Theme: Aftermarket – They Who Call the Piper Tune The Player

The matter of tuning demands a little diplomacy. 

This photo is as good a representative of tuner culture. You’ll notice the sticker affirming the primacy of self-reliance even if it leads to failure. It says “I’d rather lose by a mile than win by inch if I made didn’t make myself”.

From my own personal experience, tuners seem to be perpetually in search of a new project. They are not alone in this. This is also true of bicycle enthusiasts who are often swapping out parts in the quest to Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – They Who Call the Piper Tune The Player”

Armchair Guide to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show

The Detroit Auto show is over for another year. What caught our eye? What hurt our eye?

2018 Audi Q8 concept: source
2018 Audi Q8 concept: source

Audi showed the 3.0 TFSI SQ5: a CUV. They also showed the Q8 concept, some kind of crossover but sized extra-large. It’ll be ideal for bringing 17 kg children to kindergarten in Chelmsford. Notably the grille has burst out of its frame and now the silhouette of the lamps is involved in the party, as if the engine and lights are expanding out from under the bonnet like a weird blossoming mechanical monster. At the back the lamps stretch the full width across the car. Continue reading “Armchair Guide to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show”

Automotive Mayfly

This isn’t much of a Photo for Saturday** more of blue car by the side of the road. What is it?

image

It’s a very Was Then sort of car. From 2006 to 2008 BMW made this car in Regensburg. It’s a variant of the E85 Z4 which had a longer life. The Z4M had one engine, a 3.2 litre six cylinder unit and a six speed ‘box. In some ways you could call it an M3 wearing Z4 clothes. If you want a historical reference, it has the same relation to the Z4 as the Triumph GT6 to the mainstream Spitfire. It’s the kind of car that used to be quite common, a pure sports car which is now rather a freak. Continue reading “Automotive Mayfly”

Theme: Places – Pakistan (classic motoring)

One of the things I like about libraries is that you find things by chance in a way that an internet search does not. 

1983 Chevrolet Caprice (?): www.pakwheels.com
1983 Chevrolet Caprice (?): http://www.pakwheels.com

Exceptions occur such as this discovery of the Vintage & Classic Car Club of Pakistan. Pakistan’s most popular cars are the Toyota Corolla, the Suzuki Mehran and the Sukuki Cultus which we know as the Swift and sometimes the Subaru Justy. Next is the Alto which now looks very aggressive… and so on through a list of practical, useful and not very expensive cars. However, it’s not all low-cost motoring… Continue reading “Theme: Places – Pakistan (classic motoring)”

Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V

We have a thing for green cars here. While out on field work, Eóin spotted this undisguised production version of the Honda HR-V in Warwick.

1998 Honda HR-V
1998 Honda HR-V

At only 4 metres long, it is not big. It is, however, perfectly proportioned and showed another approach to the kind of thing Ford had in mind with the unloved but good Fusion.

Continue reading “Another Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V”

Did You Miss This One Too?

Toyota showed off the C-HR at the 2016 Geneva motor show and I was too busy checking paint colours to notice it.

2017 Toyota C-HR: source
2017 Toyota C-HR: source

Flipping goodness (exclamation mark). The interior has now been revealed. I had some thoughts about the exterior though. Continue reading “Did You Miss This One Too?”

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?”

A Photo for Sunday: Honda S2000

Look at that. It has simple, distinct forms and great proportions.

2001 Honda S2000
2000 Honda S2000 in Silkeborg, Denmark.

Honda revealed to the world the S2000 as a present to itself, celebrating the firm´s 50th birthday. It belongs in a class of cars that motoring journalists ask for, receive with mixed feelings and then fade away with little fanfare. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: Honda S2000”

Honda’s Odd Policy

For reasons unrelated to cars, I had reason to visit a Honda showroom.

A Honda showroom, yesterday in Denmark.
A Honda showroom, yesterday in Denmark.

While I waited to talk to the salesman who busily spoke to a real customer, I had had a short look at the interiors of all the cars on display. I discovered that Honda don’t fit rear central armrests to any of their cars: the Jazz, the Civic, the HRV or CRV. Those cars that might have had them, the Accord and Civic saloon are not on sale in Denmark. Their range is still unbalanced: the Civics, two CUVs, a city car and a billion euro supercar. That last one sits very uneasily in a range devoid of a cheaper roadster, a saloon and an MPV.

Continue reading “Honda’s Odd Policy”

I’ll Second That

Automotive News has a timely editorial concerning the EV-1 which I once drove. Here are some of the photos.

image
GM EV-1 (right) in 1997.

Prompted by AN, I took out my photos from 1997 and found the shots from the day I drove the EV-1 (top, right) in California. The salesman at the car dealership presented the EV-1 as a something for enthusiasts (which contrasted with the sludge I expect he was selling). The idea was that the EV-1 would appeal to people still interested in the technology and car-ness of cars. At the time I was a bit cynical about the GM car. 90 miles didn’t really seem that impressive although even today a 90 mile range would be very useful for most people’s daily needs. I got that wrong then. The Bolt has a 238 mile range.

Continue reading “I’ll Second That”

Far From the Mainstream: Acura

There aren´t so many Acuras on sale in Europe at the moment. 

That´s a characteristically German sort of background. 2000 Acura TL 3.2: source.
2000 Acura TL 3.2: source

If you are interested Acura provides an avenue into a more exclusive form of Honda ownership, with prices ranging from €2,550 for a year 2000 TL to €124,000 for a 2011 TL. Some mistake, surely? The first one with a photo is this charmer, a 2000 Acura TL with a 3.2 litre V6. Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Acura”

What A Month It Has Been!!

…as they like to say in the world of automotive print journalism.

Nissan Autech Zagato
Nissan Autech Zagato: wikipedia.org

We covered a lot of ground in our theme of the month, Japan, and the response from our clique of readers has been heartening. Most of what I read this month from our readers and contributors was new to me, as was the material I waded through when researching my own items.

Dealing with the Japan theme first, Sean Patrick and others handled the origins of Japan’s post-war development. The general theme is that Japan watched closely what Europe did but its selection of references showed its special set of values and interests. We dealt with notable examples of Japanese concept car design, production design. and the state of the product ranges. Under the production cars, the kei car phenomenon came under scrutiny from several angles such as this and this along with a few apparently randomly chosen examples of neglected classics and unloved daily drivers. Continue reading “What A Month It Has Been!!”

Theme : Japan – Boxing Clever

Why is Japan so good at thinking inside the box?

1989 Nissan Chapeau image : conceptnissan.com
Chapeau, Nissan? Well, it’s a start, I guess. 1989 Nissan Chapeau image : conceptnissan.com

An obvious introduction for an obvious concept. If you want to fit people shaped people into a car, the architecture that allows them the most room to sit in comfort is a box. An empty volume bounded by a series of flat rectangles. In the early days lots of cars were like this, now they are not. A common criticism of car design, used in the UK at least, is that a car is ‘boxy’. This comment needs no expansion – the fact that the car resembles a box condemns it. Yet, of course, a box is the best shape if you want to maximise on internal volume.  Various European manufacturers have experimented with boxiness but, except for the Quasar Unipower, whose designer, incidentally, was from Vietnam, they have generally lacked conviction. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Boxing Clever”

Theme: Japan – The Gentleman

It’s a peculiar entity, Toyota. More like a small landless nation than a company. It can produce remarkably effective entrants and also miss the mark in its own unique way. Nobody understands it. I try to.

2000 Toyota WillVi: www.carsensor.net
2000 Toyota WillVi. They don´t do much of this, do they?: http://www.carsensor.net

Like GM, Toyota is a sprawling enterprise, with operations all over the world and a large range of vehicles. Unlike GM, Toyota’s failures are seldom mystifying acts of dunderheadness. Even the least successful Toyotas are quality machines which demonstrate the relentless application of diligence. In contrast, GM cars can be entertainingly terrible which can be put down to missing diligence. What Toyota can possibly match the legendary Pontiac Aztek for its florid incompetence? The Solstice’s boot held only a spare wheel. Which Lexus failed as spectacularly as the Cimarron or Catera? Continue reading “Theme: Japan – The Gentleman”

Theme: Japan – Tokyo, Twinned With Turin

Much has been written on the contribution of Italy’s styling houses to the Japanese motor industry in the crucial years when it went from being a tentative exporter to a seemingly unstoppable force.

1965 Mazda Familia Coupe Source: cartype.com
1965 Mazda Familia Coupe Source: cartype.com

I have taken a closer look at cars from the last five decades with an Italian connection. Unsurprisingly, the activity was at its most intense in the 1960s. Almost every carmaker was using the Italian styling houses then.   They were not so much a service to industry, more a regional art form, but as well as being masters of form and proportion, the carrozzieri could Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Tokyo, Twinned With Turin”

Theme: Japan – The Structure Of Their Product Ranges and An Overview Of Their Pricing

Do you think we do this for fun? Here is the result of two evenings tediously clicking around slow websites, looking at confusingly arranged line-ups. This is what the Japanese brands are selling in the UK and what they charge.

Adieu Accord - image via motorauthority
No more Accords – image: motorauthority

How did I do this? I tried to count the number of distinct models under the category “passenger cars”. I then noted the base price of each. The “Brougham effect” might alter the absolute numbers somewhat but not enough to alter the general, relative nature of the findings. By that I mean if there’s a Nissan Micra Super De Luxe “Montecarlo” model which costs £9,000 more than the base model I won’t have included it. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – The Structure Of Their Product Ranges and An Overview Of Their Pricing”

Theme: Japan – Milestones

I’m about halfway through my life or a little over, if I take the actuarial figures for Irish males seriously. Underway I have changed some opinions and made some discoveries. About time, too.

1986 Honda Accord Aerodeck
1986 Honda Accord Aerodeck: source

One of these discoveries is that fortified wines from Jerez, Spain are wonderful with sushi. A good fino like Lustau Jarana  or a Manzanilla such as Solear go really well with this class of food. And that brings me to Japan, via raw fish. I discovered that raw fish is delicious, an oriental analogue of the way Europeans consume raw beef in the form of steak tartare though sushi is not about disguising the taste as Europeans do with capers, tabasco, onion and egg. The Japanese must find Europeans rather distasteful in some ways.

Sushi brings us finally to Japanese car design which provides plenty of visual interest and more simplicity than complexity. While I feel I am certain that there is more design Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Milestones”