Micropost: Two BMWs

BMW have presented the G20 iteration of their long-running 3-series saloon. Autocar very kindly put images of the new car (blue) up against the outgoing car (not blue).

2019 BMW 3-series and the outgoing car: source

Last night as I was writing my comprehensive and thorough report on the 2018 Paris Mondiale, it occurred to me that I might do a new/old comparison of the car. I also considered doing a short design review. I didn’t because I had the intuition it would be rather too much work to say anything about something so slight. Continue reading “Micropost: Two BMWs”

To Lisbon, Pedro – Brazil Is In The Past

And that obviously means it’s the Paris Mondial 2018. DTW takes a closer look at some of the offerings on offer there.

2019 Smart For Ease interior: source

There appears to be a dearth of new cars this year. Fiat have nothing much to show for themselves. Lancia are again not presenting anything new and nor are MG, Hillman or Rover. Hybrid variants, re-showings of electric cars, tuned models and some facelifts make up the bulk of the products being touted for our delectation. It’s rather telling that I had to Continue reading “To Lisbon, Pedro – Brazil Is In The Past”

The Quintessence : (Part Five)

Manufacturing was Jaguar’s fatal weakness. It would become XJ6’s undoing.

Browns Lane production tracks. (c) curbside Classic

Through a combination of genius, skill, misfortune and at times, sheer good luck, the Jaguar XJ6 proved to be precisely what the market realised it wanted. Offering all the glamour and visual allure of the E-Type in a four-door package, customers quickly discovered it fitted their needs very nicely indeed. The trouble was obtaining one.

When Lyons sanctioned the model, he set production targets of a thousand cars a week. This would have amounted to slightly over 50,000 cars per annum, a figure Jaguar wouldn’t meet until the 1990s, and certainly one the XJ-series never came close to meeting – for a whole host of reasons.

The first of these manifested itself as Jaguar struggled to ramp up XJ6 production in the advent of the car’s launch. The XJ bodyshell was built at PSF in Castle Bromwich. Made up of hundreds of small pressings, the XJ shells were designed this way, firstly to Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part Five)”

The Scent Of The Diorite, The Smell Of The Gabbro

It really has been a busy September. That said, I don’t know how I missed this. The new Jimny appeared to the world in the middle of the month and I only found out last night.

As small and great as ever: source

And it is something of a huge relief to see someone give it a clear and fair review. Quite plainly, after twenty years of not caring what the press thought, Suzuki now have a legend on their hands. Thus Autocropley accepted that the Jimny is for swivelling, skidding and slopping around in mud and not about 10/10ths blatting around Castle Combe.

All the downsides the car has, such as they are, are there because it is a vehicle designed to Continue reading “The Scent Of The Diorite, The Smell Of The Gabbro”

History in Cars – Ciao Baby

Driven to Write recalls his earlier forays into motoring.

Owing to the poor quality of the originals, stock photos have been used. (c) autoevolution

Starting procedure: Insert key into ignition. Turn key fully clockwise. Lift floor mounted enrichment (choke) lever fully. Engage clutch. Lift spring-loaded, floor mounted starter (mounted behind gear lever next to choke). Hold until engine fires. Ignore the shaking of the engine on its mountings as it settles into life. On no account Continue reading “History in Cars – Ciao Baby”

Bang! Bang! Click.

The following is a counterfactual version of a news-story published recently at Automotive News. Chery plans to tackle the European market, they say. They are moving in as General Motors abandoned the market entirely as it was all simply too much trouble for them.

2018 Buick Regal saloon: GM N America

To understand the weirdness of GM’s decision, try reading the ANE story with “GM” in place of Chery. Here is how it now reads:

“Detroit, MI – American automaker General Motors (GM) has selected Germany to be the base of its coming move into Europe. GM says it is America’s largest car exporter. The company is determined to Continue reading “Bang! Bang! Click.”

Class Act

Still waters run shallow.

A-Class Saloon
(c) autoexpress

The ideological direction change enacted by Mercedes-Benz for the 2012 W176 A-Class not only precipitated the dying gasp of the German marque’s engineering-led ethos, but went on to vindicate its adoption by becoming a huge commercial success for the carmaker.

