It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.
In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.
First, the badge engineering of Fiat cars increased and then swapped around 2011 to the relabelling of Chryslers. The Lybra (1998) and Thesis (2002) count as the last proper Lancias. The Delta (2008) is a superficially restyled Bravo but nowhere near the quality of the 1998 Lybra. The latest Ypsilon is a reworked Fiat 500. As of 2014 FCA gave up rebadging Chrysler (I left one out – which?). And perhaps Alfa Romeo could be added to this chart… Continue reading “Leaving Off The Saws”
Driven To Write’s Classic Vehicles Editorial Assistant is Myles Gorfe. Here he reports on life with his trusty Granada 2.0 L .
Miles driven: 2.3. Costs to date: bill pending.
It has been very busy on the Granada front this last month. After a bit of a spell where suppliers played merry hell with deliveries (bootlid badges, gear lever, steering column shroud, headliner, sill kick plates and a grommet for the fuel system) and the mechanic had to recover from a slipped disc, things have finally moved on.
Frankie J., who has done most of the work on the car since March, put his back out big style trying to lift the engine out for a spot of routine maintenance. He started late on a Friday evening after everyone had gone home. The engine suffered no damage but Frankie spent the weekend in the workshop unable to Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
DTW has a thing about brightwork. We also have a thing about quality.
The 1990 Lexus LS400 famously had nitrogen-filled tyres because mere air caused a resonance. Despite the car’s astonishingly careful conception, these aren’t much loved and few are they now in number. It’s successor (above) is a crouton in the same soup bowl. Yesterday I got a chance to
… it’s full from the middle up. We’re talking of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, naturally.
That’s what the photos show. However, more newsworthy is the announcement** that Joel P. is leaving his position as Ford’s European design chief to make way for Amko Leenarts, an RCA alumnus. Previously he oversaw Ford/Lincoln interiors at Dearborn. Joel P. goes back to Dearborn after a few short years to a newly created (read: not very powerful) position. That’s probably because he a) Continue reading “The bottom half of the glass is empty”
Recently I discussed how one detail can ruin a car.
Here we see the 1979 Ford Mustang which, overall, can’t claim to be a very strong or admirable bit of work. All the details accumulate to result in a deeply compromised design. Ford really struggled with this. The decision of production engineers to Continue reading “The Unease Spirals Down”
After sighting a few dark and tatty examples I saw this conveniently clean and pale W-201 yesterday. Where’s quality hiding?
I asked this of a BMW 3-series (E-30) recently. Both came out the same year, 1982 (as did the Ford Sierra). So, presumably the cars gestated at the same time and without a large likelihood of designers and clay modellers migrating between studios. First let’s take a close look to find Ms. Quality… Continue reading “Can’t, And Will Anyway”
From 1995 t0 2002 this was the Ford Fiesta, an evergreen staple of the supermini sector.
The same dashboard ended up in the Ford Puma too as well as the Mazda 121. It’s the ashtray we are interested in here, a pull-out drawer, designed to accommodate the presence or absence of the centre cubby which was not fitted in some markets. The cigar lighter is positioned in the drawer. The position is not quite optimum as the gear lever gets in the way when in 1st, 3rd and 5th gear. Continue reading “Micropost: 1995 Ford Fiesta Ashtray”
It’s happening now: the Mk2 Mondeo is slipping away.
Ever since I showed a Mitsubishi Galant (last version) I have wanted a good, clear photo of a Mk2 Mondeo for comparison. They’ve been thin on the ground and most have been hatchbacks or estates. This can be interpretted as the fact they are being taken out of circulation. This banal photo shows a rarity in the making. The last ones are reaching 160,000 miles and ending their planned service life. Continue reading “Public Service”
“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. Original photos 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”
Last week DTW reminded readers about the last, the final Mitsubishi Galant. Below is the car that inspired it.
The Galant’s designers weren’t allowed a wholesale replication. The mechanicals had the usual tough Mitsu character and the engineers packaged it well. The shaky Fordesque shapes undersold a decent product. So apart from being quite good actually, it looked quite bad – the malformed secret twin of the handsome 2000 Ford Mondeo (above). 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”
Big but not necessarily better, Ford’s late 60’s Zephyr brochure lays out its stall.
