The Quiet Revolution

Our Northern correspondent gets off his trolley.

trolleybus
(c) Bancroftsofyorkshire.blogspot.com

Not wishing for one moment to hasten the demise of our favoured personal transport, we must take into account the future. With planners believing we’re all to live in mega cities and have no need to own or run a car, we seek out alternatives and as is so often the way, we must look to the past to see the future.

In March 1972, the last of the UK’s once huge trolley bus network was hooked down from the frog* in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Neighbouring Leeds toyed with resurrecting such a wild idea in the early 2000’s but came to nought. A sixty year fling with this curious hybrid (that ironically had started in Bradford), of an omnibus and a railed, electrified tram was deemed non-standard and the spiders web of must-be-followed grid was removed, never to Continue reading “The Quiet Revolution”

Inseguire!

A long-overdue appreciation of a lost art form.

Don’t try this anywhere: you are not cool enough. (c) Imfdb.com.

Pointless. Arguably polemic. Undeniably watchable. The on screen car chase has been with us for many a year. This isn’t to be a internet best of, a list of you have to see this or indeed real-life chases, they have no place here. My leanings are courtesy of (frequent DTW contributor) Matteo Licata – the more European-centric film chase from the late sixties and nineteen seventies.

Through Matteo’s lovely website “Roadster Life” he introduced me to some, in my eyes, positively excellent entertainment from dubiously acted, scripted and quixotic movies. These films are definitively of their time but have, akin to the cars used, become amenable in their advancing years. Continue reading “Inseguire!”

Bridge Across The Humber

Today, our Northern correspondent admires a civil architectural landmark.

Humber Bridge
The central vertical object is the crane, cause of the roadworks. Author’s picture

The Romans: famous for liking wine, partial to dividing and conquering, proficient with straight ways and bridge building. But what to do when your legions find a wide estuary literally, in the road? Diversions are costly and in this instance, a bridge too far*

Study a road atlas in North Humberside and you will see from Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) the dual carriageway A15 or, to Roman aficionados, Ermine Street, leads to junction 4 of the M180, the A18 to steel town Scunthorpe but also depletes to what is now a minor road. Roman historians believe a ferry crossing was made from either Winteringham or Whitton in order to Continue reading “Bridge Across The Humber”

Goodyear? For Some (Part four)

We conclude the Goodyear saga as the World once more lurched into global conflict. 

“Ah, the inflatable Sherman. Pop it over there, chaps, at the double.” (c) Messynessychic.com.

Remaining with purchases and the War, Goodyear’s supply of natural rubber was severely depleted once the Japanese took control of the far-East. Previous to hostilities, experiments were undertaken to ascertain a supply of synthetic rubber. The US government had even constructed a Rubber Reserve should stock become depleted.

Goodyear scientists had in fact succeeded in making a synthetic compound, the delightfully named Chemigum which had a negative effect on natural rubber prices; the research all but stopped. The Germans also had a product called Buna-S which they showed off but were curiously Schtum as to its properties and production.

Chemigum and other synthetics became a priority with war looming. It also proved to be more durable and better performing than the German version. Car tyres would have to Continue reading “Goodyear? For Some (Part four)”

Goodyear? For Some (Part three)

From dirigibles to snow cruisers – the inter-war years would see a further inflation of the storied tyre maker’s fortunes.

The Snow Cruiser. (c) Pinterest

Initially in poor financial health, Goodyear maintained progress building more factory space as the oil and car industries grew around them. A favoured construction company, Hunking & Conkey of Cleveland had a great deal of empathy with their workforce; a foreman would sit near a pile of rocks, eager to Continue reading “Goodyear? For Some (Part three)”

The Prewar Amlux

Bruno Vijverman looks back at a time when not only were cars objects of wonder, but the buildings that housed them.

(c) Citroën

On my first trip to Tokyo, one of the must-visit locations would probably not have made much sense to the typical tourist, but it did to me, being not only a car lover but in particular a brochure collector: Toyota Amlux.

This huge flagship showroom, housed in an equally impressive building, showcased all Toyota’s cars over six floors. Each one employed a different
theme- for instance there was a floor with only SUV’s and one containing luxury cars.

