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The Carchive: The 1989 Ford line-up

The passing of time is the most powerful force in existence. You gaze over your lawn and all seems well, then you look again and it suddenly needs mowing, or you spy a delicious looking orange in the fruit bowl and say, “ooh, lovely, I’ll have that tomorrow”, by which time it’s suddenly white with mould. Time is ridiculously tricky to keep tabs on, and I’m pretty sure I only picked up the subject of today’s discourse about five minutes ago.

We’re going back to 1989 to look at a brochure that really represents the very core of my collection. It’s this somewhat tired, thumbed and soiled Ford ‘Cars’ catalogue from ’89 that was the very nucleus around which today’s whole ridiculous hoard would form, and now we’re going to split it open and see what comes out. Hey, don’t blame me, it was all Friend of Hooniverse 0A5599’s idea. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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Analogue in-car entertainment: The I-SPY books

Chris Haining December 3, 2018 All Things Hoon

Spend any time in traffic these days and you’ll see a profusion of seatback-mounted screens, both of the factory-fitted persuasion and aftermarket accessory type. While some of these systems might be employed to nourish the mind of some king of industry as they relax in coddling limousine luxury, the majority are used to hypnotize back seat children into a comatose trance to prevent world war three breaking out on a long journey. Of course, it wasn’t always this way.

Having not yet sired offspring of my own, I can only hope that today’s family voyages haven’t abandoned all the traditional in-flight entertainment of old, where we’d make up ‘amusing’ games to help us while away the miles. Games that involved license plate letters, for example, or perhaps a good session of “I-Spy” – although the latter could grow a bit tiresome if one passenger was a bit more pedantic and nerdy than the others. I should imagine.

Fortunately, to try and keep I-Spy challenges on a fair and level playing field, a chap called Charles Warrell offered help in the form of his I-Spy books. Let’s take a look at one from 1964.

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I’m thankful for: Car brochures

Chris Haining November 23, 2018 The Carchive

It will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that, with Friday night being Carchive night, I should choose the day after thanksgiving to express my gratitude for car brochures. They’re the closest thing I have to an addiction, one I’ve been a slave to through the 34 odd years that I’ve been able to read the words as well as just enjoy the pictures. Like a desperate smoker’s bored fingers will plead to hold a cigarette, my own digits will spend any aimless minutes I find myself endowed with scrolling through eBay listings for anything that has somehow escaped my collection.

Actually, I’m exaggerating pretty wildly there, because it’s quickly getting to the point that my eBay browsing proves fruitless for the following reasons. Firstly; I enforce a pretty strict budget — nothing that exceeds £2 plus postage and packing falls within my search parameters. Secondly; my tastes are somewhat mundane. I will salivate vigorously at the prospect of gingerly teasing an envelope open to free the FSO Polonez brochure ensconced within. And thirdly; I’m actually starting to run out of ‘don’t haves’ that I actually want.

So, my obsession is actually pretty well under control. Furthermore, I get to share it with an enthusiastic audience right here every Friday evening, which is something else to be grateful for. What I’m not sure I’ve ever actually shared, though, is why I started collecting, nor why — at age 37 — I haven’t stopped.

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The future of Car Reviewing — Something to wine about?

Chris Haining November 21, 2018 All Things Hoon

Ever read a wine review? They’re just fantastic. The annals of television history are littered with memorable comedy sketches that lampoon the pomp of a wine reviewer in full flow. They’re mocked for speaking of  ‘woody notes’, ‘twang of heather’ or ‘hints of the chill easterly breeze as it filters through the vines’ and that kind of thing. They’re an easy target for mocking, because a lot of people don’t grasp that wine isn’t just wine-flavoured, and see their gushingly poetic analysis of flavour as rather pretentious and, well, funny.

In fact, what they do is barely any different to what a good car reviewer does. Picking apart the flavours, the mouthfeel, the finish of a sip of wine is little different to breaking down the responses, the feelings and the sounds that greet you when you take a car by the scruff of the neck. There’s near infinite variety of wines out there. and the range of flavours will increase with every fresh grape harvest. For as long as the Earth can bear fruit, there will always be wine. For as long as we’re allowed them, there will always be cars.

It’s just that the content of a car review could end up rather different to what we’re used to.

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The Carchive: Enid Blyton style Ford Fiesta promo from 2003

And now for something completely different. At about this time every week we put 2018 on hold for a little while and take a peek into the past. Yeah, there’s been some bad stuff, but as we saw last week with the Citroen GS, there’s been plenty of good stuff. Today, though, it’s time for something weird.

