Above: The first-generation Mitsubishi Minica, though this isn’t the 1962 model. Now on Autocadeâ€”though hardly an iconic model.
Itâ€™s the end of the Gregorian year, which means I get a bit of time to update Autocade. Since 2008, itâ€™s mostly been a labour of love, and typically, the period after Christmas is when I get a bit of down time to put on models that should have been done during the year.
But because itâ€™s a hobby siteâ€”albeit one that has turned into a oft-referenced online guideâ€”itâ€™s not done with any real discipline. That I leave to othersâ€”and youâ€™re all more captured by the flashy photography of magazine sites anyway. Autocade was started as a quick reference, and unless we really decide to branch out into a magazine format, itâ€™ll remain that.
To give you an idea of the anorak nature of the website, over the break, all of Mitsubishiâ€™s kei cars were added to the site. Some had already been there, such as the eK and certain Minicas, but I decided the rest should go up.
Why these? You may ask, yet I donâ€™t really have an answer. Often itâ€™s over to oneâ€™s mood. Sometimes itâ€™s to offer something online that others donâ€™t, or at least not comprehensively. And when you realize you have 80 or 90 per cent of the models added, you think: I only need a few more, why not succumb to OCD and do the lot?
Therefore, now, Autocade has all the Minicas, Pajero Minis, Ios and Jrs, Toppos and eKs that the once-mighty manufacturer made before it fell out of favour with its repeated scandals. Iâ€™m not a fan of any of them, but thatâ€™s not relevant: itâ€™s about objectively providing the public with information, and my own like or dislike of a model has nothing to do with it.
Itâ€™s not even a commercial decision. If it was, Autocade would have filled up the gaps in the US automotive industry a lot sooner. And there are still plenty of them. Americans make up a huge chunk of the browsing public, although for me it takes a while to make sure the engine capacities [for post-1980 US models] are recorded in metricâ€”not something you can readily come by in US books (yes, Autocade is still dependent in some part to the printed word, not the transmitted electron).
The other area where weâ€™re missing cars is in the flash stuff: Mercedes-Benzes, Maseratis, Ferraris. Now these I actually like. But they can also prove difficult: the convention of the site is that the names of the cars are entered first, and Mercs can be time-consuming by the time you figure out what numbers go after A, C, E and S all around the world. The exotica are fun but thereâ€™s often no logic to the product cycles or market nichesâ€”which does, of course, make them more interesting, but from an encyclopÃ¦dic point-of-view, more difficult to compartmentalize and recall. For those who have visited the site, there are links to each modelâ€™s predecessor and successor (where applicable), and that makes for particularly entertaining surfing.
One model takes, on average, 15 to 20 minutes to do, and thatâ€™s when I already know about it. Thereâ€™s some time involved in getting a press photo, writing it up, checking the specs (again using printed matter). When you research in certain languages, it takes even longer (South African online resources are scarce, for instance, and anything Chinese before 2008 or so is also hard to track down). The Mitsubishi kei cars, beginning with the 1962 Minica, represent hours of work, and when you multiply 15â€“20 minutes by 3,440, thatâ€™s a lot of hours since the site started. Occasionally Iâ€™m helped along by readers who suggest models, and two UK friends, Keith Adams and Pete Jobes, have made changes and additions along the way that have really benefited the site.
Iâ€™m glad that Autocade is heading toward 10 million views, a milestone which it will reach in the next couple of months, and the increase in viewership is thanks to all of you finding it a useful enough resource. If you want something less exotic and more mundane (after all, some of us can only have so much of supercars and luxury cars), itâ€™s the place to pop over to at autocade.net, hit â€˜Random pageâ€™ at the top, and see what comes up.
Tonight, I had the sad and solemn duty to announce publicly the passing of my friend Thomas Gad.
Iâ€™m still waiting for someone to come out and tell me that I have been severely pranked.
Thomas was the founder of what we now call Medinge Group. After working for 17 years at Grey Advertising as an international creative director, Thomas set up Brandflight, a leading branding consultancy HQed in Stockholm. He authored 4-D Branding, Managing Brand Me (with his wife, Annette Rosencreutz), and, most recently, Customer Experience Branding.
In 2000, Thomas seized on an idea: why not gather a bunch of leading brand practitioners at Annetteâ€™s familyâ€™s villa at Medinge, three hours west of Stockholm, for a bit of R&R, where they could all discuss ideas around the profession?
Nicholas Ind was one of the people at that first meeting. In a statement tonight, Nick wrote, â€˜I first met Thomas when I was working in Stockholm in 2000â€”he invited me to join him at Medinge in the Swedish countryside to talk about branding. So began a professional and personal relationship that was truly fulfilling. Thomas, and his wife Annette, hosted the annual meetings we had at his house every summer after that with unrivalled generosity. My strongest recollection of those days is not the debates we had or flying with Thomas in his sea plane (even though those are also memorable), but Thomas and Annette sitting at the dinner table in the evenings singing songs, telling jokes and bringing everyone together. Thomas was exceptional in the way he made everyone feel welcome and valued in the groupâ€”he will be deeply missed.â€™
I came on the scene in 2002, invited by Chris Macrae. The event had become international the year before. Thomas and Annette made me feel incredibly at home at Medinge, and we had an incredibly productive meeting. He had taught me to sing ‘Helan gÃ¥r’, for no Swedish gathering is complete without a drinking song.
