Friday, 12 September 2008

Badge Engineering

Stumbled over this morning, a brochure for Vauxhall Cars celebrating their 1903-1953 Jubilee. The cover sports the six cylinder Velox, seen here with five airbrushed passengers deliberately dwarfed to make the car look bigger, presumably to impress the American market, and of course owners General Motors. But perhaps of equal interest are the origins of the name Vauxhall and their recently re-vamped Griffin badge. It all started with a thirteenth century mercenary soldier called Faulk Le Breant, who inherited land on the south of the Thames in London where he built a house- Faulk's Hall. This evolved over the years via Fawke's Hall and Fox Hall to Vauxhall, the name given to the renowned Pleasure Gardens built on the site of the house. Le Breant's armorial badge used the eagle-headed griffin, which was placed over the gate when the Gardens opened in 1661. In the nineteenth century the badge was appropriated by local manufacturers Vauxhall Ironworks, who retained it when they starting making cars in 1903 and on their subsequent relocation to Luton. The griffin is also used by Saab, and other mythical beasts goaded into service on motor cars must include Alfa Romeo's serpent, Talbot's hunting dog and the Gilbern's Welsh dragon. (That's enough old car badges-Ed.)

7 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

My farming uncle had one of these. He used to use it to nip along the lanes of Lincolnshire and look at what he referred to as his 'beasts'. It seemed quite big at the time, but I was quite small then, and didn't know how big real American cars were.

Peter Ashley said...

All cars of this period look much smaller to us now. To see a bloke in an MGA is like looking at Noddy driving along. Anyway, wasn't this Vauxhall, or one of its stablemates, the car that Michael Caine drove in 'Alfie'? He had Millicent Martin in it I recall, and it was green with a matching exterior sun visor.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Think you're right about 'Alfie'.

Car badge animals: Gordon Keebles used a tortoise badge and, as I'm sure you're well aware, the Alfa symbol is also the Milanese civic crest. First time I went to Milan it took me a while to work out why every other building seemed to be an Alfa dealer, even when they were a library.

Fantastic stuff about Vauxhall. The reason old cars look smaller is because modern cars are so bloated. Put a Morris Mini 1000, c. 1964, next to a 2008 MINI and the original is dwarfed by its modern namesake. Harumph.

A F-A said...

When one thinks of a family of four trotting off to Perranporth in an A30, with luggage, buckets and spades, one realises that, not only have the cars got bigger, so have the occupants!!!

Twiggy fitted a Mini. Sophie Dahl needs (ahem) a Range Rover....

Alice Scradcza said...

Horrible old things. Crude chassis stuck together with Hobart or Miller handheld spot welders with 'lovely' oxidation at the weld-boundaries. Maybe a bit of TIG at the crucial stress points. Give me a nice Fanuc robotic-welded stressed cage anyday.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Alice, I beg you: enough.

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