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”
And finally, another tale of compromise, recounted by M. Seidler.
Once work on the Almusafes plant was underway, Ford negotiated with the Spanish tax authorities to import some cars for use by their staff and management. Presumably the notion of using Chrysler 180’s or Seat 132’s would be too much to countenance. The sticking point was a rigidly enforced annual limit of 250 imported cars for the entire country. Continue reading “Compromise Redux – The Generous Generalissimo”
So you thought there was only one Fiesta Mk.1? In fact there nearly were two, and the one we never saw almost tore Ford apart.
From its inception in 1969, Ford’s small car project had always had inter-continental ambitions. An early project structure saw engines manufactured in Brazil being used in cars made first in Europe, with a production base in Brazil following on, which would not only serve the home market, but would also export to the USA. US and Asia-Pacific production sites would follow. Other visions included a simplified low-powered variant adapted for production in developing countries, a third world car maximum speed of 55-60mph, a 0-50 time of 25-30 seconds, capable of being sold at 50-60% of the price of the cheapest Ford Escort. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Blood on the Boardroom Floor”
Let us consider the conventional wisdom about the first generation Fiesta.
It arrived some time after the revolutions in small car design which raged through Europe in the fifties and sixties, and continued to bear fruit into the early seventies. It was thus a rationalised ‘best practice’ car, standing on the narrow but solid shoulders of at least four influential and successful rivals which arrived early enough in the 1970s to influence and inform Ford’s designers. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – The Fiesta Mk.1 – Almost Revolutionary”
A missed opportunity or a masterpiece of compromise? We look at the unassuming little engine that drove the Fiesta’s success.
CAR March 1974 was confident in its prediction about the Fiesta’s engine; “it is a completely new water-cooled, in-line four with single overhead cam and Heron head. It will come in two sizes – a little over 900cc and 1090cc for the top of the range model.” As we now know, the “scoop report” could scarcely have been more wrong, but it is easy to understand the reasons for their conjecture. Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – Ford’s Valencia engine. A Curious Orange?”
Driven to Write looks in depth at the Fiesta’s development.
Lest it should pass un-noticed, January 2017 is the fortieth anniversary of the Ford Fiesta’s launch in the UK. Production at Ford Germany’s Saarlouis factory began in July 1976, with the core Almusafes plant coming on stream in October 1976, so the lucky continentals were introduced to the car a few months earlier. Continue reading “Compromise: On the road to Fiesta – Part 1”
It’s not a Mondeo, I realised after 0.45 seconds. That someone sat in it may explain why I didn’t get any closer.
Aston Martin must choke when they see the Astony Mondeos that still ply the roads in moderate numbers. Aston Martin owners may feel there is no comparison – only an idiot of the first order would mistake a house-priced car for a nice-kitchen priced car. They delude themselves.
Aston planned to make the Rapide at Steyr in Graz, Austria but sales never met expectations. Ford knows why.
Night lighting is continuing to fascinate me. Under the bright, cold glare of a street lamp, this Fusion showed off the car’s essential character.
The wheel arches stand out here as does the upper surface of the body side above the feature line and door handles. The time is nigh when I should get a camera able to capture the depth of black and the richer colour of night lighting. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2004 Ford Fusion”
In 1847, a young man by the name of William Ford travelled with his parents and siblings from the tiny village of Ballinascarthy to the port of Queenstown (now Cobh) before making the perilous crossing to America as famine decimated their homeland of West Cork. The émigrés purchased a farm in Dearborn, Michigan and sixteen years later, a son, Henry was born. The rest as they say… Continue reading “Home Thoughts From Abroad – Ford 100 in Cork”
One of the few positive things I could say about owning a RenaultSport Clio was it never left me short of things to write about.
