Theme: Simca – And All This Is Folly To the World.

Very reluctantly I have decided to try to make sense of Simca’s slow fade from the market. 

History of Chrysler Europe´s demise

I have our monthly theme to thank – my interest has been piqued. Up to now Simca has meant little and I didn’t plan to write a lot on the topic. Simon Kearne insisted slightly too.

My findings are partly just a bit of editorial reworking of the mess that is already publicly available at Wikipedia. My contribution is to put in some bits about Chrysler and Peugeot. And also to make a DTW exclusive “infographic”. It is barely legible, frankly. The main use has been to explain (to me at least) the chronology of Chrysler/Talbot/Simca’s model terminations. Continue reading “Theme: Simca – And All This Is Folly To the World.”

Brochures Redux – Midship Triptych

Three brochures for the same car demonstrate Fiat’s marketing skills – or lack thereof.

All images: Driven to Write
All images: Driven to Write

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”

World Cars 1984 (2) : Bertone Ritmo Cabriolet

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”.

1984 Bertone Ritmo cabriolet: wikipedia.org
1984 Bertone Ritmo cabriolet: wikipedia.org

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”

Theme: Brochures – 1964 Skoda 1000MB

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.

1964 Skoda 1000MB brochure front covers.
1964 Skoda 1000MB brochure front covers.

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”.

Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – 1964 Skoda 1000MB”

Theme: Places – Oxford, Cambridge, Blenheim, Hereford, Somerset

Indeed. Quite a list of destinations for the person interested in cars named after UK places.

1961 Morris Oxford: source
1961 Morris Oxford: source

And they don’t do that anymore, do they? Yet the Americans are still happily driving around in Aspens, Tahoes, Malibus and Colorados. Seat, to my knowledge still sell an Ibiza, Ateca and Leon. The French and Germans are less willing to use their place names for their products, are they not? Continue reading “Theme: Places – Oxford, Cambridge, Blenheim, Hereford, Somerset”

Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week : July 28 1972

This item is from legendary motoring scribe Archie Vicar’s motoring diary for the Chester Mail, July 1972. 

1972 Fiat 128 Rally: source
1972 Fiat 128 Rally: netcarshow.com

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”

Small Wonder

In 1989 the little Lancia Y10 looked like the runt of Lancia’s litter. What was it doing in the range?

1989 Lancia Y10 GTie: source
1989 Lancia Y10 GTie: source

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”

Theme: Sudamerica – Fiat in Uruguay

Uruguay is the second smallest state in South-America. Being right next door to Brazil, it’s natural enough one can buy Fiats there.

2016 Fiat Uruguay range: source
2016 Fiat Uruguay range: source

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”

The Late Film: Mistaken Identity

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.

dsc09929-copie-4f2ccce
The mighty FIAT Cinquecento Sporting (source Retro 02)

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”

White Convertible Thing, Not Sure What it Was…

… because I couldn’t see the badge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Theme: Bodies – Protecting Them

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.

1972 Volvo Experimental Safety Car: source
1972 Volvo Experimental Safety Car: source

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”

Something Rotten For Sunday

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.

1991-1996 Fiat Tempra
1991-1996 Fiat Tempra

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”

DTW Summer Reissue – Engines: The Road Less Travelled

You can make 4-cylinder engines bigger but what about making a smaller 6?

1990 Alfa Romeo 2.0 V6. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
1990 Alfa Romeo 2.0 V6. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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”

Ashtrays: 1972 Fiat 130 Coupe

We can add this vehicle to the DTW collection of ashtray rarities.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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”

1967-1972 Fiat 125

From 1967 to 1972 Fiat sold the 125 and, according to Wikipedia, it combined saloon car space with sports car performance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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”

Polish Snapshots

The differences between Poland and Germany take many forms.

FSO Polonez, Gubin, Poland.
FSO Polonez, Gubin, Poland.

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”

Far From the Mainstream: Aspid to Borgward

We continue our stroll down the list of obscure brands that may tempt you from Opel, Ford and VW.

2012 Aspid: source
2012 Aspid GT-21 Invictus: source

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”

Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989

The Fiat Panda as described by one Russell Bulgin.

1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4x4
1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4×4. I can´t be more precise about the date. Anyone?

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”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Twelve

Ultimately then, how does one encapsulate the Lancia Gamma?

Image: schlichtmeier
Image: schlichtmeier

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”

Ashtrays: 1956-1967 Hillman Super Minx

The Minx name is mostly forgotten today, a legacy of the demise of its parent company, Hillman.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1956-1967 Hillman Super Minx”

Micropost: The Italian Car Park

Here is an Italian car-park: Naples Airport.

image

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”

Lancia Lives

In a way, so to speak. If you lived in Italy you could be forgiven for thinking Lancia were still popular.

Lancia Musa in Naples
Lancia Musa in Naples

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”

Theme: Values – Italy

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.

Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)
Maserati Biturbo (1985 model, US spec.)

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”

A photo Series For Sunday: 1982- 1986 Toyota Camry DX

This could well be another item in the Japanese-theme series we’re running. The title would then be so long I’d have no room for the rest of the article.

1982 Toyota Camry DX
1982 Toyota Camry DX

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”

2016 Detroit Motor Show Colour Analysis

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. 

2016 Detroit Motor Show colour analysis
2016 Detroit Auto Show colour analysis

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? Hyundai isn’t on my chart. If they were, it would have been another white car. Toyota showed a Continue reading “2016 Detroit Motor Show Colour Analysis”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two

Fiat acquired the shattered remnants of Lancia in 1969. The Italian car giant was ill-prepared for what it discovered.

The 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image via favcars
Corporate hubris? The slow-selling (if excellent) 1969 Fiat 130 Berlina. Image: favcars

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”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One

The story is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know the Lancia Gamma ? In this series, we attempt to unravel its difficult birth and inglorious career.

The 1976 Lancia Gamma Berlina. Image via ourclassiccars.
The 1976 Lancia Gamma Berlina. Image via ourclassiccars.

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. Throughout its history as an independent manufacturer, Lancia produced exquisitely engineered automobiles that garnered respect and deep admiration, but consistently cost more than the company could afford. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One”

Forthcoming Fiats Will Be Like IKEA.

FCA’s Olivier François outlines Fiat’s flat-pack future. 

Fiat brand CEO, Olivier Francois. Image via thedetroitbureau
Fiat brand CEO, Olivier Francois. Image via thedetroitbureau

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 occasionally necessary. At such times I’m compelled 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.”

1977 Fiat 127 review

Among the many publications to which Archie Vicar contributed was the Woman’s Monthly Report (WMR), published in Tewkesbury.

1977 Fiat 127: drive-my.com
1977 Fiat 127: drive-my.com

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”

The Brand That Time Forgot: Autobianchi

We look at an invisible landmark.

Autobianchi Emblem
Exhibit at The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee

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.

Continue reading “The Brand That Time Forgot: Autobianchi”

Rearview: Try Justifying This Now…

Nice car, patronising car ad.

Car-adphotos 001

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…”

Fossil Traces – Autobianchi A111

Today we look at a short-lived and forgotten automotive artefact.

Autobianchi A111 - image via viva-lancia
Autobianchi A111 – image via viva-lancia

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 photo for Sunday: 1979-2011 Lada 2105 Classic

A much loved child has many names according to the saying.

1979-2011 Lada 2105 Classic (it had other names during this time.) I don´t know what year this example is from, probably mid-90s.
1979-2011 Lada 2105 Classic (it had other names during this time.) I don´t know what year this example is from, probably mid-90s.

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.

This car´s roots are planted in Italy of the late 60´s. Fiat launched its progenitor in 1966, the 124, Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1979-2011 Lada 2105 Classic”

2015 Fiat 500C review

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. 

2015 Fiat 500C and some close relatives.

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”

Fiat’s Nightmare Continues – Sales Are Up

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…

500m

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”

Theme : Books – Robert Opron : L’Automobile et l’Art by Peter J Piljman

A book about one of Citroën’s two great designers.

Opron Photo

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. Continue reading “Theme : Books – Robert Opron : L’Automobile et l’Art by Peter J Piljman”

Theme: Concepts – Obendorfer’s Retrofuturism

Not all concept cars are designed by design consultancies or manufacturer´s own studios.

2013 design for Fiat 127 by David Obendorfer
2013 design for Fiat 127 by David Obendorfer

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”

Theme: Engines – The Greatest?

Italy’s engineering giants slug it out for your entertainment.

fiat12821

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?”

Theme: Engines – a survey of Fiat´s 2004 and 2014 ranges

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?

2014 Fiat Qubo
2014 Fiat Qubo

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. Continue reading “Theme: Engines – a survey of Fiat´s 2004 and 2014 ranges”

Theme : Facelifts – Fiat’s Facelift Fiascos

Just a selection from a back catalogue of errors

130

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.

Continue reading “Theme : Facelifts – Fiat’s Facelift Fiascos”

1961 Fiat 2300 S Coupe : A Short Film

While reading about the Humber Super Snipe and its competitors I stumbled across this.

Fiat 2300S Coupe

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.

Continue reading “1961 Fiat 2300 S Coupe : A Short Film”

What Exactly Is Lorenzo Ramaciotti Doing?

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. 

lorenzo-ramaciotti

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?”

FCA – State of the Empire – Part Two

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:

0094f_100mm_raised_soft_plastic_badgeSelling Ferrari
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”

FCA – State of the Empire – Part One

A two part examination of FCA’s European operations and the feasibility of Sergio Marchionne’s four-year plan to revive them.

A_Pantone_VersionNow 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.

Continue reading “FCA – State of the Empire – Part One”