Great news! The Vauxhall Viva is back!
The Viva was one of Vauxhall’s two best selling model names of the 1960s, starting with the Viva HA series in 1963 and finishing with the demise of the third series, known as the HC in 1979.
All Vivas were conventionally engineered cars, with base models featuring four cylinder 1.0 to 1.2 engines, four speed gearboxes and three box styling. The HA was also available as van, but never a four door saloon, coupe or regular estate. It was more closely related to the Opel Kadett A than was originally told, with a shared floor pan and drivetrain. Vauxhall had ambitions for independent rear suspension and even a transverse engine, but GM, through Opel, blocked those ideas. It came to north America as the Epic, through not in huge numbers. The Kadett might have become a serious Beetle challenger in Germany, but the Viva didn’t manage that in Canada, and it wasn’t sold in the US.
The Viva was the first car to be produced at the new Ellesmere Port factory in north west England, which is now GM’s lead factory for the Vauxhall/Opel Astra.
The Viva was a success for Vauxhall, and the following HB model diverged from the Opel Kadett B, with Vauxhall unique running gear and styling. It was now larger – the wheel base grew from 92in to 96in and the engine range included 1600cc slant-4 from the Victor. Four door saloons and an estate were now offered and the car formed the basis for the first Holden Torana. American sales were again under the Epic branding.
Finally, in 1070, came the Viva HC, sold in north America as the Firenza, although in the UK only the Coupes wore this badge. By now, the car has grown again to a wheelbase of 97in, and was trapped into a no-man’s land between the Ford Escort and Ford Cortina, in a similar way to the larger Victor was between the Cortina and the Granada. Engines were now 1300cc, 1800cc or 2300cc, the style unashamedly aped north American trends and the corrosion resistance as bad as ever.
In 1979, the Viva name died; its place was taken by the Chevette and a 1300cc version of the newer Cavalier.
And now, after 35 years, the Viva name is coming back, on an entry level hatchback, essentially a re-skinned version of the Chevy Spark, already sold in the US for some time. This is a typical compact five door hatch, with a 1.0 litre three cylinder engine, built in Korea by Daewoo, and lining up against the VW Up!, Ford Ka and Renault Twingo. It will be called the Opel Karl on the continent.
So, the Vauxhall Viva is back ; what other possibly underrated, maybe even tarnished, nameplate do you want to follow it back onto the market?
The Dictator. OK, Studebaker is long gone. Maybe somebody else could pick up the name.
Idea (for free?): Could create a kind of Chevrolet’s “Pontiac Edition”… 🙂 Like with the concept of Alpheon supported by Buick. Ummm…if Vauxhall brought back the Viva, then it might be a matter of time that Opel should ressurect the Kadett!?
Studebaker also gave us the Scotsman, which wouldn’t fly today either. I can’t think of any other nameplates as obsolete as those two (except maybe the La Femme).
There was also the MG Midget.
Adventurer. And Galaxie.
Am I the only one offended by decades of Ford’s misspelling of ‘galaxy’? Probably.
I assume it was due to some U.S.-market trademark conflict. Ford has had a European minivan called Galaxy (spelled correctly) since at least the late ’90s.
I’m more offended by Chevy’s current spelling of Cruze, at least Galaxie made the spelling more complicated than necessary, rather than dumbing it down to pronunciation level.
“Riviera” is the best candidate in the USA right now…Buick needs a neat “halo” car to stand apart from their current lookalike sedans.
I figured they should’ve given Buick a variant of the Volt instead of Cadillac, and called it Electra. Buick has had some really good model names. Invicta, Roadmaster, LeSabre, Centurion, WIldcat….
Yeah, not using the Electra name like that seems like a terrible missed opportunity.
Buick has a lot of great names in its back catalogue. “Wildcat” is another strong candidate. Too bad the Roadmaster name got debased by the Broughamified narrow-track Caprice that carried that name.
