Leaving Off The Saws

It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.

The demise of Saab, Rover and Lancia

In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.

First, the badge engineering of Fiat cars increased and then swapped around 2011 to the relabelling of Chryslers. The Lybra (1998) and Thesis (2002) count as the last proper Lancias. The Delta (2008) is a superficially restyled Bravo but nowhere near the quality of the 1998 Lybra. The latest Ypsilon is a reworked Fiat 500. As of 2014 FCA gave up rebadging Chrysler (I left one out – which?). And perhaps Alfa Romeo could be added to this chart… Continue reading “Leaving Off The Saws”

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”

A photo for Sunday: Strange-Looking Mondeo

That’s what I thought when it caught my eye. 

2010 Aston Martin
2010 Aston Martin

It’s not a Mondeo, I realised after 0.45 seconds. That someone sat in it may explain why I didn’t get any closer.

Aston Martin must choke when they see the Astony Mondeos that still ply the roads in moderate numbers. Aston Martin owners may feel there is no comparison – only an idiot of the first order would mistake a house-priced car for a nice-kitchen priced car. They delude themselves.

Aston planned to make the Rapide at Steyr in Graz, Austria but sales never met expectations. Ford knows why.

Nissan March Bolero

While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:

image

Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra.  Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”

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”

Mustang Micropost: Compare and Contrast

What do you do when your product’s character derives from a particular look? Here’s how Ford revised the Mustang for 2015.

2015 Ford Mustang and its predecessor (right)
2015 Ford Mustang and its predecessor (right)

The overall change is that Ford have accentuated the horizontal character of the vehicle, front to back. While the old car looked more brutal and Aston-Martin-esque, the new one has smoother blends, and the two features that interrupted the front-to-rear flow are gone: the heavy B-pillar and the J-shaped scallop. At the front the lamps are slimmer and wrap around to the sides, again stressing horizontality and width. I think the previous car looked more masculine and robust. The new one loses some of that in the name of flow. Continue reading “Mustang Micropost: Compare and Contrast”

More Ballsiness

Yesterday the next generation of the Ford Fiesta made its appearance in public.

2017 Ford Fiesta: source
2017 Ford Fiesta: source

There are four versions of the car, a basic one, an ST, a body-clad CUV-ish one and a Vignale. Interestingly, Ford are keeping the three door. That’s a clue to something about this car which is probably a deep reskin rather than an all-new architecture. It is akin to the half-remembered 2000 Corsa C, the short-lived 1999 VW Polo and 2014’s Opel Corsa in carrying over a lot of the previous structures.  Continue reading “More Ballsiness”

Gorfe’s Granadas: The Limousines

The Granada is the ultimate in luxury motoring, writes acting-sub-editorial classics editor Myles Gorfe.

1975 Coleman Milne Granada: source
1975 Coleman Milne Granada: source

If you want more than best, try the Coleman-Milne limousines! Coleman-Milne and Ford, two great British names, have been in partnership since 1953. And as C-M say at their website, the firm is the UK market leader in limos and they use their own British engineers. That means that the finest Ford engineering gets an extra dash of imperial style for when excellence is demanded. Take a look at these unique beauties… Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: The Limousines”

Far from the Mainstream: Changhe

Our sharp-eyed readers may notice something amiss but I’ll carry on with my trawl through the obscure car brands, today it’s Changhe.

2014 Changhe microvan
2014 Changhe microvan, note the A-pillar : source

People hunting for an inexpensive and practical load carrier will find a mere two Changhe vehicles on sale at Autoscout24 at the moment. One is a small panel van with a 53 PS motor and the other is a pick-up with a tilting load bay (you load it with, say, loose marbles, snooker balls, or oranges and when you get to the delivery point you just let the whole load tip out onto the floor without all that laborious scooping or shoveling). Both cars have delivery miles yet are strangely registered in 2014. The dealer is in Dörfles-Esbach.
Continue reading “Far from the Mainstream: Changhe”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Myles Gorfe, our acting resident assistant classics sub-editor-at-large, gives a run down on the latest news from his 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L
1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

It’s been a busy few months for the Granada, as usual. The rust in the floor pan has been dealt with but this has resulted in a lot of searching for replacement trim – must have used 40-odd hours on eBay in the last two weeks alone – and mechanical components … (not to mention a lot of driving about) … as the new parts and old ones aren’t fitting like they should. Seems like two different cars now it’s been welded up. The doors are a particular problem. Getting them to

Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

Then and Now: 2000 Ford 24/7

When I presented the Faction yesterday, I thought I would refresh readers’ memories about some of the other Ingeni-era cars.