This much we know, but the scope and reach to which Mercedes has developed its successor gives eloquent voice of its ongoing significance to the three pointed star. Since its spring 2018 launch, the newest A-Class in five door format can Continue reading “Class Act”

The Factory’s Shadow Over Oporto

Today we turn our attention to the 2017 Nissan Micra. This offers us a chance to learn the Nissan project code for the car, K-14.

2017 Nissan Micra

We also get to canter through a potted history of a car that has lurched from banal to brave and back, like a drunken tide. The current car has a touch of brave and also a few dollops of busy. Before we get to that we shall

Continue reading “The Factory’s Shadow Over Oporto”

The Quintessence : (Part Four)

Fifty years ago this week, Sir William Lyons announced his magnum opus.

(c) Classic Cars

On the 26th September 1968, amid the opulence of the Royal Lancaster Hotel on London’s Bayswater Road, Sir William Lyons revealed Jaguar’s long-awaited saloon. Neither a particularly confident nor enthusiastic public speaker, the intensely private Jaguar Chairman was persuaded to record his introductory speech to the assembled dealers, dignitaries and members of the press, as the new XJ6 was revealed over four successive nights.

The lavish series of functions climaxed with the room’s spotlights gradually brightening to reveal the car on a raised dais, surrounded by nine further examples arranged around the perimeter. The reception throughout was rapturous, with dealers and motoring press alike lining up to Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part Four)”

Songs of Praise

A holy mortifying shame

All images (c) Driven to Write

The sight of a Maestro parked outside a churchyard in a small English village might once have been as common as the prayer books the car’s putative churchwarden owner would distribute amongst the darkening pews, yet here in September of 2018, it strikes a rather more rarefied note.

It’s rather lazy of this writer to Continue reading “Songs of Praise”

Lionel Rewrote A List

In recent articles we’ve been looking at over-styling of one form or another. I’ve also been considering the driving forces behind the phenomenon. Counterfactual time…

Another bloody Merc

Let’s take a trip in our time machine. It looks like a W-114 Mercedes but when the car gets to 45 kmph and the fan speed is set to high the car slips back in time to 1990. It also gives the driver the power to Continue reading “Lionel Rewrote A List”

End of the Adventure?

Brand-MINI is facing its biggest adventure yet. This one however, may not end well…

(c) orangewheels

It has been a fairly interesting week for BMW’s Oxfordshire outpost. MINI has been one of many UK-based carmakers predicting doom-laden scenarios should the British government’s hapless negotiating team fail to obtain a workable deal to exit the European Union early next year.

As part of its ongoing (and increasingly necessary) catastrophe-planning, BMW’s Cowley plant is set to Continue reading “End of the Adventure?”

Here’s Your Samarra, The Tinders And Brush Await You

Today we have a Twix of an article, a consideration of recent offerings from DS and BMW, with a side-order of architectural musing.

1979 Citroen CX GTi: mobile.de

At the risk of being pretentious, these designs ask one to reflect on what Farshid Moussavi discusses as the function of style (in relation to buildings, but it is true of design generally).

“What is style? Whether used to identify an individual architect’s oeuvre, or to indicate some common features in a place or a period, “style” has historically been the word employed. Embedded within this usage,” writes Moussavi “are several dubious and conflicting assumptions. Firstly that style consists in the repetition of formal elements. Second that style is the product of an individual personality. Thirdly, that style relates to something larger and less tangible than the actual buildings that Continue reading “Here’s Your Samarra, The Tinders And Brush Await You”

Lost For Words

It doesn’t happen all that often, but the latest confection from DS Automobiles has your correspondent utterly confounded.

(c) vibilagare.se

I don’t know. I genuinely don’t. What does one say nowadays, when every recent new car announcement feels like another assault? Does there come a point when through exhaustion or simple attrition, one is forced to simply Continue reading “Lost For Words”

More Cruel Than Pombal, Lovelier Than Life Itself

Driventowrite is in cheeky, quizzical mood today. So, a gauntlet will be placed carefully and politely at your collective feet. 

