Louwman Museum III : The Pebble Beach Boys

Back at the Louwman Museum, we ask how far is too far.

I’ve always liked the Mercedes 500K and 540K cars despite the fact that they seem tainted, through no real fault of their own, by association with high-ranking Nazis. In 2 seater form, it’s one of those cars of inordinate length that accommodates just a couple of people. Were all cars like this, our roads would have become gridlocked many years ago, but there’s a harmless decadence to it in my eyes. The Louman’s 500K is one of those fairytale barn-find stories. A Spezial model, one of just 25, it was first purchased in the UK and spent 30 years stored behind a butcher’s shop in Walsall. Discovered and auctioned late in the 1980s, it was beautifully restored in Germany and was a prizewinner at Pebble Beach in 1994. Continue reading “Louwman Museum III : The Pebble Beach Boys”

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”

Nissan March Bolero

While the Irish car market is characterised by quite pronounced conservatism, there is a mad streak in there. There are people who buy cars like this:

image

Most of it is a Nissan Micra but it has a different grille and bumper. The rear and side are much the same as the Micra. It has a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine and as such is stock Micra.  Continue reading “Nissan March Bolero”

Paint News Digest

Driventowrite leaves no corner of the automotive world unexamined. Today we look a bit at paint, Mazda paint, Toyota paint, Opel paint…

Soul red crystal paint: source
Soul red crystal paint: source

Mazda presented their new colour in November, ending their press release with the memorable line: “colour is an element of form”.

Soul Red Crystal is a development of an existing Mazda colour,  Soul Red that “balances vibrant energy and vividness with clear depth and gloss.” So, it’s rich and shiny. Mazda estimate that it has 20 percent higher colour saturation and 50 percent more depth”. I don’t know how the depth is estimated. There is no insight here. There might be some here.

Continue reading “Paint News Digest”

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)”

Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats

While it might be culturally, and indeed physically a long way from the rest of South-America, the Falklands are part of the continent. What do they drive?

Port Stanley: source
Port Stanley: source

Outside of Port Stanley, the capital, most of the roads are gravelled and are described as tracks. Furthermore, there is not a very large road network (900 km) due to the island’s low population density: 3000 people reside there. It is tempting to say that the most popular vehicles thereabouts are boats since the Falklands are made up of two large islands and about 700 smaller ones. The road network is being upgraded to Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats”

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 Picture and Some Questions

A while back I alleged that, if nothing else, the mainstream saloon had more visual variety than that found among C-class family hatches.

Top selling saloons and others
Top selling saloons and others

A recent bit of news concerning Volkswagen’s Phideon saloon led me to put that in with seven other medium sized cars. See how many you can identify. How different are they? And which one stands out? Doesn’t the Phideon look a lot like a BMW 5-series proposal? Can you tell which one is the Phideon?

[Photo sources: Autocar, caranddriver, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Renault]

Ashtrays: 2014 Toyota Avensis 1.8

Among the better features of Toyota’s large family car (now replaced) is the driver’s ashtray.

2014 Toyota Avensis ashtray, closed.
2014 Toyota Avensis ashtray, closed.

It’s well placed and a proper size. The illumination is from the side. The mechanism has a nice smoothly damped action and is a lower, horizontally hinged device.  Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2014 Toyota Avensis 1.8”

Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris

This is about colour. Toyota also offered the Yaris in a metallic mint green. Later years seldom saw such personal colours. 

1999 Toyota Yaris
1999 Toyota Yaris

The Yaris is a car that I feel has been around for longer than it has. Why is that? The first one had a zany Europroduct appearance which has gone direct from fresh to “period” with no intervening awkward phase. The dusky pink looks pinkier when you Continue reading “Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris”

Ashtrays: 2008 Daihatsu Materia

This must be a DTW exclusive. Daihatsu offered a small-car with a tank-like demeanour.

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I thought I’d like being inside this car but I didn’t. The high window-line and the cliff of dashboard coupled with the hard seats lent the car an altogether unwelcoming feeling. A casual net search showed only grey interiors. It is spacious and according to Car was quite alright if taken as an urban runabout and not a device for spirited driving. Thanks, Car, for conceding that much. They said this: “This is one of the Materia’s ace cards. It really is roomy in there, with plenty of room for four adults to Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2008 Daihatsu Materia”

2016 Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic 5-door Road Test

Recently DTW tested the arch-mainstream car, the VW Golf. This week we sample the joys of Toyota’s Auris and find out a little about how the two cars compare.

2016 Toyota Auris 1.6
2016 Toyota Auris 1.6

I don’t imagine that many people accept the keys of an Auris with much sense of excitement. However, I experienced a small burst of what many would call satisfaction when I found myself cupping the Auris’ keys in my hot little hand. A few weeks back I tested what many consider the benchmark C-class car, the VW Golf. Driving the Auris so soon after experiencing the Golf meant I had a good frame of reference for the Auris. I’ve also driven most of the other C-class cars, apart from the current Astra. That means I think I can offer this review with some sense of perspective. Continue reading “2016 Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic 5-door Road Test”

Malady’s Echo Chamber

Not only is Volkswagen riding out the worst of the Dieselgate scandal, they are on track to steal Toyota’s crown as the world’s biggest car maker.

head2head

Read anything about Volkswagen in recent months and you would gain the impression that the company was on the ropes. Production numbers from the first third of 2016 paint a different picture, however. So what’s the actual story? Continue reading “Malady’s Echo Chamber”

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 – 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”

Stocking Up On Received Wisdom

Seeking insight, your correspondent gives the BBC a punt. He’s both impressed and unimpressed by what he discovers.

100% Clarkson-free
100% Clarkson-free – the 2016 Top Gear New Car Buyers [sic] Guide. It knows the price of everything…

The car magazine I usually buy has given up on price lists so I had to get the Top Gear 2016 New Car Buyers [sic] Guide. That should be buyer’s guide (the guide of one buyer) or buyers’ guide (the guide of lots of buyers). In no particular order I gleaned some new received wisdom.

Before I launch into that, I am in the position of having to Continue reading “Stocking Up On Received Wisdom”

Toyota Takes Over Daihatsu

We all like Daihatsu for their original concept cars and useful small cars. Except the Europeans, of course. Toyota have decided now is the time to pounce

2015 Daihatsu Hinata: www.japanbullet.com
2015 Daihatsu Hinata: www.japanbullet.com

According to Autocar, DaihatsuReuters, Bloomberg, AutoExpress, Japan Times, and the Washington Post, Toyota have raised their stake in the firm by purchasing $3.2 billion of the remaining shares. The argument runs that Toyota needs Daihatsu´s talent at building small cars. Toyota feels it lacks this capacity while Daihatsu could benefit from being smothered inside a large firm. Reuter describes the deal as follows: “Toyota Motor Corp. will aim to transform Daihatsu Motor Co. from a maker of small cars that used to deter their owners from going out on dates into a brand as valued as BMW AG’s Mini.” The difference here is that Daihatu doesn’t Continue reading “Toyota Takes Over Daihatsu”

Theme : Disappointment – Waku-Doki!

Did it lose something in translation, or was it ever there at all?

Tokuo Fukuichi 01Waku-Doki! Like many vernacular expressions, translation into another language is unlikely to give the same emphasis. Toyota translates it as the lame “heart-pumping excitement”, but the untranslated Japanese expression does have a certain satisfyingly onomatopoeic sound to anglophone ears

The first time I read the term, it was on a badge pinned to the jacket of Toyota design chief Tokuo Fukuichi. He’s the same age as me, so it’s always heartening to see an old fellow making an effort. Continue reading “Theme : Disappointment – Waku-Doki!”