From the way it demolished a corner to the way it demolished a gearbox, every journey was an anecdote. Owning the Clio was exciting in the same way that owning a live hand grenade would be exciting. By this yardstick, the Fiesta simply cannot compare. It is simply too smoothly competent to inspire easy prose. Go for a drive however and the Ford proves to be a capable story teller in its own right. Continue reading “Our Cars – Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red 1.0”
The joke’s on me: Cortina isn’t just a 70’s Ford. The 1956 Olympics took place there. The car came in 1962.
Ford make decent affordable cars for people like you and me. Even if we may never buy one, most people could imagine owning a Ford whether they really want to or not. So, how plausible is the Cortina name?
I will immediately admit that until I started writing this, I knew nothing about Cortina other than that it was a town in Italy. Prior to that (sometime about a year ago) it dawned on me it was a place-name. If you Continue reading “Theme: Places – Cortina”
After taking a look at the 1976 Ford Fiesta, let’s examine its more restrained successor, the model of 2002.
“It was designed to please the public, men and women alike, with those big headlamp eyes, and that smiling radiator mouth.” Those are the words of Chris Bird. The project started in 1998 and is one of the unalloyed Bird Fords. The project bore the code B256 and featured a new floor pan for three variants: the five-door, the three door and the Fusion. Continue reading “Reserved – 2002 Ford Fiesta”
Late is better than never, and having sat on its corporate hands for years, Ford finally launched their supermini contender in 1976. So what took them so long? The answer lies both in Uncle Henry’s corporate culture and deep-rooted fear of failure. But having toyed both with front wheel drive and subcompacts at various times, the beancounters were having none of it. Continue reading “Party Animal – 1976 Ford Fiesta”
Some time back I promised that I would return to the topic of the form language exemplified by the 1970 Ford Cortina. Well, here we are.
Prompting this much-delayed exegesis is the coincidence of an academic paper (Carbon, 2010) which I came across (check out Google Scholar) and the fact that someone parked a new Mazda3 outside my front door.
To start with the easy part, we can talk about the concepts of angular and curved. Two prototypical examples might be the VW Beetle (rated as very curved in Carbon’s paper) and angular as embodied by the 1968 Carabo Concept (Carbon showed a 1986 Alfa Romeo 75, please note). So, where does the 1970 Ford Cortina fit in? What is it like? Continue reading “1970 Ford Cortina Revisited: Form”
There are four versions of the car, a basic one, an ST, a body-clad CUV-ish one and a Vignale. Interestingly, Ford are keeping the three door. That’s a clue to something about this car which is probably a deep reskin rather than an all-new architecture. It is akin to the half-remembered 2000 Corsa C, the short-lived 1999 VW Polo and 2014’s Opel Corsa in carrying over a lot of the previous structures. Continue reading “More Ballsiness”
The Granada is the ultimate in luxury motoring, writes acting-sub-editorial classics editorMyles Gorfe.
If you want more than best, try the Coleman-Milne limousines! Coleman-Milne and Ford, two great British names, have been in partnership since 1953. And as C-M say at their website, the firm is the UK market leader in limos and they use their own British engineers. That means that the finest Ford engineering gets an extra dash of imperial style for when excellence is demanded. Take a look at these unique beauties… Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: The Limousines”
Myles Gorfe, our acting resident assistant classics sub-editor-at-large, gives a run down on the latest news from his 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L.
It’s been a busy few months for the Granada, as usual. The rust in the floor pan has been dealt with but this has resulted in a lot of searching for replacement trim – must have used 40-odd hours on eBay in the last two weeks alone – and mechanical components … (not to mention a lot of driving about) … as the new parts and old ones aren’t fitting like they should. Seems like two different cars now it’s been welded up. The doors are a particular problem. Getting them to
When I presented the Faction yesterday, I thought I would refresh readers’ memories about some of the other Ingeni-era cars.
The Ford 24/7 sprang to mind. When I checked up I encountered the fickle and fragile nature of memory: the 24/7 appeared in 2000, quite some time before the Ingeni studio opened. Let’s look at it anyway. It’s a nice coincidence that we are scraping about in the annals of car design just as the LA Motor Show is also on these pages.
This forgotten concept stands for a raft of vehicles conceived in a brief time at Ford’s London studio, Ingeni.
