Carrying on our look at the exhibits in the Louwman Museum, we consider a rarity, a car manufactured by a city.
China’s first production car was built by the Shanghai City Power Machinery Manufacturing Company. Supposedly a copy of the 1954 ‘Ponton’ Mercedes 220, on actual viewing the Shanghai SH760 seems to have been copied through the wrong end of a telescope. Its introduction in 1958 as the Fenghuang (Phoenix) coincided with the start of the odious Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and this was the car that lower ranking officials might have toured the country in whilst implementing the Chairman’s ill-informed industrial and agricultural schemes. Later on, as long as they weren’t too ‘intellectual’, these same officials might have monitored progress of the Cultural Revolution from the seats of a Shanghai. A probably conservative 40 million deaths from starvation, murder and suicide later, the SH760 was still in production. Continue reading “Louwman Museum II : 5 Year Plan / 35 Year Production”
DTW’s correspondent visits a museum and finds his perception challenged.
Before I start on any negatives and disappointments let me make it clear that the Louwman Museum at Den Haag in the Netherlands is one of the best car museums in the World, possibly the best. Obviously that opinion is subjective and so is the collection, generally the choice of one family. For instance if you’re looking for BMWs, a single pre-war 328 represents many people’s favoured marque, but at least one DTW contributor would be pleased to find three Lloyd cars on show. The collection tapers out as we get later into the last century and production cars of the 21st Century are illustrated by just a cutaway Prius. But in terms of giving a general overview of the earlier history of the motor car, one that entertains, intrigues and informs by mixing in a good amount of both the quirky and the outstanding, it would be very hard to beat. Continue reading “Louwman Museum I : A Prince In Exile”
The Simca 936 is a bit of a mystery, and I’m not going to clear up much of that mystery.
It was obviously Simca’s proposal for a Mini competitor. You’ll find it dated on the ever-reliable web as coming from 1963, or 1966 or 1967 which possibly results from Simca toying with idea for a long time. It wasn’t a hatchback, but it was a four door and was to have the Simca 1000 engine mounted transversely with a 3 speed automatic option. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – Le Mini”
First, an apology. This sequel to our piece on the Mohs Ostentatienne was originally promised to coincide with the 20 January 2017 Presidential Inauguration. In the event we missed it. Blame the crowds.
The Mohs Safarikar was Bruce Mohs’ next motoring project after the Ostentatienne. Obviously sharing what, back then, was certainly never referred to as DNA, this was a companion to the Opera Sedan, the clue to its function being in the name. As with the Ostentatienne, the Safarikar is an easy target for the smartarse motoring writer wanting to get a few cheap laughs with little intellectual outlay, and forgive me if I don’t manage to rise above my peers. Continue reading “A Larger Car for a Larger Continent”
One car illustrates why Simca weren’t quite like the other three.
Unlike the other French manufacturers, the Italian born Henri Pigozzi of Simca wasn’t scared of a bit of Transatlantic-style showmanship. His big Simcas, derived from the Ford Vedettes, didn’t shy away from chrome, wings and two-tone. Already, Aliens had helped present the 1954 Simca Ghia Coupe, now they were going to give those Aliens the car they’d want to buy. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – By Their Concepts Shall You Recognise Them”
The transverse-engined, hatchback 1100 is undeservedly overshadowed by other trailblazers. But not only did it get there very early, its influence travelled surprisingly far.
Introduced in 1967 and available as 3 and 5 door hatchbacks, a neat estate as well as van and pickup versions, the Simca 1100 had a sizeable niche of the French market available to itself for years. Renault didn’t fill the hatchback gap between the 4/5/6 and the 16 until the 14 of 1976, the same year that conservative Peugeot put a fifth door into the 104. Structurally zealous or just snobbish, Citroen previously allowed a hatchback only on the Dyane until the Visa of 1978 and the GSA of 1979. Despite this, and its 18 year life, it is another of those cars, like the Autobianchi Primula with which it shares conceptual roots, that seems to have been excluded from the condensed history of the evolution of the motor car. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – Going the Distance”
It is always chastening to see humanity’s schemes laid low. From the grand boasts that accompanied the launch of the Titanic to some of the pledges that Barack Obama was not able to fulfil; even with the best of intentions we sometimes underperform.
