Beans Under Toast

We seem to be having an unplanned American car theme at present. Today we take a closer look at an example of the third generation Chevrolet Camaro, in rare convertible guise.

Chevrolet Camaro, third generation (1982-1992) in convertible form (1987)

I saw this one in what I consider to be its natural habitat, a vast suburban car park, surrounded by big box retail units and convenience food outlets. It fits right in, I think. And in so doing corresponds to my prejudices about a certain type of American-market American car.

You can’t accuse the Camaro of being over-styled or chrome-laden. This one has no brightwork and the surface treatment is extremely straightforward. If you Continue reading “Beans Under Toast”

We Will Certainly Be At Your Wedding, Brian

A single black and white photo of a 1982-1992 F-body Chevrolet Camaro or Pontiac Firebird, seen in my district. But what does it portend?

I could bemoan the proportions. That´s pointless. Maybe a potted model history? No, thanks. The photo could lead us down a rabbit hole regarding General Motors’ body nomenclature. Considering the depth, breadth and sheer squiggliness of that byzantine horror, I am not sure if I can force myself to Continue reading “We Will Certainly Be At Your Wedding, Brian”

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.”

The Long and the Short

The contrast between the Caprice and Mini coupe caught my eye.

1991 Chevrolet Caprice and 2012 Mini coupe.
1991 Chevrolet Caprice and 2012 Mini coupe.

The Caprice is a car I’ve wanted to photograph for a long while. It’s thrillingly basic. The loadbay might be long and wide yet it’s also quite shallow. I don’t know what’s under the high floor: fuel tank and transmission I suppose.  Continue reading “The Long and the Short”

Some More Gestalt Theory: 2008 Chevrolet Cruze

The headlamps of this car never appealed to me. Gestalt theory explains why.

2008 Chevrolet Cruze: source
2008 Chevrolet Cruze: source

For a quick resume, Gestalt Theory is about how the mind is disposed to try to make sense of visual data. Your mind is inclined to fill in gaps to make whole outlines, and turn collections of individuals into groups and to pick exceptions from ordered arrays. The mind wants to sort out moving objects from a stable background. In short, it’s the equipment a mind would need to distinguish a moving thing in a complex background. Continue reading “Some More Gestalt Theory: 2008 Chevrolet Cruze”

On the Move: 1965 Chevrolet Impala

The 1965 Chevrolet Impala shown here waits outside Frederiksborg castle, Hillerød, Denmark. From a distance the style suggested an Opel Admiral.

1965 Chevrolet Impala - the sun landed at the wrong angle.
1965 Chevrolet Impala – the sun landed at the wrong angle.

As I got closer the florid Chevrolet script corrected my misapprehension. The driver filled me in on the year. This is another GM car to add to the network of influences cross-crissing and cut-jumping between Germany and the US. Up to now my idea has been to compare Opels and Buicks.

The Impala adds another strand to the weave. Continue reading “On the Move: 1965 Chevrolet Impala”

1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 roadtest

This brief article, written for the short-lived “Sports Driver & Road Monthly”, is what looks like a transcription of Archie Vicar’s impressions of the 1977-and-a-half Chevrolet Camaro Z-28.

1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: source
1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: wikipedia.org

During the late 1970s the motoring correspondent Archie Vicar was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He would fly from Heathrow to New York on Concorde, do a test drive and fly back to his next assignment in the Midlands, six times a month. Photos by Karl Olsensen. Due the poor quality of the original images stock photos have been used.

What is this then? A sporty Camaro? It sounds like a contradiction in terms but somehow Chevrolet have decided to have a go at making a Camaro that can negotiate bends in the road. It still looks brash and crudely assembled in the American style. There is nothing here to scare even the most careless assembly-line workers at British Leyland. The nose cone evidently comes from a different car and the rear bumper is made of a plastic as convincing as an amputee’s orthosis. Is it a kind of American XJ-S? Continue reading “1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 roadtest”

Driven to Write’s Best Cars Ever Top 50: Number 9

We return to our countdown of the all-time best cars ever. We’re now in the Top Ten so we’ll slow the pace and increase the tension! In at number nine, a car everyone rented, drove, saw, bought or sold in the 80s…