Not unreasonably, Ford wanted a studio located somewhere other than the drab environs of Merkenich and Basildon. So J Mays, then chief of design for FoMoCo, selected in 2002 a lovely office in a ritzy bit of London where designers could work hard, inspired by the buzz of city life. There is some good sociological thinking behind this. It didn’t last long, being closed in 2003, the year the Faction was shown. Continue reading “Design Review : 2003 Ford Faction”
The BMC Mini and the Ford Cortina represented two contradictory strands of the British character.
Soon after its release, Ford, notoriously, took apart a Mini and realised what BMC hadn’t worked out, that each car sold would lose the company money. It wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Ford Germany inherited the abandoned front-drive ‘Cardinal’ project from the USA to become the Taunus 12M, but Ford Britain were having none of this fancy stuff and its ‘Archbishop’ (ho, ho) project was very, very conventional. But what the first (Consul) Cortina did offer was a lot of up-to-date looking car for the money. Less well recorded is that BMC, returning the favour, bought a new Cortina, took it apart and were appalled at the bodyshell’s lack of torsional stiffness. But even had this fact been publicised, it’s unlikely that it would have affected the Ford’s success. Continue reading “Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?”
It’s understandable that haircuts and trouser bottoms and patterns date, and what seemed really smart to you once, now sits embarrassingly at the back of a cupboard because you’re too ashamed even to take it to the charity shop. But it’s odder that something as basic as a colour can date. There aren’t that many colours, or there are infinite colours depending on how you look at it, but either way how can something that seemed so agreeable to you once, suddenly (and it often is sudden) become so jarringly dated? Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Beige New World”
With news that Ford’s upmarket Vignale line is falling below expectations, are the wheels already coming off the Blue Oval’s last chance saloon?
The key to viability in the European car market is finding ways to encourage customers to pay more. Easier said than done. According to a report last week in Automotive News, a JATO Dynamics analysis states the average UK customer pays £25, 400 for a mainstream brand D-segment car. By contrast, the average spend on a premium branded car of similar size was 36% higher. Continue reading “Up-selling Henry”
I’d like to present a car only Myles Gorfe, our contributing classics assistant sub-editor-at-large, would like.
The sills are badly perforated. Goodness knows what’s under the car. This rot’s not shown in my photos, taken in a pretty part of southern Denmark (not the area right around the car). The bumpers are faded. Note the driver’s door toproll is safely secured with two screws that most likely weren’t there when the car rolled of the line at Ford’s Koeln plant in 1983. The rug comes with the car, justifying the 9100 kr asking (I think the rug costs 100kr). The 2.3 litre V6 would otherwise be a nice version (114 ps) but not this example. The colour is sad. I looked for a 2.3 in 2004 and failed to Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1983 Ford Granada 2.3 L”
If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, at least get a decent set of wheels.
[We round out Driven to Write’s Kanniversary with this piece first published in November 2014]
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in his forties has a higher than average propensity to some form of mid-life introspection. As we know, the clichéd route to self-actualisation ranges from an inadvisable tattoo, to an inappropriate affair with a younger member of whichever gender he’s attracted to. Some choose to experiment with various derivations of the above. The more conventional opt for a sportscar or convertible. After all, just because you’re in the throes of a life event doesn’t mean you have to be original about it. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA”
Did Ford originally have bigger plans for Ka? Evidence suggests they might.
Following ur-Ka’s launch in 1996, there was speculation that Ford had plans to expand Ka as a stand-alone sub-marque, perhaps along similar lines to General Motors in the US when they created the Saturn brand in 1990. Certainly, the manner in which Ka was introduced to the public suggested this was a Ford for people who wouldn’t normally buy Fords. Continue reading “Supersize KA”
John Topley penned this rumination on the Ford Ka when it went out of production. I thought you might like to take a look.
About the only point where I am not in agreement with John is what he refers to as the Ka’s discordant lines. What makes the shape work for me is that absolutely everything adds up to a strong unity. Amazingly, the alternative design was as wrong as the actual one is right. Continue reading “More Ka Thoughts”
To mark the 20th anniversary of Ur-Ka’s debut, we don’t write about it.
