Beware The 40-something Distracted Mother!

Friday, 5pm.

I was in my Alfa Sprint waiting to turn right at a T-intersection just near my house. I was waiting because a blue Mitsubishi was coming from my left along the street I wanted to turn into. The blue Mitsubishi has it’s right-turn indicator on. She’s going to turn into the street where I’m T-intersectionwaiting.

I’m the orange car and she’s the green one in the diagram to the right.

Suddenly, she’s heading straight for me! She’s cutting the corner and obviously hasn’t seen me! There’s absolutely nothing I can do as her Mitsubishi badge is heading straight for my RHS headlights. It happened so suddenly, so innocuously and there’s no time to reach for the horn in the Alfa.

Thankfully, she finally sees me and comes to a halt. She’s just inches from the front of my car. There’s nobody behind me so I back up to give her room to go around. Her window goes down as she draws up next to me and she’s extremely apologetic. She has a pre-teen in the front and a smaller kid in the back.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. I must have been in another world!”

In my head, I’m nodding furiously and shaking fists in her general direction. In real life, there’s no damage done and she’s been very conciliatory straight away, so I just smile.

“No problem”, I say. “Everything’s OK.”

We go our separate ways.

I’ve only had the car registered for a week and already it was nearly taken from me! I count my blessings as I pull up at home.

Saturday (today), 7:30pm

I’ve just called in to our local shopping centre. Chicken potato chips and a Coke. Nothing unusual. The Sprint is gleaming in the car park as I’d just washed it in preparation for a small photo session I planned for the next morning (Mark McC, take note 🙂 )

I reversed out of my parking spot and I was changing out of reverse gear when I saw a red object, car sized, moving towards me. It was the lady who had parked on the other side of the car park and she’s reversing out of her spot – right towards my front RHS guard and wheel!

This time I had just a second longer so I thrust my arm out to the centre of my steering wheel to sound my horn and let her know I was there.

This was not the best time to learn that the Alfa Romeo Sprint’s horn operates not via the central pad on the steering wheel, but via one of the stalks on the steering column 🙁

Her red Ford Focus proceeded at a slow pace to meet with my RHS front guard. A very small amount of damage is done, which I’m mightily annoyed about because while it might be my cheap, fun car, the body was accident-free and dent-free and that’s no longer the case now. I do want it fixed but I’ll be relying on her to some degree to do the right thing and lodge a claim with her insurer. My insurer won’t do anything as I only have this car covered for third-party damage. I’ll be contacting her insurer first thing Tuesday morning (Monday’s a public holiday here).

My tiny bit of damage, that I DO want fixed.

IMG_1084

Just like the previous lady, this one was a 40-something mother with two kids in the car. What do 40-something mothers have against Alfa Romeo Sprints??!!

Interestingly, her Focus has both a backup camera AND parking sensors and yet the car gave her no warning that I was there as she reversed towards me. And as you can see from the white paint I left on her car, the parking sensor is right near one of the white patches.

IMG_1083

She made a point of mentioning all the technology in the car that should have helped her avoid this incident and it got me wondering about whether people rely on this technology too much. I’ve often thought that too much tech makes people a bit lazy about the old-fashioned manual checks they should do when they’re driving. Today’s incident doesn’t do much to dispel the theory.

So that’s two 40-somethings ladies. One hit. One miss.

I’m getting a little fearful of taking the car out at all now. Sure, it’s small, but I didn’t think it was that small.

Saab Snippets – Wallenberg, Mahindra, Production.

New Saabs?!

There was news today that Saabs will be rolling off the production line again soon. Yes, really.

NEVS is going to finish off the 100 or so cars that were left incomplete when production halted in 2014. NEVS registered just 264 cars last year in total, and most of those were company testers and dealer demonstrators, so I’m a little perplexed as to why they’ll spend money and time building more cars that are highly unlikely to sell.

Note: they’ll be 2014 models, even though they’ll be built in 2015.

Then again, there’s very little that NEVS has done in the last few years that’s made much sense to me. Add this latest news to a very long list of head-snappers.