1957 Wolseley advert: source

After all the hard work and testing, the result of the collective labour of hundreds of women and men over several years, every car gets summed up in a few short words. The following is a selection of verdicts on cars produced in recent years. Can you Continue reading “More Cruel Than Pombal, Lovelier Than Life Itself”

The Quintessence : (Part Three)

In 1968, Jaguar put all its saloon car eggs in one decidedly comely basket. We examine the likely causes.

(c) forum-auto

In 1964, a series of factors led Sir William Lyons to take the momentous decision to replace Jaguar’s multiplicity of saloon models with a single car line, betting the entire enterprise upon its success. Retrospectively of course, one could say he needn’t have worried, but at the time, it must have been a deeply anxious moment.

How did this state of affairs come to pass? To answer this, we must Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part Three)”

A Photo For Sunday: 2011-2017 Ford Focus Saloon

Driventowrite is the name and to some extent the “driven” part corresponds to a form of sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder related to arm-rests in mid-size passenger cars. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

Good grief. It’s a 2011-2018 Ford Focus saloon.

That’s why today’s car is here**. I would absolutely love to  know what decision-making process led Opel to drop the rear-centre arm-rest in their “J” series Astra (2009-2015) while Ford decided that the rear-centre arm-rest would grace the saloon version of today´s Focus (but not the estate or hatchback). Actually I think I know… we’ll
Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 2011-2017 Ford Focus Saloon”

Formula Libre

Today we remember Ford’s 1998 roadster concept which championed the freedom of the open road for four, and pay tribute to its designer.

Ford Libre concept. (c) autowp

While four-seater convertibles are reasonably common commodities, four-door roadsters, have never quite caught on. But just as nature abhors a vacuum, car designers tend to view received wisdom as something to be challenged.
At the 1998 Chicago Auto Show, when such events took place in the ‘Windy City’, Ford’s US design team, under the leadership of J Mays presented a concept, while not entirely new, had not really been attempted at this scale before. Continue reading “Formula Libre”

Rathcahir’s Folk Would Withold Even A Grain Of Truth

We return once more to my desperate attempt to make design semantics interesting to people outside the design profession.

1970 Bentley T-1**: source

Far from being a distant irrelevance to those practicing design, researchers cotton on to things which merely take time to be understood.  If we are wondering today why current design is so over-wrought, there are those to whom this will not be a surprise.  Should you be so diligent as to

Continue reading “Rathcahir’s Folk Would Withold Even A Grain Of Truth”

“What It Is Really Like To Be A Fictional Person”

Coincidences happen and don’t mean anything. Still, they add a touch of poetic interest to our otherwise unstructured and meaningless lives. Here’s one that actually happened to me!

2018 Nissan Pulsar: Nissan UK

About a week ago I was walking home from the supermarket. I think I’d bought some onions and some sliced bread (I like toast in the morning sometimes). Exactly as I passed the doorway of the rather good hamburger joint on the street, my subconscious mind notified my conscious mind that I could not Continue reading ““What It Is Really Like To Be A Fictional Person””

Surf’s Up

Sometimes it’s necessary to look back in order to move forward.

Image: (c) Auto-Didakt

It’s a slightly forlorn image would you not agree? An elegant, if vaguely unsatisfying looking 1960s Italian GT is parked upon a deserted beachscape. The photo comes courtesy of the estimable Mr. Christopher Butt, he of the influential and painstakingly curated Auto-Didakt. The car? Well, you can read Christopher’s well-chosen words on this carrozzeria unicorn here, should your curiosity get the better of you.

The image serves as something of a visual metaphor – for the demise of the carrozzieri, of course, but also for something more. But first, some background. As our Auto-Didaktic cohort points out, during the post-war period, French and Italian coachbuilders struggled to Continue reading “Surf’s Up”

Selling England by the Pound

In an anti-climax to the series on the Triumph Acclaim, we summarise the legendary LJKS’s first review of the car for Car Magazine.

Car November 1981
Oddly, Car failed to feature BL’s Triumphant Acclaim on the cover of its issue in which LJKS’s legendary review appeared (Source: Pinterest).