2000 Ford 24/7 concept: source
2000 Ford 24/7 concept: source

The Ford 24/7 sprang to mind. When I checked up I encountered the fickle and fragile nature of memory: the 24/7 appeared in 2000, quite some time before the Ingeni studio opened. Let’s look at it anyway. It’s a nice coincidence that we are scraping about in the annals of car design just as the LA Motor Show is also on these pages.

Continue reading “Then and Now: 2000 Ford 24/7”

Design Review : 2003 Ford Faction

This forgotten concept stands for a raft of vehicles conceived in a brief time at Ford’s London studio, Ingeni.

2003 Ford Faction Concept:source
2003 Ford Faction Concept:source

Not unreasonably, Ford wanted a studio located somewhere other than the drab environs of Merkenich and Basildon. So J Mays, then chief of design for FoMoCo, selected in 2002 a lovely office in a ritzy bit of London where designers could work hard, inspired by the buzz of city life. There is some good sociological thinking behind this. It didn’t last long, being closed in 2003, the year the Faction was shown. Continue reading “Design Review : 2003 Ford Faction”

Theme: Sudamerica – Are There DAFs for Sale in Suriname?

Suriname is South-America’s smallest country and it has a strong Dutch connection.

2016 Chevrolet SUV range in Suriname: source
2016 Chevrolet SUV range in Suriname: source

Until 1975 it was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Dutch is still the official language of state. So, I wondered, is it possible that DAF cars were sold there and do any remain? So, I tapped in “Suriname autos te koop” and discovered that the only DAFs are trucks. There are no Volvos there either.
Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Are There DAFs for Sale in Suriname?”

Theme: Sudamerica – Chevrolet in Uruguay

This is a micropost. Chevrolet have a huge range in Uruguay. This is what is looks like when seen from space:

2016 Chevrolet Urguaguay range: source
2016 Chevrolet Urguguay range: source

The Chevrolet Celta Mk1 (see below) was based on the Corsa B, on sale from 2000. It seems to have stopped production. In 2006 Chevrolet revised the car but it still seems to have its roots in the Corsa B. The Onix is a partial replacement. The giveaway is the split A-pillar: the front window frame is half of the A-pillar, just like the Corsa B (1993-2000). GM have done really well out of the Corsa and indeed Opel. I notice a lot of what they sell around the world has its roots in Rüsselsheim. There is no way they are shutting down Opel and there is no way Opel actually makes a loss. Its an accounting wheeze. Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Chevrolet in Uruguay”

No, I Don’t Think So

Taking the unveiling of the facelifted Golf as the starting point Autocar thinks all car makers should aspire to evolutionary design. DTW disagrees.

2017 VW Golf: source
2017 VW Golf: source

“It’s a ballsy move, though, making a car look like its predecessor. But one that’s starting to spread – Audi’s in on the game too, with its new Q5, and BMW did it with the new 5 Series not long ago” writes Autocar.

The Golf is a text-book example of a product that has evolved gradually over the course of its 40 years on the market. Audi have also cleaved to such a strategy as do BMW (nearly). Mercedes have been less adept at this. Sometimes they’ve adopted quite florid designs such as the fintail cars and most of the current batch. At other times they’ve had the urge to

Continue reading “No, I Don’t Think So”

Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador

Before we go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers that genuine Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

Big in Ecuador: source
Big in Ecuador: source

And that country is the topic of today’s investigation. The Republic of Ecuador lies on the north-west coast of South-America. Its capital is Quito but the largest city is Guayaquil. About 16 million people live in the country. They drive on the right (where possible) and the economy is dependent on commodities. Vehicle sales were down 30% last year (2015). That’s a big blow for Chevrolet who hold about 50% of the market.

What do they drive? Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – Ecuador”

Micropost: Mid-Greens

My search for green paints in current cars didn’t turn up much. This and this and this, only. However, these. These are properly green.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today I saw this 2006 Ford Fiesta and a Skoda Felicia. These are the greens that are now in short supply. If you really want to

Continue reading “Micropost: Mid-Greens”

Theme : Sudamerica – Nothing Is Quite What It Seems

The various manufacturers involved in the South American market over the years can cause some confusion to casual car spotters.

ford-corcel-oldraces-blogspot-uk-com-copy-copy
Willys / Renault Dauphine

The US maker Willys had set up in Brazil in 1953. Seeking to diversify from its US based cars, it built a version of the Renault Dauphine under licence ….

Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Nothing Is Quite What It Seems”

If Only …

… every car looked as good when launched as it does two decades later.

1994-2001 Renault Laguna
1994-2001 Renault Laguna

For this small meditation the kick-off is the 1994 Renault Laguna I saw today. It helps if the car is shiny and in good order, of course.

