“It is always advisable to open with an arresting image to draw the reader’s attention”. The Driven to Write style guide is really quite unequivocal on this, and other matters pertaining to appearance and form, so given the less than top-notch composition of the lead photo, it’s probably just as well that the editor has been on vacation.
Shooting cars in the street, guerrilla fashion comes with its own set of challenges, both technical (I lack the relevant equipment and skillset) and situational (potentially having to Continue reading “Aide-Mémoire”
What is a fella to do? You’re innocently making your way to the supermarket, or back from the beach and without warning, you’re confronted with what can only be described as a ‘photo opportunity’. Of course, there is only one course of action worth pursuing, especially if you’re overseeing a site like this one, and that is to Continue reading “I Am a Camera”
I like walking at night. There is a meditative quality to the endeavour —the mind drifts into neutral, you navigate by instinct and by curiosity — ‘where does that street lead, and what might I discover down here’? There’s a frisson to the streetscapes at this hour of night that appeals to the dramatist in me, but also the chance to Continue reading “Nightcrawling”
As a recognised name, Polestar first came to light on the world’s racetracks in 1996, closely collaborating with Volvo. The race team, which had previously introduced official performance enhancements were entered into the Geely fold in 2015. The leap from tuner to manufacturer required a new tangent, one led by former Volvo Design Director, Thomas Ingenlath. “The automotive world is changing”, he offered at the time, continuing by stating, “Connectivity is a basic necessity. We embrace this and will Continue reading “Philosophy in Unica 77 with Polstjärnan”
What in the name of Piëch has been blown in on the Mediterranean breeze today? Something from the Adriatic, or maybe even further afield? Taken at first glance it’s simply a well preserved example of the underappreciated and increasingly rare Volkswagen Bora, but take a closer look and… now hold on a second! It certainly had me scratching my head in perplexity during my afternoon stroll last Sunday.
For all appearances, it seemed to be a curious hybrid of Bora and successor-Jetta. Once successfully pinned and mounted, it then became a matter of establishing exactly what I had. The results of this, I’m forced to admit, remain inconclusive. But I’ll come back to that. Beforehand, we really ought to Continue reading “Blow-In”
Your eyes do not deceive you — this isn’t Cork. Ireland’s second city does have its charms, but the weather isn’t one of them — not unless horizontal rain is your idea of meteorological bliss. Hence, today’s meditation finds us in more Southern (and far warmer) climes — Marbella to be precise. And while there is plenty to divert any visitor’s attention, either along the Costa del Sol, or inland, it remains for me, something of a (lately impoverished) car-spotter’s paradise.
Now, some of you might characterise this pursuit of automotive ephemera as being something of a busmans’ holiday, especially while nominally on retreat, but having been at this Driven to Write lark for almost a decade now, I’m not really certain I have the ability to Continue reading “A Matter of Standing”
Sometimes a quantum leap is called for, but care is required.
Editor’s note: Today’s piece is a revised version of an article first published on DTW in July 2016.
“Evolution: /e-va-loo’ shan/ n The cumulative change in the genetic composition of an organism over succeeding generations, resulting in a species totally different from remote ancestors.”
What we’re looking at here is a collection of what we now would term E-Class Mercedes generations, from the W120/121 Ponton, up to the 2016 (and about to be superseded) W213 series. But this image is not the point of today’s exercise. What I would like to do instead is to Continue reading “It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land”
As a new generation dawns, we must prepare to bid farewell.
All of the great marques can be characterised by one core model. For Mercedes-Benz, it has largely been what has become known as the E-Class, its heartland product since the 1950s. For most people born prior to the millennium, it is the car (a conservatively styled three-volume saloon or estate) that personified the brand, be it luxurious status symbol, taxi, or ‘lifestyle’ load-bearer. That it could in effect be any of those things spoke volumes of Mercedes’ reach and appeal. The E-Class (in the present tense) also very much the sweet-spot of the Mercedes-Benz car range, possibly its finest, most rounded current product.
