Welcome to the second part of this look at FWD history in general and FWD cars that went Rong Wheel Drive in particular. After the mad ‘30s and the relative calm of the ‘50s, FWD exploded on a global scale in the ‘60s. But RWD was still very much a thing in all segments – from the smallest DAF to the biggest limo. The bastardization of FWD bodies into RWD, thus far, had a pretty poor track record. But also quite a scant one: there were not many FWD cars to undergo the procedure before the ‘60s.
The decade really defined the modern transverse FWD layout as devised by Issigonis in the mighty BMC Mini of 1959, later improved by Dante Giacosa. This in true in hindsight. At the time, many other FWD designs were devised by key automotive players around the world. For their part, BMC stretched and badge-engineered the Mini concept more or less adroitly. The 1964 “Landcrab” (ADO17, a.k.a Austin 1800) was about as large as Issigonis wanted to stretch the Mini layout. BMC boss George Harriman felt that a replacement for the big Austin Farinas and the slow-selling Rolls-engined Princess saloons was a top priority. RWD was the norm in the executive car segment, which meant Issigonis was taken out of the loop on this ADO61 project.
Cost-saving (a.k.a penny-pinching) dictated that the new Austin luxury barge would use the centre section of the Landcrab’s body. But the extensive modifications needed to share the sheetmetal offset pretty much any of the expected reduction in unit cost. Both the image and the looks of the new Austin 3-litre, when it finally came out in 1967, were subject to harsh (and justified) criticism. The use of the ADO17’s centre section gave the car an unpleasant air of déjà vu, soon made worse by the 1969 launch of the cheaper FWD Austin Maxi, which also used the same body, but had a rear hatchback.
The 3-litre was afflicted by a longer, wider and even more peculiar nose than its FWD brethren and a bigger trunk. And whatever the Princess 4-litre R was besides, at least it looked the part – even BMC’s hasty switch to quad headlamps failed to remedy a fundamentally F’d-up product, both in concept and execution. Furthermore, the car’s build quality, performance and fuel consumption were well below-par. BMC’s complete fumbling of the ADO61 was symptomatic of the British automaker’s many Deadly Sins (which we won’t get into here), but other BMC products, both FWD and RWD, were quite successful in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Whereas BMC never abandoned RWD, Renault operated a complete 180-degree turn from rear engines to longitudinal FWD, developing four such models (R3/R4, R6, R16 and R12) plus a van during the ‘60s. Legacy rear-engined models coexisted with the FWD cars for the whole decade, but were clearly on their way out. Renault’s about-face nudged Peugeot and Simca towards FWD solutions already long-espoused by Citroën and Panhard. By the mid-‘60s, France became the first large car-producing country where all major automakers switched to FWD and where more than half of cars produced were FWD.
Though far more diluted, this “French Wheel Drive” domino effect was visible on a global scale in the ‘60s. New FWD designs were now offered in pretty much all major markets by industry heavyweights, with a wide variety of models: a re-born Audi (with Daimler and VW as godparents) rising from DKW’s ashes, as well three other really big heavies: Ford’s aborted American FWD reappeared in Germany as the Taunus 12M; Fiat entered the ring with the Autobianchi Primula and Fiat 128; and GM’s huge Toronado/Eldorado coupés re-introduced US consumers to domestic FWD cars for the first time since the Cord years.
Smaller generalist firms were also beginning to take an interest in FWD. Lancia switched over entirely during the ‘60s; Peugeot and Simca launched some seriously competent small transverse-FWD saloons; Honda pioneered FWD in Japan with the kei-sized N600 and the mid-size 1300. And let’s not forget the NSU Ro80 and the Triumph 1300… That last one, though, had a twist in its tale (tail?).
When it bowed in 1965, the Triumph 1300 was a competitive car in its segment, got favourable reviews in most of the automotive press and seemed destined to sire a successful new family of FWD cars to compete with BMC. Alas, Leyland-Triumph got a ticket aboard the BL Titanic in 1968. Triumph’s Donald Stokes had the captaincy, but BMC (not to belabor the maritime analogy) was the leaking hull that needed urgent attention. The Triumph boys were told to leave FWD to the specialists – the Grand Exalted Master of the Mini, Alec Issigonis, somehow preferred the BMC way of doing things. But Triumph still had to have something on offer in that crucial segment. The two-door-only RWD Herald was on its last legs, and so much money and effort had gone into the 1300’s unibody…
In a Stokes of genius (ha ha), Triumph turned the 1300 into the Toledo, whose RWD drivetrain was an adaptation of the Herald’s ancient well-proven underpinnings to the 1300 body shell, which did not need substantial alterations. The small Triumph saloon was planned out with both FWD and RWD from the beginning, which is now common, but was then very novel. The original intent was to allow for the possibility of a 4×4 drivetrain, which never materialized. But this meant that the monocoque could be switched over from FWD to RWD with ease. Michelotti updated the tail and face of the car a bit and presto, the Triumph Herald’s replacement was born.
