Three brochures for the same car demonstrate Fiat’s marketing skills – or lack thereof.
Fiat’s 1970’s brochures were often stark affairs. Studio shots, no background and just the facts. With an economy hatchback like a 127 or suchlike, there was a certain amount of logic in this approach, but for what many dubbed a mini-Ferrari, it risked underselling what was at the time a fairly unique proposition. Continue reading “Brochures Redux – Midship Triptych”
In the second of a short series, I will remind readers of what was on sale in 1984, courtesy of the much missed “World Car Guide”.
In 1984 Bertone offered a cabriolet version of the Ritmo, with its own badge on the grille. By 1984 Fiat had restyled the Ritmo slightly: the air intake on the bonnet vanished in a tidying frenzy. The car had a roll-hoop to add rigidity, probably a necessity for a vehicle as fundamentally light as the Ritmo. Another Ritmo cabrio option existed: the Pink Panther, also put together by Bertone. Continue reading “World Cars 1984 (2) : Bertone Ritmo Cabriolet”
In 1964 the Skoda 1000MB went on sale, replacing the first Octavia of 1959 (which stayed in production anyway). It had a 1.0 litre four-cylinder engine.
And it started a long series of rear-engined Skodas. It’s not a car I know a lot about. The Wikipedia web-page reeks of fandom: “Apart from the use of cooling vents in the rear wings and rear panel, everything else about the 1000 MB’s styling was normal, which was undoubtedly in an attempt to appeal to all the conservative-minded buyers in export countries like the UK. This car was highly successful both for Škoda and the Czech economy”.
This item is from legendary motoring scribe Archie Vicar’s motoring diary for the Chester Mail, July 1972.
Time stops for no man but Fiats can stop for everyone, at any time. While out on test with the revised Fiat 128 I found myself stuck by the side of the road near the Swan at Tarporley: failed brakes. The wretched car juddered to a halt with engine braking just as the lunch menu reached its final dregs. Only the rabbit brawn remained (foul) and I followed that with some Cheshire pudding and followed that by coaxing the stricken car back to life. Luckily I had some Bleedmaster which is made by Holts. Using it one can bleed a brake or clutch system single-handed. The kit included the brake bleeder and a tin of Castrol Girling brake fluid. The whole job took under three hours meaning I had a chance to Continue reading “Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week : July 28 1972”
In 1989 the little Lancia Y10 looked like the runt of Lancia’s litter. What was it doing in the range?
At that time Lancia dealers stocked the ordinary Delta, the Delta HF, the Prisma 1600, the Thema and Thema Ferrari 8.32. Did any European manufacturer have such an inconsistent or heterogeneous range? Isuzu had a coupé and an SUV – (Piazza and Trooper), while Subaru had the tiny Justy, midsized 1800 4wd estate and the XT. Perhaps only Volvo’s odd mix of the 340, 480, 240 and 740/760 gets close in terms of antiquity/novelty and visual difference. No, the prize for incoherence must be Lancia’s. Continue reading “Small Wonder”
Uruguay is the second smallest state in South-America. Being right next door to Brazil, it’s natural enough one can buy Fiats there.
There are two South American specials (if I can be so Eurocentric) in the Uruguayan range. One is the Uno and the other is the Palio Adventure. Looking at the Uno we find a vehicle that evokes the Panda but isn’t a Panda. Fiat Brazil came up with this one and Fiat Centro Stile developed the appearance. Note the asymmetric grille. It’s Type 327 for Fiat anoraks. The underpinnings are from the Fiat Palio, making it something of a middle point between the Panda and Palio. Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Fiat in Uruguay”
Another thinly disguised excuse to write about a car that I like and used to own (yes, another one). This is my singular experience of going Italian, and very gratifying it was too. And, reliable.
