The Accountant and the Pimp

Who says all cars are the same these days? Two so-called premium manufacturers come to very different answers to the same question. 

photo-1

One car is the epitome of crass, gimmicky style over substance. The other one is a sober piece of design that adds just the right amount of adornment for it not to appear dreary. Continue reading “The Accountant and the Pimp”

Two Items About Designers

Two designers with long careers provide an insight worth looking at.

Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com
Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com

Two of our regular authors run their own blogs, which we have mentioned before. Mick has taken a look back at the work of Walter de Silva and finds much to praise but also there’s a sore point which is worthy of attention: de Silva’s penchant for absent rear door handles. I will admit to having been swept along on the unthinking currents of received wisdom. Now the point has been made I realise I had not been critical enough. And a ever-present thought that I had ignored now seems as plain as day: that 156 would be perfect were it not for the silly faux-coupé trope.

Kris, in this post, has focused on the Opel Rekord coupe, the work of Erhard Schnell under Chuck Jordan; Schnell is a designer whose name I ought to have known but didn’t. The photography is lush and the text is delightfully lucid.

Today’s Random Nugget

Idly I wanted to know what John Simister is up to…

2014 MG3: source
2014 MG3: source

He wrote for the Independent and is a freelancer now. I remember him from his days writing for Car magazine (1995-1998). This review turned up, of the MG3. Since I don’t live in the UK, I never see these cars and had forgotten about them. This part of the review is a surprise: “Despite this, there is a precision, a deftness, a transparency to the MG3’s responses that are rare in a new, mass-market model. It steers beautifully, it rides smoothly over bumps, it flows in a way which just makes you feel good. You do have to work the engine hard, but it’s not too noisy and a tidy gear-change action helps get the best from it.”  Simister is known for his fondness for French cars so I read this as meaning the car drives like a Peugeot 205.

Introducing Auto Didakt

A Driven to Write stalwart strikes out on his own

Image: Autodidakt.com
Image: Autodidakt.com

Regular readers of Driven to Write will be well aware of Kris Kubrick’s writings on subjects as diverse as the machinations within VAG, the social history of the W126 S-Class or indeed travels through Italy in his majestic Jaguar XJ12. So it is with with some pride and no little emotion that we salute Kris on his own website venture. Continue reading “Introducing Auto Didakt”

Theme : colour – The Lost Competitive Advantage

We’ve moaned about the dull uniformity of the world’s car parks. TTAC has some insight on the fact that opting for the boring colours is not helping you resell that car.

The Lancia Kappa: source
The Lancia Kappa: source

This is the link. “Silver and beige, the go-to colours of the 1990’s and 2000’s, have higher depreciation rates, but nothing is worse than gold. With an average depreciation of 33.9 percent, gold vehicles are dead last. Oddly, it’s the third-fastest-selling colour in the study, behind gray and black,” says the article. As it reports American data it does not say so much about black or mid-grey metallic. I imagine that a similar study would show that these colours aren’t helping protect value at this stage. There can’t be a competitive advantage to having a silver-grey or black Audi or Ford at this point. We must at this point be at peak monochrome.  Continue reading “Theme : colour – The Lost Competitive Advantage”

DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy Edition

At Curbside Classics I found an article about this remarkable rarity. It combines three themes that we have been considering in recent months: engines, Japanese design and special editions.

1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source
1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy edition: source

Precious little visual information exists regarding this car so please excuse the slightly rough images. What is fascinating is that it reminds me of Patrick Kavanagh’s line that “through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder”. The photo suggests enough to let your imagination to just Continue reading “DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy Edition”

Theme: Japan – Curbside Classics appreciates the Toyota Crown

Driventowrite has featured this car before, not once but twice.  As we are doing a Japanese theme this month and as we like Curbside Classics, we link to a nice and short featurette about the Toyota Crown.

1971 Toyota Crown: source
1971 Toyota Crown: source

As usual, there are some useful comments below the main article which also include some photos of the interior.

