1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL roadtest

“The middle frontier ahead!” Archie Vicar, the well-known motoring scribe, has a closer look at the 1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL. This may be a verbatim transcript of an article which first appeared in Laker Airways in-flight magazine, July 1981.

1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL: Autocar July, 1981.

[The original photos were by Cosimo Villiers-Montreux. Due to the poor quality of the printed source, stock images have been used]

As sure as mustard, the market is happy to keep on buying front-engine, rear-drive cars in the middle range. With its assured sense of the market’s whims – and they are whimsical, ask Citroen! – Ford has made sure that the fifth in the Cortina series is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive car. It would seem that no matter how willing makers are to Continue reading “1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL roadtest”

Theme: Simca – The Road To Success!

In what very much resembles a transcript of a period road test, the celebrated motoring scribe, Archie Vicar, takes a critical gander at Simca’s 1967 rear-engined saloon. Has it been improved since 1966?

1967 Simca 1000 GLS: source

[This article first could have appeared in the Carlisle Evening Reporter, 16 March 1967. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the images, stock photos have been used.]

It’s all change at Simca which for good reason is one of France’s most successful manufacturers of motor cars. In these increasingly competitive times, every car producer must ceaselessly revise, update and otherwise improve their products and Simca have made some changes to their evergreen 1000 saloon so as to keep it in the race for customers which means that in order to appraise the new version, I have subjected it to a road test and present now my findings that readers may Continue reading “Theme: Simca – The Road To Success!”

Theme: Simca – 1966 1000 LS road test

This appears to be a transcript of a review of the 1966 Simca 1000 LS by the well-known motoring author and journalist, Archie Vicar.

1966 Simca 1000: source
1966 Simca 1000: source

[The item appeared in the morning edition of the Minehead Bugle on July 9, 1966. Due to the poor quality of the original images stock photos have been used. Original photos by Ernest Pallace.]

In these increasingly competitive times, it pays for a manufacturer to stay ahead of the game, far ahead. Several marques have established themselves at the forefront of engineering with their recent deployment of rear-engined technology. Of course there is the long-established Volkswagen Beetle and the not dissimilar Porsche 911, both with handling that will challenge Continue reading “Theme: Simca – 1966 1000 LS road test”

Theme – Simca: 1965 1000 GLS Short Road Test

This may very well be a transcription of a short review of the Simca 1000 GLS by Archie Vicar, the renowned motoring scribe.

1965 SImca 1000: source
1965 Simca 1000: source

[The article first appeared in the Isle of Man Herald, October 4, 1966. Due to the poor quality of the images stock photos have been used.]

For those who admire Gallic motoring, there is nothing as French as a Simca. Now, there are some who view French cars as being unreliable but Simca’s 1000 has been on the market for five years and many of its demerits, problems and deleterious characteristics have been tackled with the vigour and vim of a rugby scrum-half.

For 1965 the 1000 has been revised and adds even more weight Continue reading “Theme – Simca: 1965 1000 GLS Short Road Test”

Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week : July 28 1972

This item is from legendary motoring scribe Archie Vicar’s motoring diary for the Chester Mail, July 1972. 

1972 Fiat 128 Rally: source
1972 Fiat 128 Rally: netcarshow.com

Time stops for no man but Fiats can stop for everyone, at any time. While out on test with the revised Fiat 128 I found myself stuck by the side of the road near the Swan at Tarporley: failed brakes. The wretched car juddered to a halt with engine braking just as the lunch menu reached its final dregs. Only the rabbit brawn remained (foul) and I followed that with some Cheshire pudding and followed that by coaxing the stricken car back to life. Luckily I had some Bleedmaster which is made by Holts. Using it one can bleed a brake or clutch system single-handed. The kit included the brake bleeder and a tin of Castrol Girling brake fluid. The whole job took under three hours meaning I had a chance to Continue reading “Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week : July 28 1972”

1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest

Veteran motoring correspondent Archie Vicar offers his driving impressions of the 1971 De Tomaso Deauville.

1971 De Tomaso Deauville: source
1971 De Tomaso Deauville: source

[This may be a transcription of an article that first appeared in the Hartlepool Afternoon Post].

Consider luxury cars from Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin and one must undeniably concede they suggest a degree of similarity which borders on the insipid. Manufacturers are being forced by the nanny state and ever-more-cautious customers to present cars which differ from each other in only the smallest ways. So, in these increasingly competitive times, originality is even more important (and rarer!) than ever before. Luckily, the De Tomaso Deauville has it in large quantities and the car is on sale now to the lucky few. Continue reading “1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest”

1969 Bristol 411 roadtest

In what seems to be a transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring correspondent Archie Vicar reports on the ‘all-new’ Bristol 411.

1969 Bristol 411: source
1969 Bristol 411: source

[This article could well have first appeared in the Sheffield Sunday Post, 25th Jan 1970. Due to the poor quality of the original images  (by Douglas Land-Windermere), stock photos have been used.]

It’s all change at Bristol. The fast-moving Filton manufacturer has responded to the challenges of the times with a veritable flotilla of improvements to their latest car, the 411.

