Arc de Triomphe

Visually speaking, the 2006 Citroën C-Triomphe didn’t quite live up to its name, which may explain why it remains something of an automotive unicorn today.

2006 Citroen C-Triomphe/C4 Sedan. Image: citroenet

PSA announced this particular iteration of their C-segment contender in 2004, a car which replaced the unloved and visually underwhelming Xsara model line. This car, believed to have been the work of Donato Coco and Bertrand Rapatel under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Ploué marked the beginning of a renaissance at Citroën’s Vélizy styling centre. Adieu to the creative torpidity of the Blakeslee years, welcome back creativity. Theoretically at least. Continue reading “Arc de Triomphe”

A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast

Don’t be fooled by the musicals, the rain in Spain falls on the coastline too.

Image: Driven to Write

Marbella in October can be precipitous and to be fair, this was the only day it rained during my recent visit, so I’m not complaining. The Irish are used to getting wet anyway, so I was hardly going to let a drop in atmospheric pressure interrupt my ongoing quest for a green car. However, while pounding the streets, I Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast”

Cactus World News

Citroen’s C4 Cactus is a popular choice in Southern Europe, but signs are that it’s fading. Is the fun over already?

A common Costa del Sol sight. All images: Driven to Write

One of the drawbacks of being something of a novelty act is that there is often a risk that its appeal will fade. Upon its introduction in 2014, Citroën’s C4 Cactus was viewed as something of a character amidst a sector somewhat devoid of it. With styling which combined a studied practicality and ruggedness with a cheerful and largely unaggressive demeanour, initial sales for the model were strong, with 28,974 registered in 2014. Continue reading “Cactus World News”

Green Car Bingo

Driven to Write’s accidental tourist discovers an unusual way to amuse himself on holiday.

Corsa Verde in downtown Marbella. All Images: Driven to Write

Following a recent sojourn back in Ireland, your correspondent has pitched up in the Costa del Sol for a well-merited change of scenery – and climate. But given that I appear to have forgotten how to behave on holiday, how is a Driven to Writer to spend his downtime, other than to Continue reading “Green Car Bingo”

Mégane à Trois Volumes

Advance apologies to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France and their eagle-eyed cohorts regarding the title header. 

All Images: Driven to Write

Earlier in the year I spoke at some length about Renault’s Mégane Grand Coupé offering, a car which is not only unavailable in drear old Blighty, but also (somewhat surprisingly) within Renault’s homeland. Introduced to the Irish market earlier this year, the Mégane sedan (sorry, but it’s neither grand nor a coupe) appears to have taken off here, with my highly unscientific visual survey suggesting Continue reading “Mégane à Trois Volumes”

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”

What we Talk About When we Talk About The S-Type

Driven to Write (with no thought to our own safety) addresses the big one.

Image: Driven to Write

It’s somewhat overdue. In every Jaguar aficionado’s lifetime one has to approach X200 and try, (now come on, stop giggling back there) really try to view it with something remotely akin to an objective gaze. Because for many of us, it’s the Sargasso Sea of Jaguars. The mad aunt in the attic, the great un-namable. But has sufficient time elapsed to Continue reading “What we Talk About When we Talk About The S-Type”

A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.

To speak comparatively, this is funnier than a Steve Martin essay: the 1991-1996 Ford Escort. 

1991-1996 Ford Escort (US model).

The US Ford Escort here occupied showrooms from 1991 to 1996. The EU versions straddled this: 1986 to 1992 and 1990 to 1997 (there’s a year when Ford sold all three). In order to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: We Are the Ones, You Are the Ones Too.”

A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)

Visiting different places is always an opportunity to see different cars. This is obvious when going to other countries or even continents, but even a one-hour journey to the nearest bigger city can prove interesting.

Zurich, Urania Observatory

After having lived for twelve years in an Alpine setting, I know that the taste for cars here is rather conservative. You will find the most mainstream brands (which nowadays often are the ‘premium’ ones) and everything that offers cheap four wheel drive. Colour-wise, people will stick to greyscale, blue or red. When I recently had some time for a walk in Zurich, I wondered if I’d find more inspiring cars than I usually encounter on our streets. Continue reading “A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)”

Micropost: The Detriment

The public lost interest in these cars: inexpensive coupes. 