It was always relatively easy to Continue reading “The Prewar Amlux”

Goodyear? For Some (Part One)

We rarely notice them, but they’re the only things which keep us in contact with the road surface. In a new series for DTW, Andrew Miles gets up to his neck in the black stuff.

Charles Goodyear offers a rubber napkin. (c) Flickr.com.

Charles Goodyear died in debt. Frank Seiberling did no such thing. What links the two is a story of endeavour, brutality, aggressive tactics and a whole host of honest “Ites”. Oh, and a rather large balloon.

The tyres on all our road vehicles today are, in the main, synthetic rubber * Oil and various chemical compounds are brewed together in order to Continue reading “Goodyear? For Some (Part One)”

Are Those The Reflections Of The Tagus?

After a long stint hammering out first-rate articles and second-rate headlines I am in need of a pause, dear readers.

1991 Opel Astra: source

As you may have noticed I have been rather quiet of late, concerned mostly with fridge magnets, vacation and vermouth. It has been gratifying to see continued signs of life and active discussion carrying on in my absence. It is time to Continue reading “Are Those The Reflections Of The Tagus?”

Think of a Number, Add a Letter

Andrew Miles talks alphanumerics.

Mr. Johnny Ball. (c) express.co.uk

Would the elder brother of Bertrand Russell really have camped out all night by the London council offices? Or, as one would back in the autumn of 1903, simply sent ones butler? History on this occasion just may be bunk.

For although A1 is the perceived and openly referenced original British number plate, with one Earl Russell being the purchaser, DY1 is in fact the first officially registered number plate in England. DY1 is recorded as being issued on 23rd November 1903 in Hastings, A1 in London the week before Christmas 1903. 24/11/1903, BH1, Buckinghamshire. 25/11/03 Y1, Somerset.

Records show that Russell was indeed an early motoring enthusiast, just not the owner of A1. But it makes for a good story. Continue reading “Think of a Number, Add a Letter”

Summer Reissue : Romance is Dead

Or if not dead entirely, it’s certainly deep into the arena of the unwell…

(c) simplywellblog

When was the last time you simply got into your car and drove – simply for the loving hell of it?

You are reading this today because, we are minded to assume, you are an enthusiast of the automobile. Of course it’s also possible you are here by accident, and if so, we can only apologise for your trouble.

As aficionados and captive users of the motor car, we probably don’t need to Continue reading “Summer Reissue : Romance is Dead”

Geneva 2019 Reflections – A Culinary Perspective

Your faithful reporter ate lots of nibbles and drank plenty of cappuccino so you don’t have to. 

Geneva’s favourite drink, served appropriately. (c) Christopher Butt

One could get seriously drunk at the Geneva Motor Show.

Whereas coffee enthusiasts would constantly remain on the hunt for a decent cup during the duration of the show out of sheer necessity, alcohol enthusiasts had it much easier. For champagne – and not just any champagne, but the most definitely above-average Perrier-Jouët – were free-flowing to the extent of ubiquity. And not just during the show, but under peripheral circumstances as well. Continue reading “Geneva 2019 Reflections – A Culinary Perspective”

Car Design And Philosophy

Apart from matters of horsepower, handling and ashtrays car design is a lens through which one can view a number of philosophical questions.

zeroto60times
Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham: source

So today I will have a go sketching out what these might be. This list is not exhaustive, and is more a set of sign-posts pointing at some on-going problems which may not be resolvable: form versus function, aesthetics, semiotics, hermeneutics, phenomenology, approaches to engineering design. I wouldn’t Continue reading “Car Design And Philosophy”

Wright or Wrong

Clandestinely, a minor piece of both automotive and architecture history has been destroyed. And not in Italy either. 

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Photo (c) Pinterest.com

Austrian-American car importer, Max Hoffman, is best known for his crucial role in establishing European (mostly West German) car makers in the US market after the Second World War. What is less well known is the fact that Hoffman, was a bonafide connoisseur of architecture.