I owned some Vivas a HA sedan and HB wagon also 4 & 6 cylinder Holden Toranas which did little to hide their Vauxhall origins if youve experienced both, despite the GMH propaganda, We dont have this car as a Vauxhall its badged Holden for our market, previously Holden used the Viva badge on a Korean crap cart it failed in the market place and was the replacement for the Holden Barina formerly Vauxhall Corsa a great little car buyers were disgusted with the Daewoo junkheap and stayed away.
I always associate HA Vivas with Mrs Grey one of my favourite teachers,a lovely Scottish lady who taught me History,Geography,Religious Education and sometimes Art.Her Viva was a rather drab shade of battleship grey of course
Continental, Town Car, LeBaron, New Yorker.
+1 for Interceptor
Let’s hope it’s on a car worthy of the name
Something snappy like A55 Mk.II – nah, just kidding.
Oh hell, just bring back Allegro. And Marina, while you’re at it.
You could be onto something there Syke – given the rather enormous size of some variants of the current Mini, perhaps BMW should bring back the Maxi badge… :-p
Legend has it BMW suggested that for what is now the Countryman and their British colleagues looked awkwardly at their feet for several minutes….
Too much baggage with that name.
Gerardo beat me to the New Yorker, so I will say Talisman. The Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman name wasn’t around for very long. I think Talisman is a cool sounding name and has a good actual meaning, which is basically “good luck charm”. If Cadillac returns to proper names on their cars, their “flagship” model should be the Talisman.
This is off-topic, but I also like “Chrysler Citadel”. That was a concept car, but they later used the name on a trim level: Dodge Durango Citadel. A citadel is a fortress on high ground, protecting a city. It would make a good model name.
Great name for an import fighter – but with a name like that, it had better succeed!
Well, if Cadillac doesn’t know by now that they need to bring their A-game to compete agAinst the imports, they might as well just call it the Cimarron. 😉
Renault brought back the Talisman.
Oh were to start. GM had so many great names which would conjure up images that the alpha numeric will never do. Chrysler and Ford also had some too. Some of the named cars today are almost as bad as the alpha junk. I am looking at you LaCrosse and Fusion. Anyway I guess favorite missing nameplates from each of the big 3
GM: Electra and Bonneville
Ford: Thunderbird and Continental
Chrysler: Imperial and Valiant
Since Chrysler’s latest plan is to make Chrysler the mass-market brand while Dodge becomes a performance-car one, I could see the Valiant name replacing Dart at the facelift, with the five-door hatch (basically the Chinese Fiat Ottimo) coming along a year or so sooner as the Chrysler Duster.
I agree with Thunderbird and Continental for Ford. As for Chrysler, others nameplates to revive are Newport, Windsor, New Yorker and also a old AMC nameplate: Ambassador.
The original HA Viva is so cute in a homely sort of way; it looks like it needs a hug! I think Chevrolet should have changed the name of the classic Impala to Bel-Air or Biscayne to further differentiate it from the new one. Although Plymouth is long gone, I think the Fury name is worth recycling and I am surprised that Ford NA has never re-used the Galaxie name, I thought it would have been a better name for the Flex. Fairlane is another, though maybe too soft and friendly for today’s macho fire-breathing rides.
The concept Flex was named Fairlane, and as I recall the change to Flex for the production version was made fairly late.
Flex makes me think of a lack of body stiffness. Not a good name, IMHO.
How about reviving the actual use of names, rather than alphanumerics? Lincoln, Cadillac, Acura, I’m looking at you…
Or at least some alphanumerics that make sense. (Lincoln needs to learn this one and Infiniti needs to recognize that they were doing it better before.)
Okay for a sports car perhaps – PDQ anyone?
(someone had to say it!)
(aka Pontiac Astra)
I made a minor edit to my comment, and then the spam filter ate it. (Could you resurrect it Paul?) Basically, my answer was “Cadillac Talisman”.
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the rebadged Daewoo Lacetti that was sold as the Holden Viva in Australia and New Zealand from 2005-9:
Oh, is that what it was? I knew it was some breed of Daewoo, so I ignored it.