1999 Toyota Celica A-pillar. Bodge.

The flame flickered out between 1999 and 2006 for the seventh generation Celica. It had one engine in two states of tune and this terrible A-pillar. Continue reading “Micropost: The Detriment”

Long

The most interesting part of this car is on the inside

1993-1999 Cadillac Fleetwood stretch limousine.

But my phone ran out of power. Drat.

I paid close attention to the dashboard and trim and didn’t find very much to criticise. Specifically, I looked at the dashboard which is a terrific slab of shiny wood and convincing plastic with an immense dual ashtray (hanging open – unphotographed). The two things which let it down were the coarse steering column cover which had rather crude detailing and the ashtray liners which were zinc-coated stamped items that were far smaller than you’d expect given the 15 cm width of the drawer they sat in.  Continue reading “Long”

Micropost: Alfa Romeo Giulia Has No Rear Centre Armrest Shock

Even the top-of-the-range AR Giulia has no rear centre armrest.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

This is the Quadrifoglio version with a 6-cylinder engine and Brembos all around. An absent rear centre arm-rest is a characteristic of cars from two classss down costing a quarter of the Alfa’s asking price.

Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall

Yet again we return to the  Lancia Kappa. The excuse this time is that I managed to nab some photos of the interior.

1994-2000 Lancia Kappa interior (I  like the wood effect)

Not a very few of these still rattle around Denmark, not many either. Up the road from me a chap has a Kappa estate, would you believe. Let’s take a close look at the car…
Continue reading “Concrete, Damsons, Obsidian: These You Shall Only Half-Recall”

Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?

If memory serves, Piet Mondrian had a huge row with Paul Klee or Wassily Kandinsky about whether diagonal lines should be allowed in art.  Has there been such an argument in car design?

2015 Peugeot 508 rear bumper

It’s to do with bumper to body shutlines which leads to what might be the only semi-scholarly study of the evolution of the rear car bumper on the whole of continental Europe.

Continue reading “Stoop They Too, The Blue Men Of The Minch?”

A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria

The hunt for quality: where does the perception of goodness reside in this car? 

1992 BMW 3-series E30.

Recently the opportunity afforded itself for me to take a lot of photos of a car Clarkson called an over-priced Escort, a chance to hunt for quality. What did I find? Continue reading “A Photoseries For Sunday: The Panther Of Bavaria”

The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats

Whilom a two-door coupe often featured in a manufacturer’s line-up, they are now something of a rarity as we have already discussed.

Honda beforetime sold quite a few different versions of their Civic and Accord cars. This vehicle is from the tail end of the last part of the final bit of the glory days of sub-model variation Golden Age.

As a global car, the Accord has a complex life-history. My search for information started badly because I thought the car looked like a Civic so I went after them. It looks rather small, you see. Further research led me to Continue reading “The Gallants, Gammers, Damsels and Dandiprats”

The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile

This is very likely the most striking car on sale today, the Toyota C-HR.

Inside and out, the car uses extremely expressive forms, taking the deconstructed appearance seen on some front-ends and bringing them around the sides. The exterior is conceived of in a rather different way compared to what, up until now, we have considered standard. It is available as normal petrol-engined car or as a hybrid but that’s not where the interest lies. No, madam.

Continue reading “The Allusion That Does Not Allude: A Silent Smile”

The Two Mares From the Wild Fellow’s Forest

How do two of Stuttgart’s finest compare?

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Some time back I harvested a set of detailed photos of a Mercedes W-123. It wasn’t until recently I had a chance to take a corresponding set of its replacement. Alas the correspondence is not complete. Some details are paired for comparison and the rest are dumped in a ragbag of two slideshows. The conclusion is that in replacing the W-123 Mercedes merely wanted to Continue reading “The Two Mares From the Wild Fellow’s Forest”

Slowly Spun Cerulean and Azure in the Rays

Another bang from the past, this: the much-lauded but penultimately and then ultimately rather awful Chrysler Stratus

Tom Gale thought this car the bee´s legs.

Whenever I get a chance I take random bike rides or walks around Basel. For many Anglo-Saxons it’s an unknown city, perhaps one that causes confusion as it reminds them of silly toff first names or green leafed herbs used in pesto. Perhaps it suggests a certain degree of Mittel-European obscurity. To some Switzerland is a bit obscure and Basel is a part of that, making it extra exotic. Continue reading “Slowly Spun Cerulean and Azure in the Rays”

Unseen Portents Hammer Air, Water Trembles

The usual place to start with the Kia Opirus is the front. 

