Wednesday, April 23, 2014

End Of The Road.

A car fan likes to think that there's hope for all old, abandonded automobiles, but at a certain point they're just too far gone to save. That is the case of this tired, sad, ventilated Peugeot 204 I saw this past weekend. It was parked off to the side of the road near where I live, and I stopped to take a peek.
I may be an optimistic guy, and a softie for old cars, but even I have to admit that this one had kicked the rusty old bucket. The 204 is a favourite of mine; it was available in coupe, convertible, wagon, and sedan versions, like this example. Produced between 1965 and 1976, it was wildly popular in Europe, selling over 1.6 million copies in its lifetime. Rather progressive for its time, it had a transversally-mounted FWD drivetrain, front disc brakes, and 4-wheel independant suspension. That might be common today, but for the era, the 204 was a rather advanced car.
As with any car, time takes its toll, and this one appears to have spent at least the last few years sitting in a field somewhere. Every single body panel was heavily rusted, along with the chassis and suspension bits. The motor was still in place, and appeared more or less intact, but most of the interior had been stripped out. The tires were torn, the chrome trim was tarnished, and the hood and headlights were missing. This car had one trip left to take, but sadly, it was out behind the shed (or wrecking yard) to be put out of its misery...
The following day I drove by and it had been hauled up onto a flatbed tow-truck, and the next morning it was gone. If there's a car heaven, this 204 is certainly enjoying a dip into an anti-corrosion bath and a little TLC!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wooden You Know It.

A car I saw tonight reminded something I had mentioned a few months back. It was a comment I had made on a blog post about the Austin Mini Countryman, a nifty little extended version of the original Mini:

Seeing that old original model with the wooden detailing had me wondering how the modern version would look with the same treatment...
Okay, so it's not exactly the same thing. This stretched modern Mini Cooper is called a Clubman (the Countryman name is used for a different small crossover model), and this brown one that I saw had stickers instead of the real wood additions of the original. Up close the effect is quite disappointing, where there is no doubt that they are simply stickers.

From a distance, however, once can more or less picture what a proper 'woody' would look like, and I think that it would be a nice addition to the Clubman, especially in this dark brown color. With some actual thin wood paneling with a bit of texture, I really think that this new Mini could pay homage to the original.  I can't be the only one who thinks that, so I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for my next Mini sighting...


A friend sent this photo of a REAL woody Clubman, and I quite like it! I don't know how much it might cost, but it's fun to see that an option exists:

This modification may not be to everyones taste, but I applaud this wink to the history of Mini and their excellent wood-clad version.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blurred Lines.

Sometimes you only have a few seconds to grab a picture. In those cases you have to decide if you take the time trying to focus properly and risk missing the shot, or snapping as quickly as possible and risk having a blurred picture that you can't make out.

Such was the case when a gorgeous orange Renault Alpine zoomed past me Friday night. A very rare bird, I wasn't going to let this one go without a snap or two. I was able to catch up to it at the following traffic light, and when I came to a full stop (safety first!), I grabbed my phone and lined up for a picture. I knew I didn't have much time before the light changed, but of course my camera auto-focus didn't want to cooperate. I snapped anyways:
Well that didn't work! You can't see much from this blurry picture, but it was a beautiful Alpine A130. This model of Renault's ultimate sports car was produced from 1971 to 1985, first available with a 4-cylinder engine until 1976, and then with a more potent V6 for the rest of its life. It has fat, bulging fenders, a pointy, sharp spoiler, and massive wide tires. Definitely not your everyday sight, and definitely worth a second try at a clearer picture:
Argh! Closer but blurrier, you can barely tell that it's a car! Which is very unfortunate, because it really is a looker. From its beginning in 1955 until its end in 1995, Alpine was a producer of pure, unadulterated sports coupes and convertibles. Renault has even announced plans to produce a new Alpine supercar, and showed the A110-50 concept car in 2012.

The light turns green, the cars start to move... come on camera, one more shot of that fantastic rear end:
Success! Okay, so it isn't a magazine quality picture, but you can at least make out the curves and bulges of the legendary A130, and even read the name written across the back. Once the car in front had left, the Alpine roared off, and there was no hope of catching it again. It became a blurred line off in the distance, and while I would have loved to get a better view of the rest of the car, I'll satisfy myself with these rapid-fire pictures I managed to grab.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Beet It!

There are many different road signs indicating all types of dangers you can encounter (slippery road, icy bridge, truck crossing, sharp curve, railroad, cow crossing, and on and on...), but I'm pretty sure that the one I saw this week was one of the more original:
This particular sign is only a few minutes from my house. Even though I have lived in the same place for over 4 years, I somehow didn't notice this sign before, or if I did, it didn't register. For those that don't speak French, if you Google 'betteraves', you will learn that it means... beets!

Yes, apparently the biggest danger on this quiet, narrow country lane is beets! According to the pictogram on the sign, one risks a beet-related spin-out in this curve.
To be fair, beets are grown all over the region, and there are several processing plants in the vicinity. It is reasonable that they would warn people that slow-moving beet trucks and tractors share the roadway, and that they often leave slippery muddy tracks. However, instead of a 'Slow-Moving Beet Truck' or 'Slippery Due To Beet-Mud' sign, the local authorities clearly went for simplicity in installing their 'BEETS' sign.

So no one fear, as I head out to work today I will have my eyes peeled for sneaky little beets, hiding in the tall grass, ready to jump out at me...

(And for fans of the American TV show "The Office", I looked but did not see a sign for 'Schrute Farms' nearby...)