A Concept for Sunday – Boating for Beginners.

Fiat tested the waters for their subsequent two-seater offering in 1993 with the Maggiore Scia – a concept car which genuinely deserved the term, ‘little boat’.

Fiat-Maggiore Scia concept. Image: fiatbarchetta

With the 1989 demise of the long-running X1/9 model, Fiat, for the first time in decades, lacked a two-seater roadster in its lineup; a state of affairs which wouldn’t have elicited much concern apart from the fact that such vehicles were making something of a popular comeback by then.

This was largely a result of Continue reading “A Concept for Sunday – Boating for Beginners.”

Anniversary Waltz 2017 : A History of Lessons

A decade ago, Alfa Romeo wowed the faithful with the 8C Competizione, a car which ultimately amounted to less than the sum of its parts. But weren’t we here before?

8C Competizione. Image: autocar

The philosopher, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás once essayed the line, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Following this logic, amnesia clearly runs as deeply within Alfa Romeo as blind optimism. The perennially crisis-ridden Italian car brand seems locked into a habitual cycle of hope and despair, with each new dawn promising that this time all will Continue reading “Anniversary Waltz 2017 : A History of Lessons”

A Bit of an i-Sore

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is currently getting a bit of coverage as it is launched to the UK press. I’m delighted that Hyundai is bringing it to these shores, but something has caught my eye.

Hyundai-i30-Fastback-side-at-IAA-2017
Nice looking car which loses marks for the misalignment of the lower edges of the bonnet and the A-pillar. Source: indianautosblog.com

Overall, I rather like the look of this car. It provides a touch more elegance and panache than the standard 5-door hatch. Arguably, it can be said to rival the Audi A3 and, perhaps more credibly, the Mazda3 Fastback (albeit both of those are 4-door saloons, this is a 5-door), and Skoda Octavia. It also extends choice to the market, and with my basic grounding in economics, I’ve been conditioned to Continue reading “A Bit of an i-Sore”

LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback

A few months after having left my now ex-go-to-work wheels in a Skoda dealer’s customer parking bay, I thought I should put a full-stop on the sporadic LTT that I sometimes provided on these pages.  

Mazda3 Fastback
Ex-machina – I liked the looks, even if the colour was less interesting than I had hoped.

Time and the opportunity to compare it with the Octavia which replaced it provide context and perspective on my views. I spent just over two years and 33,000 miles with my Titanium Flash Mica hued Mazda saloon. To recap, I bought the car with the original intent of swapping my C6 in for it, but instead, through the benevolence of my family, I was able to keep the slightly exotic and eccentric Citroen ‘for pleasure’ and have the Mazda to take the burden of my extended daily commute.

I bought the car pre-registered and was fortunate to find one in the spec and colour I wanted. My ultimate preference would have been to Continue reading “LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback”

Celestial Being

Overshadowed by its more lionised ‘gullwing’ predecessor, the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster was in many ways the superior car. DTW recalls a time when Daimler-Benz was a superior motor company.

Image: Classics Honest John

Mercedes-Benz: A name that at one time symbolised a continuum stretching back to the dawn of motoring and an ethos that embodied the sternest, most rigourous engineering ideals with a relentless Swabian logic. By 1957, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was the most modern, most eloquent exponent of these principles and perhaps the most technically accomplished car in production – this side of a Citroën’s homegrown goddess anyway. Continue reading “Celestial Being”

“Ne, hvala gospodaru!” he said.

During a hunt for some other information this image crossed my path. It is an attempt to visualise a Citroen XM coupe. 

Hypothetical Citroen XM coupe:  source

It interested me to see these because I had discussed the idea of Citroen XM coupe with our correspondent in Switerland, Simon, some time ago. As a result of that discussion I decided to rustle up some visuals but never did more than send them to Simon.  Those images are shown below the break.   Continue reading ““Ne, hvala gospodaru!” he said.”

Casting the Die

Lamborghini launched the Urus earlier this week, opening a ghastly new front in the SUV wars. But is its significance greater than simply its unabashed aggression? We have gathered some thoughts on the matter.

