The Land Rover Writer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Alfa Return to US Market Delayed

In a sad note for genuine auto enthusiasts, Alfa Romeo's planned return to the USA market has been delayed by parent corporation Fiat. Now it looks like the earliest we'll see an Alfa through dealerships in 2013.

According to Autoweek, the delays arise out of Fiat's concerns about the proposed designs and engineering from Alfa's Turin studios, and from the desire to take advantage of economies of scale by melding Alfa and Chrysler's manufacturing capacities. It does appear that some Chrysller products will be badged as Alfa's and/or Lancia's, or the converse might happen, as Alfa's might be badged as Chrysler products.

Whatever the decisions to be reached, the beloved Alfa Spider is out of production with its replacement not scheduled until 2013 also. Let's hope that the decision s reached don't dilute Alfa's automotive DNA!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"I am a Rock, on an Island"

Land Rovers have always prided themselves as "working vehicles." Indeed the earliest ads for Land Rovers cited their role as the "versatile" car, able to work on the farm and then bring you into town.

This past week I tested the Land Rover's working capabilities against an enormous tree stump and a boulder too heavy for three people to lift out of the ground. My Land Rover ended the week 1-1.

The tree stump presented quite a hurdle. Our crew of three dug around the huge root ball and I took a chain saw to any visible roots. We tied a tow strap and a kinetic rope around the tree stump, and I goosed it up the gravel drive for some 30' before I felt the Rover surge ahead and then get thrust backwards - the kinetic rope acts just like a rubber band. The tree stump never budged. We tried a few more times and then I gave up and called in a backhoe.

The boulder lay under the surface right in line with the trench I had to absolutely, positively dig. Three of us tried to lift it out of the ground but it proved too heavy. We dug around the boulder enough to get a tow strap around the rock, and then attached it to the Rover.

First gear, low range, and then I gave it a slow but steady pace. The rock bounded out of its hole and I dragged it up to a place from which we could roll it off to one side. It took three of us to roll it into the woods. Ashley was particularly proud of conquering the rock.

Needless to say I was very happy to have the Land Rover! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hope for the Future

The Bristol epitomizes all that is right - and wrong - with the British automobile industry. 

Built first as a gentleman's sporting car after World War II, their cars have featured quirky styling, so you either love them or hate them. Rarely were two models available at the same time. 

They featured robust engines, usually produced by another manufacturer.They also benefited from solid engineering, good brake systems, and handsome, leather and wood interiors. Auto publications have raved about them for decades.

Sadly they also came with high prices. They've been hand built in small quantities to expensive standards under the long time leadership of Tony Crook. You can buy one at only one dealership located in London. The latest models are actually complete rebuilds of older vehicles updated to modern standards.

Now they're "in administration," which is British for bankruptcy. The company is looking for an investor to purchase it and revive the marque. The same process has occurred several times for TVR and that Blackpool manufacturer is still in business. 

You have to wish this heritage product well. If you're interested in purchasing the company, here's the link for more information