Interestingly and confusingly, the FWD Triumph was continued as the 1500. Michelotti gave it some BMW with the quad headlamps. The previously independent rear suspension was changed to a cheaper beam axle and the trunk got lengthened by a few inches, but the body was identical to the Toledo’s in most ways. Then Triumph launched the 1972 Dolomite, which was a RWD version of the 1500 (i.e. with a longer trunk), which could also be had with 1.8 litre engines. The whole messy long tail/short tail RWD/FWD 1300/1500 Dolomite/Toledo affair was rationalized as the FWD platform was abandoned for good; by 1975, the range was entirely renamed Dolomite.
So for four model years, Triumph’s small saloons were available with either front- or rear-wheel drive. Over the bodyshell’s lifetime, it went from all-FWD to FWD/RWD and finally all-RWD in the space of a decade. The last Dolomites were made in 1980. Triumph’s FWD-to-RWD operation had been pretty successful, on the whole. Triumph abandoned the FWD layout because they felt the 1300/1500 had not been the big hit they thought it would be, which meant FWD wasn’t worth the expense. Luckily, the design’s bake-in features allowed Triumph to do the switch, although in typical BL fashion, this was done in a rather Brownian way. The RWD Triumph Dolomite sold pretty well – they made them as long as the tooling could take it. Not one of BL’s numerous Deadly Sins, our little Triumph saloon. Still, not unlike Rover, Triumph went from sophisticated IRS RWD and FWD designs in the ‘60s to bog-standard live axle RWD in the ‘70s. Pretty symbolic of the state of affairs within BL.
The Triumph could be a relatively sporty car, but it wasn’t part of the new ‘70s (mainly but not uniquely) European segment – the “hot hatch,” represented by the VW Golf and other FWD newbies. A good example of the new shape of small, urban cars was the Renault 5, launched in early 1972. But Renault were finding themselves a little stuck with FWD when trying to continue with competitive racing, especially European rallying. The Alpine A110 was getting on in years. The R12 Gordini was too big for the job and the R5 Alpine couldn’t compete with the likes of the Lancia Stratos or the Ford Escort RS. The answer was to bit the bullet and completely re-engineer a Renault with a mid-mounted RWD drivetrain.
The little Renault 5, then at the height of its popularity, was essentially gutted, skinned and picked clean of its internal organs. A spiced-up fuel-injected 1.4 litre Cléon Fonte 4-cyl. with an Alpine-made alloy hemi head and a Garrett turbo, mated to a R30 5-speed gearbox, took the place of the rear seat and much of the trunk. The fuel tank migrated to the front along with the spare tyre and battery to improve balance.
The Renault 5 Turbo, complete with its bulging air intakes, was unleashed upon the planet in 1980. This was far more than a hot hatch – it was a seriously fast, barely street-legal pocket rocket. It did not have the sophistication of the Alpine, though it was up there in terms of exclusivity and street cred. Renault wiped the floor with the competition in rallying until the late ‘80s and sold about 5000 units of the street version, which packed 160 hp (DIN) and could reach over 200 kph – for a hefty price.
Renault thought the experiment such a success that they repeated the formula with the 2nd series Clio. In 1998, the Paris Motor Show was visited by a mid-engined Clio concept car, which entered the range officially in late 2000. This time, a 3 -litre V6 was used, mated to a manual six-speed. Initially rated at 230 hp, the V6 was given 25 extra horses in 2003 – bringing the car’s top speed over 245 kph (150 mph). The crucial difference with the R5 Turbo was that the Clio never saw a rally course – it was not made for that. The Clio V6 was built by Renault Sport at the ex-Alpine works in Dieppe, which is where the real connection really was: the Clio V6 was a sort of final Alpine. But another RWD vehicle was made from a FWD Renault platform – in a very different category.