(speaking for several million Australians!) 🙂
Was also ignored as the Suzuki Forenza…
I’m sure this was sold as a Chevy in the UK and raced in Touring Cars
Yes, you’re correct Gem – it was also the Top Gear ‘Reasonably Priced Car’ for a season or two – they eventually crushed it under a chimney.
Rockne? What would be it’s modern simile; Ditka?? Even THAT’s too old…
Lombardi. No matter how old, it still gets recognition.
Wasn’t there a Etcerrini special in the sixties called the Lombardi? A good name either way.
DAF (or Volvo) 66 1300 Marathon Coupé.
Dikke DAF. (informal old nameplate)
MAN Diesel Ponton-Kurzhauber.
Opel Kapitän ~ Admiral ~ Diplomat.
Eicher Leopard ~ Panther ~ Tiger ~ Königstiger ~ Mammut ~ Wotan.
Ford Capri ~ Transcontinental.
Scania Vabis, with a nice chrome classic “super” nameplate.
You need to tell us more about Eicher!
The world’s first air cooled Dieselschlepper, in 1948.
Here’s a link to a nice collection of brochures and photos: http://www.watzeels.nl/inhoud.html
Part of my family is from near the area where the Eicher tractors are built. I’d forgotten all about them, until this post…
I find the naming structure of the Eicher machines interesting, but at least I could see a connection (if any) to Axis armor. However, that still doesn’t come close to explaining Apple Computer’s fairly recent naming of their operating systems that lined up with Axis armor.
Or maybe it’s all in my head…
German words for big cats…that’s what they are. I don’t know anybody here who screams “Beware ! Nazi Terror !” when he sees an Eicher Tiger at a classic tractor show.
On the other hand, “MAN Diesel Ponton-Kurzhauber” also sounds like Army Machinery From Hell. Yet it’s just a hard-working and honest conventional truck with a short nose.
Some names shouldn’t come back – either because the original cars weren’t especially wonderful (I’d throw the Viva in here) or because the originals were so good that anything else would be a pale imitator (eg the Countach).
Me, I’d like to see some of the traditional Japanese model names resurrected – Cressida, Sigma, Galant (it is dead isn’t it?), Laurel (Seeing as I own one I’ll admit my bias!), Bluebird, Silvia, Prelude… I guess the challenge is making sure the new iterations are worthy of the forefathers – the curretn Mitsi Mirage being an example of something that isn’t…
The list I like is long, so I’ll throw out some predictions:
I think Electra, Invicta, Wildcat and Riviera are never too far from making a comeback at Buick, various concepts have used some of these names.
If Lincoln can get unstuck from its letter names, Continental always seems close. If the updated 2015 Navigator is even remotely successful, this may help the return of named cars. One encouraging sign is that Ford is actually promoting the Expedition and Navigator for the first time in roughly eight years. Considering the paltry competition in Lincoln showrooms for sales leadership, if the Navigator became the best selling Lincoln, the alphabet soup cars will look that much sillier.
I’m going to say Aztek – or Calais. Both good names on unfortunate cars.
The Calais never left Australia or NZ! I’m a Ford man, but the Calais has always been a good car. Here’s the current one:
I would agree on Calais, but not Aztek. Not only was the Aztek remembered for its unfortunate styling, but what is an Aztek? All I know is that it’s an intentional misspelling of “Aztec”, which was somehow supposed to appeal to outdoorsy Gen-X buyers.
But DeSoto is a defunct brand, like Pontiac, Plymouth and Packard, not a particular model name.
Bring back the Riley Elf! One of my favorite English car names. I understand BMW owns the rights.
I recently read that no other than Neil Young leaked Lincoln is bringing back the Continental for 2016! Hope it really happens. Alphanumerics went way too far.
Does this mean the Spark’s losing its’ “hidden” rear door handles in exchange for more glass area over the driver’s shoulder? That IS great news!
