Speaking Micra

A chance sighting prompts something approaching a defence.

Image: Driven to Write

Since we created Driven to Write three years ago, I have undergone something of a re-education about cars and particularly when it comes to their design. Even though we might actually only rub shoulders about once a year, I often feel as though I have a virtual Herriott at my ear, urging me to look at that innocuous looking tin box over there with fresh eyes. Going about my business yesterday, I happened past a stationary 2016 Micra. Not a car to which I’d normally give more than the most cursory of glances, but given some of the damning responses to the example featured earlier in the week, I felt I ought to give it a second glance. Continue reading “Speaking Micra”

An Elle Of A Car

As promised here is a small snippet on a special edition you may have missed.

2012 Nissan Micra Elle logo: a logo on a car.

Quite coincidentally, Jimi Beckwith at Autocropley has been musing about the subject. Dreamcar.dk reported the momentous news of the Nissan Micra Elle as follows (in Nov 2012): “Nissan and the world’s most popular fashion magazine, Elle, have joined forces to develop a special edition of the popular city car, the Micra. The goal for both partners is to

Continue reading “An Elle Of A Car”

Nissan March Bolero

While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:

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Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra.  Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”

Everything You Know Is Wrong

While the mainstream UK motoring press likes to pretend it tells it like it is, they often don´t.

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Dented and unloved. 2002 Nissan QX 3.0

The 1995 Nissan QX served as a butt of jokes at Car magazine who reminded us ironically that “it exists“. Autocar took a more charitable view, summing it up as a superbly built revelation on the road. Apart from this this, the QX is quite forgotten. Not by me for whom these kinds of neglected cars are some kind of mild obsession. I suppose it’s the fact the press told us not to bother that makes me want to know what it is that we must ignore.  Continue reading “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

Concept Car Du Jour

What’s hard to believe is that this design was the product of seasoned designers.

1993 Nissan AQ-X: source
1993 Nissan AQ-X: source

The 1993 Nissan AQ-X has several small and large errors that add up to something of a disaster. But we will learn from this. Being charitable, it’s a packaging car. The rear compartment has stupendous legroom. The doors open wide for easy ingress and, when you need to, egress. Up close the vehicle is finished to a professional standard (I mean at about 10 cm distance). At 10 metres you begin to wonder whether the person who had sketched the car had sketched many cars before this. Continue reading “Concept Car Du Jour”

Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update

Following his Final Report from 2015 and his subsequent Update from last April, here’s another one from Sean. Until the penultimate, absolute final update report he plans for late 2017 or thereabouts.

sm-cube
There was always the worry that, with time, the scales would fall from my eyes and I would see the Cube as the embarrassing and rather fatuous novelty that others see it as. Certain respected visitors to this site have made their abhorrence of the car apparent, and others have possibly implied it politely, by evading the subject entirely. However, for me, the satisfaction of ownership hasn’t worn off. Of course, city dwelling, and my rag-bag of alternative vehicles, means that I’ve only done about 7,000 miles in it over 18 months but, for me, it’s an excellent thing to have. Spacious inside, compact outside, good all round view. It’s perfect in town, and perfectly tolerable on long journeys. A hypothetical electric Cube might be preferable but, when I consider the alternatives actually available, I have no regrets. Continue reading “Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update”

DTW Trifecta: 1982 Nissan Laurel, Givenchy Edition

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

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

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

2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism

Few Murano’s roam about Jutland. I’ve always liked this car even if I am not a fan of softroaders. 

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The Murano shows what we might call Japanese design rationalism although the designers did their work in California. The bit we ought to notice is the very intelligent shutline management of the tailgate, rear lamps and rear quarter panel. The tailgate is oversized so as to eliminate the need for the roof panel to join to the C-pillar. Continue reading “2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism”

Theme: Japan – Nissan SilEighty – Sideways Thinking

Scouring the varied cars of Gran Turismo yielded a JDM gem – the Nissan Sileighty.

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Don’t go scouring your collections of official Nissan brochures for a SilEighty though; this one is special. Torquepost describes it thus:

“Drifters and street racers who… raced their Nissan 180SXs found that replacing their front ends when they became damaged was very cost prohibitive… due to the pop-up headlamp assemblies. To remedy this… the Nissan Silvia S13’s cheaper parts, including the lighter panel headlamp assemblies, front fenders, hood, and front bumper would be installed instead. Thus, the car would have the front end of an S13 Nissan Silvia, and the rear badge of the original 180SX. And so, the name SilEighty emerged.”

So there you have it: the Nissan SilEighty. An ingenious piece of sideways thinking from Japanese drifters. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Nissan SilEighty – Sideways Thinking”

Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update

Although I had put the running report on my Cube on hold, based on the fact that there wasn’t much else to write about it except that I like it, I’m writing something in line with this month’s theme.