The first Dacia was a licensed copy of the Renault 8, but the Romanians had their eye on the upcoming FWD Renault 12, a far more modern package. The R12 came out in 1969 as the Dacia 1300 and was a mainstay of Romanian production for well over two decades – beyond the fall of Ceaușescu. Dacia made a number of changes to the original design over the years, including introducing variants that the French never got: besides the wagon, there was a (rather nice) 1410 coupé in 1981, preceded by the first Dacia 1302 pickup trucks from 1975.
The cheap pickups were direly needed and quite successful. There was a single-cab, an extended cab (1304), long- and short-bed versions thereof, and two four-door double cabs: the 1307 (pick-up based) and the curious FWD-only 1309 (above), based on the Dacia wagon. The wagon’s suspension was used at first, but it soon proved ill-suited for hard labour in relatively tough conditions. [If only they had gone for the Peugeot 404, thinks the Editor…] The timeline escapes me, but at some point in the early ‘80s, Dacia started offering their pickups with 4×4 and RWD-only drivetrains as well as FWD.
Many facelifts were applied to the range (saloons and pickups) and production, as well as exports, continued for many years. The Dacia pickups were made – with a rather unprecedented choice of three drivetrains – until January 2007. Still, some parts of the story remain unclear. Does anybody know what vehicle donated their live axle (GAZ?) and/or 4×4 setup (ARO?), or whether this was a pure Dacia effort?
The only other vehicle available from new with all three front-engine layouts (FWD, 4×4, RWD) seems to be the current- (third-)generation Mercedes-Benz V-Class van. Other vans, such as the Ford Transit, also propose a choice of FWD or RWD. But this is a bit tangential – this post is focusing on cars. But it shows that the notion of picking a drivetrain within the same vehicle range is no longer an exception – in the van world, that is.
Two more recent examples of FWD cars switching to RWD exist – both made by long-standing automakers, no less. Well, sort of. When the Rover 75 came out, few were betting on Rover’s long-term future. That was especially true of BMW, who got rid of the gangrenous BL legacy that was MG-Rover (but kept the good stuff) in 1999 – just as the new Rover hit the streets. The 75 was steeped in retro and came with sedate 4- and 6-cyl. engines and the obligatory wood and leather interior. The new Rover was a magnet for OAPs and low government officials, but a certain Rover tradition was about to attempt to change all that.
That tradition is the famous Rover V8 engine, born a long time ago, in a country far, far away. Alas, by 2001, the newly-independent MG-Rover had no access to this hallowed (and ancient) engine, which was now reserved for Range Rover in Solihull. But they did get a hold of the Ford Mustang’s 4.6 litre V8. The ensuing Rover 75 V8 and MG ZT-T, launched in 2003, were completely modified with a RWD layout. Rover had baked this into the design – the FWD Rover 75 had a RWD-like floor hump from the beginning.
The rumour that the 75 had an empty transmission tunnel because it used a BMW platform is apparently not based on fact, though it would have made the car a RWD-turned FWD-turned RWD… MG-Rover went under for good in April 2005, having only made 900 Mustang-powered RWD saloons (versus 200,000 FWD versions). The successor entity, Chinese-owned MG-Roewe, did continue producing the car as the Roewe 750 / MG 7 until 2016, but only in FWD form. Let’s stay in Asia and explore one last oddity that was made until about a couple of years ago, but was definitely not a new design.
Iran Khodro assembled cars for the domestic market since the early ‘60s. The Hillman Hunter, introduced in 1967, became known as the Paykan in Iran and became ubiquitous. The simple Rootes engine and RWD were ideal for the tough weather and road conditions. Peugeot inherited the deal when they took over Chrysler-Rootes in 1978. This was a good opportunity for Peugeot to enlarge their presence in Iran; soon Iran Khodro started assembling the equally-rugged (but slightly bigger and faster) 504 under the name “Peugeot Pars.” The Paykan and the Peugeots were gradually made with more locally-sourced parts. Peugeot switched to the FWD 405 platform, which is still in production in Iran.
The Paykan was really showing its age by the ‘90s. The 405 sold well, but it seems Iran Khodro felt that an intermediary car could attract some customers. The Peugeot 405 RD – essentially a 405 shell mated with a Paykan engine, drivetrain and suspension was the result. The model was later renamed Peugeot ROA and replaced the Paykan as Iran’s affordable family saloon for a good decade, until 2016. That means the lowly Hillman Hunter’s mechanicals (though not its body) remained in production for 50 years – eat that, Austin Mini. How many would be in the 50+ year club, though? Hmmm…. VW of course… Morgan… Fiat 124… I feel another post might be due on the subject.
