Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
Vauxhall’s executive challenger to the Ford Granada is, by comparison, a barely remembered model. Launched in the autumn of 1978, as Vauxhall’s design independence was being wound down, it’s usually assumed to be nothing more than a re-badged Opel Rekord imported from Germany.
1 AS A JAG RIVAL IT WAS A NON-STARTER
Vauxhall boss Bob Price had originally intended to produce a range-topping car that would tempt Jaguar drivers, with schemes that ranged from a righthand drive Cadillac Seville to a limousine based on the ageing FE Victor and designed by Panther. Costs soon put paid to such grand schemes from Luton.
2 SIMPLY A REBADGED OPEL REKORD
Bob Price was still allowed, however, to take the Opel Rekord and give it quite a lot of uniquely British Vauxhall character. The design department, headed by Wayne Cherry, gave the car a ‘droop-snoot’ nose, a distinctive rear end and also created a unique dashboard while re-using Opel instruments. There was one engine choice (a 2.0-litre), one trim level, and saloon or estate bodywork only.
3 STRAIGHT IMPORT FROM IN GERMANY
The MkI certainly was a Britishbuilt car at first, coming off the line at Luton alongside the Cavalier. Yet from late 1979, cars also started to be sourced from Antwerp, Belgium. It was never a massive seller, partly because the heavy steering had no power option, the interior was drab, and the hotel-like name was odd. The final Carlton was built at Luton in July 1982, and henceforth all cars really were total Opel clones.
Shovel-nose style was penned in UK.