The Road Show #42 – Interview with olidacostaevans on Duggystone Radio

Jack Mortimer July 26, 2020


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Car News:

We start this week’s show with news from France and Germany, where their governments have been pushing to increase the sales of electric vehicles. Thanks to state support, prices for new electric car contracts are, at times, now as low as mobile phone contracts. One such firm has signed 300 contracts in 20 days for the Renault Zoe electric hatchback, whilst also having 3000 further enquiries. Another scheme which is set to launch shortly will offer the Smart EQ for under £9.00 per month. The same company offered a very similar deal last month, however it had to be removed because 1000 people reached out to them and supply just couldn’t meet the demand. Currently, there’s been no mentions of introducing a system like this in the UK. In fact, the UK, along with several other countries such as Belgium and China have been reducing subsidiaries as the cost electric vehicles has been decreasing, with some predictions saying that by the mid-2020s we could see a rise in budget electric vehicles which will cost less than their petrol equivalents. Will this be achievable? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, new figures have shown that, on average, every month in Britain 4000 cars are damaged due to potholes in the roads. The AA also reported that in April, they attended 1500 breakdowns caused by potholes, despite the lockdown restricting travel. The government have put aside £2.5 billion to repair potholes over the next five years, however some believe this isn’t enough. Upon being informed of the number of damaged vehicles, the Conservative MP Huw Merriman stated that our roads pose ‘a serious risk of serious injury to those who use them’ and stated that ‘our committee’s inquiry called for a long-term funding deal for councils to invest in quality roads’. However, a spokesperson for the Transport Department retaliated by saying that the £2.5 billion fund is enough to repair 10 million potholes each year. Have you ever had your vehicle damaged by a pothole? If so let me know on the social media pages, dstoneroadshow on Instagram, and The Road Show: Duggystone Radio on Facebook.

In the glamourous world of show business, famous footballer and television host Peter Crouch has, this week, modified his campervan in a very unique way. The £50,000 Volkswagen split screen campervan has had its roof raised in order to fully accommodate its 6ft7 owner. Crouch, and his partner Abbey Clancey bought the campervan for ‘staycations’ across the UK and in order not to rough it at festivals when they reappear. The pair have stated that they both have an interest in classic vehicles and the reason they chose an original Volkswagen was for its big bed, although (if you pardon the pun) it can be a crouch at times.

And finally, a learner driver this week was arrested for driving at 30mph on the M6 motorway. Now, if you’re not British, then the speed limit for our motorway system has a limit of 70mph (that’s roughly 110kph) so travelling at just 50kph means that this learner was travelling at under half the speed limit. The driver of the Volkswagen Golf, was pulled over by the police, found unsupervised (whilst lacking a full driving license) and cannabis was found in the vehicle, which he tested positive for. Currently, the motorist remains in custody, however the British charge for drug driving is a driving ban of at least one year, an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison. In short, it’s certainly not worth it.

Volkswagen Golf Story Part 2:

We’re back with the Volkswagen Golf story, here on The Road Show. So, last time we took a look at all of Volkswagen’s efforts to make a successful replacement for the Beetle, and how they almost killed themselves doing it. Anyway, to start this segment, we have to go all the way back to May of 1974 when, after 24 years of prototypes, the Volkswagen Golf entered the showrooms of Europe.

So, what did people initially think? Well, when Drive In tested one they were impressed by the roomy interior (claiming that there was plenty of headroom, even for the hat wearer), and the practicality of the hatchback, however, they weren’t so keen on the bumpy ride and the vague gearshift. In fact, looking back at how successful the Golf has been, it’s quite odd to see a review that creates such a mixed reaction. Anyway, with retrospect, why don’t we take a look at the specs?

The entry level 1100 model cost £1450, whilst the top of the line 1500 LS was £200 extra. Adjusted for inflation, the range went from £15,225 to £17,325 which seems pretty cheap by today’s standards. Anyway, the 1100’s 49bhp engine could get the Golf up to 87mph (that’s 140kph) whilst also having the ability to deliver 35mpg. The 1500 model had a 69bhp engine which could get to 99mph (or 160kph) whilst returning 33mpg – not bad for 1974 economy. In fact, we might as well talk about an event from the time that almost certainly helped the Golf as a smaller car.

In October of 1973 an oil embargo was created by the members of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC for short). This was done to target nations that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War such as America, Japan and the UK. The effect was, the price of fuel skyrocketed (rising by almost 400%) and car companies really had to rethink their models. Until now, the majority of family cars were saloons like the Ford Cortina or the Hillman Hunter and their engines were getting bigger and bigger – economy was somewhat of an afterthought. Now, people were forced to downgrade to smaller, more economical cars which tended to be rather underpowered. The Golf is the case of the right car at the right time. Economical, quite powerful and, thanks to the hatchback and the transverse engine, almost as roomy as some larger cars.