As such, Hoffman was particularly fond of the seminal work of Frank Lloyd Wright. For this reason, Hoffman commissioned the architect to Continue reading “Wright or Wrong”

Geneva 2018 Reflections – Eva

The way in which we view both the automobile and gender is radically changing. Car shows are not. 

DSC_0073
Eva and a car, photo (c) Auto-Didakt

This photo has been viewed, shared and commented upon more than any other published as part of my reporting on the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show.

I had included a caption that remained largely unnoticed:

Continue reading “Geneva 2018 Reflections – Eva”

A Tale of Two Towers

Two of the more storied automotive marques happen to have owned representative headquarter buildings at some point. The respective fates of these edifices has proven somewhat poignant.  

2b0239bc140235adf3dca702bb4a4bb0-lancia
photo (c) pinterest.com

High-rise buildings inevitable lend themselves to illustrate human hubris. As the building of a monument to oneself is among the least humble of acts imaginable, skyscrapers typically invite less-than-kind comparisons: From the bible’s Tower of Babel to JG Ballard’s High-Rise, architecture aiming for the skies regularly acts as a metaphor for an aloof state of mind.

The automotive industry, whose core business of selling a commodity finds itself in constant battle with that product’s simultaneous role of a social entity, is even more prone than others to Continue reading “A Tale of Two Towers”

Falling Off the Carousel

Recently I received a very interesting e-mail from a certain Kelley Montieth (Mrs) from the Global Central Bank.

A new Wolseley?

The message informed me that due to a banking error, 893 million euros remained unused from a sewage development project in Alice Springs. Mrs Montieth said that (I quote verbatim) “IF I COULD RETAIN THIS MONEY FOR TWO DAYS” on behalf of the Global Central Bank I would Continue reading “Falling Off the Carousel”

Paths Of Glory

The most visual social media network, Instagram, provides car designers with the perfect platform to present their work. Or themselves. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 18.05.02
Nothing Can Keep Gordenstagram Down

In a sense, Harley Earl was too early (no pun intended). If he’d waited three quarters of a century before pursuing his career as chief designer and PR innovator, he wouldn’t have needed lavish GM roadshows and the likes to showcase the fruit of his and his underlings’ labour. He could just Continue reading “Paths Of Glory”

A Star Appeared One Silent Night

DTW’s editor, Simon A Kearne, would like to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.

Simon would write this if he were available. He has taken a well-deserved break at his usual getaway in the Malverns and has delegated the work. On his behalf then, the team hopes also  that our numerous continental readers have had a lovely 24th of December.  Continue reading “A Star Appeared One Silent Night”

Christmas Tipples

It’s the Christmas break for many of our readers. Naturally you will be spending quality time with Driven To Write now that you have some free moments. What can we recommend you enjoy responsibly?

Belsazar Rose, Carpano Dry and friends

I have gained access to editor Simon A. Kearne’s “filing cabinet” and have been sampling some of the adult beverages therein.

Lillet is known for its blanc version (a favourite of James Bond). The less well-known Lillet rouge can be understood as a thinking-person’s Dubonnet. If you’ve tried to   Continue reading “Christmas Tipples”

High Flying Adored

No longer content with the surly bonds of earth, with this Rocheresque alliance with Emirates, the Blessed One’s ambitions have truly taken wing.

Dr Jens Thiemer, Mercedes-Benz Vice President Marketing: “Travellers in Emirates First Class are now also able to enjoy the sense of luxury of our Mercedes-Benz S‑Class above the clouds”. Image: (c) nyobserver

Everybody wants at the very least to touch the Blessed One’s hem these days, and after all, who can blame them? Having successfully reinvented Mercedes-Benz as the last word in modern purity and sensual luxury, the frail ties of the auto business were never going to be sufficient to hold him to our leaden promontory – not when he can Continue reading “High Flying Adored”

Ambling Between the Walls

This slightly tatty motorcycle caught my attention recently. It’s a Moto Guzzi V-twin, labelled “Indian”.