——

The Deal

The same stories in the Swedish press today also mention that The Deal is ongoing and NEVS are likely going to have to seek another extension when their Reconstruction period expires at the beginning of March.

Naming rights are still the issue, presumably. And suppliers.

The following is mentioned in TTELA:

There is a critical piece. It’s part of the whole, we have a brand that must be loaded with quality products that must be designed and built here in Trollhättan. You can not take a bite, it’s a package deal to the prospective new principal owner.

If Saab’s going to continue as something interesting (IMHO) then being Swedish is core to its character. That a potential new owner cares about this is encouraging.

Don’t hold your breath. Watch this space. Etc.

——

Peter Wallenberg

The Wallenberg family are big players in the Swedish business world and were crucial in the birth of Saab. Although Investor AB parted ways with Saab Automobile some time ago, the car company they helped begin still occupies a place in the family’s heart. After all, it was the Wallenbergs who stepped in to help ensure the Saab Museum’s future when the museum cars were about to be sold to the highest bidder, back in 2012.

Peter Wallenberg died recently, aged 88. He was particularly fond of Saabs and had been photographed arriving in them at many official and social events over the years.

TTELA tells the story of the phone call made by the family to Peter Backstrom at the Saab Museum. Their father’s final journey had to be in a Saab.

Back in 2009, I visited ANA Specialbilar in Trollhattan and they were building a customised Saab 9-3 hearse. It’s the only one of it’s kind, apparently.

ANAspecbil6

Peter Backstrom got in touch with the funeral home and the car was prepared and driven to Stockholm for the ceremony.

Wallenberg funeral

Vale, Peter ‘Pirre’ Wallenberg.

Thanks for your contribution to the rich history of Saab Automobile.

Classics By The Beach – February 2015

A very un-Tasmanian summer Saturday full of wind and wetness had people feeling cautious about bringing their precious metal out on Sunday. The weather cleared, however, with overcast skies but only the tiniest bit of drizzle for a few minutes. Classics was ON!

——

Red vs Blue Maserati Ghibli SS

The car that stole the show this month was a beautiful Maserati Ghibli SS. I’ve shown this car before but this weekend saw a very special reason to photograph it anew.

This is how you’ve seen the car in previous instalments…..

Maserati Ghibli SS at Classics By The Beach, Hobart
Maserati Ghibli SS at Classics By The Beach, Hobart

Maserati Ghibli

The red looks very tidy, without a doubt.

But have a look at it now…..

DSC_0694

The car’s undergone a recent and quite stunning restoration. The colour is called Ischia Blue and it’s the original colour the car had when it left the factory. A previous owner painted it red (hey, it’s Italian!) but I think you’ll agree that Ischia Blue lends the Maser an air of sophistication that suits it right down to the ground.

DSC_0690

(if only we had the same sunny conditions for these photos as I had for the red one….)

DSC_0691

The interior saw some re-trimming work, too.

I absolutely love 1960-70’s switchgear in classic black. Awesome stuff.

DSC_0696

DSC_0698

DSC_0700

A few more details from this breathtaking car….

DSC_0693

DSC_0695

DSC_0702

DSC_0703

——

BRG Jaguar 3.8 x2

Things were so busy around this Jaguar that I couldn’t get a full frontal shot all morning. Take a close look and you can see why. It’s absolutely superb. I hadn’t seen it at Classics before (that I know of) so I don’t know if it’s a newly finished car or just new to the area. I’m sure glad it was there, though.

Check out those exhaust headers, for starters…..

DSC_0704

DSC_0705

DSC_0725

DSC_0726

Inside was just as nice, with biscuit leather and polished timber everywhere.

DSC_0727

DSC_0729

Parked just across the way was another Mark 2 3.8 in British Racing Green. I would have loved to get some photos inside this one, too, but it was closed up and I wasn’t sure who the owner was. It had a black interior, though, so would have been a nice contrast to see.

DSC_0732

——-

‘Viking’ Cortina

Same old story….. another interesting car that I didn’t get to talk to an owner about. I’d love to know the backstory on the “Los Vikingos” signage on the door.

DSC_0709

DSC_0711

Stripped out on the inside……

DSC_0712

DSC_0713

——

Dodge Brothers

I’m guessing mid to late 1920’s……????

