Theme: Economy – The Durable Car

Ideally, an article on the theme of economy should contain no words at all – a conceit I did explore briefly, but the results proved disappointing.

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Instead we reprise a piece from DTW’s early days which I’m forced to concede, runs to 1941 words. So while on one hand it does meet the brief, it also misses it by several nautical miles. Sorry.

The fact that ‘Durable Car Ownership – a new approach to low cost motoring’ didn’t knock Jackie Collins off the best seller lists in 1982 is probably due as much to its minority subject matter as a sorry lack of carnal shenanigans. It wasn’t a fashionable subject then and given that it’s been out of print for some years, probably wouldn’t be now.

Its author, Charles Ware, had his reasons for writing it – even if, as founder and MD of the Morris Minor Centre in Bath, those of a more cynical mien saw it as an attempt to Continue reading “Theme: Economy – The Durable Car”

Theme : Economy – Effort

Why make a mountain out of a molehill?

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When compared to the human body, even a small, light car is a powerful and relentless device. Once under way, momentum builds up and, as anyone who has been in or just considered any car accident at a speed of more than single figures knows, a car deserves great respect. So, it’s maybe understandable that some people treat driving a car as they would wrestling with a bear. For them, the car is a beast to be tamed, and each turn is a matter of hauling on the steering wheel, maybe with an inverted hand inside the rim for extra leverage. The wheel is clenched, the car lurches round and the sweat finally recedes from their brow as another herculean task is completed – just in time for the next bend. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – Effort”

Theme: Economy – Cost Cutting the Digital Way

Every month that a project runs costs a car company money. In the ’80s a major car project could last 8 years, of which four was probably fully manned. These days the figure is 36 months but it could drop to 24. How?

There will be less of this in future. It´s a hand-modelled shape:
There will be less of this in future. It´s a hand-modelled shape:

One aspect of the drive to cut development time is in rapid prototyping. This has been going on for quite some time. In 2006 it was normal practice to mill quick models of car interior trim prior to tooling so as to see how the form looked in three real dimensions. Non-visible parts have also been made quickly so as to speed production. Even CAD modelling itself is a time-saver (or can be) which is now taken for granted. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Cost Cutting the Digital Way”

Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object

We have considered various ways to save money on cars. Now what about when the budget is so big you can see it from space? 

2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion:
2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion:

This is the 2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion, designed and made to order by Pininfarina. It turned up for sale in the Middle East in 2012 and may have been sold for about six million dollars. The person who commissioned it, a Briton, presumably had a lot of say in how it looked. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object”

Theme: Economy – A Penalty Box for Six Bags of Sand

If you’re keen on value for money, you can get quite a dreary new car for the price of an excellent used one or you can get a car that is much the same for half the price.

2015 Dacia Sandero or part thereof. You don´t want to see the whole thing, do you?: Dacia UK
2015 Dacia Sandero or part thereof. You don´t want to see the whole thing, do you?: Dacia UK

For £5,995 you can buy a brand new Dacia Sandero . What else could you do with six grand? I dialled in £6000 as the lowest price point at Autotrader. The very first car it politely threw up was a 2006 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI S Line Sportback with just under 82,000 miles on the clock. Pages and pages of similar cars appeared, all at six thou. All of them had no fascination factor. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – A Penalty Box for Six Bags of Sand”

Theme: Economy – Bangernomics

For a few years I was bangernomist. I had a car I bought for £700. A £900 car replaced it. What went wrong then?

1993 Toyota Carina, a first for this website:
1993 Toyota Carina, a first for this website. This is not my car. It’s for illustrative purposes only:

The key to bangernomics is in finding a car with a lot of remaining value in it and then depleting that value mercilessly. That means you buy an unloved car that someone has foolishly cared for long after the repair costs exceeded the market value. The classic bangernomic car is a 17 year old Vectra which is worth about €500 but is still as shiny and nice as the day it left the showroom.

