Abatements, Rebatements and Staynade Colours

Generally I prefer to avoid memoirs of car ownership except en passant. I will try to do so here when having a small look at the afterlife of the 1984 Buick Century. 

1984 Buick Century: source

The reason I am in any way concerned with a car like this is that for a year and a half I owned such a vehicle, almost exactly like the one in the main photo. It differed only in that it had plate sized-rust patches on both front doors.

As minds work in peculiar ways, I can’t say why the one with which I identify myself opted to exhume the recollection of my former charge. It did so. Having summoned the memory, my mind then decided to wonder idly if a person could be so lucky as to Continue reading “Abatements, Rebatements and Staynade Colours”

Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start

This one is just a single photo. The car drove off before I could get more shots and plus also the driver sat inside and didn’t seem like the kind of person who would appreciate my interest.

1983 Toyota Corolla E80

I have blurred the driver’s face, just in case. Normally I don’t photograph people in cars or cars if there are people in them.

Now: In 1983 Toyota presented the E80, the fifth generation of their answer to the VW Golf and Ford Escort. That makes it mainstream in the extreme. A look back at the previous four generations of Corollas shows cars that are studiously nothing much to look at. Maybe the second generation (1970-1974) had a touch of the American about it, not unlike the Cortina. Even that faint whiff of personality faded away for version three which managed to Continue reading “Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start”

1970 Ford Cortina Revisited: Form

Some time back I promised that I would return to the topic of the form language exemplified by the 1970 Ford Cortina. Well, here we are.

1970 Ford Cortina: source
1970 Ford Cortina: autoevolution.co.uk

Prompting this much-delayed exegesis is the coincidence of an academic paper (Carbon, 2010) which I came across (check out Google Scholar) and the fact that someone parked a new Mazda3 outside my front door.

To start with the easy part, we can talk about the concepts of angular and curved. Two prototypical examples might be the VW Beetle (rated as very curved in Carbon’s paper) and angular as embodied by the 1968 Carabo Concept (Carbon showed a 1986 Alfa Romeo 75, please note). So, where does the 1970 Ford Cortina fit in? What is it like? Continue reading “1970 Ford Cortina Revisited: Form”

Theme: Places – Ascona

A reflection on the car and the town: Ascona.

1972 Opel Ascona: source
1972 Opel Ascona: source

Ascona could be a place that takes you to other places, as in the driver’s seat of the Opel Ascona (1970-1988) or it could be the town in the Locarno district of Switzerland. I have to admit that until very recently in my life the Opel’s Swiss association lingered at the very far back of my mind. It lurked somewhere with Portuguese kings and medieval musical instruments. For most of my time on earth Ascona meant not a nice Swiss town but an unremarkable shape that usually rusted by the side of the road.
Continue reading “Theme: Places – Ascona”

Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?

The BMC Mini and the Ford Cortina represented two contradictory strands of the British character.

image : newoldcar.co.uk
Ford Cortina 1.6L – image : newoldcar.co.uk

Soon after its release, Ford, notoriously, took apart a Mini and realised what BMC hadn’t worked out, that each car sold would lose the company money. It wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Ford Germany inherited the abandoned front-drive ‘Cardinal’ project from the USA to become the Taunus 12M, but Ford Britain were having none of this fancy stuff and its ‘Archbishop’ (ho, ho) project was very, very conventional. But what the first (Consul) Cortina did offer was a lot of up-to-date looking car for the money. Less well recorded is that BMC, returning the favour, bought a new Cortina, took it apart and were appalled at the bodyshell’s lack of torsional stiffness. But even had this fact been publicised, it’s unlikely that it would have affected the Ford’s success. Continue reading “Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?”

Throwbacks: Examples and Non-Examples

What do the Triumph Toledo, the Ford Taunus and the Rover 75 have in common?

1972 Triumph 1500: source
1972 Triumph 1500: source

For a very long time the general trend in automotive drivetrain layouts has been to move from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. It started in earnest in the 60’s with smaller cars from mainstream manufacturers though of course the pioneers were specialists, Citroen and Lancia. Thus a trickle of front-wheel drive superminis exploited the packaging efficiency of front-wheel drive and showed the way forward. Then the Golf/Kadett/Escort class yielded as follows: 1974 for the Golf, 1979 for the Kadett and 1980 for the Escort. Things took a little longer to Continue reading “Throwbacks: Examples and Non-Examples”

Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6

The Surprisingly Fast Family Car

Jeff Uren’s Personal Savage Estate : www.sussexsportscars.co.uk
Jeff Uren’s Personal Savage Estate : http://www.sussexsportscars.co.uk

Once, saloon and estate cars behaved soberly. Some of them got a bit spritely with the addition of a second carburetor and 1/2 inch wider tyres, and indeed I offered the 1962 Alfa Giulia as the partial template for the modern hot hatch/saloon a while back. Then, of course, there was the Lotus Cortina. The Mk2 Jaguar doesn’t count because it was always supposed to be fast anyway, so only surprised people who bought it in 2.4 litre form and found it slow. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6”