In the not too distant past DTW covered the matter of the slow end of the internal-combustion engine era. The matter comes up again… It’s not so bad really. In fact, it’s great.
This time the prompt for this article is a proposal by the German Green party to essentially do away with petrol and diesel engines by 2036. Their proposal is reported by Der Speigel. The alternative is to use electric cars and more buses and trains. In my earlier article I mentioned that certain north European and North American states were planning to be rid of ICE vehicles within forty years. I suggested that Continue reading “More Harbingers”
It’s a long tradition of at least a year’s standing at Driven To Write to publish the Editor’s and Founder’s aspirations for the coming year. This year we are joined by our other Authors as well as some of our regular Commenters. Continue reading “Maximum Resolutions”
There has been some debate here about commercial vehicles. I for one know absolutely nothing about the subject so I thought I’d take a look at some of what’s on sale. I decided to focus on pick-up trucks because it made for a good headline. The first port of call is Ford’s Commercial vehicles department where Ford stock the Ranger pick-up. Among the more workaday versions there is a dramatically loaded version called the Wildtrak. Now, I would love to know why Ford’s website is so obtuse. With my limited patience I found the easiest way to Continue reading “Pick-Up Lines”
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s article on the top three clock-radios for drivers and petrolheads, we present the sundial of the day. “I am not expecting you to talk, Mr Bond…”
Ever since a sundial appeared in the film “Moonraker” this design has had an iconic place in the hearts of Bond fans and driving enthusiasts alike. Forget Tag Heuer and Breitling: this brass sundial with a concrete base says all you need to know about telling the time and driving excitement. The elaborate mechanism features a pointed triangular element that casts a shadow to indicate the approximate time. It is accurate to within a few hours for most of the year. But you had better save up: it costs £259 though it is certainly bound to be collectible due to its Bond associations.
Another month, another three iconic clock radios to wake you up with. DTW has been to the 45th Geneva Clock Radio show to review the best in the new clock radios aimed at drivers or people who like cars generally.
First, the Digitron Aqua Terra 150 M with a ten minute snooze function. It has anti-magnetic rating of 15,008 Gauss. The transparent back reveals a solid-state transistor wireboard. It has FM and AM functions. The Magnovoxx Seamaster Professional has a convincing wood-effect case and a striking retro-digital display. The base is subtly recessed to give the clock-radio a floating effect. The alarm can be preset for two different wake-up times. Finally the 300 LD-50 which is the actual clock radio that appeared in the backround of the movie The Bourne Inheritance .
The display is set to appear at the time shown in film. Press a button on the back to display the real time. Prices are from £12.00 to £15. These clock radios are a must for any man interested in waking up to go driving at some point in the day. They will also certainly impress whoever gets to drive back home with you!
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”
Life is lived forwards but understood backwards. Something similar applies to magazines.
Sometime last week I picked up a copy of my usual car magazine. This is something of a futile exercise, a triumph of optimism over experience. I did as I always did and started leafing from the back pages to the front. For a long time some of the most interesting nuggets have lived in the back of magazines and as one moves forward past features one then gets to the dust and detritus at the top of the cereal box. In between one passes the meat of the sandwich, the long form-articles that are supposed to command our attention. Continue reading “Reading Backwards”
We don’t do fashion here at Driven to Write. We are above that. But let’s take a moment to consider driving shoes.
The first pair of driving shoes I bought were bought by accident. They looked acceptable and, importantly, were very light. I still have them even if they are now quite wrecked. The great thing about a lot of fashion derived from sports is that it enhances everyday life. My tweed jacket has its roots in hunting but works very well when I need to Continue reading “Thought For The Day – Driving Shoes”
Oshkosh Corporation, an American defence supplier, has won a substantial contract to build the replacement for the Hummer.
This isn’t the usual DTW fare, but I thought I would draw your attention to one of the more extreme ends of the wheeled-vehicle spectrum. Defense News reported that Oshkosh Corporation have won a $30bn dollar contract to design and build a vehicle capable of replacing the Hummer. Lockheed Martin and AM General also bid for the contract and presumably their lawyers are working around all available clocks to find a way to Continue reading “Hasta La Vista, Hummer, The JLTV Is On Its Way”
I was never a biker as a youth, which is good and bad. Good because that is the time you’re most likely to kill yourself, bad because that is the time you best hone the athleticism necessary to really ride a bike naturally. I’ve owned bikes since I was 30, except for a period when I sold a cherished bike in a fit of self-punishment and held off replacing it for several years. I still don’t really think of myself as a ‘biker’. That term involves a bit more commitment I guess – and also a desire to wear luridly striped leathers and a crash helmet that offers free advertising to Dietrich Mateschitz. I’m just a motorcycle rider. Continue reading “Handlebars”
Ford’s 2015 Transit is a staggeringly competent piece of kit, but what’s with the creases?
