Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before

We’re talking about Jaguar today. I know, again…

Image: Driven to Write

Last month, I felt the need to talk to you about XE, which given the circumstances, made for some pretty uncomfortable reading. But not content with establishing History Repeating© as Jaguar’s mood-music and brand leitmotif, your ‘World’s Least Influential’ Jaguar critic (or WLIJC for short) is drilling deeper still by repeating himself thematically. Not I might add because he necessarily wants to, but because he finds it cathartic and more to the point, his editor told him to. Continue reading “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before”

1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL roadtest

“The middle frontier ahead!” Archie Vicar, the well-known motoring scribe, has a closer look at the 1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL. This may be a verbatim transcript of an article which first appeared in Laker Airways in-flight magazine, July 1981.

1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL: Autocar July, 1981.

[The original photos were by Cosimo Villiers-Montreux. Due to the poor quality of the printed source, stock images have been used]

As sure as mustard, the market is happy to keep on buying front-engine, rear-drive cars in the middle range. With its assured sense of the market’s whims – and they are whimsical, ask Citroen! – Ford has made sure that the fifth in the Cortina series is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive car. It would seem that no matter how willing makers are to Continue reading “1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL roadtest”

Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17

In terms of prose and style, Porsche’s advertising certainly couldn’t keep up with the modernism of the company’s flagship GT. Yet the Swabian virtues persisted. 

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Given the amounts of thought, devotion and creativity that went into the creation of Porsche’s landmark 928 coupé, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the ’78 vintage brochure of the car isn’t terribly advanced in terms of layout or prose.

The overwhelming sense is one of pride and Swabian thoroughness, with just a hint of ’70s glamour and cosmopolitan flair added. Double pages are devoted to the 928’s being awarded ‘Car Of The Year’, obviously, as well as its design and engineering development process.

Continue reading “Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17”

Geneva 2017: Cadillac want us to Dare Greatly

Robertas Parazitas looks back on a memorable Geneva Salon, and can’t quite decide whether to praise the Cadillac Escala, or rant against the sustained assault on the English language.

The concept is not new, having had its premiere at Pebble Beach in August 2016. It is intriguing  on several levels. The design language is a departure from the distinct vocabulary of present Cadillac offerings. Like the Pininfarina H600, the Escala could fit into a number of manufacturers’ ranges: Jaguar, Lexus, DS.

It’s also a hatchback. Most will refer to the Audi A7, I’m thinking of the Rover SD1. Continue reading “Geneva 2017: Cadillac want us to Dare Greatly”

Fiat al Fredo – 1967 Fiat Dino Coupé

While it’s comparatively easy to dismiss it as something of a parts bin special, the 1967 Fiat Dino Coupé amounted to a good deal more than the sum of its parts.

1967 Fiat Dino Coupe. Image: Wheelsage

By the latter stages of the 1960’s, Fiat management realised the necessity of providing more than just basic transportation for the Italian market. With living standards on the rise, the demand for more upmarket cars grew – at least within the bounds of what Italy’s stringent taxation regime would allow. With Dante Giacosa’s engineers at work on a series of new models to cover the compact to mid-classes – (124 and 125-series’) in addition to a new flagship to replace the dated 2300-series, Fiat’s offerings to Italy’s middle classes reflected this push upmarket, even if the egalitarian Giacosa didn’t necessarily understand the necessity. With these models in hand, it’s therefore a little odd that Fiat saw fit to embark on the Dino programme, because on the face of things, it looked more like a favour to Ferrari than anything that particularly stacked up as a business case. Continue reading “Fiat al Fredo – 1967 Fiat Dino Coupé”

Something Small in Denmark

Alas this little gem is a bit too far away to take a look. All interesting cars are a long way from where I live (Aarhus). 

1977 Innocenti Mini De Tomaso: source

You can inspect the advertisement here.