Weapons grade. Image: CNET

South of Revenna, and situated between the cities of Forli and Rimini, flows the Rubicone. From its source in the Apennine mountains, the river travels for about 80 km eastwards before meeting the Adriatic. In Roman times, it marked the border between Cisalpine Gaul and what we might call the greater Roman state. In 49 BC, General Gaius Julius Ceasar crossed this body of water with his army in direct contravention of the Republic’s laws, precipitating what can best be described as a military coup. As he did so, Ceasar not only unintentionally created a metaphor for the ages but is believed to have Continue reading “Casting the Die”

‘Car’, Car of the Year 1970

I recently purchased a reprint of Car’s Car of the Year 1970 feature (printed for publicity purposes for the UK distributor of a certain car company from the March 1971 issue by George Pulman and Sons Ltd Bletchley Bucks).  Almost (but not quite) as old as I am (what’s three years amongst friends?), it served to remind me what we are missing these days from motoring journalists.

WP_20171128_17_17_08_Pro
OK, so the cover rather gives the identity of the car and its manufacturer away, but I’m not here to write about either, honest!

First, I refuse to mention the main subject of the feature, the car which won this prestigious award in 1970, on the basis that we get complaints that the manufacturer of said winning car receives far too much coverage on this site. Second, it’s the quality of the journalism which has bewitched me, much as it was the featured car which captured my attention to said publication in the first place. Third, I’ve given up on Citroën these days in any case (damn!).

The first thing to note is Continue reading “‘Car’, Car of the Year 1970”

Westminster Sketches 1: The Pre-Farina Cars

 Austin’s Ford Zephyr and Vauxhall Velox rival of the mid-1950s is scarcely remembered now, but it turns out to be a something of a forgotten hero.

Source: The Austin Motor Company Ltd.

The Austin Westminster story began with the launch of the A90 series in October 1954, nearly four years before the start of the momentous eleven month period in which Farina’s new styling ‘language’ for BMC was unveiled, layer by layer.

Austin’s chief stylist, Buenos Aires-born Ricardo Burzi, was responsible for shaping the thoroughly up-to-date, unitary bodied saloons and estates. His hands were somewhat tied by Continue reading “Westminster Sketches 1: The Pre-Farina Cars”

Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)

With the third generation CLS, Mercedes-Benz dials down the Purity but ups the Sensuality. Oh Gorden!

Blessed be his name. Prof. Dr. h.c. Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer, Daimler AG. Image: mercedes-benz

Having trawled through Mercedes-Benz’s predictably hyperbole-laden press release for the new CLS, the temptation to point both barrels feels overwhelming, but the author nevertheless promises to do his best. Instead, I’d like to reflect upon whether nu-CLS embodies a return to form for a model which perhaps did more to Continue reading “Hot and Cool. (But Mostly Hot…)”

1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 road test

“Another new Alfa Romeo!” – Renowned motoring correspondent, Archie Vicar, takes a cursory look at the 1980 Giulietta 1.8 in what appears to be a verbatim transcript of period review.

1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta: source

Original photos by Douglas Land-Winbermere (sic). Due to damage in storage, stock photos replace the actual ones (which were damaged in storage). The article first appeared in the Canterbury Weekly Post June 2, 1980.

Introduction

The performance race continues unabated in these increasingly competitive times. Alfa Romeo have decided to add a 1.8 litre engine to their range of roomy family saloons. As if good looks and capable road-holding were insufficient, the famous Milanese firm has taken the decision to give the venerable Giulietta range a further boost by endowing the car with a 122 bhp engine which allows it to top 60 mph in a little over 10 seconds, putting it well ahead of the Fiat Mirafiori Sport (10.7 seconds) and Audi’s perennial petrol-hungry, boxy, front-drive laggard, the 100 GL 5s (10.7 seconds).

Only Triumph’s antediluvian Dolomite (8.7 seconds), BMW’s peculiar two-door 320 (9.8) and Ford´s mundane Cortina 2300 get to sixty faster. Each of the three play second fiddle to the Giulietta in some marked and incontrovertible way. The Ford burns more petrol and needs half a litre more engine capacity to Continue reading “1980 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 road test”

A Brochure for Saturday – Austin A110 Westminster de Luxe

For a car which sits at the top of its marque’s range, the Westminster brochure is neither inspiring nor imposing. 

It’s a single-spread leaflet, in half-tone.  At least it’s densely packed with useful facts, but the narrative does little to allure the prospective buyer. The date is indeterminate. The specification is that of the 1964-onwards Mk.II, but there is no mention of this in the title or contents. Continue reading “A Brochure for Saturday – Austin A110 Westminster de Luxe”

A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations

Today DTW has a short look at some of the cars being presented at the LA Auto Show. Maybe “short look” oversells it a bit. Read on to find out.

