Spotted: Citroën DS Special + Barthes' Mythologies

Written by Kurt Schleier | Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:12

DS

There it was, along a country lane, a Citroën DS hiding in the shadow underneath some trees, in front of an old Dutch farmhouse. Its sleek body suggesting movement even while it was stationary. The white of the body emphasising innocence, litheness even. Its contrasting brown coloured tin top absorbed the rays of sunlight that happened to be able to make their way through the leafy trees. Looking at it, it was a splendid ensemble of shapes, colours and shadows. The DS just sits on the tarmac and somehow suggests it is something a bit different whilst actually looking rather inconspicuous; it is devoid of ornaments or pointless design cues. It is an impossibly cool car and at the same time seemingly suggesting to be so much more than just a car just by being a DS. Stepping in a DS moreover would mean transcending into a world of francophilia; the car invokes connotations with scenes which prominently feature baguettes, bottles of wine, fine cheese, intellectuals, designers, chansonniers and well-cut suits with knitted ties. Is this just all a myth? Well, the DS has the peculiar ability to be worshipped through rather different qualities than most other enthusiasts' cars; it is not about horsepowers, it is not about flashy design, it is not about perfect handling. It is worshipped by those from all walks of life. It appears to absorb the characteristics one attributes to it effortlessly and it morphs the car, unwittingly to the car of course, into something more than just a piece of metal. In short one adds a dose of symbolism to the car and mythifies it. Why do I put this on a car blog? Well, because this feeble attempt at discussing the connotations that one creates by just looking at a DS should serve as an introduction to a far more impressive piece of writing by French philosopher Roland Barthes. Barthes, in his 1957 article 'The new Citroën', exalted the DS as the equivalent of a gothic cathedral and a place of worship for the rediscovery of the spiritual.  Which had, apparently, been lost with the machine age starting in the early twentieth century; it lead to the mythification of a car. The text is underneath, be amazed.

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Spotted: Saab 96

Written by Kurt | Thursday, 25 April 2013 16:24

saab96-3

What to do when presented with the automotive equivalent of a Nordic Aphrodite (those of another disposition might want to say Adonis)? Correct, you take a photo, or better several photos capturing svelte lines, cool charm and warriorlike spirit. Better still, you can be assured it will take it well, it will pose effortlessly when presented with some sunshine in the charming environment of London's Bloomsbury area. Yes, I thought this slightly knackered Saab 96 looked really rather good. It was such a treat finding this on a lovely summery day after stepping out of my Uni after an intensive few hours listening to, well, doodah. Saabs usually float my boat, the 96 is no exception, but it should be mentioned that I am not convinced it was Saabs 'finest hour'. The 96 spawned an era of unprecedented change in the automotive industry (automatisation, strikes etc.), yet from its inception in 1960 to the final year of production very little changed at all. Seeing the trim of this dashing green Swede it points to it being a later 96 from the 1970s. By then, after shedding its Saab two-stroke engine, the engine bay accomodated a trusty Ford V4 1498cc engine producing 65 hp powering the front wheels. Sadly, the example on the photos seemed to suffer from a variety of issues; first and foremost the issue that the rear left side window was missing! Moreover the attractive and quirky seventies light green paint was lighter in some areas than others, whilst missing a smooth finish altogether. I missed this Saab actually driving but looking at the exterior and interior it didn't spell much good..

 

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Spotted: Triumph Herald 13/60

Written by Kurt | Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:15

Northchurch-Terrace-London-Sometimes one finds oneself navigating pointlessly through Google Street View for no reason other than 'getting lost' after searching for a particular address. On these strolls through digitalised reality one bumps into a variety of strange and wonderful elements that make up our world, occasionally one bumps into rather awkward scenes; people in silly costumes (or just daily outfits), fires and so on. But, once in a while, one bumps into a nice old car by chance, just today I bumped into a lovely red Triumph Herald 13/60 parked in front of a delightful sort of semi-detached house in Dalston, London. The Herald 13/60 was the last in a series of Heralds, built from 1967 to 1971 and featured an updated front-end and a new 1296cc engine. According to records a total of 82,650 cars were built, quite a substantial amount, though not many remain today, or at least in the UK the Department for Transport lists about 1300 licensed examples. This red one is one of them, let's hope it stays that way.

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