In this text which is ostensibly a transcript of an authentic period review, the legendary motoring correspondent, Archie Vicar, hooks a gander at the Van Den Plas Princess 4-litre R.
[The article titled “All things considered” is thought to have appeared in the Evening Post-Echo (extra edition) on March 23, 1967. Douglas Land-Windermere is credited with the photography. Due to the exceptionally poor quality of the originals, stock photos have been used.]
There can be no doubt about it but BMC is certainly in the middle of a winning streak. The Riley Kestrel, Mini Moke, Wolseley 1100/1300, Morris 1800, MGC and Austin 1800 are all in their showrooms having been launched in the recent past. Furthermore, BMC has acquired the ever-problematic Jaguar and looks set to put that ever-leaky ship on an even keel in no time at all. So, it cannot be surprising that a car like the Van Den Plas Princess 4-litre R is part of BMC´s vigorously competent team. Continue reading ““All Things Considered””
Recently I had a chance to be a passenger in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 and took the chance to see how they solved the ash problem.
The ashtray is the sliding lid type, rather cleverly flush with the surrounding surface. That’s done by having the adjacent panel meeting the console exactly where the ashtray slides forward. There’s a small flange to allow the user to push the lid forward to open it. It’s probably not the world´s biggest ashtray but then again it’s a compact car, comparable in dimensions to a BMW 3 (E21 1975-1983) of the same period. It would be a bit much to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8”
Veteran motoring correspondent Archie Vicar offers his driving impressions of the 1971 De Tomaso Deauville.
This may be a transcription of an article that first appeared in the Hartlepool Afternoon Post. Original photos by Dean Suarez but owing to the poor quality of the source, stock images have been used.
Consider luxury cars from Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin and one must undeniably concede they suggest a degree of similarity which borders on the insipid. Manufacturers are being forced by the nanny state and ever-more-cautious customers to present cars which differ from each other in only the smallest ways. So, in these increasingly competitive times, originality is even more important (and rarer!) than ever before. Luckily, the De Tomaso Deauville has it in large quantities and the car is on sale now to the lucky few. Continue reading “1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest”
DTW is almost nauseously thrilled to be able to present this successor to the legendary Saab 900 ashtray.
A lot is revealed about the Saab 9000 merely by inspecting its ashtrays. The driver and front passenger can use a smoothly-actuating drawer-type unit with a capacity of nearly 200 mls. It’s very well situated and easy to open and close. In the back we find that Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1984 -1998 Saab 9000”
We are very proud of our focus on this aspect of car design: ashtrays.
This one serves in a Renault 4. The quattrelle had a three decade production run; it’s not fanciful to wonder if it could have endured as long as the Defender had it been marketed as slightly separate to Renault’s modern range. Continue reading “Ashtrays: Renault 4”
We looked at the extensive failings of the Avensis’ auxiliary controls this week. This article deals with the rest of the car.
Toyota have been making this class of car for 50 years. The Avensis name has been attached to offerings in the middle market for 19 years. This version is third one to carry the name. They ought to be pretty good at this by now. So, we ask, what is it like to drive a vehicle aimed at a competitive and hard-fought and declining segment? Continue reading “2014 Toyota Avensis (Part 2)”
In what seems to be a transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring correspondent Archie Vicar reports on the ‘all-new’ Bristol 411.
This article could well have first appeared in the Sheffield Sunday Post, 25th Jan 1970. Due to the poor quality of the original images (by Douglas Land-Windermere), stock photos have been used.
It’s all change at Bristol. The fast-moving Filton manufacturer has responded to the challenges of the times with a veritable flotilla of improvements to their latest car, the 411. Bristol has many unique attributes to help it stay ahead of the competition in these increasingly competitive times. First among them is the remarkably high level of quality on which they insist: the cars are hand-made by craftsman steeped in aviation engineering and versed in production methods that go back decades. While Rolls-Royce and indeed Bentley have switched to monococque construction – making them little more than Cortinas with wood and walnut, some say Continue reading “1969 Bristol 411 Roadtest”
Just two Renault 30’s remain in Denmark. Here is the driver’s ashtray of one of them, another DTW world exclusive.