This one is the special De Tomaso sports model with 72 hp from the ex-BMC 1275 A-series engine. It has some special additions such as a different bumper, a bonnet scoop and some purposeful black detailing. Continue reading “Something Small in Denmark”

Louwman Museum I : A Prince In Exile

DTW’s correspondent visits a museum and finds his perception challenged.

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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”

Theme : Simca – Le Mini

The Simca 936 is a bit of a mystery, and I’m not going to clear up much of that mystery.

Simca 936 Prototype - Image : goodwood.com
Simca 936 Prototype – Image : goodwood.com

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”

2017 Opel Insignia Meta Review

This has to conclude my Opel binge. It’s a thematic collation of AutoExpress, Autocar and Car‘s reviews of the new Insignia.

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

The reviews have been chopped up and organised under a few headings. They aren’t consistent as they seem to have all based their views on different versions of the car.

Read on to get the digest of the reviews…

Continue reading “2017 Opel Insignia Meta Review”

Princess and the Pea

This isn’t about the Opel Insignia though the words came from a review of the car. It’s about what kind of lives automotive journalists lead. It’s about language.

Where does “reasonable comfort” lie on this scale?

“The previous Insignia fulfilled the purpose of getting you from A to B in a well-equipped and reasonably comfortable manner…” wrote Car magazine the other day. What could they possibly mean***?  Continue reading “Princess and the Pea”

Theme: Simca – The Road To Success!

In what very much resembles a transcript of a period road test, the celebrated motoring scribe, Archie Vicar, takes a critical gander at Simca’s 1967 rear-engined saloon. Has it been improved since 1966?

1967 Simca 1000 GLS: source

[This article first could have appeared in the Carlisle Evening Reporter, 16 March 1967. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the images, stock photos have been used.]

It’s all change at Simca which for good reason is one of France’s most successful manufacturers of motor cars. In these increasingly competitive times, every car producer must ceaselessly revise, update and otherwise improve their products and Simca have made some changes to their evergreen 1000 saloon so as to keep it in the race for customers which means that in order to appraise the new version, I have subjected it to a road test and present now my findings that readers may Continue reading “Theme: Simca – The Road To Success!”

Reminders, Part 2

Last week DTW reminded readers about the last, the final Mitsubishi Galant. 

2000 Ford Mondeo saloon

Apart from being quite good actually, it looked quite bad – the malformed secret twin of the handsome 2000 Ford Mondeo. To make that point I would like to have had a clear side profile of the Ford in saloon, sedan or notchback format. None appeared on Google’s image results, none that I liked anyway so I decided to Continue reading “Reminders, Part 2”

Theme: Simca – 1966 1000 LS road test

This appears to be a transcript of a review of the 1966 Simca 1000 LS by the well-known motoring author and journalist, Archie Vicar.

1966 Simca 1000: source
1966 Simca 1000: source

[The item appeared in the morning edition of the Minehead Bugle on July 9, 1966. Due to the poor quality of the original images stock photos have been used. Original photos by Ernest Pallace.]

In these increasingly competitive times, it pays for a manufacturer to stay ahead of the game, far ahead. Several marques have established themselves at the forefront of engineering with their recent deployment of rear-engined technology. Of course there is the long-established Volkswagen Beetle and the not dissimilar Porsche 911, both with handling that will challenge Continue reading “Theme: Simca – 1966 1000 LS road test”

Theme : Simca – By Their Concepts Shall You Recognise Them

One car illustrates why Simca weren’t quite like the other three.

fulgar-2
It’s a misty morning in 2000 and, having just sorted out a minor malfunction with one of the core control rods, Madame is setting out to the Boulangerie.

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”

Reverting to Type

A harmless trip to the shops leads to a rare sighting of the lesser-spotted Tipo.