1965-1974 Moto Guzzi V-7 

For anyone who’s ever enjoyed looking at an engine and trying to find out which bit does what, such a device is a pleasure to behold. The V-2 is arranged longitudinally to the body, presumably for better balance and cooling. The engine rests in a tubular frame which is also clearly visible. Pretty much every important part is easy to find which means that you can Continue reading “Ambling Between the Walls”

A Glass Cabinet at the Colombi Hotel

In picturesque Freiburg, there’s a luxury hotel that houses a small display case that has an awful lot to tell about the Bundesrepublik of yore – and a certain German car manufacturer. 

colombi-360
Photo (c) gourmet-residenzen.com

Continue reading “A Glass Cabinet at the Colombi Hotel”

Summer Drinks For Relaxing With DTW

Summer is a time for sitting about somewhere new. If you are sitting about on holidays you need two things: something to read (Driven to Write) and something to drink.

From left: Antica Formula, Dubonnet, Punt e Mes, Luis Paez Fino, St Raphael, Lillet, Curatolo Arini marsala

And a chair. Three things then. Driven to write has a host of articles for you to trawl through and there will be another one due in a few hours. As you are sitting about you are not driving so you can enjoy a tipple. We can recommend a few things. Continue reading “Summer Drinks For Relaxing With DTW”

Theme Of Themes : Speed – VELOcity

It’s that time of the year again, so in honour of Le Tour de France, we reprise this piece in praise of the racing bicycle.

(First published by Eoin Doyle in June 2014)

smithfieldvelo
Image: ©Driven to Write

The sensation of speed is often as much a function of proximity as it is of velocity. The less there is between you and the road below, the more immersive the experience, as any Caterham owner will tell you as he attempts to draw your attention away from the rain soaked, hand-tooled moccasins he knew he shouldn’t have worn. But really, if you want to experience speed at its most unadulterated, the racing bicycle stands supreme. Continue reading “Theme Of Themes : Speed – VELOcity”

The Faint Trails and the Unearthing

That Maserati Biturbo interior caused some discussion here and I thought I’d present a little gallery of the possible inspirations for the design (of the seats and armrest). 

1985 Maserati Biturbo interior: source

Actually, it is not as easy a search as you might think. The search term is “Italian sofa 1979” and what you get if you Continue reading “The Faint Trails and the Unearthing”

Theme : Rivals – The Cat Takes The Bird

Some Theme Music for our Theme.

In 1964 my Dad made one of his visits to the USA and brought back with him ‘The Latest And The Greatest’ by Chuck Berry. At least that’s how I remember it but, as any Berry anorak will tell you, that album was a compilation record put together by Pye in the UK. So did they export it only for it to be returned, did my Dad become such a Berry fan on his visit that he bought it locally as soon as he came back, or is it all just a false-memory? You never can tell. Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – The Cat Takes The Bird”

Louwman Museum IV : Capturing The Moment

Aside from the car collection, the Louwman Museum has an extensive collection of ‘Automobile Art’. But are car paintings ever any good?

Not in the Louwman : Grand Prix Thrills from ‘The Eagle Book of Motor Sport’

Ever since the first photograph was produced, the ‘Death of Painting’ has been trumpeted but painting still carries on. One reason of course is that the camera only catches the momentary image – it doesn’t always explain what is happening or why it is happening. Equally in today’s Photoshop world, it’s reasonable to forecast the ‘Death of Photography’. Certainly it is partly dead – most of today’s more glossy motoring magazines would find it hard to produce a cover, or even a main article image, in an unadorned state. Continue reading “Louwman Museum IV : Capturing The Moment”

Theme : Simca – Retirement Home

We end this month’s theme with some good news for those of you mourning the loss of Simca.

Image : vanityfair.com

We live in a world where brand has an enhanced currency. Familiar names are forever cropping up in unfamiliar places. Clothing manufacturer’s names appear on cars. Car manufacturer’s names appear on clothes. But, in terms of sheer scale, the continuation of the Simca brand takes some beating, being applied to 270 acres of lush, jungle covered island. Continue reading “Theme : Simca – Retirement Home”

Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17

In terms of prose and style, Porsche’s advertising certainly couldn’t keep up with the modernism of the company’s flagship GT. Yet the Swabian virtues persisted. 

fullsizeoutput_30e

Given the amounts of thought, devotion and creativity that went into the creation of Porsche’s landmark 928 coupé, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the ’78 vintage brochure of the car isn’t terribly advanced in terms of layout or prose.