The FWD domino effect, on a global scale, really took place in the ‘80s. Aside from a few defenders of the Old Faith (BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar and most prestige/sports carmakers), the FWD bug had infected GM and Chrysler (on both sides of the pond) pretty conclusively, though RWD never completely perished. Ford were more ahead of the FWD curve in Europe, but the American lineup gradually caught up. All Japanese automakers got in on the game – even Volvo eventually switched over, eventually. And so did the Eastern bloc, whose reliance on outdated RWD and rear-engine designs was a source of profound irritation to its demoralized engineers.
They had been developing great FWD designs since the ‘60s, but nothing was getting through. In this context of formidable economic and bureaucratic constraints, the Lada 2109 Sputnik/Samara, Moskvich 2141 Aleko and Škoda Favorit only made it to production by the late ‘80s. Unlike contemporary Dacias, Fiat-derived Yugo / Zastava or East German DKW-derived relics, these cars were home-grown efforts, though Škoda had help from Porsche and the Moskvich was, according to some, a stright-up reverse-engineered Simca 1307. But there was a fourth new-fangled car out there, only it wasn’t as new as all that: the Izh 2126 Oda.
I’m going to leave this post with a question mark, as I have not found conclusive evidence about this one. The last car designed by Izh, the 2126 Oda came out in 1992 – long after the other three. Perhaps this explains why the Oda looks like a mish-mash of the Aleko and the Samara, which itself isn’t a million miles from the Škoda, design-wise. Unlike the others, the Oda (1992-2005) kept the ‘60s-era RWD drivetrain used on the Izh 2125, a derivative of the Moskvich 412. The Bertone-designed Škoda is clearly a different species from the Russian cars, but does anybody know whether these remarkably similar cars share more than just a skin-deep resemblance?
In this century, the pendulum has swung back from FWD’s overwhelming ‘90s dominance. The traditional RWD layout has its merits and is unlikely to disappear. A new generation of rear-engined cars (Smart, Tata Nano, Renault Twingo, Tesla S) has brought back a little variety to both the subcompact and the executive segment. It now seems there is no FWD/RWD mash-up in production anywhere in the world, though I haven’t really looked into the Chinese side of things. Unnatural as these FWD-based RWD cars are, I hop they made for an interesting case study in pointless wheel-reinvention.
Carshow Classic: 1969 Austin 3 Litre Deluxe – The Landcrab Trilogy Is Complete, by Roger Carr
Curbside Classic: 1974 Triumph Toledo–The Only Car Ever To Be Switched From FWD To RWD?, by Tom Klockau
Curbside Classic: 1983-86 Renault R5 Turbo II – Le Monster Car, by Dave Skinner
Cohort Outtake: Dacia 1307 Double-cab Pickup (with RWD) – The Most Unusual Find at CC Yet?, by PN
Again, it seems the comments were closed on one of my posts. That server hates me.
Apologies to all — T87 will try and remain vigilant!
They were closed yesterday too but I fixed that one.
I don’t understand why this has happened to several of your posts. The default is set to automatically allow commenting; one has to manually turn them off.
A wonderful second part. And, given my fascination with the disaster, there always seem to be another fresh detail or two to come out in the BL debacle. They still remain the poster child in how not to run an automobile manufacturer.
Thanks for the article! Surprised you havent mentioned Ford Taunus.
As to your question on the Oda, it shares the same engines as the Moskvich 2141, which were the RWD Lada engine and the UZAM (RWD Moskvich engine with minor changes).
The Oda (originally it was meant to be called Orbita, to keep the space theme going) story is a very sad one. First prototypes were made in 1979, but because of the many diffriculties the factory faced production only started in late 1990. During the 90s the factory struggled, until it came to a halt in 1997. In 2000 production resumed, thanks to the factories new owners, and some intresting versions came around (4×4, cargo van, estate). In 2005 production finally stopped. Only 230k were made in 15 years.
French Wheel Drive… hehehe. Do the Taunus P2 and Cortina count as the same car driven with both FWD and RWD?
As far as I know, they share nothing in common.
They both clearly derive from the same styling sketch, but were developed and engineered independently. I think it was only when the third generation Cortina arrived that underpinnings were shared.
