Unforgetting: Ford GT70

I vaguely recall seeing photos of this car in a magazine somewhere, but never knew much about it. But having watched this short film from 1970, I now know more – if only a little…

GT70 - photo via autowp.ru
GT70 – photo via autowp.ru

During the late 60s, Ford was taking motorsport rather seriously. Ford’s 1970 rally weapon was the newly announced Escort – the sort of no-nonsense rugged warhorse that was perfect for forest stages and Safari’s. But on faster asphalt rallies, they were being humbled by more specialised machinery – notably the all-conquering Alpine A110’s.  Continue reading “Unforgetting: Ford GT70”

A photo for Sunday – 1979-1992 VW Transporter (T2)

The vehicle here could be said to chime with our monthly theme, passengers. Further, the vehicle itself is a place to stay when you get to your destination. 

1979-1992 VW Transporter: air cooled and slow. Best left parked.
1979-1992 VW Transporter: air cooled and slow. Best left parked.

I notice that none of the Transporters that I ever see are well-cared for in a cosmetic sense. Rust is always there somewhere. The passenger saloon with its fold down tables and simple bench seats are almost always littered with debris. I don’t imagine that the owners’ home is similarly strewn with discarded items such as cables, cartons, items of clothes or old boots. Why the difference?

While at one level these machines are vehicles they also seem to ask to be treated like an old rucksack or cycle pannier. Over time these pieces of baggage Continue reading “A photo for Sunday – 1979-1992 VW Transporter (T2)”

Etceterini, Etceterini, Etceterini …

It Wasn’t Just Ferraris You Know?

Moretti 2

Last year, in Southern Germany, I came across an ‘Oldtimer Rally’ and I put a small gallery of photos up in December. There was a nice variety of cars, but what stood out for me was this little Moretti 750. Moretti was just one of a good number of small Italian manufacturers including Abarth, Stanguellini, Nardi and OSCA who produced small sports and racing cars in the post War period, and whose products are known, with affection and respect, as Etceterini.

There is no absolute definition of what makes an Etceterino, but it doesn’t mean any car not made by a major Italian manufacturer, so Fiat 500s rebodied as beach cars, fun as they are, are not Etceterini. Continue reading “Etceterini, Etceterini, Etceterini …”

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Volvo 960 Executive

Something Rotten in Denmark has turned up this curiosity. It’s the Volvo 960 Executive.

1991 Volvo 960 Executive
1991 Volvo 960 Executive

It’s labelled a Volvo S90, but sold as a 1991 960. And it has the c-pillar treatment of the Volvo stretch limousine but appears to be at best, just a long-wheelbase version of the car. I found this car for sale at Vallensæk Bil Centre, somewhere south of Copenhagen. It’s for sale without an MOT for 9,900 kr. I wrote to ask if it could Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Volvo 960 Executive”

The Renault 16 Is Fifty This Year. There Are None Left.

Our good friends at Renault UK’s press office have sent us a reminder that the Renault 16 is fifty years old this year.

1967 Renault 16 TX
Renault 16 TX

Philippe Charbonneaux is credited with the design of this car which was in production from 1965 to 1980. Its main claim to fame is related to its innovative deployment of a hatchback in the middle-to-large sized car class. At that point there developed a marked fork in the road in car design. Some manufacturers followed this path, those makers most like Renault. Continue reading “The Renault 16 Is Fifty This Year. There Are None Left.”

Sierra Shock – Ford’s Aero Banana Skin

Ford’s shapely Cortina replacement proved to be less aerodynamically accomplished than its slippery wrapping suggested. 

Image credit: (c) complexmania

Sierra was intended to mark a fresh direction for the Blue Oval. The brainchild of Robert Lutz, Ford’s Eurocentric Director of operations, it was designed to take on the upper-middle class European marques in sophistication and appeal. Lutz wanted a more dynamic, technological image, especially in Germany, where the ancient Cortina and Taunus’ models were viewed as throwbacks. Continue reading “Sierra Shock – Ford’s Aero Banana Skin”

A Photo For Sunday: 1997 VW Golf Estate

Continuing the theme of colour, here’s a VW Golf from the 1997-2004 series.