Earlier this month we looked at the first brochure for the 1998 Fiat Multipla. Brimming with optimism, or some have suggested hubris, the public generally avoided the enthusiasm of that car’s creators. And now we look at another ‘failure’, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera. Introduced in early 2012, the Europeanised version of the Chevrolet Volt was on sale in the UK for little more than two years. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – Vauxhall Ampera”
Deluded though the Brochure often is, what lies behind it can be equally deluded, albeit differently so.
Back in 2009, we bought a Renault Kangoo Estate for work. It replaced a series of similar vehicles, starting with a Mark 1 Kangoo, then two Citroen Berlingos in succession. When I first visited the showroom, the New Kangoo had just been introduced to the UK and brochures had not been printed so, in response to my request for a brochure, the salesman gave me instead a full 55 page print-out of the ‘Distance Learning Guide’, a dealer sales briefing for the then newly introduced Mark 2 Kangoo. This made interesting reading alongside the public brochure that eventually arrived. In essence the brochure showed the usual, gurning, happy, young, lifestyle types of high-functioning humanity whereas the dealer briefing identified the Kangoo’s potential owners as ageing, low-ambition losers. OK, I’m exaggerating … but just a bit. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – The Myth, The Truth & The Alternative Truth”
At the same time, I’ve been getting my own low-level insight into the mindset of Ferdinand Piëch. From what I know of him we have little in common, save a desire – realised in his case, unrealisable in mine – to see a rather silly car produced; one that no-one else in the world needs. I started my doodlings thinking of simple things that could, perhaps, be built on top of a scrap 2CV platform. But Dr Piëch has inspired me that, like the Bugatti Veyron, second-best just won’t do. Continue reading “Vanity Of Vanities : Work In Progress”
My recent speeding endorsement re-awoke my idea that what the world (meaning Sean Patrick) needs is a slow sports car. The problem is that modern cars’ abilities have become so high that driving them at legal limits is pretty stultifying. Basically engines are too powerful and tyres are too wide. Their competence is such that any sensation is insulated until you get up to speeds that risk doing your licence, not to mention yourself and others, irreparable harm. The above photo shows EVO’s Jethro Bovingdon, demonstrating an admirable determination to minimise tyre wear. Doubtless he’s having fun but, if I had a Nissan GT-R for daily use, how often would I? Continue reading “Slow? Slow? Quick? Quick? Slow!”
The more I have considered this month’s theme, the more I have realised that it is far too wide ranging. Compromise is everywhere in our lives, or at least in mine. I could write about any topic and, in very little time, the subject of compromise will come up.
Last week I sent off my driving licence for my first ever speeding endorsement. After 48 years. Damn, it could almost have been a full half-century. Still that’s impressive, no? Actually, no it isn’t. The circumstances of the fine are irritating, but I can’t complain. To have lasted this long says a fair amount about my vigilance, a bit more about our policing, and a lot about my good luck. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Setting a Limit”
The above quote dates from the days when Ford felt that they could snub a sizeable sector of their customer base in their advertising but, disregarding the now quaint-looking gender bias, it does speak of that need to sit well at the controls of your chosen motor car.
I was looking at the interior of a new Peugeot 3008 the other day and was offended by the steering wheel. The now almost mandatory flat bottom has been joined by a flat top which, I assume, is a compromise that allows a larger field of view of the high-mounted instrument panel. Combined with the centre boss and mounted controls, there seems little room left to put your hands. But then I thought the usual – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Driving The Modern Car”
Over 100 years ago the inventor of the compression ignition engine died under mysterious circumstances. Too late however – his monster had been unleashed.
It’s recently been Christmas in the UK and round about that time, with the traditional Christmas dinner imminent, an inevitable jokey question is “does anyone really like brussel sprouts?”. Actually, I live with someone who does, so the answer is inexplicably “yes”. But far harder for me to accept is that there are people who actually like diesel engines – who prefer them to petrol ones. You could force feed me sprouts for a month and I could never even pretend to have any affection for the clattery, stinking, slippery product of Rudolf Diesel’s over-fertile mind. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Playing the Fuel”
As Mr Editor Kearne said in his introduction to this month’s theme, compromise is inevitable in the motor industry. The trick is knowing where to apply it and where to not.