At the same meeting, I met Ian Ryder, who wrote, â€˜As a founding member, and now Honorary Life Member, of Medinge Group I couldn’t possibly let such a sad announcement pass without observation. Thomas was a really bright, intellectually and socially, human being who I first met at the inaugural pre-Medinge group meeting in Amsterdam sixteen years ago. Little did we know then that our band of open-minded, globally experienced brand experts would develop into a superb think-tank based out of Thomas’s home in Medinge, Sweden.
â€˜For many years he and his lovely wife, Annette, hosted with a big heart, the annual gathering at which he played fabulous host to those of us who made it there. A larger-than-life, clever and successful professional, Thomas will be sorely missed by all those lucky enough to have known him.’
By the end of the summer 2002 meeting we had some principles around branding, the idea for a book (which became Beyond Branding), and a desire to formalize ourselves into an organization. The meeting at Medinge would soon become the Medinge Group (the definite article was part of our original name), and we had come to represent brands with a conscience: the idea that brands could do good, and that business could be humane and humanistic. This came about in an environment of real change: Enron, which had been given awards for supposedly doing good, had been exposed as fraudulent; there was a generation of media-savvy young people who could see through the BS and were voting and buying based on causes they supported; and inequality was on the rise, something that the late Economist editor, Norman Macrae (Chrisâ€™s Dad) even then called humankindâ€™s most pressing concern. If everything is a product of its time, then that was true of us; and the issues that we care about the most are still with us, and changes to the way we do business are needed more now than ever.
This is Thomasâ€™s legacy: Medinge Group is an incorporated company with far more members worldwide, holding two meetings per annum: the annual summer retreat in Sweden, and a public event every spring, with the next in Sevilla. The public events, and the Brands with a Conscience awards held in the 2000s, came about during Stanley Mossâ€™s time as CEO. Stanley wrote this morning, â€˜Thomas brought his vision and resources to the foundation of Medinge, and served as a critical voice in the international movement for humanistic brands.â€™ We continue today to spread that vision.
We have now been robbed far too early of two of our talents: Colin Morley, in the 7-7 bombings in London in 2005; and, now, Thomas, taken by cancer at age 65. My thoughts go to Annette and to the entire family.
Instagram, on announcing their cancellation, said that not many people used its maps, which is a shameâ€”looks like I was one of the few who did. For those seeking an alternative, the Data Pack has a map that you can use here. It’s not bad, though being on another site, it’s less handy to get to. Here’s mine, and for those who are wondering why the US and Canada aren’t that populated with photos, they’re simply countries I haven’t gone to regularly since I joined Instagram in November 2012.
As of today, Iâ€™ve sent off my evidence to the US Better Business Bureau so they can continue their investigation of Facebook. The DAA was too gutless to investigate but the BBB, by contrast, gives a damn.
Let me note here that I have nothing against Facebook making a buck. I just ask that it do so honestly, that it does what it says.
Facebook claims that you can opt out of targeted advertising, and that you can edit your preferences for that targeting, the same was what Google did in 2011. It was revealed then that Google lied, and the Network Advertising Initiative was able to follow up my findings and assured me it would work with them to sort their procedures out.
If you opt out of targeting, Facebook continues to gather information on you. The BBB noted to me in April that if I could show that Facebook was targeting based on personal information I did not provide (e.g. if you fed in a fake location as your home in Facebook and it serves you ads based on your real location), then it could be a violation of their principles. This is pretty easy to prove: just go to any ad in your feed, click on the arrow in the right-hand corner, and click â€˜Why was I shown this ad?â€™ In most cases, your actual location will have something to do with it.
Secondly, there is a potential link between the preferences Facebook has stored on youâ€”the ones they say they would not useâ€”and the ads you are shown. Facebook claims you can edit those preferences but as I showed last week, this is not true. Facebook will, in fact, repopulate all deleted preferences (and even add to them), but thanks to the company itself providing me with the smoking gun, I was able to connect those shown preferences with ads displayed between March and December 2016. It casts doubt on whether Facebook is actually targeting me based on freely given information, especially since, for example, I am being served ads for Oh Baby! when I donâ€™t have kids. (Oh Baby!, meanwhile, is one of the preferences in its settings.)
My Google investigation took three months; this took between eight and nine.
Weâ€™ll see if the BBB will take quite as longâ€”they might, because they say they tend to be inundated with complaints about Facebook, but find that most cases do not violate their principles. But Iâ€™ve shown them not only examples along the lines of what they suggested, but a few that go even further.
Above: The Holden Commodore SS-V, facing its last year of manufacture.
The current wisdom appears to be that when the Holden Commodore VF leaves production in 2017, itâ€™ll be replaced by the liftback version of the Opel Insignia B. After all, the only big sedan Ford Australiaâ€™s offering in place of the now-defunct Falcon is the liftback version of the Mondeo, a car thatâ€™s wider, taller, and with a longer wheelbase than the supposedly larger Falcon. I think the crystal ball-gazers are wrong.
I could say that the Australian and New Zealand big car buyer is very traditional and would balk at the idea of the big Holden being a hatch. But thatâ€™s not the only reason. Thereâ€™s a bigger one: China.
Above: GM currently makes the Opel Insignia A-based Buick Regal in China, after initially beginning with German production.