Fly Me Down To The Moon

It’s another new year. What was happening 20 years ago? 

Rover R40 concept: Car Magazine, Jan 1998

At Gaydon, Rover’s engineers worked on the R55 (to be sold as the R40). Predictions suggested a vehicle with rounded windows like a 1992 Nissan Micra and an upright chrome grille with main body surfaces akin to the 75. Rover expected the launch to be in 1999 when the last of the Honda-based Rovers would be phased out. Interestingly, it was expected that the R40 would be sold only a year from 1998 and that a mid-size executive car would Continue reading “Fly Me Down To The Moon”

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”

Economies of Scale

These usually mean big numbers. In Volvo’s case that means only 20,000 annual sales for the S90.

2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com
2017 Volvo S90: caranddriver.com

Automotive News mentioned this figure yesterday. There are another 40,000 units annually for the V90. Still, that’s quite modest really. The reviews so far have been good and my static inspection revealed a pleasingly high quality product. Is a figure of 60,000 enough for a firm without multiple brands to

Continue reading “Economies of Scale”

Something Rebadged in Denmark

A 1977 Wolseley 18-22. As named, this car had a mayfly-brief production run. Why is it labelled a 1977 though?

1975 Wolseley 18-22 (registeded in 1977): source
1975 Wolseley 18-22 (registered in 1977): source

Something quite like it could be purchased until 1982 (sold as an Austin Princess and Austin Princess 2 until 1981). And something quite like that appeared in showrooms from 1982 to 1984, the Austin Ambassador. They re-tooled the body and engineered a hatchback for 24 months of sales. That’s another story, British Leyland has plenty of those. Continue reading “Something Rebadged in Denmark”

The world’s Oddest Head Restraints

The head-restraints in the Rover 3500 always struck me as overkill, the ones in the back I mean.

1968 Rover 3500 rear headrestraint.
1968 Rover 3500 rear head-restraint.

Sorry about the reflections in the photo. 80% of that head restraint is not adding comfort or restraint. Why did they make them so big? We wrote about the 3500 before. Continue reading “The world’s Oddest Head Restraints”

Lancia Lives

In a way, so to speak. If you lived in Italy you could be forgiven for thinking Lancia were still popular.

Lancia Musa in Naples
Lancia Musa in Naples

Here, south of Naples, Lancias outnumber Fords. There are very few Fords and Renaults, not even small ones such as Twingos. The first thing I did when stepping out of the airport was to photograph a Lancia Musa “Fifth Avenue” which had button-pleated beige leather seating. Continue reading “Lancia Lives”

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”

Theme: Special – 1988 MG Maestro Turbo

“Special” might not be a term that many would use in its positive sense to describe a Maestro of any kind, but I think this one deserves a mention as part of this month’s thematic celebration.

1989 MG Maestro: source
1989 MG Maestro: source

I like to think that this was a car marketed with a twinkle in the eye of those involved. It was as if they knew that the public and journalists in particular would scoff at the very notion of it, and so they just added a little wry smile to the way that it was presented to the market. Continue reading “Theme: Special – 1988 MG Maestro Turbo”

Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation

In a revised piece from the earliest days of DTW we look at the UK’s first true economy car. But we make an even grander claim for it.

Austin 7 Box Saloon
Austin 7 Box Saloon

My French teacher at grammar school, Mr Roberts, had a small collection of Austin 7s from the 1920s, which he alternated using as transport to work – back then, that sort of car collection was practical, even on a teacher’s starter salary. I think that he considered me a bit of a prat (and history has certainly vindicated him on some levels) so, sensing this, I reciprocated with contempt for his collection of little, old and, at the time, very cheap cars. In hindsight, I might have had a more rewarding time discussing the niceties of the Ulster, Ruby, etc with him and he might have decided that I had some redeeming features. I deeply regret my glib teenage contempt, though it was entirely my loss. He was right, I was wrong. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation”