And now this. FCA boss Marchionne is going to wring some profits from the investment in the Giulia platform known as Giorgio.
Future Maseratis, Jeeps and Dodges will use the Giorgio platform. Did they design it to be so flexible?This was reported in Automotive News: “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offset the high costs of relaunching Alfa Romeo by sharing the brand’s Giorgio platform with Maserati, Dodge and Jeep, CEO Sergio Marchionne said.” It’s not going to be quite badge engineering yet it does point towards the Alfa-ness of Alfas and the fussiness of Maseratis being constrained by the need to make the platform compatible with cheaper cars sold as Dodges and Jeeps. This is how they explain it: Continue reading “AD0 16, K-car, J-car, Jags From Mondeos…”
In 2008 Touring Superleggera showed their reimagining of the 2003 Maserati Quattroporte, the Bellagio.
Jalopnik calls it station wagon while Superleggera call it a fastback. I would call it a hatchback. All they needed to do to get it precisely in tune with our vexing Zeitgeist is to add 10 cm to the ride height and jam in a 4wd system. That is a distracting comment. As it stands, Superleggera have managed to respectfully turn the very nice Mk V Quattrporte into a believable semi-estate car. Should we tag it “is now” or “was then”? The car is still listed at Superleggera’s website. Other sources (ahem) say four have been built – which is somewhat fewer than I would expect given the general excellence of the basic car, the skill of Superleggera and the allure of the Touring name. While there are not many new cars I’d like to own, I could think of things Touring Superleggera could do to Continue reading “Uncertain Smile”
I invited readers to find the links between the 1963 Hillman Imp, the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado and 1995 Peugeot 406 (I showed a coupé). This is my solution:
It’s not the shortest path. Peugeot manufactured the 406 coupé. The 406 replaced the 405 which Peugeot manufactured at Ryton-in-Dunsmore, in England. That factory formed part of the Rootes group which Chrysler bought in 1967, including the Hillman brand. The Imp was part of group’s range. One of the designers of the Imp was Mike Parkes who died while working on development of the Lancia Stratos (not in the car, at the time of). Marcello Gandini designed the Stratos but also cars for Maserati who were once part-owned by Chrysler. He also designed the Renault Super 5 which succeeded the original Renault 5 (or Le Car). The Le Car was sold in the US by AMC for whom Larry Shinoda worked as a consultant. One of Shinoda’s colleagues was Bill Mitchell and he was the chief designer of the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado.
Veteran motoring correspondent Archie Vicar offers his driving impressions of the 1971 De Tomaso Deauville.
[This may be a transcription of an article that first appeared in the Hartlepool Afternoon Post].
Consider luxury cars from Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin and one must undeniably concede they suggest a degree of similarity which borders on the insipid. Manufacturers are being forced by the nanny state and ever-more-cautious customers to present cars which differ from each other in only the smallest ways. So, in these increasingly competitive times, originality is even more important (and rarer!) than ever before. Luckily, the De Tomaso Deauville has it in large quantities and the car is on sale now to the lucky few. Continue reading “1971 De Tomaso Deauville Roadtest”
In what seems to be a transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring correspondent Archie Vicar reports on the ‘all-new’ Bristol 411.
[This article could well have first appeared in the Sheffield Sunday Post, 25th Jan 1970. Due to the poor quality of the original images (by Douglas Land-Windermere), stock photos have been used.]
It’s all change at Bristol. The fast-moving Filton manufacturer has responded to the challenges of the times with a veritable flotilla of improvements to their latest car, the 411.
Bristol has many unique attributes to help it stay ahead of the competition in these increasingly competitive times. First among them is the remarkably high level of quality on which they insist: the cars are hand-made by craftsman steeped in aviation engineering and versed in production methods that go back decades. While Rolls-Royce and indeed Bentley have switched to monococque construction – making them little more than Cortinas with wood and walnut, some say – Bristol have retained their separate chassis with hand-beaten aluminium panels. Continue reading “1969 Bristol 411 roadtest”
It’s nice to think that Giovanni Michelotti spent some of his creative time trying to think of a suitable ashtray for this car.
He might have sat at his desk with samples from suppliers or he might have drawn some simple sketches and asked the artisans to run up a few prototypes. At some point Adolfo Orsi, the firm’s president, could have been invited to review the shortlist of possibilities. Perhaps he sat in the car and had a smoke Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1972 Maserati Indy 4700”
It’s another round of musical chairs at the Italo-American car maker, with particularly resonant changes being brought to the company’s sartorial department.
In yet another surprising move, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has promoted Wichita-born Tripp Hardcrotch as Chief Knitwear Officer. Mr Hardcrotch will be in charge of organising clothing supply for all global subsidiaries, as well as devising a new sartorial structure for the company.
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”
Cars no longer differ from country to country, but once they had definite national characteristics. What happened when two nations met – collaboration, collision or confusion?
