Louwman Museum II : 5 Year Plan / 35 Year Production

Carrying on our look at the exhibits in the Louwman Museum, we consider a rarity, a car manufactured by a city.

China’s first production car was built by the Shanghai City Power Machinery Manufacturing Company. Supposedly a copy of the 1954 ‘Ponton’ Mercedes 220, on actual viewing the Shanghai SH760 seems to have been copied through the wrong end of a telescope. Its introduction in 1958 as the Fenghuang (Phoenix) coincided with the start of the odious Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and this was the car that lower ranking officials might have toured the country in whilst implementing the Chairman’s ill-informed industrial and agricultural schemes. Later on, as long as they weren’t too ‘intellectual’, these same officials might have monitored progress of the Cultural Revolution from the seats of a Shanghai. A probably conservative 40 million deaths from starvation, murder and suicide later, the SH760 was still in production. Continue reading “Louwman Museum II : 5 Year Plan / 35 Year Production”

Geneva 2017: Cadillac want us to Dare Greatly

Robertas Parazitas looks back on a memorable Geneva Salon, and can’t quite decide whether to praise the Cadillac Escala, or rant against the sustained assault on the English language.

The concept is not new, having had its premiere at Pebble Beach in August 2016. It is intriguing  on several levels. The design language is a departure from the distinct vocabulary of present Cadillac offerings. Like the Pininfarina H600, the Escala could fit into a number of manufacturers’ ranges: Jaguar, Lexus, DS.

It’s also a hatchback. Most will refer to the Audi A7, I’m thinking of the Rover SD1. Continue reading “Geneva 2017: Cadillac want us to Dare Greatly”

Geneva 2017 – Artega Scala Superelletra

In the halls of Geneva, resurrection man Robertas Parazitas meets two more restless souls.

Artega Scalo Superelletra. Image: autovia-media

Death, it has been observed here before, has a revolving door in the automotive world. In recent years we have observed the return of Singer, Borgward and Alpine. (In the case of the first I can’t see much of the spirit of the plucky Coventry firm, but the workmanship puts the last Chamoises and Gazelles to shame) Continue reading “Geneva 2017 – Artega Scala Superelletra”

Louwman Museum I : A Prince In Exile

DTW’s correspondent visits a museum and finds his perception challenged.

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Before I start on any negatives and disappointments let me make it clear that the Louwman Museum at Den Haag in the Netherlands is one of the best car museums in the World, possibly the best. Obviously that opinion is subjective and so is the collection, generally the choice of one family. For instance if you’re looking for BMWs, a single pre-war 328 represents many people’s favoured marque, but at least one DTW contributor would be pleased to find three Lloyd cars on show.  The collection tapers out as we get later into the last century and production cars of the 21st Century are illustrated by just a cutaway Prius. But in terms of giving a general overview of the earlier history of the motor car, one that entertains, intrigues and informs by mixing in a good amount of both the quirky and the outstanding, it would be very hard to beat.  Continue reading “Louwman Museum I : A Prince In Exile”

Geneva 2017 – L’Insolite: Mad Swiss Makes an Electric Ghoul Isetta

Van Helsing starter kit in hand, roving reporter, Robertas Parazitas comes face to face with another automotive revenant.

Image: Microlino

The Geneva Salon is still a place where rich men can show their dreams made metal. Jim Glickenhaus was there with his SCG003S hypercar. Not far away, Felix Eaton, Huddersfield’s answer to Glickenhaus, proudly launched his graceful Black Cuillin. More modest in size, but equally single-minded is the Microlino, the creation of Wim Oubouter.

Oubouter has something of a track record as a transport innovator, which suggests that this venture is more than vanity or capricious whimsy. Continue reading “Geneva 2017 – L’Insolite: Mad Swiss Makes an Electric Ghoul Isetta”

Geneva 2017 Reflections – Dignified Silence

Pininfarina stayed true to form with the H600 concept. Nothing wrong with that we say.