The US market had a better grille

Followed by a look around the sides and the back. Most of what is said or thought about the Opirus hinges on its looks (the E-class lights and unfortunate grille) and that it’s no match for anything except a rusted-out E-class on concrete blocks. Continue reading “Unseen Portents Hammer Air, Water Trembles”

A photo for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Montreal

I sometimes think I’m fated to have encounters with unusual Alfas when I least expect to… 

The 2600 duo in Friedrichstadt, the SZ in Dorridge, and the decaying Fadesa Romeo van on the road into Fornells spring immediately to mind.This Montreal was spotted on an unremarkable suburban street in Basel in March 2008. I imagine that the massive rise in classic car prices would make such encounters far less likely now. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Montreal”

And the Lightness Edged Gold Across the Sky

When this car first parked on my street the light had fallen. By early morning it had driven off. Would I ever see it again?

Solid rarity

Some good fortune meant that I did, as the photos attest. The Granada is both banal and not uninteresting. How’s that? Continue reading “And the Lightness Edged Gold Across the Sky”

Mystery Car

Our correspondent in Dublin, Mick, has kindly sent us a blurry close-up which might be a candidate for a mystery car competition.

… or not a mystery at all?

What is remarkable is that among our readers are people with the skill to recognise what this car is without having seen one in the metal for what could be years. This says something about how much visual consistency is applied at all scales of a car compared to a building, for example.

I would guess that if you pick 1% of the surface of a car and 1% of the surface of a building then the cars would be easier to identify. Another interesting point is whether a car from today is more or less easily identified from a 1% sample compared to one from, say, 1960. That’s a researchable question!

Tomorrow We Do Ignis

Curiosity overcame me so I went to a Suzuki dealer, writes Richard Herriott (who has hijacked this post). 

Suzuki Ignis Mk1

On the way I saw the Mk 1. First, this is a public service as the Mk1 is not so well photographed. Second, it’s a chance to share my current morbid fascination. Until recently I hadn’t noticed the Mk1 Ignis (2000-2006). It shares similar themes with the Mark 2 which means Suzuki liked the idea and were planning an evolutionary approach. There is slightly raised third window at the back and the distinctive groove running around the middle of the lower body. The headlamps are not so distinctive as on the follow-up car. Why do I like this car?  Continue reading “Tomorrow We Do Ignis”

Postcard from Schleswig 2

If only there had been more time to study this one: a 1976-1979 Cadillac Seville. 

Standard of the world

With some impatient passengers in the car, I promised this was the last time I’d stop and photograph something interesting that day. Patience was wearing thin. By the time I got back after two minutes and five snaps a brawl had already broken out. I sensed a small battle by photo four.

If had a chance to Continue reading “Postcard from Schleswig 2”

Postcard From Schleswig 4

This is a vignette more than a postcard. I did see these two in Schleswig, on the way west.

Facelift, original.

We stopped in a supermarket and I thought to stock up on provisions: some JJ Darboven coffee and German-market Aperol which is 15% rather than 11%. In the carpark I noticed an early series 1 Peugeot 406 and a Series 2.

Continue reading “Postcard From Schleswig 4”

Don’t Forget Your Camera

As luck would have it, I was out and about with no camera for most of the day.

1990 Barkas B-1000-1

Among the unicorns I spotted: a Hyundai XG350 and a Renault Safrane. It’s the Hyundai I regret missing the most. I haven’t seen one since 2006 and that one was a neighbourhood car. In all I have seen two, one of them several times. This time I could do not do more than Continue reading “Don’t Forget Your Camera”

A photo for Sunday: Bertone’s Star

At long last, the final Astra F variant: the cabrio.

1994 Opel Astra convertible

Bertone designed this and sold it for four years, from 1994. Bertone went on to do the Astra G coupe. As I expected, the version I snapped was aubergine. If they came in other colours, I haven’t seen one.  Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: Bertone’s Star”

Speaking Micra

A chance sighting prompts something approaching a defence.