1997 VW Golf estate
1997 VW Golf estate

It’s the cheerful metallic green I want to draw your attention to. The interior had cloth seats with panels of a similar hue. Presumably this was a special edition but the car had no badges to indicate this. This iteration of the Golf was the most neatly refined, in my view, the one where competitors gasped at the subtle refinements such as the legendary cloth covered a-pillars. Quite why people Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 1997 VW Golf Estate”

Aerodynamics: The Shape We’re In

We ask whether aerodynamics’ post-war, post-aviation beginnings have anything in common with tomorrow’s hydrogen-powered wonders.

The future? Volkswagen-xl1-photo via motortrend
The future? Volkswagen XL-1. Image: Motor Trend

Car manufacturers have historically enjoyed a somewhat patchy relationship with the concept of aerodynamic theory. During the post-war period only a handful of motor manufacturers paid more than lip service and of those, most had their origins in aircraft manufacture. Bristol and Saab, for example were both forced to diversify during post-war austerity when demand for their mainstay aircraft businesses collapsed in peacetime. Continue reading “Aerodynamics: The Shape We’re In”

Theme : Aerodynamics – Release The BATs

Aero could be fun too…

The three BAT cars - photo via carnewscafe
The three Alfa Romeo BAT cars – photo: carnewscafe

Aerospace iconography permeated everywhere throughout the 1950s, particularly car styling. So when Alfa Romeo commissioned a series of concept cars, science fiction melded with aerodynamic theory, creating the extraordinary BAT cars.  Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Release The BATs”

Honda Legend Versus the Citroen C6

Recently DTW reminded readers of the overlooked Honda Legend. And the resultant discussion brought up the fact that Car magazine ran both a C6 and a Legend on their long term fleet in 2007.

2006 Citroen C6
2006 Citroen C6

Car magazine asked at the end of their introductory comparison whether the two cars were “viable executive choices or pointless follies, vanity projects for their respective makers?” The general tone of the article was that even though they had chosen to run both these cars, Car itself didn’t really know why it was bothering. Continue reading “Honda Legend Versus the Citroen C6”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 14

Phase four – 1986-1994: An Ecstatic Début. Jaguar’s management bask in the approbation of a valedictory UK press as XJ40 breaks cover at last.

1986 XJ40 NEC
Sir John Egan presents his magnum opus – image: Jaguar Heritage

It even made the TV news. On the 8th October 1986, Jaguar finally revealed their long-anticipated XJ6 and the UK media went nuts. There wasn’t this much excitement since the Austin Metro launch, six years previously. Car, devoted 28 editorial pages to the new Jag, describing it as a triumph of engineering against overwhelming odds, which to some extent it was.  Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 14”

Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer

Most of the Lancers I see in Denmark are the estate version though I see few of those. This is the saloon which is much, much rarer indeed. Bentley rare, I’d say.

2005 Mitsubishi Lancer saloon: super rare and quite unremembered.
2005 Mitsubishi Lancer saloon: super rare and quite unremembered.

I walked around the car and decided it was a fair interpretation of the small saloon, something of a fetish for me, I think. The spoiler is a excessive though. Its presence there on the bootlid means it’s the warmest version short of the Evo model which has completely overshadowed Mitsubishi, a halo car that has turned into a blinding light. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer”

Theme : Aerodynamics – Index of Efficiency

They don’t get any more aerodynamic than this…

Photo via ultimatecarpage
Photo via ultimatecarpage

What you’re looking at here is the last of the pure streamliners – the 1964 Panhard CD Le Mans. This Index of Efficiency contender for the 1964 Le Mans race boasted a drag co-efficient of a mere 0.12, reputedly the lowest of any racing car to date. This car is significant for two reasons: Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Index of Efficiency”

Dany Bahar’s Lotus Fantasia

Dany Bahar: Misunderstood visionary or public enemy number one? 