Two weeks ago I saw the 1995 Vectra in the same flattering light.What seemed uninspiring 20 years ago seems clean, fresh and straightforward. This morning a Fusion caught my eye: Continue reading “If Only …”

A Picture and Some Questions

A while back I alleged that, if nothing else, the mainstream saloon had more visual variety than that found among C-class family hatches.

Top selling saloons and others
Top selling saloons and others

A recent bit of news concerning Volkswagen’s Phideon saloon led me to put that in with seven other medium sized cars. See how many you can identify. How different are they? And which one stands out? Doesn’t the Phideon look a lot like a BMW 5-series proposal? Can you tell which one is the Phideon?

[Photo sources: Autocar, caranddriver, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Renault]

Far From the Mainstream: Donkervoort

Today we peer again into the world of marginal car makers. In this instalment we deal gently with Donkervoort.

1981 Donkervoort S8: source
1981 Donkervoort S8: source

There are 15 Donkervoort cars advertised at mobile.de and above, a 1981 S8 is the cheapest at €19,950 with a mere 52,000 km up. Next is a similar roadster from 1988 for €24,000. A 1998 2.0 Zetec-powered D8 costs €36,000. From 2001 an Audi-powered D8 costs nearly €50,000. So, who are Donkervoort? Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Donkervoort”

A Photo for Sunday – Uwe Bahnsen

Today, we present a photo of a stylist – in at least two senses of the word.

Director of styling, Uwe Bahnsen. Image: Cardesignnews.com
Ford’s Uwe Bahnsen. Image: Cardesignnews.com

You may wonder why Ford’s Köln-Merkenich stylistic output throughout the 1970’s and early ’80s was so assured? If you do, look no further. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday – Uwe Bahnsen”

Micropost: the 1998-2004 Opel Astra Comfort

Not another Astra, Richard. Yes: it’s the rare 3-door with full Comfort spec.

image

That means green-grey velour, rear headrestraints and rear centre armrests plus a/c. Did any Focus or Golf three door have such luxurious trim? If it wasn’t such an unusual trim-body combination I would not have tried to photograph it.  Generally, three door versions of the cars used to be priced lower than the five doors and were more budget-orientated. Opel offered another path to top-level trim so you could avoid the five door if you wanted.

And Now For Some News

This is a short round-up of items that aren’t worth a whole article: news from Ford, Hyundai and Citroen.

2016 DS4 Performance: source
2016 DS4 Performance: source

First, Ford have announced a V6 version of the US version of the Mondeo. The Fusion boasts 325 hp and all-wheel drive. The car has adaptive damping and, as usual with Ford, disappointing seats. Will Ford Europe make this motor available? This academic study indicates what matters to customers, regarding seating. And this item from TTAC also shows the value of good seats. The one thing I remember from my time in a Citroen Xsara: the excellent seats. Continue reading “And Now For Some News”

Theme : Colour – Beige New World

Fashion’s a funny thing. 

Love at first sight - the colour, not the car - image : buysellcortina.co.uk
Love at first sight – the colour, not the car – image : buysellcortina.co.uk

It’s understandable that haircuts and trouser bottoms and patterns date, and what seemed really smart to you once, now sits embarrassingly at the back of a cupboard because you’re too ashamed even to take it to the charity shop. But it’s odder that something as basic as a colour can date. There aren’t that many colours, or there are infinite colours depending on how you look at it, but either way how can something that seemed so agreeable to you once, suddenly (and it often is sudden) become so jarringly dated? Continue reading “Theme : Colour – Beige New World”

Getting (back) Into the KA

To mark the 20th anniversary of Ur-Ka’s debut, we don’t write about it. 

Image: mobile.de
Image: mobile.de

We’ve spilled a good deal of ink over the Ka on Driven to Write over the past couple of years – too much, some might say. But with the car’s 20th anniversary now looming, one has to be seen to be doing something. So rather than retread old ground, the opinions of the foremost UK auto journalists of the time will have to suffice. Failing that of course, there’s always the narcotic Laurie Anderson soundtracked launch commercial – which is notable for showing no footage of the Ka at all.  Continue reading “Getting (back) Into the KA”

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”

A Photo for Sunday: 1968-1976 Audi 100

Audi found 800,000 customers for this car over its eight year production run. The first 500,000 customers paid up before 1971.

1968-1976 Audi 100
1968-1976 Audi 100

That means that for the next five years the Audi 100 trailed in the sales stakes. Audi attempted to keep it competitive by raising the power output of the engine and some modest restyling efforts. That it didn’t work is indicated by the 50,000 units sold per year between 71 and 76. The car had a lot of competition at that time which might go some way to explaining the later half of its sales career. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1968-1976 Audi 100”

Looking Back to the Future : 2

A lot of excitement fizzed in the air in 2002 regarding Ford. 

