Thursday, March 26, 2015

1959-1961 Vauxhall Victor Series 2

"The serene lines of the Series 2 Victor as it stands at rest make an instant appeal to the eye. There's a rightness about Victor design that is unmistakable. But it is only when you take the wheel that you appreciate the all-round efficiency that this long, low, functional form confers. The Victor's smooth stability at speed; the confident way it sits the road; its straightline reaction to braking: these qualities are designed right into the Victor; they make it a happy car do drive — a car in which you can relax and really enjoy your driving."

The Vauxhall Victor was originally designed to win over European customers with glamorous American styling, and was later sent to the States to give GM's Pontiac dealers an "European car" to sell during the compact car boom of the late 1950s. 

But the British motor press condemned the Victor exactly for its American styling, while the Americans, certainly not used to "quality" cars, were underwhelmed by the Victor's build quality, and overall didn't really know what to do with a small car that did look no different and was almost as expensive as Detroit's mainstream products. Obviously, the Vauxhall Victor had a character too vague to be appreciated on either side of the Big Pond. Fortunately, British customers weren't that picky, and because the Victor offered a lot of car for a good price, it sold quite well in its home market.

Vauxhall certainly had noticed the Victor's personality problem, and after barely two years, the facelifted Victor Series 2, shown here, was introduced to correct some of the design flaws of its predecessor. The "Dagmar" bumper cones disappeared, while straighter rear doors sans Buick-inspired crease and a flatter bonnet made the car look less baroque and much more angular, bringing it well in tune with the general contemporary styling trends. Under the skin, however, everything remained the same, which made the Victor a pretty sluggish drive for the time's standards. But now the car was out of its teething troubles, and offered a sound and reliable construction.

Vauxhall's venture into the New World should be a short one: by 1962, when the new Victor was presented, GM had its own compact cars ready to sell in the U.S. and there was no more need for the imports from across the Atlantic.

1 Kommentare:

A clearer view said...

The genesis of the Victor is a sad story of GM's mismanagement of its UK subsidiary. The OTT styling and rust-prone bodywork, both the result of head-office intervention, did long-term damage to the Vauxhall brand, from which it never really recovered. The parallel Opel Rekord, better built and with much more restrained styling, fared much better in the market place. There are more Rekords and Victors still driving around Cuba.