I remember falling in love with the FIAT Cinquecento Sporting at first sight (and read, it was an article in Car – by Andrew Frankel, I think – entitled “Eeenie Weenie, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Hotted Up Machinie”, or something very similar). The little FIAT had everything I liked at the time. Continue reading “The Late Film: Mistaken Identity”
The badge is placed on the upper surface of the boot. It probably really ought to on a vertical surface so people can read it with less trouble. You can get all the glorious details on the car here. I notice it’s a fairly light car (just over 1000 kg) so I suppose the 1.4 litre engine is able to haul it about. The other thing I noticed is what looks like misalignment of the outline of the bodywork around the rear lamps. The car is made in Japan alongside the Mazda MX-5. How did that happen then?
As for the rest of the showroom, there are 500s, 500Ls and Pandas and no Puntos and no Qubos. They do sell some nice paint colours though. To be fair, the 500 is probably covering the work of what was once known as a Regatta or even the Tempra, even if it’s not a saloon. The absence of the Punto in the region’s biggest showroom shows they have pretty much given up on this one though it is shown at their website. And there’s are no Tipos around. Like Honda, the Fiat range is rather unbalanced.
As well as providing the location for the suspension system and being sufficiently durable, a car body needs to protect the bodies of the occupants. And to look alright.
If we compare the smooth bodies of contemporary vehicles with early attempts at safety engineering you notice how safety was first ‘added on’ by means of obviously larger bumpers and also by the use of safety padding inside the car. Volvo took this approach as did the GM ESV (1972) and Fiat with the ESV (1973). GM did also provide for passive safety by removing the A-pillars and fitting airbags. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – Protecting Them”
Remember the Chrysler K-car? It helped save Chrysler until the next crisis. The Fiat Tipo played a similar role, at least in underpinning a lot of models. Here’s one of them.
Another Fiat, a 125 behind glass, made me stop at the location. When I stopped looking at that I wandered further. In the otherwise empty lot nearby this Tempra crouched. Looks good from afar, but it’s far from good. Although the body had galvanising, rust is biting the doors and the handles are seized. It’s not for sale anymore and evidently wasn’t worth taking to the dealer’s new location 10 km away. Continue reading “Something Rotten For Sunday”
You can make 4-cylinder engines bigger but what about making a smaller 6?
We have considered two approaches to bridging the 2.0 to 2.5 litre capacity gap, the enlarged 4-cylinder engines, and the 5-cylinder concept. And while the first is relatively common and the second shall we say not unusual, there is one other method of adding power and prestige to a smaller engine. That route is the road less travelled, 2-litre V6s.
The first small capacity V6 I could think of turned out to be a 1.8 litre V6 used in the Mazda MX-3, a car whose appearance I never got to grips with. In this small feature “two” is the magic number, so the 1.5 litre V6s used in racing will also be overlooked – also because I am not at all interested in motor sport. I am allergic to nylon padded jackets. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue – Engines: The Road Less Travelled”
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”
From 1967 to 1972 Fiat sold the 125 and, according to Wikipedia, it combined saloon car space with sports car performance.
This formula could also be found in the 1966 BMW 1602/2002 and 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia. What might distinguish the 125 from these might be that it offered these characteristics in a cheaper package than Alfa or BMW. It certainly had more doors than the 2002 and it had more space than the Alfa Romeo. Continue reading “1967-1972 Fiat 125”
The differences between Poland and Germany take many forms.
Fighting in 1945 meant Guben (Germany) and Gubin (Poland) both experienced near total devastation. They stand on the Niesse river that divides the two countries. Today Guben has a city centre and Gubin has some apartment blocks, a ruined church and a lot of trees. Essentially, the Poles didn’t rebuild. Among this lot I found a lovely FSO Polonez in what looks like late-model trim. Continue reading “Polish Snapshots”
We continue our stroll down the list of obscure brands that may tempt you from Opel, Ford and VW.
