Should you have been in the market to purchase a new vehicle in Berkshire just over thirty years ago, you had only to buy The Observer newspaper and locate the twenty eight page Motoring Supplement. From Section D’s headline (B and C dealing with sport and finance one guesses), matters boded well – readers being informed of the £552 million of joint Renault and Giugiaro money funnelled into project X53 – the 19.
Also included was a nicely written test report of the 1.8 litre 8-valve Passat GT (with 118bhp and sunroof as standard) and plenty of information regarding the impending arrival of the ‘F’ plate on August 1st 1988. I passed my driving test two days later and was fully charged to buy my first motor.
Raindrops keep falling – bringing our monopod history to a close.
McCarty Mustang, 1948
Had he been able to actually get his new car enterprise off the ground, Ford Motor Company may have had to think of a different name for one of its most successful models. Roy McCarty worked at a Lincoln dealership but had bigger plans – to Continue reading “Drop the Subject – (Part Three)”
Presenting three lesser known varieties of Citroën’s svelte autoroute express
CX Haute Protection
When thinking about an armoured passenger car, the picture that comes to mind for most Europeans is likely a large black car with the famous three-pointed star on its bonnet and for those across the Atlantic, one bearing the Cadillac crest. However, in the long wheelbase CX Prestige, Citroën was of the opinion that they could Continue reading “Variations on a Theme”
A close shave with the lesser-spotted Citroen Saxo-BIC® edition.
In 1944, two Frenchmen, Marcel Bich and Édouard Buffard set up a business in Clichy to produce writing instruments. In the post-war era, the company prospered and having adapted László Biró’s original design for a ballpoint pen, Bich introduced the mass-produced BIC Cristal in December 1950, quickly becoming a stationary cupboard essential. Such was its impact, commercial success and design influence that in 2001 a BIC Cristal pen was added to the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
In 1973 the company introduced a range of disposable lighters, while two years later BIC launched the one-piece razor. Three staple products; perfect realisations of product design, made in their millions every year, reliable, ubiquitous and disposable. Yet each were masterpieces in their own right, eminently fit for their purpose, used and thoughtlessly discarded by millions around the world every day. Continue reading “Nib of the Matter”
These are likeable special editions, something of a fixture in Peugeot’s catalogue in the 1990s: the Roland Garros series.
The 205 and 306 also appeared in this livery. After two decades it remains fresh unlike many colourways of the same time. The 106 Wikipedia entry is schtumm on the topic (the English one) of these cars.
Evidently the RG edition functioned as a stable trim variant more than a limited edition. Have they done anything like this since? It’s not really very European to “brougham” a car in the American style, is it?
As February 2016 slides into memory, we bid a silent adieu to yet another theme.
So by way of round-up or merely a chagrined ‘how the hell did we fail to mention that’ groan, we return to the subject one last time to look at a couple of special editions we really should have got around to before now. First and most glaring (in every sense of the word) has to be the 1995 Volkswagen Polo Harlequin special edition. Between the Rock Tribute special editions we featured earlier and this duo, one can only speculate as to what those crazy guys & gals in Wolfsburg were imbibing? Solvents perhaps. But surely it can only have been blind prejudice and a staggering lack of vision that prevented VW’s European rivals from adopting this colour concept en-masse. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Or Not?”
There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to ask yourself “Do I feel special? Well, do ya, Punk?”
If we ignore the Citroen 2CV for a moment, Special (in automotive terms at least) has generally meant more. More equipment, more individuality, more value. But for some that’s not enough. The statement is the thing. Some of us will recall the era of Rude Mercs, those bespoilered, beskirted, altered images of Bruno Sacco’s finest; as emblematic of an Eighties we’d prefer to forget as Stock Aitkin & Waterman, Huey Lewis and the News and the Westland affair. Fashions change, the world turns and for all I know Huey Lewis may well be hawking his flaccid wares somewhere as I write. (I’m sure he’s a nice man by the way, but some things you can never forgive). Continue reading “Theme: Special – Too Special or Not Special Enough?”
As we have found out while exploring this unusually fecund theme, special editions have a touch of the spurious. It doesn’t only apply to the volume car makers (who have that name for a reason).
It also applies in its own way to makers of cars that are supposedly exclusive already. Without looking up the numbers I am very sure that Ferrari sells fewer cars a year than Ford sells special edition Fiestas, for example. Yet Ferrari is not content to put five or six basic cars in their showroom, happy in the knowledge that only a few thousand find customers every year. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Limited Runs”
Would you blow £35,000 on a luxury version of a Ford Ka? Back in the Sixties someone did the equivalent and others followed.
There’s a partial myth about British class barriers finally breaking down in the 1960s. Yes, this was a time when working class kids like David Bailey could make it without having to go to elocution classes and when satire suddenly made the establishment seem less intimidating. But beneath the veneer, and outside the world of ‘creativity’, for most it was business as usual. Continue reading “Theme : Special – Maximising the Mini”
Marcello Gandini designed the BX and it appeared in 1982. The design resisted tinkering and looked freshly out of this world even towards its end in 1994.
Twelve years is a very long run for a car in the competitive middle-sized class and it’s a credit to the original engineering and styling that it still remained believable right up to the end. However, even Citroen had to face the realities of the market and succumbed to a succession of special editions to try and generate interest in their car. Continue reading “Theme: Special – 1992 Citroen BX Millesime”
As a fiftieth sporting anniversary fast approaches, we combine this month’s theme with our Print The Legend series and look at what could have been one of the first-ever Special Editions.