DSC_0754

DSC_0755

DSC_0757

DSC_0758

I love the horns:

DSC_0760

——

Ford Falcon XK

Ford wanted to build a family car for Australian conditions so they brought in an American car – the Falcon. This is an XK Falcon, which was launched here in 1960 and eventually became the stuff of legend here in Australia.

DSC_0761

They still build Falcons today, but not for long. Production is due to end next year and may well finish sooner than that given the Falcon’s poor sales.

DSC_0762

This restoration was finished around 6 months ago and it looks sublime. Kudos to the owner.

DSC_0763

DSC_0765

DSC_0766

——

Jaguar E Type

A work in progress……

DSC_0752

DSC_0753

——

The rest

Hey, it may not be a bona-fide classic, but I took my Sprint down for the first time and had to get at least one photo (and having my mate Norman’s Alfa 145 there made the photo all the more worthwhile)

DSC_0706

Future Classic?

DSC_0714

Future Classic II?

DSC_0715

If the number plate’s any indication, then this MGB’s as old as me. I’ve always wanted a car from the year of my birth. I’d prefer a Saab Sonett III but maybe one of these will have to do.

DSC_0716

DSC_0718

DSC_0719

A magnificent Austin-Healey 100

DSC_0720

DSC_0722

DSC_0723

DSC_0724

Porsche 356 and Mazda MX-5

DSC_0730

A beastly Jensen Interceptor

DSC_0731

Mike’s winter car (in summer) – Volvo P1800

DSC_0733

It’s always a pleasure to see a 308….

DSC_0734

DSC_0735

Triumph TR4….

DSC_0737

DSC_0738

A Pierce, which I know nothing about….

DSC_0739

DSC_0742

VW Kombi in tip-top shape, looking great with Porsche Fuchs wheels….

DSC_0744

Will the BRZ be a future classic? Hmmmm….

DSC_0745

MG in track trim….

DSC_0747

Morris Minor, which looked cuter than a sack full of puppies as it was driving in 🙂

DSC_0750

Spyker Bankruptcy Declared Void

This is why I love you, Victor Muller…….

——

SPYKER N.V. WINS APPEAL: BANKRUPTCY DECLARED NULL AND VOID WITH RETROSPECTIVE EFFECT.

Back in Moratorium of Payment, Spyker expects to reach an Agreement with its Creditors and exit Moratorium in a Matter of Weeks.

Zeewolde, the Netherlands, January 29th, 2015. Spyker N.V., together with its wholly owned subsidiary Spyker Automobielen B.V. (collectively “Spyker” or the “Company”), today won an appeal filed on December 29th, 2014 with the Appeals Court of Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.Pursuant to the ruling rendered today the decision of the District Court of Midden-Nederland in Lelystad, the Netherlands (the “Court”), declaring Spyker bankrupt on December 18th, 2014, was overturned and the bankruptcy declared null and void with retrospective effect.

This means that by law Spyker was never bankrupt and that the Company has, with immediate effect, returned to the moratorium of payment status, in which it was since the Court granted Spyker that protection on December 2nd, 2014. On that day, Spyker filed a voluntary petition for temporary moratorium of payment (“surseance van betaling”), the Dutch equivalent of the American Chapter 11 procedure, in an effort to address certain short-term operational and liquidity challenges. When expected bridge funding did not arrive timely, the Court appointed administrator who, together with the Board of Management, bears final responsibility for the management of the Company as long as the legal moratorium of payment status is in force, filed a request with the Court to convert the moratorium of payment to bankruptcy.

Fortunately, in the days following the bankruptcy ruling, the bridge funding did come in, which provided a solid foundation for lodging an appeal with the Appeals Court on December 29th,2014.

Victor R. Muller, Spyker’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer said: “On December 18th, last, perhaps the blackest day in our 15 year history, I announced that as far as I was concerned, this was not the end and we would live up to our commitment to relentlessly endeavour to resurrect Spyker as soon as practically possible.