Bristol has many unique attributes to help it stay ahead of the competition in these increasingly competitive times. First among them is the remarkably high level of quality on which they insist: the cars are hand-made by craftsman steeped in aviation engineering and versed in production methods that go back decades. While Rolls-Royce and indeed Bentley have switched to monococque construction – making them little more than Cortinas with wood and walnut, some say – Bristol have retained their separate chassis with hand-beaten aluminium panels. Continue reading “1969 Bristol 411 roadtest”

1975 Lamborghini Urraco 3.0 Road Test

Legendary motor-writer Archie Vicar considers the merits of Lamborghini’s thirsty, unreliable and evil-handling Urraco. 

1974 Lamborghin Urraco: source
1974 Lamborghini Urraco: source

(The article, “Second thoughts, same as the first”  appeared originally in Scarborough Morning Bugle-Advertiser in June 1975. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the images, stock photo have been used.)

The A64 is my road to Damascus regarding the Urraco and indeed everything made by Lamborghini. The rain poured in sheets from the high heavens and as I stood at the window of the Old Telephone Box pub in Scagglethorpe (excellent beef and Yorkshire pudding) I noticed a lake of water accumulating inside the Urraco which was parked outside, with the A64 beyond. Actually, I say “road to Damascus” but that implies that there was a point when I held other opinions about the tractor-maker’s marque. In truth, my prejudices were confirmed on the A64.

Continue reading “1975 Lamborghini Urraco 3.0 Road Test”

Road Test: 1972 Daf 66

This is what looks like another transcript from the archives of influential motoring writer, Archie Vicar. In this item he welcomes the new DAF 66, an article entitled originally “Everyone´s favourite Dutch marque”.

1972 Daf 66; source
1972 Daf 66, a challenge to Volvo, Ford and Autobianchi?: source

>[The article first appeared in the Ryton-on-Dunsmore Evening Echo, July 1972. Photographs by Edward Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the photos stock images have been used.]

The Daf 66 is here, at long last. As Dutch as a daffodil soaked in Bols, the Daf 66 carries on the traditions of car building for which the people of Holland have been quite well-known since 1959. Simply put, the Daf 66 is a 55 with a new suspension layout, one which opens the possibilities of more powerful models. Continue reading “Road Test: 1972 Daf 66”

1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Road Test

The legendary motor journalist takes Petula at her word.

1977 Chrysler Sunbeam: source
1977 Chrysler Sunbeam: source

Due to the poor quality of the original photos, archive images have been used. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere.

“The Rootes factory in Linwood is thrumming with activity. With the magnificent Imp a recent memory, and the stalwart Avenger in volume production, the factory now has a new task: Sunbeams, the building thereof”, wrote Archie Vicar in this review for the East Scotland Motoring Week in November, 1977.

The Sunbeam is a logical progression from the Imp. It’s a bit bigger, more refined and more spacious and it also offers the advantages of rear wheel drive but with the engine in the front. While other makers are caving in to demands of the bean-counters, Chrysler are staying true to rear-wheel drive with their new entrant to the small car market. Let’s take a short look at the fascinating history of the car before the usual test-drive. Continue reading “1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Road Test”

1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 roadtest

This brief article, written for the short-lived “Sports Driver & Road Monthly”, is what looks like a transcription of Archie Vicar’s impressions of the 1977-and-a-half Chevrolet Camaro Z-28.

1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: source
1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28: wikipedia.org

During the late 1970s the motoring correspondent Archie Vicar was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He would fly from Heathrow to New York on Concorde, do a test drive and fly back to his next assignment in the Midlands, six times a month.
Photos by Karl Olsensen
[Due the poor quality of the images stock photos have been used].

What is this then? A sporty Camaro? It sounds like a contradiction in terms but somehow Chevrolet have decided to have a go at making a Camaro that can negotiate bends in the road. It still looks brash and crudely assembled in the American style. There is nothing here to scare even the most careless assembly-line workers at British Leyland. The nose cone evidently comes from a different car and the rear bumper is made of a plastic as convincing as an amputee’s orthosis. Is it a kind of American XJ-S? Continue reading “1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 roadtest”

1975 Hillman Hunter Super roadtest

Impossibly good value sums up the Hillman Hunter series of saloons and estates. The general car body has been around since 1966 and Rootes are still managing new ways to improve on its formula. Here are some of my impressions about this old stager.

In July 1975 Archie Vicar contributed a review of the Hillman Hunter to the Brecon Beacons Herald Advertiser. Here is what he wrote. 

1975 hillman 1975 hunter_saloon

Impossibly good value sums up the Hillman Hunter series of saloons and estates. The general car body has been around since 1966 and Rootes are still managing new ways to improve on its formula. Here are some of my impressions about this old stager.

Technically, the Hunter is nothing to write home about. There are two engines, a 1500 and a five-bearing 1725 unit which is familiar to anyone who has ever driven a Sunbeam Rapier, for example. As a result of this policy of using established components and putting them in a simple-to-make body, the prices are very attractive. How does £1,750 strike you? To Continue reading “1975 Hillman Hunter Super roadtest”

Spyshots 1978: how the new Mini emerged into daylight

“New Leyland small car spied”, writes Archie Vicar, in the 1978 edition of Contemporary Driving News Magazine. This transcript of what appears to be a commentary on the much-discussed new “Mini” shows Archie Vicar´s analytical journalism at its best. Photography by Jack Donning.