I shall kick off with Aspid. Seven linger on the lists of Autoscout 24. Based in Spain, Aspid sell rather specialised sports cars. Wikipedia has two lines on the cars and those seven sellers of used Aspids can’t find the time or mean to upload photos of their cars. That I find very curious. Everyone knows what a Golf looks like so if you don’t include a photo it’s not such a big deal. Since Aspids are less common, a photo would be quite helpful to whet the appetite of a the buyer torn between a 2012 Focus 1.4 and a €35,000 car with 404 hp on offer. Without photos it’s hard to know what to make of cars listed as being from 1999 (before Aspid was founded) with 45 hp and costing curious sums like €4431. The next one costs €5000 and has 355 hp. TopSpeed ran an article about the GT-21 in 2012 and Car and Evo reviewed the SS in ’08 and ’09 respectively. The car GT-21 has a 4.4 litre V8 and weighs half nothing meaning the claimed 0-60 last no longer than 2.9 seconds. It’s nice to know that cottage manufacturers exist outside of Modena and the British Midlands. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Aspid to Borgward”
The Fiat Panda as described by one Russell Bulgin.
Not so very, very long ago I presented an excellent gallery of Fiat Pandas as seen on location somewhere in sunny Italy – (thanks to Sean for helping out with the technicalities on that). Since then, I found the article Russell Bulgin wrote about the Panda in 1989. I had been thinking of this article in June. For Autocar, Russell Bulgin wrote a series called the Bulgin Files (why the Bulgin Files?). The sub-header explained “Our angry young man is into his fourth week of driving bargain-basement superminis and now he auditions a Starlet and two Italian sisters, Fiat´s Uno and Panda.” Continue reading “Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989”
Ultimately then, how does one encapsulate the Lancia Gamma?
When Fiat handed Sergio Camuffo Lancia’s flatlining cadaver and told him to administer emergency CPR, he did the best he could, but there was only so much that could be achieved. Because despite Fiat management allowing him sufficient autonomy during the immediate post-takeover period to produce cars that were (on the face of things at least) respectful of Lancia’s traditions, the Italian car giant’s locked-in prejudice against the upmarket led to a fatal ambivalence. This schizophrenic attitude to their new acquisition most likely informed the compromises that damned both the Beta family and later, the Gamma itself. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve”
The Minx name is mostly forgotten today, a legacy of the demise of its parent company, Hillman.
However, Hillman used the Minx name for nearly fifty years on three or four generations of cars. As was typical of Rootes, the Minx name had a convoluted model history of small upgrades, badge engineering and variants such as the Super Minx with moderately modified bodywork. There is an awful lot of noise to sort out to get at the core of the Minx story. As with many of the cars of the time, the exact social significance and market positioning is rather hard to parse and I suspect one could devote quite a long time to gathering period reviews to reconstruct the Minx’s place in the market.
I seldom get to sit in cars of this age, first because I am not especially drawn to these British vehicles from this time and also because they are not very common, not with the doors open anyway. When you sit inside the car you notice how hard and metallic it is, with the body dominating the trim; these days trim of exceptional depth and complexity conceals the body and it is probably hard to find a car at any price with exposed metal inside.
For the average woman or man driving in the mid 1960’s this was entirely normal and they’d need to step into a wedding car such as a Rolls to experience an interior where the metal work could not be seen and where the soft fitting were anything but vinyl, hard plastic and that especially rough carpeting that manufacturers preferred at the time.
Cutting to the chase, we find a single drawer-type ashtray for the driver and front passenger. This one slid out with a notable squeeky roughness and I can imagine that many Minx’s had nice, thick cakings of nicotine on the panel over the tray. While some cars summon up fantasies of cross-continental drives (that 130 saloon I featured some time back and a 130 coupe that is forthcoming) this one summons up drives in the rain to a new supermarket that has sprouted outside Weston-Super-Mare. The wood trim is not doing much to raise the ambience but I suppose at the time it was a pleasant touch, reminding one that one didn’t have enough money for a Wolseley or Triumph maybe?
In the back, ashtrays mounted stupidly right over the arm-rest so that you need to move your entire arm to flick the debris into the trough. So, I can’t award many marks here for hedonism or ergonomics.
