me that he is still not sure he made the right choice. Personally speaking, I favour grey, which is not strictly a colour, or, if I must nominate actual colours, those shades used by the military. I am more liberal concerning the choices of others. Unfortunately, the motor industry is not. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Introduction”
Metal, Glass and Rubber were once the main materials used in any car, plus leather or cloth on the seats and roof and, probably, a bit of timber, either used superficially, as decoration, or maybe structurally. Except for the odd sliver of mica or ceramic and a bit of horsehair, that was it. Continue reading “Theme : Materials – Introduction”
For what it’s worth, our Editor attempts to be objective
It is a habit of older generations to convince themselves that they possess certain things that younger people don’t have. Generally, if that makes them feel better about the less positive sides of the ageing process, I suppose it does little harm. One of the re-occurring concepts is that, with age, you acquire a ‘set of values’. This panders to a natural desire to be able to calibrate and quantify everything in life but, at heart, we probably know that this is a foolish conceit. Continue reading “Theme : Values – An Introduction”
The Editor introduces DTW’s first single country theme
My standard answer to American acquaintances who asked me why, despite their entire continent and the rest of Europe doing otherwise, the UK and Ireland still insist on driving on the left hand side of the road, was that we were only conforming with the largest motor vehicle manufacturing nation on Earth. That nation was, of course, Japan, a country reasonably larger than the UK, but considerably smaller than France. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Introduction”
Roving correspondent Robertas Parazitas, continues his reporting from the 86th Geneva International Motor Show.
Wednesday 02 March 2016
Today is mainly a scour of the show for things missed and curiosities. Thankfully the constant noise of industry bullshit has abated.
On the “Whose not there” front, not only Lancia, but also MINI. Nothing to be read into that except that significant manufacturers, or certain of their brands are refusing the motor show circuit – Volvo have expressed their reservations, and Mazda aren’t going to Paris this year. Continue reading “Live (Almost) From Geneva : Day 3”
Roving correspondent Robertas Parazitas, continues his reporting from the 86th Geneva International Motor Show.
Tuesday 01 March 2016
Heavy round of press conferences – Seat and BMW were at 7:45AM. Brutal.
An over-run on the Fiat block has pushed the timetable back a good half hour. Sergio was ebullient. Hair a bit tidier, but the pullover didn’t look as if it had been washed since his last shift on the refuse collection. Continue reading “Live (Almost) From Geneva : Day 2”
Motoring history has a select group of people who can be seen as the creators of outstanding suspension systems, among them are Jean Baudin at Peugeot, Richard Parry-Jones at Ford, Colin Chapman at Lotus, André Lefèbvre at Citroen, Bob Knight at Jaguar and Alex Moulton for BMC. But there were far more who didn’t care for, or understand, the subtleties of suspension, notably Enzo Ferrari who seemed to think that its only reason for existence was to prevent the sumps of his beloved engines from scraping along the road. Continue reading “Theme : Suspension – Introduction”
Simon welcomes a new guest author to the Driven to Write ranks. Feathers have been ruffled.
EDITOR’S NOTE : My Founders have recently asked me to investigate the possibility of securing some advertising revenue. All the feelers I have put out suggest that we first need to attract a wider readership to this site. In particular it was pointed out that re-publishing fifty year old road tests or impressions of small modern hatchbacks hired from airports does not attract the more hard-core enthusiast. With this in view, I have commissioned a leading journalist from the performance car press to pen a piece for us. Though usually published under another name, here he has chosen the nom-de-plume of Throttlegod. In an attempt to attract this new readership, I am fearlessly breaking the manufacturer’s embargo by publishing his recent test in advance of the car’s debut by way of a scoop.Continue reading “Throttlegod Decides – Pagani Huayra BC”
As a fiftieth sporting anniversary fast approaches, we combine this month’s theme with our Print The Legend series and look at what could have been one of the first-ever Special Editions.
Following England’s victory in the 1966 World Cup, jingoistic feelings were high. BMC wanted to commemorate the event and hastily planned a tribute in time for the Earls Court Motor Show. An intimate committee to consider the alternatives was formed, consisting of BMC’s head of marketing and an outside consultant, the journalist Archie Vicar. Their first idea, to have a series of 11 limited editions, all Morrises, named after each player in the final was deemed impractical, so a single iconic image was chosen, that of the number 4 shirt, Nobby Stiles, dancing a jig after the match and grinning through his missing front teeth. Continue reading “Theme : Special – An Early Bath”
The Editor wonders what is so special about being special.
After last month’s Theme, Glamour, which drew a rather timid response, my team has chosen a theme that throws a wider net, and that they consider will be a sure-fire success.
I shamelessly admit that I was cheered at the low interest of Driven to Write’s contributors in the theme of Glamour. There are many motoring organs whose staff feel at their most comfortable seated in the Louis Vuitton tent at a concour d’elegance, sipping Moet & Chandon as they exchange bon mots with Mr Brian Ferry, but Driven to Write’s members are not among them. For all our literary pretensions, we pride ourselves that our feet remain firmly planted in the gutter of mass production. Continue reading “Theme : Special – Introduction”
After a Disappointing end to 2015, we start the first month of the New Year with an upbeat Theme. But what exactly is Glamour? Well, it is certainly not to be confused with November’s theme subject, Romance.
Both may be ethereal but, unlike Romance, Glamour is strictly a fleeting thing. Even the Glamorous only experience it for short periods. It is the accoutrements that give the appearance of Glamour. Individually, naked, we are not Glamorous, which is ironic bearing in mind the traditional euphemistic use of the word to describe a niche of the British publishing industry. This reminds us that there is always something not quite respectable lurking beneath the veneer of Glamour. Continue reading “Theme : Glamour – Introduction”
It’s a long tradition of at least a year’s standing at Driven To Write to publish the Editor’s and Founder’s aspirations for the coming year. This year we are joined by our other Authors as well as some of our regular Commenters. Continue reading “Maximum Resolutions”
‘Talent borrows, genius steals’, the saying goes. It’s still bad manners though.
