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Showing posts from June, 2012

Sons of Moscow

Moskvitch, or Москвич in Russian Cyrillic script, means, you guessed it, a resident (literally "son") of Moscow. The English translation is Muscovite.
   Moskvich – no "t" – means a car built in a factory near the Moskva River in southeast Moscow. (Some people insist on including the extra letter in describing the car company, but that's not the spelling the automaker used in export model badging or sales literature.)
   The first vehicles to come from that factory were the offspring of Detroit, not Moscow. In 1929 the plant, initially called KIM (for Communist Youth International, and please don't ask me for the Cyrillic translation), opened to assemble Ford Model A cars and Model AA trucks from kits supplied by the American manufacturer.Later it was assigned to produce Russian cars, these ones from fellow Soviet automaker GAZ.
   It wasn't until a decade after it opened that the Moscow factory was given its own models to build, the KIM 10-50 two-door …

Spicy little number

If you find the Emgrand EC8 too costly a rental, a Kia Picanto could be an attractive alternative. And not just in price (though as an "A segment" subcompact, it's bound to be cheaper than the EC8, a midsize by classification but a large car by Cuban standards).
   "Picanto" comes from the French piquant (spicy) and Italian canto (song). Name aside, the first-generation 2004 Picanto was a rather bland little offering, with plain vertical sides and a tadpole-like countenance. Still, it was liked for its value and handling --"the first Korean small car that was also fun to drive," in the words of one New Zealand auto writer.
   The 2012 version has tons more tang. The roofline angles are racier and the sides are skilfully sculpted. But it's the "tiger-nose" front treatment – bold, even brazen -- that truly gives it presence. The "small car grown up" theme carries on in the interior with classy-looking materials and optimum use o…

It's a Geely – really!

OK, the headline works best if you pronounce this automaker's name with the intended soft "g." But yes, this is a Geely, of Chinese manufacture, meaning that any resemblance to a Cadillac – especially in the shape of the grille and design of the multi-coloured shield badge – is you betcha intentional.
   Cadillac, of course, is General Motors' top brand. Correspondingly, this EC8 midsize sedan is from Geely's luxury line, Emgrand. (Its other brands are the mainstream Englon and Geely and my favourite, at least in name, the Gleagle domestic budget line. Oh yes, Geely owns Volvo, too.)
   The EC8 debuted in late 2010 as a big sister to the EC7 sedan. Its target, rather than any specific Cadillac, was Toyota's famous Camry. Either way, Geely was aiming high.
   It's a good-looking car, with funky "batwing" headlamps to give it some distinction beyond the Cadillac cues. With just a pair of four-cylinder engine options – a 2.0-litre and a 2.4-litre, bo…

Ford blue, perfect hue

I'd say the painter got just the right shade of Robin's Egg Blue on this 1956 Ford private taxi. Probably not this car's original paint scheme, however. As the hood badge and the holes for the V-shaped side chrome spear attest, it's a Fairlane, rather than a lower level Mainline or Customline. As such it would have been a two-tone car, I should think. Ford experts will tell me if I'm wrong.
   Also not sure if it retains the 292-cubic-inch Thunderbird V-8 that was the standard eight-cylinder engine for the Fairlane.
   But it does still bear its original V8 badges.