The Great Behar - photo via Jalopnik
The Great Bahar surrounded by his pet unicorns – photo via Jalopnik

It’s probably safe to assume that disgraced ex-Lotus boss, Dany Bahar believes in unicorns. It remains the only reasoned assumption following his abrupt career at the storied Sportscar brand. Appointed in 2009, Bahar took Lotus on a journey into the heart of darkness, edging them closer to the abyss than at any time in their chequered sixty three-year history.  Continue reading “Dany Bahar’s Lotus Fantasia”

The Great Curve

Britain’s Aerodynamic Pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer profiled.

Image credit: (c) Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory/NASA

During the 1930s, rapid advancements in aviation were in no small way fuelled by a growing understanding of the science of aerodynamics. Following the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, with scientific interest supplanted by urgent necessity, the pioneering research into airflow management would now come with an added dimension. The increased application of wind tunnel testing allowed engineers to Continue reading “The Great Curve”

Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Honda Legend

This could be only one of these cars I’ve ever seen.

2007 Honda Legend

The pleasing headlamps and dart-like prow caught my eye. What a handsome car, I thought. No-one else thinks so (and the boot looks odd). It’s the short-lived Honda Legend née Acura RL. Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2006-2007 Honda Legend”

Peter Stevens On Concept Cars

Here is Peter Stevens on the concept car and here is his second article on the subject. I think we can say we covered the topic more thoroughly in October but it nice to see what a professional thinks.

2011 Jaguar B99 concept.
2011 Jaguar B99 concept: why didn’t they make this?

It’s nice to see that Peter Stevens agrees with my analysis of the Ford Probe concept car: “Ford Motor Company’s European arm presented a concept vehicle, the Ford Probe III, at the Frankfurt show in 1981 for totally different reasons. Its new mid-size family car, the Sierra, was to be launched in 1982. It was a fairly avant-garde design that, within Ford, suddenly caused the senior management to Continue reading “Peter Stevens On Concept Cars”

Concours Queen or Oily Rag

“A thing worth having is worth dusting”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The above quote from Sir Hugh Casson, architect and Festival of Britain director, caused me some amusement in my youth. I’ve never been a decent curator of nice things. I was always bemused by magazine ads for companies such as The Franklin Mint, showing an attractive woman in an attractive home, with a rictus, Stepford Wife type of grin, admiring one of her limited number collection of miniature porcelain bells, all provided in a hand-carved, Genuine English Oak, wall-mounted presentation case. Possibly, of course, I was conforming to a sad stereotype and you might suggest that, though unable to understand girly enthusiasms, I’d still happily sit in a smug, testosterone-filled fug in my hypothetical motor house, master of a collection of finely-fettled classic motors and a bulk dispenser of Swissvax.

But I’m not sure that’s the case. At times I have bought objects that appealed to me then, years later found them still in the original box – as I write there is a nice scale model of an Alfa Giulia Berlina bought on Ebay in 2013, Continue reading “Concours Queen or Oily Rag”

Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin and Sayer Part One

Britain’s Aerodynamic Pioneers – Frank Costin and Malcolm Sayer profiled.

_67988830_1952malcolmsayermodelinsmoketunnel

During the 1930s, rapid advancements in aviation were in no small way fuelled by a growing understanding of the science of aerodynamics. Following the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, with scientific interest supplanted by urgent necessity, the pioneering research into airflow management would now come with an added dimension. The increased application of wind tunnel testing allowed engineers to properly assess the behaviour of aircraft in simulated flight and more accurately determine the most efficient shapes.
Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – The Great Curve – Costin and Sayer Part One”

Theme : Aerodynamics – Buttresses, A User Guide

Driven To Write attempts to decipher an aerodynamic staple but finds the going surprisingly turbulent.

york cathedral
Flying buttresses on York Cathedral. Image unknown.

In architectural terms, a buttress is defined as a structural member built against or projecting from a wall serving as a support or reinforcement. They were more prevalent at a period when structural engineering was more of a naive art, employed as a support against sideways forces. As architect’s skills developed, the need for buttressing decreased, latterly viewed as something of an admission of failure, much like an air dam or spoiler in automotive terms. There are several types of architectural buttresses, the most visually spectacular probably being the ‘flying buttress’, a structural device used in the design of many Gothic cathedrals.

Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Buttresses, A User Guide”

Applying the Gestalt Theory of Design to the 1993 Citroen Xantia

The A-pillar of the 1993 Citroen Xantia has always looked wrong. Now I know why and the reason it had to look that way. 

1993 Citroen Xantia as designed by Velizy.
1993 Citroen Xantia as designed by Velizy.

Unhappy with the actual car, I decided to see what would happen if I reduced the extent of the mirror sail panel so that more of the A-pillar showed. Read on to see how it looks if modified a little bit. It’s not as simple as just changing the shape of the black plastic part though… Continue reading “Applying the Gestalt Theory of Design to the 1993 Citroen Xantia”

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1993 Maserati Biturbo

Today’s weekend morsel is an example from Maserati’s darker days of recent times. It’s a 1992 Biturbo, yours for about €20,000 (if bought in Denmark).

1993 Maserati Biturbo
1993 Maserati Biturbo

The first Biturbos date from 1981. Maserati hoped that the car would gain sales from that champion of small, sporty saloons, the BMW 3-series. To do this, Maserati equipped the two-door, four seat car with a 2.0 V6 engine, larded up with two turbos. Depending on which way you look at it, by 1993 Maserati had either ironed out all the problems or else got bored making the Biturbo. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1993 Maserati Biturbo”

J Mays’ Ford Legacy II

Sean’s article has inspired this short footnote.

2000 Ford Prodigy concept car
2000 Ford Prodigy concept car

J Mays replaced Jack Telnack in 1997 and was responsible for Ford’s sprawling empire of brands. Sean showed us some of Mays’ retrofuturism. What else did he do while in office ? The worst vehicle – in design terms – that Mays can be held responsible for is the 2005 Ford 500 which married VW geometry with softer, more amorphous shapes from somewhere else entirely. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy II”

J Mays’ Ford Legacy

How successful were J Mays’ Blue Chip Fords?

J Mays TBird

I start by admitting an unjustifiable antipathy towards J Mays, which I must put to rest, now. It is based purely on the fact that he once called a 1 Series BMW a ‘shitbox’. Although I have admired several Bangle era BMWs from first viewing, the 1 Series was never one of them, but there is something unseemly about one designer slagging off another designer’s work in public. Continue reading “J Mays’ Ford Legacy”

Dream On, Honda

Honda came within touching distance of premium status only to let it slip through their fingers. What happened?

2015-Honda-Civic-Facelift
Even its own mother would disown it – the 2015 Civic

Honda Europe has made a profit just once since 2007, when sales in the region peaked at 313,400 cars. In 2013 sales collapsed to a mere 139,700 cars. What on earth is going on at Japan’s number three motor manufacturer?

During the latter years of the 1980’s Honda appeared poised to make a significant breakthrough in the European market. Perhaps the most engineering-led of mainstream Japanese manufacturers, Honda achieved what its better selling rivals had hitherto failed to manage – credibility. Continue reading “Dream On, Honda”

Trompe Le Mondeo

A Mondeo in drag? Driven to write examines Jaguar’s ‘much-loved’ X-Type to establish whether there is more to it than this shopworn pejorative might suggest.

Jaguar X-Type
Image credit: (c) carpixel

It’s probably accurate to say that the X-Type essentially bankrupted Jaguar. Certainly, the Ford-owned carmaker never recovered from the losses incurred by the X400 programme. According to a study carried out by financial analysts, Bernstein Research, Jaguar lost €4600 on every X-Type built – a net loss amounting to over €1.7 billion. Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Given that it remains the best-selling Jaguar to date with 362,000 produced over an 8-year lifespan, the reasons behind the X-Type’s failure and subsequent pariah status remain a matter of Continue reading “Trompe Le Mondeo”

Press Photo For The Day: 1964 Humber Super Snipe

I originally viewed Humber’s Super Snipe and Imperial cars as objects of derision. As time goes by I find them more and more likeable. I wonder what causes that change in sentiment?

1964 Humber Super Snipe
1964 Humber Super Snipe

At the time of writing (December 11, 2014) I am pondering spending a whole €12 on a classic cars magazine just to obtain someone else’s half-digested wisdom on the Imperial. These cars aren’t well documented so I may very well take the plunge though I have sworn off classic car magazines for several years. Continue reading “Press Photo For The Day: 1964 Humber Super Snipe”

Theme : Dashboards – Citroën, a Dash of Style

When Citroën showed the way but the industry was too dull to follow.

TPV

For all-out minimalism, the TPV prototype of the Citroën 2CV is hard to beat but, since then, Citroën have produced some of the most adventurous dashboards.

Throughout its twenty year life, the DS dashboard went through various iterations but, in its first instance, it was as modern as the outside. The least successful DS dash was the length of plywood fitted to the fascia of some of the upper range Slough built UK cars, on the assumption that Brits must Continue reading “Theme : Dashboards – Citroën, a Dash of Style”

Theme: Dashboards – Citroën Visa

Driven to Write uses a Visa to explore the mysteries of the Lunules

Visadrawing
There is a strong risk that this piece will just become a rosy-spectacled trip down memory lane from this contributor, but hey, it’s the festive season, so indulge me …

Given this month’s theme, I wanted to write about Citroën from the days when the company had decided that (almost) everyone else had got it wrong about pretty well everything. Citroën seemed to believe that the essential concept when designing a dashboard was to Continue reading “Theme: Dashboards – Citroën Visa”

Press Photo For The Day: 2010 Lincoln MKT

…the T stands for touring.

2010 Lincoln MKT: not popular.
2010 Lincoln MKT: not popular.

It has a “choice” of a 3.5 or 3.7 litre V6 engine. The smaller one is tuned for economy. And the engines drive the front wheels. Odd looking thing, isn’t it? The customers have been few. In its first full year on sale 7,435 buyers wrote a cheque. And in 2013 just over 6000 customers were found. Ford fondly imagine it is a competitor for the V8 Audi Q7. That’s what Motor Trend reported.

 

1985-1990 Nissan Sunny Estate

We were discussing design principles recently. Here’s a car that’s technically correct but unlike Audi fails to generate the slightest flicker of emotion or intellectual satisfaction. 

image

I saw this Sunny parked near the Aixam Mega van. It’s neat and orderly. All the parts cohere in a professional way. Yet unlike an Audi of the same period there is missing an element to lift it above ordinary. Continue reading “1985-1990 Nissan Sunny Estate”

Japanese Limousine of the Day: Nissan President

From 1990 to 2002 this car represented the very best Nissan could be.

1990-2002 Nissan President
1990-2002 Nissan President

It’s the President. Like the Toyota Century the styling is very formal indeed. It has overtones of Jaguar XJ-40 and Chevrolet Caprice all fused in that unique way the Japanese have of synthesising. Since this version the President has lost its way and is now a variant of something also sold as an Infiniti. Continue reading “Japanese Limousine of the Day: Nissan President”

1972 Citroen GS Camargue Versus the 2003 Citroen C-Airdream

DTW’s monthly theme on concept cars covered a lot of ground but we didnt manage to exhaust the topic. Here’s one we missed. 

While doing research on the work of designer Mario Bellini, I stumbled across the 1972 Citroen GS Camargue quite by accident. The design is by Bertone. Continue reading “1972 Citroen GS Camargue Versus the 2003 Citroen C-Airdream”

History Repeating: XJ40 Part 13

Phase three – 1980-1986: Pull Back and Reveal. 

XJ4034

As the third phase draws to a close we review what Jaguar was offering the public in 1986 and reflect upon some of the wider changes that took place over the intervening 14-year period.