Pininfarina H600 concept. Image: designboom

At the 2012 Geneva motor show, carrozzeria Pininfarina showed Cambiano, a concept, said by the Italian styling house to be in effect, a homage to the legendary Florida II. But while that pivotal 1957 concept became a stylistic monument, siring an entire generation of cars, Cambiano, while commendably elegant of line and refreshingly free of frippery, disappeared pretty much as soon as it arrived – overshadowed by more brash contemporaries. Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections – Dignified Silence”

Geneva 2017 – l’Insolite Part 1

Not so much Geneva bites, more nibbles from a show which wasn’t short of substantial fare.

Image: autovia-media

There was a Vauxhall at Geneva!

And rightly so. The one-nation marque, which few people outside the UK even realise exists, outdid Jeep, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Honda, Suzuki and Mitsubishi for sales across the entire EU zone in 2016. Continue reading “Geneva 2017 – l’Insolite Part 1”

Geneva 2017 Reflections – And the Band Plays On : 2

Driven to Write continues its Geneva walk of shame, and finds some cause for optimism amidst the mainstream behemoths.

A hatchback variant of a hatchback. Genius. Image: Autoblog

The boys at Zuffenhausen have been diligently erasing their previous work in creating a more svelte version 2.0 Panamera, debuting the Sport Turismo, which features a vast 20-litres of additional stowage space. Interesting to see how well judged the business case is with this one. Given that Mercedes’ CLS equivalent has hardly set sales charts alight (and is not being replaced), Porsche management are clearly crossing their fingers and toes here. Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections – And the Band Plays On : 2”

Geneva 2017 Reflections – And the Band Plays On

Are we going anywhere fast, or are the major players merely spinning wheels? Driven to Write looks at Geneva’s latest fancies, and finds little to celebrate.

Image: Motor Trader

We’re on the cusp of possibly the biggest re-alignment since the advent of the motor car. The costs of change and its survival are daunting. Behind the scenes the industry is frantically making best-guess preparations for the coming avalanche, while trying to second-guess which direction an increasingly mercurial political class are leaning. Rising protectionism in the US and impending Brexit in the UK: who’d be an automotive CEO now? Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections – And the Band Plays On”

Live (again) From Geneva 2017 : Day Four

Driven to Write’s embedded correspondent, Robertas Parazitas continues his dispatches from the 87th Geneva International Motor Show.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche (& entourage) checks out Jaguar’s electric I-Pace concept. Image: Robertas Parazitas

Where’s Gorden?
Continue reading “Live (again) From Geneva 2017 : Day Four”

Live (again) From Geneva 2017 : Day Three

Driven to Write’s embedded correspondent, Robertas Parazitas continues his dispatches from the 87th Geneva International Motor Show.

Image: Robertas Parazitas

Wednesday 8th March

Today I tried to catch some of the stuff decent folk would walk by – all the sub-Mansories, for Arabs with goût. Some absolute crackers. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. As LJKS once wrote  “If you want to know how G*d regards money, you only have to look at those to whom he gives it”. (I think he may have been quoting someone else.)

Did I mention that Dieter was having a right good look at the I-Pace. I have some photos, will need to check to see if Gorden (sic) was in his entourage…

 

Geneva 2017 Reflections – Butch Insignia

Looks like someone’s been hitting the weights…

Image: Mercedes Benz

Looking for all the world like some kind of steroidal Insignia Grand Sport, the Mercedes-AMG GT concept sees the once mighty Daimler slide further into a self-reverential maelstrom.  Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections – Butch Insignia”

Geneva 2017 Reflections: Audi Q8

Pun-tastic name aside, the new monster from Ingolstadt mainly serves to expose the car industry’s ignorance towards the social properties of the automobile.

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Photo (c) autobild.de

It’s difficult to determine where to start with the Audi Q8. How about the name? Yes, there may be a ton of planet-saving batteries hidden underneath its gargantuan sheetmetal somewhere, but still: just the car’s appearance and its onomatopoeic, mineral oil-related name set a rather strange tone.

Continue reading “Geneva 2017 Reflections: Audi Q8”

Live (again) From Geneva 2017 : Day One (Updated)

Driven to Write’s embedded correspondent, Robertas Parazitas reports from the 87th Geneva International Motor Show.

Image: Robertas Parazitas

Press conference mania!