I may not have seen an R30 for decades. Like all Renaults these cars aren’t keepers so almost nobody has preserved them. The owner was embarrassed by the paint. This opportunity afforded me a close look at the finish, fit and materials. Having recently seen the 1975 Peugeot 604 I can see that the Renault doesn’t do things worse but differently. The ashtray is smaller than I expected; the R25 (how did the series number fall back?) had one maybe twice as large though. The position is okay; it’s a tray-type with a smooth action. If you want to see it open you need to… Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1976 Renault 30 TS V6”
I’d like to present a car only Myles Gorfe, our contributing classics assistant sub-editor-at-large, would like.
The sills are badly perforated. Goodness knows what’s under the car. This rot’s not shown in my photos, taken in a pretty part of southern Denmark (not the area right around the car). The bumpers are faded. Note the driver’s door toproll is safely secured with two screws that most likely weren’t there when the car rolled of the line at Ford’s Koeln plant in 1983. The rug comes with the car, justifying the 9100 kr asking (I think the rug costs 100kr). The 2.3 litre V6 would otherwise be a nice version (114 ps) but not this example. The colour is sad. I looked for a 2.3 in 2004 and failed to Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1983 Ford Granada 2.3 L”
We can add this vehicle to the DTW collection of ashtray rarities.
There are not so many of these cars hanging around and good one costs around €17,000 these days. The styling, by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, is something of a legend. He also handled the interior, sprucing up the design based on the 130 saloon. And in turn Fiat carried these improvements back to the saloon (which already had a very fine interior). Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1972 Fiat 130 Coupe”
This must be a DTW exclusive. Daihatsu offered a small-car with a tank-like demeanour.
I thought I’d like being inside this car but I didn’t. The high window-line and the cliff of dashboard coupled with the hard seats lent the car an altogether unwelcoming feeling. A casual net search showed only grey interiors. It is spacious and according to Car was quite alright if taken as an urban runabout and not a device for spirited driving. Thanks, Car, for conceding that much. They said this: “This is one of the Materia’s ace cards. It really is roomy in there, with plenty of room for four adults to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2008 Daihatsu Materia”
At long last DTW has finally had a close look at the ashtray of a Lancia Lybra.
Before turning to that, I can report that the rest of the car is wholly agreeable, even if the upholstery is in dull, north European grey. It is velour and that helps. The rear ashtray is in the centre console and is of the pull-out, rear-hinged type. It looked adequate. The rear seats offer a comfortable place to spend time. If we compare it to a Ford Focus or VW Golf it is definitely more pleasant. I particularly liked the sculpting of the seats which are invitingly formed and much more pleasing than the other two cars. The Focus 1’s seats stood out as a weak spot. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2002 Lancia Lybra”
“Dignified Italian” is how Autocar described the 130 saloon in 1972. Having had a chance to sit inside one of these cars recently, I can confirm that this actually undersells what is a remarkably lavish saloon.
Fiat intended the 130 to take on cars from the higher echelons of the mainstream luxury marques. Presumably this meant the middle and higher level Mercedes saloons such as the W-110 (which would have been in production when the 130 began development). As it happened the year before launch, Mercedes produced the W-114 and went on to sell nearly 2 million examples between 1968 and 1976. In about the same time, Fiat sold just 15,000 of their 130 saloons. The received wisdom is that the 130 was a failure – one of many also-rans in the executive class from this time. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1972 Fiat 130 Berlina”
These cars won’t keep out of the way of this site. It’s a W114 coupe ashtray, as designed by Paul Bracq.
If you look at Bracq’s career, we see that the 1968 W114 (the six-cylinder cars) and the W115 (the four-cylinder cars) came out the year after he left Mercedes Benz. So where does this design fit in with the story of German design rationalism? How can we reconcile the fact that these cars which epitomise German design sensibilities were overseen by a French chap who trained under another French designer, the great Charbonneaux? Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1968 Mercedes W114 Coupe”
It’s a real pleasure to be able to present this car’s ashtray. It’s not that the ashtray is all that good it is more because…
…it’s a chance to see Cadillac’s attempt to get away from land-yachts and move in the direction of a more roadable car before it got out of hand and they forgot their values. The ashtray itself is just about alright. If you are driving then the gear-selector will be pulled rearwards and out of the way of the ashtray. If you are sitting in the car waiting and kippering yourself with cigar smoke then the relationship of the T-selector and tray is less satisfactory. As in the Citroen XM for RHD cars, you need to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1991 Cadillac Seville STS”
The seller placed this ad in January and the car is still for sale despite the promise of a complete lack of rust.
According to the spiel, the car came from Switzerland three years ago. The car has had a new timing belt fitted, its wheels renovated and the ashtray emptied. It even has a full Danish motor certificate which is a guarantee the underbody is sound. Alas, one of the engine’s valves has blown and the owner has not had the strength of character to get around to wanting to fix it. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1988 Citroen CX Diesel”
I had reason to be in the back of Audi A6 the other day.
They have rather swish taxis in Denmark, I would say. Seeing a fully functional ashtray in the door of the A6 made me raise my eyebrows and I had the time to take two slightly blurred shots of the design. I don’t much care for door mounted ashtrays. They are positioned so that you must Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2014 Audi A6”
Among the many publications to which Archie Vicar contributed was the Woman’s Monthly Report (WMR), published in Tewkesbury.
This text appears to be a transcript of his views on the updated Fiat 127, an item notable for its distinct refusal to patronise the audience, published in the WMR in October 1977. Owing to the original film being accidentally exposed in transit, stock images have been used.
The Fiat 127 has come to define the category of car it created, the “supermini” . Six years on from its launch a quarter of all “superminis” are 127s. The appeal of the car is in its handy size and competitive price if not its boxy appearance and careless assembly. Since 1971, Renault, Volkswagen and Peugeot have fielded entrants in the class. It’s time for Fiat to respond.
To stay competitive, Fiat have updated and improved various aspects of the 127 which, while being small and cheap, is also noisy, cramped and slow. Fiat showcased their new car in a lavish event set in the north of Italy and I noted how much the car has been improved. Continue reading “1977 Fiat 127 review”
At the Classic Race Aarhus today I spotted this Jensen Healey, which was the most succesful Jensen of them all, despite its short run from 1972 to 1976. It had a 2.0 litre Lotus engine and this very, very small ashtray.
According to Wikipedia this fine handling car consisted mostly of Vauxhall bits. “Suspension was simple but effective with double wishbone and coil springs at the front, and a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear. Brakes consisted of discs at the front and drums at the rear. The suspension, steering gear, brakes and rear axle were adapted from the Vauxhall Firenza with the exception of the front brakes which were the widely used Girling Type 14 Calipers.” Girling, a name you could trust. Continue reading “Classic Race Aarhus: 1972 to 1976 Jensen Healey”
Total Mileage: 299,914. Miles since March 2015: 3. Latest costs: £169 for refitting door hinges, £74.01 for harness work. £23 for replacing the gear lever bezel, £12 for tightening the rear-view mirror ball joint, £19 for oil and adjusting the oil filter, £20 for clearing fuel line and £100 for clearing sawdust and sand from air intake, £50 for the flat bed truck, £490 for cutting, welding, filling and painting of c-pillar rust problem. £120 for fuel pumps (plus fitting).
It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. Len Gudgeon at the Granada Garage repaired the passenger door hinge and adjusted the detent. Under-lubrication with the wrong grade of oil meant the old ones wore prematurely. Continue reading “Our cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”
The good old Renault Megane has been around since 2008. DTW tested the car in 2010 and found it wanting . Another chance arose to test the car and so we can now offer a second opinion. What still irks and which aspects seem less unpalatable with the passage of time? Read on to find out.
Our first test in 2010 involved a mid-range petrol-engined five door-hatch. This time DTW went for the 130 dCi estate in “Limited” garb. My casual research indicates this is the base model but it doesn´t feel all that base to sit in. Air con, blue teeth, electric windows and cloth upholstery are all included in the asking. Ringing in my ears as I sat in the car were the words of a neighbour who derided the Megane´s interior for being “plasticky”. As I settled down inside the Megane and peered around I did notice Continue reading “2015 Renault Megane 130 dCi Sports Tourer”
It´s not that I have a Ford fetish. This is just the kind of car that keeps cropping up.
We have Myles Gorfe´s ´75, Steen Larsen´s Consul and now this ´76 Granada with its wonderfully clear trim designation: 2300 V6 GXL. You know precisely where you are with this car. Tricky lighting confounded the front three quarter view. The light was behind the car at the time and it was hard to get a better angle due to the surrounding cars on the lot.
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. 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.” A little later on they write: “The Pulsar also has – and be prepared to fall on them faint with amazement – the widest front door armrests in the sector. Spanning 95mm across their softly bolstered width, such cosseting homes for elbows are not usually seen outside the luxury sector, Nissan reckons”. If we overlook the snide aside, the aim of this car is really clear. It´s a Continue reading “Spot check on the motoring press”
The Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch pair are not known to be among Ford´s finest cars. Given that reputation, it may come as a surprise to some (it surprised me) that Ford marketed it as a rival to Mercedes’ W-123 in its 280E guise. Ah, that car again. Recently I had a closer look at a 1980 Mercury Monarch to see what it was really like.
The Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch pair are not known to be among Ford´s finest cars. Given that reputation, it may come as a surprise to some (it surprised me) that Ford marketed it as a rival to Mercedes’ W-123 in its 280E guise. Ah, that car again. Recently I had a closer look at a 1980 Mercury Monarch to see what it was really like.
The car shown here is a 2-door Monarch with the “Windsor” 4.9 V8. Ford also made 3.3 and 4.1 straight sixes available along with a 5.8 V8. The Ford version was almost the same barring cosmetic details at the front and back. Production ran from 1975 to 1980. The intention with the Granada/Monarch was to keep the comfort features of traditional large saloons but put them on a smaller wheelbase. This was in response to increasing fuel prices and the general economic downturn prevalent in the mid to late 70s. Just under 600,000 Monarchs were produced, which is a fair number in a five-year period. Continue reading “Ride Engineered – the 1980 Mercury Monarch”
DTW is known to be a champion of Opel´s magnificent Senator “A”. This post scrutinises the ashtray in the rear passenger door of an 1984 Opel Senator 2.5E. Read on to see if the Opel Senator´s ashtray design was class competitive.
Opel used a top hinged ashtray in this context, setting it in the armrest. This seems to me not to be a very good position.You can´t lean on the armrest while the ashtray is open. So, one can hold the cigar in the other hand and risk dropping it as you move your hand over your legs to the door. Alternatively, you keep the cigar in the hand near the door and lean on the centre armrest. In that case you need to make an uncomfortable movement to bring your hand near to where your elbow needs to be. You risk dropping ash on the seat just below. The ashtray is not illuminated and remember, the car may be in motion.
DTW is in the middle of preparing a consideration of the 1980 Mercury Monarch which was all but identical to the 1980 Ford Granada (the US version). It is a legendarily mediocre car, even with a 5.0 litre Windsor V-8. More on that soon. In the meantime, I thought I would fillet some of my findings and present this amuse-gueule or Häppchen: the driver´s ashtray.
I wondered what the very large panel next to the glove compartment was and it turned out to be the aperture for a substantial ashtray and a cigar-lighter. Alas I was not able to gauge the dimensions of the ash receptacle: 100 ml would be an estimate based on my many years of valuable research on this neglected topic. Continue reading “Ashtrays: the 1980 Mercury Monarch”
DTW takes a Fiat 500C on a road trip. What did we learn? For one, don´’t trust the fuel gauge and for another, it´s amazing people buy the Ford Ka.
DTW is a bit late to the party in the case of the 500 as we aren´t yet on the invitation lists of the major car companies. By now the 500 is getting on a bit, launched as it was in 2007 when George Bush was still president. Nonetheless, we have got a hold of one now and if this isn´t a review of the car, at least it provides a check against the opinions of the motoring journals.
The model in question is the 500C semi-convertible version, on sale since 2009. I drove a 1.2 litre five speed manual without the stop-start technology and without the Twin Air engine. As the weather was dire, I didn´t open the roof except once to Continue reading “2015 Fiat 500C review”
A chance to look inside Audi’s A3 presented itself. I found what is referred to as a smoker’s pack.
These are to ashtrays what “cotton rich” is to shirts. For a costly motor car such as the A3, the quality of the plastic is far below the expectations of this writer. Audi must have saved a lot of money by deleting the standard ashtray and replacing it with a cupholder and a fireproof mug. At least a few extra euros could have been spent to design something more convincing than the Hasbro-level of moulding shown above. Does Audi really think their customers will overlook a lame effort such as this?
Some of us smoke. Some of us don´t. Some want to smoke and can´t. All of us here drive and have ash or small coins to store somewhere. This means we all have some interest in ashtrays in cars.
As regular members here know, I drive an elderly Citroen. Apart from a graunchy gearchange and dangerously pointy doors, it´s the ashtray that causes me the most dissatisfaction. The ashtray is well sized and illuminated by a nice green lamp that creates a ghostly wonderland of cigar ash as I travel about the land under the cover of darkness. I´d call this a selling point.