Tipo Berlina. Image: Car Suggest

A walk around my local retail car park in suburban Cork is a dispiriting experience at any time, even when the rain isn’t horizontal. Filled with the usual drear parade of monochrome conveyances, there is little for the eye to linger upon, or indeed for the uninfluential auto-blogger to spin an article. However, earlier in the week, I was stopped in my tracks by, of all things, a 2017-registered Fiat Tipo Sedan – the first I’ve witnessed in the wild. Continue reading “Reverting to Type”

Geneva 2017 Reflections – Butch Insignia

Looks like someone’s been hitting the weights…

Image: Mercedes Benz

Looking for all the world like some kind of steroidal Insignia Grand Sport, the Mercedes-AMG GT concept sees the once mighty Daimler slide further into a self-reverential maelstrom.  Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections – Butch Insignia”

Geneva 2017 Reflections: Audi Q8

Pun-tastic name aside, the new monster from Ingolstadt mainly serves to expose the car industry’s ignorance towards the social properties of the automobile.

audi-q8-sport-concept-2017-alle-infos-1200x800-70e47f444a3cb836
Photo (c) autobild.de

It’s difficult to determine where to start with the Audi Q8. How about the name? Yes, there may be a ton of planet-saving batteries hidden underneath its gargantuan sheetmetal somewhere, but still: just the car’s appearance and its onomatopoeic, mineral oil-related name set a rather strange tone.

Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections: Audi Q8”

Scream If You Want To Go Faster

If you have to ask how much it costs to look this cheap you probably can’t afford it.

The Mansory Black Edition near some mountains. Context innit? All images: Autoguide

All of a sudden Bentayga makes sense. Bentayga exists, I now realise, to provide a frame upon which the spectacularly insecure can hang the neediest portion of their id – and in the case above have it rendered in ‘Collage Edition’ carbon fibre. Behold the Mansory Black Edition – the ultimate expression of Bentayga-ness. Continue reading “Scream If You Want To Go Faster”

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. 

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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”

Lifting the Veil

Last week, JLR unveiled Velar, the most ambitious Range Rover variant yet. But Driven to Write asks, is there a cuckoo in the nest?

Image: The Car Connection
Image: The Car Connection

As the dust sheets were lifted off their new mid-liner, Land Rover CCO Gerry (IGMG) McGovern informed journalists, Velar is “the most car-like Range Rover we’ve done so far”. It also seems likely to become the crossover SUV that will convert customers who have so far proven immune to the crossover SUV contagion. Continue reading “Lifting the Veil”

The Lily, Gilded

Rather a long time ago there were areas of the car market not occupied by the OEMs. How about a nice bit of plastic for your car, sir?

1992-BMW-5-series-deflector
Wind and rain deflectors for E20 BMW 5-series

This advert is from the 1992 Daily Mail Motor Review. The back pages of car magazines usually featured this kind of thing. After you bought your car you could get rubber mats, car seat covers (the loud, tweedy ones were best), sun roofs and moon roofs, engine additives and car covers. Fog lamps could also be added, the more the better.

Continue reading “The Lily, Gilded”

Let’s Do It Like Last Time

How much does the 2017 BMW 5-series differ from its predecessor? Read on to find out.

2017 BMW 5 series design changes
2017 BMW 5 series design changes

Yesterday I moaned about the 2017 BMW 5 (G30) series’ lack of presence. It is, as many have pointed out, quite similar to the 2011 BMW 5-series (F10). How similar? How different?

The image above summarises the main findings. The process of redesigning a car has means and it has ends. The means are the physical forms and the ends are what those forms are intended to achieve. If I had been really rigorous I would have simply noted the physical nature (the means) of the change and left the commentary (about the ends) to this part, that is comments about what I think the changes are for.

The dimensions of the two cars are not the same but not very different. The G30 differs most from the F10 by being 36 mm longer. Some of the changes are there to enhance that: Continue reading “Let’s Do It Like Last Time”

A Photo For Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett

This car is a kind of pithy comment on recent Opel news. 