Following England’s victory in the 1966 World Cup, jingoistic feelings were high. BMC wanted to commemorate the event and hastily planned a tribute in time for the Earls Court Motor Show. An intimate committee to consider the alternatives was formed, consisting of BMC’s head of marketing and an outside consultant, the journalist Archie Vicar.
Their first idea, to have a series of 11 limited editions, all Morrises, named after each player in the final was deemed impractical, so a single iconic image was chosen, that of the number 4 shirt, Nobby Stiles, dancing a jig after the match and grinning through his missing front teeth. Continue reading “Theme : Special – An Early Bath”
It isn’t unusual for a fashion designer to sprinkle a bit of his fairy dust onto the humble products of car manufacturers. What is more unusual is for a fashion designer to create a bespoke car for himself. Which is exactly what Karl Lagerfeld did – twice.
Franco-German fashion icon, Karl Lagerfeld, is about as illustrious and flamboyant a homo sapiens as can be. That he chose neither a Rolls-Royce, nor a Mercedes 600 covered in mother of pearl, nor a carriage made of solid ivory, but the moderately sporting, restrained shape of BMW’s second and third generations of Seven series saloons as his personal means of transportation can therefore be described as a decision that is as surprising and idiosyncratic as the man himself. Continue reading “Special – Karl Lagerfeld’s Salo(o)ns”
Cleared for takeoff: Driven to Write examines a special edition with lofty pretentions.
Typically, special editions of mass market cars are the domain of clothing or sports equipment brands. Usually, they consist of not much more than a particular colour/trim combination and a set of logo stickers. But there is one special edition from the 1990s that was so much more than that. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Ford Ka Lufthansa Edition”
I prefer to avoid travelling too far and too often down memory lane for these articles. However, the 1983 Renault 18 “American” special edition has lured me to briefly wander along that path.
As is well documented here, the 80s in Ireland passed slowly and greyley. I imagine selling cars required patience and determination as fewer people were buying, struck by the fear of unemployment or numbed by the pervasive sense of despair. Imagine trying to sell a middle-rank car of limited apparent appeal. The Renault 18 had six years under its belt by the time 1983 had rolled around.
Driven to Write considers the cream of the motorist’s alphabet
Every niche has its own alphabetical hierarchies. For computers, maybe ‘X’ is the best letter, or perhaps lower case “i”, but top of the motorists alphabet must be ‘S’. ‘S’ is the most Special letter, whatever it stands for. Just seeing an ‘S’ attached to a car’s name lets you know that it will be better and faster than a car that only has an ‘L’ or, horror of horrors, a ‘D’, a letter that offers only parsimony, slipperiness, smell and clatter, unless it is a Citroen. Continue reading “Theme : Special – ‘S’ as in ……”
Despite being assembled by Citroen UK in Slough between 1954 and 1960, the 2CV only became popular in Britain when it was reintroduced in 1975.
This success was partly due to the oil crisis, with the call for more economic transport, but also (and this too was in part an indirect result of the oil crisis) because the turbulence of the 1970s had put paid, for a period at least, to those petty hierarchical differences that have usually been so important in British society. Continue reading “Theme : Special – By Any Other Name.”
We look at what people do to a Driven to Write favourite in the name of individualism.
Whenever the 1971 to 1974 Toyota Crown S60 is discussed in the pages of Driven To Write, it is notable that there is a fair deal of respect and affection for it, much more than there was in the UK and US at the time of its launch. But we are discussing the stock vehicle. What is our attitude to the various modifications, small or substantial, that have been visited onto this particular version of the ‘living legend’ (to quote Toyota)? Continue reading “Theme : Special – Polishing The Crown”
Here’s a Special Edition that was real class – middle class, that is.
The Fiesta Finesse holds a very specific place in my memories. It helped me to understand that I was middle class. It also taught me that minor details can matter inordinately in people’s perception of things, and, in particular, cars. The car itself was introduced in 1983 as part of Ford’s ‘special edition model programme’, according to a press announcement made at the time. Looking back, this programme featured models (also including the Cortina) that just happened to be at the end of their life and so were in need of a little marketing boost to support sales. Continue reading “Theme : Special – Ford Fiesta Finesse”
I just love Curbside Classics. They produce fascinating nuggets of US automotive history with a fond yet critical attitude. The comments are unusually good as well.
Further, they seem to have access to the catalogues of GM, Chrysler and Ford if the detail on the technical specifications are anything to by. This article deals with ten obscure special models. I notice that their use of the term applies to what I’d call trim variants that had their own badging and equipment. In Europe “special” seems to imply a plastic sticker and some cloth upholstery of questionable taste. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Curbside Classics Covers Special Editions”
DTW looks at a Special Edition that was remarkable for its ordinariness.
I feel duty bound to contribute something on the above theme, having agitated for it a couple of themes ago. I mentioned then a particular special edition that lodged itself in my mind, kind of like a piece of apple-peel between two molars: the AX K.Way. On scraping the back of my mind as to why this particular special had held a certain fascination for me, I think it was the very fact that, come to think of it, I could not detect what exactly was so special about this edition. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Citroen AX K.Way”
The Editor wonders what is so special about being special.
After last month’s Theme, Glamour, which drew a rather timid response, my team has chosen a theme that throws a wider net, and that they consider will be a sure-fire success.
I shamelessly admit that I was cheered at the low interest of Driven to Write’s contributors in the theme of Glamour. There are many motoring organs whose staff feel at their most comfortable seated in the Louis Vuitton tent at a concour d’elegance, sipping Moet & Chandon as they exchange bon mots with Mr Brian Ferry, but Driven to Write’s members are not among them. For all our literary pretensions, we pride ourselves that our feet remain firmly planted in the gutter of mass production. Continue reading “Theme : Special – Introduction”