I am left wondering why anybody might want to buy a car like this. There’s nothing special to look at and the engineering is what I might term Soviet British. The suspension “was independent at the front using coil springs with anti-roll bar and at the rear had leaf springs and a live axle” according to the font of all wisdom, and that is not that appealing. You can see why Rootes faded away.
Although Opel and Vauxhall offered equally uninteresting cars, they were linked to large corporations with a broader outlook so they could draw on the resources of their head office for design, engineering and marketing. Rootes was as English as Alfa Romeo was Italian; perhaps I mean Fiat. And if corny old Italian brio added some romance to Fiat’s sometimes workaday cars, stolid English practicality could do nothing for cars like this.
Triumph and Rover could offers sporting appeal or decent luxury while Hillmans churned out expedient vehicles for what I assume were not very demanding customers. We often think that modern cars are mostly bland appliances. This car shows that the car as appliance can be found further back in time than 2004.
(Note: I’m not all that au fait with the byzantine history of Rootes and its badge-engineered cars. Further clarifcation on this expected and indeed welcome. If vexed members of the Hillman Owner´s Club want to chip in, feel free).
My casual analysis of the Italian fleet leads me to conclude Fiat, GM, Toyota and VW dominate the low to middle market and thereafter it’s Audi and Mercedes. The losers are Renault and Citroen at one end, Ford in the middle and Lexus and BMW at the top. Subaru, Mazda, Honda and Mitsubishi have no strong presence. Alfa aren’t even all that common. Continue reading “Micropost: The Italian Car Park”
In a way, so to speak. If you lived in Italy you could be forgiven for thinking Lancia were still popular.
Here, south of Naples, Lancias outnumber Fords. There are very few Fords and Renaults, not even small ones such as Twingos. The first thing I did when stepping out of the airport was to photograph a Lancia Musa “Fifth Avenue” which had button-pleated beige leather seating. Continue reading “Lancia Lives”
As anyone has read a few books on Italian history will know, it’s a great bunch of countries. Only foreigners lump it all together as one nation.
That gives us a bit of a head start in understanding how Italy’s values translate into the broad array of markedly different car companies being stifled under one management.
As recently as the 1950s you could still find people in the deep south of Italy who didn’t know what Italy was. While outsiders consider Italy to have been unified, many Italians still see the event as a take-over of the south by the conservative north. As much as the United States is characterised by sharp contrasts and deep differences so too is Italy. Continue reading “Theme: Values – Italy”
Further to our discussions, here is the Fiat 500 by Diesel. This is less convincing than the Gucci edition. It smacks even more of aftermarket.
And the advert here is in rather poor taste. Here is a little more on the car if you can find the strength. What would I want from a proper special edition tied in to a big-league company? The wheels should not be available on the rest of the range. The seats ought to be unique to the car even if that just means new head-restraints. I´d like fitted, branded luggage. There must be firms able to run up such a thing for a few hundred euros. I imagine the people at Diesel know how to create small runs of textile products, right?
Up until now I thought Gucci had limited their dalliance with the car industry to American brands such as Cadillac. At the other end of the scale and on the other side of the Atlantic, Gucci also graced Fiat with their magic touch.
According to Gucci “The car’s silhouette is outlined by Gucci’s signature green-red-green stripe, which runs along the entire perimeter and links the exterior to the interior. The stripe also appears inside on the seats, on the gear shift, the key-cover, the carpets, and in an innovative finish on the seatbelts. The interior space of the 500 by Gucci is stylish yet functional down to every last detail: chic embroidery, exclusive materials, glossy and satinContinue reading “Special Editions: 2011 Fiat 500 by Gucci”
“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 saloon”
This could very well another of our items in the huge Japanese-theme series we are running. The title would then be so long I would have no room for the rest of the article.