1984-1991 Opel Kadett E
1984-1991 Opel Kadett E

You don’t see many around and you see even fewer Golfs and Escorts of the same period. The same goes for the other cars. My street is a nest of Astras (saloons, mostly) and I think this is a tangible riposte to the assumption that there’s something wrong, in principle, with Opel. Interestingly, or tellingly, I saw the new BMW 5 series today, Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett”

The Great Compression

Opel’s slow walk into the history books, to join Panhard and Saab, has begun. It occurred just as I came to understand what Opel was about.

2017 Opel Insignia Sports Tourer: source
2017 Opel Insignia Grand Sport: source

You can read the technical details here. The important and ominous part is this: “Tavares told his board that PSA would redevelop the core Opel lineup with its own technologies to achieve rapid savings, according to people with knowledge of the matter” (from AN Europe).

While I was reviewing the last generation Opel Astra, I noted that the description of the mechanicals differed little from its peers. So, you might say, where is the great loss? Even if you don’t care for Opel, its absorption into the PSA combine will reduce meaningful competition among the most important classes of cars.

Continue reading “The Great Compression”

Reminders

The last Mitsubishi Galant had a good innings: 2003 to 2012. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this one until about an hour ago.

2004 Mitsubishi Galant: source
2004 Mitsubishi Galant: source

Like Mendeleev, I had an idea that if there was an eighth generation Mitsubishi Galant there might be a ninth. Call it inductive reasoning. Sure enough, I found one. It’s credited to Olivier Boulay. It has a lot of Ford Mondeo in the glasshouse and the surfacing but the lamps are simply generic. It’s quite a change from the previous models which usually managed neat homogeneity.  Continue reading “Reminders”

Theme : Simca – Going the Distance

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.

Simca 1100
Simca 1100

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”

The Pinnacle – 1957 Lancia Flaminia

Sixty this year, Lancia’s zenith gets the DTW spotlight.

Image: autowp-ru via wheelsage
Image: autowp-ru via wheelsage

Pushed to choose one marque defining model I wouldn’t hesitate; after all, there are Lancias, and there is the Flaminia. Others might disagree and that is fine. We all have our icons, and if you believe the sliding pillar era was technically or aesthetically superior I wouldn’t necessarily argue. It’s a personal choice. Continue reading “The Pinnacle – 1957 Lancia Flaminia”

Brochures Redux – Midship Triptych

Three brochures for the same car demonstrate Fiat’s marketing skills – or lack thereof.

All images: Driven to Write
All images: Driven to Write

Fiat’s 1970’s brochures were often stark affairs. Studio shots, no background and just the facts. With an economy hatchback like a 127 or suchlike, there was a certain amount of logic in this approach, but for what many dubbed a mini-Ferrari, it risked underselling what was at the time a fairly unique proposition. Continue reading “Brochures Redux – Midship Triptych”

Theme : Simca – An Introduction

For the first time, the month’s theme tackles a single manufacturer. An erstwhile giant of the French industry, often overlooked and even more often underestimated, yet for a time bigger than either Citroën or Peugeot.

Ceci n'est pas un Fiat. Simca 5 - Image : beyondthesprues.com
Ceci n’est pas un Fiat. The Simca 5 – Image : beyondthesprues.com

From a multitude in the early days of motoring, through a reasonable glut after the end of the Second World War, culled by the possibly well-intended but drastically prescriptive Pons Plan, the French motor industry has now whittled itself away to three names, Renault, Peugeot and Citroën. Or you might say effectively just two. Except there was also Simca, and Simca doesn’t fit well into an easy history of the French industry as an essentially parochial one, blithely plowing its own furrow, haughtily ignoring the products of foreign makers. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – An Introduction”

Theme: Brochures – Ford Zephyr Mk.4

Big but not necessarily better, Ford’s late 60’s Zephyr brochure lays out its stall.