With Jaguar gearing up for their most important launch in generations, the company faced a vastly different landscape to the one that existed when XJ40 was initiated over a decade earlier. In 1972, Britain languished outside the Common Market, although Ted Heath’s government would take the UK into the EEC the following year. 1972 saw Sir William Lyons’ retirement and Jaguar’s complete immersion into BLMC. Continue reading “History Repeating: XJ40 Part 13”

Some Aerodynamism

Aerodynamics lead car design to repeat certain solutions.

1955 Tara 603
1955 Tatra 603

The Czechs were applying most of the tropes on their wonderful Tatras. Here we have the 1955 603 (and a nice nostalgic racing photo below, just for fun). Compare the Czech car with the 2005 Mercedes Bionic and you see some of the same features. The general view of Tatras was that the handling was not their strong point. Violent lift-off oversteer is the chief hazard. Racing one of these must have been like playing Russian roulette with a cross-bow. Continue reading “Some Aerodynamism”

Trompe Le Mondeo (Part 1)

Driven to write looks back at Jaguar’s ‘much-loved’ X-Type and asks whether it was it simply a Mondeo in drag or something a little more nuanced?

Jaguar-X-type_2794124b
Jaguar X-Type. Image uncredited

It’s probably accurate to say that the X-Type essentially bankrupted Jaguar. Certainly, the Ford-owned carmaker never recovered from the losses incurred by the X400 programme. According to a study carried out by financial analysts, Bernstein Research, Jaguar lost €4600 on every X-Type built – a net loss amounting to over €1.7 billion. Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Given that it remains the best-selling Jaguar to date with 362,000 produced over an 8-year lifespan, the reasons behind the X-Type’s failure and subsequent pariah status remain a matter of Continue reading “Trompe Le Mondeo (Part 1)”

Interview: Mario Bellini, Designer

Not many designers get to venture outside the boundaries that divide the discipline. Mario Bellini is one of them: furniture, architecture, product design and automotive work are all included in his remarkable portfolio.

Mario Bellini
Mario Bellini

Bellini is the winner of, among others, 8 Compasso d’Oro and prestigious architecture awards including the Medaglia d’Oro conferred by the President of the Italian Republic. Seen from an historical point of view, the activity we call design is a process with as wide a variety of final products as there are material human needs.

From that standpoint, product design, architecture, graphics, car design and clothing, for example, would be seen as variations on the theme of working out what form things take to solve a problem. Continue reading “Interview: Mario Bellini, Designer”

Extreme Rustproofing the Danish Way

The Danish climate is tough on older cars, especially those designed for drier climates. One solution is complete after-market galvanisation. Look at this Citroen 2CV to see how it appears when so treated….

Galvanised 2CV in Aarhus, Denmark
Galvanised 2CV in Aarhus, Denmark

There are two 2CV specialists in Jutland, one is the Danish 2CV Centre and the other is the 2CV Expert. One of these two offers a complete galvanising option on refurbished 2CVs. The Danish 2CV Centre has a museum which I have not visited. I had a look at this car which seems to have undergone the maximum degree of protection but has not been painted. Continue reading “Extreme Rustproofing the Danish Way”

Theme : Dashboards – The Rover P6

An Ignored Classic

Series 1 V8 Interior

In Simon’s introduction he mentions the original P6 Rover dashboard, and I think this merits more scrutiny. The P6 Rover ceased production in 1977, ending its life as a British Leyland product built in 2.2 and 3.5 litre forms, and viewed as a rather staid design with a latterly gained reputation for poor build quality. Continue reading “Theme : Dashboards – The Rover P6”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 12

Phase three – 1981-1986: The Legend Grows Old Waiting. As the AJ6 engine breaks cover, the press lose patience.

0000471_xjs-red-36
The 1983 AJ6-engined XJ-S 3.6 – image: Jaguar Heritage

The autumn of 1983 saw Jaguar offer an AJ6-engined car to the public. The 3.6 litre XJ-S was launched in the familiar coupé bodyshell with the added novelty of a drophead two-seater version. Both were powered by the new AJ6 unit in 225 bhp 24-valve form.