We now seem to have reached a consensus that the type of car most should be is ‘Germanic’, being lazy shorthand for something efficient, hard riding, fast enough and, usually, a bit clinical. Some sports cars remain, possibly, more traditionally ‘Italianate’ in spirit, being nervy, noisy and involving to drive. Nowadays, though, car making is truly a global industry where an Italian car maker might produce a model exclusively in Poland, and where the designers and engineers come from scores of different nations. Nearly fifty years ago this wasn’t the case. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids : The French-Italian Connection”
Maserati’s natural history came to an abrupt halt in 1975. Survival meant change – not just a new model, but an entirely fresh approach.
It’s tempting to view evolution as a continuous series of gradual mutations, but events throughout history have demonstrated it only takes a single catastrophic event to send it in an entirely different direction – or stop it entirely. The 1973 oil embargo for instance was the motor industry’s very own fiery catastrophe and 1975 the year when the conflagration really took hold, consuming a swathe of specialist marques including Jensen and Iso. Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – Adaptation, Diversification, Survival”
How much can a brand be stretched? Should Alfa Romeos carry an “engineered by Ferrari” badge? Or shouldn´t AR engineering speak for itself?
While trawling other news sites, I read at Autocar that Alfa Romeo´s forthcoming SUV will be based upon the Maserati Ghibli. That bit doesn´t surprise me so much as the remark that “….there have also been unconfirmed rumours that the top of the range Alfa engines will feature ‘developed by Ferrari’ sub-branding.” This has all the hall marks of an idea designed to appeal to Sergio Marchionne. It also reminds me of Silvio Berlusconi´s idea that Fiat could sell more cars by badging them as Maseratis. You might as well scribble “£10” on a £5 note. But is this such a terrible idea? Let´s put on our white hats and consider that Porsche came to no serious harm by allowing Seat to place “Porsche Design” on the tops of their Ibiza engines. I seem to recall that Ssang Yong were permitted to associate their very excellent Musso with Mercedes due to the shared engines. While we are here, lets´s take a moment to reflect on Ken Greenley´s contribution to Korean design which was much more than the superb Rodius as he penned the Musso too.
Getting back to the topic, I wonder how the “developed by Ferrari” sub-branding will go down with Ferrari owners. Is this something they can really do if Ferrari is not owned in full by FCA. On the face of it, Ferrari branding is a drag on Ferrari. How many Alfa-buyers will be impressed? And how many people will be alienated by the cynicism? That´s an open question as I feel that these days Alfa is not doing well in attracting serious, informed or, shall we say, sufficiently, ABC1 customers. Maybe Alfa buyers won´t care. To be fair, lots of otherwise fine new cars become very attractive to less-desirable groups (seen from a marketing perspective, note) but Alfa seems especially to have the kind of blue-collar appeal that Pontiac managed to claim as its own in the US in the decades before it died.
FCA need to be very careful with this little move, if it is indeed more than a rumour. There is a danger of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo getting blended in an uncontrolled marketing storm. Such decisions could be taken and managed if FCA was a stable corporation but the reality is that it seems like one where the revolving doors at marketing provide a lot of air-freshening. What is designed as a carefully evolving ten year plan may end up being managed to destruction as marketing chiefs come and go at 18 month intervals. Every plan needs the contingency for a change of plan built in.
Maserati’s 2014 sales gain is astonishing, but is it a false dawn?
One of the reasons the motor industry continues to be such compelling subject matter is its almost limitless capacity to surprise. Last week, we looked at FCA’s decision to float off Ferrari as a stand-alone business – a move that surprised many – (if not ourselves). Now however, we are compelled to eat a portion of humble pie on the back of sales figures for Maserati that appear to demonstrate the storied brand’s continued growth to be no mirage, despite strong misgivings we expressed on the subject back in May. Continue reading “The Trident Sharpens Its Prongs”
At this year’s Geneva show, Maserati announced the Alfieri concept; a preview for a new Grand Turismo, aimed at the sort of affluent customer who might otherwise choose a Porsche 911, Aston Martin or heaven help us – one of those vulgar new Mercedes-AMG things.
Today I had the chance to experience a car I consider to be among the most disappointing of recent years – the successor to the flawed yet glorious Quattroporte V. Gone is the lithe elegance of Ken Okuyama’s styling, making way for considerably more competitive technology, as well as simply gargantuan proportions.
It really is an ungainly-looking barge, trying to marry its enormous size with some stylistic nods to its predecessor. The result I’d consider something akin to Jaguar’s unfortunate X350 XJ – an ill-advised pastiche, borne by the misconception that certain cues are independent of scale and proportions. If I want a giant Maserati, I’d personally go for Giugiaro’s Mk III version instead, in all its Passat-on-steroids glory.
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?”
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.