Continental Drift

As Lincoln’s Simon Woodhouse gets a quilted leather handbag in the chops courtesy of his Bentley opposite number, are the designer gloves off for good?

2015 Lincoln Continental concept - image via netcarshow
2015 Lincoln Continental concept – image: netcarshow

This week’s pique-fest courtesy of Bentley’s Luc Donckerwolke is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it breaks a tacit understanding that rival stylists do not publicly criticise one another’s work. Secondly, it prompts the question, is it possible to Continue reading “Continental Drift”

Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone

Or Ford’s 2015 Mondeo is not alone. They are both guilty of the same crime. That crime is to offer a new model that differs very little from the predecessor.

2015 Ford Mondeo
2015 Ford Mondeo

Here’s the new 2015 Mondeo (above). Granted, it’s black and the lighting is terrible. It does look incredibly like the last one though. Ford does not usually do this. Usually they make it really clear that a new model has superceded the old one, for better and for worse. This time they Continue reading “Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone”

Theme : Roads – An Introduction

What are cars for without roads to run them on?

2015 road image crop

Quite a lot of ink is used discussing the handling and ride of cars. Is it ride or is it handling that comes first? For some, these parameters are the deciders when it comes to assessing a car’s excellence or otherwise. Very thorough people go so far as to take in interest in tyres since some cars’ behaviour is affected directly by the rubber chosen to deck the wheels. This raises the question of why ride is an issue and why Continue reading “Theme : Roads – An Introduction”

Jeremy Clarkson Joins Driven To Write

The Outgoing Editor Writes

No Hard Feelings : Simon hands over to The Big Man at a hostelry close to the DTW offices.
No Hard Feelings : Simon hands over to The Big Man at a hostelry close to the DTW offices.

It is with a mixture of sorrow and goodwill that I announce my departure as Senior Editor of Driven To Write, and my immediate replacement by the well-known motoring personality, Mr Jeremy Clarkson. On discussing this with me, The Founders stressed that this has been a hugely painful decision for them to make. I have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months, building this site to be the informed and thoughtful forum it is today. However, there is competition out there and The Founders felt that their ambitions to reach the widest readership possible were not being totally realised. With Mr Clarkson on board they see the chance to leap, at a stroke, from the current readership, who I believe are mostly aged relatives of the three, to one of several billion.

Continue reading “Jeremy Clarkson Joins Driven To Write”

Our Cars – 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Run by: Myles Gorfe.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L
1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Total Mileage: 299,911. Miles since February 2015: 4. Latest costs: £169 for refitting boot hinges, £7401 for harness work (under review) – see last month’s news. £23 for replacing the C-pillar vents again, £12 for tightening the driver’s seat runners, £19 for re-fitting the right mirror, £100 for repairing a transaxle leak, £50 for the flat bed truck, £30 for fixing a leak in the washer fluid tubes.

It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage replaced the boot hinges again. Over-lubrication with the wrong grade of oil meant the old ones failed to Continue reading “Our Cars – 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

Jaguar’s North Star Saloon

The F-Type is not the quintessential modern Jaguar. This is.

The 2016 Jaguar XF - image via performancedrive
The 2016 Jaguar XF – image: performancedrive

Upon release, Jaguar made lavish claims about the significance of the F-Type. How it would become the fulcrum of the entire Jaguar range. How successive models would reference its styling. This has proved wildly inaccurate because on the basis of the two most recent model launches, Jaguar’s pivot point is not in fact the F-Type. It’s the XF. Continue reading “Jaguar’s North Star Saloon”

Austerity Drive

Look at all my lovely buttons – so much choice, so little time!

My Head Hurts! Ford Focus ST
My Head Hurts! Ford Focus ST

From The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut : “The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the centre post of the cabin – one labelled ‘ON’ and one labelled ‘OFF’. The ON button simply started a flight from Mars. The OFF button connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of the Martian mental health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.”

In a companion piece, I’ll shortly sing the delights of a car that entertains, but there’s another side to this. Cars have become complex, with lots of switches and touch-screen options. If you drive a modern car, do you use every option that is available to you? Do you even know every option?