We’ve spilled a good deal of ink over the Ka on Driven to Write over the past couple of years – too much, some might say. But with the car’s 20th anniversary now looming, one has to be seen to be doing something. So rather than retread old ground, the opinions of the foremost UK auto journalists of the time will have to suffice. Failing that of course, there’s always the narcotic Laurie Anderson soundtracked launch commercial – which is notable for showing no footage of the Ka at all. Continue reading “Getting (back) Into the KA”
A lot of excitement fizzed in the air in 2002 regarding Ford.
The Focus, Mondeo, Ka and Fiesta achieved good sales results and a lot of good will for Ford. The DCDQ ethos resulted in Ford gaining a new image. What were they going to do next? Around 2002 rumours circulated that there would be a new Capri, project S307: imagine, a Capri with the striking looks and exciting driving character of a Focus (that wasn’t the Cougar, the last “new Capri”, which Ford killed off in 2002 after four sad years?). Continue reading “Looking Back to the Future : 2”
The first car I bought with my own money was a Mark One Ford Focus.
Having decided that a Focus was going to be the car for me, I spent months scouring local dealerships, newspaper classifieds and Autotrader for the right car. Eventually a dealer called me with a candidate. And there it was: a sky blue three door in 2.0 Zetec trim. Despite spending five years gracing the surface of this planet whilst being blasted with wind, rain, road salt and solar radiation, the Focus looked as if it had rolled out of the Saarlouis factory just last week. An inspection and test drive confirmed my impressions: it was a peach. Continue reading “Objects In The Rear View Mirror”
After discussing the dead centre of the car market, we take a visit there: the Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic. [First published May 11, 2014]
This is the third generation Focus that I have tried. The Mk1 is a landmark and indeed a benchmark for many. It casts a long shadow over its successors. The Mk2 added refinement at the expense of driver enjoyment. Compared to the Mk1, the successor felt like being in a fat suit. So, what is the Mk 3 like now I have finally gotten behind the wheel? The main impressions are described below. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review”
The middle of the first half of the 1980’s is considered an interesting time by fans of big Fords. Here’s why.
The 1984 2.3 L offered all the main features of Ford’s respected motorway mile-muncher in an economical package. The styling was at the cutting edge but didn’t frighten people like spaceball weirdness from Renault, Peugeot’s bizarro big saloons or Citroen’s disastrously complicated hydraulic malarky. At the same time, it had a dash that Volvo and Mercedes couldn’t even dream of copying. BMW: they didn’t even get a look in. The Granada undercut Vauxhall’s drab Carlton and offered a modern V6 instead of the General’s dated and rough straight-six. You won’t find an engineer who has a bad word to say about Ford’s Cologne engine and you won’t find an engineer who will go anywhere near a Carlton (if you can find one – they are all rust now). Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1984 Ford Granada 2.3 L”
If the headline had been a bit shorter this would almost count as a micropost.
Not only did Ford make a 4×4 Sierra in XR trim, they also sold it in a calmer and cheaper GLS format. This is a 2.9 litre V6 four-wheel drive family car. I didn’t find any for sale so those few Ford sold are now all rust or converted to XR fakes. Off the top of my head, the combination of six-cylinder power and four-wheel drive didn’t appear on many other contemporary saloons apart from the Scorpio and the ’86-’93 BMW 325iX. The Vectra had a 2.0 turbo. That’s it then, for competitors, as far as I can see. Continue reading “They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More and They Probably Don’t Exist Either”
In a choice between equals, there’s only one decision – or is there?
Ever since the giant landcrabs died out at the end of the Hydrolastic Age, Ford has been the UK’s top selling marque. Brits have clutched successive generations of Fiestas and Escorts to their heaving collective bosoms, sometimes despite myriad qualitative horrors perpetuated by the company, especially during the 1990s. Fast forward two decades and Ford’s continued popularity is perhaps more deserved, Alan Mulally’s global One Ford strategy culminating in what is (arguably) their best range in years. (Their European operation even managed to turn a profit last year for the first time since I was a schoolboy, if you believe their accountants.) Continue reading “Head to Head: Ford Fiesta ST versus Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red”