I love New York. Since my first visit over thirty years ago, the city has always entranced and beguiled me with its energy, ambition, self-confidence and irrepressible optimism. It is so much more than mere steel and stone: it is a living organism powered by human endeavour and entrepreneurship. Even though I am very familiar with the city, having visited on many occasions and worked there for a time, I am still irrationally excited on the ride in from JFK airport, waiting to catch my first glimpse of that unique and unmistakable skyline. Continue reading “New York State of Mind”
The past several years (broadly coinciding with the discovery and eventual contribution to Driven to Write) have been a period of rediscovering my enthusiasm for cars; their history, engineering, aesthetics and the experience of driving them. More recently, however, I have found myself troubled with doubts as to the potential future of such enthusiasm and increasingly, by questions regarding the moral status of our collective hobby.
If the above sounds a little melodramatic, consider the following: Whilst there are questions to which no definitive answer is possible – the value of which lying more in the discussions they prompt, rather than in finding one true solution – such as what constitutes the good life, free will versus determinism and why my smartphone came with two entirely separate SMS apps installed by default, questions relating to the environmental impact of the internal combustion engine are, to most rational persons, not amongst these.
Most people may think that a tiny Citroën from the mid-eighties (which means that it’s entirely a PSA product) is nothing to be very romantic about.
But as well as it doesn’t take a supermodel for a man to remember with fondness the time spent together, a supercar isn’t needed to create worthwhile memories of roads and places one shared with a vehicle. I liked this car with its tiny, but beautiful alloy wheels and the classy red stripes on the sides. I also discovered how cleverly it was constructed, with a small, but very rectangular boot that could easily be enlarged by locking the rear backrests in a more upright position, folding them down or removing them entirely. Continue reading “Theme: Romance! – My First Car”
One of the more compelling conceits sold to us by car manufacturers is the idea that at any time, we can simply get into our cars and drive.
According to this romantic vision, the roadblocks to pleasure (both actual and metaphorical) are swept aside. There are no roadworks, nor glum-faced commuters, nor mechanical frailties. Nagging spouses are rendered mute; grizzling children are placated. The grind of day-to-day existence, the obligations and the toil, are airbrushed from the picture. It is a warm and fuzzy bubble in which the road is an unimpeded silvery thread winding away to a blue horizon of endless possibility. Continue reading “Theme: Romance -The Romance of the Road”
Once the back seat seemed a place of Romance. Now it isn’t.
Most car journalists concentrate on the front seat. They might want a bit of comfort, but they’re more likely to seek side support so they can enjoy exploring the limits. Give them a set of contoured Recaros and they’re in petrolhead heaven. What they don’t give the same consideration to, as we’ve discussed on these pages so often, is the rear accommodation. Hence, an upmarket four door might get a glowing review based on performance, handling, looks and the view from the driver’s seat, with a small mention that the rear seat is a bit cramped, even uncomfortable, with a letterbox view of the outside country. Continue reading “Theme : Romance – Taking A Back Seat”
One’s understanding of this depends very much on how one defines or understands Romance. Looked at one way, the US has produced some highly Romantic vehicles.
It gets rather complicated or at least ambiguous when you look closer. One can explain the expressive, expansive and generous adornment of American cars (of the old school) by referring to what might have been a bias towards emotion over reason. That is why the tailfins of the Cadillacs emerged for a short but memorable spell. People were excited by the drama of jet fighters and the imagery associated with them. The car sublimated that excitement.
Ferdinand Piech’s Ultimate Car should have been the definitive offering in our romance with the automobile. Why wasn’t it?
A fair amount of my not-so-uber income comes from working, directly or indirectly, for people with lots of money, so I’m vaguely qualified to comment on this. I have discovered something quite amazing. The very rich are much the same as the rest of us – but richer. Some are discerning, some are not. So the fact that people actually bought Bugatti Veyrons at an average rate of almost one a week over its 10 year life doesn’t really give the vehicles more or less credibility in my eyes. Continue reading “Theme : Romance – Veyron The Road To Nowhere”
Curbsideclassic provided the inspiration for this short post. The article provides a nice run-down on these wonderful cars.
When I think of romance and cars I tend to think of certain marques: Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Rover (to some extent), and perhaps some Ferraris. And that’s really it. Is it perhaps not uncoincidental that these brands are not in the best of health or, these days, not very romantic in their expression? Continue reading “Theme: Romance – Lancia”
Ever iconoclastic, DTW fearlessly investigates Bromance …..or is it Necromance?
Life is full of those niggling prejudices. However open-minded and liberal one tries to be, there are always certain things that one can’t excuse. Here’s a very short personal list, by no means comprehensive : Comedians. Pernod. Farting on the Underground. The Bugatti Veyron. Of course only one of the above is noxiously anti-social – and you know which one that is don’t you Ferdi? Continue reading “Theme : Romance – The King Is Dead. Long Live The King!”
Romance leads to all sorts of things. Before the divorce comes the wedding. And that means a car to get the bride to the registry office. In the United Kingdom that probably means a Rolls-Royce in purest white.
The white Rolls-Royce is desirable in the role of wedding car and uttely undesirable in any other role. Without looking up actual statistics, I’d guess a white Roller is worth less than any other colour apart from pink. It’s funny how people Continue reading “Theme: Romance – Wedding Cars”
Let’s accept there is not a lot of romance left in motoring today. That means we have to look back to when it was still romantic.
That’s around 1979 when Quatre Saisons was published. The book comprises a photo essay with the Citroen CX as the subject. Andre Martin’s images are themed around the four seasons, hence the title. The car speeds through snowy passes, through lavender fields and pauses in autumnal woodland: each shot evokes the mysterious potential of a motor car trip and also sings a hymn to the timeless modernism of the CX. Continue reading “Theme: Romance – The Four Seasons”
I am very aware of the dangers of cultural tourism. Thus I present this item in as factual and neutral manner as I can.
Simon, our editor, has pressed me to produce something, anything on our theme of the month. I consulted Mr Google by using ‘romantic car’ as a search term. I’d hoped to find some inspiration but not quite of this kind. The image is attached to an article (undated) which is entitled “These 7 cars will make your romantic rendezvous memorable and sweep your date off your feet.” It’s a listicle and it’s as random as our notorious Top Fifty Best Ever Cars Ever feature which has been running for a while now. Continue reading “Theme: Romance – Something Incomprehensible From India”
The Editor swoons as he considers this month’s theme
Aaah, Romance! A sunny day, a full tank of petrol, the roof down, a good companion, a fine picnic in the boot, a clear road …..Well, that may be some people’s idea of romance and the motor car, but how often does that happen? Yet, the car remains, for many people, a hugely romantic device. If not, why would so many of us spend so much money in such an indiscriminating way on something that, inevitably, will let us down in one way or another? Really, I need not explain the romantic pull of the car since, if it were not so, it is unlikely you would be visiting this site. Continue reading “Theme : Romance – Introduction”