 

Eternal Flame Surfacing

Close your eyes. And imagine a car designer who actually has something to say. Who doesn’t just repeat the marketing fluff as dictated by his employer’s PR people. Who understands that there’s a world beyond the automotive, and, simultaneously, a world the car, inadvertently or not, helps to shape. The man this is referring to is none other than one Christopher Edward Bangle. 

642331d1146324780-bangled-bmw-ae_chris_bangle_683_01_2cx_pakwheels-com
A youngling designer, Photo (c) pakwheels.com

Continue reading “Eternal Flame Surfacing”

Why do all new cars look the same?

…asks Paul Sanderson at the blog 5thcolour. He has a rather clever diagram of the profiles of eight saloon cars and asks us why they are so alike. 

Car silhouettes: 5thcolor.wordpress.com
Car silhouettes: by Paul Sanderson 5thcolor.wordpress.com

Paul Sanderson´s blog is worth a good look over and above this particular posting. I liked the article about the value of colour in branding and there are plenty more like that at his site. Since we are a broad church here, I am confident our readers will appreciate something from outside the narrow confines defined by four wheels.  Continue reading “Why do all new cars look the same?”

Theme: Romance – Lancia

Curbsideclassic provided the inspiration for this short post. The article provides a nice run-down on these wonderful cars.

1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com
1967-1969 Lancia Flavia:curbsideclassic.com

When I think of romance and cars I tend to think of certain marques: Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Rover (to some extent), and perhaps some Ferraris. And that´s really it. Is it perhaps not uncoincidental that these brands are not in the best of health or, these days, not very romantic in their expression?  There might be an underlying factor operating here. Whatever the engineers might have felt, these vehicles turned out as machines with a more passionate character than is normal. You can argue that Rover is anything but romantic, as romantic as a tweed jacket. I´d say there is a British version, a sentimentality if you like (and I don´t mean that in a negative way) that allows me to make parallels with the way Romance was expressed in the Italian vehicles. You could call it a form of idealism. I´m tempted to think of a Venn diagram here, with three circles overlapping. Some Lancias, Alfas and Rovers were far from romantic and were rather ordinary or aggressive. Enough of them are not, which is why I feel justified in presenting Lancia (among the three) as a Romantic car and this one, it simply commands one to think of a summerime time drive, a picnic and a quiet time in the countryside.

Saturn: 5 years dead

One of the 50 best cars ever was the Saturn L200, at least according to our capricious, contradictory and downright random list

1990 Saturn SL: mad4wheels com
1990 Saturn SL: mad4wheels com

As luck would have it, this is a good time to be reflecting on the failure of Saturn. Pending my own careful meditations on the topic I´d like to draw your attention to this very good article at TTAC. In addition to the article, a reader who goes by the name 28-cars-later offers a very good precis of Saturn´s history which I will take the liberty of reprinting here (see under the “Continue Reading” button). I immediately thought the chap writes well enough to deserve to be on the other side of the author/reader divide. Others at TTAC did too.  Continue reading “Saturn: 5 years dead”

What the others are saying about the Tesla X

Automotive News did some useful opinion aggregation. We like it so we link it. 

2016 Tesla Model X: autobodyprice.com
2016 Tesla Model X: autobodyprice.com

On the downside, this is a critical comment:  “Rather than bringing Tesla closer to the goal of the Model III, the Model X may be a 2.5-ton warning sign that the company is either unwilling or unable to pull it off. The Model X’s prohibitively expensive technology, including its low-volume aluminum construction, batteries and propulsion system, is virtually identical to that of the Model S. In other words: The Model X may Continue reading “What the others are saying about the Tesla X”

The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8

The few reviews that have crossed my desk have not been very revealing. This one deserves some scrutiny.

2015-BMW-i8-front-34-610x390
2015 BMW i8 reviewed by the Truth About Cars: TTAC.com

 This is how Kamil Kaluski begins his article: This is the car that people in the 1970s predicted we would be driving in the year 2000. Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, the BMW i8 is the machine that looks like no other BMW — and certainly like no other car on the road. Its gasoline and plug-in electric powertrain compliment its looks, bringing together the efficiency of an electric car and the convenience of an internal combustion engine.” Having read this item I have a clear idea how this car works and how it feels to drive. I didn´t before. Further, the photos are quite easy to “read”. Press images I´ve seen have been really difficult to Continue reading “The Truth About Cars on the 2015 BMW i8”

Fossil Traces: From Minki to MINI

Before MINI, there was Minki.