Also; why “Karl” not Kadett? I get “Adam” after the company founder but weren’t people names considered more of a Borgward group thing in Germany? (Isabella, Lloyd, Alexander, Arabella…)
Karl was the son of Adam Opel
Got it, thanks. But I can see why Vauxhall, despite having gone along with Adam, opted for their first different name in almost 25 years with this; the German automotive press seems to be commenting about what an odd name Karl is for a car.
Just so long as they don’t name one Adolf.
Yes, Karl is a strange name for a car. Thank goodness no one ever named a car Cedric or Gloria! :-p
It is a good thing Karl Benz used his last name; it does possess a bit more authority.
Oh I dunno, Gottlieb-Karl had a certain ring about it! And it could have been Gottlieb-Walter for a while more recently too!
The other one I’d love to see come back, but it’s way too Thirties to make sense today:
Terraplane is very cool, I agree. Then there were the good Stude names: Champion, Commander & President. They would never make it in today’s world either.
But Hawk could make it today, as could Hornet.
Chevrolet had some names in the 30s that fit the same description you have…
Confederate and Independence
Oddly, I can only see one of those able to be used successfully in current times.
Super Snipe. Thank you Humber!
+1, that was the first thing I thought of.
Although I can’t imagine what a modern Humber Super Snipe would look like..
Make it big heavy based on a truck, the Super Snipe and Commer Superpoise trucks shared engines
I also thaught to revive Torino, here we might remenisence of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino or Starsky & Hutch’s “red tomato” but also as a nod to a legend car in Argentina for a former Renault model who originated from a Rambler American.
Talking of the South American market, let’s revive also Opala who was a Chevy model sold in Brazil from 1968 to 1992.
Ford Galaxie – on a car, not a Galaxy minivan!
Chrysler Newport or Saratoga (there was the Saratoga exported to Europe and built on a Dodge Spirit chassis)
Dodge St. Regis, Polara, or Monaco
Chrysler really liked those New England and East Coast names. With the population moving west, those old eastern names may not resonate with as many today.
I suspicion you have hit upon their rationale.
Thinking about it, Chrysler does have some more western names. Dakota or Aspen, anyone? Or even Phoenix.
Honda deserves a lot of credit – they picked some names and stuck with them so people know what they are. It makes me wonder how the landscape might look had other manufacturers done likewise.
+1. Other than F150, Mustang and Corvette, are there American model names that have been used as continuously and consistently, as Accord and Civic?
The Panther model names were remarkably stable until they killed them off.
Crown Victoria, 1980 to 2011. (technically a trim level of the LTD before 1992, but the most common one…)
Town Car, 1970 to 2012. (Again, trim level of the Continental at first, but its own model after ’79.)
Grand Marquis, 1975 to 2011 (there had been a Marquis since ’67, Grand became the top trim in ’75 and the full model name in ’83.)
Other than that there is only the Suburban. It’s been around continuously since the late 60’s so I think it wins…
Oldest model name, other than Mustang and Corvette, in use on an American car is Chevrolet Impala (first appearance in 1958). It was, however, dormant from 1986 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 1999. Oldest continuous model name is Chevrolet Malibu, 1997 to present (after a previous run from 1964 to 1983.)
Does ‘cougar’ now have a bad connotation? “More than a nameplate…a demographic!”
Slightly off topic, but the front clip on the Viva is a vast improvement over the Spark/Matiz, with their gruesome headlights.
Every single name Ford and GM had in the 50s and 60s. Call the Focus a Falcon, call the Taurus a Galaxie, call the Fusion a Fairlane, make Lincolns Continentals, call the Cruze a Corvair, call the Malibu a Chevelle(yes I know Malibu is 60s name but I’m sick of it), call the SS a Bel Air, bring back Buick names like Wildcat, Invicta and Roadmaster, Ditch the acronym soup Cadillac names and just call them Devilles and/or series 61 & 62s again.