2018 Lincoln Nautilus nee MKX: caranddriver.com

After a scroll down Car & Driver’s list of highlights I didn’t find so much to dwell on. This makes me reflect on what there could have been instead. To be honest I can’t think of anything except that I remember a time when reports of American car shows revealed interesting models that were quite unlike anything we had over in Europe. The death of Oldsmobile, Saturn and Pontiac along with the diminution of Buick has reduced GM’s opportunities to Continue reading “A Bouquet: Pomegranate, Aloe and Yellow Carnations”

It’s Dare!

BMW’s daring X2 crossover breaks new ground by changing the rules, thereby ruling the game. No really – it totally does.

You’re totally not supposed to ‘read’ those grey bits. Stop looking at them! Image: autorevue

Invent Yourself

In the BBC comedy, 2012 and it’s spinoff, W1A, the standout character is that of Brand Consultant and head of PR agency Perfect Curve, Siobhan Sharpe, played with considerable aplomb by actress, Jessica Hynes. In the show, Siobhan is engaged, enthusiastic, totally on-zeitgeist. Her dial is set to communicate, yet lacks a filter or indeed much in the way of genuine insight. As a communicator, Siobhan never seems to Continue reading “It’s Dare!”

Dirk’s Demise vs Luc’s Lamento

Bentley’s Bentayga SUV turned out to be an instant smash sales success. Yet the car that was intended to preview it was not only met with fright – it also cost its chief designer his job. 

bentley-exp-9-f-suv-concept-photo-453675-s-986x603
Dirk’s swansong, photo (c) Car and Driver

Dirk van Braeckel’s career at Volkswagen had been one of sustained corporate ladder climbing. Having joined VAG’s Audi branch in 1984, he rose through the ranks at Ingolstadt, before being chosen to help re-launch the much-maligned Škoda brand. He did as he was asked with some aplomb, leading to a generation of Škodas that were not just competently styled, but, more importantly, conveyed a sense of thorough quality.

With hindsight, this first generation of VAG-engineered Octavia, Fabia and Superb models must be considered as conservative, competent, long-lasting pieces of design which stood the test of time without anyone really noticing. Continue reading “Dirk’s Demise vs Luc’s Lamento”

Pointless Road Test – FIAT 500 1.2l Lounge

There probably isn’t anything left on the keyboard that has not already been written about the FIAT 500, but that’s not going to stop DTW as recent ownership has permitted some real-world insights.

FIAT 500 1.2L Lounge in Pasodoble Red
So familiar, it’s invisible

The new-age FIAT 500 is a car I don’t want to like. It’s a cynical fraud for starters, sharing underpinnings with the previous generation FIAT Panda and Ford Ka. I like the Panda, having an especially fond soft spot for the 100HP which was the meaner spiritual successor to the Cinquecento Sporting that I so cherished in my early twenties.

I think I am also biased by Continue reading “Pointless Road Test – FIAT 500 1.2l Lounge”

Four Ring Cycle

1997’s A6 saw Audi choosing bravery over stylistic torpidude. A lesson they could do well to re-learn.

Was this the earliest application of the lower-door-mounted rub-strip? Image: autowp-ru

By the early 1990s, Audi appeared to have run out of steam as the successes of the previous decade began to fade. Having lit up the automotive firmament with technological marvels such as the Ursprünglich Quattro coupe and the aero-influenced C3 100 / 200 series, the early ’90s saw the four rings of Ingolstadt comparatively becalmed.

Consolidation was the operative word, the feeling along the Danube being that enough had been done to Continue reading “Four Ring Cycle”

A Photo for Sunday: The Italian Paint Job

Was it not Grahame Greene who said “If I can’t have the bream I’ll have a salad instead”? 

2017 Fiat 500 Anniversario

The Fiat 500 has entered a new phase in life. Having initially been very fashionable, it came to be seen as a rather tired old product (not by the many who bought them). Now, ten years on, it has eased its way into a small pantheon of long-lived steady sellers. The Suzuki Jimny has managed this as well, albeit after 20 years (for Autocar). Another example, at the other end of the scale might be Toyota’s CenturyContinue reading “A Photo for Sunday: The Italian Paint Job”

Ridicule is Nothing to be Scared Of

From time to time, I receive the occasional photo from the wild of some interesting automotive oddity from friends and family. Today’s subject however, I’m forced to admit, had me stumped.