Furthermore, given that the flagship Sonderklasse is, for most European cities and towns at least, now something of a leviathan, it is nowadays the E-Class which best represents Mercedes-Benz’s values and ideals. It has, this past generation at least, also represented the closest approximation to elegance of line to see the light of day from the Sindelfingen dream factory. For even if the W213 was no Mercedes design for the ages, the outgoing model was at least coherent, and in non AMG-line form at least, restrained. Continue reading “Empire State”
Regular parish disciples here know well my disdain for most things mathematical — this to my eyes being rather like knitting fog. Wayne Griffith, CEO of SEAT sub-brand, Cupra clearly sees otherwise. 150,000 Cupras were sold in 2022, generating profit margins of £158M for the group with a £9B turnover, the second largest in the (SEAT) brand’s 73 year history.
Mr Griffiths expounded Cupra’s virtues, “wanting half the group’s overall sales and 500,000 per year in the mid-term as we aim to becomea top global brand by 2030.” His gaze is moving Stateside by “testing Cupra” there, Griffiths’ hope being that “the Americans will love Cupra’s design and (electric only) performance.” These potentially American bound machines will require further additions to the coffers, along with the VW Group’s larger SSP Platform. The vehicle we’re examining today however is not for that continent.
The Born sits on the MEB Platform, shared with VW’s own ID3. The world was first introduced of the Spanish version at the 2020 Palexpo, known then as the SEAT El-Born. That particular vehicle being “95% production ready.” Then design chief, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos described the car as “the ultimate translation of our emotional design language into the new world of electric vehicles. We have to Continue reading “It’s A Mystery”
Editor’s note: This piece was first published on Driven to Write in April 2015.
I have a bit of a soft spot for small estate cars. DTW has tested the popular Renault Clio ‘Sports Tourer’ dCI which is a small estate car. What was revealed in the course of 361 kilometres?
The Clio has proved to be a successful entrant in the small car market and the estate version is as numerous (to judge by its ubiquity) as the ‘standard’ five door body. Is there a difference? Yes, one you can measure and feel. The estate’s maximum boot volume is 439 litres compared to the 300 litres of the normal car. Both models have the same wheelbase. With the rear seats folded down, the volume rises from 1038 litres of the standard car to 1277 litres in the ‘sports tourer’ or station wagon. You can see why people Continue reading “2015 Renault Clio Sports Tourer dCi Road Test”
Editor’s note: The original version of this piece appeared on DTW in February 2016. Today’s version reflects a re-evaluation of the 2003 concept.
Over the four decades FIAT Auto was in control, it had been possible to obtain an insight to the health of the parent company’s fortunes by how much development resource was drip-fed towards their habitually impoverished Lancia division. In the early years of the new millennium, despite being heavily indebted and messily extracting itself from an abortive association with General Motors, FIAT seemed primed to Continue reading “Past Perfect”
The keys to the executive lounge are hard-won. Sometimes you’ve got to force your way in.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on DTW in November 2016.
The 1986 E32 BMW 7-Series may not have been as polarising a styling statement as its E65 descendant, but if anything, it was to prove a more significant car. Bayerische Motoren Werke’s “Here’s Johnny” moment; it represented a point where BMW took a metaphorical axe to the boardroom door and gave their Swabian rivals the fright of their lives. Its style also inspired an entire generation of BMW saloons, introducing the distinctive (and patented) L-shaped tail-lamp motif.
Up to that point, BMW’s success had pivoted around more compact offerings, their upscale models proving a more difficult sell against the eternal benchmark Sindelfingen flagship. The 1977 (E23) 7-Series marked the Bavarian carmaker’s first serious attempt to Continue reading “Benz Buster”
It’s a noisy world out there. Making oneself heard amid all the sturm und drang has become increasingly problematic, especially when the message from the disruptors, the futurists is that you represent the old guard, offer yesterday’s solution. Back in your box, grandad.
What are commonly derided as legacy carmakers — or in other words, those who have been in business for longer than a half-century are facing several crises at once — and while not yet existential, the crisis of relevance they are facing now is exercising the occupants of legacy boardrooms from Sochaux to Sindelfingen, from Michigan to Milbertshofen as much as anything more pressing. After all, how do you counter those voices that claim the future, when not only your product portfolio, but your entire business model is rooted in the past?