Tuesday 7th March 14.33 CET

Peugeot:  In French – unusually – but I didn’t catch any reference to taking GM’s European operations under the lion’s paw. Much jubilation about the 3008 COTY result. Talk of reinventing as a mobility business, connectivity, autonomy.
Continue reading “Live (again) From Geneva 2017 : Day One (Updated)”

COTY 2017 – and the Winner is…

In a Driven to Write exclusive, our roving reporter Robertas Parazitas reports live from the 2017 Car of the Year awards at Geneva.

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Image: Robertas Parazitas

14.14 CET: Good chat with Steve Cropley. He reckons it’s wide open. Talked about Fiestas and Hank Deuce. Last year he drove to Geneva in a 40 year-old Fiesta this year it was Easyjet. Continue reading “COTY 2017 – and the Winner is…”

Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part two)

In this concluding part of DTW’s interview with the National Motor Museum’s Jeff Coope, he outlines his vision for the museum’s future.

Image: BMIHT
Image: BMIHT

A former motor engineer, Jeff Coope is perhaps unique amongst senior colleagues at Gaydon in that he doesn’t have an old car of his own to tinker with at weekends; a matter of some amusement and no little embarrassment for someone in his position. This probably explains why the previous day he’d been out test driving a variety of Triumph TR6’s with a view to purchase.  “It’s interesting, he tells me, you put you hand on the injector fuel rails for the PI injection system on a TR6 and it’s alive! What else do we make that has a pulse? Effectively, we’re lighting little fires under bonnets aren’t we? Controlled fires at a huge rate and we’ve refined that to great art, although we’ve probably taken it as far it can go now, relatively speaking.” Continue reading “Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part two)”

Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part one)

Driven to Write speaks to the man helping ensure the British Motor Museum in Gaydon is future-proofed for future generations – Director of Operations, Jeff Coope.

British Motor Museum Collections Centre. Image: BMIHT
British Motor Museum Collections Centre. Image: BMIHT

Ensuring the past continues to address the future is a challenge all museums face. To stay relevant they must evolve – or die. Jeff Coope is the man at the sharp end. Having overseen the transformation of what was known as the ‘Heritage Motor Centre’ into today’s British Motor Museum, his ambitions for the facility go much further. The current purpose built Gaydon museum was formally opened in 1993, but despite being supported by industry donations and from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust itself, it struggled to sustain itself financially. Continue reading “Making History – Jeff Coope Interview (part one)”

Armchair Guide to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show

The Detroit Auto show is over for another year. What caught our eye? What hurt our eye?

2018 Audi Q8 concept: source
2018 Audi Q8 concept: source

Audi showed the 3.0 TFSI SQ5: a CUV. They also showed the Q8 concept, some kind of crossover but sized extra-large. It’ll be ideal for bringing 17 kg children to kindergarten in Chelmsford. Notably the grille has burst out of its frame and now the silhouette of the lamps is involved in the party, as if the engine and lights are expanding out from under the bonnet like a weird blossoming mechanical monster. At the back the lamps stretch the full width across the car. Note the A-pillar to wing which is a decisively retrograde step. It’s not flush as on Audis of old. There’s a hint of a stump of a boot at the back and the wheel arches feature another little articulation in case you didn’t notice the massive wheels. Continue reading “Armchair Guide to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show”

Micropost: 1985 Saab Experimental Vehicle

This is one of the cars I saw at the Saab Car Museum in Trollhattan, Sweden.

1085 Saab EV concept car
1985 Saab EV concept car

It reminded me of some other 80’s aerodynamic cars of the same time but when I went looking nothing matched. I found a hint of the rear window and boot in the Subaru SVX. More than a few GM concept cars from Oldsmobile, Saturn and Buick had similar surfaces. Yet there wasn’t that one car which made me think: yes, that’s the one. Do our readers have any suggestions?

Image sources: left and right

Saab Museum: the Concept Cars

In our previous instalment we featured the production cars. Today we turn our attention to the concepts.

2006 Saab Aero-X
2006 Saab Aero-X:  niels moesgaard jörgensen.

Visitors to the Saab museum will notice that prior to the 21st century, Saab did not do very many concept cars. The photos are again courtesy of Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen (apart from the odd one marked “RH”).
Continue reading “Saab Museum: the Concept Cars”

Saab Museum: The Production Cars

The Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden has a well-presented and thorough collection of production, prototype and concept cars.