1978 LC8 spyshot
1978 LC8 spyshot

Spy photographers have caught the replacement for the much-loved but geriatric, cramped and unreliable Mini on test. The planned car is an advance on the very modern ADO88 design which the engineers at Leyland have been working on since the early 70s. The wheelbase is now longer than ADO88 in response to developments in the market since the project´s inception just after the second World War.

The promised car will be bigger than similar “superminis” such as the Volkswagen Polo and Renault 5 but will also be large inside to compensate. Sources are divided on the strategy taken with the car. Some say that much of the Mini´s renowned engineering will be carried over but improved. This means the same Hydragas suspension and pronounced gear-box whine.

Others say the new car features McPherson struts up front with torsion bars at the rear. There is a possibility of a return to Continue reading “Spyshots 1978: how the new Mini emerged into daylight”

1978 Colt 1400 road test

Renowned motoring writer Archie Vicar considers the 1978 Colt 1400. In this transcript from The Driver´s Periodical (November 1978) he reflects on what he felt was one of the year´s most significant new cars.

1978 Colt 1400: eBay.co.uk
1978 Colt 1400: eBay.co.uk

What is it that makes the Colt 1400 such a very interesting car? At first glance it would appear to be a rather inoffensively characterless family “hatchback” out of the same mould as the Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo, merely offering another variation of noise and discomfort. The interior is available in an admittedly pleasant tan colour but the Colt 1400 makes no efforts at sporting appeal. The shapes are devoid of much decoration and could almost Continue reading “1978 Colt 1400 road test”

1977 Fiat 127 review

Among the many publications to which Archie Vicar contributed was the Woman´s Monthly Report (WMR), published in Tewkesbury. This text (below) is is what appears to be a transcript of his views on the updated Fiat 127, an item notable for its distinct refusal to patronise the audience, published in the WMR in October 1977.

1977 Fiat 127: mnogoavtomobilej.narod.ru
1977 Fiat 127: mnogoavtomobilej.narod.ru

The Fiat 127 has come to define the category of car it created, the “supermini” . Six years on from its launch a quarter of all “superminis” are 127s. The appeal of the car is in its handy size and competitive price if not its boxy appearance and careless assembly. Since 1971, Renault, Volkswagen and Peugeot have fielded entrants in the class. It´s time for Fiat to respond.

To stay competitive, Fiat have updated and improved various aspects of the 127 which, while being small and cheap, is also noisy, cramped and slow. Fiat showcased their new car in a lavish event set in the north of Italy and I noted how much the car has been improved.

After a dismal Fiat breakfast of coffee and cheese, I set off on a sprint along the  Turin-Allessandria autostrada and turned north to Continue reading “1977 Fiat 127 review”

Archive: “More T-Junctions, Vicar?”

DTW presents another look back at the archives of motoring writer Archie Vicar. This item appears to be a transcript from “Motorists and Motorism”, August 1975.

1975 Simca 1301: best car of Vicar´s week.
1975 Simca 1301: best car of Vicar´s week.

What a week and indeed what a summer it has been so far. In May I had a chance to sample Michelin´s tyres at a special “closed track” day at Silverstone. A Mercedes 240D and a Peugeot 504 LD served as test-beds for Michelin´s new all-weather radial tyres. Peugeot have thought to bring these diesel cars over as they have had enough experience selling them on the continent. Also, seems as if they don´t want to lose ground to Mercedes. Both cars are on an equal footing – astonishingly quiet for derv burners. Of course, the Peugeot is Continue reading “Archive: “More T-Junctions, Vicar?””

1980 Rover V8-S Roadtest

“Roverpowering!” Archie Vicar describes his impressions of the new Rover V8-S. The text is a what appears to be transcript of an article that appeared in Today´s Motoring Magazine, July 1980 (pages 45-46). The original photos were by Nigel Rollister-Hyde. Due to reproduction problems, archive photos have been used.

1980 Rover V8-S in Triton Green
1980 Rover V8-S in Triton Green

That the Rover 3500 is a remarkable car goes without saying. Since its launch in 1976 it has won a firm following and has set a new benchmark in the large hatchback class. But the 1976 car was far from perfect, some say. It lacked a height-tilt adjustment for the driver´s seat cushion and a rear screen wiper, for example. Furthermore, the rear seats were set far too low and the passenger´s vent seldom functioned reliably. The steering wheel also obscured the minor instruments too and the lights’ master switch was hard to see. But there were compensations such as Continue reading “1980 Rover V8-S Roadtest”

1963 Hillman Imp Road test

“A new car from Rootes”. Mr Archibald Vicar motors north of the border in the Hillman “Imp.” From “The Practical Car Driver” (Dec 1963), we present what looks like a transcript of a road test of Rootes´ legendary rear-engined Mini-slayer, the Imp.1963 Hillman Imp colour

Original drawings by Miss Caroline Dallington. (Due to the poor quality of the images, stock photographs have been used.)

