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The Carchive: 1978 Honda Accord

There was a time, long before PCP deals put everybody behind the wheel of a fashion-friendly SUV, when people just wanted solid, economical, trouble-free transportation. We took a look at this era last week with the Fiat 126 of 1981, and we’re sticking to the same theme this time around. This time we’re looking at the 1978 Honda Accord. Admittedly a much bigger car than the Fiat, but barely any more pretentious.

So lets recline in the armchair of curiosity and let history sweep us up in its warm, comforting arms. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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The Carchive: The Fiat 126

The snow has finally thawed, so we can finally don the wellington boots of curiosity, squelch across the muddy lawn of time and look inside the shed of obscurity in search of something intriguing. Welcome back to The Carchive.

Last time, we blew the dust off the Citroen ID 19 and noticed that its French maker offers nothing of its kind today. Today we’re taking a look at the Fiat 126—a car whose maker offers nothing of its kind today.

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Diecast Delights: Real diecast delights.

As a child of the ‘eighties, my diecast collection was made up of whatever was available in local shops. I was typically drawn to Matchbox models, they tended to be better resolved, more detailed and, somehow meatier than Corgis of the same size. For whatever reason, I rarely came across a Hotwheels – perhaps it was a geographical thing and only the big cities got them. 1:64 (or thereabouts) was the norm for me, the kind of toy I could buy with a few weeks’ pocket money. 1:43 or beyond was a rare treat, the kind of thing I would only get if was a very good boy indeed.

The most memorable of any scale, though, were cars with built-in features. An opening body panel or two was always nice – quite a few Matchbox and Majorette models had two opening doors and a functional hatchback, and opening bonnets were relatively commonplace. There were some, too, that used complicated mechanisms for the purpose of entertainment. I have a Matchbox Range Rover somewhere whose oversize roof beacon spins with the rotation of its wheels, and I later attained a 1:36 Bedford CF Ambulance with a more elaborate version of the same mechanism.

It was only the other day, with a random find in a charity shop, that I realised just what I had missed out on by being born so late.

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Now is the winter of our incompetence

The last days of February, and those we’ve seen of March so far, have brought a rare instance of actual weather to the UK. Courtesy of the much-celebrated #BeastFromTheEast, the right-hand coast was the first to receive snow, with the rest of the country being lavishly supplied in the following days. Although Canadians would probably rate the onslaught as ‘a light dusting,’ it’s brought our country to its knees in every way you can possibly imagine.

Public transport ground to a halt pretty quickly. Overhead rail catenery systems were troubled by snow, tumbling temperatures caused faults with points and rolling stock, and flights were cancelled from regional and national airports alike. And the roads? Well, the blocked motorways were inevitable, but it’s the sheer cluelessness of motorists on passable routes that’s rather more troubling.

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The unending joy of beaters

Chris Haining February 26, 2018 All Things Hoon

As Antti recently demonstrated, it’s entirely possible to buy a running car in Britain for £250 or less, and then drive it at least as far as Finland before beating the living shit out of it. Or, if you prefer, you could take it on as a daily driver instead. Having served time as a salesman, I could list dozens of trade-ins that I’ve taken in for that amount or lower, which had served dependably before their owner chose to upgrade to a newer car.

This sector – the very bottom end of the used car food chain – exists in a bizarre twilight world that few choose to acknowledge, and I’ve never fully understood why it’s treated with such disdain. The estimable coined the term ‘Bangernomics’ for buying the cheapest possible car, running it on a shoestring and junking it when you’ve worn it smooth – a principal that has always appealed to me. My daily driver ’98 A4, while probably not quite falling into the bangernomics sweet spot, has me wondering why people spend such enormous sums of money on car ownership.

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Great automotive design atrocities of our time

Chris Haining February 22, 2018 Redusernab Asks

We live in a world that couldn’t be more fickle if it tried. Not only do fashions come and go like a sneeze on a sunny day, but yesterday’s sound thinking becomes tomorrow’s crazy idea almost overnight. And so it is with car design.