One of my most memorable journeys of recent memory was a trip from Leatherhead in Surrey to Newcastle in a fully laden rented Ford Transit. Memorable for the staggering competence of the vehicle and the relative ease in which the 300 mile journey was dispatched. I handed back that van with an almost audible sob. It was that impressive. Continue reading “Transitory Lines”
Perhaps it has eluded others too. I think it’s because there are so many factors in question. It is unlikely they all are in alignment. The perfect picnic is a phenomenon quite well suited to motor travel. The car can hold a lot of things necessary for “dejeuner sur l´herbe”. You can peruse a lot of places at your leisure too whereas cyclists tend to Continue reading “Pit stops II: The Perfect Picnic”
We take a short look back at the points raised in the theme of the month about to pass.
In the opening essay, I asked what are cars without roads to run them on. I also asked “What are those roads and why do they appeal? How do cars and roads relate? Is there a link between geology and the skills of a country’s chassis engineers?” We had some insightful comments from Sean, Eoin, SV and our regular guests, none of which answered those questions.
Everyone has a skeleton of some form in their cupboard. Among the bones in my ossuary is the fact I sought, bought and listened to Chris Rea’s Road to Hell.
The album is from 1989 and does not fit in with the other material I listened to at the time which included the Fatima Mansions first EP “Against Nature”, The The (“Mind Bomb” and “Infected”) and various random bits of 20th century classical music, as I recall. Plus the Housemartins. I still see the Beautiful South as an inauthentic replacement for the Housemartins.
Rhodes is pretty much as far east as you can get before you leave Europe. Most people fly there.
Rhodes is not that big a place, almost 80 km from north to south and almost 40 km from east to west. 115,000 people live there full time and must cope with a huge, fluctuating tourist population.
Most of Rhodes’ roads are paved and once you get out of the main towns there are many sinuous and varied local roads winding through the island’s mountainous landscape. Like most Greek roads the surfaces are irregular and poorly maintained. Road signs are only sporadic and you must Continue reading “Theme: Roads – Rhodes”
“Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it’s the spirit of Dry: Its climate (it is much more an essence of climate than a geographic place) makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell.” (Roland Barthes)
The urge to ascend mountains is ancient and mysterious. It has been suggested it’s rooted in the notion of a spiritual journey toward the divine. Certainly there’s an altered state one feels at high altitude, but this probably has as much to do with oxygen deprivation than anything of a more lofty nature. Continue reading “Theme: Roads – A Ride to the Moon”
A recent trip to La Belle France served only to remind me of just how dire are our UK roads, and to wonder at how the French can afford to keep theirs in such good condition.
During the Easter period, my family spent 10 days tooling around roads in the very centre of France. There was a real mix of roads: Autoroutes, dual-track roads, main roads (we’d call them A roads), as well as single track stuff and streets around towns and villages. All this was in a new-ish, but humble Megane 1.5dCi hire car. Our base was a pretty (but not fancy) little town called Argenton-sur-Creuse, but we ventured as far as La Rochelle, and in and around La Brenne. It’s fabulously rural (La Rochelle excepted), but the state of the roads is anything but that. Continue reading “Theme: Roads – Central France”
Drivers In the 80s is a book of photos taken by Chris Dorley-Brown coming out on May 4th, published by Hoxton Mini Press. The photos date from 1987.
You can view some more samples of the photos here . The Guardian has a review here by their arts correspondent, Sam Wollaston. This part here is worth quoting: “Twenty-eight years on, the pictures make a curious collection. I’m no photography expert but I would say that individually, none of them is winning any awards. Composition-wise, there are all those pillars and mirrors in the way. And on a bright day, with stark contrast between light and shade, all their faces are in the dark; it’s their right elbows that are catching the light.” That’s correct, most of the photos are very banal. The one I selected has a little something Continue reading “Drivers in 1987”
The 1952 British film ‘Mr Denning Drives North’ is supposed to be a mystery thriller, so you’d think it would have been given a suitably mysterious title. And it was. Though its star, the excellent John Mills, was born in Norfolk and was never entirely typecast, his speciality was playing the essentially decent, resilient, middle class Englishman with an accent that is usually associated with what are known as The Home Counties – the Southern counties surrounding London. As such, the idea that he needed to ‘Drive North’ might have suggested mystery enough. Why would he ever want to do that, unless he had to for some, dark, dark reason?