One always relishes visiting North Britain. The North British, from Glasgow to Edinburgh and from Banff to Braeval, are far and away the most entertaining subjects in this Sceptered Isle. To their repertoire of skills which include brewing, distilling and the making of beer they have added another: building motor cars. Thus The Practical Car Driver has dispatched me to Linwood, to collect one of the first Imps off the production line in order to inspect it over the course of a “test-drive.”

Continue reading “1963 Hillman Imp Road test”

1976 Simca 1307, Chrysler 150 and Talbot 1510 review

“Vive La Difference!” Archie Vicar compares some new products in the family sector, the Simca 1307, the Chrysler 150 and the Talbot 1510.

[It has been drawn to our attention that significant parts of this article are factually incorrect.]

1976 Simca 1307
1976 Simca 1307

From The Motoring Weekly Gazette, October 1976.

Photography by Terry Loftholdingswood.


All of a sudden there are three entirely new cars fresh on the market to rival the Ford Cortina, the Vauxhall Cavalier and the ancient Renault16. From England comes the Talbot 1510: good day, sir! From France, we say bonjour to the Simca 1307. And we say “howdy” to the Chrysler 150 from the Americans. There would appear to be something for everyone´s taste here, I say.

What is the modern family motorist looking for in today´s new contemporary modern car? These three cars are all trying to answer that very question and they prove that, if you want a reliable, sturdy and comfortable car, you don´t automatically have to go to your Ford, BMC or Vauxhall dealership. Continue reading “1976 Simca 1307, Chrysler 150 and Talbot 1510 review”

1965 Renault 16 review

“Hatchback of Notre Dame” In this transcript the respected motor-tester Mr Archie Vicar dons his beret to try the new Renault “Sixteen”.

1965 Renault 16: it has five doors.
1965 Renault 16: it has five doors.

From Driving Illustrated May 1965.

Photos by Mr Douglas Land-Windermere

Olive oil and garlic in the kitchen, filterless Gitanes in his pocket and a pair of slip-on shoes. We all know the fellow. He likes his “chicken chasseur” and, in the late evening, Jacque Brel croons on his stereophonic record player. Coffee for him, never good old tea. Heaven forbid if the coffee is powdered. Not for this chap a splendid Humber, a stout Riley or even a fine Rover. Such motor cars are not sufficiently sophisticated, too British. Since 1955 the only car for Monsiuer Different has been a Citroen, usually the DS, fitted with its dreadfully overwrought hydropneumatic suspension, fibreglass roof and marshmallow chairs. Continue reading “1965 Renault 16 review”

1968 Saab 99: review

“The new Saab 99 tested”. In this transcript from “Mass Motorist” (Dec. 1968) Archie Vicar samples what is now viewed as one of the top-ten great Saabs. Is it more than the anti-Volvo? 

[Thanks to all Saab forum members for dropping by Nov 9th and 10th]


Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere


When people think of Sweden and Swedish cars, they often think of Volvo who make sturdy machines capable of withstanding the horrors of the Scandinavian climate. But it´s worth remembering that Sweden has a second car maker, Saab, who also make fighter jets. Like our friends at Bristol, Saab use the experience they have gained in aerospace to inform the design of their cars. This rare combination of aerospace expertise and the tradition of Swedish quality means that Continue reading “1968 Saab 99: review”

1966 BMW 1602: review

“BM-double-who?” In this transcription from a 1966 article, Archibald Vicar takes a close look at a questionable product from a struggling motor manufacturer from Bavaria. Can the 1602 really compete, asks a sceptical Vicar.


From “The Modern Motorist” (June 1966)
Photographic Plates by Chester of Shipton-On-Stour, M. Phil (Oxon)

When Bayerische Motoren Werke invited us to a test drive near Munich we didn´t know what to expect. This obscure firm is still better known for their bubble cars than for ordinary family vehicles. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Bayerische Motoren Werke or BMW had a reputation for making fine motor cars before the second world war. Since then they have mostly made do with the manufacturing of Isettas under license. Continue reading “1966 BMW 1602: review”

1965 Porsche 911: review

Air-cooled Tomfoolery: Archibald Vicar on the new Porsche Nine-Hundred And Eleven

1964 Porsche 911
1964 Porsche 911

Photographs by Douglas Land-Windermere, Esq

From “Advanced Motorism” (October, 1964)

The “Volk” who make Porsche sportscars (a firm called Porsche, oddly) invited “Advanced Motorism” to drive their new machine, the Nine-Hundred-and-Eleven. I hadn´t been abroad for a while so I accepted forthwith, chiefly so I could stock up on duty-free Craven “A” cigarettes and a few bottles of Teachers.

Curiously Porsche sent along two airline tickets for a Lufthansa flight to Cologne. We inquired as to why they did not offer us tickets to Stuttgart since that is considerably nearer to where Porsche make their Porsches. The answer was that we would collect a test car from a dealer in Cologne. It would appear that going about things the wrong way is Continue reading “1965 Porsche 911: review”

1976 Volkswagen “Golf”: review

“Fore!” In this transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring writer Archie Vicar casts a critical eye over the new “Golf”, successor to the much-loved Beetle. Can it possibly succeed in a crowded and increasingly competitive market?

*thanks to those of you stopping by Nov 11-12, 2014*

1976 VW "Golf"
1976 VW “Golf”

Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere.

From “The London Illustrated News” February, 1976.

