Having enjoyed researching and writing about our three eighties eco-concept marvels, what thoughts now come to mind about the current state of the small car market? After all, the future as predicted by the ECO 2000, for example, has long since passed.
The car as we know it is, without doubt, experiencing something of a fin de siècle. Personally, I have felt a growing sense that car design and development has plateaued, become complacent and intellectually flabby, with form increasingly disconnected from function. I have also realised that this is reflected in my writings for DTW, which recently has been focused very much on the past rather than today or the future.
Car making CEOs are not generally known for their comedic skills. One expects variations of sobriety; suits, stoic faces, a modicum of good manners – even to the press. This is not a charity. Making money (and cars) is serious business. Anomalies do however occasionally surface. Maybe the planets line up in a certain order, a particularly cheeky Chateau Neuf de Pape loosens the guard, revealing the (not so) inner Dr. Nefario (with Gru peering over his shoulder) for a moment, allowing an otherwise unmined niche to Continue reading “Despicable Me – Parts 1,2,3 (And 4)”
We examine the impact new entrants are making on a sector under attack by the CUV contagion.
Recent rumours of the Premium Midsize segment’s sales decline appear to have been exaggerated according to a report from analysts, LMC Automotive. Reported in Automotive News, LMC predicted the sector’s continued growth, projecting European volumes for 2016 of 729,000 cars rising further to 760,000 by 2020. Beyond that, they suggest that the continued march of the CUV/crossover will cause the segment to plateau. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – Premium Midsize Saloons”
We may not even have a library photo of a hard-top convertible-cabriolet.
We do, above. There are not many more. Maybe they are not a DTW type of car. Dear goodness, I find when checking the date of the Mercedes SLK, the R170, that it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It seems natural to start with this one. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – The CC”
Around the launch of Driven To Write, I did a short piece about hearses, and I’m now returning to the subject. Speaking personally, I’m unconcerned how I go- a Transit van or a borrowed estate car would be fine. But, if I leave behind anyone who would miss me, I’m concerned that their loss is eased as much as possible. So I can see why the conveyance should be seen as ‘suitable’. But what are people’s expectations? Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – The Ultimate Journey”
As well as providing the location for the suspension system and being sufficiently durable, a car body needs to protect the bodies of the occupants. And to look alright.
If we compare the smooth bodies of contemporary vehicles with early attempts at safety engineering you notice how safety was first ‘added on’ by means of obviously larger bumpers and also by the use of safety padding inside the car. Volvo took this approach as did the GM ESV (1972) and Fiat with the ESV (1973). GM did also provide for passive safety by removing the A-pillars and fitting airbags. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – Protecting Them”
Every driver is in possession of one but they are all different: bodies. An obvious major challenge in design is making a vehicle fit a wide range of them.
And another is to design something the minds inside the bodies’ heads can understand. Like any discipline, one can trace ergonomics back to the stone age when cavemen argued over the best shape of a stone for cutting skins. I’d like to fast forward to World War 2 when the US military tried to put some of the findings of Frederick Winslow Taylor into effect so as to make it easier to operate military equipment and the controls of aeroplanes. It wasn’t until 1960 when the American industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss published The Measure of Man that the idea that machines might fit people and not the other way around began its slow percolation into the minds of car designers. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – People’s”
This could be about the Cadillac De Ville convertible, which is enough of a car to write a few hundred words about. What rose to the top of the froth was that I don’t really know what year this car is from.
That’s the badge on the car. I didn’t see others. Presumably one of our very knowledgeable US visitors knows the serial number and which dealer it was sold from. The part I’d like to deal with is the way GM/Cadillac managed to change the appearance of their cars with such incredible rapidity. These days a car might get a new set of bumpers every three years and even then the difference is often slight due to the need to retain common feature lines and shapes. In the good old days of square, modular styling the car could be chopped up quite markedly and large parts changed without the carried over bits looking wrong. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – The Cadillac Confusion”
Open cars are not really the same as convertibles. By which I mean that convertibles may be open sometimes, but a true ‘open’ car is almost always open. Sometimes this may be because they don’t even have the option of a weather-resistant roof, sometimes because what is on offer is so ineffective and rudimentary, that it is hardly ever used.
Needless to say, the United Kingdom is not seen as a primary market for such vehicles. Our weather is too variable to make possession of such vehicles a practical proposition. It’s no coincidence that hot-rods and dune buggies hail from the sunnier parts of the USA and not Essex. Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – Open Cars”
We briefly review a method that improves rigidity, helps achieve the goal of a lighter car and also simplifies production. Which car have you sat in that uses this method?
The car body must meet two contradictory requirements: lightness and strength. Lightness abets performance and improves agility: less car to turn. It also usually helps keep the cost down. At the same time, a car must not fall apart while standing still or while in motion. And if the car should hit something it needs to protect the occupants. Usually you may have lightness or robustness but not both.
Simon wonders whether we really have the breadth of choice we should have.
Once, it was common for a motor manufacturer to produce and sell just the running chassis. In some cases they might fit a particular body, either in-house or bought in but, otherwise, the customer could go to a coachbuilder and get it bodied to their particular specification. This might be to a stock pattern, a limited production run if you like which meant that you could find different makes of car looking remarkably similar from the scuttle back, or it might be to the client’s commissioned design. Continue reading “Theme : Bodies – Introduction”