The North/South divide is not confined to England. It exists in many countries and, I’d judge, is far more common than an East/West divide. There are many possible suggestions for why this is, but in part one might be climate. Climate affects character and, in more extreme cases such as Italy, the climate in Naples is very different from that in Milan. Even in the UK, Southerners generally get a softer time than those further North and this, combined with the fact that the Capital city is only about 60 miles from the South Coast, has increased the divide still further. Continue reading “Theme : Roads – Britain’s Longest”
Wait. Didn’t we do motorways a few days ago? Why are we doing the same thing again, only in German?
The Autobahn in question is Kraftwerk’s landmark albumfrom 1974. I have a copy of this record but I don’t listen to it very much, in part because it rather too successfully captures the tedium of driving on an Autobahn and not Continue reading “Theme: Roads – Autobahn”
On two occasions I drove diagonally across Ireland using local roads. It was rewarding though tiring.
The first trip went from the south east, Wexford, to the north-west, Sligo. We drove in the middle of winter in my much-missed base-model 1990 Peugeot 205. What could have been a four-hour trip via Dublin on the main roads took about eight but we got to see corners of Ireland by-passed by the 20th century. It was rather a long time ago now (1993) so I can’t provide a great deal of detail. What stands out though was Continue reading “Theme: Roads – Across Ireland as the Crow Drives”
James May* wrote that if you find yourself driving on a motorway you are probably in the wrong vehicle. You should be on a train.
I tend to agree and having begun a twice weekly commute of 100 km, I have not once considered driving. I have done so in order to avoid the E45 motorway. On the train I can read, sleep, write or even meet people. A dislike of motorways is something that car enthusiasts and ecologists can agree on. Motorists, on the other hand Continue reading “Theme: Roads – Motorways, the Case Against”
If you glance through a copy of a classic car magazine you will not have to look too hard to find pictures of racing scenes: Augustine “Bodger” Gilhooley behind the wheel of a Gilbern Invader, winning the 1972 Norfolk Broads Hill Climb, for example. Is that art? Can cars make for good art?
A book of the art of Steen Larsen prompted me to consider this question again. “Road” is a collection of Larsen’s paintings from the period 2004 to 2011. The front cover is an eye-catching green metallic Ford Consul L (pretty much identical to Myles Gorfe’s troublesome 2.0. Granada L). Up to this point, only two pieces of good automotive art had crossed my path: Julian Opie’s cars and an image of a Porsche 911 parked in a grimy lane by a German artist whose name eludes me.
What is the link between a Swedish train, a BMW concept car and a fabric firm from Denmark?
A chance encounter via my day job led me to to discover the link between the Danish fabric firm Kvadrat and the Bavarian automobile manufacturer, BMW. To my knowledge the two collaborations have not led to Kvadrat supplying fabrics for the production cars. It´s not that it´s not possible. The same firm has supplied material for a Swedish train and if a fabric and survive public transport it can Continue reading “2010 Living Lab – Danish fabrics meet a BMW interior”
In the mid Seventies, living in London, fresh from college, unsure of myself and facing a stagnant economy, I took employment doing something I knew I’d be capable of. I became a Hertz delivery driver. Back then, Hertz were the envy of Avis. All car hire chains end up with too many, or the wrong type of cars in one place, and not enough in another. Avis solved this by loading cars onto a big transporter and dropping them off where needed, imagining that one guy driving 6 cars around would be cheaper than six drivers. Hertz knew differently.
The Hertz scheme was simple and old-fashioned. They employed drivers on a casual basis. You signed on with them, showing a clean licence. There were three shifts, and you could only attend one a day. You turned up at Hertz in Marble Arch and signed in. The dispatcher would start at the top of the list and call out as many names as he had drives for. If your name wasn’t called you could Continue reading “Theme : Passengers – A Hire Education”
Iggy Pop’s song The Passenger springs to mind now that Simon has launched another theme of the month.