“It is a delightful car to drive, but it is so ugly that too few people will ever discover that. Or so I thought when I was fresh from trying the Acclaim, lamenting the need to fetch customers into the showroom and put them into the car and onto the road before they closed their minds to the purchase. If only they could Continue reading “Selling England by the Pound”

The Last Letters Of Carpenter

Very recently this author was immersed for three days in the world of the aesthetics of design. Dieter Rams’ name came up.

2011 Nissan Juke rear: carmagazine.co.uk

Deiter Rams worked as Braun’s chief designer, having a desk there from 1961 to 1995. It occurred to me that I agree with the whole lot of Rams’ principles which are opposed to zany, aggressive styling and yet I am a known liker of cars such as the Nissan Juke and Toyota CH-R.

People will also know of other zany and aggresssive designs  which offend to a degree and I don’t dislike all of them. I have come to accept some zaniness is quite okay (maybe it’s resignation). Is there any way I can Continue reading “The Last Letters Of Carpenter”

The Quintessence : (Part Two)

In this second instalment, we examine the XJ6’s technical package.

Proving engineers, Don Currie and Richard Cresswell with a disguised XJ4 prototype, sporting Lyons’ ‘Studebaker’ grille. (c) Classic Cars

Sanctioned in 1964, XJ4 was intended to launch in 1967, which seems in hindsight to have been a rather optimistic timescale. The project team would be led by Bob Knight, Jaguar’s senior development engineer and one of the finest conceptual minds of his era. The Browns Lane engineering department at the time was something of a collection of minor fiefdoms, most of whom Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part Two)”

After The джудже The исполин Will Be Among Us

A few days ago, I wondered which marque offered the most badge engineered cars in its range. So, shall we make an effort to investigate this?

2018 Fiat Talento: source

Naturally, I will have to go back to Fiat first. What do you think the result will be? Well, Fiat didn’t really Continue reading “After The джудже The исполин Will Be Among Us”

Flicking the Switch

“Electric now has a Mercedes.” Yes, but have you seen it?

(C) Media-Daimler

“EQ or Electric Intelligence by Mercedes-Benz is our electric mobility brand. EQ represents ‘Emotion and Intelligence’, two Mercedes brand values. It comprises of all essential aspects related to customer-focused electric mobility and goes beyond the vehicle itself.” Mercedes-Benz.

A recent conversation with an industry insider prompted an observation that at Driven to Write, we tend to give Mercedes-Benz’s Chief Creative Officer a bit of a hard time. In this individual’s not entirely unwarranted view, we have a tendency (as one might say in football parlance) to Continue reading “Flicking the Switch”

Only Then Can The Quietude Commence

DTW’s keen eye for a bad detail espied this mechanically adequate A-pilllar recently.

Title title tile

While some Chryslers left the showrooms wearing Lancia badges in recent years, Fiat also had a chance to Continue reading “Only Then Can The Quietude Commence”

Ripples

The bland Triumph which owed everything to a low-key Honda led to the next collaborative effort which Car Magazine headlined as a ‘Bland Rover’. From such inauspicious beginnings came something of a revolution.

Project XX in launch guise. (c) Classicandperformancecar

“England Expects – but Austin Rover Struggles to Deliver”. Cover of Car Magazine in the issue which covered the launch and first drive of the Rover 800.

Looking back, the 800 could probably be acclaimed as a commercial success, in the UK at least, but its launch and early years were dogged by poor quality, bad reliability and uneven capabilities. It represented a faltering of the emerging track-record of BL-Honda cars in terms of reliability.

From the outside looking in, it is easy to Continue reading “Ripples”

Welcome to the Cheap Seats

Or to put it another way, a week with an Aygo. How did we get on?

All images (c) Driven to Write

It began with a bump. Somebody reversed into the Jag, while it was innocently minding its own business. The damage while not great, will likely be expensive, given the manner in which cars such as the XF are constructed these days. Still, with the guilty party’s insurers footing the bill, such matters are perhaps somewhat academic. The upshot being that while the Jaguar is in for a course of rhinoplasty, we’ve been slumming it in a courtesy car.

I must dutifully point out that Toyota’s smallest offering is not exactly a stranger to DTW’s pages, our resident Mr. Herriott having already written at some length upon his experience with a conventional manual version, but the example we are considering today has been fitted with Toyota’s X-Shift automated manual transmission.