zephyr-cropped

The cover is bereft of the expected seductive image of the car it describes. There is only blackness, a small head-and-shoulders photo of a well-groomed, confident looking individual and the title, “Motoring for the 15,000 a year man”. 15,000 miles that is, not Pounds Sterling, but the implication is there. Even £5000 per annum would have been a top-rank salary in 1970, when this brochure rolled off the presses of Alabaster, Passmore and Sons Ltd in Maidstone.
Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Ford Zephyr Mk.4”

Theme: Brochures – Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre R

The 1964 brochure describes it as “A golden milestone”, but BMC’s Rolls-Royce powered luxury flagship had a curious history and turned out to be a rotund failure, a white elephant which was to be an embarrassment to the reputations of both companies.

vanden-plas-4-litre-r_inner
1964 Vanden Plas 4-litre brochure

My copy of the brochure is rather dusty and faded, but is a splendid thing, printed on heavy, high quality paper, with a stiff card cover. There are thirteen fine hand-painted illustrations – not one photograph in sight – and fulsome letters from the managing directors of the new car’s proud parents, Sir George Harriman of BMC, and Dr. Fred Llewellyn Smith, of Rolls-Royce’s Motor Car Division. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre R”

Theme: Brochures – From Countryside Manor to Vodkaloungeland: The Jaguar XJ Through The Ages

Being the quintessential British stalwart car, the Jaguar XJ serves as a poignant illustration of what constituted ‘the good life’ through the ages. 

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Almost five decades of British luxury in flat shape

Germany has the Golf and S-class, Britain’s got the Jaguar XJ. A car that has been part of the automotive landscape for decades, all the while being adapted (to differing levels to success) to changes in tastes and demographic.

So what do the different generations of XJ brochures tell us about the car itself, its creators and the people it was supposed to appeal to? Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – From Countryside Manor to Vodkaloungeland: The Jaguar XJ Through The Ages”

Credit Where It’s Due

This review concludes a slow tour through the middle-market. It’s the Astra’s turn.

image
2015 Opel Astra sports tourer in rental car drab.

DTW has tested the Ford Focus, Megane, the Golf and the Auris. That means I can put some of those reviews in perspective as well as offer some insights on the corresponding offering from Opel, the Astra. It’s quite handy that all the cars tested came from the same source, which eliminates variables like colour and engine specification. So, it’s quite a level playing field the Astra and its peers are playing on.

Continue reading “Credit Where It’s Due”

Photo for Sunday – Volkswagen XL1

You’re engaged in some innocent retail therapy and then this beams down from planet Piëch.

Starship XL1. All images: Driven to Write
The car that fell to earth. XL1 amid the hatchbacks. All images: Driven to Write

As we’ve pointed out, Driven to Write never sleeps and while we don’t always get about as much as we’d like, our eyes and ears are everywhere. So while some of us are battening down hatches in windswept West Cork, others get to swan around a decidedly more temperate Marbella – a matter for which your correspondent is not bitter. Continue reading “Photo for Sunday – Volkswagen XL1”

Theme: Brochures – Just Right?

Already a decade old in 1977, the SAAB 99-series perhaps best embodied the Swedish ideal of ‘Lagom’ .

All images: Driven to Write
All images: Driven to Write

The 99 saw Saab come of age. A bigger, more commodious, more mainstream model than the somewhat home market-specific 96 series which not only preceded it, but was sold alongside. By 1977, the 99 was a very mature product, and what bugs may have arisen in earlier incarnations were fairly thoroughly expunged. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Just Right?”

Theme: Brochures – 1975 Lancia Beta HPE

In contrast to the recent rather insipid Beta brochure, I can present a thoroughly aspirational 1975 Lancia HPE brochure such as this.

Use as directed: 1975 Lancia HPE.
Use as directed: 1975 Lancia HPE. Richard-Ginori is still in business.