But even I could not foresee at the time how quickly and unscathed Spyker would emerge from a situation which usually heralds the end of an era. The Appeals Court’s ruling has eradicated the bankruptcy and put Spyker back in “Chapter 11”. Since we spent the time between lodging the appeal and today’s ruling to reach an agreement with the majority of our creditors, we should see Spyker exit moratorium of payment in a matter of weeks.

Following that exit we will forthwith pursue the execution of our plans which include the introduction of the Spyker B6 Venator, our entry-level luxury sports car which will give a larger audience access to the Spyker brand, and the merger with a US based manufacturer of high performance electric aircraft, the exciting new sustainable and disruptive technologies of which will find their way into full electric Spyker cars in the foreseeable future.

I again wish to express my gratitude to our customers, dealers, suppliers and of course our shareholders, employees and Board. Their loyalty and support was vital to build the brand over the past decade and a half and has now proven invaluable to achieve the overturning of the bankruptcy ruling and subsequent exit from moratorium so we can continue building our business for many decades to come.”

Lancia Fulvia – SOLD!

Hi all.

I just wanted to pass on the good news that my Lancia Fulvia was sold within a week.

I’m really, really pleased with this sale not just because it’s happened – and happened so quickly – but also because the car is going to the perfect buyer. The Fulvia will be Ralph’s fourth Lancia restoration, so he’s obviously a massive enthusiast for the brand and already has the skills and the contacts in place to bring this car back to life again – something I hope to replicate myself some day.

I’ve had a couple of false starts over the years but got a little closer with each one. It’ll take time but it will happen. I’ve had a major education with this car, even in the short time that I’ve owned it. I’ve learned a lot about the Fulvia itself, including its wonderful, yet simple, engineering and construction. I’ve learned about the difficulty in repairing such vehicles when the body needs a lot of work. And I’ve learned that there are certain cars for which there’ll always be a keen interest. Quality always creates curiosity.

A few people have already told me that I’ll be kicking myself in 10 years from now at having sold this car. That may be true. I do desperately want a Fulvia some day but with so many competing priorities right now and the restoration on this one requiring more than I’m capable of doing (or financing), my time with a Fulvia will have to wait.

The Fulvia will most likely be picked up in late February. That’ll clear one car from the front garden and I can then start preparations for selling the Brumby.

DSC_6440

For Sale: Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Rallye

Sadly, it’s come to this.

My Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Rallye is up for sale. With Mrs Swade and I wanting to move house and the initial estimates on the restoration work being higher than anticipated, I have to offer it up for someone else to take on.

It’ll be very sad to see this beautiful lady move on, but hopefully someone else can do the work that I can’t.

DSC_6395

From Your Dog

Hey, food person! You’re awake!!

Let me reach up so we can sniff each other’s noses! You’re awesome. I love licking your face.

I’ve been up for a few hours. I’ve been waiting here by the door and watching people pass by the house. Sometimes they come past with other dogs, which I know are just dying to move in here. No way, Fido!

Yes, I’m going to watch you eat breakfast. My powers of concentration might be limited most of the day but you’re eating. Did you know Nikon learned about auto-focus by watching dogs around food?

Did you know that one in 6 begging efforts result in some sort of food down my throat? I’ve done the numbers.

Did you know that one in 14 instances of just hanging around the food area result in a morsel falling to the ground? And I love it when we have kids over. The odds increase like you wouldn’t believe!

BOWL!

YES!! Leftover milk is soooooo good.

I’m 1 for 1 for today already!

Why don’t you do this when we have guests? Actually, why don’t guests do this when we have guests?

Where are you going? It doesn’t matter. I’ll follow.

Go ahead. Check your email. I’ll just lay here by your leg. Or maybe over here. The beanbag’s looking good. No, I’ll stay here.

Actually, can you let me outside? Look, I’m standing by the door!! Awww c’mon! PLEASE!! It’s only email. It’s not like you’re saving the world, or getting food. Thanks so much. You’re awesome.

Hey, can you let me in! I know it’s only been, like, 5 seconds or so, but I just had to check that outside was still there.

It’s still there.

OK, so where are we going now? It’s OK. I’ll follow.

Oh, you’re going into that room! The small one with the white seat in it. It’s ok. Yes, I’m sad but I’ll just wait outside. I’m not 100% sure what goes on in there but the smell is familiar. I smell it when we’re in the car sometimes.

Which leads me to……

Why do you watch when I go poo? And why do you get that strange look on your face when I drop the first segment, turn around to sniff it and drop the second segment somewhere else? You act like it’s weird or something.

I think there’s a crumb in this piece of carpet. I’m going to lick it until I find it. My nose is awesome! This carpet is awesome!

Where are you going now? It’s OK. I’m coming.

Ah. Shower time. It’s weird how you guys have removable fur. A little cold, you say? Sure.

Go ahead. I’ll just wait here. And sniff.

Hey! You have a tissue in your pocket! I love tissues. They tear so easily – look! Rip, rip, rip! Tissues are awesome!

Here. Let me help you dry off – the old tongue towel! You do the upper bit. I’ll do the lower bit. I know – nothing above the knees. The water tastes good off your legs.

You’re awesome!

You go and pick out some new fur. I’ll just sniff stuff here in the bedroom. Don’t mind me.

Oh no. You’re putting your dark paws on. If we’re going for a walk, you always wear the light paws. The dark ones mean you’re going away for HOURS! You know about dog years, right? Hours in your time are like days for me!! How could you do this??

Oh, and now you’re going to bribe me to go outside with puppy breakfast. If I go out, you’ll leave, won’t you? You’ve done this before.

Must. Not. Go. Out. To. Food.

But it’s food!! I can’t not have food if it’s available!!

You’re awesome!

….

Where is food person?

Oh. There’s the car. You left the house while I was eating, didn’t you?

Again.

It’s OK. I know you have to go so you can work to buy me food. I’ll just watch you leave from this gate. Yes, these are my sad eyes. Yes, my head is tilting. I’m not putting this on. I really am sad. You and Mum and the kids are the only people I know. You’re my pack. When my pack goes, I’m on my own. I don’t like it on my own.

I guess I’ll just lay here on this concrete step. Lucky I have my paws for a pillow.

The sun spot should be here soon……

Here it comes……

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Charli

Alfa Romeo Australia Screw Up 4C Launch

It always felt too good to be true….

Alfa Romeo released details on Australian version of the new 4C mid-engined performance coupe. It’s fair to say that people who were waiting to take delivery of their 4C will be somewhat disappointed.

The first let-down is the price.

AlfaRomeo4C3Aussies should be all over the fact that the Alfa Romeo 4C will sell for $54,000 in the USA. That’s $65,000 of our Australian dollars.

Due to a) Australia’s luxury car tax, and b) the fact that we’re used to paying a premium for cars here, getting close to $65,000 was always a pipe dream.

And so it goes, with a price of A$89,000 announced today.

BOOOOOOOOO!!

It’s not that big a surprise. I was hoping Alfa Romeo Australia would bring the car in around $75,000 or maybe $80,000 at the most. Given the hype around the car, I’m not surprised they’ve tried to squeeze an extra $10K out of it, especially given our falling dollar. Still, it’s a LOT of money for a two-seater and the price is going to be a factor for some.

——

You’d probably think an overinflated hit to the hip pocket that was the worst news that Alfa Romeo could have delivered today.

It wasn’t.

From Wheels Magazine:

ALFA Romeo’s gorgeous, lightweight 4C has finally hit our shores, but Aussie buyers are in for a shock – their cars will be 130kg heavier than 4Cs sold in Europe.

Alfa Romeo 4CTrawling through the 4C’s Aussie spec sheet reveals a dry weight of 1025kg, a number well up on the 895kg Alfa has been championing in Europe. The official kerb weight for Australian-spec 4Cs, which includes fluids, is 1118kg.

The whole modus operandi for the 4C is light weight. If you’ve ever driven a car that has this singular focus then you’ll know how important it is to the characteristics of the car. Alfa Romeo are promising that it’ll still sprint from 0 to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds but that’s missing the point. It’s not just about flat-out acceleration. It’s about the whole package: acceleration and most importantly, handling. Weight kills. 130kg is a near 15% weight penalty and that’s a BIG penalty, regardless of how you spin it.

