Good Oil: Return of the Thing rumoured
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Hot on the heels of the Volkswagen Kombi-aping I.D. Buzz concept comes the somewhat pleasing rumour that another relic from the German car giant’s past could be about to get a modern makeover.
An American car magazine swears black and blue that the stripped-out, boxy, militarily minded Kubelwagen could rejoin the Volkswagen line-up as — but of course — an electric vehicle.
This all sounds somewhat improbable if you ask us, but the vehicle, says the magazine, could be a goer and would likely be built on the same MEB platform as the yellow and white ‘leccy “love bus” design that has been doing the motor show rounds this year.
That same platform also underpins the Volkswagen I.D. Crozz concept, which we’re hoping — if all these retro vibes in the air at Volkswagen are to be taken seriously — may morph into some sort of Vee Dub Fastback model that will sit alongside the New Beetle.
Okay, wishful thinking in all likelihood, but a re-imagined Kubelwagen (or “Thing”, as the American arm of the manufacturer unfortunately decided to market it) would be a head-turner.
We’re imagining something along the lines of the Citroen E-Mehari electric concept from a few years back; the original of which shares the Kubelwagen’s tin-shed-on-wheels aesthetic.
We’ll keep our ear to the rumour mill. And if all these back-to-the-future EV concepts from Volkswagen are starting to wear thin, take solace in the fact that at least they’ll never be able to make an electric Schwimmwagen — the Kubelwagen’s amphibious cousin.
Honda sells hundred millionth Super Cub
Yes, go ahead. We’ll wait while you do a double-take at the number. A hundred million. That is, without needing to put too fine a point on it, a lot of motorbikes. The world’s most ubiquitous automobile — the Toyota Corolla — doesn’t even come close, with 40 million of those having changed hands.
Honda’s awesome little Super Cub has been around since 1958 and — pretty much perfect straightaway — has sold and sold since. Honda took only around 30 years to sell 20 million. If anything, it’s getting more popular with age.
Because the thing is, Honda has barely changed it. At all.
As if to prove the fact, the manufacturer introduced the 2018 Super Cub 110 at the Tokyo Motor Show, showing it off alongside examples from earlier years. Take the special “100 Million” badging off, remove the digital instruments, and you’d be hard pressed to tell old from new.
Naturally there have been changes; notably a switch from overhead valve to overhead cam engines, along with the introduction of electronic fuel injection and a diversified range with different engine displacements now available in different markets.
But the Super Cub has been the backbone of small business in Asia, as well as a rugged load-lugger in developing markets and also capable of popping in and out of fashion as a city commuter with a difference in Europe. With a one-size-fits-all engineering blueprint, the Super Cub works anywhere.
Sadly, these days you can no longer get the Super Cub brand new in New Zealand; the local distributor preferring the Vespa-ish Giorno instead.
Honda’s mainstay hasn’t been popular in many Western markets for decades, although a resurgence in interest thanks to that heavy-duty unit shifting might mean we will see a few appear on auction sites for sale.
After all, 100 million riders can’t be wrong.
Are two-tone paint jobs making a comeback in cars?
Though BMW-era Mini has continued the, frankly 1950s-ish, tradition of contrasting roof and body colours through the past decade and a bit, you’d be hard-pressed to name three or four other manufacturers that have indulged in a bit of mix-and-match down in the paint bay.
Well, until now, anyway.
The Bugatti Chiron hypercar arrived with a distinctly two-tone look to the bodywork between front and rear, severed by that dramatic arc that frames the cockpit. It wasn’t the first, however, and the Chiron may just be the most glamorous of a growing trend.
With carmakers wanting to appear to offer buyers pretty much any hue they desire (within reason), we are seeing more and more two-tone offerings.
For example, Citroen can barely contain itself when it comes to mixing up the colour options, while fellow Frenchie, Renault, is keen on contrasting body colours with black roofs.
Designers also love to play with colours in order to break up masses of metal into different shapes and forms, using colour to make a car more aggressive (the lurid greens of Mercedes-AMG finery from the A 45 to the GT R, for example), or making a rotund SUV look sleeker, such as is the case with the current most-overused device in car design; the “floating” contrast-coloured roof.