“We’re not in Toyota City any more, WiLL.” A UFO in Cork. Image: PoD (Thanks bruv!)

Now, I consider myself to be reasonably authoritative on matters automotive, at least when it comes to the European industry anyway. Admittedly any putative knowledge tends to evaporate once we metaphorically cross the Atlantic but I have rarely if ever failed to correctly identify anything flung my way – until now. Even I had to admit defeat on this one.

What we are looking at is better known as a WiLL Cypha. I expect that unlike me, you (our informed and highly knowledgeable DTW readers) know your Japanese oddities and are incredulously shaking your heads at my ignorance, but for those who Continue reading “Ridicule is Nothing to be Scared Of”

Artistic Intent

Volkswagen’s new flagship seems to be intent on making up for the lack of outright prestige with pretence and derivativeness – a cause that isn’t aided by its clunky moniker.

IMG_0546

Tiguan, Up(!), T-Roc – VW’s recent crop of all-new model names certainly invites unkind comparisons. Renault can get away with a Twingo, nobody minded Opel’s Tigra, but Volkswagen appears to be better served by less

Continue reading “Artistic Intent”

Micropost: Automotive Jargon

While DTW is far from perfect on the sub-editorial front (blame the sherry), we still like to hold others to suitably high-standards.

Image Source

In addition to the “front grille”, there is a new piece of automotive jargon to throw into your car-speak. It’s the “rear C-pillar”, a delightful formulation invented by the Irish Times. I feel like grabbing a driver’s steering wheel and heading off now. We will deal with the actual car in due course.

I’ll Second the Third

The Thinker’s Garage might be a blog you have heard of. If you haven’t it’s worth a little look. The latest post shows a proposal by designer Andrew Marshall for a new Alfa Romeo Giulia.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2 door concept: source

The proposal draws quiet inspiration from the 1974- 1987 GTV while using the running gear of the current rear-drive Giulia. Marshall’s proposal eschews the production car’s soft shapes for something more angular (in some ways). The sideglass is a bit deeper than is fashionable – which is a good thing, lending the car a welcoming feeling many modern sports cars lack. Continue reading “I’ll Second the Third”

Sayer’s Moodboard

Not content with reimagining the Jaguar XJ-S’ proportions, today we examine its influences – such as they were.

Image: xj story

The XJ-S is a car which tends to crop up with some frequency on Driven to Write. Why this is so is perhaps debatable, (okay, it’s often my fault) but I suspect that its fascination is not only a function of its controversial shape, but also stems from a belief that its styling came about without precedent. But no car is developed entirely in a vacuum, or is it?

We have covered the XJ-S’ stylistic development in some detail already, so I’d rather not Continue reading “Sayer’s Moodboard”

Put Forth The Fifth

In a post-script to today’s reprint of Archie Vicar’s review of the 1981 Triumph Acclaim, I present a few notes on Car magazine’s impressions of the 1980 Honda Ballade.

1980 Honda Ballade: source

Were it not for the Honda-BL deal, the introduction of the Honda Ballade would have passed almost unnoticed in Japan,” wrote Hattori Yoshi. “The Ballade is an unexceptional car: it offers nothing new to jaded Japanese motornoters who are used to new models being introduced just about as often as someone, somewhere is complaining about unfair Japanese imports”. 

Hattori explained that the Ballade differed from previous Hondas in that it was a product they felt customers wanted rather than needed; it also joined the lone vehicle in their then-new Verno dealer network – set up to sell the Prelude. Apparently cars in the Verno network were supposed to be a bit more upmarket than those in the Honda chain. Continue reading “Put Forth The Fifth”

Another “Triumph” for British Leyland

In what appears to be a verbatim transcript of a period review  motoring correspondent, Archie Vicar, drives the 1981 Triumph “Acclaim” saloon.

1980 Triumph “Acclaim” saloon: source

The article first appeared in The Executive Motorist, August 1981. Original photography by Griff Piddough. Due to water damage to the original material, stock photos have been used.

Many drivers will regard the Triumph Dolomite with much fondness. It was launched as the Toledo in 1965, which by my reckoning is now fifteen years ago, back when BL was known as BMC and Harold Wilson was prime minister. It is a tribute to this feisty little vehicle that only now has BL has reluctantly decided to put it out to pasture. We wish it a long and happy retirement!

To replace the Dolomite there comes a bold new design, one created in collaboration with the Honda motor company of Japan. Ringing the changes are modern front-wheel drive, a passenger door-mounted mirror and an all-alloy, twin carb overhead-cam 1.3 liter motor. Cleverly, the new car is called the “Acclaim” as it is this with which the car will certainly be greeted by one and all. Continue reading “Another “Triumph” for British Leyland”

High Flying Adored

No longer content with the surly bonds of earth, with this Rocheresque alliance with Emirates, the Blessed One’s ambitions have truly taken wing.

Dr Jens Thiemer, Mercedes-Benz Vice President Marketing: “Travellers in Emirates First Class are now also able to enjoy the sense of luxury of our Mercedes-Benz S‑Class above the clouds”. Image: nyobserver

Everybody (and their dog) wants at the very least to touch the Blessed One’s hem, and after all, who can blame them? Having successfully reinvented Mercedes-Benz as the last word in modern purity and sensual luxury, the frail ties of the auto business were never going to be sufficient to hold his-blessedness to our leaden promontory, when he can Continue reading “High Flying Adored”

A Photo for Sunday: Jensen and Jaguar

Not long did these two cars directly compete in the showrooms. Only in 1976 could one choose between a new, cramped 5.3 litre V12 2+2 or a new, cramped 2+2 with a 7.2 litre V8.

Cool and warm – 1966 Jensen Interceptor and a 1976 (onwards) Jaguar XJ-S.

The two cars show how differently the same basic concept can be executed (Bristol and Ferrari are another two): the GT. The West Bromwich bolide benefitted from Touring’s neatly considered styling while Brown’s Lane’s leaper resulted from a tortuous process involving a number of hands (almost a Burkean contract between designers dead, designers living and designers yet to be). While the Jensen attained a homogenous look, the Jaguar resembles three very different ideas uneasily blended together.

What if we Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Jensen and Jaguar”

Mercury White Moonlight Makes Landfall on the Littoral

We recently explored the matter of how long it takes to align two ranges of cars when one company takes over another or there is an administrative merger. In the cases of Ford and GM, covered earlier, the process seems to take under a decade. Are there counter examples?

BMW didn´t know what do with this: autoscout24.de

Today I will take a look at the case of Rover, which marque came under the control of BMW in 1994. Rover (when under BL) had already been part of a co-operative venture with Honda. That process began under the Triumph brand when BL decided to use a slightly modified version of the Ballade as the basis of the Acclaim. The cooperation changed tracks slightly when Triumph was shuttered and Rover began to Continue reading “Mercury White Moonlight Makes Landfall on the Littoral”

Two Fingered Salute

In 1987, Maranello went back to its roots, launching the precursor to today’s track-bound limited edition wonders. But in looking to the past, was F40 the modern Ferrari of all?

Weapons grade material. Image: fastestlaps

The Ferrari F40 is a car that brooks no ambivalence. Like the company’s founder and imperator, F40 is indifferent to the notion that you might find it vulgar, somewhat silly, a virtually unusable statement of machismo and status, because it’s all of those things and a great deal more besides. Because, perhaps more than anything, F40 remains the essence of Enzo. Continue reading “Two Fingered Salute”

Sunrise And The Sodium Glare

Once upon a time UK Fords and German Fords differed. And once upon a time UK Vauxhalls and German Opels differed. Then Ford and GM unified their European operations. How long did that take?

When Europe was divided
Image via mad4wheels

The process began for Ford in 1967 with the creation of Ford of Europe. For GM it is a bit hazier because their UK and Continental brands kept their names. Ford’s UK and German design centres co-operated on the 1972 Ford Granada. For the 1976 version, Merkenich handled the design. After 1976 there were no more UK-only models (Cortina), as one after another the range became uniform on both sides of the channel: Fiesta, Escort, Sierra, Capri and Granada.

If we turn to GM we see more muddle. Opels could be bought in the UK though Vauxhalls did not sell much (if at all) on mainland Europe. Continue reading “Sunrise And The Sodium Glare”

Impossible Princess – Vanden Plas 1800

Robertas Parazitas reports on one of the stars of this year’s NEC Classic Motor show.