As Editor, it is with grim satisfaction that I note, with a New Year approaching, the enormous PR machine that lies dormant beneath the DTW offices might need to be put into action to reconsider our ‘World’s Least Influential Motoring site’ strapline. Continue reading “Christmas Competition”
This month’s theme is somewhat in the nature of a BBC Radio quiz. The subject itself is quite straightforward, and has overtones of both last month’s theme as well as the actualities of the so-called Season of Goodwill. It is ‘Disappointment’. The motor industry has always offered us high expectations, even more so now, when just changing the position of the rear view mirror will elicit two gushingly incoherent paragraphs from the PR department. Yet, on innumerable occasions, the industry fails to deliver on its promises. Continue reading “Theme : Disappointment – An Introduction”
The Editor swoons as he considers this month’s theme
Aaah, Romance! A sunny day, a full tank of petrol, the roof down, a good companion, a fine picnic in the boot, a clear road …..Well, that may be some people’s idea of romance and the motor car, but how often does that happen? Yet, the car remains, for many people, a hugely romantic device. If not, why would so many of us spend so much money in such an indiscriminating way on something that, inevitably, will let us down in one way or another? Really, I need not explain the romantic pull of the car since, if it were not so, it is unlikely you would be visiting this site. Continue reading “Theme : Romance – Introduction”
Will The Editor spare his words for this month’s theme?
Miserliness, Parsimoniousness, Meanness. None of these terms is ever used to indicate approval yet surely, as we go through life, the trail we leave should be as slight as possible, except in our achievements. We might look back at our ancestors and forgive them their profligacy, on the assumption that they didn’t properly understand the nature of our Earth. But, today, even those who believe in a deity, usually acknowledge that they have been given enough autonomy to be responsible for the finite resources they have been provided with. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – Introduction”
The Wheel has been around for at least five-and-a-half millennia yet, even in my very distant youth, its end seemed to be in sight. The Car Of The Future would surely fly, suspended possibly by air, jet motors or magnets. But here we are, well into the 21st Century, and The Wheel still reigns. Just as on Daimler’s first petrol-powered, converted carriage of 1886, four wheels remain the norm, five if you count a spare, three if you own various Reliant or Morgan models. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Introduction”
Once they were called Panel Gaps. These were negatives, they were just places where metal didn’t exist. Cars were assembled from a lot of different bits, leaving gaps between them, especially where one bit might need to be removed again, or where it hinged. These gaps varied in size and it was generally safer to make them a bit bigger in case of mistakes, and maybe to allow for better ventilation. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Introduction”
In today’s motoring world the term ‘hybrid’ has been hi-jacked for a certain type of vehicle. It is a fair enough description, but this month, without ignoring the sterling work of Toyota and others, we would also like to reclaim the word on a wider scale.
There have always been hybrids in motoring. It is well known that Ferdinand Porsche created a petrol/electric hybrid at the start of the 20th Century – a clever idea which we more or less forgot about for 90 or more years. On a more general level, the motor industry was mixing and matching from the start, taking it to a mammoth scale the moment Fiat put an airship engine into one of its production chassis in 1910. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids – Introduction”
In the spirit of even-handedness, we feel we should present selected extracts of this disturbing counterview to the recent pieces we have published by Myles Gorfe.
SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER 2014 (12.45am) : Sunday lunch is in the oven and Myles has just come in from working on the Granada. The poor love looked so miserable. He spent all morning fitting a new part he bought on Ebay and it doesn’t work. He’s just popped up to his man-cave to order another.
SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER 2014 (3.45pm) : Oh well, that was Sunday lunch. The kids liked it anyway but Myles was a no-show. I’ve kept his warm. He’d promised to have a look at my Micra today but it looks like that won’t happen.Continue reading “Bridget Gorfe’s Diary”
Secondhand. It isn’t a word with a lot of cachet is it? For goods It suggests that someone else got there first, enjoyed the best of it and has left you with the frayed remains. For ideas it suggests that there is nothing new or original, that everything about it is derived from something better. And it gets worse. Third-hand has even less cachet but, for the purpose of this month’s theme, we will make no distinction regarding the quantity of prior keepers, and ‘secondhand’ is certainly a more forthright description of an object than the weaselly and presumptuous ‘preloved’ of modern usage.
It is with a mixture of sorrow and goodwill that I announce my departure as Senior Editor of Driven To Write, and my immediate replacement by the well-known motoring personality, Mr Jeremy Clarkson. On discussing this with me, The Founders stressed that this has been a hugely painful decision for them to make. I have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months, building this site to be the informed and thoughtful forum it is today. However, there is competition out there and The Founders felt that their ambitions to reach the widest readership possible were not being totally realised. With Mr Clarkson on board they see the chance to leap, at a stroke, from the current readership, who I believe are mostly aged relatives of the three, to one of several billion.
Benchmarking has become a common practice in our world. Even estate agents ‘benchmark’ their performance but, of course, the original benchmarks were just what they suggested, marks on a bench for an artisan to use for fast measuring of standard lengths of material. As such, in an industry that has its basis in engineering, the term is used more reasonably in the automotive world than in politics or banking though, this month, we consider automotive Benchmarks in the broader, more modern sense.
Since you are on this site reading this, I’m sure that you probably agree with me. Passengers are of limited worth. They have their uses. They can coo in admiration of your driving skills. They can unwrap sticky sweets and pass them to you. They can scurry out into rainy nights and get you fish & chips. They can ….