1950 Saab 92: niels moesgaard jörgensen
1950 Saab 92: niels moesgaard jörgensen

In this installment I will take a gander around the production cars. DTW is very pleased to present the work of photographer Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen who accompanied me on the visit. A few of my own images are scattered in the collection.

Continue reading “Saab Museum: The Production Cars”

Cries and Whispers – 1979 Triumph Broadside

Driven to Write takes aim at Triumph’s putative TR7 successor and gives it both barrels.

Triumph Broadside proposal. Image: Driven to Write
1979 Triumph Broadside proposal. Image: Driven to Write

The Triumph TR7 is one of those unfortunate cars that if it hadn’t suffered from bad luck it would’ve had no luck at all. Created as the former BLMC crashed into bankruptcy and public ownership, its development was bedevilled by financial and regulatory uncertainty.  Continue reading “Cries and Whispers – 1979 Triumph Broadside”

Guangzhou Revelations

The Guangzhou Motor Show has just ended. BMW are hinting at their front-drive future.

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And if you can click here you can see it’s one of a few cars revealed that are not cross-overs so be thankful for small mercies. As a matter of comparative interest I have also posted the BMW 1 and 2 series coupés. They are very alike, aren’t they? Continue reading “Guangzhou Revelations”

A photo for Sunday Article That Got Out of Hand

Just for once this is not a car on my street.

1981 Saab 900 Safari: Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen
1981 Saab 900 Safari: Niels Moesgaard Jörgensen

It is one of two remaining Saab 900 Safari estates.  The other one was offered for sale in 2014. Notice the red car in the link has the bumpers from the 1987 Saab 900. Saabists can help clarify this difference. You might also want to compare this limited-series car with Alfa Romeo´s 75 concept car. We will be reporting with two articles on the Saab museum (where this car was spotted) during the Christmas period. I might do a third. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday Article That Got Out of Hand”

Lancia Finally Comes Out On Top

Certain writers on this site spend a lot of time bemoaning the sad lot of Lancia, so it is remiss of the DTW News Desk in being so tardy in announcing the awarding of a major prize to a Lancia.

lancia-ypsilon-betterparts-org

Admittedly it is 80 years too late, but the Pinin Farina (two words back then) bodied Astura that was awarded the Best Of Show at Pebble Beach in August looks a deserving winner, even if it is hard to see it as a conceptual ancestor of the Ypsilon. Continue reading “Lancia Finally Comes Out On Top”

2016 Paris Motor Show Colour Palette

Driventowrite is pleased to present an exclusive examination of the colours used on concept cars at the 2016 Paris Motor show.

2016 Paris Motor show colours for concept cars.
2016 Paris Motor show colours for concept cars.

You’ll notice green is still missing from the palette. Renault’s yellow was really a pearlescent gold. Honda’s Civic had a stainless-steel character to it. Renault’s Trezor’s surface appeared to be textured with a honey-comb effect. Mitsubishi went for white on the Ground Tourer but a vibrant yellow on the (very similar) EX. Mercedes used black paint for the EQ bonnet which disrupted the graphic effect of the fancy grille decoration.
Continue reading “2016 Paris Motor Show Colour Palette”

Caution, Live Cargo!

Last month, in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, DTW came across a pram museum. They’ve got wheels, so we’ll write about them.

Oudekinderwagens, Vlissingen
Oudekinderwagens, Vlissingen

When I was a student designer, there was a clear difference between the straight from A level bunch, like me, and the ‘mature students’, some of whom were maybe just 3 or 4 years older than me, but who had seen a bit of life. That ‘bit of life’ might have been bumming around the world, or it might have been all that grown-up stuff like parenting, and those people could interest themselves in a project like designing a pram or a baby buggy in a way that I never could. By that, I don’t mean that my ambitions were only to draw ludicrously impractical sports cars – I was quite interested in doing something a bit more worthwhile, especially since, with the Arab Israeli Conflict, the activities of the Baader-Meinhof Group and, as the final nail, Showaddawaddy being near the top of the charts, it was clear that society as we knew it was coming to an end. No, my problem was that I could never really appreciate the difficulty in piloting a clumsy wheeled device with a screaming passenger through a crowded supermarket, since, although I’d read both On The Road and Nausea, I lacked any actual experience of the real problems of life. Continue reading “Caution, Live Cargo!”

