Saturday, January 31, 2009

2011 US Ford Fiesta

Photos of European Fiesta from Ford UK

Ford has invested $3Billion in their Cuautitian, Mexico factory to build a federalised version of the 7th generation European Fiesta (That factory used to build Ford trucks for the Mexican market). The car will go on sale in the US in early 2010.

The US version will differ from the European model (above) by having a longer front end, and being offered as a 4-door sedan in addition to the hatchbacks. I'm not very excited by the styling of the 4-door Fiesta. It looks like a Kia, and will detract from the better looking hatchback models. In fact I prefer the conservative styling of the previous generation. But I should withhold judgment until I see the new car in person.

For the US it will have a 1.6 litre engine and dual clutch gearbox.

It is my hope that we'll get a sporty version of the hatchback with a 2-litre engine and conventional manual gearbox like the 6th generation 2-litre Fiesta ST.

Categories:Cars Movies

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hillman Minx Series I II III (1956-1963)

I'm sentimental for the Hillman Minx "Series" cars. They're a charming old car. My brother's first car was a Hillman Minx. At university my friend Patricia drove a Humber 80 (The Humber 80 was a rebadged Hillman Minx that was sold only in the NZ market).

It's a conventional front engine (1390cc, later 1592cc) rear wheel drive car that was very popular. I remember the body was made from much thicker steel than car makers would later use. It had 15" wheels when 13" wheels would soon be the standard. It had a bench seat and a 4-speed gearshift on the steering column when individual seats and floor mounted gearshift would soon be popular. Over the years there were only minor styling changes to the grille and rear quarter panels and tail lights. The Raymond Loewy styling (most noticeable around the "C" pillar in the profile) is a little bit roly poly. It was a solid car. Honest, unpretentious transportation. You could even crank start it! And I like the two-tone paint.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

1976-1979 Cadillac Seville Milan Roadster

There was a brief period when domestic car makers weren't building ragtops and aftermarket convertible conversions filled the gap.

This conversion of a 4 door Cadillac Seville was done with a kit sold by Milan Coach Builders of California for $1495. The Milan competed against the Mercedes SL and suffered in comparison. The proportions are not quite right. The belt-line is high and the wheelbase is short. It would look better with longer doors as a 2+2. But from some angles the Milan is almost handsome.

Only a hundred or so Milans were built. This one was parked in Sausalito CA.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

McKinley Armchair

Made by the Phoenix Chair Company. Oak with cane seat and back. 29"w x 24"d x 34.5"h

"Probably the earliest Arts and Crafts furniture built in America was an 1894 chair made in Grand Rapids. David Kendall of the Phoenix Furniture Co. designed a simple, comfortable chair with a curved front apron, cane back and seat and wide armrests. Made of oak and stained green, it became known as the McKinley Chair after President William McKinley put one in the White House. The McKinley chair was in production for 30 years."
- Barbara Garet, from her article "100 Years of Furniture Design"


Sunday, January 18, 2009

1945-1949 Unrestored Willys CJ-2A

Only a few CJ1 and CJ2 (Civilain Jeep) models were made. But 214,202 CJ-2A's were produced for civilian use. This one was parked in Mill Valley yesterday.

The CJ is ~sixty years old and in remarkably good original unrestored condition. All the original equipment is in place, and even the seats look original. Only the wide wheels and tyres are out of place, and the front bumper/crosssmember is missing. I'd instal a front bumper because it appears to be a structural part of the frame, tying the frame rails together.

WWII didn't make it to my area of the South Pacific so I never saw any army surplus Jeeps. And in 1948 the first Landrovers were made, and they became our offroad vehicle of choice. I only saw Jeeps in the movies and on the tv series M*A*S*H. However, I've always liked these early Jeeps. I think they are one of the best American cars ever made: Simple, unadorned, small, and lightish.

Update March 7th, 2009:

Thanks Jim Allen

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Prisoner Died Today

Patrick McGoohan died today. He was 80. He was my childhood hero.

In the TV series "The Prisoner" McGoohan drove a beautiful Lotus 7 series II. No. 6's character was strong, intelligent, angry, violent and misogynist. I was 9. I wanted to be No. 6.

1962-1965 Apollo GT

There have been many European sports cars that have used large American engines. From my generation there was the Jensen Healey Interceptor and Bristol using Chrysler engines. The AC Cobra, and Sunbeam Tiger using Ford engines.

But here is a rare American/Italian sports car using a GM engine and suspension. I'm not fond of GM, but this car is good looking enough to keep company with any European exotic of the period. The styling is obviously inspired by Ferrari, but I think the result is unique enough.

At first the Apollo 3500GT used the new Buick 3.5 litre all aluminium V8. Light at 318lb, the car weighed just 2400lb (Later the copyright for this engine was sold to Rover who used it in the massive P5B, petite P6B, SD1 V8, and Landrover). And it has a 4-speed manual! The suspension and steering are from an early 1960's Buick Skylark. The rear live axle is located by four links and coil springs, so it might even handle well.

The aluminium body and interior were built in Turin, by Carrozzeria Intermeccanica. The body was mounted to the frame and then shipped to Oakland California where the drivetrain and suspension were installed.

Only 107 were built. That includes 76 Apollo coupes, 11 Apollo convertibles, a 2+2 prototype, and 19 Vetta Venturas built in Dallas, Texas. I'm guessing that it was those latter cars that used a larger and heavier cast iron Buick V8 (Apollo 5000GT).

Photos from eBay
Thanks Bring a Trailer Intermeccanica Apollo/Vetta Ventura

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Meccano Set for Furniture Design?

This reconfigurable chair by Shizuka Tatsuno gave me the idea that some sort of "Meccano Set" for furniture designers would be a useful idea. I envision a variety of modular pieces that snap together and rearrange to make furniture prototypes that can then be tested for comfort and function. Just like the toys I made as a child using a Maccano set.

Thanks dezeen
Categories:Design Furniture

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hangman for iPods

This is called the Hangman by neatproducts. It locks into the iPod/iPhone socket and its other end snaps onto a lanyard/belt loop/flak jacket. And it does a pretty good job of holding my earphones: Wrap the cord around the Hangman and slide the ends into the notch (like thread on a cotton reel). Leave it attached or remove it and stow the headphones neatly away.

I'm going to us it to store my headphones and I'll attach it to a lanyard for those times I have my iPhone in my shirt pocket and listen to music through the built-in speaker.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

70's Style Jeans

I think the pocket designs on these jeans are supposed to be ironic. The pants are intended to be sold to hip young kids who want to make fun of the way people dressed in the 70's.

But these jeans were priced at ~$200 and being sold at Nordstrom's. And the men looking to buy them were almost my age! 50. There are too many things wrong with that.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Rian Cantilever Collection

I like the Rian desk by Semigood Design. It reminds me of an old American school desk. I can imagine myself using the crossbar as a foot rest. I'd find that comfortable.

I don't like the Rian stool. Where's the rest of it? It looks like the back was broken off in a bar fight.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Clive Owen's Driving Lesson

In the action movie "Shoot 'em Up" there's a sequence featureing Clive Owen's character (Clive Owen is also the title character in those rather good "The Driver" short movies made for the BMW website) giving a driving lesson. The sequence doesn't further the plot, but it does make a good point.

Categories:Cars Movies

Mini Trailer with MK1 Cortina Tail Lights

I've seen plenty of car trailers made from pick-up truck trays or the back end of cars. This is the only time I've seen a trailer made from the front section of a car. A Mini. How clever to have replaced the headlights with MK1 Ford Cortina tail lights.