Image: Driven to Write

Since we created Driven to Write three years ago, I have undergone something of a re-education about cars and particularly when it comes to their design. Even though we might actually only rub shoulders about once a year, I often feel as though I have a virtual Herriott at my ear, urging me to look at that innocuous looking tin box over there with fresh eyes. Going about my business yesterday, I happened past a stationary 2016 Micra. Not a car to which I’d normally give more than the most cursory of glances, but given some of the damning responses to the example featured earlier in the week, I felt I ought to give it a second glance. Continue reading “Speaking Micra”

Snap-On Quality And Self-Adhesive Style

Quite a few brands have cottoned on to ‘personalisation’ after MINI: Fiat, Opel and Citroen/DS, for example. Now it’s Audi’s turn. 

2017 Audi Q2. Agent Eóin spotted this Audi Q2 in the wild in Cork city, Ireland.

It’s not a bad idea, giving customers some more possibilities in how their joy and pride is finished. What is the paint, wheel and upholstery choice but a chance for the producer to find customers with money to match their preferences? Mini make a fine penny with their mirror trim and Union Flag lids. Opel offer the delightful Adam with a range of roof colours as do DS. And the DS also goes in for body strips and mirror trim. What these models have in common is that that they Continue reading “Snap-On Quality And Self-Adhesive Style”

Bad Photos For Sunday

As ever, the only place in Jutland with interesting cars for sale is EZ Biler, near Silkeborg.

2003-2011 Lancia Ypsilon

The same old friends are there: the unsold Lybra, Kappa and XM Prestige. I notice they also have a 1984 Nissan Laurel for sale. Alas, I was with my brood and they did not want to Continue reading “Bad Photos For Sunday”

Something Small in Denmark

Alas this little gem is a bit too far away to take a look. All interesting cars are a long way from where I live (Aarhus). 

1977 Innocenti Mini De Tomaso: source

You can inspect the advertisement here.

This one is the special De Tomaso sports model with 72 hp from the ex-BMC 1275 A-series engine. It has some special additions such as a different bumper, a bonnet scoop and some purposeful black detailing. Continue reading “Something Small in Denmark”

Far From the Mainstream: Grecav

After a bit of a hiatus, FFTM returns with an Italian-made microcar, Grecav

1995 Grecav: source

At mobile.de the earliest Grecav is a 1995 identifed as a Mopedauto. Like all these mini-engined micro cars they cost rather a lot compared to almost any decade-old Astra/Focus/Golf class car with room for four. They belong to a captive market of people who for some reason are not able to drive a “proper” car. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Grecav”

Reverting to Type

A harmless trip to the shops leads to a rare sighting of the lesser-spotted Tipo.

Tipo Berlina. Image: Car Suggest

A walk around my local retail car park in suburban Cork is a dispiriting experience at any time, even when the rain isn’t horizontal. Filled with the usual drear parade of monochrome conveyances, there is little for the eye to linger upon, or indeed for the uninfluential auto-blogger to spin an article. However, earlier in the week, I was stopped in my tracks by, of all things, a 2017-registered Fiat Tipo Sedan – the first I’ve witnessed in the wild. Continue reading “Reverting to Type”

The Accountant and the Pimp

Who says all cars are the same these days? Two so-called premium manufacturers come to very different answers to the same question. 

photo-1

One car is the epitome of crass, gimmicky style over substance. The other one is a sober piece of design that adds just the right amount of adornment for it not to appear dreary. Continue reading “The Accountant and the Pimp”

A Photo For Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett

This car is a kind of pithy comment on recent Opel news. 

1984-1991 Opel Kadett E
1984-1991 Opel Kadett E

You don’t see many around and you see even fewer Golfs and Escorts of the same period. The same goes for the other cars. My street is a nest of Astras (saloons, mostly) and I think this is a tangible riposte to the assumption that there’s something wrong, in principle, with Opel. Interestingly, or tellingly, I saw the new BMW 5 series today, Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett”

Photo for Sunday – Volkswagen XL1

You’re engaged in some innocent retail therapy and then this beams down from planet Piëch.

Starship XL1. All images: Driven to Write
The car that fell to earth. XL1 amid the hatchbacks. All images: Driven to Write

As we’ve pointed out, Driven to Write never sleeps and while we don’t always get about as much as we’d like, our eyes and ears are everywhere. So while some of us are battening down hatches in windswept West Cork, others get to swan around a decidedly more temperate Marbella – a matter for which your correspondent is not bitter. Continue reading “Photo for Sunday – Volkswagen XL1”

World Cars 1984 (1): Anadol 16

In the first of a short series, I will remind readers  of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.