These are thorny issues, and for now, they are problems which no legacy carmaker has successfully addressed. But that does not mean that they are sitting on their hands. Hence today, we journey to Hamburg to Continue reading “Where Are We Now?”
Established and trusted brand names are too valuable to be taken lightly or bandied about carelessly. Were this not so, why would businesses spend €millions dreaming up suitable examples, before market-testing them across global audiences, then expending years nurturing, marketing and developing them? Has Groupe Renault somehow missed a memo?
For decades now, Espace meant only one thing to those of an automotive bent. A large French monospace MPV — for many European motorists (and their passengers), the original (and best) of the species. Renault, as much by good fortune as outright bravery, got to market first with a product which would prove so utterly definitive that no other carmaker could Continue reading “Espace – The Final Frontier”
I used to enjoy driving. Manual gearboxes, open roads, the process of learning routes, freedom. These days most of my driving consists of commuting. This boils down to hoping the traffic light Gods remain green, that the pedestrian doesn’t ‘chance it’ or that we can make the next junction. Apex-carving or rewarding it’s not. Driving has become a chore but at least Nimrod, my Volvo S90 offers luxurious seats, excellent sound quality and the bonus of automatic everything. Steering involves the fingertips, the occasional furious (in more than one sense) braking manoeuvre and often futile attempts to Continue reading “Heaven 17”
Closer inspections can lead to sleep deprivation – or is it the other way around?
Temptation is a fickle mistress. Every single new iteration of the Range Rover series has made me, even for a moment, ruminate over the possibility of owning one. Many factors halt any form of progress in this area, usually, but not exclusively financial. I’ve enjoyed my Volvo S90 (Nimrod, for that is its name) for two and half years now, and the occasional thought of change does enter my mind. Why, is difficult to explain, for it never lasts long.
Recently, on a night when slumber evaded me, and having up to now successfully avoided any form of S90 update, I found myself looking more deeply. The results surprised me, not all of it being of the pleasant variety. Continue reading “Staying Up. Not Keeping Up”
Ford’s Euro-pendulum swings, but is there time to Explore?
A number of years ago, Ford’s European marketing department initiated an advertising execution they called ‘Unlearn’, an attempt to nudge customer perception of the blue oval; essentially a variation of the somewhat clichéd ‘Think you understand brand X? Think again’ marketing trope. With Unlearn, Ford wanted us to Continue reading “Tick Tock”
The latest Superb is a very nice thing, but I’m concerned that it lacks the essence of Skoda.
Editor’s note: Back in January 2016, DTW author, S V Robinson expressed his concerns over Skoda’s direction of travel, which is worth revisiting anno-2023, as Mladá Boleslav prepares a new generation Superb.
The other morning I had the pleasure of parking up at Milton Keynes Central Station car park early, and was struck by the profile and form of the two cars between which I had inserted my C6 (I still can’t drive a manual, which is no significant hardship really, but now I’m threatened once again with immobility as the Citroen’s power steering is definitely on the blink – there always seems to be something …) It was still quite dark, with just the dull glimmer of a January dawn to take the edge off the night sky, together with the drizzling amber tones of artificial lighting, and so it took me a moment to Continue reading “The Superb Skoda – A Mixed Blessing”
The early 1970s was a volatile time in Britain. Hopes of lasting prosperity were dissolving amid galloping inflation, socio-political strife, ineffectual government interventions to prop up a stalling economy and a seething dissatisfaction amidst the toiling classes, fed up with being overpromised and repeatedly brought up short.
Throughout the previous decade, car manufacturing plants across the UK had become a hotbed of political foment, and those of the former British Motor Corporation were amongst the most restive – owing to an array of factors which included a myopic and at times, barely competent management and successive government policies, which had the (perhaps unintentional) effect of denying workers a reliable source of income.
The labour factor
Pay was a perennial issue, but so were working conditions, those within many British car plants being not too far evolved from the pre-war era. Neither plant, machinery nor working practices had been modernised, conditions were primitive and given the at best ambivalent attitude of management towards line workers, there was little incentive for them to Continue reading “Running With Scissors [Part Seven]”
Editor’s note: This piece first appeared on DTW in December 2016 as part of the ‘Places’ theme.