No matter how severely Jack Frost bites, a Volkswagen Beetle always starts. Even a royal Rolls-Royce can succumb to the effects of freezing whereas the humble Beetle´s ingenious design is cooled by air, making the engine as tough as old nails and as reliable as the Queen´s Grenadier Guards. I am reminding you, readers, of this as an introduction to a new car from Volkswagen.

The name Volkswagen has chosen for this new car might sound good auf Deutsch (“in German”) but to my seasoned ears, calling a car “Golf” puts one in mind of Continue reading “1976 Volkswagen “Golf”: review”

1977 Cadillac Fleetwood: review

Short trips: we reprint Archie Vicar on Cadillac´s new for ´77 Fleetwood Brougham which was briefly offered in Europe.

1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham

Photos by Gary Purvis

From “Driving Weekly Magazine” Nov 1977.

Drivers interested in something a little different might like to think about Cadillac´s new Fleetwood Brougham. Thanks to the fuel crisis (merely four years ago) Cadillac have taken the cleaver to their leviathans. They have shrunk their enormous aircraft carrier down to the size of a mere naval destroyer. The car is now 750 lbs lighter which is nearly half the weight of Volkswagen´s horrid little Golf. Smaller doesn´t mean Continue reading “1977 Cadillac Fleetwood: review”

Driving the Future: 1974 Citroen CX 2200 Super road test

To continue our celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Citroen CX we present what resembles a period review of the car by Archie Vicar. Find out what the great man thought of the car on a test drive from Paris to the West German border with East Germany in 1974.

1974 Citroen CX 2200 Super
1974 Citroen CX 2200 Super

 Driving the future

From “The Driving and Motoring Month”, September,  1974

Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere

Indicative of the Citroen CX´s innovative character, the oil level can be checked inside the car thanks to a pneumatic indicator on the remarkably novel dashboard. The CX resembles a futuristic show car but is in fact on sale soon. The body shell joins to the underframe by means of 16 flexible rubber mountings. The steering strongly self-centres so that one only has to apply force when changing direction. The list of exceedingly interesting advances could fill this whole article but these, I earnestly hope, show readers Continue reading “Driving the Future: 1974 Citroen CX 2200 Super road test”

1967 Datsun 2000 de luxe: review

The 1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe (also known as the Datsun Cedric) is one of Japan´s unsung landmarks. In this item, we have something resembling a transcript of a 1967 review by Archie Vicar. He finds much that is agreeable in the saloon.

1967 Datsun 2000 side

“Building on a new tradition!”
By Archibald Vicar
Photographs by Wentworth Henry
(From “Today´s Driver”, November 1967)

Rumours abound from the Midlands, such as rumours are, that Jaguar is considering replacements for the venerable, nay, antediluvian 240, 340 (née Mark 2), S-type, 420 (née S-type) and 420G (née Mark X) with a range of motor vehicles which will essentially depend on one single body. Our sources in Coventry hint that among the pressing reasons for this change is that nobody at Brown´s Lane understands which car is which or the purpose for which any of them are intended. And that´s letting alone the matter of the by-now antique elements of which these stalwarts are mostly composed. In any case, Jaguar Ltd is now under the firm tutelage of BMC who will be shaking up Jaguar´s life of gin and tonics and setting the troubled firm on a new course to success.

Following from this is that we can expect that Continue reading “1967 Datsun 2000 de luxe: review”

1974 Citroen CX review: from the Archie Vicar archives

The Citroen CX is 40 years old this year. To celebrate this milestone in European car design, we present what looks like one of the very first reviews printed in the English language. The author is Archie Vicar who at the time was contributing motoring editor of the Worcester Morning Gazette (Sept. 23rd 1974).

1974 Citroen CX front view blue


After a very long time in production, the DS has been (thankfully!) discontinued by its maker, Citroen.  Whilst there were some good points in favour of the DS, there were too many oddities. Some of these have been ironed out so the new car will be more palatable to a wider range of customers. The incoming CX will be a more welcome car for motorists who want to drive something other than a Granada or Victor but without suffering the cost and inconvenience that the over-complex DS served up, drenched in garlic. Continue reading “1974 Citroen CX review: from the Archie Vicar archives”

1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur Review

“Bentley makes its mark”: a transcript of a 1959 review by Archie Vicar

1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur
1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

Photographs by Marmaduke Orpington (due to the poor quality of the original photos, stock images have been used),

from “Motorist´s Compendium and Driver´s Almanack”, Dec. 1959.

Bentley seem to be finding their feet again after a spell in the shadows of their owner Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Today we test drive evidence of this resurgence, the Continental Flying Spur. Continue reading “1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur Review”

1981 Lancia Trevi Review

Even Beta: Lancia´s thrilling new Trevi

1980 Lancia Trevi 1Track & Motoring, July 1981

Archie Vicar takes a look at an exciting new sporting luxury saloon from Italy´s respected Lancia marque. Photos by Greg Orford.