Minki schematic - Minki 2 featured a longer and wider body. Image via Austin Memories.
Minki 1 schematic – Minki 2 featured a longer and wider body. Image via Austin Memories.

You’re probably never heard of it, and nor had I until comparatively recently. Minki was a Rover K-Series engined Mini re-engineered with interconnected hydragas suspension, much like that of Dr Alex Moulton’s own modified Mini – and a hatchback. Built to suggest a possible developmental direction for the ageing original, time ran out for the concept, given Mini’s possible sales volumes versus the costs involved. Continue reading “Fossil Traces: From Minki to MINI”

Theme: Roads – Ten Best Roads recommended by the Guardian

This article is a list of the ten best roads you might not have heard of. It´s cheap and easy padding for the Guardian but the photos are nice. Here is one:

Sa Calobra, Mallorca
Sa Calobra, Mallorca

I had not heard of any of the roads though some of them seem to be good enough to warrant a higher level of awareness than they seem to have. Isn´t the problem with tourism journalism that it makes people go to see places because they are unspoiled, this spoiling them. It´s an extractive industry in a way.

Innovation in classic car sales

Classic car sales is not a line of business known for its propensity to change. Thus I am impressed by the efforts made by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina, to invest in their presentation methods.

1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.
1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.

I chose this film at random and was very taken with the slick visuals to to display the features and quality of the vehicle. While most of the visual moves are directly from the play-book of television automotive advertising, it is noteworthy to see them applied to a single car. Also, while there are adverts one can view on You Tube, the image quality is usually poor. This is chance to view these cars with crisp, high-res pictures.  ‘

Click here to view the Supra ad and here to view the main website.

Sunday Matinée – The Renault 5 Story

Following our recent Benchmarks piece on the Renault 5, you will naturally burn to know more about this little French marvel. Ever obliging, we offer this (not particularly short) film on the development and history of the Cinq. Made by Renault themselves, it’s a little hagiographic in parts, but an enjoyable (and informative) trawl nonetheless… 

The Peugeot 604 is 40 this year, Part II

In the name of cultural exchange between our two great continents, I have contributed to the blog French Cars In America. I had to compress to 700 words my thoughts on a car dear to my heart. 

1983 Peugeot 604. Image: www.lrm-collection.fr
1983 Peugeot 604. Image: http://www.lrm-collection.fr

You can read more of my scintillating prose here.

A copy of Car, Nov. 1975 turned up on my floormat last week. I ordered it so as to read a Giant Test involving the Peugeot 604, the Jaguar XJ 3.4 and the BMW 528. The Peugeot and Jaguar trounced the 528 which lost points for its shabby handling, confined interior and wind-noise. Car concluded that in several areas including ride, roominess and comfort, the Peugeot had bested the Jaguar. Continue reading “The Peugeot 604 is 40 this year, Part II”

Benchmarks: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport

Benchmark or swansong? A short film from the very pinnacle of the automotive ziggurat

Just beautiful - Image via tuningpp
Lancia’s finest hour? – Image via tuningpp

If we collectively believe the current Ypsilon represents Lancia’s nadir – (although I would beg to differ) – I think we can agree this car represents the marque’s apogee.

Continue reading “Benchmarks: Lancia Flaminia Super Sport”

Peugeots in Thailand : Bangkok Classic Cars

The Thai for Peugeot 505 is เปอร์โย505 and if you want a little taste of the life old Peugeots in the far East click here where you can take a look at some of the posts at Bangkok Classic Cars. Their motto is “If you love classic car you are my friend.”

Peugeot 304 (1969-1980). Image: Bangkokclassic.com
Peugeot 304 (1969-1980). Image: Bangkokclassic.com

On the outside looking in: French Cars In America

The roll of call of great French cars is almost the same as the roll call of French cars that have failed to generate anything but legends of unreliability and weirdness in North America: the DS, the SM, the 604, the Renault 5 (known as “Le Car”) and the Peugeot 405.  Yes, French cars have not been a great success in North America but a dedicated group of automobile enthusiasts still have a fascination for them.

Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.
Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.

The leading site for news of cars North Americans can´t buy if they live in North American is French Cars in America. The site carries articles about developments among the French marques plus pages on matters more historical. Ahead of PSA, FCIA gives the DS label its own site subdivision. The question about why French cars aren´t sold in N America is answered here. Citroen´s withdrawal from the market is put down to the effects of the oil crisis in the 70s and the enactment of laws that illegalised key elements of Citroen´s designs. Renault (entangled with  AMC) and Peugeot´s withdrawal in the 80s resulted from Continue reading “On the outside looking in: French Cars In America”

An American View of Bristol

Via the Bristol Owner´s website I found this nice American take on Bristol cars. The photo is from the Curbside Classics website which I can´t recommend highly enough.

This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful.
This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful: thanks to Curbside Classics for the image. 

The 411 looks like a combination of the proportions of a Jaguar XJ-6 and the surface treatment of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. We have had some debate about the British ability to style cars. This one shows that a British car need not be heavily ornate to look good.

[Hello visitors from BODA.]

Passengers: Testament of Faith

They’re not like us – well, not much like us anyway

Opel Manta 400 - image via showerks
Opel Manta 400 – image via showerks

Sean’s fine piece on Denis Jenkinson earlier this week prompted this clip of rally legend, Ari Vatanen giving his co-driver an education in belief during stage 4 of the 1983 Manx Rally. Vatanen gets his Opel Manta 400’s tail wagging alarmingly on the narrow Isle of Man lanes prompting the now immortal exclamation from normally unflappable co-driver, Terry Harryman. (About 2 mins in, if you don’t want to watch the whole thing)Continue reading “Passengers: Testament of Faith”

Etceterini, Etceterini, Etceterini …

It Wasn’t Just Ferraris You Know?

Moretti 2

Last year, in Southern Germany, I came across an ‘Oldtimer Rally’ and I put a small gallery of photos up in December. There was a nice variety of cars, but what stood out for me was this little Moretti 750. Moretti was just one of a good number of small Italian manufacturers including Abarth, Stanguellini, Nardi and OSCA who produced small sports and racing cars in the post War period, and whose products are known, with affection and respect, as Etceterini.

There is no absolute definition of what makes an Etceterino, but it doesn’t mean any car not made by a major Italian manufacturer, so Fiat 500s rebodied as beach cars, fun as they are, are not Etceterini. Continue reading “Etceterini, Etceterini, Etceterini …”

Peter Stevens on concept cars

Here is Peter Stevens on the concept car and here is his second article on the subject. I think we can say we covered the topic more thoroughly in October but it nice to see what a professional thinks.

2011 Jaguar B99 concept.
2011 Jaguar B99 concept: why didn´t they make this?

It´s nice to see that Peter Stevens agrees with my analysis of the Ford Probe concept car:

“Ford Motor Company’s European arm presented a concept vehicle, the Ford Probe III, at the Frankfurt show in 1981 for totally different reasons. Its new mid-size family car, the Sierra, was to be launched in 1982. It was a fairly avant-garde design that, within Ford, suddenly caused the senior management to Continue reading “Peter Stevens on concept cars”

2015 Detroit Auto Show

Driven To Write could not force the editor, Simon Kearne, onto a plane in time to cover the 2015 Detroit Motor Show. The rest of us are still digesting the 2014 Geneva Motor Show and are too busy to attend. Instead, try reading the Truth About Cars who are reporting with their usual diligence. 

2016 Lincoln MKX
2016 Lincoln MKX

Continue reading “2015 Detroit Auto Show”

We like, we link: The Thinker’s Garage

While looking for details of the Citroen XM, this site turned up the Thinker´s Garage which ponders “automotive history, design and culture”.