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 Continue reading “Places – The Multi-Storey”
And What Is Wrong With Putting the Engine in Front of the Wheels?
Editor’s note: This piece first appeared on DTW in June 2014.
Audi are in danger of becoming the Phil Collins of the petrolhead world, an act that even people who know little about music like to cite as being a bit off. Speaking as someone who can, hand on heart, swear that he has no murky Genesis related skeletons in his youthful musical vinyl rack and hopes he’ll never hear ‘Against All Odds’ on the radio again, I’d judge that Mr Collins is no worse than many, and better than scores.
Changing fashion means that he has just become a lazy symbol for bad comedians and the generally undiscerning to latch on to in order to suggest, quite undeservedly, their musical connoisseurship. Likewise Audi. In bars and on motoring websites everywhere, you will hear the drone of “overrated and overpriced …. style over content …. they’re all designed on a photocopier …. no driver involvement ….. they’ll never really be premier league until they Continue reading “Audi – Always the Pretender?”
Our new office lies in my city’s industrial heartland. Next door makes false limbs. Two doors up they sell oil, and at the end, hand tools are made, or at least stored. The environs are full of engineering workshops of vastly different sizes. The circulating aroma is a heady blend of refuse (the incinerator is close by) and something akin to leaving the iron on too long. But there are glimpses of beauty. The River Don, in all its khaki splendour now attracts fish for both human and feathered creatures to enjoy; witnessing the electric blue flash of a Kingfisher gladdens this author’s heart.
How could such a design exist without my prior knowledge? I almost felt anger, frustration certainly; emotions usually tethered to unassuming teenagers surfaced upon first setting eyes on such a machine. To exist and spin its intricate web so enigmatically, after so many years we can only dream as to what may have been had circumstances played out more beneficially.
At a time when the United States unveiled the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser and Britain, the Riley Pathfinder, the industry as a whole was in the midst of unleashing a plethora of postwar conformity. Alfa Romeo were undisputed Formula One kings but financial matters began to alter their gaze. The Biscione needed to Continue reading “Me L’ero Persa”
Would you agree with me that the building could very well have been built so as to serve as a backdrop for this exact car?
There is little that remains to be said about the Ford LTD Crown Victoria. It’s biggest claim to fame, as I see it, is that it used Ford’s Panther platform which was new in 1981 and soldiered on until Ford was unable to Continue reading “Savannah Postcard (7)”
In a year when the term, permacrisis became embedded in common discourse –both as adjective and state of mind – those who believed the onset of 2022 would herald a return to relative stability and (relative) certainty were in for quite the disappointment. So as we bid farewell to another year, it’s time to cast back over some highlights of the Driven to Write year, one where reading the runes made as little sense as reading the (automotive) news, where forecasters flung their crystal balls aside in exasperation and most of us simply resigned ourselves to Continue reading “2022 Review”
I know what you’re thinking. This is a somewhat tenuous looking festive scene, more of an excuse for a gratuitous Fitz and Van illustration if honest. Still, there is sufficient quantities of the white stuff on display here to provide ample seasonal cover, so if you’re prepared to Continue reading “Season’s Greetings”
Sometimes, ideas for DTW contributions can come out of nowhere. While looking up some comparison data for a totally unrelated (automotive) subject, one of the brochures I consulted was of the 1993 Lincoln Continental. 1993 happens to be the year that I visited the USA for the first time – a car brochure exchange partner that I had been sending parcels back and forth with for years had invited me, and the fact that I was welcome to stay at his place in Indianapolis markedly softened the financial impact of the relatively expensive flight.
Three brochures for the X1/9 illustrate Fiat’s differing marketing approaches.
Editor’s note: This piece was first published on Driven to Write on march 1st, 2017.
Despite having an instantly recognisable house style, FIAT Auto’s 1970s brochures were often rather stark looking affairs. Studio shots, no background and just the facts. For an economy hatchback or suchlike, there was an element amount of logic to this approach, but for what many dubbed a Ferrari in miniature, it risked underselling what was at the time a unique proposition.