Continue reading “Austerity Drive”

A photo Series for Sunday: 1982 Buick Skylark Sport

This car falls into the same category as the Mercury Monarch I wrote about a few weeks ago. 

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It’s a dented working car. It’s a pretty ordinary car too, possibly even more ordinary than the Monarch. It’s a small, front wheel-drive monocoque vehicle from the lower end of the price range. The engine is mounted transversely and the front suspension uses McPherson struts. In concept terms, it’s the same a VW Golf. Or, in image terms, think of it as a Rover 45 saloon with sporting accents. Continue reading “A photo Series for Sunday: 1982 Buick Skylark Sport”

Retro: Yes or No?

During the last decade of the 20th century a wave of retro cars were shown as concept cars or sold as production cars.

1989 Nissan Figaro
1989 Nissan Figaro

These vehicles re-used details and characteristics of designs from the 1950s and 1960s or perhaps ideas of these times. I will not discuss the reasons for this trend but rather retro design itself, and the two alternatives, modernism and classicism. I take the view that the best industrial design is impersonal. Continue reading “Retro: Yes or No?”

Unforgetting: 2007 Dodge Caliber

Or Calibre, if you are writing using British English.

2007 Dodge Calibre interior. Image: Edmunds.com
2007 Dodge Calibre interior. Image: Edmunds.com

I only remembered this one because I saw an example other day. I didn’t know what it was so I thought it must be one of those Chrysler things. Or Dodge things. Or maybe a Plymouth. Whatever. There was a time when American car interiors were cherishably bad. They might have been a bit careless but they had a humour and brio to them. The Calibre’s is simply bad and dispiriting but is a great example of when simple (good) becomes banal (not good). All the great simple designs have a twist or an inflection or a grace note. This set of straight lines (above) is Continue reading “Unforgetting: 2007 Dodge Caliber”

Unforgetting: 1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws

Obviously I haven’t forgotten it. But nearly everyone else has.

1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws
1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws

Around the late 80s the Japanese car industry had a thing about technology. An arms race between Honda, Toyota and Nissan had the firms vying to outdo one another in the levels of fiendish ingenuity they could tempt customers with. An economic boom drove this boom in engineering silliness. Whereas in Europe and the US the late 80s economic expansion meant more cubic capacity, the Japanese tended to focus on all the other areas of the car. It led to some wonderful creations, hopeful monsters like this all-wheel drive Mitsubishi saloon.  Continue reading “Unforgetting: 1989 Mitsubishi Galant 4wd 4ws”

Here’s the Engine for the Next Opel Senator

Automotive News has reported that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 will be equipped with a twin turbo V-6 (below). We wonder if this device will also power Opel’s possible future range topper, the revived Senator.

2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine
2016 GM V6 twin-turbo engine. Image from Automotive News.

This is what Automotive News said: “[a] spirit of innovation will extend to the sedan’s powertrain, with General Motors announcing that an all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 will be available under the CT6’s hood. The direct-injected V-6 is estimated to generate 400 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. At 133 hp per liter, Cadillac claims, the new engine is one of the most power-dense engines of its type. Continue reading “Here’s the Engine for the Next Opel Senator”

History Repeating – XJ40 Part 16

Phase Four: 1986-1994 – Keeping up appearances. Jaguar revises XJ40 as the tide turns against it. 

Image via productioncars
1988 and XJ40’s fortunes become inextricably bound up with Jaguar’s wobbly financials. Image: productioncars

With the British motoring press sharpening their quills, Car’s concluding long-term report on an early 3.6 Sovereign sounded a somewhat conciliatory note.  “Because it did some things remarkably well, the contrast with the things it did badly was sharper. Mostly it was the detail design that gripped us with despair… It rings of the bells of time running out and shortcut solutions running freely.”

Continue reading “History Repeating – XJ40 Part 16”

Pininfarina – An Appreciation

I started this a bit of a joke. Having looked at a very great many of Pininfarina’s cars, I had to work hard to find this selection of duds. 

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Actually, I was reminded of a lot of very good concept cars which look great today and should have been made. Also, while the 1971 Pininfarina Ro80 concept has an odd decorative feature on the side, I am convinced this car served as eventual inspiration for a decade of Cadillacs and other GM cars in the 80s. Continue reading “Pininfarina – An Appreciation”

They Never Learn

Automotive News reports that Renault are going to replace the Laguna and Latitude with a single model. Fine. But they said something we have heard so many times before.

2007 Renault Laguna: the problem is not the styling.
2007 Renault Laguna: the problem is not the styling.

“Renault says the Laguna/Latitude replacement will have a more emotional styling.” The bulk of AN’s report details the statistics of the C-D segment. In brief: fewer sold than ever, Renault selling fewer again, losses. What the article doesn’t address is that the last Laguna lost customers due to its reliability problems and the current car did not get those customers back because it simply wasn’t special enough. Special doesn’t mean emotional.

As I never tire of repeating, Continue reading “They Never Learn”

Is Pininfarina About To Lose Its Independence?**

Bloomberg has reported that Mahindra are rumoured to have plans to purchase Pininfarina.

1975 Rolls Royce Camargue. From carsbase.com
1975 Rolls Royce Camargue. From carsbase.com

This news caused Pininfarina’s shares to rise in value. It also presumably caused many car enthusiasts’ hearts to sink correspondingly. However, such a purchase might not be the worst outcome. ItalDesign has been taken over by VW, a firm that does not Continue reading “Is Pininfarina About To Lose Its Independence?**”

Benchmarks: Audi’s Monospace Capsule

The A2 wasn’t just the most intelligently wrought Audi ever. It was also their most expensive sales flop. We tell its story.

Audi A2. Image via nordschleifeautoblahg
Still bracingly contemporary – Audi’s A2. Image via nordschleifeautoblahg

History marks the Audi A2 as a failure, and with vast commercial losses incurred during a six year lifespan, it’s convenient to imagine this. Since 2005, the party line has been that Audi took a brave, risky and ultimately doomed gamble into the unknown; one which was studiously ignored by the buying public. But did they? Continue reading “Benchmarks: Audi’s Monospace Capsule”

The Hunt For a Green Car: Land Rover

Land Rover very modestly offer a single, dark green called Aintree Green. They have eleven colours in all.

2015 Land Rover Evoque in Aintree Green.
2015 Land Rover Evoque in Aintree Green.

If you read the accompanying text, LR describe the design as “kinetic design”. I thought Ford owned that term. Unfortunately, the colour range is shown as a sliding bar so you can’t see all the colours at once. Here is the interior with its almond/espresso trim. The total cost of the car as optioned is £32,000. I chose a mid-range diesel and trim pack. Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car: Land Rover”

Theme : Benchmarks – The Rover 620 SLi And Its 1993 Peers

In 1993 the Rover 620i faced the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and Ford Mondeo 2.0. 

1994 Rover 620 Si
1994 Rover 620 Si

All of these cars had something going for them. Car magazine judged all four to be “formidable”. Car estimated the BMW to cost €17,000 with a few options thrown in to make it habitable; ditto the Rover though it came with more features as standard. The Mondeo cost only £14,000 in GLX trim (I miss trim designations like that). Citroen wanted £17,500 for their car. So what are these cars worth now?

If you Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – The Rover 620 SLi And Its 1993 Peers”

The Hunt For a Green Car: Jaguar

As it happens, Jaguar unveiled its new XF today, hailing it as the best looking car in its class. 

Automotive News´s image of the new XF.
Automotive News´s image of the new XF.

I misread the headline at Automotive News and thought they had done some more unveiling of the XE. You know how these unveilings run and run. Maybe this was the official unveiling of the car for actual sale as opposed to the unveiling for the automotive press or some car show or other. Cars seem to spend a third of their lives being gradually unveiled. And here is the old one: Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car: Jaguar”

The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued

Nothing turned up at Renault though their Clio has 13 colours**. Fiat made it impossible to find out what they had in under five minutes though their website looks nice. I could not be bothered….

2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.
2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.

Mazda have six colours for their new 2 but not a green. The red costs a remarkable €750 while the other colours are running at €450. White is the only colour that comes at €0. Citroen is another green-free zone. The DS5 which is a car for individualists comes in a range of colours limited to six, nearly all of which are some form of grey or black. I really believe that if they offered this car in banana, lime, strawberry and mustard it would Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued”

The Hunt for a Green Car: 2015 Ford Tourneo Connect

No, it’s not green but a very excellent yellow called Solar Yellow Metallic.

It more than compensates for Ford´s lack of verdant colours.
It more than compensates for Ford´s lack of verdant colours.

Here is the Ford Ka colour palette. The blue is greenish but not a pure green. Continue reading “The Hunt for a Green Car: 2015 Ford Tourneo Connect”

Theme : Benchmarks – Le Système Panhard

The horse before the cart – or was it the other way round?

GM X Frame
GM’s notorious X-Frame showing the layout in its simplicity

It hardly seems like an invention but innovators often do something that, with the benefit of hindsight, the rest of us think is so bloody obvious that we can’t see what the fuss is about. So, in 1892, after a couple of years of fiddling around with alternatives, Émile Levassor decided to put an internal combustion engine in the front of the car he was developing with René Panhard, then he connected it to a clutch with, behind that, a simple gearbox which took drive back to the rear wheels. This they continued to develop, producing the forerunner of the manual gearbox we recognise today in 1895.

Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Le Système Panhard”

A Little More Colour From Hyundai: i10 Colour Names

As regular readers know, I have been keeping a close eye on colour. On the way out of the car dealer last Sunday I grabbed a colour and trim brochure for the Hyundai i10. What did I find?

2015 Hyundai i10 in Sweet Orange or New Orange garb.
2015 Hyundai i10 in Sweet Orange or New Orange garb.

I find British buyers are being deprived of choice. To their credit, Hyundai are making their i10 available in ten different colours. Not a single one of them is green and nor will you find yellow. This is not a surprise. On the plus side, there are two deep reds and an orange called “New Orange” in Denmark or “Sweet Orange” in Sweden. They also offer the car in a very regal blue called Continue reading “A Little More Colour From Hyundai: i10 Colour Names”

Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina

While The Truth About Cars was informing us on the business model of the Autolib concept, I was thinking about something else. 

Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.
Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.

This is some of what the Truth About Cars wrote: The technology involves lithium metal polymer batteries, developed by Bollore’s Blue Solutions. The batteries, which don’t need liquid electrolytes to store power, are not only lighter in weight than lithium-ion packs, but can be charged up to 3,000 times, and are stable at temps up to 338 F. No one else has gone for the technology thus far, however; Bollore invested €3 billion ($3.2 billion) over three years to develop the EVs and the battery technology now in use by his ventures.” Continue reading “Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina”

Innovation In Classic Car Sales

Classic car sales is not a line of business known for its propensity to change. Thus I am impressed by the efforts made by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina, to invest in their presentation methods.

1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.
1982 Toyota Supra at RK Motors, NC, USA.

I chose this film at random and was very taken with the slick visuals to to display the features and quality of the vehicle. While most of the visual moves are directly from the play-book of television automotive advertising, it is noteworthy to see them applied to a single car. Continue reading “Innovation In Classic Car Sales”

Sunday Matinée – The Renault 5 Story

Following our recent Benchmarks piece on the Renault 5, you are quite naturally burning to know more about this little French marvel.

Ever obliging, we offer this (not particularly short) film on the development and history of the Cinq. Made by Renault themselves, it’s a little hagiographic in parts, but an enjoyable (and informative) trawl nonetheless. Enjoy.

A Photo for Sunday – 2006 Ford Mondeo

This is not yet another of my pleas for the world to acknowledge the subtle allure of the 2000-2007 Ford Mondeo.

2006 Ford Mondeo Ghia in Aarhus, Denmark.
2006 Ford Mondeo Ghia in Aarhus, Denmark.

Rather it’s a chance to meditate on the impact of trim on the perception of a car. In this instance we see something quite rare: a Ford Mondeo with all the options thrown at it. The version here is a Ghia in 2.0 diesel guise. It has a body kit which makes it look lower though not excessively so. Chrome accents give the door-handles a boost.

The six spoke alloys would grace a Bugatti and finally Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday – 2006 Ford Mondeo”

The Children of Eisenach

In 1991 Opel launched the F-series Astra which lasted until 1998. These unsung cars form part of our streetscape and are often overlooked. I took a series of photos of them in their daily setting so as to document the afterlife of the car.

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While the VW Golf basks in kudos for its design consistency, and Ford enjoys the warm glow of popular approval, the poor old Astra lingers in the deep shadows of something or other. I find the shape has aged very well and I wish later cars in this class had the same clear fenestration. Continue reading “The Children of Eisenach”

History in Cars: Ten Feet of Trouble

Neminisis – a tale of a Mini well past its best…

Mini-Hero

It might interest you to learn that during the 1960’s, BMC assembled Mini’s in Dublin to a standard not vastly dissimilar to that at Longbridge. Make of that what you will. It was from here that MZI 265 – a light grey Morris Mini Minor emerged in 1966. Republic-spec Mini’s straddled basic and De-Luxe models, having carpeting, a heater and duo-tone upholstery, if little else by way of creature comfort.

I know little of MZI’s early history but it belonged to a succession of relatives before Continue reading “History in Cars: Ten Feet of Trouble”

Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options

Ever since 1978 (Oct 4, 12.34 pm), the dominant colour range used in car interiors has been tending towards the cool: that would be grey, blue, black. 

2015 Hyundai i20 door.
2015 Hyundai i20 door.

Up until that time most manufacturers offered upholstery, carpet and plastic trim in colours such as ivy green, navy blue, light blue, orange-brown, mid-green, red, bordeaux (what the Truth About Cars insists on calling Bordello Red). I have been looking at colour lately and first noticed a more daring use of tans and browns in concept cars (the most concept-y aspect of most of them) and now this trend feeding into production car interiors. Here is my evidence: the new Hyundai i20. Continue reading “Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options”

BMW Mille Miglia 2006

A concept that does nothing more than entertain – which is no bad thing

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Showcars often drive me up the wall by giving us an idealised version of something that actually will be produced, thus diminishing the effect of the production model. In the case of the 2006 Mille Miglia, I doubt anyone expected to build either it, or a watered down version. Continue reading “BMW Mille Miglia 2006”

Theme : Benchmarks -The Renault 5 in Five Easy Pieces

Five reasons why the Cinq was a benchmark small car

Every living room should have one. 1972 Renault 5 - image via curbsideclassic
Every living room should have one. 1972 Renault 5 – image via curbsideclassics

1. Like many significant cars, the 5 was the brainwave of one man; originally created as something of a thought experiment. In 1968, Renault designer Michel Boué sketched the design proposal in his spare time; marking out the now familiar outline superimposed upon a photo of a contemporary Renault 4. Hence the silhouette and unusually tall canopy. Renault design bosses, upon seeing his work, adopted it for production virtually unaltered. Based on the engines and drivetrain of the popular Renault 4/6 models, the R5 is a rare case of inspiration undiluted.  Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks -The Renault 5 in Five Easy Pieces”

Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation

Let’s re-create a winner. What could go wrong?

Jaguar Presentation

Motoring history has many concepts and show cars that disappointed when they were turned into production models, but equally tantalising are the occasions when a manufacturer has looked back into its own history and tried to re-create one of its own supposed ‘classics’. This is sometimes commercially successful, sometimes critically successful, but those of us in the world of motoring who spend our time considering the automotive equivalent of fitting angels onto pin heads are usually frustrated. Here are some of my own personal disappointments and maybe a success or two.

Mini to MINI : Starting with an obvious one that produces greatly polarised opinions. The styling of Frank Stephenson’s relaunch MINI was a clever update on the original, not too slavish, with its own distinctive detailing and more than a hint of Aston Martin at the front, which made the point that this was not intended as a true successor to Issigonis’s peoples car. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation”

Chrysler Follows Lancia’s Footsteps Out of the UK

Our good friends at Autocar have reported that Chrysler is going to give up and flee the UK market. This will disappoint only those Lancia fans who had a brief chance to buy the Delta and Ypsilon.

A modern family hatchback designed to provide an unrivalled blend of style, space, technology and luxury. "With a host of impressive details, the Delta delivers on every level."
“A modern family hatchback designed to provide an unrivalled blend of style, space, technology and luxury. With a host of impressive details, the Delta delivers on every level.”

I was entirely unaware or had forgotten that Chrysler were selling the Delta in the UK and Ireland. There is one used Delta in stock in the UK, by the way. Sales of Chryslers were never impressive, 3000 in a good year. The cost of preparing these cars for RHD production must have meant they lost money on each of these unless they had huge success in some RHD market of which I was not aware… Japan? New Zealand? Continue reading “Chrysler Follows Lancia’s Footsteps Out of the UK”

The Lump

In the middle of a piece of automotive copy the Lump is often found: the engine performance figures. I really don’t care for it much and it’s time it retired.

1978 Dastun 200SX. Image from www.productioncars.com
1978 Dastun 200SX. Image from http://www.productioncars.com

Typically the worst case is when a model is revised to be even more “ultimate”. As your eyes wander across the lines you stumble across it like a hiker in a mire: “The unit develops 178 bhp, up 23 bhp from before, at 6500 rpm, 450 lower than the outgoing model, and produces 194 lb fb of torque, 23 lb ft extra”. I find this incredibly unpalatable.

It’s a line requiring a good edit and some interpretation to Continue reading “The Lump”

The Peugeot 604 is 40 This Year, Part II

In the name of cultural exchange between our two great continents, I have contributed to the blog French Cars In America. I had to compress to 700 words my thoughts on a car dear to my heart. 

1983 Peugeot 604. Image: www.lrm-collection.fr
1983 Peugeot 604. Image: http://www.lrm-collection.fr

You can read more of my scintillating prose here.

A copy of Car, Nov. 1975 turned up on my floormat last week. I ordered it so as to read a Giant Test involving the Peugeot 604, the Jaguar XJ 3.4 and the BMW 528. The Peugeot and Jaguar trounced the 528 which lost points for its shabby handling, confined interior and wind-noise. Car concluded that in several areas including ride, roominess and comfort, the Peugeot had bested the Jaguar. Continue reading “The Peugeot 604 is 40 This Year, Part II”

Spot Check on the Motoring Press

A few months back Car magazine ran a very harsh review of the 2015 Nissan Pulsar. You can read the text here (undated) to see all that they said.

2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.
2015 Nissan Pulsar in Dig-T 115 Tekna X-tronic trim. Leather, autobox and alloys.

Ever since then I have been wondering how bad could it be so in the name of half-baked research I went to look at a real Pulsar but didn’t manage to actually drive it. Key to understanding the Pulsar is this part of the Car review: “The wheelbase of the Barcelona-built Pulsar, at 2.7 metres, is the longest in its class, no doubt helping the supple ride quality, and rear legroom (all 692mm of it) at least matches a Skoda Superb, and might even better it.”   Continue reading “Spot Check on the Motoring Press”

Fossil Traces: Porsche Panamericana Concept

Porsche’s win at the 1986 Paris Dakar rally with the 959 must have left some residual sand in their shoes, prompting this piece of conceptual frivolity – the 1989 Panamericana.

tcarsthatnevermadeit-PanAmerica1
Rinspeed couldn’t have made it look any sillier. Panamericana by Porsche – image via carsthatnevermadeit

Part 911, part Baja dune buggy, part Hotwheels toy, Harm Legaay’s Panamericana was Porsche sounding out its fanbase as to the limits of where the 911 concept could be stretched. As we all know now, the answer was not nearly far enough. Continue reading “Fossil Traces: Porsche Panamericana Concept”

Full Brazillian Colour Analysis

Boredom drove me to find out what sorts of colours are available for cheapish cars in Brazil. Then I came back to Europe via Japan.

