The Vauxhall reputation

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Sir,

As an expatriate Briton, I find it disturbing to note the apparently inexorable decline in standards of British automobile exports to the North American market. The reputation of these exports cannot depend solely on the good names of Jaguar, MG-B, Triumph etc., but must also be related to the quality and performance of “bread and butter” vehicles for which there is a vastly greater potential market. This is sad since, with impending fuel shortages and restrictions, the small car market is likely to increase within the next couple of years. With this in mind, I would like to tell you of the Firenza.

Most Firenzas, it appears, are “lemons” (heaps of junk) and General Motors has agreed with this owner-assessment, to the extent that they have offered each of the unfortunate Canadian owners $250 credit against a trade-in on a new car! As you can imagine, no car-dealer (GM or otherwise) wants anything to do with these vehicles, so the luckless owners either put up with unsatisfactory (even dangerous) performance, or unload their cars for a paltry fraction of their original outlay ($2,500-3,000). The whole story has been dragged out in the press, on radio and television during the past few months (I enclose a recent clipping from a Toronto daily paper, The Globe and Mail).

Remembering that you had written an article on the Firenza a couple of years ago, I delved into my stack of back-numbers of Motor Sport to re-read it (July 1971, page 721). Surprisingly, you said “It is one of those cars which is reassuring to handle from the first mile of taking it over . . .” and later “On the whole, Luton seems to have rushed out this new model . . . rather too hurriedly”. Perhaps six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, and one cannot be expected to discover the true nature of a car on such brief acquaintance. To the large number of vociferous Canadian owners, who have grouped together to lobby for government action, the car is certainly not “reassuring”. Reports of brake failure, wheel loss and ignition failure abound. How many Canadians will consider the purchase of a Vauxhall after this fiasco? Or will General Motors, in its embarrassment, stop the sales of the marque in Canada? What effect will this have on the reputation of other makes of British cars? The Japanese, no doubt, have the answer!

Oh 30/98! Oh Pomeroy! What have these vandals done to the name of Vauxhall?

D.T. Cropp – Kingston, Ontario.

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