Source: C&SC

Grim commerce and ‘investment car’ mania now dominate the annual NEC Classic Motor show, but search hard, seek the wisdom of the crowds, and strangeness and delight is there to be found. In Hall 4, a Restoration Theatre had been setup. I sat for a while, hoping for a performance of one of Congreve or Wycherley’s lighter works, but all that was on offer was a video of two elderly men in a dingy workshop explaining the intricacies of panel beating in what I imagined to be a satire on Puritanism. Continue reading “Impossible Princess – Vanden Plas 1800”

Word on a Wing

On the surface, Renault’s 1983 Gabbiano was simply an innocuous concept, but could it also stand as a metaphor for a decades-spanning rivalry?

1983 Ital Design Gabbiano. Image: Weilinet

Following former head of Citroën bureau d’études, Robert Opron’s move across Paris to head Renault’s styling studios in 1975, design responsibility appeared to remain an in-house arrangement. However over time, a decision was taken either by senior management or by Opron himself to Continue reading “Word on a Wing”

A Luton Brougham

With Vauxhall’s future under PSA coming under renewed scrutiny, we look back to Luton’s mid-’70s upmarket ambitions.

1976 Vauxhall VX Prestige prototype. Image: droopsnootgroup

As automotive industry analysts ponder the fate of Opel / Vauxhall in the wake of PSA’s takeover, one possible future mapped out involves a shift upmarket. On the face of things, this appears about as likely as PSA getting a sudden rush of blood to the head and starting to take Citroën seriously, but as (im)possible futures go, it may not be entirely unthinkable.

Not everyone in the soothsaying universe seems to Continue reading “A Luton Brougham”

The Embarker Lay Still and Dreamed

Recently we discussed PSA’s mooted plans for their new charge, Adam Opel AG. PSA announced their plans yesterday

You can read coverage here and here and here. For the story direct from the lion’s mouth, you must merely click your mouse here.

As GM Authority dryly note, GM somehow failed to Continue reading “The Embarker Lay Still and Dreamed”

Harriman’s Folly

If a car can embody the legacy of its creator, the 1967 Austin 3-Litre will forever be linked with the fall of BMC boss, George Harriman. Hubris or simply bad timing? Driven to Write investigates.

Quadruple headlamps quickly replaced the more modern looking ovoid units fitted to the car at launch. Image: Oldtechnology.net

An unwitting metaphor for a car company which had fundamentally lost its way, the 1967 Austin 3-Litre was an unmitigated failure in both creative and commercial terms. Received at launch with an embarrassed silence from the UK press corps, shunned by the buying public and withdrawn from sale in 1971 with a mere 9,992 examples built, the 3-Litre, along with the Austin Maxi would prove to be the final nails in BMC’s coffinlid and all the evidence Donald Stokes and his Leyland cohorts needed to Continue reading “Harriman’s Folly”

DS’ New Horizon

As brand-DS’ pathfinder model becomes available to order, we find ourselves once again asking, what on earth is the distinctive series for?

It’s the Louvre, so it must be art. Image: Evans Halshaw

Yesterday, Autocar reported that PSA’s new DS7 Crossback crossover is now available to order in the UK market, with RHD deliveries starting in early 2018. Pricing ranges from about £28,000 in entry-level Elegance trim to over £43,500 for the highest specification ‘Ultra Prestige’ model. That’s right up there with ‘Premium Luxury’ in the redundant nomenclature stakes wouldn’t you say? Isn’t ‘Prestige’ prestigious enough any more? One could be forgiven for imagining DS’ marketers Continue reading “DS’ New Horizon”

A Concept for Sunday – A Break With a Backstory

The 1986 Eole was an exploration of what would happen if one truly applied aerodynamic theory to a Citroën CX Estate. The results were somewhat mixed.

Image: oldconceptcars

Truly aerodynamic vehicles tend to be fairly uncompromising looking devices for the most part. Citroën’s Eole concept from 1986 certainly wasn’t conventionally handsome, but it contained a lot of thinking that would become more widely adopted. The work of UK car designer, Geoffrey Matthews at the PSA/Talbot facility at Whitley, Eole was sanctioned ostensibly to give Citroën something new to show at that year’s Geneva motor show; the AX model (also styled by Matthews) not being due to Continue reading “A Concept for Sunday – A Break With a Backstory”

1978 Datsun Sunny Road Test

“Datsun leaps ahead!” Archie Vicar has a look at the exciting new 1978 Datsun Sunny in what appears to be a verbatim transcript of a period review.