It shows how the product is intended to be used and the kinds of people who might be attracted to it. Shooting, diving, sitting down, gardening, conversing outside a hotel late at night: Lancia did not want for ideas to show how this rather fabulous vehicle could be used. What the brochure made you want to do was to Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1975 Lancia Beta HPE”

Theme : Brochures – Vauxhall Ampera

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.

ampera-7

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”

Torpedo from the East, Incoming

PSA may purchase Opel. This story has been bubbling for a while and it has bubbled some more, like the sinister upwellings on the surface of a lava pool.

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de
2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

The Guardian has reported that PSA would expect rapid savings were they to buy Opel. “Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of PSA, which owns Peugeot, Citroën and DS, said on Thursday morning that adding GM’s German Opel and British Vauxhall brands would attract new customers and generate substantial cost savings. An outline agreement is expected to be announced as soon as next week, before the Geneva motor show starts on 6 March”, wrote the formerly Mancunian paper.

This is bad news for car buyers as Opel models will be subsumed into PSA’s model structure. There is not much tangible difference  Continue reading “Torpedo from the East, Incoming”

Theme: Brochures – Beta than expected but not as good as hoped

The 1973 Beta Coupé was slightly underwhelming – and to be honest, its sales literature was as well.

All images: Driven to Write
Well proportioned, neatly styled yet somehow lacking. The Beta Coupe. All images: Driven to Write

A year after the berlina’s launch, Lancia announced the first of four sporting Beta derivations, the 2+2 Coupé. Designed in-house in conjunction with Pietro Castagnero, the man responsible for the much-loved Fulvia amongst other pre-Fiat Lancia designs. This is an early sales brochure and it is notable for a number of reasons – some of a pedantic nature, others of a more whimsical stripe.  Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Beta than expected but not as good as hoped”

Theme: Brochures – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star…

A sober brochure for a distinctly sober car – the 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190-series.

img018

Daimler-Benz were not in the business of hyperbole when they presented the W201-series in 1982. Instead, they were offering a purity of an entirely different order.  “The new Mercedes models will set the standards for the engineering and the styling of compact cars for years to come”, they said. Prescient words. The 190 was a benchmark car, arguably the apogee of a once-dominant, now deceased engineering-led Swabian modus. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star…”

Industry Bites: The Five-Figure Club

It’s mid-February and the ACEA numbers for 2016 still have ‘provisional’ status.  

ypsilon_wyprz2014_new-1140x400

My interest here is in the brands which fell short of 100,000 registrations last year across the EU and EFTA countries. The audit is something of a blunt instrument. The supercar and ultra-premium marques do not even feature. Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti are counted in the 4,561 “other VW Group” registrations. Likewise FCA’s 8,211 others comprise mainly Dodge and Maserati. And yet, the 2,589 Chevrolets registered get their own billing. Continue reading “Industry Bites: The Five-Figure Club”

Theme : Brochures – The Myth, The Truth & The Alternative Truth

Deluded though the Brochure often is, what lies behind it can be equally deluded, albeit differently so.

kangoo-brochure

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”

Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)

We drive a C6 and discover there’s nothing penitential about Citroën’s swansong big saloon.

Image: Car
Image: Car

On my return to Randle Engineering in November 2016, I re-introduced the subject of the C6, but this time with a more contrite tone. I ask Steve to tell me more about his example. By UK standards at least, Randle’s C6 has a virtually unique specification. It’s a 2007 C6 2.2 litre model with a six-speed manual transmission, one of 38 in the country. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)”

Theme: Brochures – Pushing Tin

A decade apart, two brochures illustrate how Citroën’s marketers viewed the evergreen Tin Snail.