What we have here is a somewhat unique promotional item for the fifth-generation Ford Fiesta of 2003, and up until I saw it on eBay I had absolutely no idea such a thing existed. Fortunately, nobody else seemed to be in the least bit tempted, so I secured it with a bid of £1.17 in case it was interesting. And I reckon it is. Judge for yourself after the jump, and welcome back to The Carchive.

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Motorboat Monday: Scrapyard sadness? That ship has sailed

Anybody else having trouble keeping up? When I was 14, my parents would dismiss the music of the day as a repetitive series of bleeps and yowls. Frankly, their description of The Prodigy was pretty accurate, but I would defend Braintree’s incendiary pop/rave/rock crossovers to the hilt. Hey, guess what? I’m now not far off the age that my dad was back then, and find it difficult to comprehend what teenagers listen to today.

Back then, I couldn’t possibly appreciate how quickly time would end up passing, and I’m far from alone on that. The future is coming at us like a bullet from a gun, and there’s just no dodging it. It’s hard to predict what people will want to listen to, drive or experience in the years ahead, and it hurts when things like car magazines, favourite bands and local landmarks disappear that you thought would be around for ever.

On this latter point, we say goodbye to the cruise ship on which I proposed to my wife back in 2013. It’s just been sold for scrap — a victim of the fact that time waits for no man and tastes, desires and expectations are constantly changing.

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The Carchive: The 1978 Citroen GS

Consider the entire spectrum of automotive offerings there are out there today, from the least alluring, economy-minded thriftmobile to the worlds most extravagant, fastest beacons of conspicuous consumption. When all’s said and done, there’s really not a huge amount to choose between them. All the city cars, superminis, coupes, sedans, SUVs and supercars are each geared to satisfy a very well proven set of buyer expectations. Sure, people like us — e n t h u s i a s t s  — will feel the nuances, the characteristics of each one, but as far as most buyers are concerned, every car in every category offers the same basic package as every other.

Once upon a time, there were cars that didn’t offer the same basic package. There were cars that did things radically differently. Let’s take a look at the 1978 Citroen GS — a family car that did anything but tread the path of least resistance. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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Did the Lotus Elise kill the sports car?

No, of course it didn’t. What a stupid question. The sports car is not only alive and well, but in rude health. Look at that, I’ve answered my own question. Thank you and goodnight.

I think there’s more to say, though. When the Lotus Elise arrived out of the blue like an aluminium and fibreglass lightning bolt, it immediately redefined the sports car. It became the new standard bearer, the datum point from which all subsequent sports cars would be judged. And from that point onwards, the category seems to have become one without nuance. Judging by published reviews of the new Toyota co-developed BMW Z4, a car is now either a Sports Car or “Not a Sports Car”.

Why did things have to get so one-dimensional?

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The Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial is the poshest car you can buy today

Chris Haining November 2, 2018 All Things Hoon

In one hand, I hold a Faberge egg. Beautifully made, artistically conceived and definitely aimed towards the extremely well heeled. In the other, I hold a Savelli Champagne Diamond cellphone, inlaid with 395 white and cognac diamonds and running Android. One of these items is a guaranteed future heirloom, an instant blue-chip collectable that might never lose its value. The other is a mobile phone with a bunch of shiny bits glued on. By dint of being obscenely expensive, both are regarded as ‘luxury’ items.

SUVs, then. If you’ve got lots of money, you can buy a Range Rover, and be the envy of many. If you’ve rather more money, you can buy a Bentley Bentayga, and be the envy of Range Rover drivers. If several of your rap albums have gone platinum, you can roll in a Rolls Cullinan and be the envy of anybody who reads Hello magazine. Thing is, while any of the above are undoubtedly luxury cars, can they truly be regarded as posh?

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The Carchive: The 1976 Toyota Celica Coupe

With the weekend firmly in sight, and Last Call about to provide us with that final breath of relief that we’ve all been waiting for, lets just sneak a moment to look at something comfortingly familiar in this fast-paced, ever changing world we live in.

Last week we saw how Vauxhall marketed its Carlton, Viceroy and Senator towards Britain’s upwardly mobile in 1982, (desperately) placing the emphasis on status and prestige. Today we’re heading six years further back, and looking at what was definitely the first Toyota that sold on anything other than reliable engineering. It was Toyota UK’s answer to the Ford Capri. A sexy car for sexy people. Or something. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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