The British motoring press devoted pages of copy to the introduction, this being the first all-new Jaguar engine since the V12 of 1971. Expectations were high, given the peerless refinement of the larger-displacement unit. The fact that this engine would become the mainstay power unit for XJ40 only added to its significance.  Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 12”

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1998 Chrysler Stratus

The Chrysler Stratus: all the bad qualities of American cars, Japanese cars and European cars rolled into one unappetising shape. In 1995 these cars had the power to thrill.

How to sell a car´s charms
How to sell a car´s charms

This car has two claims to our attention today. The first is that in the cold light of day, it is hard to believe this car and its almost identical stable-mates were nominated on Car & Driver’s 10 best list. I wasn’t aware of this at the time. The second reason I’m drawn to it is because it was the first car I was ever paid to review**.

I wrote 1000 words and saw the editor chop out 200 of them, more or less killing the nuances of the text stone dead. I wanted to Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1998 Chrysler Stratus”

Theme : Dashboards – Introduction

The Editor Dashes Off an Intro

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The first car dashboard to be noted was, probably, the eponymous one used in the Curved Dash Oldsmobile of 1901. However this simply referred to the low barrier at the front of the car that stopped dirt and stones being ‘dashed’ up against the occupants, and which had been inherited entirely from the world of horses and carriages.

Continue reading “Theme : Dashboards – Introduction”

Theme : Books – The Observer’s Book of Automobiles for 1963

DTW Considers a Well-Thumbed Volume

Observers

As Simon has pointed out in his excellent introduction, there was a time when information did not exist at your fingertips. Back then, you had to go out and find it or, if you wanted it to come to you, you needed to invest in as much printed reference material as you could afford. As an 11 year old, I had not yet discovered the world of motoring books, and it’s unlikely that my pocket money could have supported such an addiction, so what I knew of cars was what I picked up from a knowledgeable friend of my parents who was restoring a Bentley 3 Litre (the sort of thing that people did in their garages back then) who loaned me about ten years back issues of Motor Sport and what I read in the pages of Autocar, which came through the letterbox once a week.

Continue reading “Theme : Books – The Observer’s Book of Automobiles for 1963”

History in Cars: Midlife Krisis KA

If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, at least get a decent set of wheels.

images_ford_ka_1996_1

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in his forties has a higher than average propensity to some form of mid-life introspection. As we know, the clichéd route to self-actualisation ranges from an inadvisable tattoo, to an inappropriate affair with a younger member of whichever gender he’s attracted to. Some choose to experiment with various derivations of the above. The more conventional opt for a sportscar or convertible. After all, just because you’re in the throes of a life event doesn’t mean you have to be original about it.

Continue reading “History in Cars: Midlife Krisis KA”

1965 Renault 16 Review

“Hatchback of Notre Dame” – In this transcript the respected motor-correspondent, 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. Due to the poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.

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”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 11

Phase three – 1981-1986: Free at last. Jaguar’s independence becomes a reality as Sir William takes a more active role.

Egan and Lyons
Two Knights, two Jags – Egan and Lyons – image: Jaguar Heritage

When John Egan made contact with Sir William Lyons in 1981 to sound out the Jaguar founder for the role of company President, he was taken aback by his response. ‘I already am, lad!’, Lyons informed him. Amid the turmoil of the previous eight years everyone appeared to have forgotten. Lyons warmly embraced the new incumbent, believing the Lancastrian was the man to reconstruct Jaguar after the disastrous Ryder years. The two men quickly developed a rapport and Egan became a regular visitor to his Wappenbury Hall home where he would take advice from Jaguar’s venerable founder.

Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 11”

1988 Renault Megane Concept: Some Thoughts

Recently Driven To Write posted a reminder of Renault’s 1988 concept car, the Megane. It struck me as having distinctly Citroen overtones. 

1988 Renault Megane concept car
1988 Renault Megane concept car

That’s the side view: a very raked bonnet and headlamps set low. Notice the long wheelbase and short rear over-hang. There is also the blacked-out a-pillar. Compare it with the Citroen XM of the next year… Continue reading “1988 Renault Megane Concept: Some Thoughts”