Image: Driven to Write
Image: Driven to Write

1975: Two years after the oil embargo and deep into a period of political instability and economic austerity. Frugality was back, as was a yearning for a more authentic mode of living. In keeping with the mood music of the time, BBC sitcom, The Good Life portrayed a professional couple turning their backs on the rat-race, embarking on a ‘back to the land’ subsistence in their Surbiton semi. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Pushing Tin”

Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring

Jaguar’s XJ6 saloon was a landmark car. Its marketing did it justice.

dsc_0011

Collecting brochures is, in the grander scheme of things, a rather sad pastime. One goes to great lengths to get one’s hands onto something that was supposed to have, at best, a short-term effect and be forgotten immediately afterwards.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – When the Kitty Was Purring”

Theme: Brochures – 1971 Wartburg Knight

 A 46 year old brochure prompts some thoughts on – arguably – the most idiosyncratic Comecon car to cross the Iron Curtain.

wartburg-353-brochure-1970-1

It is neither big, nor French, nor Italian, and had an embarrassingly prolific production of over 1.2 million, but the Wartburg 353 is deservedly a DTW favourite.

The price list accompanying the brochure is from April 1971. The £749 asked for the Knight (the name was only used for the British market) deluxe saloon was £26 more than a Mini 1000. A four door Viva deluxe was £883, the equivalent Avenger was £20 dearer.  More off-beat choices were the Morris Minor 1000 4 door at £775, the Skoda S110L at £775 (The Octavia wagon was still available at £710), and the new 1500cc overhead camshaft  Moskvich 412 matching the Knight exactly for price. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1971 Wartburg Knight”

Notes and Curiosities: GM in Britain in the early 80s.

In 1981 GM went to all the trouble required to get type approval for a range of their US-market cars, on the expectation that customers might want to buy them.

1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: source
1981 Chevrolet Monte Carlo: source

GM picked a small range of cars to lure customers: two Cadillacs, one Buick and three Chevrolets. At the top of the list sat the 6 litre V8 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The Sedan de Ville d’Elegance cost a little less for a little less length. From Buick´s list of cars, GM chose the Century Limited with a 3.8 litre V6, for just under £10,000.  Upsetting the hierarchy, the Chevrolet Caprice came (as saloon and estate) with a 5.0 V8 and cost more than the Buick, a few hundred pounds. Finally, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo with the same engine as the Buick but had two fewer doors and cost a shade more. All quite baffling.
Continue reading “Notes and Curiosities: GM in Britain in the early 80s.”

1984 World Cars (4) Innocenti Tre and Austin Metro

In the fourth of a short series, I will remind readers of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1984 Innocenti Tre: source
1984 Innocenti Tre: source

 What do the De Tomaso Deauville and the Mini have in common? The answer is a relationship to the Innocenti Tre rooted in the fact De Tomaso developed the car from the Italian Mini. Bertone designed the hatchback body for the Tre (three doors), giving it a little extra over the two-door Mini.  Further adding to the Tre’s mongrel status is that the engine is a Continue reading “1984 World Cars (4) Innocenti Tre and Austin Metro”

Act of Contrition – Citroën C6 (part one)

Making amends for past indiscretions, Driven to Write takes a long look at the last true Citroën.

Image: Autotitre
Image: Autotitre via Net Car Show

Despite its premier position in Citroën’s iconography, the incomparable Déese never really represented the double chevron’s stylistic North Star. That position is occupied by its less well loved successor, the 1974 CX. Despite being viewed by some ardent Citroënists as the lesser vehicle to its definitive forebear, the CX’s silhouette remains not only the one best associated with the marque, but also one which most aficionados would welcome a return to. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroën C6 (part one)”

World Cars 1984 (3): Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron

In the third of a short series, I will remind readers  of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1984 Chrysler Executive: source
1984 Chrysler Executive: source

In this little delve into the World Car Guide I’ll take two attempts to dress mutton up as something finer. The Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron saw two companies desperately or cynically trying to pass off low-end platforms as much finer vehicles. The Cimarron is famously awful and there might still be a retired executive alive who looks into the mirror every day and sees the face of the man who signed off Cadillac’s least good car. I’ll start though with the Executive, which was very much a poor replacement for what were once quite fine cars. Here’s what the Guide said: “ An impressive looking business car based on a stretched Le Baron. Although there has been a revival of demand for the traditional big

Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (3): Chrysler Executive and Cadillac Cimarron”