Conceived to replace the popular Fiat 850 Sport Spider, the 1972 X1/9 would prove long lived. Claimed figures vary but at least 160,000 were produced over a 17-year lifespan. The story goes that faced with the likelihood of FIAT taking production of the 850 Spider’s replacement in-house, Nuccio Bertone pushed for a mid-engined concept, ensuring that his business would Continue reading “Midship Triptych”
Opening a new coffee jar should be a pleasant experience
September 2022 saw the millionth electric powered vehicle registered in the UK. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), practically a quarter of a million leccies were registered in the same year. Consider that the overall year to date figures includes over 85,000 hybrids of one form or another, along with 91,000 petrol driven machines. Favourite of old, diesel, mustered just over 10,000 sales, a sign of the times when overall sales are expected to encroach on 1.4 million cars for the year.
The UK’s top spot has been a race between the Liverpudlian Vauxhall Corsa and Newcastle’s Qashqai – 29,000 units each with the bronze headed to the blue oval’s Puma, an increasingly popular sight, especially in lime green.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive observed, “September has seen Britain’s millionth electric car reach the road, an important milestone in the shift to zero emission mobility. Battery electric vehicles make up but a small fraction of cars on the road, so we need to ensure every lever is pulled to Continue reading “Fika Off*”
Best get this beast out the room, sharpish. A mere four years ago, Renault’s international plans were expectantly grand. A car was co-developed, launched and expected to sell in large quantities within the French car maker’s then second largest market, Russia. As part of the Renault Drive the Future plan, Arkana was all set to bolster figures in that region alone by some half a million units. Plants in both the capital and at Togliatti geared up for a 2019 Russian release, with the rest of the world to follow soon after.
If the casual reader was to view the previous posts in this series as a barometer of the local vehicle population in this part of Southern Spain, they might be forgiven for believing that people here were trapped in some bizarre thirty-year time warp. In fact, modern machinery by far outweighs the old timers, as one might reasonably expect.
News broke this week that London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is now certain to be extended outwards as far as the London Orbital Motorway (M25) which encircles the outer reaches of the metropolitan area, a decision which will be greeted with some dismay amongst certain (older) car owners amid the UK capital when it comes into force next August. And while most can probably agree in principle that a reduction in airborne pollutants is likely to benefit air quality, it will mean that swathes of perfectly serviceable older vehicles will be taken off the roads – or simply shunted out of London entirely.
Similar strictures would decimate the car pool in this part of the Costa del Sol, given what remains in daily use there, but I would posit that it’s only a matter of time before such matters eventually come to pass. But in the meantime, we at least get to Continue reading “Sketches of Andalucía ”
Twenty-five years after the nameplate made its debut, “just in time for the 21st Century”, and six years since the introduction of its astonishing looking predecessor, Toyota have revealed a new generation of their hybrid trailblazer. Billed as the “Hybrid Reborn” by its maker, the 2023 Toyota Prius is set to Continue reading “Who Shall Go to the Ball and What Shall Go to the Ball?”
The Century nameplate adhered to Buick’s mid-size cars from 1973 to 2005. In this postcard we look at the last two iterations.
Buick is a brand I think of as approximating to a combination of Rover, Lancia and Volvo but with a distinct veneer of the Ghia-character of European Fords. I hope that evokes the idea of the middle-market with comfort-orientated accoutrements. If we Continue reading “Savannah Postcard (2)”
It has been stated with considerably greater authority than mine that the current automotive design centre of gravity no longer resides in Europe, the US, nor indeed (as yet at least), China. Car design’s True North now points inexorably towards South Korea. Several factors have contributed to this enviable state of affairs, not least an influx of senior European design talent to the Hyundai group over recent decades, but the end results are entirely their own and can now Continue reading “Grand Horizons”
In 1910, former US President, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech at the Paris Sorbonne entitled, ‘Citizenship in a Republic’, a rousing panegyric in which he lauded the protagonist, the man in the arena, rather than the spectator or the critic. It was the figure of action who mattered, he posited, the man who dared. In the century since it was given, this oft-cited piece of oratory has resonated and inspired generations.