If you’re an Aussie and you’ve been pining for this car since its concept debut in 2010, how flat would you be that we’re not getting the super-slim 895kg version? My guess is VERY.

So why is this happening? The answer is almost as poor as the problem itself.

An Alfa Romeo Australia PR lady stated that Australian 4C’s will get a build spec based around the 4C’s made for the American market. Safety regulations in the United States require a stiffer build that results in 130kgs of extra weight. Fair enough, if you’re in America. I’m not sure that washes as an excuse for bringing a heavier version to Australia, though.

Australia’s New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is harmonised with EuroNCAP, which means that the European version should be fine for sale in the Australian market. ANCAP doesn’t test every car sold here. It depends on volume and the 4C will be a small volume seller, so the decision to test the car will most likely reside with Alfa Romeo. The US version may (or may not) gain an extra star in Australian crash testing if Alfa Romeo stumps up to get it tested here. If they don’t, the European star rating should apply.

This decision, then, is one that Fiat and Alfa Romeo have made. It may well prove to be a disaster for local interest in the car. The 4C will sell to a fair share of well-heeled idiots who just want the latest sexy new car. It could sell well amongst enthusiasts, too, but I have a feeling that an avoidable 130kg weight penalty is one that few enthusiasts will be willing to cop.

——

Don’t get me wrong, the launch of the 4C is still an exciting occasion. The initial allocation for Australia is just 120 cars – 75 Launch Editions costing an extra $20K and 45 regular versions. All 120 cars have deposits paid.

I just wonder how today’s news will play with those buyers and what effect it might have on the excitement about the car in the next few years.

Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition

Quick Review: 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Press days at the Detroit Auto Show are now done and dusted. I didn’t follow things in detail but there were a few standout cars and announcements that made enough noise to be heard over the miles.

All pics borrowed from Autoblog. I’ll put them back when I’m done. Promise.

——

Buick Avenir Concept

OMG! Swade’s mentioning a GM vehicle and he’s not suggesting it looks like a horse’s ass!!

No, it doesn’t. Some might even call it attractive. Or maybe just handsome.

01-buick-avenir-concept-detroit-1

I’m not fussed. I just wanted to mention the Buick Avenir Concept because much of the design work was done here in Australia. That’s more important than you think, too, because Holden are closing their manufacturing operations here soon, so every bit of work available to keep the designers and engineers busy is a good thing.

——

Ford GT40

Ford won this year’s Detroit show with the GT40. Hands down. It was the biggest announcement and it’s one of the best looking cars unveiled this week.

And the guy who designed it is a Tasmanian, or so I hear. Woohoo!

It has bucketfulls of carbonfibre and aluminium, and a stonking V6 Ecopower engine that makes more than 600hp. Imagine that – a smaller turbocharged engine being used where a big engine used to be. Genius!

It don’t look ‘alf bad, either. AND…. they’re actually going to build it!

01-ford-gt-concept-detroit-1

——

Ford Mustang 350R Shelby Cobra Pony Bullet Eleanor Concept

Like many, I was a little worried about the new Mustang styling. Worry no more. Like most re-designs, it grows on you and this souped up, stripped out version with 500+hp looks the goods.

Notable: carbonfibre wheels are coming to the masses.

I like the fact Ford is doing their show cars in blue. It suits.

01-2016-shelby-gt350r-detroit-1

——

Jaguar and Bentley

Jaguar announced the name of their upcoming crossover vehicle – the F-Pace. No, really. Po-Face will be available in 2016.

Not to be outdone when it comes to stupid naming, Bentley also announced the name of their upcoming crossover. It will be called the Bentley Bentayga. No, really. It wasn’t because they lost a bet with Rolls Royce or anything like that. They’re doing this voluntarily.

Back to Jaguar news, they’re also working on electric windows that will move up or down when you touch a certain spot on the glass. They’ve got it to go down OK, but it’s tough to get back up when the touchscreen area is hidden in the door.

Again, not to be outdone, Bentley are designing an automatic window system using cameras pointed at all four seating positions. The windows will raise themselves automatically as soon as the car detects an occupant sneering at a poor person.

Sadly, only three of those four stories are true.

