Ford: American revolution, Irish roots

Workers on the first moving assembly line at Highland Park, Michigan in 1913.

The Ford Motor Company may be a stalwart of Detroit, but its roots are very much anchored in Ireland. Though founder Henry Ford was born in Michigan in 1863, his father William Ford (with his siblings and parents) had emigrated from Ballinascarthy, Co Cork to the US in 1847 to escape the Great Irish Famine.

Ford’s interest in mechanics was sparked on the family farm in Greenfield Township, Michigan; though he initially concentrated on making work easier for farmers, he quickly realised the potential of the motor car. His mother died when he was 13 and three years later, with no interest in taking over the farm, Ford left to find work in Detroit, becoming an apprentice machinist.

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The comedy in learning to drive

Learning to drive with a parent can be a stressful process, filled with frustration, anxiety and repeated exhortations to slow down (despite going well below the speed limit).

Comedy trio Foil Arms & Hog have captured that spirit perfectly in their latest video, with gems such as “You don’t need fifth gear – that’s for racecar drivers”, and “You’re rushing now, there’s no need to rush.”

Humour for some, bad memories for others!

Swedish delight

S90

When I was about five years old, my parents purchased a grey 1991 Volvo 340, a 1.4L compact five-door hatch that was renowned more for its safety than its performance. I remember it because it was one of the first cars to follow our luminous green Ford Fiesta, and because it had wipers on the headlamps. Five-year-old me was quite tickled by this – clearly some sort of mistake had been made at the factory. That marked the last time I was in a Volvo until quite recently, when I sat behind the wheel of the new S90.

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Bentley plays hide-and-seek in Dubai

Bentley Dubai

The launch of a new Bentley generally involves a bit of fanfare – after all it’s not a brand for the average motorist. So, unveiling the new Bentley Flying Spur W12 S via a gigapixel image of Dubai would certainly do the trick.

Gigapixel images are incredibly detailed photos composed of around one billion pixels, used in industries like astronomy, geology and military intelligence. It’s not the first time Bentley has gone for a bit of digital wizardry to create a stir – last year it used the NASA-derived tech to great effect while launching the Bentley Mulsanne on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

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Ford tackles fear of the dark

Ford night driving

A fear of the dark is a human phobia going back thousands of years, if experts can be believed, originating with our cave-dwelling ancestors who feared animal attacks after the sun set.

Not much has changed today – many people (of all ages) still feel that primeval fear when darkness falls, even if it usually concerns other people rather than sabre-toothed tigers. For some, that fear solidifies when they get behind the wheel, worrying about night blindness, hitting pedestrians or getting into an accident.

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SsangYong’s micro motorhome

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I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve always been fascinated by micro motorhomes – living and sleeping quarters tucked away in smaller vehicles like the Transit Connect or the Fiat Doblo. Perhaps it’s the ability to go where ordinary motorhomes can’t, or that you can simply park up virtually anywhere you like and jump into bed.

One of the most recent additions to this category is the SsangYong Turismo Tourist, an award winner at the 2017 Caravan and Motorhome Club Motorhome Design Awards. Based on the standard Turismo MPV, which isn’t on sale in Ireland at the moment, the conversion was undertaken by Wellhouse Leisure, resulting in a camper just over five metres long with a three metre wheelbase.

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Concept to tarmac: the Jaguar I-PACE

Jaguar I-PACE

One of the biggest problems with electric vehicles (EVs), I feel, is cosmetic, leaving aside range anxiety or the hassle of finding a free charging spot. Tesla’s Model S might be a gorgeous looking car, but you couldn’t say the same of the more popular and more affordable Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe or the Kia Soul EV. Though beauty may indeed lie in the eyes of the beholder, perhaps good looks simply come at a premium in this segment – the Model S starts at €81,086, the BMW i8 at €142,360, far outside the budgets of many motorists who buy with their eyes as much as their head.

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