Without any doubt Lancia´s engineers have been scratching their heads since 1972, trying to think of a way to top the terrific Beta. Despite its front-drive handicap and an engine donated by Fiat, it really is a cracking car, with much to commend it. So how do they go better than the very best? Simple, they don´t. The Beta Trevi has a different interior and new body panels. But the underpinnings of the Beta are all still there and, some say, thank goodness for that. The Beta Trevi was shown in Geneva about a year ago but it´s only now available in the United Kingdom. We tested a 2 litre model to find out Lancia´s formula for building on their achievements of the 70s and taking them into the ‘eighties.

Continue reading “1981 Lancia Trevi Review”

1979 Peugeot 505 Review 1

Here are two items about Peugeot´s famous saloon, the much-loved 505. It is viewed as an icon today and has a strong classic following. If you see an older Peugeot on the road today, chances are it´s a 505 in immaculate condition. These two articles show how the motoring press received the car. The first is from The Monthly Car Review (February 1979).

1979 Peugeot 505 front white


Archie Vicar takes a closer look at the latest offering from Peugeot (the 505).

Photos by Parker Pettiswode

The test drive took place (as of going to press) some fifteen weeks ago. Since then I have found myself polishing shoes and trying to think of an opening paragraph. I shared Boxing day luncheon with my nephew who wanted some advice. I spent most of the meal wondering how I would describe the car (the 505) instead of offering sound counsel. With a quiet pipe of Old Latakia and a few pints at the Bishop´s Head pub in Great Malvern (eight weeks ago) I wondered if it would be permitted simply not to review the car at all. It will sell itself without me. But Peugeot laid on a fairly pleasant jolly for us in Paris. And my editor has a six pages to fill so I began feeling terribly obliged to type a little bit. That was the state of my mind four weeks past. There the matter lay until my editor called (mid January), threatening to cancel the expenses claimed for travelling to the Peugeot´s launch. Continue reading “1979 Peugeot 505 Review 1”

1979 Peugeot 505 Review 2

Point Counterpoint

1979 Peugeot 505 brochure

Archie Vicar muses on the meaning of Peugeot´s exciting new saloon, the 505.

“Drivers & Motorists Monthly” (February 1979).

Photo by Crispin Darling

The keenly contested large car sector is very profitable. 2.46 million large cars were bought in Europe in 1976. Manufacturers pick different weapons with which to capture these customers. Ford uses keen pricing and generous specifications to help the set-square Granada find its customers (300,000 a year!). Vauxhall tries to offer reassuring safe handling and predictability. Citroen insist wild-eyed technology and futuristic styling will be the way forward for the CX. Renault offer us mystery and confusion in the form of the ancient 16 or the purposeless 30. Rover suggest brash Brummie modernism with their rakish 2000 and 2600.

Into this hard-fought fray drives the new 505 from the Lion Marque. What is its unique atttraction? It´s a bit early to say.

Continue reading “1979 Peugeot 505 Review 2”

1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review

 Encore Again! 

1976 Citroen CX Prestige Profile “Driver & Motorist”, July 1976

Archie Vicar tests Citroen´s long-wheelbase CX Prestige. Photographs by Dick Trevithick.

Despite producing some technically intriguing cars such as the GS, Citroen´s finances are not in the best condition. And despite this, Citroen devoted more of their precious francs to developing the CX yet further, with this long wheel base limousine, the Prestige. At least this proves that Peugeot are not going to interfere too much in Citroen´s engineering activities.

We don´t have space here to recapitulate the many interesting features which the CX demonstrates. Suffice to say that luxuriant ride is courtesy of Citroen´s famous “hydropneumatic” suspension. This system also operates the super-direct steering which is quite unlike anything offered on comparably-priced British cars such as Triumph, Rover or Jaguar. Progress being what it is, we can expect the CX to set the standard for steering in future. Does such progress also imply that by 2005 cars will have virtually instant steering? This we can only hope but the auguries are good in this respect, if this CX and Alfa Romeo´s nimble Sud are any gauge.

Continue reading “1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review”

1976 Ferrari 400 Review

Prancing horse or lame nags? Archie Vicar samples Ferrari´s 4-seater oddity, the 400.

Is this the shape of things to come, asks Archie Vicar?
Is this the shape of things to come, asks Archie Vicar?

(From Motor Enthusiast, October 1976.) Photos by Edward Blayliss

 It´s quite peculiar to review a car that already exists. As the only motoring writer in Britain who has been permitted to officially test drive Bristol´s new four-seater, the 603, I can reveal Ferrari´s 400 is the same car but worse.

 Far be it for me to criticise the long, hard lunches put in by Mr Ferrari’s assistants but the 400 is a rather poor show. And Bristol´s car, despite its slightly brash Chrysler lump, trumps the 400 in every major respect. Let us consider the ash receptacles. Bristol places theirs near the steering wheel while Ferrari Continue reading “1976 Ferrari 400 Review”

1975 Triumph Dolomite Review

Archie Vicar tests three sporting saloons: Triumph´s Dolomite, Lancia´s Fulvia and Alfa Romeo´s evergreen Giulia

1975 Triumph Dolomite
(from the Driving & Motoring Weekly Guide, 1975)
Photos by Nigel de la Warr

Small sporting saloons are becoming an important if quite tiny part of the market place. Naturally, the large family car will always remain the most popular choice for the suburban motorist and business-man on the move. But, for the fellow who likes energetic driving and who also needs to chauffeur his wife and children about from time to time, there are three cars offering an alternative to the much loved Continue reading “1975 Triumph Dolomite Review”

1974 Volvo 244: review

“No mashed Swedes!” Archie Vicar on the new Volvo 244 saloon.