——

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevy showed their new fully electric vehicle – the Chevrolet Bolt – which they haven’t committed to building yet and therefore when they don’t, will not have a range of 200 miles and will not cost around $30,000. A true non-gamechanger in the finest GM tradition.

2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – front exUpcoming Detroit shows will feature:

  • the Chevy Jolt, a joint-marketing exercise that runs purely on Starbucks coffee.
  • the Chevy Halt, which will not go anywhere at all.
  • the Chevy Solt, a seasoning-based car for the phonetic driver, and
  • the Chevy Dolt, marking the return of Bob Lutz to the GM family at the age of 106.

——

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

It looks good in Giallo, but will look even better in Rosso. Step 2 of Alfa’s re-launch into the US market comes in the form of a sexy Spider that weighs just 9 kilos more than the hardtop it’s based upon.

Thank goodness they got rid of those insect-lights at the front.

2015-alfa-romeo-4c-spider-21-1

alfa-romeo-4c-spider-14-1

——

Volvo XC90 R-Design

I hadn’t noticed before, but Volvo are bringing back the brick.

Massive.

01-2015-volvo-xc90-r-design-detroit-1

——

What did you like?

That’s my take from Detroit. I’ll add a dishonourable mention to the Mercedes ripoff of the BMW X6, which has to be the most un-ripoff-worthy vehicle of all time.

Did you see anything you liked, or disliked?

Comments are open if you’d like to share.

First Cars – Saab and Alfa Romeo

I was cleaning some stuff up at home yesterday when I found the following photos of my first (and second) Saab and my first Alfa Romeo. I figured they were nostalgic enough to share here on the website.

First, I have to apologise for the poor quality photos. These are photos of photos and the original prints were a bit blurry to start with (taken in low light with slow film in a fully manual SLR that I didn’t understand at the time). Nevertheless……

Saab 99E

My first Saab was a red Saab 99E, from around 1973.

DSC_0683

It was 1998, I think, when I bought this Saab 99 from a classified ad in the local newspaper. It was being sold by a parts recycler on behalf of an elderly lady that he knew. The car was quite dirty when I first saw it but you can see, even from these blurry images, how nicely it cleaned up with a good detail. It gleamed as if it was a little Swedish fire engine.

It had a 1.85l engine and sadly, an automatic transmission. That particular combination made the little 99 as slow as a wet week but I didn’t care. It was my first Saab and a wonderful introduction to Saab’s strange way of doing things. The interior was red velour and the headrest holes you can see through the window were something out of a science-fiction book to a guy like me.

DSC_0685

DSC_0686

To put a little perspective on things….. I had just graduated from university, was recently married and had absolutely no access to, or knowledge of, Saab’s history. All I knew was that I loved the classic 900 but couldn’t afford one. With this 99, I finally had a Saab of my own and after a lifetime of owning some pretty basic Australian and Japanese cars, it was a whole new world.

Sadly, I didn’t have the little 99 too long. My ex damaged the car backing it out of a driveway with the door open and the resulting damage to the door and front guard made the car uneconomical to repair (especially given our dire finances at the time). If I’d known then what I know now about how rare these older 99s are, I would have tried a bit harder to get it fixed.

——

Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint

With the 99 gone, I looked around for something else that would be a new experience to play with. I don’t remember where I got it from, but somehow I ended up with this Alfasud Sprint. It’s an early 1980’s model, pretty much the same as Gavin’s Sprint, which featured on this site last year.

DSC_0687

I mentioned before that I didn’t know much about Saab’s history when I had the 99. Similarly, I didn’t know much about driving an Alfasud, either. I got frustrated with the car, feeling that it was way too slow for a car that looked so cool. Little did I know that an Alfasud only really comes alive above 4000rpm, preferably in a corner.

The Sprint presented with quite a few problems pretty early in my ownership. These issues, combined with a Saab 99Turbo popping up for sale, saw me sell the car less than a year after buying it.

You can see the 99Turbo in the photo below. The 99E might have been my first Saab, but it’s the 99turbo below that started my obsession with Saab. It’s the reason you’re reading this right now, actually.

I do miss that Sprint, though.

DSC_0688