The overwhelming sense is one of pride and Swabian thoroughness, with just a hint of ’70s glamour and cosmopolitan flair added. Double pages are devoted to the 928’s being awarded ‘Car Of The Year’, obviously, as well as its design and engineering development process.

Continue reading “Brochures Redux – 928 equals more than 911+17”

Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential

The Editor is amazed at quite how quickly time flies. Is it really three years?

Image: carwallpapers-ru
Possibly the most DTW car of all. Image: carwallpapers-ru

One most inclement evening in February 2014 two of my principals convened in the snug of a South London hostelry. The webpages of Driven to Write went ‘live’ that day, meaning the public were free to peruse its content. Sean and Eóin had already stocked the site with pieces written over several previous weeks. Now it could be seen. Think of it like opening a new restaurant. Would customers come? Would they want what was on offer? Had the toilets been cleaned? Continue reading “Driven To Write : Three Years Old and Still Proudly Uninfluential”

Theme : Compromise – Setting a Limit

Another fine mess…

Impossible to miss. On the other hand .... image : Bristol Post
Impossible to miss. On the other hand …. image : Bristol Post

The more I have considered this month’s theme, the more I have realised that it is far too wide ranging. Compromise is everywhere in our lives, or at least in mine. I could write about any topic and, in very little time, the subject of compromise will come up.

Last week I sent off my driving licence for my first ever speeding endorsement. After 48 years. Damn, it could almost have been a full half-century. Still that’s impressive, no? Actually, no it isn’t. The circumstances of the fine are irritating, but I can’t complain. To have lasted this long says a fair amount about my vigilance, a bit more about our policing, and a lot about my good luck. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – Setting a Limit”

Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute

Necessity might be the mother of Invention, but her second child is named Compromise. 

nissan-qashqai-being-built-on-nmuk-line-1-with-an-operator
The maker of your own demise. (Image: Auto Express)

For anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins, few experiences necessitate compromise more than parenthood. Children may be small, but their interminable things are not. The gravitational pull of a gurgling baby Katamari attracts hitherto unimaginable mountains of clutter.

Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute”

Theme: Places – Destinations, Take 2

A car is for more than driving to Ikea, the shops and the petrol station. 

Chantilly, France
Chantilly, France

On the way we are supposed to enjoy the experience (driving dynamics and all that) yet they are a means to an end point, aren’t they? So, how much of car ownership is about the idea of going somewhere nice whenever the mood takes you? This provides me with the opportunity to reflect a little on the destinations I have not yet reached with a car. Continue reading “Theme: Places – Destinations, Take 2”

Theme : Places – Mountains

‘Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour…’ 

I’ve already expressed my infatuation with the confines of the underground car park. Now I visit the other extreme, my desire to Climb Every Mountain – as long as I can do it in a car. Although I’ve shaken off most my youthful fears, some things remain. I’ve always hated heights for instance, even though a part of my working life has involved climbing ladders and towers, but I’ve never been at my ease. And take me to the edge of a precipice and the inevitable desire to either launch myself off it or to run away takes hold. So I guess I’d make a lousy mountaineer. But put me in a car driving along the edge of that precipice at 100kph and I’m fine. Mid-Summer sun, torrential rain or snow are all fine by me too, though the last does demand the right tyres to make it less of a gamble. And the view from a mountain top is one of those rare times you do get a reasonable and refreshing confirmation of your own insignificance. Continue reading “Theme : Places – Mountains”

Theme: Places – Destinations

Much driving tends to be routine: schools, works, shops, petrol stations and futile trips to Ikea…

Hell: source
Hell: source

…where you remember why it is you hate the place and never want to come back. I am quite far along with that resolution now. It has taken about 14 years to realise that everything they sell is worse than useless and that even focused purchases such as a child’s desk will end in disappointment (the hole in the top surface for the lamp cable is very annoying).

The Ikea experience is heavily suburban. It relies on a large, cheap expanse of land which is usually a long way from human habitations. This entails a large expanse of Continue reading “Theme: Places – Destinations”

Theme : Places – The Multi-Storey

Concrete Hell, or one of life’s small pleasures?

