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!

Ignis Inspection

As promised… a closer look at the new Suzuki Ignis.

These photos are very grey and very dank and really only serve to prove I did go to take a look at an Ignis with its wrapping still on. Curiously, all of the cars at the dealer had darkened rear windows so I could not see the interior properly.

So, in the metal is the new Ignis going to live up to the burden of expectations? Continue reading “Ignis Inspection”

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 are not particularly expensive and come from mainstream manufacturers. Audi is the odd man out.  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.

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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.

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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:

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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”

Back to Nature

Astra battles West Cork foliage. Foliage wins.

Astra fans of a delicate disposition should look away now. Image: Driven to Write
Astra fans of a delicate disposition really ought to look away now. Image: Driven to Write

As I get older, I find that many things I still view as contemporary are in reality, decades old. Music, fashion, events – cars even. The subject of this photo is a case in point. Old enough to be dismissed as a banger, yet to my mind at least, still sufficiently contemporary for this scenario to be unusual. Continue reading “Back to Nature”

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

Theme : Places – Another Snapshot from Occupied Europe

It’s Spring 1981, and I’m in Charlottenburg, on the western edge of the British Occupied Sector of West Berlin.

lloyd-arabella

The picture is taken on Wundtstraße at the edge of the Lietzensee. These names are still powerfully evocative of the time I spent in Berlin, half a lifetime ago. German big city carscapes are, in my experience at least, underwhelming. The urban dwellers’ favoured cars are small, cheap, usually French, Japanese, or Korean, and very old by British standards, but not quite old enough to be interesting. Continue reading “Theme : Places – Another Snapshot from Occupied Europe”

Theme : Places – Snapshots from Occupied Europe

Let us briefly remind ourselves of Leslie Poles Hartley’s words, ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’. 

viva-in-e-berlin
All images: The Author

The country photographed is now in the past, the Deutsche Demokratische Rebublik, a failed state which ceased to exist in 1990, and they really did do things differently there. When I took these photos nine years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the DDR was dysfunctional, but very much extant, and didn’t look as if it would be brought down any time soon. Continue reading “Theme : Places – Snapshots from Occupied Europe”

A photo for Sunday: 1986 Mitsubishi L300

This example hoved into the gloomy car park of a shopping centre near me.

1986 Mistubishi L300
1986 Mistubishi L300

Although barely known in Europe it is one of those world cars with a basket of names and functions. It has had eight badges attached to it and has been propelled by eight engines. It’s the Mitsubishi L300.

In Europe the most likely engines for this variant are the 1.6 litre petrol or 2.5 litre diesel engine. For certain markets there is a 4wd version of the vehicle which, I am told has a certain cult following.
Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1986 Mitsubishi L300”

One You Can Buy: 1991 Volvo 480 Turbo

The cheapest running 480 on mobile.de is this for €599. There are just 13 on sale at the moment.

1991 Volvo 480 Turbo: source
1991 Volvo 480 Turbo: source

Autoscout has a further 68 though a few may be the same car advertised twice. The cheapest one is €600. Autotrader has one for £2,995. That one has 100,000 km and has had three owners. Continue reading “One You Can Buy: 1991 Volvo 480 Turbo”

Far From the Mainstream – Fisker Karma

It’s Monday so all I can present to you is a four-year old fossil from what must be one of the shortest-lived car companies of recent years.

2012-fisker-karma-grey
Death has a revolving door. 2012 Fisker Karma.

While the main theme of this series is an excursion through the obscure brands on sale, this is also a case of the dead rising again. No sooner had the lawyers finished off the outstanding ‘issues’ related to Fisker’s defunct firm than someone else dusted off the corpse, slapped on the make-up and lo, Karma Revero is born. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream – Fisker Karma”

A Green Car for Sunday

Cheery: Kia’s green is vibrant and refreshing.

image
Image: Driven to Write

The trim around the sideglass gives the car a solid look it’s 3.5 m length might lack. You can see similar detailing on the Volvo S70 saloon. The remarkably awful Getz is related to this. Cars like this have cemented Kia’s reputation for well-priced, well-made and attractive products. With a small increase in the fun-factor such as warmer versions they could dramatically change the perceptions of the brand without scaring existing customers. I wonder why they don’t make this move.

A Photo for Sunday: 1992 Alfa Romeo 75

It’s a twin-spark 2.0 and black: I thought they had to be red or white.

1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark
1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark

The year might be 1992 or a little earlier. Notice the width compared to the Auris. The two cars have much the same interior space. While no beauty, this is the car I tried to represent when I first started to draw cars so I owe it debt of gratitude.

Far from the Mainstream: Changhe

Our sharp-eyed readers may notice something amiss but I’ll carry on with my trawl through the obscure car brands, today it’s Changhe.