“Hatchback of Notre Dame” – In this transcript the respected motor-correspondent, Mr Archie Vicar, dons his beret to try the new Renault “Sixteen”.
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”
“BM-double-who?” In this transcription from a 1966 article, Archibald Vicar takes a close look at a questionable product from a struggling motor manufacturer from Bavaria. Can the 1602 really compete, asks a sceptical Vicar.
From “The Modern Motorist”, June 1966. Photographic Plates by Chester of Shipton-On-Stour, M. Phil (Oxon)
When Bayerische Motoren Werke invited us to a test drive near Munich we didn’t know what to expect. This obscure firm is still better known for their bubble cars than for ordinary family vehicles. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, BMW had a reputation for making fine motor cars before the second world war. Since then they have mostly made do with the manufacturing of Isettas under license. Continue reading “1966 BMW 1602: Review”
Air-cooled Tomfoolery: Archibald Vicar on the new Porsche Nine-Hundred And Eleven
From “Advanced Motorism” October, 1964. Photographs by Douglas Land-Windermere, Esq.
The “Volk” who make Porsche sportscars (a firm called Porsche, oddly) invited “Advanced Motorism” to drive their new machine, the Nine-Hundred-and-Eleven. I hadn’t been abroad for a while so I accepted forthwith, chiefly so I could Continue reading “1965 Porsche 911: review”
In this transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring writer Archie Vicar casts a critical eye over the new “Golf”, successor to the much-loved Beetle.
“Fore! Can the new ‘Golf’ possibly succeed in a crowded and increasingly competitive market?” Asks Archie Vicar.
From “The London Illustrated News” February, 1976. Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the poor quality of the originals, stock photos have been used
No matter how severely Jack Frost bites, a Volkswagen Beetle always starts. Even a royal Rolls-Royce can succumb to the effects of freezing whereas the humble Beetle’s ingenious design is cooled by air, making the engine as tough as old nails and as reliable as the Queen’s Grenadier Guards. I am reminding you, readers, of this as an introduction to a new car from Volkswagen. Continue reading “1976 Volkswagen “Golf”: Review”
“Building on a new tradition!” In this item, we have something resembling a transcript of a 1967 review by Archie Vicar. He finds much that is agreeable.
By Archibald Vicar From “Today’s Driver”, November 1967. Photographs by Wentworth Henry. Owing to excessive camera-shake affecting the original images, stock photos have been used.
Rumours abound from the Midlands, such as rumours are, that Jaguar is considering replacements for the venerable, nay, antediluvian 240, 340 (née Mark 2), S-type, 420 (née S-type) and 420G (née Mark X) with a range of motor vehicles which will essentially depend on one single body. Our sources in Coventry hint that among the pressing reasons for this change is that nobody at Brown’s Lane understands which car is which or the purpose for which any of them are intended. And that’s letting alone the matter of the by-now antique elements of which these stalwarts are mostly composed. In any case, Jaguar Ltd is now under the firm tutelage of BMC who will be shaking up Jaguar’s life of gin and tonics and setting the troubled firm on a new course to success. Continue reading “1967 Datsun 2000 De Luxe: Review”
The Citroen CX is 40 years old this year. To celebrate this milestone in car design, we present what looks like one of the first reviews printed in the English language.
By Archie Vicar – contributing motoring editor of the Worcester Morning Gazette, Sept 23rd 1974. Original photos were taken by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the poor quality of the originals, stock images have been used.
After a very long time in production, the DS has been (thankfully!) discontinued by its maker, Citroen. Whilst there were some good points in favour of the DS, there were too many oddities. Some of these have been ironed out so the new car will be more palatable to a wider range of customers. The incoming CX will be a more welcome car for motorists who want to drive something other than a Granada or Victor but without suffering the cost and inconvenience that the over-complex DS served up, drenched in garlic. Continue reading “1974 Citroen CX Review”
DTW has a spin in a 2010 Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi. If you´re thinking of getting a used one it´s probably going to be one of these.
The Ford Mondeo: what do we really know about this car? I had a test drive and can report how an informed but not expert enthusiast experienced it.
Zetec trim adorned the vehicle and under the bonnet Ford had kindly installed their 2.0 litre TDCi engine. In many ways this car could be said to be the typical midranger and so is representative of the sort of Mondeo many people choose to live with for six or seven years of their lives.
My first impressions were of the remarkable size of the car. Between the driver´s seat and the front passenger an appreciable gap yawned. And the sense of the car´s exterior dimensions were also palpable. I have written elsewhere about the sad lack of large cars equivalent to the Granadas and Omegas of yesteryear. In some ways I can now see at first hand why these don´t exist any more. It´s because having something much larger than a Mondeo would mean an unfeasibly vast motor carriage. That said, I found the Mondeo quite easy to get used to and I had no problems punting it along ordinary streets or parking it. The only minor trouble I encountered involved gouging a 40 cm ravine on the bodyside. I had to do a two-point turn in a multi-story car park just so as to negotiate a corner on the down ramp. I was afraid of hitting the raised concrete rib separating the “up” from the “down” lanes so I kept left and ran the car along a nice pointy concrete edge just below the window line.
I don´t have any measurements to put some quantitative bones under the flesh of my qualitative assessment. That said I can report that at hundred miles an hour the car is quiet and relaxed. Only the fact that most other cars are disappearing into your rear view mirror gives a slight hint that you are in serious danger of gaining points on your licence. I can imagine Ford have spent some considerable trouble making a trip such as from Hamburg to Berlin one that the Mondeo executes with great ease. The car has a fine ride and muffles the craters found in the midlands´ roadsurfaces very well indeed.
This was my first time to sample a six speed gearbox. All the ratios changed easily with a well-defined action. In sixth the car was registering 2000 rpm at 90 miles per hour. I did sometimes find that selecting the right gear at lower speeds produced some unwelcome lurches but I feel this is my fault and not the car´s. I presume after a few more days at the wheel one quickly manages to do a better job of picking a ratio than I did during my brief fling.
As I said, I don´t know how quickly the car got from rest to too fast but I can say that I was pressed into my seat, the steering wheel did a torque-steer shimmy but settled almost instantly thereafter. The car zoomed into gaps in traffic and reacted in the way I wanted in the time allowed.
I could go on doing my best impression of a seasoned car journo. But I will stop there and change tack.
Given that many people don´t read car magazines and that they will buy a Mondeo without a test drive and that they will be trading up from a knackered 11-year old Astra or baggy Laguna…given all that, I have had a revelation. Most people will think this car (or any new car) is simply the best car they have ever driven. It will have met and exceeded by a long country mile their limited expectations. And what flaws the car does have will be entirely unnoticed.
The other realisation is that if a fairly standard Ford Mondeo is quite as excellent as I have found it then how much more astonishing is a BMW 535? Or, put it another way, can an ordinary consumer really detect a difference proportional to the price difference between a BMW and a Ford?
Here are the things I found wanting in the Ford Mondeo: in the version I tried the rear seats couldn´t be arranged to make a flat floor when folded down. Otherwise the boot was huge. There was a slight vibration of the bonnet when I was driving at a stupidly high rate of knots. I didn´t like the rear ashtray; it was flimsy and loose and unworthy of the ash of my Villiger. There are two small plastic panels left and right of the centre console that have no obvious function. The metal fillets that brighten the dashboard look insufficiently opulent. And that´s it. Apart from these trifles I found the car to be smooth, fast and comfortable and a pleasure to conduct.
My conclusion is that for most people the best car in the world is any new one. It doesn´t have to be one that has lapped the Nurburgring in the shortest possible time. The best car in the world is available to most of us in a mainstream dealer down the road and it needn´t cost more than £18,000. Isn´t that astonishing?
The apparently irrelevant preamble In all good faith, motoring writers tend to fixate on problems much as the princess fixated on the pea. For those of us interested in cars, that´s fine: we are also little picky princesses, to a man. Merely knowing that there is some small aspect of a vehicle that impedes its theoretical performance around Thruxton on a dry day is enough to earn a definitive seal of disapproval. That is even if the aspect is wholly unrelated to the intent of the vehicle in question. I´ve been guilty of this myself, as I´ve sat in a variety of cars and nit picked over all-but-invisible tool split lines on plastic trim in the boot or wondered whether that 1mm design solution under the bumper is at all acceptable on a car costing, ooh, twelve grand. This long preamble is my way of saying this: I don´t want my previous cries of wolf to diminish the central message of this little essay. That point is: the Renault Megane is quite a noticeably bad car. Continue reading “Engineering as Marketing : 2010 Renault Megane Review”
“Even Beta: Lancia’s thrilling new Trevi.” Archie Vicar takes a look at an exciting new sporting luxury saloon from Italy’s respected Lancia marque.