Employing a manual gearbox with an electronically automated clutch, it allows the driver to Continue reading “Welcome to the Cheap Seats”

Great European Cars: Number 3

The tension must be mounting at this point. Driventowrite is nearing the summit of the European motoring pantheon.

1965 Wartburg 31

The thin air makes every upward centimetre a struggle against gravity. The cold gnaws into the core of your bones. To put it another way, the competition is fierce as more and more cars struggle to be near the epicentre of the best European motoring has offered. So many vehicles and only one can Continue reading “Great European Cars: Number 3”

Micropost: 2018 Kia Venga

Among my pet hates in Photoshop imagery is lens-flare. This advert for the Kia Venga adds some extra hatefulness and incompetence to that.

Revolting: source

The scene depicts not martians landing on the roof of the Vatican but a kid and a parent playing gleefully around the car. This could have been done in real life – why spend a whole day messing with Photoshop? The perspective is wrong as well. And the light is wrong: the sun is casting light towards the camera but the shadows are falling away from the camera.

Why spend a whole day on what is really a scene of cringe-making sentimentality? Finally, the setting: the almost bare front yard. It’ll be baking hot on a summers’ day and horrible at night too. Ads like this contribute to the worsening of our public spaces.

The Quintessence : (Part One)

William Lyons’ masterpiece. In a series of articles, we celebrate an automotive high watermark as it marks its 50th anniversary.

(c) Jag-lovers.org

Without any doubt at all, the XJ6 is my personal favourite. It comes closer to than any other to what I always had in mind as my ideal car.” Sir William Lyons.

One bright spring morning in 1967, two men strode towards a lock-up garage in the grounds of an imposing Victorian stately home, amid the rolling Warwickshire countryside. As the dew shimmered on the immaculately tended lawns and borders of Wappenbury Hall, Sir William Lyons, Chairman, Chief Executive and spiritus rector regarding all matters aesthetic, led his European Sales Director, John Morgan to where Jaguar’s vitally important new car lay sequestered, in seemingly definitive prototype form.

An autocrat to the tips of his highly polished brogues he may have been, but Lyons nevertheless regularly canvassed the opinions of those he trusted, although having done so, he would Continue reading “The Quintessence : (Part One)”

A Photo For Sunday

It’s in many ways just an ordinary sight south of the Alps yet I can’t help my fascination with these fine cars. You don’t see them much in Denmark, so rarity is part of the appeal. But…

Lancia Ypsilon in Brixen, Sudtirol

… I will concede this interest is definitely peculiar to me, that among the short list of cars I will always stop and look at for as long as I can is included a car like the one above: Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday”

Manchester, patronage of tanning salons in (1983-1987)

Quite possibly the most exciting aspect of today’s post is this rather splendid photo. The rest of it is about product semantics.

I never tire of looking at this car. Source

After having considered why is difficult to understand the visual (it’s about cognition), the next tricky thing is to understand design as compromise (all design is failure). And the next level of complexity deals with understanding that even geometrically exquisite lines are open to interpretation. That means semantics or the meaning of the thing or the meaning of the parts of things. If you think you somehow Continue reading “Manchester, patronage of tanning salons in (1983-1987)”

Toxic Emissions

Does it really matter what car designers say? Should it?

(c) nissan-infiniti

Car designers nowadays are expected not only to be adept at the creative aspects of their calling, but must also learn to articulate it in a manner which in theory at least, helps us, the end user, to engage with and better understand their vision. To be frank, given how some designers appear to struggle with the first component, it is not entirely a surprise to discover that so few of them are anything but inept when it comes to the latter.

It has long been known and indeed commented upon that car designers, and especially those in a leadership role, speak such unregurgitated twaddle. Given the amount of time they spend making impassioned presentations to senior management who require their hands held throughout the stylistic decision-making process, they appear to have lost their ability to Continue reading “Toxic Emissions”

All The VZX 450.3-CN-90 (b) You Can Get Your Hands On

Our good friends at Automotive News reported that after 40 years in production the dear old Lada Niva 4×4 is being radically revised.

