Sunrise And The Sodium Glare

Once upon a time UK Fords and German Fords differed. And once upon a time UK Vauxhalls and German Opels differed. Then Ford and GM unified their European operations. How long did that take?

When Europe was divided
Image via mad4wheels

The process began for Ford in 1967 with the creation of Ford of Europe. For GM it is a bit hazier because their UK and Continental brands kept their names. Ford’s UK and German design centres co-operated on the 1972 Ford Granada. For the 1976 version, Merkenich handled the design. After 1976 there were no more UK-only models (Cortina), as one after another the range became uniform on both sides of the channel: Fiesta, Escort, Sierra, Capri and Granada.

If we turn to GM we see more muddle. Opels could be bought in the UK though Vauxhalls did not sell much (if at all) on mainland Europe. Continue reading “Sunrise And The Sodium Glare”

Better Never Than Not at All

Recently we have been debating Opel and Vauxhall. The general consensus is not that good for a brand fielding its best products since the last lot of good products…

1995 Opel Vectra “B”: source

…which, if you think about it, it is pretty much most of their cars with one very debatable model and one not debatable model. For reasons known only to Opel and Vauxhall’s marketing staff, Opel have been tarred with a Clarkson-shaped brush. Good old Sir Jeremy, now Lord, Clarkson, saw fit to damn the Vectra “B” because it wasn’t an Alfa Romeo, Porsche or BMW M3 but happened to suit the needs of regular motorists.

In so doing he seemed to Continue reading “Better Never Than Not at All”

Swimming in the Bight

So, Lancia Delta, what are you like to drive? Driven To Write continues its quest to test every Lancia available. 

2008 Lancia Delta 1.6 Oro

The Lancia Delta appeared under the banner of spearheading a rebirth at Lancia. The background to the Delta looked like this: a replacement for the Lybra saloon and estate and also a vehicle to cover a market the Bravo didn’t reach. As such, the Delta had to be luxury and estatey-wagony. Thus Lancia based it on the Fiat Bravo but with a longer floor-pan and a half-hatch, half-estate profile. Lancia sold the car with a quite broad engine range.

One could Continue reading “Swimming in the Bight”

A Ragbag For Sunday

Two items about off-roaders and one half-thought about car interiors comprise this small collection of notes. Plus a bonus about rear centre arm-rests.

2018 Suzuki Jimny exterior: source

A leaked set of images blew the gaffe on Suzuki’s new Jimny. Readers will remember we ran an item about this car earlier in the summer. The current Jimny is small, robust and a bit cute. It provides inexpensive off-road capability thanks to its body-on-frame chassis, light weight and short over hangs. Designed with practicality in mind, I feel it satisfies quite well the brief once met by Fiat’s first-generation Panda 4×4.

For the new car, Suzuki have decided to go retro: the car shown looks like something from 1985. The panels are flat and the mien is rather butch. This design is one which could Continue reading “A Ragbag For Sunday”

A photo for Sunday: Bertone’s Star

At long last, the final Astra F variant: the cabrio.

1994 Opel Astra convertible

Bertone designed this and sold it for four years, from 1994. Bertone went on to do the Astra G coupe. As I expected, the version I snapped was aubergine. If they came in other colours, I haven’t seen one.  Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: Bertone’s Star”

Credit Where It’s Due

This review concludes a slow tour through the middle-market. It’s the Astra’s turn.

image
2015 Opel Astra sports tourer in rental car drab.

DTW has tested the Ford Focus, Megane, the Golf and the Auris. That means I can put some of those reviews in perspective as well as offer some insights on the corresponding offering from Opel, the Astra. It’s quite handy that all the cars tested came from the same source, which eliminates variables like colour and engine specification. So, it’s quite a level playing field the Astra and its peers are playing on.

Continue reading “Credit Where It’s Due”

A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort

This is a public service more than a very interesting post.

1980 Ford Escort
1980 Ford Escort

When I wrote about the Astra F, I noted that there were very few good images of the 1980-1986 Ford Escort. Well, here is a clear image of an unmolested example. And it is not that nice to behold. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1980 Ford Escort”

Theme: Bodies – The CC

We may not even have a library photo of a hard-top convertible-cabriolet. 