At the 2016 Pebble Beach auto show, Cadillac displayed Escala, one of a long line of high-end Cadillac concept cars destined to founder upon the jagged rocks of GM’s timorous caution. The Escala was an elegant fastback sedan, one which elicited an element of critical handwringing owing to its hatchback format, a curious style decision given the US car buyer’s long-held distaste for such layouts.
Certainly, Cadillac themselves appeared to acknowledge that they had some convincing to do, and since every concept nowadays must have a catchy PR slogan to underpin it, the one appended to Escala urged one and all to Continue reading “Star Fighter”
The author attempts to explain his violently opposed reactions to the design of the 2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost and 2022 BMW 7 Series.
In a comment appended to a recent piece on DTW, a reader asked me to elaborate on why I thought that the Rolls-Royce Ghost works as a design, whereas the latest BMW 7 Series* simply doesn’t. It is a good question, and one I have been pondering. In what follows, I will attempt to explain my thoughts. As ever, I should begin with the caveat that, while there are well understood principles of good design, I have no formal training in that field. Hence, my observations are simply those of an enthusiastic amateur, no more or less valid than any others, so I am very happy to be challenged on anything that follows.
First published on April 27, 2016, this fine piece by the now-retired DTW co-founder, Sean Patrick formed part of the Japan Theme.
An obvious introduction for an obvious concept. If you want to fit people shaped people into a car, the architecture that allows them the most room to sit in comfort is a box. An empty volume bounded by a series of flat rectangles. In the early days lots of cars were like this, now they are not. A common criticism of car design, used in the UK at least, is that a car is ‘boxy’.
Editor’s note: This piece originally ran as part of DTW’s Benchmarks theme in March 2015.
In these days, it is usually described as a loss of mojo, although I’ve never been certain of what that word actually means. In terms of the launch of the 307, I’d prefer to describe it as a fall from grace. I suppose I could also have picked the transition from 205 to 206 from the same stable, but I think it less obvious and memorable for me. I think I need to Continue reading “Peugeot 306 to 307 = Immediate Loss of Status”
The Sierra came about on account of two intersecting imperatives. Head of Ford’s European operations, Bob Lutz had brought from BMW a sophisticated understanding of the semiotics of automotive desire; his avowed intention being to completely transform Ford’s image, especially in the West German market. This would dovetail with the determination of FoE’s Design VP, Uwe Bahnsen, to Continue reading “I Don’t Think You’re Ready for This Jelly”
We carry out our own Giant Test: Car 1978 versus Car 2020.
‘What’s best’ arguments rage year on year. Be it a question of professional drivers, iterations of nunelfer, or which brand of cigarette used to be advertised, anything displaying sufficient longevity can be channelled into column inches. Today our unyielding gaze is on the rear view mirror that two issues of Car magazine provide.
For the princely sum of ten pence, the January 1978 issue was purchased at a pre-pandemic local village show. Atop a pile in an unkempt cardboard box of what turned out to be the sole vein of automotive lore (the remainder a house/home/cooking combination) the cover of a Lamborghini Countach surrounded by young boys had me reaching for a silver coin. Even the admirably reconditioned H-van selling coffee alongside waited its turn being viewed – two score years car journalism more heady than an espresso served from a vehicle probably as old.
The author bemoans the arbitrary manner in which a complex rulebook and extraneous events determine the outcome of so many Formula 1 races.
I have been a fan of Formula 1 for as long as I can remember. I can recall both the highs and lows of the sport over many years. The former includes Lewis Hamilton’s magnificent first World Championship in 2008 when, driving a McLaren, he took the championship from Filipe Massa by a single point when he overtook Timo Glock on the last corner of the season finale in Brazil to finish fifth. At just 23 years old, he became the youngest ever World Champion in just his second season in the sport.
The author wonders why some automotive designs end up being not as good as they should or could have been.