The short story about this car is that it´s Toyota´s first front wheel drive entrant in the mid-size market. The previous Camry had rear-wheel drive. Wikipedia has all the nitty plus all the gritty details of engines (this is probably a 1.8 litre four-cylinder car) and product evolution. They also explain the difference between the cars sold in the two lines of Toyota dealerships (very little). One channel is the Toyota Corolla Store and the other is the Toyota Vista Store. The European models at this time received the Toyota Vista Store grilles, making it more like the Japanese-market Toyota Vista than the Japanese market Toyota Camry or US Camry. I´ll get to the bottom of this dual line of dealerships one day. It´s more confusing than string theory. Continue reading “A photo series for Sunday: 1982- 1986 Toyota Camry DX”
A little while back we ran an article about car sales in Ireland in January. We asked Fiat Automobiles Ireland to respond.
In the spirit of balance, we considered it a good idea to see what Fiat had to say about the market position and general outlook for their products. Here is what Gerry Clarke, Country Director, FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Ireland Ltd had to say:
“There are a number of points to consider regarding FIAT in Ireland. FIAT is strongest in segments that are traditionally very small in Ireland. We’re segment leaders across Europe with 500 and Panda but for a number of reasons Irish buyers tend to prefer larger cars and especially three-box saloons, an example of which we currently do not offer in RHD! Our B-segment car is now nearing the end of its product cycle and with the end of Bravo production we’re now missing altogether from C-segment and these still segments represent the majority of sales in Ireland.Continue reading “Fiat in Ireland: their point of view”
This is part of Driven To Write´s unique service. Normally colour analyses are expensive and hard-to-get proprietary information. We give it away for free.
It´s probably not comprehensive. Gizmag kindly put together a slide show of the most important cars and I added to the list with some Google image searches of brands they didn´t cover in their slide show. Did Cadillac really not show anything of note?
Fiat acquired the shattered remnants of Lancia in 1969. The Italian car giant was ill-prepared for what it discovered.
Fiat made its name, reputation and not inconsiderable fortune from small cars, cost-engineered and rationalised to be inexpensive to produce, to buy and maintain. During Italy’s post-war industrial boom, the Turin car maker grew massively catering to the home market’s growing affluence and thirst for motorisation. By the late 1960’s however, Fiat’s management realised that over 70% of their car business was concentrated in the bottom end of the market – one with the least potential for profit. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two”
The story of Lancia’s Gamma is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know it? In this series, we delve into the Gamma’s difficult birth and inglorious career.
Death by a thousand Fiats: Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been shameful, so it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as a prime example of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One”
FCA’s Olivier François outlines Fiat’s flat-pack future.
On the basis of his recent outpourings, I rather doubt whether FCA’s Olivier François has ever been to an IKEA retail outlet. After all, visiting one of their stores is a little like dentistry. Numbingly unpleasant but necessary. On those occasions I’m forced to go, I try to plan my expeditions in military fashion: go when its quiet, get in, get the target and get the hell out. Continue reading “Forthcoming Fiats Will Be Like IKEA.”
Among the many publications to which Archie Vicar contributed was the Woman´s Monthly Report (WMR), published in Tewkesbury. This text (below) is is what 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.
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.
Looking at the period between 1955 and 1975, there are various cars that we might identify as landmarks. For example the Citroen DS, BMC Mini, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Miura, Renault 16, Jaguar XJ, NSU Ro80, Fiat 128, Range Rover, Renault 5 and VW Golf are all cars that really stood out at the time, even if some of them, fine cars that they remain, might now be seen as landmarks to nowhere, having no true descendants among today’s products. One car, however, certainly has undoubted conceptual descendants today, but would usually be overlooked when compiling such lists, and quite unjustifiably. The Autobianchi Primula.
Further to two earlier pieces, one on Etceterini, one on the Autobianchi A111, it’s interesting to look at Autobianchi in a bit more detail. The Bianchi company was started in 1885 as a bicycle manufacturer and exists to this day as such – indeed, I believe our own Eóin Vincent used a Bianchi in his ascent of Mont Ventoux. Before World War 2, they also dabbled in cars, but when Bianchi wanted to make new inroads as a car manufacturer in the 1950s, it formed a separate joint three-way company with Fiat and Pirelli. The original attraction for Fiat was to produce less mainstream vehicles and tap a market that, until then, belonged to a sizeable number of small manufacturers, such as the well-respected Moretti. Continue reading “The Brand That Time Forgot: Autobianchi”
For those of us who grew up in the 1970’s, it doesn’t necessarily feel that long ago. Revisiting this print ad, I realise just how long it actually was. Advertisements like this were not all that unusual then, especially when it came to advertising more masculine cars. Like so many things we now look back in astonishment over, this form of casual and gleeful sexism not only portrays women as emasculating killjoys, but also as quite incapable of appreciating a nice car – let alone being capable of driving one. Continue reading “Rearview: Try Justifying This Now…”
Today we look at a shortlived and forgotten automotive artefact.
The Autobianchi A111 was produced for only three years and is notable for being the largest model they produced – in fact, the A111 was never replaced. From 1972, Fiat-owned Autobianchi’s sole offering would be the supermini-sized A112. The genesis of the A111 appears to have been the 1964 Autobianchi Primula, forerunner to Dante Giacosa’s 1969 masterpiece – the Fiat 128. Continue reading “Fossil Traces – Autobianchi A111”
A much loved child has many names according to the saying. Now that I come to think of it, I´ve never seen that phrase applied to anything very good though. What made me think of this was today´s picture, a Lada 2105 Classic. According to on-line sources this car also went under these names: Lada Riva, Lada 1500, Lada 1700, Lada Signet, Lada 2104, Lada 2105 and Lada 2107.
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”
Despite well-publicised woes, Fiat is actually doing decent business in the lower reaches of the European market, with 2014 sales figures suggesting a recovery – well, of sorts…
European car sales figures from Jan-September 2014 illustrate an unexpected bright spot at FCA’s beleaguered Fiat division. It’s not much to write home about, but the former Torinese powerhouse is once again dominating the sub-compact car market. Between the top selling 500 and second placed Panda, Fiat have the mini-car sector sown up, with joint recorded sales of over 239,000 in the year to September. The 500 has performed well above expectations this year; especially so given the model’s age, with sales up 16% on 2013. The good news for Sergio continues with a small miracle occurring at Lancia. Continue reading “Fiat’s Nightmare Continues – Sales Are Up”
A book about one of Citroën’s two great designers.
A while ago, having come across this by chance on the Internet, I bought a new copy direct from Sagitta Press in The Netherlands. First published in 2002, it’s not cheap, but it is a heavy, handsome and copiously illustrated book about a relatively unsung giant of car design.
Most of Robert Opron’s career was, of course, in the French industry. He started at Simca, had a short time out designing bathroom fittings, then joined Citroën where, on the death of Bertoni, he succeeded him as head of styling. This was obviously his golden time where he oversaw the GS, SM and CX in quick succession. Too quick of course since Citroën stretched themselves so far that they got eaten up by Peugeot. The new management courted him to stay, but he declined and moved on to Renault. The cars styled here under Opron might not be as feted as his Citroëns, but the designs he oversaw – Supercinq, 9, 11, Fuego, 25, GTA, Espace, 21, as well as Trafic and Master vans and others – are an interesting mix of the quirky and the rigorously functional and are, I feel, unjustly underrated. In the mid 80s, he was sidelined as a result of Renault’s ill-fated expansionism into the US market, after which he took up a new post developing designs at Fiat, where he instigated and oversaw the Alfa SZ as well as sketching what became the Lancia Y11and the first Fiat Bravo. He retired in 1992, but carried on doing consultancy work such as microcars for Ligier and, at the time of writing, is in his eighty-second year.Continue reading “Theme : Books – Robert Opron : L’Automobile et l’Art by Peter J Piljman”
Not all concept cars are designed by design consultancies or manufacturer´s own studios.
I have covered the work of the Pforzheim Design School recently. Today, presented as freelance concept designs, rather than as student work, here is David Obendorfer´s work. He graduated from the MOME Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design of Budapest and has been working for the Officina Italiana Design of Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta for 5 years; they mainly deal with Riva boats and general ship design too. Obendorfer has taken some 70s themes and presented them in a modern idiom. We can take this to really mean Continue reading “Theme: Concepts – Obendorfer’s Retrofuturism”
Italy’s engineering giants slug it out for your entertainment.