Ask any industry accountant and they will tell you that making cars and making money aren’t natural bedfellows. Margins are often small, the customer base fickle and, with relatively long development and production runs, like an oil tanker, once committed you don’t change direction easily. Of course there are exceptions, companies who through a combination of prudence, intelligence, excellence or maybe just fashion, are able to make a healthy profit, year after year, and even swallow up a few of the lacklustre performers in one or more of the above categories whilst they do. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – The Crucial Balance”
Recently we’ve been looking at the Lancia Y10 and asking whether luxury and compactness are compatible.
Seventy years ago Triumph thought so. Introduced in late 1949, like most of the UK Motor Industry production of the time, the Triumph Mayflower was chasing exports. As the chosen name suggests, the United States was a prime potential market but it seems that the UK’s image of the US’s image of the UK is forever distorted. Just like Ford’s stewardship of Jaguar, Triumph felt that a traditionalist approach was what US buyers expected from a UK company, this at a time when everyone was looking to the future. Continue reading “An Early Case Of Retro”
‘Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour…’
I’ve already expressed my infatuation with the confines of the underground car park. Now I visit the other extreme, my desire to Climb Every Mountain – as long as I can do it in a car. Although I’ve shaken off most my youthful fears, some things remain. I’ve always hated heights for instance, even though a part of my working life has involved climbing ladders and towers, but I’ve never been at my ease. And take me to the edge of a precipice and the inevitable desire to either launch myself off it or to run away takes hold. So I guess I’d make a lousy mountaineer. But put me in a car driving along the edge of that precipice at 100kph and I’m fine. Mid-Summer sun, torrential rain or snow are all fine by me too, though the last does demand the right tyres to make it less of a gamble. And the view from a mountain top is one of those rare times you do get a reasonable and refreshing confirmation of your own insignificance. Continue reading “Theme : Places – Mountains”
Following his Final Report from 2015 and his subsequent Update from last April, here’s another one from Sean. Until the penultimate, absolute final update report he plans for late 2017 or thereabouts.
There was always the worry that, with time, the scales would fall from my eyes and I would see the Cube as the embarrassing and rather fatuous novelty that others see it as. Certain respected visitors to this site have made their abhorrence of the car apparent, and others have possibly implied it politely, by evading the subject entirely. However, for me, the satisfaction of ownership hasn’t worn off. Of course, city dwelling, and my rag-bag of alternative vehicles, means that I’ve only done about 7,000 miles in it over 18 months but, for me, it’s an excellent thing to have. Spacious inside, compact outside, good all round view. It’s perfect in town, and perfectly tolerable on long journeys. A hypothetical electric Cube might be preferable but, when I consider the alternatives actually available, I have no regrets. Continue reading “Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update”
For some reason, I’ve been thinking about the chance of a better future recently. Car advertising always promises that. Cars seldom deliver it.
The better future is what most the people in old car adverts seem to take for granted. A trim young couple grin out at me, assuming things will just carry on getting better and better. For them, maybe they did. Certainly their marriage was statistically going to last a fair bit longer than that Vauxhall Victor F that they seem to be so pleased with, but which is probably rusting already. Today, that Insignia may no longer originate in Luton, but it may well last far longer than the modern couple. If they are a couple. Or maybe they’re just colleagues. Actually they look a damn sight more pleased with themselves than with the Vauxhall. Continue reading “To the Victor …….”
When I was 17, a few months after passing my driving test, I took the family Fiat 124 up to London on my own. This was the first time I had driven in a city and I was both wary and excited. Various bits of that trip remain vivid. Although the M4 was opened by then, I came in on the A4 Great West Road so that I could pass the various factories at Brentford, including the Art Deco Firestone Factory. I remembered these from the back seat during earlier trips with my parents, and they seemed an essential part of the romance of visiting London. After Hammersmith I joined Cromwell Road and found myself in the centre lane of quite fast moving traffic rising up a flyover on a left hand curve. This seemed a great challenge, but I held my nerve and learned Rule One of City driving – as long as there’s space ahead, just keep going, don’t lift. Continue reading “Theme : Places – The Multi-Storey”
I’ve recently written about one Italian car’s 50th birthday, the Fiat 124. Now I will try to write about another 50 year old, from the other side of the tracks, the Lamborghini Miura.
Actually, here we are on the second paragraph and this is already threatening to be a labour of duty. Certainly, other DTW stalwarts wouldn’t go near the subject when there are still XJ40s and Astra Fs left on our roads and I admit that so much has been written on the car that I wonder what else I can say. Hell, I can’t even think of a title that won’t have been recirculated ten times or so. Continue reading “A Load Of Old Bull”
There’s an awful amount of ill-informed, arbitrary rubbish spouted about tyres. Here’s some more.