1974 Volvo 244 saloon
1974 Volvo 244 saloon

Photos by Ian Cambridgeshire

(Automotorist, September, 1974, pages 23-29).

The Swedish like eating tinned rotten fish. It´s an acquired taste, I am told by those with experience in such things. One is advised to open the tin can under water so as to contain the noxious aromas that would otherwise emanate. And one is also advised to drink plenty of schnapps to kill the taste. That´s really the only part of the whole palaver I can really see my way to agreeing with. I mention all of this by way of an introduction to Sweden´s other acquired taste, their Volvos. And they have a new one on the way, the 244. It´s in the spirit of fellowship between our two great nations that I use the word “new,” of course. The 244 is, in fact, a very slightly rounder version of the venerable 144, a car that has appealed to sandal-wearing feminists and bearded communists ever since King Edward the Fifth reigned over this Sceptred Isle. It comes in six versions, all of them the same: DL, LD, D, L and GL. That´s Swedish socialism for you! Continue reading “1974 Volvo 244: review”

1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta review

Alfa Resurgent! 

1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta
1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Archie Vicar takes a look at the new executive car from Alfa Romeo, the Alfetta 1.8

Photos by Reggie Parnassus-Greeb

(Cars and Vehicle Magazine, May 1973)

For too long Alfas have been a car for the heart, but can they build one for the head too? The answer could now be “si.” For those of us fond of the Italian maker Alfa Romeo, there are clear signs that there really is a resurgence afoot. “The Alfetta is a new chapter in Alfa Romeo´s history,” said Angelo Scoria, chief of Public Relations, in a press release. “The Alfetta is full of new engineering thinking and will be a more modern car, one built to a high standard too. It will be a future classic, we believe.” So, reasons to be optimistic. For a very long time Alfa has indeed been guilty of making cars that have been a bit more fragile than was acceptable in today´s increasingly competitive market. Continue reading “1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta review”

1970 Ford Cortina Review

1970 Ford Cortina GXL page

From “Driving & Leisure” April 1970: Cortina, Maxi and Victor group test.

By Archie Vicar. Photography by C. Wadsway

When Harold MacMillan declared a few years ago that “you have never had it so good,” he wasn’t thinking of motor cars but perhaps he could have been so doing. Mr and Mrs Average now enjoy the comforts of cosy semi-detached homes away from the bustle of the city and all around England´s towns and villages, the large new supercentres and shopping markets that are sprouting up are a clear sign of the advances being made by business and enterprise. The old is being swept away. It seems that things can only get better and better so our expectations are high. Following this trend of the greater conveniences now available to the ordinary working class man as well as to professional chaps, our cars are now also better than ever before, with hitherto unimaginable features fitted as standard to the present crop of family vehicles. Who amongst us could have conceived that a radio would be a normal accessory in a car? Who would have imagined reclining bucket seats would be available other than in exotic sports cars costing thousands of pounds? Wind-down windows? It is a brave new world and promises only more improvements to come!

Continue reading “1970 Ford Cortina Review”

1969 Austin Maxi: road test

Something old, something new!

[Bienvenue a Driventowrite! Nous souhaitons une tres agreeable visite. Nous avons autre articles sur Citroen, Peugeot et Renault. Merci! Sept. 22, 2015.]

1969 Austin Maxi
1969 Austin Maxi

 Archibald Vicar, Dip. Eng., tries the latest sensation from BMC, the Austin “Maxi.”

Photography by Patrick Lamperay. Due to the poor quality of the original source, stock photos have been used.

(From “Today´s Driver” February 1969.)

There it was, an Austin Maxi, Leyland´s latest motor car. And we were in Dublin, Eire, to test it. It was eight o´clock in the morning and photographer, Lamperey, and I were at British Leyland´s small factory in the middle of what was once the Empire´s second city. While I ought to have been taking in the generalities of the Maxi´s technicalities I was more congnisant of my rather delicate physical state, that of a rotten hangover. Said hangover was largely as a result of my failed attempt to anaesthetise myself during the festival of mal de mer that was the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. The duty-free Guinness was at least remarkably cheap so the experience was merely disagreeable and not costly. I was also able to acquire my full alotment of Sweet Aftons and the tame photographer was able to double the amount on my behalf. Splendid chap!

Continue reading “1969 Austin Maxi: road test”

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 road test: “A load of old Baltics” (Part 3)

Archie Vicar continues touring from London to Latvia in Jaguar´s new XJ-6. His mission, to test this important new saloon and to recover his hand-made shoes left behind on a previous jaunt.

1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia
1968 Jaguar XJ-6 at a scenic location in Latvia

Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere

From “Private Motor Car Owner” (pages 34-39,  page 109, page 116, December, 1968)

Day Four
Getting into Latvia was a breeze. We presented our passports and sacrificed a few cherished boxes of Craven “A” cigarettes and we were in. Even the sight of the new Jaguar, in De Luxe trim and virtually rust free, didn´t make the unshaven brute at the border blink. It seemed like we would sail through under the dusty hem of the Iron Curtain.