The new Lada Niva: source

If I had not seen one of the originals lately I’d possibly have ignored this news. And if I was not a fan of Suzuki’s gradualist approach to their re-working of the Jimny, I might not have thought too hard about this new design from Mr Steve Mattin’s team at Lada.

However I have thought about gradualism in the evolution of niche products like off-roaders, sports cars and luxury cars. And I have seen the current decades old Lada Niva. That means I think the decision to Continue reading “All The VZX 450.3-CN-90 (b) You Can Get Your Hands On”

Micropost: W-140 redesign

In response to the lively discussion about the W-220’s predecessor, I have posted this little gallery of how one might go about redesigning the rear end.

1993 Mercedes S600 coupe: source

The initial problem is the narrow boot aperture and the odd business of the visible weld in the middle of what looks like one part.

I can see from Daniel Callaghan’s proposal that if you simply extend the lamps to the existing boot aperture one ends up with very small radii on the lamps’ inner corner. Mercedes did not want the lamps to have sharp corners: the whole car has quite large radii but especially the lamps are all given relatively rounded corners.

So, if one is to Continue reading “Micropost: W-140 redesign”

The Mayfly

The 1998 S-Class attempted something of a rebalancing act after the critical wobbles experienced by its predecessor. Today it is as forgotten as it was forgettable.

(c) auto-agress

The German general election of 1998 was fought against the backdrop, not only of increased European integration, but growing pains on the domestic front stemming from the 1990 reunification project. With incumbent centre-right Chancellor, Helmut Kohl campaigning on a continuity mandate, the opposition Social Democrats portrayed themselves as the ‘new centre’. The results saw Europe’s strongest economy Continue reading “The Mayfly”

In Darkness They Wandered By The Waal

These are a long way from being all that good as photos. However, it is a rare chance to show a Honda Prelude in the wild.

1999 Honda Prelude: pronounced understatement

I am not any kind of Helmut Newton so I have to present this messy collection of mediocre images of the now-quite-rare Honda Prelude. Over the course of a week I had many opportunities to Continue reading “In Darkness They Wandered By The Waal”

Afterglow

The Acclaim did not live that long a life, but, in a quiet and unnoticed way typical of the car itself, its legacy can be considered to be enduring.

TA late
A late Triumph Acclaim – taken in the Heritage Motor Museum.

“NO OFFENCE. Reliability, something not always associated with BL products, was the most memorable characteristic of our LTT Triumph Acclaim, though the spritely Honda drivetrain also won it approval”. Title of Car’s Long Term Test article regarding an Acclaim HL which it ran over 28,000 miles in 18 months.

So, the Acclaim did achieve a reputation for reliability.

Ian Forster would have been delighted to Continue reading “Afterglow”

Zed’s Dead

BMW has a new styling direction. Heaven help us…

(c) BMW UK

I had been my intention to ignore the introduction of the new BMW Z4, given that last year’s concept Z4 had already lent a strong inkling as to the direction BMW were taking. Couple this to the götterdämmerung afflicting BMW’s FIZ under the tepid design leadership of Adrian van Hooydonk and the last scintilla of doubt had already ran screaming from the building with a fit of the vapours.

When BMW announced the unlovely 8-Series earlier this year many of us marvelled at how it was possible to Continue reading “Zed’s Dead”

Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?

By way of advertising its continued health and vitality – or even its renewed health and vitality –  Opel showed off its GT X Experimental the other day.

More genius from Mark Adams: source

It’s intended as a design for an electric car and that’s going to be Opel’s engineering task in future.

Nobody hates television and talking-head You Tube rubbish more than this correspondent. Despite my loathing of the glue tube, I have to say that this little documentary showed what is not so clear in the static images which accompanied other articles about the GT X. After seeing the little video item I decided I absolutely had to Continue reading “Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?”

Black Puty

Some years ago, a German poultry giant tried to add a whiff of luxury to cold cuts. Today, BMW is attempting something eerily similar. 

black-puty1.jpg
‘Black Puty, are you trying to seduce me?’ photo (c) Wiesenhof

The German word for turkey is Pute (poo-tuh).