1982 Chevrolet Celebrity: howstuffworks.com
1982 Chevrolet Celebrity: howstuffworks.com

Throughout the 70s more and more Americans noticed the allure of European cars like the sharply-styled BMW 5-series and peerless Mercedes W-123 series. GM fought back with the Chevrolet Celebrity. And it worked. Using the flexible architecture of the renowned GM A-body (made in this case by Fisher Bodies), the Celebrity provided a compact but spacious vehicle which turned heads and won customers. The Celebrity was an important car for Chevrolet as it had to at least draw more customers than the outgoing Malibu. It is important to Continue reading “Driven to Write’s Best Cars Ever Top 50: Number 9”

C-pillars, C-pillars, C-pillars

Car and Driver published a spy shot of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt. It has a zany C-pillar. 

2017 Chevrolet Bolt spy shot: carandriver.com
2017 Chevrolet Bolt spy shot: carandriver.com

It’s hard to tell if this is one of the good ones. Plainly, to my eyes, this feature has become a cliché very quickly. You can view the full spy shot image at the Car and Driver website and we recommend you do because it’s a good magazine.

Continue reading “C-pillars, C-pillars, C-pillars”

Theme : Hybrids – GM Pushes The Definition

Was GM’s EV ever a contender? And is it a Parallel Hybrid? This is a revised version of a post published last October following the Opel Ampera’s withdrawal from sale. 

Ampera Owners

We laugh at giants at our peril. General Motors has made many mistakes in its existence, but it has scored lots of hits, and it’s still around. So, when they started taking EVs seriously, for the second time around after the controversial EV1 of the mid 90s, we needed to take GM seriously.

However giants take the small people for granted at their peril. GM’s very size means that it has little affection or goodwill going for it, so it will often be harshly judged. When the Chevrolet Volt, whose technology underlies the Ampera, first appeared critics were quick to accuse it of not being a pure EV, claiming that it was no more that a smoke-and-mirrors version of a Prius. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids – GM Pushes The Definition”

Sightings: 2006 Chevrolet Impala

An evening walk in central Copenhagen led to the discovery of this: a Chevrolet Impala.

2006 Chevrolet Impala in Copenhagen
2006 Chevrolet Impala in Copenhagen

I missed it as I walked within 5 metres of it but caught it as I walked back on the opposite side of the road. Chevrolet launched this version of the Impala in 2006 and it is still in production. It is based on the W-body which dates to 1986 though that platform has been revised a few times since then. It’s made in Canada and features a 3.5 litre V6 driving the front wheels. The grille is determinedly Continue reading “Sightings: 2006 Chevrolet Impala”

Bodge Engineering and the International Market for Dogs

Between 1999 and 2002 GM sold the Oldsmobile Alero as the Chevrolet Alero in Europe. Not many found customers: 18 are advertised for sale in Europe compared to 119 Aston Martin DB9s  and 261 Lamborghini Gallardos. From €450 you can share in the American dream.

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The Alero replaced the Oldsmobile Achieva which was a cousin of the last Buick Skylark and the 1990-1998 Cutlass Supreme. We featured the Cutlass a while back. Around this time GM had turned to brandscape to try to distinguish its middle market brands. The Alero and the Intrigue had the job of Continue reading “Bodge Engineering and the International Market for Dogs”

Electric Dreams – Farewell Ampera

Was GM’s EV ever a contender?

Ampera Tunnel

Various things have recently caused me to think of things electric, though I admit that none of them involves me saving this or other planets. I had a mail the other week announcing a blanket 20mph limit in much of the area where I live, a process that is happening in many boroughs of London. Much of my driving in London is carried out in an old Audi S6, that burns both rubber and fuel with abandon, but gets me there no faster than anyone else. I dislike tube journeys. I can’t ride a pedal bike long distances without hurting my back. If I ride my motorcycle in wet weather I drip over people’s floors. I like silence. I want a new motoring experience. All these and more reasons make me think it would be nice to drive an electric car, or at least a part electric car.

Continue reading “Electric Dreams – Farewell Ampera”