Tyres are made of rubber and are there to make the ride of your car soft. It’s the air that gives the cushion, so you need to keep them pumped up, but not too hard. They have grooves cut in them called tread that let the rain out and if the grooves aren’t deep enough the police can fine you – I think it’s 1 mm, or maybe 2. I know a garage that keeps some part-used tyres out the back with more than enough legal tread and they will sell them to you at a fair price including balancing, though you don’t really need that as long as you drive at sensible speeds. I wacked my front tyre on a sharp kerb the other day which took a bit of rubber off and you can see some of the canvas stuff underneath, but it isn’t losing air. Maybe they’re the ones with tubes. Anyway they should be OK til the next MOT. Continue reading “The Carbon Black Arts”
Driven to Write examines a missing link from Brazil.
1962 Studebaker Avanti
1966 Jensen Interceptor
1964 Brasinca Uirapuru
The earlier years of South America’s motor industry were influenced both by its relative geographical closeness to North America and its cultural closeness to Europe. But this influence might have gone both ways. When I first saw the 1962 Studebaker Avanti, in my trusty edition of The Observer’s Book of Automobiles, I was greatly struck. A really novel shape. When I first saw the Jensen Interceptor, in The Autocar in its 1966 Motor Show run-up, I was greatly impressed. A really novel shape. It was only after a while that I realised that the earlier, Loewy Studio designed car might have influenced the Touring styled one from West Bromwich. But, unknown to me at the time, there was a third car, the missing link, the 1964 Brazilian built Brasinca 4200 GT Uirapuru. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Variants on a Theme”
Now seems a good time for DTW to recall the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan.
I first knew about it from Car & Driver in the late 1960s. C&D is still a good magazine, but readerships have changed and it is no reflection on their current writers, who must function in a different publishing climate, if I refer to back then as their Golden Years. Back then, C&D had a dry and subversive wit missing from other car magazines and, when I started reading the article about the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan, I assumed that it was a smart joke, a parody of a review of a car that couldn’t really exist. Continue reading “A Big Car for a Big Country”
I write as someone who is far from convinced of the universal wonders of the Free Market, yet I tend to the conviction that state-owned car makers are a bad idea.
I think that’s because I can’t help but regard most cars as rather frivolous things, so I base my prejudice on the feeling that I wouldn’t want to be governed by an organisation that wastes even part of their energies thinking about cars, except in legislating their use. This prejudice soon falls apart. True, most of the cars built for a captive market in the old Communist states of Eastern Europe were disappointing at best, but Tatras were glorious things. The nationalised British Leyland was a reasonably cack-handed enterprise, with sparks of cleverness, but it only got nationalised due to the uselessness of its private management. And Renault, extracted by De Gaulle’s government from Louis Renault at the end of the War in a very murky way, produced their most influential vehicles during its 50 years of state ownership. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Parallel States of Evolution”
For many eyes, the car above is, irredeemably, depending on their country, a VAZ or a Lada or a Zhiguli, a vehicle that citizens of the former Soviet Bloc view with a frustrating mixture of contempt and affection. To me it is (and in this example, correctly) a Fiat 124, the first car that I had free, unaccompanied access to the open roads in, with all that allowed, so anything that follows might have to be filtered by the reader to allow for the rosy glow of nostalgia, although actually it’s a frustrating mixture of contempt and affection. Continue reading “The Fellow Traveller”
Two Driven Wheels Good. Four Driven Wheels Better. BMW challenges its own orthodoxy.
The rest of Europe might or might not care but, on one thing, the UK Brexiteers were right. BMW needs us. Or maybe we need them since our appetite for The Ultimate Driving Machine is unabated. BMW sells as many 5 Series saloons in the UK as in Germany, though there the estate now dominates, and the UK market has been looked at very carefully when developing the next 5 Series that arrives here in February. Continue reading “BMW – Caught On The Back Wheel”
At a pinch, you might find some old footage of Donald Stokes selling buses to Cuba, or Len Lord playing golf, but one car industry boss had a richer celluloid catalogue.
The only new car launch I have attended was in 1969. It took place in Harrods, and all I knew was that it was to be a Jensen. Jensen had introduced their Interceptor and FF three years previously, so I wondered what this could be. A four door version? A mid-engined sportster? A convertible? I was intrigued. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Director!”