Image via mad4wheels
Image via mad4wheels

The Focus, Mondeo, Ka and Fiesta achieved good sales results and a lot of good will for Ford. The DCDQ ethos resulted in Ford gaining a new image. What were they going to do next? Around 2002 rumours circulated that there would be a new Capri, project S307: imagine, a Capri with the striking looks and exciting driving character of a Focus (that wasn’t the Cougar, the last “new Capri”, which Ford killed off in 2002 after four sad years?).
Continue reading “Looking Back to the Future : 2”

Theme: Colour – Red Micropost

We’ve been talking a lot about red. Here’s a 2016 Mondeo in Hilti red. It’s a quite terrible photo …

2016 Ford Mondeo (or is it the 2007 car?)
2016 Ford Mondeo (or is it the 2007 car?)

….but if you had a chance to photograph a unicorn you’d take a shot, regardless if the sun was behind the unicorn and Lord Lucan was slightly in the way.

Micropost: 1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW

Given Lancia made only 9028 examples of the Kappa SW, I see them often enough.

1994-2000 Lancia 1994 Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.
1994-2000 Lancia Kappa SW, Guben, Germany.

Pininfarina did the design and construction and I expect charged Lancia more for this than Lancia made selling them. That makes them good value now.

You’d want an SW if a Kappa saloon appeared too common, if a BMW 5 too mainstream, an XM too complex and a Scorpio too ugly and an Omega too banal.

They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More and They Probably Don’t Exist Either

If the headline had been a bit shorter this would almost count as a micropost.

1989 Ford Sierra GLS 4x4: Autocar
1989 Ford Sierra GLS 4×4: Autocar

Not only did Ford make a 4×4 Sierra in XR trim, they also sold it in a calmer and cheaper GLS format. This is a 2.9 litre V6 four-wheel drive family car. I didn’t find any for sale so those few Ford sold are now all rust or converted to XR fakes. Off the top of my head, the combination of six-cylinder power and four-wheel drive didn’t appear on many other contemporary saloons apart from the Scorpio and the ’86-’93 BMW 325iX. The Vectra had a 2.0 turbo.  That’s it then, for competitors, as far as I can see. Continue reading “They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More and They Probably Don’t Exist Either”

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”

Theme: Material – Decay

Cars start decaying the moment they are built. Some manage to accumulate character while most don’t. What do you do?

Rust.
Rust.

One response is obsessive polishing and maintenance. The other is stoic acceptance. For many the response is to oscillate in between the two, starting with careful stewardship of the new possession. Why do people fight physics? And why is it that cars don’t last longer? Continue reading “Theme: Material – Decay”

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”

Theme: Materials – Body Building

Originally carpenters made horsedrawn carriages with wooden bodies. They carried this technology over to the horseless carriage. 

Aluminium and wood and leather- Bristol's materials of choice
Aluminium and wood and leather- Bristol’s materials of choice

Then it became clear that for large scale production, a saw, hammer and some nails would not be up to the task. Design involves choosing a balance between what the material needs to do and how it can be formed. The appearance emerges from this compromise – the required look can drive material selection and vice versa. Often the balance is not even something at the forefront of the designer’s mind if they are working out of habit or tradition. Continue reading “Theme: Materials – Body Building”

Theme: Materials – Convince Me

We have staked out our positions on the use of wood and mock wood inside cars. One day this will be resolved with a water pistols duel at dawn. And then a nice breakfast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Until then here are some after-market products to give your car a little extra visual warmth and some OEM work to show how it should be done. This really is not good for my argument, is it?

Continue reading “Theme: Materials – Convince Me”

Theme: Materials – General Electric “Xenoy”

What do the 1982 Ford Sierra, 1985 Mercury Sable and 1988 BMW Z1 have in common? Xenoy.

1988 BMW Z1: source
1988 BMW Z1: source

The difference is the extent and application of its use on the BMW. While Ford and Mercury made use of Xenoy on the bumpers, the Bavarian firm used it on the sliding doors, the wings and the rocker panels. The rocker panels are huge on this car so that’s a lot of plastic. Continue reading “Theme: Materials – General Electric “Xenoy””

Theme: Values – Britain

Ah, this is a tricky one. It´s like trying to understand your family.

2001 Mini: aw retro as New Beetle but nobody objects. Image: topcarrating.com. I wonder what that site is about.
2001 Mini, old and new British style. Image: topcarrating.com.