In October of ’74, as a test of durability, Volkswagen drove two Golf 1500s from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego – a journey of over 30,000km (that’s 19,000 miles). Amazingly, other than some protection to the engine and oil pan, along with some front fog lamps, these two ‘Brilliant Yellow’ Golfs were no different to the standard models you’d find in your local dealership. Both cars did indeed live to tell the tale and you can still find one of them at the Volkswagen Foundation Auto Museum.

Just a few months later, the Golf very narrowly missed being 1975’s European Car of the Year to the Citroen CX (a worthy choice) but it still goes to show that the Golf was a very popular car from its early days on the market. 1975 also saw the Golf expand out of Europe, entering the Japanese market for the first time where it proved just as popular. For the end of the year, there was a slight facelift which removed what collectors refer to as the swallowtail rear end, and redesigned that panel to be straight. There was now also the option of air conditioning, which required a larger battery than on the standard models.

But, perhaps the most significant version of the original Volkswagen Golf also came about in 1975 – the go-faster, GTI. Really, the idea of a small and sporty Volkswagen originated in 1972 with the Beetle GSR, which didn’t really prove to be so successful. Who’d have thought that a 1.3 flat four that can do 0-60 in 18 seconds attached to an almost 40 year old design wouldn’t be considered sporty? Anyway, the Sport Golf, as it was originally going to be called, started out by using the basis of the Scirocco and had lowered suspension and dual carburettors. However, this original car was tested by Volkswagen’s Chief of Research who called it ‘undriveable’ on account of its harsh ride and noisy intake system. So, back at the drawing board, a different suspension system was fitted as was the 1.6 engine fitted to the Audi 80. What was significant about the new engine? Well, it had Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, as opposed to the dual carburettors which made it more powerful, maintained better fuel economy and reduced the noise level from the engine bay.

The new Sport Golf wasn’t actually the first hot hatchback- that was actually the Simca 1100TI which launched two years earlier. However, the Golf was the first ever car to use the name GTI – meaning Gran Turismo Injection (or, if you want, Grand Tourer Injection). Interestingly, given their previous efforts, Volkswagen weren’t expecting to sell any more than 5000 GTIs, but oh how wrong they were. For the first generation Golf, Volkswagen actually sold 462,000 GTIs over the span of seven years.

But if you wanted real economy, how about the Golf Diesel? Offered from September of 1976, this was a time when diesel engines were really only fitted into vans or heavy goods vehicles, but with fuel prices still going up, many companies began experimenting with fitting diesels into their cars. And the Golf Diesel was certainly economical – getting over 43mpg. The only issue was… it was very slow. The 1.5 had a 0-60 time of over 18 seconds and a top speed of 87mph – the same as the 1.1 petrol engine.

The late 70s also saw some different body styles. For 1978, there was the Caddy – a little pickup that was originally designed for the American market (we’ll get onto that later). Or, if you still wanted a saloon but with Golf economy, how about the Jetta? Yep, the original Jetta was pretty much just a standard Golf with a bigger, more conventional boot attached to the back. Perhaps the most successful variant was the cabriolet form – which entered production in 1976, where it stayed, pretty much unchanged until 1993.

The standard model of the original Golf was replaced officially in 1983, but production lasted well into the 21st century, so in this last bit of the segment, why don’t we take a look at the Mk1 Golf around the world? We’ll start in America, where the Golf launched in 1975 as the Volkswagen Rabbit. Why? No clue. Originally, the Rabbits were made in Germany and imported into America but by 1978 they were proving so popular that production began in the Westmoreland factory. These original American made models initially had softer suspension and a slightly cheaper interior, most likely to cut costs. Also, in 1980, production moved to Pennsylvania and there was a little facelift that wasn’t done anywhere else which saw the Rabbit receive square headlamps, wraparound turn signals and bigger rear lights. The original model was built until 1984.

In the former Yugoslavia the Golf was made under license in the TAS factory in Sarajevo where it continued to be made until 1985. During its time in production, it was regarded as the police car of choice. At a time when imported cars came with heavy taxes in Yugoslavia, the locally built Golf meant a Western alternative for the likes of the Yugo was available. Over in Mexico, production began back in 1977 where it was called the Caribe. The model line-up was slightly different with their own sporty Caribe GT model, and some fun little special editions like the City and the Pro.

But perhaps the country best known for the Mk1 Golf is South Africa, where it was called the Citi Golf. Production began in 1984, when Volkswagen in Germany had updated their tooling for the then new Mk2, but amazingly, production lasted until 2009. Admittedly, there were facelifts and updates but it’s crazy to think that a car launched in 1974 was still actively being bought new 35 years later.