2001 Lexus SC430 in Aarhus, Denmark
2001 Lexus SC430 in Aarhus, Denmark

We do, above. There are not many more. Maybe they are not a DTW type of car. Dear goodness, I find when checking the date of the Mercedes SLK, the R170, that it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It seems natural to start with this one. Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – The CC”

Theme: Colour Micropost

I mentioned mid-range colours earlier. Here’s what I meant. Sorry, it’s another Ford. Down the road there parked one in goldy browny grey too. 

image

Is this colour available in the UK? A similar colour appeared on Ghia Mondeo Mk2s and on a special edition Ka Mk1.

As an aside, the new Astra and newish Corsa are only appearing with lease-me colours: black, metallic grey and red. That confounds my launch colour theory.

Thought two: in a run-out period could zany colours be a cheap selling point? Is a cheerful paint colour the Fiat 500s main selling point now?

DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review

After discussing the dead centre of the car market, we take a visit there: the Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic. [First published May 11, 2014]

2012 Ford Focus rear 1This is the third generation Focus that I have tried. The Mk1 is a landmark and indeed a benchmark for many. It casts a long shadow over its successors. The Mk2 added refinement at the expense of driver enjoyment. Compared to the Mk1, the successor felt like being in a fat suit. So, what is the Mk 3 like now I have finally gotten behind the wheel? The main impressions are described below. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review”

Anatomy Of A Star: 1991 Opel Astra

Twenty-five years ago, Opel launched the Astra F. As far as I can ascertain, this is the only place where you will find that event marked.

1991 Opel Astra: source
1991 Opel Astra: source

You might find it odd that DTW (or just is it just me) continue to bang on the Astra drum. One reason that I like to draw people’s attention to this is because the recognition of good design is often rendered harder by ancillary matters of fashion and consensus and I’d like people to see past that. The received wisdom is that in the C-class the Golf is the gold medallist. The Golf has many positive attributes: often its quality of construction is superior to the average of the day; some versions are acknowledged driver’s cars; some versions are neatly designed. However, the Golf’s arch enemy, the Astra has lingered too long in the shadows of the Wolfsburg car and if you are blinded by consensus you are missing something lovely. Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Star: 1991 Opel Astra”

Cookie Cutter

“Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation” –  Edward Abbey.

1981 MB SEC
1981-1991 Mercedes-Benz SEC: source

17 years. You would think that was long enough to convince my girlfriend that a W126 is the ideal family car. It seems not. I’ve always loved the cars MB produced during Sacco’s time (I like to think he had called in sick the day they designed the W210) but his first S-Class (especially the coupe) is top of the heap for me. For some reason his theory of Vertical and Horizontal Affinity has always had a strong resonance. Continue reading “Cookie Cutter”

German Lessons With Claudia Schiffer

Opel blew the budget on Ms. Schiffer, because there’s certainly nothing left for anything else. You know, like production values, creativity, wit …

claudia-schiffer-says-the-opel-astra-never-breaks-down-video-79964_1
Confusing isn’t it Claudia? You are, the Astra isn’t. Got it? Image: autoevolution

I feel for Claudia, I really do. Times must be tough in the Schiffer household, because she really must have needed the money for this. Each time this spot airs, I fight the urge to hurl the nearest available blunt object TV-wards. Surely no advertising agency with a shred of dignity would willingly put their name to drivel of this magnitude, yet someone did. Did they Continue reading “German Lessons With Claudia Schiffer”

Concepts: Saab 9X BioHybrid

Getting it right at precisely the wrong time.

Saab biohybrid
Stunning. Saab 9X biohybrid

At the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, Saab presented a concept that perfectly encapsulated the future direction the marque needed to take. Given the multitude of factors massed against it, its non-adoption was perhaps inevitable, but that didn’t stop enthusiasts howling in frustration and thwarted desire. Derived from earlier 9X concepts, the C-sector 9X BioHybrid concept not only looked fantastic, but also successfully imagined Saab’s entry into a sector that should have proven both lucrative and sustainable – hybrid technology or no. Continue reading “Concepts: Saab 9X BioHybrid”

2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review

After discussing the dead centre of the car market, we take a visit there: the Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic.

2012 Ford Focus rear 1

This is the third generation Focus that I have tried. The Mk1 is a landmark and indeed a benchmark for many. It casts a long shadow over its successors. The Mk2 added refinement at the expense of driver enjoyment. Compared to the Mk1, the successor felt like being in a fat suit. So, what is the Mk 3 like now I have finally gotten behind the wheel? The main impressions are described below. Continue reading “2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review”