History Falls

Ghosts of Browns Lane.

2005_0101JagMuseum0120
Image: The author

Today, Jaguar’s Heritage collection is in safer hands but in the closing months of 2011 the future looked a good deal more uncertain. We take a look back at Jaguar’s former museum prior to its demolition.

You can tell a good deal about the ethos of a car company by how it views its past. Enzo Ferrari was notorious for his callous attitude to last season’s race car; many simply destroyed, since in his view the only good car was the next one. Such views were not uncommon amidst the grand marques, resulting in vast sums being spent buying back significant cars once they realised exactly what a well curated museum would do for their image. So while it remains fairly unlikely that Ssangyong has seen fit to lay up a pristine Rexton for posterity, anyone with an image to project and a heritage to exploit either already has or really ought to. Continue reading “History Falls”

Too Much of a Good Thing

In spite of a busy schedule on the work and domestic front I managed to steal an hour to go to the Classic Race Aarhus where, in an associated event, a lot of old cars filled a meadow.

2016 Classic Race Aarhus - the classic car contingent.
2016 Classic Race Aarhus – the classic car contingent.

It looked liked a re-run of last year and I took a different tack this time. I walked through the field and took some photos at the end.

If any one of most of the cars had been parked on the street it would have made for a 1200 word essay. Today you get 580 words, or three per car. When so many vehicles stand together it is excessive, no? A mint Ferrari 412 stood between me and the rest of the contingent and I walked past it in search of something even better. Continue reading “Too Much of a Good Thing”

Geneva 2014 – The View from the Sofa

2014_Geneva_Motor_Show_4Look, anyone and their dog can get on a plane and physically attend the Geneva Motor Show, but frankly that’s a little passé now. No, by far the more arduous, some might even say, daring approach is to stay at home, in pyjamas, eating toast and allowing someone else do all the legwork. Well that’s my justification anyway and no, you can’t have any more jam until you behave yourself.  Continue reading “Geneva 2014 – The View from the Sofa”

Also Starring : Sideshows at the 2014 Geneva Salon

Some of the less well-known faces at Geneva 2014

2014 XLV front

The Geneva motor show is usually the place for the major manufacturers to display their latest models and concept cars. I decided to see what was being presented by less well-known firms, some of which are tiny and new and some of which are massive but not much in the public eye. And there´s Giugiaro, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of VAG and, I would guess, eventually to share the same fate as Ghia, Ford´s one-time laboratory for innovation. Continue reading “Also Starring : Sideshows at the 2014 Geneva Salon”

Not For Sale: Car Museums

A sermon about why car museums are to be avoided if you like old cars.

Image

Every car museum I have visited in the last 2.25 decades has been a disappointment. Cars are inherently space-consuming selfish monsters and even when they are caught, killed and pinned to plinths this quality does not diminish. They need plenty of room, alive or dead.

Alive, the car needs sufficient space for portly passengers to open the doors and affect egress without having to close the door behind them, at a minimum. And dead, in a museum without sufficient space, the car can´t be assessed properly. You need to stand back, fold your arms (essential) and try to gaze at the vehicle with Gestalt theory in mind. First look at it as a set of parts and then as a whole and then as parts, alternating. This is done by looking just above the roof and then concentrating on the entire object while trying to keep your eyeballs still. It’s not easy. If you want to see the car in its entirety while looking directly at it, you need about fifteen metres between you and the body work.

Continue reading “Not For Sale: Car Museums”

Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino

I visited here in 2011, just after it had re-opened following a complete restoration. 

It is a large and impressive museum, mixing the informative (exposed engines and bare chassis) with the glib (new Fiat 500s bursting through kitchen walls). But you need to get them in and presentation is important, especially if you are accompanied, as I was, by someone who does not find cars at all exciting. Continue reading “Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino”