Little Wonder

The 1978 Midas and its talented creator appear largely forgotten. Neither really ought to be.

1978 Midas. (c) bright-cars

Even amongst those who breathe petrol vapour for pleasure, Harold Dermott is not a household name. And this is a pity, for he is intrinsically linked to two of Britain’s cleverest and most dynamically accomplished enthusiast cars. That they represent polar opposites upon the affordability spectrum is largely irrelevant – both are equally rare sights today.

But while one is rightly celebrated as arguably the pinnacle of road-car development, the 1978 Midas remains a neglected automotive footnote – a matter which not only belies the craft and ingenuity of its design and construction, but also speaks volumes as to how the automotive world values its innovators and outliers.

Having graduated with a BSc in mechanical engineering, Harold Dermott joined BL in the early ’70s, working on engine development for Jaguar. However, following the notorious Ryder Report, prospects looked bleak for a young, ambitious engineer, and having departed the embattled carmaker, he obtained the rights to Continue reading “Little Wonder”

How Objective Is Top Gear’s Rating System?

As I mentioned recently, I have been leafing through the Top Gear 2016 Car Buyers [sic] Guide. I made an interesting discovery.

2016 Ford S-Max: www.ford.co.uk
2016 Ford S-Max: http://www.ford.co.uk

Top Gear provides a rating for every car they review, graded as marks out of ten. I crunched the ratings for six classes of car: MPVs, city cars, hatchbacks, executive cars, sports cars and cabriolets. Continue reading “How Objective Is Top Gear’s Rating System?”

Theme: Evolution – Introduction

This month’s theme explores change over time.

2005 Bugatti Veyron: motorauthority.com
2005 Bugatti Veyron: motorauthority.com

Car design is driven by the combination of the needs of society, the imperatives of marketing and the possibilities of engineering. All of these factors are in constant flux and interact with other in complex ways. “Longer, lower, wider, that’s how you sell a car.” A quote something like this has been attributed to the godfather of designers, Harley Earl. For a long time this was true and since 1940s cars were usually incredibly tall there was a long way to go before it became impossible to wear a hat in a car and “lower” didn’t work. Evolution reaches dead ends.

Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Introduction”