The Lancia Kappa: overseen by Ercole Spada
The Lancia Kappa: overseen by Ercole Spada

Among the recent topics are a look at Tatra, an overview of Chinese car brands and an essay about the Citroen XM. Fiat Chrysler is discussed and there is a nice feature on electric cars and how design and efficiency are related. Clearly the author, Andrew Marshall, takes the same kind of view of cars as we do at DTW.

Death of a Carrozzeria

We bid a tearful adieu to one of the greats.

bertone504

This year, Bertone has joined the doleful list of recently deceased Italian styling houses, having held out against the inevitable longer than most. The quantity and quality of Bertone’s output had been in decline, particularly as commissions from major manufacturers began to dry up. The era of the great Italian styling houses is over and the centre of gravity has moved away from its traditional Italian heartland.  Continue reading “Death of a Carrozzeria”

The Wraith Of Khan

This post actually involves neither Ricardo Montalbán nor Benedict Cumberbatch. Instead, this is about a video presenting one of the few genuinely decadent motor cars on sale today, the Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Unlike certain motion picture formats concerning the automobile, this little film isn’t about a tarred-and-feathered Rolls-Royce that has to cross the Gobi desert before the egg on its motor block has been fried to a crisp. It simply tries to understand the appeal of the car in its most likely habitat. And appeal it does, in a sense I personally find somewhat perplexing in this day and age of oversaturation.

There is still a sense of luxury in existence that manages to astonish.

See for yourself whether you can find the point of something that one may consider tastefully excessive:

The Truth About Cars on the Renault Espace in Brazil

Renault Espace I 1984

This is a rather absorbing article from the good people at the Truth About Cars. It discusses the Renault Espace´s life in Brazil.

“Originally conceived by Renault and its partner, Matra, the first Espace appeared in 1984 and was initially greeted with a combination of intrigue and scepticism – nothing like Espace had ever been seen before. Flying in the face of accepted wisdom, the Espace epitomised Renault’s desire to push the boundaries of conventional design and create a car which met the changing needs of a rapidly evolving society.” (Automobiles Review, 2009)

1961 Fiat 2300 S Coupe : A Short Film

While reading about the Humber Super Snipe and its competitors I stumbled across this.

Fiat 2300S Coupe

It’s a very nicely filmed piece about a Fiat 2300S and its owner, Pierantonio Micciarelli. I have to say that the man´s elegant dress sense made me yearn to be Italian. They do know how to choose their threads.

Continue reading “1961 Fiat 2300 S Coupe : A Short Film”

The World’s Best Car Magazine?

Why I’d recommend :  Motor Sport  /  The Automobile  /  The Rodder’s Journal  /  Classic & Sports Car

Magazine

One particular magazine might use this title this as a wishful strapline but, of course there is no universal World’s Best Car Magazine.  if your taste ran to tits and tailpipes, then how can I argue that, for you, the late Max Power was not TWBCM?  When, after loyal decades, I finally gave in and stopped my subscription to the magazine that styles itself thus, Car Magazine, I looked around for alternative places to spend my pocket money.

Continue reading “The World’s Best Car Magazine?”

The Alternative Great Car Chase

Bullitt, The Italian Job, Ronin, Goldfinger ….

The list of ‘Great Car Chases on Film’ is generally pretty predictable but, if you look further, you might find this :

Tatra Chase
Click To View

A fabulous car, a skilled and brave driver, even braver passengers and a dysfunctional narrative.  What more could you want?

Banger Racing in the Eifel

I had a ‘Ring obsession for a short while and trawled for various videos. There are the obvious ones that put you in awe of other’s skill, either flat out driving with Water Rohl or the sight of Sabine Schmitz taking passengers round in the ‘Ring Taxi, chatting to them as though she’s on a country drive whilst effortlessly dispatching day-pass, would-be Ringmeisters.  The nicest I found was an early morning video of an unidentified driver in an Elise, top down, no gloves, driving fast but flawlessly on a near empty track, the dew still drying off.  

The most memorable of all, though, is this.  Somewhere, we are assured that no-one was seriously injured, which I hope was the case, but is pretty miraculous.  If anyone out there has ever wondered why it is so hard to find a nice Fiat 850 Sport these days, here is the answer. Cars have come a long way since then, thanks be.

Click to View
Click to View