This needs to be kept in mind when envisaging a tv commercial playing to the tunes of Ram Jam’s Black Betty, advertising turkey cold cuts by the name of Black Puty. If this sounds utterly absurd, it is not due to cultural misunderstandings – for Black Puty is an utterly daft monicker, regardless of whether one’s mother tongue is German or English.

The company behind Black Puty is Wiesenhof, a German meat industry giant. And a company that, in 2010, when Black Puty was introduced, had even more of an image problem than it does eight years later. First of all, turkey meat never Continue reading “Black Puty”

That Isn’t What We Think You Really Want, Des.

We have had 23 years to come to terms with the Mk1 Renault Megane. That much is easy to state. What’s harder to express is why this design’s strangeness didn’t come across until recently. 

When I say strange, I don’t mean bad strange. I mean good strange, the oddness of the original and the idiosyncratic. The q-word doesn’t apply here though because this is not like an Ami or Multipla. It doesn’t jump out at you so much as whispers.

The start point of this little rumination is what happens when you Continue reading “That Isn’t What We Think You Really Want, Des.”

Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters

Chris Bangle may have been maligned for a good deal during his tenure at BMW, but there are some things one can never quite forgive.

(c) RAC

All evolutionary pathways have their variances, those points of deviation from the natural course, most of which lead to dead-ends. Some however mutate, leading to strange and unnatural creations. In 2007, BMW unveiled one such grotesquery, an incongruously formed fastback SUV concept, dubbed a Sports Activity Coupé, which was revealed the following year in production form as the X6.

Chris Bangle is a man who seems content to Continue reading “Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters”

No, Stand Not By The Yonder Line

It’s not commonly known outside Denmark and northern Germany that the Danish border has only been in its current place since 1921. Before then much of what we call southern Denmark was in German hands.

1878 Rover SD-1 windscreen

Near the old border which runs east to west from Kolding, I found this car, a 1978 Rover SD1 which had been redecorated as a post-1982 Rover Vitesse (it’s a mash up). I am not an SD-1 expert so I restrict my comments to the vehicle shown in these photos. I passed by the car in order to visit Askov, a small town famous for its folk high-school which sojourn took me by the hand and led me to Continue reading “No, Stand Not By The Yonder Line”

Setting Son

More contraction. This time it’s Toyota’s unloved and unwanted Avensis. But will its putative replacement fare any better?

Hello Camry. Image credit: (c) motor1.com

Let us not feign shock, or indeed much by way of regret, after all it was signposted as far back as 2015 when DTW reported upon its likelihood, but this week Toyota made it official, announcing the cessation of Avensis production at their UK plant in Derbyshire. Their underwhelming Europe-only D-sector saloon has been in decline for some years now (with pan-European sales slumping to 25,319 last year*), and with the Derbyshire plant now only fulfilling existing orders, the end is only weeks away.

Similarly telegraphed is that it is to be replaced by the larger Camry model, the first breathless sight European customers will get of the storied nameplate in well over a decade. The Camry was withdrawn from sale in 2004, Toyota Continue reading “Setting Son”

A Longer Read : Signs and Portents

This week, the Lancia Gamma receives the DTW Longer Read treatment.

Image credit: (c) lanciagamma.altervista

It’s a question I’ve been asked on a number of occasions: Why the Gamma? Why devote well over ten thousand words to a car whose failure hastened Lancia’s headlong spiral towards infamy and oblivion. The answer is, like the Gamma’s story itself, somewhat convoluted.

The French have an elegant phrase; l’appel du vide, which roughly translates as the call of the void, which neatly encapsulates not only our ingrained fascination with disaster, but may also go some way to Continue reading “A Longer Read : Signs and Portents”

The Desert Has No Summit

Like our old friend the Suzuki Jimny, this little fellow seems to be a very long lived and stable design.

Lada Niva

To my eyes it looks like a vehicle derived in part from the basic architecture of the Fiat 127, launched in 1971. A bit of research reveals that its designers wanted to create something equivalent to a Renault 5 with four-wheel drive. Its inception is credited to a call from the USSR’s political leadership for a utility vehicle for rural areas. Readers may be surprised to
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