When I was 17, a few months after passing my driving test, I took the family Fiat 124 up to London on my own. This was the first time I had driven in a city and I was both wary and excited. Various bits of that trip remain vivid. Although the M4 was opened by then, I came in on the A4 Great West Road so that I could pass the various factories at Brentford, including the Art Deco Firestone Factory. I remembered these from the back seat during earlier trips with my parents, and they seemed an essential part of the romance of visiting London. After Hammersmith I joined Cromwell Road and found myself in the centre lane of quite fast moving traffic rising up a flyover on a left hand curve. This seemed a great challenge, but I held my nerve and learned Rule One of City driving – as long as there’s space ahead, just keep going, don’t lift. Continue reading “Theme : Places – The Multi-Storey”

Theme: Places – The Danish/German border

One drives at a sedate 120 kmph along the Danish motorway to the border with Germany. Not so long ago there were guards controlling this boundary.

Space-time breach: source
Space-time breach: source

One stopped or came to a rolling halt. If you were sufficiently ethnically correct you’d be waved through. Or, if they didn’t like the cut of your jib, a quick look at the passport might have been required.

Either way, one usually had to go from standstill or walking pace back up top speed (unrestricted on the German side). At this point I commonly experienced a shock as a car doing light speed would zoom past, seemingly having accelerated from near-zero (just like me) to 220 in the time it took me to get to

Continue reading “Theme: Places – The Danish/German border”

Connect the Dots : 2

After I tried my hand at formulating a little quiz, I had a go at another one. 

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This time the link is a little simpler. The three cars are the 1981 De Lorean DMC12, the 1981 Triumph Acclaim and the 1981 Bitter SC. The year of launch is not the required answer. Continue reading “Connect the Dots : 2”

Connect the Dots: Solution

I invited readers to find the links between the 1963 Hillman Imp, the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado and 1995 Peugeot 406 (I showed a coupé). This is my solution: 

1976 Renault Le Car: source
1976 Renault Le Car: source

It’s not the shortest path. Peugeot manufactured the 406 coupé. The 406 replaced the 405 which Peugeot manufactured at Ryton-in-Dunsmore, in England. That factory formed part of the Rootes group which Chrysler bought in 1967, including the Hillman brand. The Imp was part of group’s range. One of the designers of the Imp was Mike Parkes who died while working on development of the Lancia Stratos (not in the car, at the time of). Marcello Gandini designed the Stratos but also cars for Maserati who were once part-owned by Chrysler. He also designed the Renault Super 5 which succeeded the original Renault 5 (or Le Car). The Le Car was sold in the US by AMC for whom Larry Shinoda worked as a consultant. One of Shinoda’s colleagues was Bill Mitchell and he was the chief designer of the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado.

This One Isn’t About Cars

It’s about roads. A lot of them are a bit too big.

A bit of Gothenburg, Sweden: source
A bit of Gothenburg, Sweden: source

This thought could have occurred to me anywhere in Western Europe but I had it while driving along a motorway-grade road in the middle of Gothenburg, Sweden. Do we really still want 20 metre-wide roads in our cities? And if speed limits are falling in cities, why do we still have roads designed to facilitate rapid driving?
Continue reading “This One Isn’t About Cars”

Theme: Film – Undriven

People who love both cars and films love car movies, right? It’s not quite as simple as that, though.

ryan-gosling-drive-007
Photo (c) upc.at

A life without films and cars would be a terrifying prospect to me. I’d have to spend whatever spare time I’ve got cooking and eating, both of which are pastimes with inherent limits in terms of the worthiness of their pursuit. Continue reading “Theme: Film – Undriven”

Theme : Film – Between The Gaps

We look at what once went on in the supposedly dark hours of broadcasting.

tv-pm

Around my middle teens, I was in dire need of displacement activity. Anything to put off revising for exams in those early Summer months. What better than the television. Naturally, back then, there wasn’t 24 hour broadcasting, and there were no afternoon movies, soaps or reality encounter shows. But there were Trade Test Transmissions. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Between The Gaps”