Given the size of the Italian motor industry by comparison to say, the United States or Germany, it’s difficult to compile a list of the great engine designers without coming to the conclusion that Italy has historically punched well above its weight. The fact that most of them were schooled through Italy’s once thriving aeronautical industry says as much about the era from which they emerged as the political and socio-economic causes, but either way, Italy’s contribution to the pantheon of notable engines is undeniable. Continue reading “Theme: Engines – The Greatest?”
Then and now: how does Fiat´s present engine range compare to that of 2004? And are they making use of the engines available from Chrysler?
Today we are asking “How bad is it exactly for Fiat, in real terms?”. A vibrant company puts effort into engines if only to confuse punters and gain sales. But it can also offer a better match between the car and the complicated needs of the hundreds of millions of potential buyers. If you have a car with just one or two engines for it then it´s a safe bet there are 78 million people who simply won´t consider that vehicle. Think of the Bravo, for example.
Looking back first, let´s see how hot Fiat was a decade ago. In January 2004 Fiat (in the UK) sold seven different passenger vehicles: the Seicento, Punto, and Stilo hatchbacks, the Barchetta roadster, the Doblo family van, the Multipla MPV and the Ulysse (a body shared with PSA and Lancia). Propelling that lot around Fiat had eleven or thirteen different engines, depending on how you count them. Most burned petrol and the power range started at 54 bhp and rose to 170 bhp. The biggest motor came in the form of the 2.4 20-valve unit which was offered in the Punto Abarth but not on the bigger bodied Stilo or Ulysse.
It’s been going on for so long now, it almost seems a tradition. Fiat’s styling has always been variable. They have produced some great designs and some disappointingly dumpy ones, often in the same generation. But what is constant is that, when it comes to facelift time, however good or bad the original was, the facelift is always worse.
There are various theories I can offer and, not being a Fiat insider, that is all I can do.
While reading about the Humber Super Snipe and its competitors I stumbled across this.
It’s a very nicely filmed piece about a Fiat 2300S and its owner, Pierantonio Micciarelli. I have to say that the man´s elegant dress sense made me yearn to be Italian. They do know how to choose their threads.
This being, unofficially, the Fiat/FCA themed month, I feel like shedding some light on Fiat’s current styling policy and the man responsible for it.
And when I say “shedding some light”, I actually mean pointing out all the dark and shadowy areas that currently make up Fiat’s styling. More questions will be asked than answered, inevitably.
Superficially, the reorganisation of Fiat’s different Centri Stile in the wake of the company’s Marchionnisation seems to have been a straightforward example of streamlining. And, unlike the most famous jumper lover’s financial and fiscal shenanigans, this move appears to be both easily graspable and logical. Continue reading “What Exactly Is Lorenzo Ramaciotti Doing?”
The second of a two part examination of FCA’s European operations and the feasibility of Sergio Marchionne’s four-year plan to revive them.
Part two – There will be blood:
FCA’s presentation made a point of telling the financial and automotive worlds just how much Marchionne is prepared to accept for the sale of Ferrari, suggesting the fabled Marenello concern is for sale; despite firm denials from within FCA itself. Some might say that he would be insane to do so – the ‘Cavallino Rampante’ being probably the most valuable automotive brand in the universe right now. But look at it another way. If we believe the hype, everybody wants to own a Ferrari – and as any petrolhead with rosso corsa flowing through their veins will attest, what could be better than that? Continue reading “FCA – State of the Empire – Part Two”
A two part examination of FCA’s European operations and the feasibility of Sergio Marchionne’s four-year plan to revive them.
Now that the captives have escaped, the presentations are complete and fruit and vegetables been thrown, perhaps it is germane to take a look behind the figures and statistics at the state of affairs facing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Europe as they painfully inch towards their eventual fate.