In the great tradition of advertisers misunderstanding lyrics, Toyota chose Iggy Pop’s 1977 song to sell the 1997 Avensis, a car so incredibly uninteresting** that even I won’t be caught trying to discover its appeal. The external appearance is as close as you can get to a characterless vehicle while still being convincingly realistic. The theme Toyota were trying to get us to understand was that by being so incredibly relaxing, driving an Avensis was like being a passenger. Continue reading “Theme: Passengers – The Passenger by Iggy Pop”
Almost three decades ago, a couple of cheapskate film producers believed they could whisk the quintessential American superhero to Buckinghamshire and people wouldn’t notice. Now Daimler AG is following their example.
Back in the late 1970s, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were the undisputed moguls of Israeli cinema, thanks mainly to the success of their Lemon Popsicle series of raunchy comedies. By the early 1980s, they wanted to enter the big leagues, which meant entering the US market, big time. Golan/Globus invested serious amounts of money in order Continue reading “Superman In Milton Keynes”
Can you use a car brand convincingly in a novel without merely leaching off its existing image? Iain Banks shows the answer is yes and no.
Placing cars in books is a specialised version of the use of brands generally. Iain Banks often referred to or even used specific cars as elements of his plots (Bristol is name-checked in his novel The Bridge). In this Banks shares something with Ian Fleming, another story-teller in the traditional mould. There are two specific instances where Banks did this which I would like to discuss. One case succeeded very well, since the reference resonated with the character and story involved. The other instance seemed to me to definitively indicate the entire novel in question had not itself worked. Continue reading “Theme: Books – Iain Banks”
When confronted by a question of taste, I always ask myself, what would Bryan Ferry do?
My extensive research has thrown up a nice example of a sub-set of a subset, designer accessories for designer editions of mass produced cars. It’s Gucci fitted luggage for the 1979 Cadillac Seville. Would Bryan Ferry go for this or not? The Big Two and a Half in the US have been more prone to tie-ins and designer editions of their cars than we have here in the social-democratic paradise of Western Europe. Continue reading “Matching Designer Luggage – What would Bryan Ferry do?”
There’s that Dream Garage that most car people compile at least once in their lives, and some car people compile once a week – or three times a day.
Generally these are straightforward cars, exotic maybe, but four wheels, internal combustion engine and at least two seats. Of course I have one of these which, with the exception of a couple of constants such as an R Type Bentley Continental, is usually in a state of flux. However, there’s also that other list of vehicles that are possibly even less practical than a Lamborghini Murceliago (a car I have so little interest in I can’t even be bothered to spell-check) but that exert a strange fascination. For me that list is less changeable.
It’s been said of radio that its advantage over other media is that the pictures are better.
This is generally true but when it comes to car advertising it is not. Radio ads can’t hope to convey the visual impression of a car, its most important attribute. Instead they are left to handle other aspects which can be presented verbally. These might include news of special offers and to point customers in the direction of dealers. They might serve to tell listeners of the arrival of a new model but other media must handle the rest. One advantage they do have is that they have a kind of captive audience and they contact the biggest audience for radio, drivers trapped in their cars. Continue reading “Theme: Advertising – Radio”
DTW spotted this interesting machine: it’s a Danish-made motorcycle from the people who brought you Nilfisk vacuum-cleaners.
Most countries in Europe had a domestic motorcycle manufacturer or two up until the 1950s. Ireland is almost an exception, having only the Fagan company manufacturing Villiers models for a brief spell between 1935 and 1937. Rather more successful and long-lived, Nimbus produced motorcycles in Copenhagen between 1934 and 1959. Continue reading “Death Has a Revolving Door: Nimbus Motorcycles”
Driven to Write met three (of four) Germans outside a supermarket in Aarhus. They had travelled in a VW camping van with two Simson mopeds.
We don’t really do motorbikes at DTW and VW camping vans aren’t part of our repertoire either but here is a brief report on the trip of Markus, Judith, Ludwig and Victoria from the Bodensee in Germany to Nordkapp in Finnmark, Norway. I met them as they were eating a spot of lunch outside my local supermarket. They were travelling in a rather used series T3 VW camper van (1979 to 1992) and two Simson mopeds. Continue reading “Northward Bound”
The sensation of speed is often as much a function of proximity as it is of exposure. 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 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.
Why I’d recommend : Motor Sport / The Automobile / The Rodder’s Journal / Classic & Sports Car
One particular magazine might use this title as a wishful strapline but, of course there is no universal World’s Best Car Magazine. If your taste ran to tits and tailpipes, then how can I argue that, for you, the late Max Power was not TWBCM? When, after loyal decades, I finally gave in and stopped my subscription to the magazine that styles itself thus, Car Magazine, I looked around for alternative places to spend my pocket money.