1978 Datsun Sunny saloon: source

The article first appeared in the South Caledonian News Inquirer, October 31, 1978. Douglas Land-Wimdermere [sic] took the original photos. Owing to the poor quality of the archive material stock photos have been used.

The Japanese marques don’t appear to give the impression of ever looking like they rest on their laurels (which, funnily, we also find in the Nissan range) so naturally enough, before we became accustomed to the old Sunny, a new Sunny has come along. And a jolly good thing too, I hear you say. For the old one had many good qualities and these have been built-upon in the new model.

Since 1975 many customers have bought the reliably-selling 120Y, making it Britain’s most popular import by a broad margin. The new Sunny takes on a refreshed guise, sporting a simpler and even more tasteful appearance. In its dark yellow paint, blacked-out front grille and its dapper wheel covers, it stood out against the dull concrete background of Worthing where Datsun have their head offices. It certainly will grace many a driveway for sure.

Being such an important car, the editor needed little persuasion when I suggested a full continental road test – and only that – would suffice to Continue reading “1978 Datsun Sunny Road Test”

Norfolk Broad

With perhaps the shortest gestation of any production car, 1977’s Chrysler/Talbot Sunbeam personified the term, ‘rush job’ – and it showed. But one variant burned brightly, courtesy of Lotus.

Image: copie-petites-observations-automobile

In 1977, the TV ad-breaks were awash with the mellifluous tones of Petula Clark, exhorting us all to put a Chrysler Sunbeam in our lives. I was around 11 at the time, so there wasn’t much I could do to obey the Surrey songstress’ siren call but since we did have an Avenger parked outside, my level of interest in Linwood’s newest offering was perhaps keener that it might have otherwise have been.

The Sunbeam was the result a neat piece of industrial blackmail on the part of Chrysler UK, the failing former Rootes car business, which under US management had merged with Simca but was struggling with a dated range of cars and a loss making production facility in Scotland making fewer of them than was economical. Faced with the plant’s closure, the UK government agreed to Continue reading “Norfolk Broad”

Stretching a Metaphor

Ford’s post-acquisition strategy for Jaguar was one of aggressive growth, but it came at some cost – particularly to their core model line.

Jaguar flagship. 1997 long-wheelbase Daimler Super V8. Image: motorstown

Having taken a multi-billion dollar hit on the acquisition of Jaguar in 1989, Ford executives saw only one way out of the mess they have got themselves into. In order to gain the return on investment they craved, Jaguar would need to be transformed from a specialist 35-40,000 car a year business to one pushing out at least five times that number. To achieve this, they would need to Continue reading “Stretching a Metaphor”

1978 Citroen Visa Road Test

“Citroen’s newest car!” In what very much looks like a verbatim transcript of a period review, Archie Vicar considers Citroen’s 1978 Visa. Does it have what it takes be a proper Peugeot?

1978 Citroen Visa: source

The article first appeared in the Evening Post-Echo in November 1978. Douglas Land-Windermere provided the accompanying print photos. Due to the poor quality of the images, stock pictures have been used.

French car-firm Peugeot’s buy-up of the perennially troubled French car-firm Citroen could not have come soon enough. The new Visa is the last of Citroen’s lunatic inventions, engineered under the former rule of Michelin, surveyors of food and purveyors of tyres. It takes a good six years to devise a new car so the germ of the Visa hatched long before Peugeot could rescue Citroen from itself. That’s why Peugeot find themselves watching Citroen launch the deliberately eccentric and challengingly strange new Visa yet it is still a car with a hint of Peugeots to come.

So, how does one Continue reading “1978 Citroen Visa Road Test”

Drophead Candy

Up to now we’ve managed relatively few words on the subject of Aston Martin. It’s probably time we remedied that.

2018 Aston DB11 Volante. Image: South China Morning Post

It wasn’t necessarily a matter of prejudice, but I suspect a degree of ambivalence might have crept in. Certainly in recent years under the leadership of the over-rated Ulrich Bez, the storied British marque came to rival Bentley as purveyors of overstyled and increasingly vulgar trinkets for the well heeled and indolent. Continue reading “Drophead Candy”

A Potato For Sunday

Our item yesterday on the demise of the Citroen C4 made me consider blandness yet again.