Indeed, Cortina Mk3 and Taunus were close cousins, and the Cortina Mk4 was a clone.
The Taunus would qualify as a car that went from fwd to rwd, even in successive generations. More in keeping with the theme than some motorsport specials or specialist offshoots that were built alongside the mainstream fwd car.
Same for the current rear-engined Renault Twingo. I must say I was disappointed to hear that car wasn’t as fun to drive as I had hoped.
Two thoughts come to mind. The 66 Olds Toronado begat two other cars which shared its basic structure. The (also) FWD Cadillac Eldorado and the RWD Buick Riviera. This may not strictly meet your criteria as the Toro and the Riv both came out at the same time, so the structure was designed to be able to accommodate both right and wrong wheel drive.
Also there is the Triumph Dolomite. I seem to have developed a minor crush on these. If ever there were a small British saloon of the 70s which could have made it in the USA it would seem to have been this one. But we never got it.
Yep, great point on Toro.
JPC: the Torodorado E-body is the other way around. Started off as RWD (’63 Riviera) and then went FWD.
I don’t know much about the commonalities between the FWD ana RWD E-bodies, though. What exactly do they share? The suspension, gearbox, diversion, engine and body panels are all (seemingly) different.
As to the Dolly, it’s in there. Look again!
The 66 Riviera and Toronado had nothing in common with the previous Rivieras exc the Riv’s nameplates and carryover drivetrain.
I wouldn’t say they share “its basic structure”. What the three E-Bodies shared were major parts of its body shell, and then with considerable differences. The Riviera’s body was substantially different in its floor structure and sills, as it still sat on the X Frame, along with the rest of its chassis. The X-Frame required substantial strengthening of its sills as these were critical aspects of the overall structure.
The FWD Toro and Eldorado shared the upper part of the E-Body, but of course had a totally different floor structure and sat on GM’s new perimeter frame and had different chassis.
So although there was some sharing of the upper body structure, the huge differences under the skin make these quite different cars. Of course, these definitions of “body structure” or “basic structure” are all subject to interpretation.
I do think that since the ’63 Riviera was the first to use and define the E-Body, if anything it was the other way around: Olds and GM adapted it to work on their FWD chassis.
The original Toro & Eldo didn’t really have a perimeter frame, at least not a full one.
It ended under the rear seat, and was more akin to the F & X Body, except with much longer “wheel barrow handles”.
They got a full frame with the 1971 model.
Triumphs were up-market cars, and the Dolomite was definitely a small luxury car. The Dolomite Sprint, with its’ sixteen valve head, was a real hot-rod ( and had a successful racing career), but was initially intended to be a lightweight 2-door competitor for the Twin Cam Escort.
There’s one 80’s car that was originally designed for FWD, but was eventually re-engineered for a RWD chassis from a different manufacturer.
The original Isuzu Impulse. Intended as the 2G Scirocco, VW passed on it for an in-house design. Isuzu was looking to make a splash in the US market and they built it nearly as Guigario designed (interior dashboard “pods” included), but on a derivative of a Chevette chassis. The only visible difference was a shorter wheelbase on the Isuzu.
That’s very interesting! Didn’t come up in my research, but I thought there must have been others who did this operation. Isuzu, eh? Who’d have thunk it.
Perhaps I’m wrong about the Scirocco connection. Back in the ’90s it was considered common knowledge/urban legend that was the case, but now I read that it was never submitted to VW.
I agree. That was not the case. Isuzu commissioned Giugiaro to design the “Asso di Fiori” (Ace of Clubs” prototype, and it was a RWD design from the get-go, as its proportions clearly attest.
Apparently Triumph looked at FWD for what became the Triumph 2000/2500, not sure how they would have managed to mate FWD with the Triumph I6 engine though might have worked if Triumph produced an earlier 2-litre equivalent of the Slant-4.
Even Rover looked at FWD for what became the Rover P6 prior to the Buick V8, though ruled the FWD layout out for production in favor of RWD.
Very entertaining, in both parts. And while some of the results were ho-hum, others like the R5 Turbo were legendary. And I’ve always wanted a 75 V8, with the whole Mustang performance catalog to throw at it…when will those turn 25 years old?
Actually after 1980 Paykan was only available with 1600 cc engine from Peugeot 404(1725 cc from Roots was no longer available) basically Roa was the Peugeot 405 with Peugeot 404 motor.