Cube Engine Bay

Actually, I had intended an April 1st piece detailing the work I’d had done by a sympathetic body shop, cutting mine and a LHD Cube down the middle and mating the two sections in order to impose symmetry. But I missed the deadline. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update”

Theme: Japan – 1989 Nissan S-Cargo

I mentioned this car in a thread to an earlier article and felt the need to show some pictures and make a comment or two.

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The S-Cargo was launched in 1988 at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was one of a series of limited edition cars from what was known as the Pike Factory section at Nissan. I remember the instant like I had for what I saw and it has never faded.

The S-Cargo is clearly a homage to the classic 2CV van which was popular as an import to Japan in that era. Inside there are strong 2CV themes – minimalist features, strictly functional styling, and a dash mounted gear control enabling the two front seats to be set together. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1989 Nissan S-Cargo”

Theme: Japan – 1985 Nissan CUE-X

Japanese automotive engineering went into warp-drive mode in the middle 1980s. The Nissan CUE-X of 1985 remains an impressive tour de force of the purest styling and technical experimentation.

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Starting under the skin of this elegant and minimalistic design, we find electronic air suspension which controlled the spring rates, ride height and attitude. The damping could be altered as well making this a car which had the potential to fill a brief written by Citroen. Going further than Citroen did with their 1988 XM, the Cue-X also boasted four-wheel steering* The description of how it works is very similar to that of the XM: sensors sent signals to the vehicle’s central processor. The data described vehicle height, road speed, steering input, braking forces, throttle position and gear position. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 1985 Nissan CUE-X”

Driven to Write’s Top Fifty Countdown: Number 7a

What is about the 1982 Cherry that continues to captivate? The virtually unique N12 Datsun Cherry conforms fully to Nissan´s forward-thinking approach to car design. This ties for seventh place with tomorrow’s 7b.

Captivation: 1982 Datsun Cherry
Captivation: 1982 Datsun Cherry

The 1982 Datsun Cherry (N12) carried on the success of the 1970-1977 version which helped establish Datsun’s presence in Western Europe. In particular it was able to capitalise on the appallingly designed and badly made products being offered in the United Kingdom, a situation that persisted until BLMC’s last fragments were closed. Datsun discovered that Continue reading “Driven to Write’s Top Fifty Countdown: Number 7a”

More On C-Pillars But This One Is Good

In 2013 Nissan showed the Friend-Me at the Beijing Auto Show. This one makes a nice job of the trick C-pillar. Why?

2013 Nissan Friend-Me: www.goauto.com
2013 Nissan Friend-Me: http://www.goauto.com

Because it is actually glazed as opposed to being painted. And the graphics and panels are correctly related. I don’t mind this one at all. This is what Nissan says: “Combining striking design with an advanced premium interior, the Friend-Me concept car is a fascinating exploration of how the car of the future may Continue reading “More On C-Pillars But This One Is Good”

More Commercial Vehicle News

While we are on the topic of pick-up trucks, Nissan have something to say about their newish NP300 Navara.

2015 Nissan Navarra: nissan.co.uk
2015 Nissan NP 300 navara: nissan.co.uk

Nissan call it the ‘world’s best pick-up’ which is quite a claim. Many Ford F-150 owners might have another opinion on that. The Navara did manage to win the International Pick-Up of the Year award so that’s something, I suppose. The price for one of these is a bit north of Ford’s ranger, nearly £18,500. The Navara comes in five trim levels and comes with a double or king cab so it’s ready to Continue reading “More Commercial Vehicle News”

Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX

This is not so bad. And it’s cheap. It’s the Nissan 100 NX.

Typical dealer photo, with too much pavement. 1993 Nissan 100 NX: www.bilbasen.dk
Typical dealer photo, with too much pavement. 1993 Nissan 100 NX: www.bilbasen.dk

As with so many of these types of cars, they dissolve into obscurity and when you chance upon them they look much better than you remember them. We have discussed in these pages design rationalism of the French and German types. In the Nissan 100 NX we see some more of this. The way the shutlines and panel gaps are set up is very disciplined indeed. Look at the way the bonnet shutline goes without interruption from one side of the window base to the other. Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX”

Theme : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie

“My Velma. She’s cute as lace pants”.

Figaro 02

Cute. I’d been hearing it a lot that day. Moose Molloy’s gaze shifted towards the window and his expression changed slowly. It was like watching a landscape erode but, after that eternity had passed, there was a big lake of a smile rippling across his face and, somehow, I knew I was going to hear that C word again.

“Hey Marlowe, is that cute pink Figaro outside yours?”

A guy like Moose was big enough not to need to humiliate you with your choice of wheels, but I thought it best to offer him some clarification.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute – Farewell, My Cutie”

Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A

It might not look dangerous but this car wiped out the dinosaurs.

1975 Datsun 100-A
What is significant about this car is not merely that it exists at all but that it inspired an unheard-of level of loyalty with its customers.  Just as it was becoming apparent that buying European was not a guarantee of quality, the Japanese makers were beginning their exploration of exportation.

Continue reading “Something Rotten […] in Denmark: 1973 Datsun 100A”