2015 Toyota Etios colour palette. Image: Toyota Brazil.
2015 Toyota Etios colour palette. Image: Toyota Brazil.

I started out thinking that because Brazil is full of warm and spontaneous people they would have a very lively palette of vehicle colours. Not so. No greens, no yellows and no oranges. And guess which company offers 12 exterior shades for their base model car? We’ll leave that to the end.  Continue reading “Full Brazillian Colour Analysis”

Monochrome Car Bingo

Here is a great new game for people out and about. It goes by the name “monochrome bingo”.

Black car bingo. Seven in a row. Beat that! (Notice the first car is the very rare Subaru Legacy saloon).
Black car bingo. Seven in a row. Beat that! (Notice the first car is the very rare Subaru Legacy saloon).

Each player chooses a colour e.g. grey, anthracite, silver or black. Here is an example: seven black cars in a row. Whoever spots the most cars of the same colour in a row by an agreed time wins. Good places to play include airport car parks and Ikea car parks. Car dealerships are not valid areas for play.

A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX

Every so often, a concept car symbolises the crossing of an invisible line. Here’s one of them.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer next to the DBX concept-Geneva 2015 - image via motorauthority
You’d imagine they’d have found a jacket to fit him… Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer announces the DBX concept-Geneva 2015 – image via motorauthority

The Aston Martin DBX represents the best clue yet to the Gaydon-based marque’s future intentions. Aston Martin’s new CEO, Andy Palmer has stated a version of this car will be produced, telling the Telegraph last week; “The DBX is not an SUV, it’s an expression of a GT sports car; a DB crossing over into that usable space… it will be a five-door vehicle, and it won’t grow much bigger than the DBX.”  Continue reading “A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX”

2004 Opel Astra Sport Hatch

Underrated. I’ve not seen more than a handful of these. Take another look. That’s a car many people could afford with little effort. Yet few bothered. Market failure, I say.

2004 Opel Astra Sporthatch. Image: autoevolution.com
2004 Opel Astra Sporthatch. Image: autoevolution.com

This is what the AA said: “Perhaps the greatest recommendation for the Astra Sport Hatch is that it feels very similar to the BMW 1 Series, both inside the cabin and in its on-road behaviour. It may lack the much-vaunted 50/50 weight distribution of the BMW but it drives as sweetly, seems just as well built and of course is much cheaper.”

And this is what Parker’s said: Continue reading “2004 Opel Astra Sport Hatch”

The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara

Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan. 

Toyota Avensis - get 'em while they're hot - image via infoziare
Toyota Avensis – get ’em while they’re still hot – image via infoziare

A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”

Theme – Benchmarks: Glovebox Capacities

What one remembers often has little to do with what is important. I clearly recall James Ruppert deriding the 1998 Mazda 626 as being a car whose sole claim to fame was that it had the biggest glove box in its class.

2010 Toyota Prius glove boxes. Neat. Rattly.
2010 Toyota Prius glove boxes. Neat. Rattly.

This small and apparently modest claim is a good example of the problem of epistemology. That relates to how we know what we know and how much faith we can have in our beliefs. On the face of it, a glovebox is a simple structure with measurable dimensions. It ought to be easy to determine which glove box is biggest.

However, on closer examination the claim turns out to Continue reading “Theme – Benchmarks: Glovebox Capacities”

Theme: Benchmarks – The Biggest Boot On a Passenger Car

….is, according to my research, the one fitted to the 2008-2015 Skoda Superb. 

633 litres of luggage capacity. The 2015 Skoda Superb. Image: best-carz.com
633 litres of luggage capacity. The 2015 Skoda Superb. Image: best-carz.com

It holds 633 litres. The rear leg room is astonishing as well. You can fit loads of legs back there. This trumps the one I had imagined was the largest, the discontinued 1996 Continue reading “Theme: Benchmarks – The Biggest Boot On a Passenger Car”

Theme : Benchmarks – A Random Selection From A Random Industry

Some Very Personal Benchmarks

Panhard 24

Since Simon has granted us the discretion to be reasonably subjective, I make no apologies for presenting a set of purely personal benchmarks, which I will make little attempt to defend with any objective data.  Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – A Random Selection From A Random Industry”