In my lifetime I’ve seen pop-up headlights fall from vogue, a brief fascination with bodyside decals that describe every facet of a car’s specification in minute detail, and I even caught the tail end of those jagged louvered panels that folk would use to obscure their rear visibility. Inexplicably. Generally, though, car design has made subtle, gradual movements towards the better – today’s cars may not be anywhere near as interesting as those past masters that tug at our heart strings, but they’re faster, quieter, safer and more efficient. Overall, I’d say it’s a net gain.

Every now and again, though, the natural process of evolution is interrupted by something really stupid. Case in point: Saturn and the ION’s stupid centre-mounted instrument panel.

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Odd things that made you go “ooh” when you were younger.

When you’re very young, the smallest things can make a huge impression. You would occasionally assign rather more value or significance to something than it might realistically merit. Such it was when I was growing up. My Dad was a Ford man for much of the ’80s, and I spend the latter portion of that decade cruising in the back of his top-of-the range Sierra Ghia.

I recognised – and felt smug – that it had features that were absent in the lesser cars my friends would trundle around in at the time. It had head rests for rear seat passengers, a true sign of luxury and refinement. There were adjustable map-reading lights in the front, too, and few cars could match the Sierra’s ‘graphic information module’ that warned of low temperatures, unclosed doors and failed bulbs, and looked awesome lit up at night. There was one feature notably absent, though – one that I first spotted in 1987 while perusing a Ford brochure. The Granada Scorpio had red door edge-illuminators.

My little mind was blown.

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BMW 335d SE: The subtlest ‘sleeper’ of all time?

Chris Haining February 15, 2018 All Things Hoon

The turbocharged, go-faster Volvo 850T-5 caused something of a stir on its release in the early nineties. For a start, it was a Volvo, and Volvo were more associated with ever-so-sensible brick shaped cars best suited for carrying elderly people and antiques. Then there was the power, the front-wheel-drive layout, the modernity of those foot-tall taillamps, something of a break for the staid old firm. Then, in ’94, Volvo took the 850 racing in the British Touring Car Championship. And, as if taking the piss out of everybody, the combatant they fielded was an estate car – and it did rather well.

Nowadays, fast estate cars are nothing new. Everybody latched onto the idea during the nineties and, er, zeroties. Today the Germans have fast estate cars coming out of their ears, BMW with the M5, Mercedes with the E63 and Audi with the RS6, but most of them wear their hearts on their sleeve. They are all festooned with extra grilles, shouty badges, look-at-me wheels and they all emit thunderous exhaust notes when provoked.

Altogether more delicious were the factory sleepers out there, and this was one of the best.

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The Carchive: The ’67 Citroen ID19.

It’s Friday night (here), and from where I’m sitting the past looks a little more appealing than the present, automotively speaking. So lets leave today simmering on the back burner, and dive into the rusty fridge to rifle through yesterday’s dubious cold cuts. And as it happens, what we’ll find is full of meaty goodness. Welcome to The Carchive.

These posts from the past have been a little sporadic lately – we nibbled a little taste of Japan last Wednesday and haven’t been back to the larder since. Today, we’re hitting 1967 France for a look at the Citroen ID19. It also feels doubly appropriate after looking at interesting steering wheels the other day.

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Join The Steering Committee

Chris Haining February 7, 2018 All Things Hoon

Sometimes you’ll learn something that changes everything. A rumour, a theory, or a chance glimpse at something you’ve never seen before, can be enough to turn your world upside down and inside out. This was what I felt when I found that the Australian 1982 Ford Fairlane was fitted with a wildly asymmetrical steering wheel.

Get a load of it! Not one thing about it as you’d expect. The Ford blue oval is offset to the right of the rectangular boss, which is, itself, offset to the right – if only naggingly slowly. Why? Well, I can’t rightly say. Quickly Googling for ’82 Fairlane interior shots reveal a dashboard that had nothing to gain from such a peculiar design of steering wheel – it’s not as if the massive gap on the left hand side provides an uninterrupted view of anything particularly useful. Very odd, yet almost iconic, and now a much-loved feature of ZJ Fairlanes and XE Falcons alike.

So, having now added this remarkable find to my internal databanks (and cursed the fact that my ’81 Fairlane brochure features the earlier, altogether less inspirational ‘wheel), I figure it’s about time that we celebrated the great steering wheels we have known.

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