Chrysler has the right idea. Names like Dart, Charger and Challenger currently being applied to cars make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
XR7Matt nails it. American car companiess are blessed with evocative old model names. Back when the Ford Focus came out, I remember thinking “Why not call it Falcon?”
Falcon is still in use,just. Wait a couple a years.
@XR7Matt – I like the way you’re thinking… but maybe the Volt should be the Corvair. Then maybe the Cruze becomes Chevy II (or Chevy III?)
For me, it’s easy:
Alfa Romeo Promiscua
I had to Google that to confirm you weren’t winding us up!
Only discovered it recently. AR1750 gives a good explanation in the comments:
Seville and DeVille- but only on cars that are top notch!
I like the restyled Viva/Spark, I think it’s rather handsome.
That said, Viva here in the States doesn’t have much traction, as I think only a brand of paper towels used that trademark.
On one hand I have to agree with a lot of folks, there are some very evocative model names available, but with any business it’s all about the future.
My kids (millenials) really have no interest in something named Cutlass, Scirocco or Torino because those were cars in *MY* time. Those are *dad’s cars*. Their cars really are, Spark, Cruze, Focus, etc…
Someday, to my kids and younger, Camry, Fusion, Accord, etc., will all be *old* people’s cars, like Galaxie, Bel-Air, Lark, Corsair are to me (late baby boomer).
I’d like to see some of these old names come back, but I can understand why companies are somewhat reluctant to use them. But I really do agree with the folks who deride the bad rip-offs of the German nomenclature for car model names: XTS, RLX, G37, RDX… These all remind me of the old verification sequences for installing software from years ago. Just random letters that have no meaning to anyone else other than the guy who came up with the algorithm…
Fuego ! Great name !
The Chevy Spark is already marketed in the UK, so why a Vauxhall clone? Surely it’s not because of a very different demographic.
How would Chevy’s old populist jingle go in Britain? “Cricket, bangers, kidney pie & Chevrolet!”
GM is pulling the Chevrolet brand out of Europe in 2015
From continental Europe, I concur, but does that apply to the UK as well? I understand some folks don’t think Britain is part of Europe. Odd considering that no one thinks Japan isn’t part of Asia.
Chevy is leaving the UK as well
If the Viva is back, will the VX 4/90 follow?
Other possible revivals, Chevelle (for RWD performance sedans), Glas for alternative BMWs, Ford Corsair, and I really want another Humber Super Snipe.
+1 for Super Snipe and Capri. Also: Pathfinder, Lynx, Double-Six, Alpine/Tiger, Sprite, Zephyr, Zodiac, Dolomite, Popular, Ruby, Vitesse, Super-Minx.
Unlikely to be coming back any time soon: Prefect, Consul, Velox, Princess, Mayflower, Vogue…
Doube-Six – simply the best!
Chevelle would have been a good name for the current RWD [Holden] SS.
Other names that will stay dead: Chevette, Vega, Pacer, Gremlin, Pinto, Echo, Excel, Sunbird, Sunfire, Acheiva.
Would a modern, electric version of the Excel be known as the Powerpoint?
Let’s see , I’d have no problem with a new Ford named Falcon , or a Chevy Chevelle. So many good cars with names like Skylark , Riviera ,Torino, had their names ruined by real crappy vehicles at the end of their life cycle. Names are important , but not all that much….think of the names Toyota gives their vehicles….none flow off the tongue, but we know now that they are probably going to be a great car regardless of the name. Camry ,Prius, Tercel,Corolla, Celica,…what a string of loser names , but very successful. Then there is Acura , they screwed themselves big when they dropped names that had a following , a reputation , for just 2 or 3 letters…… Whatever they were thinking , they sure got it wrong.
Why would you say Riviera was ruined by crappy vehicles at the end? While the 1986-1993 cars certainly weren’t great, you could do much worse, and the 1995-1999 cars were quite good and beautifully styled, but populated a dying market segment and brought a V6 to a V8 fight.
I think GM could bring back replace the cruze with a Nova