1981 Anadol 16 brochure: source
1981 Anadol 16 brochure: source

The Anadol 16 was produced in Turkey and its appearance raises intriguing questions of authorship. The roofline suggests the generation of Triumph 2500 that never arrived in 1977. The lamps and grille suggest a less-adept bit if in-house creativity. According to the guide the car is based on Reliant designs. According to whichever enthusiast (I sense a native British

Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (1): Anadol 16”

Re-Appraisal

Note to oneself: be careful of press photographs.

2017 Peugeot 3008: source
2017 Peugeot 3008: source

Admittedly, night had fallen and the surrounding city-centre lights could have been confusing. And the vehicle wore dark paint. These might not be ideal studio conditions. Yet, my experience of the new Peugeot 3008 provided grounds to remember never to Continue reading “Re-Appraisal”

Nissan March Bolero

While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:

image

Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra.  Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”

Automotive Mayfly

This isn’t much of a Photo for Saturday** more of blue car by the side of the road. What is it?

image

It’s a very Was Then sort of car. From 2006 to 2008 BMW made this car in Regensburg. It’s a variant of the E85 Z4 which had a longer life. The Z4M had one engine, a 3.2 litre six cylinder unit and a six speed ‘box. In some ways you could call it an M3 wearing Z4 clothes. If you want a historical reference, it has the same relation to the Z4 as the Triumph GT6 to the mainstream Spitfire. It’s the kind of car that used to be quite common, a pure sports car which is now rather a freak. Continue reading “Automotive Mayfly”

Everything You Know Is Wrong

While the mainstream UK motoring press likes to pretend it tells it like it is, they often don´t.

image
Dented and unloved. 2002 Nissan QX 3.0

The 1995 Nissan QX served as a butt of jokes at Car magazine who reminded us ironically that “it exists“. Autocar took a more charitable view, summing it up as a superbly built revelation on the road. Apart from this this, the QX is quite forgotten. Not by me for whom these kinds of neglected cars are some kind of mild obsession. I suppose it’s the fact the press told us not to bother that makes me want to know what it is that we must ignore.  Continue reading “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

Convergences

About 15 years ago design rationalism enjoyed one of its occasional bouts of popularity. In a few cases the appliance of simple rules to simple shapes led to similar conclusions.

2004 Ford Fusion
2004 Ford Fusion: three sharp corners, neat work.

What we should be noticing in this slide show is the relation of the wing to the bumper and the treatment of the grille and bonnet. I noticed this originally because around about that time I occupied myself with a lamp design and without noticing how others did it arrived at something that looked very like the Fusion’s lamp.
Continue reading “Convergences”

A photo for Sunday: 2004 Ford Fusion

Night lighting is continuing to fascinate me. Under the bright, cold glare of a street lamp, this Fusion showed off the car’s essential character.

image
2004 Ford Fusion

The wheel arches stand out here as does the upper surface of the body side above the feature line and door handles. The time is nigh when I should get a camera able to capture the depth of black and the richer colour of night lighting.
Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2004 Ford Fusion”

What’s This?

Fewer are the classic cars of Dublin. While I saw no Volvo 240s, no W-123 Mercedes and only one Saab 900, I saw several of these things:

image
1972-1980 Mercedes S-class

One parked up right in front of me as I tried to decide upon my New Year resolutions. The vehicle served as family car: two bulky child seats occupied a heck of a lot of room in the back, defeating the car’s space.

I took a chance to look over the car in detail when the owner had popped off to do some shopping. I noticed the odd way the gutter is handled. Like the W123 it’s actually quite complex and non-intuitive. It is as if they had never seen one of these before and Continue reading “What’s This?”

Highlights of Last Night

Long, thin lights make interesting reflections on car bodies. A malfunctioning restaurant sign made this Volvo panel especially fascinating.

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These reflections show the contours of the front wing of a Volvo S60 from a sign. It had two strips running horizontally, one of which turned on and off at intervals. Image one shows the wing with one light illuminated. The second shows it with both strips illuminated.
Continue reading “Highlights of Last Night”