Where Shall That Die Fall? Whom From Their Path Will It Deflect?

It was thirty years ago this month that Car magazine excitedly put the new Cavalier on their front cover. Mainstream cars helped sell magazines in those bygone olden days of yesteryore.

I have plucked some of the most interesting bits from the four-page spread which depends for its value on six spy shots of the car. The then-current Cavalier/Ascona, once a sales superstar had begun to wilt in the market so the new one had to catch up with the ascendant Sierra rather than Continue reading “Where Shall That Die Fall? Whom From Their Path Will It Deflect?”

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”

Convergences

About 15 years ago design rationalism enjoyed one of its occasional bouts of popularity. In a few cases the appliance of simple rules to simple shapes led to similar conclusions.

2004 Ford Fusion
2004 Ford Fusion: three sharp corners, neat work.

What we should be noticing in this slide show is the relation of the wing to the bumper and the treatment of the grille and bonnet. I noticed this originally because around about that time I occupied myself with a lamp design and without noticing how others did it arrived at something that looked very like the Fusion’s lamp.
Continue reading “Convergences”

Theme: Bodies – Hydroforming

We briefly review a method that improves rigidity, helps achieve the goal of a lighter car and also simplifies production. Which car have you sat in that uses this method?

2001 Ford Mondeo: conceptcarz.com
2001 Ford Mondeo: conceptcarz.com

The car body must meet two contradictory requirements: lightness and strength. Lightness abets performance and improves agility: less car to turn. It also usually helps keep the cost down. At the same time, a car must not fall apart while standing still or while in motion. And if the car should hit something it needs to protect the occupants. Usually you may have lightness or robustness but not both.

Continue reading “Theme: Bodies – Hydroforming”

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”