2017 Citroen C4

Here’s the car. Despite its many small styling features there’s nothing to focus on. Unlike the Alfa Romeo 164 it suggests nothing more than what is there. Like the Tagora, the car has undynamic proportions, a generic contemporary design which offends no-one except to the extent one considers it a waste of resources. Continue reading “A Potato For Sunday”

The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.

The outgoing C4 is a car that will pass without comment or eulogy. Except here. Well, of sorts anyway…

Shut the door on your way out, there’s a love… The Citroen C4, yesterday. Image carsguide.au

They say that above every cloud lies blue sky, so while we get over our disappointment with the creative execution of the heavily facelifted C4 Cactus, its advent has brought about the demise of perhaps the least worthy bearer of the double chevron ever. Seemingly killed for lacking that now essential Citroën quality, its lack of joie de vivre and cynical adequacy has ensured that it no longer fits within Linda Jackson’s (bouncy) castle moat.

Announcing the decision to Continue reading “The Citroën C4 Hatchback is dead. All Rejoice.”

About Really Nice Cars and Boring Ones Too

Today I’ll ask why the 164 is ace and why the 2017 Mazda Vision Coupe is like a naked lady.

2017 Mazda Vision Coupe: source

An article and a comment by our colleagues on the Alfa Romeo 164 constitute the launch position of this particular rocket aimed into Inquiry Space. The article by Eoin Doyle can be found here for your review but I will cite part of S.V.Robinson’s follow-up comment as it suggests the direction of this piece today: “I remember one commentator stating that the 164’s styling had that same balance and immediate sense of effortlessness as the Supermarine Spitfire and, oddly, it stayed with me as a very left field but accurate point if view…. I see a beautiful red 164 V6 regularly and it still stands out for its stance, raffish good looks and nice details”.

DTW touched on blandness before, using the Toyota Avensis as a subject. That car, it turned out, consisted of watered-down references to some other cars. This time, the inquiry into blandness starts with an anti-example, the Alfa Romeo 164, and contrasts it with the famously unsuccessful 1980 Talbot Tagora. While we must feel a little pity for the poor old Talbot, at least someone remembers it and, if I Continue reading “About Really Nice Cars and Boring Ones Too”

When the Poets Dreamed of Angels

Fiat received most of the credit, but the 1987 Alfa Romeo 164 was a genuine Alfa Romeo, despite what some might retrospectively suggest.

Fumia’s masterpiece. Image: favcars

In 2014, then Alfa Romeo chief, Harald Wester illustrated the marque’s latterday decline with an image of the 164, stating that by making it front wheel drive, it had diluted the carmaker’s bloodline. But instead he demonstrated both an eloquent disdain for his forebears and a blind ignorance of history. Dismissing the 164, perhaps the most accomplished and rounded product the troubled Milanese car maker had produced since the 1960s, not only made Wester Continue reading “When the Poets Dreamed of Angels”

From Within Outside Turns Upside Down

It’s Tokyo Motor Show Time again. There is so much to discuss. Recently we politely drew your attention to the new Toyota Century. Crouched at the other end of the spectrum from that is the Fine Comfort Ride concept. It’s not real, it’s not petrol driven, it’s not very square at all. 

2017 Toyota Fine Comfort Ride: source

The powertrain of this Toyota sets up the framework for this concept car which has strong points and a major weak point. The fuel-cell arrangement allowed the designers to have another go at re-defining the luxury car: a flat floor, a short nose and a wheel at each corner so lots of room can be crammed inside. From a creative point of view, the freedom from the constraints of the RWD petrol-engined three-box saloon should mean a chance to be a bit daring. On first examination, I want to Continue reading “From Within Outside Turns Upside Down”

Arc de Triomphe

Visually speaking, the 2006 Citroën C-Triomphe didn’t quite live up to its name, which may explain why it remains something of an automotive unicorn today.

2006 Citroen C-Triomphe/C4 Sedan. Image: citroenet

PSA announced this particular iteration of their C-segment contender in 2004, a car which replaced the unloved and visually underwhelming Xsara model line. This car, believed to have been the work of Donato Coco and Bertrand Rapatel under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Ploué marked the beginning of a renaissance at Citroën’s Vélizy styling centre. Adieu to the creative torpidity of the Blakeslee years, welcome back creativity. Theoretically at least. Continue reading “Arc de Triomphe”