Bravo! Lots of new obscure details. But I guess I’m still going to be in the dark about just how those RWD/4WD Dacia trucks look like underneath. Some mysteries are still left to be solved. 🙂
The RWD Dacia trucklet underside looks like the photo below underneath Paul. Loads more pics etc here: http://autoshite.com/topic/17962-look-what-the-cat-dragged-in-dacia-shifterossa. RHD Dacia pickups were imported into Australia new in 1984; apparently around a dozen were sold before the company went (down) under. Maybe one of our Aussie CCers can find one of the remaining ones!
Thanks, but I meant under the hood, to see how the original front engine/transmission and suspension was changed for RWD/AWD application. was it the same engine and transmission?
I’m not sure what you’re showing me here, but ti’s not exactly helpful in thta regard. 🙂
Sorry Paul, it looked better on my phone screen. Is the rear chassis of a RWD Dacia pickup with the tray removed. Shows driveshaft, rear springs, axle.
But it’s so hard to see, I’ve tried to put together some more images and labelled them. As far as I can tell from the internet and my old magazines/books, the earlier Dacia pickups used the Renault engine in its usual location, but with a different gearbox with the driveshaft heading out back to the axle. Some sources say the 4WD Dacia used an Aro (another Romanian manufacturer) gearbox, but there’s not a lot of conclusive info out there nowadays.
I’ve never heard about Dacias coming to Australia before Scott – do you have any more info?
Hi John, it was news to me too, but quite a bit of interesting info here: http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/renault-forum/116877-dacia-4×4-pick-up.html
Here’s an ADR plate from one of the Aussie Dacias:
Love the Tu-154 photobomb in the Lada shot.
Great pair of articles, thanks! I’m glad you mentioned the Tesla. FWD vs. RWD is an interesting question for an electric car. The motor itself is much smaller than a combustion engine and needs much less cooling, so it could be at the front or rear without a major redesign.
In fact back in 2012 I made the case in a CC piece about the Mitsu EV that EVs are naturally RWD: “Rear motor and rear drive make total sense for an electric, since the motor is small and relatively light, and there’s no need for a transmission. Just mount the motor ahead of the differential, put them at the rear, and keep the front end simple.”
But since then all the EVs from other pre-existing manufacturers have been FWD, probably since their small car platforms were already built for FWD. You can make a packaging case for the FWD EV. Quite a bit needs to be up front anyway, the brake master cylinder and its vacuum pump, a power steering motor and the HVAC heat pump. Might as well put the motor, its controller and the battery charger up there too, and you’ve got a full house under the hood. Just the people, cargo and battery pack behind all that. FWD also has winter traction advantages in most cases (except a steep driveway as I learned the hard way once in my Sable).
Teslas are all RWD, with a small front trunk (or “frunk”). Very small in the Model 3, just enough room for a large gym bag a tester said. What’s the point of the RWD EV then? The answer is Torque. Even in my Fiat 500e EV, the motor has so much torque at any speed that it breaks the front tires’ grip if you nail it on a corner. Tesla S ‘ludicrous mode’ would be downright dangerous if it was FWD. So the EV motor’s torque is another argument in favor of the RWD EV, especially in a performance car.
The best case for a performance EV is AWD, with a motor at both ends, as we see in the Tesla S ‘D’ versions and the new Jaguar I-PACE among others. Easily accomplished since the motor’s so small.
FWD, RWD, AWD, it’ll be interesting to watch as EVs proliferate.
The mention of Volvo near the end just reminded me of how the guys on Car Talk (RIP Tom Magliozzi) used to make fun of Volvo for being a Swedish car maker that built cars that were so terrible to drive in the snow (according to them; I’ve never driven one myself), as they stuck with RWD so much longer than everyone else.
When I was a kid we were in Sweden (in summer), in the 1960’s, with our new European-delivery Volvo 122S. We visited a colleague of my dad who lived in a rural area, and drove a Saab 96. He explained to us that Volvos were for city folks, where they plowed the roads. In the country, you needed a Saab. (To be honest, I was only 7 and while I remember the man, his house, and his Saab, I only remember his words as retold by my mom over the years. In 1986 when the 122S finally died, and I was an adult, I test drove a Saab for my mom, but she decided on another Volvo).
Funnily enough I found myself behind a very tidy white Dolomite Sprint (black vinyl roof) on the drive into work this morning. Handsome as ever, but alongside hulking great Focuses and Minis it looked absolutely tiny. I’d love to drive one again some day.