This is the third of five items today which look more closely at a rather special car, the …. um, whatsitsname.
Imagine yourself stranded on that hypothetical desert island. With nothing else, you start playing intellectual games. Game 56 is carving in the bark of a large tree the name of every car that you can remember. Will you ever, even if you live for 1,000 years, come to the Mitsubishi Carisma? Continue reading “The Big Ask – A Second Try”
DTW comes to the Half Century for the Oldsmobile Toronado, a 1966 example of which was supposed to be the 100 millionth GM vehicle. Did they really keep count that carefully? What about Johnny Cash’s Cadillac?
Personal Car? That would be my Nissan Cube. However there is also a ‘Personal Luxury Car’, a US category comprising gargantuan, two door cars, such as the Sixties Ford Thunderbirds, which I suppose was shorthand for the head of the nuclear family’s gross personal indulgence. I admit to a liking for most of the personal luxury cars from that era and, looking at GM’s offerings, I would be hard pushed to choose between a ‘67 Cadillac Eldorado, the outrageous, ‘71 boat-tailed Riviera or an original Oldsmobile Toronado. Continue reading “Because They Could : The Oldsmobile Toronado.”
DTW fearlessly exposes the possibility of widespread corruption in the TV Police Force.
Film-makers are sometimes depressingly conservative, sometimes audaciously ambitious. One particular bit of audaciousness is the conceit that you can take a book that took 2 years to write, that would take 2 weeks to read and boil it all down to a 2 hour movie, maybe less. Without that juicy rights cheque, how many authors would let that happen? But despite this, there are screenwriters who make a reasonable fist of the job, creating at least a shell of the original, or maybe a pared-down alternative. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Cop Out”
BORDERLESS LIMITS : When feisty Australian ex-lifeguard Lindi Jackson (Nicole Kidman), on holiday in Europe after her marriage break-up, gets mistaken for a British businesswoman and offered the top job at French car maker Citroën, it looks like a recipe for mayhem. However Lindi vows that she will make a success of the ailing firm by introducing the element most missing from today’s cars …. FUN! But it’s never going to be plain sailing. As if the stuffed shirts in the boardroom and the constant harassment from a weird bunch calling themselves Citroënistes isn’t enough, Lindi is visited by the ghost of André Citroën (a tour de force characterisation by Johnny Depp). After a hilarious bunch of wacky misunderstandings, Lindi and André form an uneasy alliance, but will they be able to put the joie back into the chevrons? DTW VIEW : Absolutely Chucklesome! Great Fun!Continue reading “Theme : Film – DTW Recommends”
The Estate Car seems to have lost favour though, in many ways, it never was in favour.
The Estate Car was the car you bought when you had so many obligations and so much responsibility that you couldn’t afford to indulge yourself with the car you really wanted. Its name, of course, like its US equivalent the Station Wagon derives from the upper echelons, but even there it was just a tool to carry around steamer trunks, whilst the important people were often carried in the back of something grander. After that, if you couldn’t afford servants to do the lugging around for you, you bought an estate for your own use instead – a lumpy, unloved workhorse. Continue reading “Art of the Estate”
The BMC Mini and the Ford Cortina represented two contradictory strands of the British character.
Soon after its release, Ford, notoriously, took apart a Mini and realised what BMC hadn’t worked out, that each car sold would lose the company money. It wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Ford Germany inherited the abandoned front-drive ‘Cardinal’ project from the USA to become the Taunus 12M, but Ford Britain were having none of this fancy stuff and its ‘Archbishop’ (ho, ho) project was very, very conventional. But what the first (Consul) Cortina did offer was a lot of up-to-date looking car for the money. Less well recorded is that BMC, returning the favour, bought a new Cortina, took it apart and were appalled at the bodyshell’s lack of torsional stiffness. But even had this fact been publicised, it’s unlikely that it would have affected the Ford’s success. Continue reading “Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?”
We look at what once went on in the supposedly dark hours of broadcasting.