2014 Changhe microvan
2014 Changhe microvan, note the A-pillar : source

People hunting for an inexpensive and practical load carrier will find a mere two Changhe vehicles on sale at Autoscout24 at the moment. One is a small panel van with a 53 PS motor and the other is a pick-up with a tilting load bay (you load it with, say, loose marbles, snooker balls, or oranges and when you get to the delivery point you just let the whole load tip out onto the floor without all that laborious scooping or shoveling). Both cars have delivery miles yet are strangely registered in 2014. The dealer is in Dörfles-Esbach.
Continue reading “Far from the Mainstream: Changhe”

A Big Car for a Big Country

Now seems a good time for DTW to recall the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan.

Image : autobild.de
Image : autobild.de

I first knew about it from Car & Driver in the late 1960s. C&D is still a good magazine, but readerships have changed and it is no reflection on their current writers, who must function in a different publishing climate, if I refer to back then as their Golden Years. Back then, C&D had a dry and subversive wit missing from other car magazines and, when I started reading the article about the Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan, I assumed that it was a smart joke, a parody of a review of a car that couldn’t really exist. Continue reading “A Big Car for a Big Country”

Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V

We have a thing for green cars here. While out on field work, Eóin spotted this undisguised production version of the Honda HR-V in Warwick.

1998 Honda HR-V
1998 Honda HR-V

At only 4 metres long, it is not big. It is, however, perfectly proportioned and showed another approach to the kind of thing Ford had in mind with the unloved but good Fusion.

Continue reading “Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V”

A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort

This is a public service more than a very interesting post.

1980 Ford Escort
1980 Ford Escort

When I wrote about the Astra F, I noted that there were very few good images of the 1980-1986 Ford Escort. Well, here is a clear image of an unmolested example. And it is not that nice to behold. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort”

Green Cars and Night Photography

Our correspondent in Sweden, Niels Moesgaard Jorgensen, spotted this green Suzuki recently.

suzuki
2015 Suzuki SX4: Niels Moesgaard Jørgensen

We’ve been logging green cars as the colour looks like a minority taste yet metallic mid-greens can be very flattering. Additionally, the image prompted me to think about how difficult (for me) it is to get good night time images of cars, or rather cars under street lights. My photos end up murky and lack the deep black of this image.
Continue reading “Green Cars and Night Photography”

Micropost: Mid-Greens

My search for green paints in current cars didn’t turn up much. This and this and this, only. However, these. These are properly green.

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Today I saw this 2006 Ford Fiesta and a Skoda Felicia. These are the greens that are now in short supply. If you really want to

Continue reading “Micropost: Mid-Greens”

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”

Something Rotten in Denmark

At present there are eight Daihatsus for sale in Denmark. Let’s peer in the dirty side glass of one of them. Nothing if not exclusive, these cars. 

1990 Daihatsu Cuore: source
1990 Daihatsu Cuore: bilbasen.dk

By way of a little contrast, anyone wanting something more common can choose from 87 Ferraris, 33 Aston Martins, 621 Porsches or 48 Maseratis. People feeling insecure about the rarity of their Rolls-Royce can be assured that there are only nine of them on sale this week, making it almost as exclusive as a Daihatsu. Those numbers are probably reasonable guides to the relative scarcity of these cars.
Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark”

If Only …

… every car looked as good when launched as it does two decades later.

1994-2001 Renault Laguna
1994-2001 Renault Laguna

For this small meditation the kick-off is the 1994 Renault Laguna I saw today. It helps if the car is shiny and in good order, of course.

Two weeks ago I saw the 1995 Vectra in the same flattering light.What seemed uninspiring 20 years ago seems clean, fresh and straightforward. This morning a Fusion caught my eye: Continue reading “If Only …”

A Picture for Sunday: An American in Sweden

A recent tour in the country between Gothenburg and Trollhättan, reminded me how much Sweden there is the NE of the US but also how easily American cars sit in the Swedish landscape.

1962 Buick Electra 225 hardtop coupe
1962 Buick Electra 225 hardtop coupe

The photo shows a Buick Electra 225 two door, four-window hardtop coupe (the 1961-1964 body). It also shows a 2005-2014 Saab 9-3 estate.  The image captures two enthusiasms of the Swedes: their own cars and the cars of the US. Continue reading “A Picture for Sunday: An American in Sweden”

Far From the Mainstream: Donkervoort

Today we peer again into the world of marginal car makers. In this instalment we deal gently with Donkervoort.

1981 Donkervoort S8: source
1981 Donkervoort S8: source

There are 15 Donkervoort cars advertised at mobile.de and above, a 1981 S8 is the cheapest at €19,950 with a mere 52,000 km up. Next is a similar roadster from 1988 for €24,000. A 1998 2.0 Zetec-powered D8 costs €36,000. From 2001 an Audi-powered D8 costs nearly €50,000. So, who are Donkervoort? Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Donkervoort”

A Photo for Sunday: Honda S2000

Look at that. It has simple, distinct forms and great proportions.

2001 Honda S2000
2000 Honda S2000 in Silkeborg, Denmark.

Honda revealed to the world the S2000 as a present to itself, celebrating the firm´s 50th birthday. It belongs in a class of cars that motoring journalists ask for, receive with mixed feelings and then fade away with little fanfare. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Honda S2000”