Sunday, March 5, 2017

Toyota dashboard memories

Waiting for my father, sitting in the passenger seat of his new 1970 Toyota Corolla, I was quietly admiring the beauty of the modern dash of the small car. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for sure, but that simple white metal dash with its two big gauges surrounded by a piece of black plastic, looked like nothing else in the entire automotive world for me as a young 12 year old at that moment. Because this was my father's first new car in many years. And with each subsequent new car, at an average interval of every two years back then, I witnessed progress in technology and luxury. How easily satisfied we were.

A Japanese family happily enjoying their late 1960s Corolla.
The 1970 car my father owned for a couple of months had a slightly different grille.

Of course, that Corolla was not a marvel of advancement. It was modestly handsome, and the Japanese early fame for offering a lot for bargain money was somehow lost on this car. It offered nothing. Not even headrests. And this Corolla did not last long with us. It was part of the household for a mere three months. When my father ordered his car, nobody knew that a new Corolla, the swoopy 1971 model, was waiting to be launched. And boy, was that new model an improvement over the old one. Flashy styling, bigger, and my father immediately felt old school with his 1970 Corolla. Since he worked at a Toyota dealership, he could order the new 1971 model while selling the 1970 Corolla without a loss. So, what did bring the 1971 car us, except new styling? Well, actually not a lot. Still the rear wheel drive setup with leaf springs at the back and recirculating ball steering. But wait, there was nylon carpeting and two vents at the far ends of the dash, which was now a black plastic affair. And the seats had fixed headrests, which made this car's cabin look like nothing else available then. Otherwise, there was nothing. No rear window demister. No tinted windows. No trim. Not even seat belts. But to compensate all that, it was bright yellow! “I saw your dad driving a big car”, someone in my class said to me. “What is it?” Well, a Corolla...


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tucker Tesla – no future for Elon Musk's cars


Elon Musk spoke, and European countries have a nervous breakdown. Tesla is planning a 'megafactory' in Europe. No surprise that every country and region is flirting with Tesla now. Poor Brexit Britain, it disqualified itself, but for the others it will be a winter and spring full of suspense until Mr. Musk will speak again. And to the winner I will say, enjoy it while it lasts. Because anyone who is familiar with the Tucker story, knows how the Tesla adventure will end. Musk and his companies will be there in our future, but Tesla won't. So, if you want a Tesla megafactory within your borders, you better start thinking about future re-employment and outsourcement programs as well. 

Tesla Model S

I have never driven a Tesla Model S. Frankly, I'd love to be behind the wheel of one, if only for an hour. The Tesla Model S has become a common car on Dutch roads, helped by massive tax incentives. Apparently, it is even the best selling car in Norway. Which is cheeky, since Norway was the homeland of an early, small and capable electric vehicle, the Th!nk. Yes, that acclamation mark is correct, that's what the marketing guys came up with. Briefly owned by Ford, but when it was on its own feet again, it stumbled. Too bad, I've seen 'm managing high and steep Swiss mountain roads.