But, if you wanted to buy one today, expect to pay quite a bit for one. The cheapest models are the convertibles which, of course, were made more recently than most. These sell for about £4000 whereas you can expect to pay around £7000 for a hard top. GTIs will always be the most valuable and as such £10,000 plus seems to be the going price. But if you want the charm of a Golf Mk1 without the price of the hardtop or the leakiness of the soft-top, go for a Jetta or a Caddy. Priced at around £5000 they offer much of the same for a few thousand less.

Looking at Logos:

Right then, for this bit of the show I thought that instead of looking at another car, why don’t we look at something you can find on pretty much every car. No, sadly thorough look at the history of door handles will have to wait because this week, we’re looking at many of the famous logos that have graced grilles and beautified bootlids over the years.

Why are we looking at logos this week in particular? Well, I recently found out that on this week back in 1858, long before they were making cars, Peugeot began using their famous lion logo. Admittedly it looked very different then, but it got me thinking – why do they use a lion, anyway? Well, I found out that back then Peugeot were an engraving company so, to show that, why not use an animal known for its sharp teeth and swiftness? And from that, we’ve already learned that the Peugeot logo is both 162 years old and has nothing to do with cars. Nevertheless, it’s quite cool that the lion has indeed gone from strength to strength, no matter what Peugeot were making. Anyway, let’s take a look at some other brands logos and what they actually mean.

So, since we were talking about Volkswagen earlier, why not take a look at their logo. Obviously, it’s a V and a W in a circle – so a pretty simple logo but it does in fact have somewhat of a meaning. You can split the W into two Vs (making three in total) and the V symbol is commonly used to show victory. Therefore, you could say that Volkswagen’s logo shows that their cars are a ‘win win win’.

And if we’re talking Volkswagen, natural progression says we now need to take a look at Audi, who of course use those four horizontally lined and interlocked rings. Now, you might not know this but originally Audi was a merger of four different companies, meaning they actually stand for Audi, Wanderer, Horch and DKW. Pretty neat. Also, on the topic of German cars, the Mercedes-Benz logo (the three-pointed star with a circle around it, also has a meaning. The three points stand for land, air and sea and the circle represents the earth, so it can be said that it shows Mercedes-Benz’s dominance in all of these areas of transportation.

Jumping to Japan for a while, let’s take a look at the Toyota logo. Now, my family has always thought that this logo looks a lot like someone wearing a cowboy hat but that actually wasn’t the intention. Really, it’s just a more abstract way of presenting the letter T. Although, many have seen the oval it’s surrounded by as a sort of interpretation of earth, which some see as Toyota portraying themselves as at the heart of the world.

If you wanted to go a little less interpretive, then how about the Citroen logo. The two chevrons have been in place since 1912, before they began making cars. That’s because the logo is actually a depiction of the helical gears that Andre Citroen developed and patented. Those gears were actually used in the Titanic but, funnily enough, Citroen don’t really want you to know that.

Or how about Hyundai? On face value their logo is pretty much just an H in an oval, but really, well supposedly, it’s meant to show two people shaking hands. In a much more stylised form of the logo, we can see one salesman-esque figure who is shaking the hand of a customer, most likely as a symbol of trust and good service that you get with a Hyundai.

BMW’s logo interestingly is a heart back to when they produced planes. Not only does the blue and white colour scheme match the colour that the majority of these planes were, but it can also be said to show a depiction of a white propeller against the blue sky. But, if we really do want to talk about things from the past, how about Skoda. It’s quite hard to describe the Skoda logo if you don’t already know what it is, so let me explain. The original idea of the logo, first seen in 1926, was a representation of a Native American wearing traditional feathered headwear. However, as time progressed it became known less as that and more as somewhat of a winged arrow, which represents the company’s sporting successes.

If we were to go a bit more upmarket, the Porsche logo also has somewhat of a meaning, or at least a nice little reference to the company’s geographical location. Their logo is, of course, a shield which centres on a horse. Typically you could say that the horse is a typical symbol of speed and that’s that, but the real reason why a horse is used is because Porsche’s home of Stuttgart is actually where a lot of horses in Germany were bred. In fact, Stuttgart in English actually means ‘stud farm’.

But finally, why don’t we finish by taking a look at Ferrari’s logo? Well, again, it’s a horse but it’s design was actually the work of Count Francesco Baracca, a professional in the Italian air force during World War One. As a pilot, he’d have this logo depicted on this wing as he believed it brought him success. Admittedly, he wasn’t so successful when in 1918 he was shot down but even so he was considered a national hero, so much so that Enzo Ferrari wanted to use it for his cars, the only difference being a yellow background (the colour of his city, Modena) and a stripe at the top in the colours of the Italian flag.

And that’s our look at just some of the logos, along with the meaning that they hold. I think it’s really cool that so many of them have a meaning, and that they’ve been in use for, sometimes, longer than the companies have been making cars. I could probably make another segment with even more of these logos and their meanings, and if that’s something you’d like to see then please do let me know.


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