Track & Motoring, July 1981. Photos by Greg Orford. Owing to an overwhelming cyan-blue colour cast affecting the original images, stock photography has been employed.
Without any doubt Lancia’s engineers have been scratching their heads since 1972, trying to think of a way to top the terrific Beta. Despite its front-drive handicap and an engine donated by Fiat, it really is a cracking car, with much to commend it. So how do they go better than the very best? Simple, they don’t. The Beta Trevi has a different interior and new body panels. But the underpinnings of the Beta are all still there and, some say, thank goodness for that. The Beta Trevi was shown in Geneva about a year ago but it’s only now available in the United Kingdom. We tested a 2 litre model to find out Lancia’s formula for building on their achievements of the 70s and taking them into the ‘eighties.
Alfa Resurgent! Archie Vicar takes a look at the new executive car from Alfa Romeo, the Alfetta 1.8
For too long Alfas have been a car for the heart, but can they build one for the head too? The answer could now be “si.” For those of us fond of the Italian maker Alfa Romeo, there are clear signs that there really is a resurgence afoot. “The Alfetta is a new chapter in Alfa Romeo’s history,” said Angelo Scoria, chief of Public Relations, in a press release.” The Alfetta is full of new engineering thinking and will be a more modern car, one built to a high standard too. It will be a future classic, we believe.” So, reasons to be optimistic. For a very long time Alfa has indeed been guilty of making cars that have been a bit more fragile than was acceptable in today’s increasingly competitive market. Continue reading “1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Review”
Something old, something new! Archibald Vicar, Dip. Eng. tries the latest sensation from BMC, the Austin “Maxi.”
From “Today’s Driver” February 1969. Photography by Patrick Lamperay. Due to the poor quality of the original source, stock photos have been used.
There it was, an Austin Maxi, Leyland’s latest motor car. And we were in Dublin, Eire, to test it. It was eight o’clock in the morning and photographer, Lamperey, and I were at British Leyland’s small factory in the middle of what was once the Empire’s second city. While I ought to have been taking in the generalities of the Maxi’s technicalities I was more cognisant of my rather delicate physical state, that of a rotten hangover.
Said hangover was largely as a result of my failed attempt to anaesthetise myself during the festival of mal de mer that was the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin. The duty-free Guinness was at least remarkably cheap so the experience was merely disagreeable and not costly. I was also able to Continue reading “1969 Austin Maxi: Road Test”
Archie Vicar continues touring from London to Latvia in Jaguar’s new XJ-6. His mission, to test this important new saloon and to recover his hand-made shoes left behind on a previous jaunt.
From “Private Motor Car Owner” (pages 34-39, page 109, page 116, December, 1968). Photography by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the very poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.
Getting into Latvia was a breeze. We presented our passports and sacrificed a few cherished boxes of Craven “A” cigarettes and we were in. Even the sight of the new Jaguar, in De Luxe trim and virtually rust free, didn’t make the unshaven brute at the border blink. It seemed like we would sail through under the dusty hem of the Iron Curtain.
Archie Vicar considers the choices afforded to varietists enjoying a higher income.
The Motoring and Driving Register, July 1967. Photography by Cyril Leadbeater. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photos have been used.
This month’s motor vehicle comparison pits two well-established players against one another. For the gentleman of comfortable means life affords choice. And what is choice if it is not among things that differ? What point is there in being offered a large range of very similar cars for a similar price as many makers seem to want to do these days? That is no choice at all. We can see at the more pedestrian end of the market – and indeed have done for some time now- that many car builders are merely shadowing one another so that were one to sit inside a Ford, a Vauxhall, an Austin, or a Hillman selling for, say, £800, one could not Continue reading “1967 Humber Super Snipe Review”
Sporting to a “T”. Archie Vicar drives to Sicily in the new motor carriage from Crewe.
From Motorist’s Illustrated Digest, Dec 1965. Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere. Owing to the very poor quality of the original images, stock photography has been used.
The Bentley marque conjours images of the driver Richard “Dick” Seaman charging along the Mulsanne Straight at a 100 mph. That he achieved this very respectable pace minus a tyre is a tribute to his Bentley and to his boundless idiocy. Great chap. He is very much missed in motoring circles. For a while Bentley’s sporting character has been as absent and as lamented as Mr Seaman. The last batches of Bentleys have, frankly, been a little hard to distinguish from their Rolls-Royce stablemates. Continue reading “1965 Bentley “T”-Type Review”