Around my middle teens, I was in dire need of displacement activity. Anything to put off revising for exams in those early Summer months. What better than the television. Naturally, back then, there wasn’t 24 hour broadcasting, and there were no afternoon movies, soaps or reality encounter shows. But there were Trade Test Transmissions. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Between The Gaps”
Around the launch of Driven To Write, I did a short piece about hearses, and I’m now returning to the subject. Speaking personally, I’m unconcerned how I go- a Transit van or a borrowed estate car would be fine. But, if I leave behind anyone who would miss me, I’m concerned that their loss is eased as much as possible. So I can see why the conveyance should be seen as ‘suitable’. But what are people’s expectations? Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – The Ultimate Journey”
Car people talk a lot about a car’s behaviour, but what about the driver’s?
A few months ago, our theme was ‘Values’. The term ‘a set of values’ is often used by those self-aggrandising people who want to take moral high-ground and suggest that they, but not other people, have an honourable code by which they act in all things. I’m suspicious of people with inflexible moral rules, either for themselves or other people, but, of course, you can’t analyse each and every situation you find yourself in, so we do tend to develop standard responses to identifiable situations. Continue reading “Morality, Integrity and Etiquette”
Many of us have to do ‘selling’ of some sort as part of our lives. It’s a branch of social negotiation. You have something you want someone else to do, and you need to present a case to them as to why they should do it. So, if you’ve ever had to persuade your kids to go to bed, you know how difficult it is to sell things. Continue reading “Shifting Metal”
Open cars are not really the same as convertibles. By which I mean that convertibles may be open sometimes, but a true ‘open’ car is almost always open. Sometimes this may be because they don’t even have the option of a weather-resistant roof, sometimes because what is on offer is so ineffective and rudimentary, that it is hardly ever used. Needless to say, the United Kingdom is not seen as a primary market for such vehicles. Our weather is too variable to make possession of such vehicles a practical proposition. It’s no coincidence that hot-rods and dune buggies hail from the sunnier parts of the USA and not Essex. Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – Open Cars”
I’ve always been aware of Bristol Cars, but it was only in this century that I started looking at them more closely.
Until then, they were an oddity, but one that, for some reason, seemed to engender goodwill rather than antagonism in me. Bearing in mind its scant production over the past decades, there is a surprising amount of goodwill felt towards Bristol in the world of the motoring enthusiast, though often not accompanied by much actual knowledge. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part I) – Life After Filton?”
It’s understandable that haircuts and trouser bottoms and patterns date, and what seemed really smart to you once, now sits embarrassingly at the back of a cupboard because you’re too ashamed even to take it to the charity shop. But it’s odder that something as basic as a colour can date. There aren’t that many colours, or there are infinite colours depending on how you look at it, but either way how can something that seemed so agreeable to you once, suddenly (and it often is sudden) become so jarringly dated? Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Beige New World”
Starting on a pedantic note, I use the term ‘two-tone’, knowing full well that, like the term ‘colour coding’, its use in regard to car painting is usually incorrect. A tone is technically a greyer, less colourful, version of a single colour. Frequently, cars described as ‘two-tone’ are, more correctly, ‘two-hue’. Nevertheless, let’s stick to the generally accepted vocabulary.
In Part 1, we charted the genesis of the New Routemaster. Now, after intense anxiety counselling, DTW’s intrepid correspondent braves the world of public transport in order to see what it’s actually like.
My own view of the New Routemaster’s aesthetics is that they deserve full credit for avoiding any direct references to the original. The lines of the windows are not all mere graphics, they follow the stairs as they drop from the top deck, which would be more pleasing, rather like a piece of old-school modernist architecture, if they didn’t they sit at odds with the curved roof and the pinching as the line drops from the rear right hand corner is clumsy. Rival manufacturer Alexander Dennis was certainly impressed since their recent Enviro 400H copies the glazed staircase. At the front, the asymmetry of the original is hinted at by the diagonal windscreen line dropping right down to the bottom of the door. Little items such as the rear view mirrors seem a crude afterthought, but I like the fact that the exterior avoids some of the fussy detailing favoured by many in the bus and coach industry in the false belief that they make their vehicles look less ‘municipal’.Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 2 : ‘Old On Tight, Guv’nor!”
There are two names connected with the New Routemaster London bus, Boris Johnson and Thomas Heatherwick.