In the field of automotive design, there is always a degree of tension between the designers and the body engineers charged with making their designs a reality. Many designs, when first revealed as concepts, are loaded with details that might look beautiful, but are difficult or impossible to incorporate into the body engineering for viable and economic series production. That, and the need to comply with the raft of motor vehicle legislation and regulations, is why production cars are often a disappointment, typically described as ‘watered down’ from the concept.
If the designer is unconstrained, then the result is, for example, the bonnet of the Jaguar E-Type. While undoubtedly beautiful, it was a nightmare to fabricate from many separate pieces of steel, laboriously welded together then lead-loaded and smoothed off to Continue reading “Unforced Errors”
A sermon about why car museums are to be avoided if you like old cars.
Originally published on 31st January 2014, the editor has selected to re-issue this piece, partially because it carries a fine profile shot of a Ford Sierra (making it vaguely topical) but primarily because it is an amusing, well crafted article – even if the author’s principle argument is somewhat debatable.
Every car museum I have visited in the last 2.25 decades has been a disappointment. Cars are inherently space-consuming selfish monsters and even when they are caught, killed and pinned to plinths this quality does not diminish. They need plenty of room, alive or dead. Alive, the car needs sufficient space for portly passengers to open the doors and affect egress without having to close the door behind them, at a minimum. And dead, in a museum without sufficient space, the car can’t be assessed properly. You need to stand back, fold your arms (essential) and try to Continue reading “Not For Sale: Car Museums”
Our man in Sheffield innocently goes on holiday, gets Saabed for his trouble.
Holidays: Billed as the great getaway from it all, but even with the nine to five out the window, nerves can still get frazzled, just in different ways. Extra traffic and roadworks, snaking ice cream and café queues, soaring blood pressure under a relentlessly torrid sun, along with phrases I have no wish to hear – staycation being the current one to infuriate. Add to this, the plethora of grey utilities which, no matter how remotely one wanders, seem to permeate every car park, blocking the high streets.
In July 2012, the London Olympic Games was officially opened with a spectacular opening ceremony created by a team under the curatorship of film director, Danny Boyle; a skilful weaving of a complex historical tale, combining creation myth, popular culture and a few pointed semi-political thrusts, not to mention no small measure of beauty, humour and outright whimsy to craft a compelling vision of a modern, pluralist Britain at peace with itself and its often troubled past.
At the time, there probably was not a more quintessentially British automobile extant than the Range Rover, with its unique blend of the time-honoured and the contemporary; with roots both of the land yet above it, despite more latterly forging a identity as a distinctly urban-centric creature. These qualities, while present from the outset, were both underlined and vulcanised by the 2002 L322 iteration, a car which despite its Anglo-German bloodline, maintained an insouciance, which successfully tempered its studied formality and ever-increasing mass. But by 2012, its successor was ready, and at that Autumn’s Paris motor show, an all new Range Rover made its world debut.
Love it or loathe it, but the generational reinvention of the Range Rover remains not only a genuinely noteworthy automotive event, but from a purely creative and engineering perspective at least, one of the industry’s tougher gigs. Few cars have such a broad remit, carry such a hefty weight of historical baggage or are required to Continue reading “Isles of Wonder”
Twenty years on, DTW recalls the shock factor of the mundanely named but highly distinctive Renault Mégane II.
I have had in mind to write something about the Mégane II for a while now, but other distractions have prevented me from doing so. Then, in starting to do some research on the subject, I came across ‘The Surge’ series on Christopher Butt’s irresistible ‘Design Field Trip’. As a result, I nearly didn’t bother writing this piece, because Christopher and Patrick le Quément (no less!) have put together the definitive articles on the boldest C-segment hatchback design since the Golf. However, I decided to carry on so that, if nothing else, this piece can act as a signpost to that series of articles.
In a world already awash with noise, the fabled prancing horse of Maranello has seemingly been directly connected to a mains-wired megaphone, a matter which you may or may not believe went practically unnoticed to these ears (and eyes) until fairly recently. But to make up for this deficiency, it has reached my attention that the Ferrari online store has lately been selling £600 Ferrari-branded trainers guilefully entitled Rosso Lamina Liquida, which we are reliably informed come “with a bold look that echoes the appearance of the Ferrari bodywork“. Marvellous.