I’m not British but the British have loomed large in the culture of the Irish, and “Ireland” is written on the front of my passport. British cars once dominated the Irish car market and now Germans and Japanese predominate. The interplay of convoluted historical strands influenced the character of British cars. In sketching all this can I do so without being too kind or too critical? Continue reading “Theme: Values – Britain”

Micropost: Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia

This little badge indicates the car originated in Ales, a town west of Avignon.

C. Morel dealer badge on a Ford Cortina 2.3 Ghia
C. Morel dealer badge on a Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia

C. Morel Ford is still there too. The car has a Danish roadworthiness cert from 1999 so it has been driving about here for a good long time. There’s also little new with the Vignale concept. This car has it all apart from leather upholstery. In this case it has brown nylon cloth. There’s a centre armrest front and back and plenty of real wood trim.  Continue reading “Micropost: Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia”

Micropost: 1972-1975 Ford Consul 3.0 GT

As well as being the car from the Sweeney, the Consul is where Ford UK’s gradual loss of independence began.

1972 Ford Granada Consul 3.0 GT
1972 Ford Granada Consul 3.0 GT

The nameplate came from an earlier line of British Fords, indicating a lower level of accoutrification. It also masked the German Ford input to the line of cars better known as Granadas. Gradually Ford UK built fewer models: the Granada was followed by the Cortina, Escort and Fiesta. Now the Mondeo is a US-EU effort. It kicked off here.

Continue reading “Micropost: 1972-1975 Ford Consul 3.0 GT”

Theme: Suspension – Cheap and Cheerful

What do most modern small and medium-sized cars have in common? Well, nearly everything.

As modern as can be, at the time. Image: honestjohn.co.uk
1950 Ford Consul. As modern as can be, at the time. Image: honestjohn.co.uk

They are almost all front-wheel drive, with the four-cylinder in-line engine in the front. And almost all of them have MacPherson suspension. Prizes if you can think of an exception. In 2004 the market for small cars consisted of the Fiat Panda, Daewoo Matiz, City Rover, Skoda Fabia and Daihatsu Charade (among others). They all had MacPherson struts. Moving to the present day this is still true nearly all the medium-sized cars are so equipped. Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – Cheap and Cheerful”

Understanding Blandness

There is a fine line between the severely rational and the bland. The 1997 Toyota Avensis is bland yet there is a hint of something else there too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


What little character the car has did come from somewhere. So, what inspired the theme? To try to understand this car is to try to guess at what else Toyota had in mind when developing it. If the car was launched in 1997 then the designers were looking at cars launched or on sale in three years before: 1994. What do we find? The Opel Omega and Renault Laguna had the most impact. The Peugeot 406 and Mazda 626 estates also guided the packaging targets. Continue reading “Understanding Blandness”

Gorfe’s Granadas 1985 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate

Among those in the know, a Mk2 Ford Granada is recognized for its space, speed and quality, writes Myles Gorfe, our senior acting classics sub-editorial assistant.

1985 Ford Granada 2.8 V6 estate interior: source
1985 Ford Granada 2.8 V6 estate interior: source

For sale for a modest £3,950  here’s a lovely 1985 Granny in white, with fog lamps, factory alloys and a factory windscreen. It just doesn’t get any better than this ever, really. Some people might be looking into an old W-123 Merc or maybe a Volvo 740 but those cars are over-rated, lumbering and over-priced. They don’t even look as smart as the Ford either. The Merc is dated and the Volvo too square-rigged and American.  So, what do you get with an ’85 Granny estate? You get to Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas 1985 Ford Granada 2.8 GL estate”

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”

2017 Lincoln Continental Facelift

Further to our discussion of the visual attributes of the 2017 Lincoln Continental, here is a view of the current car and one where I generously added more length front and back.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Put together like this you can see how wrong the Lincoln really is. There is no point in making Lincolns off Ford platforms. They should do it the other way around. It looks like the front wheel is about half a wheel’s diameter too far back on the existing design. It could be that my version would be too long in reality. It just shows you can’t design a car piecemeal. Proportions matter.

Signal and Noise, Separated

What a year it has been. With reference to Shannon (1948), we try to sort out signal from noise.

2015 BMW i8 - the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com
2015 BMW i8 – the future looks a bit like this: autoblog.com

It seems like only eight months and two weeks since I last took out my typewriter from its leather case to write one of these annual reviews. Last year I ironically titled it  A review of the automotive year: VW 1.4 TSi Engine Problems. The airbag problem eventually destroyed Takata. GM is still working with lawyers over faulty ignitions. Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce that case will roll on until lawyers Continue reading “Signal and Noise, Separated”