It might have about €2000 of value locked inside it. It was the last car of one of those sensible, cautious old guys who understood deferred gratification and respect for resources (or just their own money). I don’t think these chaps will Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Bangernomics”

Theme: Economy – Spend Now Or Spend Later?

Economy sounds like a very objective word. It’s to do with numbers and we all agree what they mean, don’t we?

A lifetime of motoring: hyundai uk
A lifetime of motoring: hyundai uk

If we assume a person drives for fifty years of their life, is it cheaper to buy a long-lived car or to drive a fuel-efficient but short-lived mayfly? Whilst numbers can be applied to both scenarios, it is really a value judgement about which set we prefer.

In a simple example, I paid £150 (Irish pounds) for a jacket in 1997 and I still have it. The annual cost has been £8.33 per year so far. I expect I will still Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Spend Now Or Spend Later?”

Theme: Economy – Fuel Consumption Figures

Regular readers of DTW’s reviews will note we like to report on fuel consumption.

2015 Fuel gauges
For as many years as I have been driving I have strived to maintain a fuel consumption log. The longest continuous period ran from 2006 to about 2010. At some point I was unable to note the details in a handy notebook and scribbled them on a piece of A4. The plan was that I’d transfer the figures to the notebook as soon as it turned up from wherever it had got to. During a long drive my daughter got a hold of this page and was allowed to tear it up on the grounds that this would provide a few moments peace while she was distracted. At that point I lost interest in the project as the continuity was now ruptured. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Fuel Consumption Figures”

Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation

In a revised piece from the earliest days of DTW we look at the UK’s first true economy car. But we make an even grander claim for it.

Austin 7 Box Saloon
Austin 7 Box Saloon

My French teacher at grammar school, Mr Roberts, had a small collection of Austin 7s from the 1920s, which he alternated using as transport to work – back then, that sort of car collection was practical, even on a teacher’s starter salary. I think that he considered me a bit of a prat (and history has certainly vindicated him on some levels) so, sensing this, I reciprocated with contempt for his collection of little, old and, at the time, very cheap cars. In hindsight, I might have had a more rewarding time discussing the niceties of the Ulster, Ruby, etc with him and he might have decided that I had some redeeming features. I deeply regret my glib teenage contempt, though it was entirely my loss. He was right, I was wrong. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation”

Theme : Economy – More Is Less

We remember Renault’s 5GTL, an interesting take on an economy car.

Renault 5 GTL
The 1973 oil crisis hit the motor industry hard. Fuel consumption had always been a selling point, but now it became a crucial one, especially in France where petrol was highly taxed. The traditional French economy car had the smallest engine possible, The 2CV started with 425cc, working up to 602cc. Renault’s answer to the 2CV was the 4, which carried over the small capacity, four cylinder Ventoux engine from the rear engined 4CV. When the first ‘supermini’, the Renault 5, was introduced, beneath the skin it was much the same as the 4, with the base engine having just 782cc. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – More Is Less”

Theme: Economy – The 1976 VW Polo

The renowned motoring journalist LJK Setright was famous for his speedy driving. He could also drive as if every drop of petrol mattered. Here’s how he demonstrated the fuel efficiency of the 1976 VW Polo.

1976 VW Polo:
1976 VW Polo:

“Unless you have tried it, you can have no idea how acutely embarrassing it is to employ this ultimate economy driving technique on roads bearing normal traffic.” This meant accelerating down hills but not up the hills, keeping throttle openings small and constant. He was borrowing a method known as squirt-and-coast. In this method you Continue reading “Theme: Economy – The 1976 VW Polo”

Theme : Economy – Introduction

Will The Editor spare his words for this month’s theme?


Miserliness, Parsimoniousness, Meanness. None of these terms is ever used to indicate approval yet surely, as we go through life, the trail we leave should be as slight as possible, except in our achievements. We might look back at our ancestors and forgive them their profligacy, on the assumption that they didn’t properly understand the nature of our Earth. But, today, even those who believe in a deity, usually acknowledge that they have been given enough autonomy to be responsible for the finite resources they have been provided with. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – Introduction”