The latter is a controversial designer, feted and sometimes scorned. He is maybe, in stature if not style, the UK’s Philippe Starck. Someone who is obviously clever and ambitious, and doesn’t want to be hemmed in by specialising in a particular field. The same, of course, can be said of Mr Johnson which, one might assume, is why they gelled. The original Routemaster, let’s call it RM, a vehicle never a bus stop away from having the ill-used adjective ‘iconic’ added to its name, was a product of a very different era. It was never designed to attract tourists to Brand London but its longevity on the roads meant that it became an ingrained part of the city, viewed with affection by all those who didn’t get stuck on the rear platform on a freezing Winter’s day. Continue reading “The New Routemaster Bus – Part 1 : Room For One More, Love!”
I visited here in 2011, just after it had re-opened following a complete restoration. I posted a small gallery and the accompanying text 20 months ago. Here it is again, with added images. In addition to what’s displayed, plus temporary exhibits, they have an impressive collection in storage, so I imagine that, 5 years later, some exhibits will have changed. Anyway, if you’re near Turin, it’s well worth a visit.
It is a large and impressive museum, mixing the informative (exposed engines and bare chassis) with the glib (new Fiat 500s bursting through kitchen walls). But you need to get them in and presentation is important, especially if you are accompanied, as I was, by someone who does not find cars at all exciting. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue : Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino”
Last month, in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, DTW came across a pram museum. They’ve got wheels, so we’ll write about them.
When I was a student designer, there was a clear difference between the straight from A level bunch, like me, and the ‘mature students’, some of whom were maybe just 3 or 4 years older than me, but who had seen a bit of life. That ‘bit of life’ might have been bumming around the world, or it might have been all that grown-up stuff like parenting, and those people could interest themselves in a project like designing a pram or a baby buggy in a way that I never could. By that, I don’t mean that my ambitions were only to draw ludicrously impractical sports cars – I was quite interested in doing something a bit more worthwhile, especially since, with the Arab Israeli Conflict, the activities of the Baader-Meinhof Group and, as the final nail, Showaddawaddy being near the top of the charts, it was clear that society as we knew it was coming to an end. No, my problem was that I could never really appreciate the difficulty in piloting a clumsy wheeled device with a screaming passenger through a crowded supermarket, since, although I’d read both On The Road and Nausea, I lacked any actual experience of the real problems of life. Continue reading “Caution, Live Cargo!”
Recently, a red Fiesta was added to the DTW fleet. Is red a Marmite colour?
No actually that’s a very murky brown. I mean of course that red is one of those colours loved by some, usually a red car’s owner, and hated by others, usually their fellow road users. Red lives at the hot end of the spectrum and is seen as the colour that stimulates – the aggressive colour. As such, the red sports car is, to many, a red rag to the bull.
At one time all Formula 1 cars were painted in the colours of the country of the entrant. Red had become the racing colour of Italy following the Peking to Paris race of 1907 but, with the disappearance of Lancia, Maserati, ATS, Serenissima, Tecno and others from the grids, it has become seen as the colour of Ferrari who, despite the use of British Racing Green by Jaguar and the short-lived Lotus Racing was, until Mercedes returned to Formula 1, the only manufacturer that stuck doggedly with its national colours following the advent of sponsorship. The actual red used deviated from Rosso Corsa for quite a while however, both because of the need to overcome the shortcomings of older TV sets that muted reds, and from the need to compromise with the branding of their main sponsors. Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Big Red”
Recently it’s been pointed out that, whatever his past achievements, such as a surprisingly admirable commitment to gay rights, David Cameron, British Prime Minister at the time of writing, will be defined by history as the man primarily responsible for Britain leaving the European Union and, conceivably, of causing irreparable damage to the EU itself. Whether you deserve it or not, posterity can be a harsh judge. Continue reading “Misposted in Posterity’s Pigeonhole : Rover P6”
In the spirit of fearlessly reporting anything on four wheels, or even more, DTW questions why anyone would want a motorhome?
Whatever the weather might suggest, In Europe we are now in the holiday season. Some of you might be ‘travel as quickly as you can to a destination, then stay put for the duration’ sort of people. And, if you use a holiday as a reason to relax and recuperate, I can’t deny that this is wisest. For myself, I seem to lack the ability to stop still and, if I visit mainland Europe for a week or more, I usually end up putting 4,000 km, at the very least, under my wheels. And whereas I might have a couple of notional waypoints in mind at the start, these are often ignored and I really don’t expect to schedule an itinerary. So booking in advance is a non-starter and the nicest affordable hostelries are usually crammed full by the time I arrive. Continue reading “White Goods : My Other Car’s A Fridge”