But then we spent 9 hours waiting at a road-block deep in the middle of nowhere.

Dashing through fields the size of Rutland while caning the XJ´s 6-pot engine (cc/170 in³) I appreciated the civil ride (courtesy of the telescopic dampers). Then I noticed what looked like a telephone box. I knew something was skew-whiff since they don´t have ‘phones in Latvia. It was a check-point. Dropping my fag into the deep-pile lambswool carpet, I gripped the controls and stamped on the stop pedal for all I was worth. An alarmed-looking sentry sprang from the wooden crate and noticed a hundred yards of dust rising behind the tail of Browns Lane´s barge. Such was the violence of the braking that Continue reading “1968 Jaguar XJ-6 road test: “A load of old Baltics” (Part 3)”

1967 Humber Super Snipe Review

That the motoring market has seen fit to throw such disparate competitors into a struggle for sales supremacy at this level can only be a source of pleasure to a man about to buy his £1500 car. He can have the comfortable and refined grandeur of the Humber Super Snipe with its Churchillian associations, or the continental exoticism of Fiat´s very respected 2300 saloon. Both cars can convey four adults in comfort and at high speed but do so in markedly different ways.

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“Uncommon the twain” by Archie Vicar

The super Humber Super Snipe
The super Humber Super Snipe

(The Motoring and Driving Register, July 1967)

Archie Vicar considers the choices afforded to varietists enjoying a higher income.

Photography by Cyril Leadbeater

[Note: due to the poor quality of the original images, stock photos have been used.)

This month´s motor vehicle comparison pits two well-established players against one another. For the gentleman of comfortable means life affords choice. And what is choice if it is not among things that differ? What point is there in being offered a large range of very similar cars for a similar price as many makers seem to want to do these days? That is no choice at all. We can see at the more pedestrian end of the market – and indeed have done for some time now- that Continue reading “1967 Humber Super Snipe Review”

Archie Vicar

An Introduction from the Editor of Driven To Write

Archie Vicar represents a different generation; people who came of age in an uncertain period where a World War followed a World Recession. Few of these men (and we cannot deny that they were all men) set their youthful sights on Motoring Journalism as a profession. They came into it through circuitous routes, bringing with them, for good and for bad, a worldliness that is, perhaps, missing today, where a childhood spent poring over EVO magazine, followed by a spell at journalism school, leads directly to employment on a national magazine. Where is the wisdom; where is the experience of a wider world?

Richard Herriott has spend several years transcribing what appear to be the best of Archie Vicar’s writings from the many magazines he worked for, all now sadly defunct. They evoke a past that is lost, a British Motor Industry ruled by men who were confident that they were the best and who knew that they were right, even if History has shown that they were frequently mediocre and generally wrong. I think that, of all the journalists I have known, Archie’s writings encapsulate that age most accurately.

1965 Bentley “T”-Type Review

Sporting to a “T” –  
Archie Vicar drives to Sicily in the new motor carriage from Crewe.

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Distinctive, sporting elegance.

(from Motorist´s Illustrated Digest, Dec 1965)
Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere

(Note: owing to the very poor quality of the original publication´s images, stock images have been used.)

The Bentley marque conjours images of the driver Richard “Dick” Seaman charging along the Mulsanne Straight at a 100 mph. That he achieved this very respectable pace minus a tyre is a tribute to his Bentley and to his boundless idiocy. Great chap. He is very much missed in motoring circles. For a while Bentley´s sporting character has been as absent and as lamented as Mr Seaman. The last batches of Bentleys have, frankly, been a little hard to distinguish from their Rolls-Royce stablemates. Continue reading “1965 Bentley “T”-Type Review”

1959 Bentley S1 Flying Spur Continental review

Bentley makes its mark

1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur
1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

by Archie Vicar

Photographs by Marmaduke Orpington

(from the Motorist´s Compendium and Driver´s Almanack, Dec 1959)

Bentley seem to be finding their feet again after a spell in the shadows of their owner, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. This month it is our privilege to be invited to test drive the evidence of this resurgence, the S1 Continental Flying Spur .

First might I present a little history for younger readers. Bentley started offering steel bodywork in 1946 and many coachbuilders have been continuing to offer their own versions of these car, as if a “standard” Bentley wasn´t sufficiently prestigious. But these later cars have apparently lacked a a certain something. For this author, if were one to search for a proper expression of a coach-built Bentley one would have to go back to the Thrupp & Maberly 1938 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre all-weather touring car. As recorded in the notes of a Bentley works manager at the time (,E.W. Hives) a Bentley should ““answer to the moods of the driver…be driven fast with safety, or will tour without fuss and noise…maximum speed should not be obtained at the expense of acceleration…controls, steering, and brakes shall be light to operate, and the braking shall be adequate for a fast car…maximum speed of the car on the road should be 90 mph, 75 mph in third gear…” And the Thrupp and Maberley tourer certainly met those demands.

In recent times things are a little different. In 1952 the R-type was presented to the world and it had bigger engines than its predecessor. But these cars were really not quite what Bentley customers wanted, as indicated by disappointing sales. Continue reading “1959 Bentley S1 Flying Spur Continental review”