A GM Ranger? In Europe? Yes, for a few years (1970-1978) GM had a third brand in Europe, in addition to Opel and Vauxhall. The notion seems a bit silly now, especially since the cars were essentially Opel Rekords with a Vauxhall grille. Why create a third brand? Things were not as logical and consolidated in GM’s European ops at the time, so here’s the story:
GM Suisse (Switzerland) and GM Continental (Belgium) had been building and selling LHD Vauxhalls in their plants to sell primarily in their respective markets, as well as a few others. But their dealers were unhappy with some perceived holes in their lineup, specifically, a larger two-door sedan. The Vauxhall Victor only came as a four door, but as we have mentioned here before, certain European countries liked two-door sedans, especially Germany, the Benelux countries, Austria, and Switzerland. So they hatched a plan to build a version of the Opel Rekord two-door sedan in their plants, lightly disguised, and sell it as the Ranger, a brand that had already been established as GM’s products in South Africa.
The Ranger A was essentially a Rekord C with a Victor grille, and sold in Europe in 1970-1972. The Ranger B, as seen at the top of the post, was essentially a Rekord D, curiously using the raised hood of the Rekord D diesel, even though only gas engines were used. Those ranged from 1.7 and 1.9 L fours to 2.5 and 2.8 L sixes, all of them Opel CIH (cam in head) units.
Wages in Switzerland became too high and made production there nonviable by 1975, but the Belgian plant hung in there with the Ranger through 1978.
Fascinating. Someday, someone needs to do a listing of all the brands GM has ever used, with their dates and locations sold. I have a feeling most readers would be stunned by the number from the first Billy Durant era alone.
Very interesting. Never heard of these. I have to check the numbers, but I believe the large 2-door sedan market might have recently diminished a bit in the markets you mention.
Wonder if it has enough headroom for that Dutch maiden to keep her hat on.
The European Acadian/Beaumont
I love 60s and 70s Opels. Paul, just for the sake of nudging, the Ranger shown has another hood, not the Diesel one. This one is just a little wider.
Sorry, it-s the Ranger’s that’s wider.
Quite right. Bad info. It must be a unique hood also used by the SA Ranger.
A narrowed version of the same grille was also used by Wood & Picket on their upmarket version of the Mini 1275GT.
Oof – can’t unsee that.
The Ranger pictured looks like a medium or low spec Rekord. Were they available in all trims?
Like most others, this is completely new to me. CC has given me the ability to ID many older Euro and Asian cars, but I’ll bet it will be awhile before I see one of these.
Alluded to but not stated outright, GM had two dealer channels with one selling mainly Opel and the other mainly Vauxhall, the American divisions split between them (probably Opel-Pontiac-Buick and Vauxhall-Chevrolet-Oldsmobile).
I suppose 1978 was the last year for Vauxhall sales outside the UK (apart from the Bedford Blitz, and the Chevette appearing as a stopgap with the Kadett D moving a bit upmarket and the Corsa A not available until 1982) and the 2-channel system being phased out?
Not quite NZ still got Chevettes until the bitter end everything GM went thru the same dealer network but GMH were getting most of the sales.
The only Rangers Ive seen were Valiants and various utes not these, new to me
That makes it make sense, or at least a sort of sense. The Opel chain had 2 door Rekords and decent compact Asconas, the Vauxhall chain had just the 4 door Victors and smaller, underpowered Vivas and Firenza coupes, but lacked the larger 2 door saloon and 3 door estate. Hence the third brand, until the Vauxchall brand was confined to the UK only.
Technically, the grilles were not Vauxhall ones but there is a definite Victor FD vibe on the Ranger A grille, and the photo gives it a Victor FD profile look as well. I suspect the front wings/fenders have been remodelled as well, losing the peak and the built in indicator, or was that a model year change?
Sign me up for a Ranger! When the advertisement shows men in wooden clogs and ladies with old Dutch hats, how could I not want a Ranger? Could we ask Johannes how often he wears wooden clogs? By the way, our 1950 Dodge Wayfarer was painted Ranger Grey. Rather boring color, too.
Wooden clogs are industrial wear and we wear them like you might wear steel toed work boots or outdoor mucking boots. When not using them for work, gardening or slopping around, there are wooden soled clogs with leather uppers and lots of clogs and mule styled shoes like Birkenstocks Berlin shoes that are extremely popular. We lived in those and even after twenty years, they feel as good as a your favorite baseball mitt.
Me? never. I wore them as a young kid though, sometimes. Painted bright yellow, as they are supposed to be. CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK…great sound on pavement! And I clearly remember dad wore them while trucking…
Never had that other 19th century (give or take a few centuries) Fisherman’s Friend-outfit though. Thank goodness.
I painted mine flat black. I hate that bright yellow – as if my feet didn’t look too big already.
Funny – I attended university in Colorado for my Bachelor’s and ended up with many incredible cowboy boots which made a powerful racket on pavement. Then ended up in Groeningen with wooden shoes, making a powerful racket on the cobblestones. LOL.
That advertisement picture was almost certainly taken in the village of Marken, which I visited around 1985. It’s a living museum and a popular tourist attraction. Marken was a island until 1957 (when a causeway was built), which partly explains its well-preserved state.
I don’t recall seeing anyone else wearing clogs in the Netherlands in my many visits there.
However, I did see a small number people wearing clogs in Denmark in 1975. The picture below was taken in a small clog factory we stumbled upon when we walked past some open barn doors in the village of Korsør. We were trying to figure out what this factory was producing when the owner spotted us and offered to show us his small factory. At the end of the tour, he offered to make some custom leather-top clogs for us (carefully measuring our feet), and ship them to Canada, for the princely sum of about CA$18 (US$13) a pair. I still have those clogs, although I have rarely worn them – a bit too stiff for me.
This picture was taken on the same day, and shows some preschoolers wearing leather-top clogs, along with their minder, also wearing clogs.
Agri-/horticulture, another major clog-market. To this day, especially among seniors.
Don’t laugh about sabots, aka “wooden clogs”. I’ve been wearing them for thirty years now as part of my 17th century kit, find them quite comfortable (the secret is that you’re wearing a fine cotton stocking with your breeches, then a heavy, coarse wool sock over top of that), and have done up to eight mile marches in them while shouldering a 15lb arquebus and musket rest.
The real wonderfulness of sabots is their relative waterproofness. Leather period shoes soak up wet ground (even heavy dew) very rapidly, and soak thru for the rest of the weekend. I think I’ve had my sabots soak up twice – the downside, of course, is that you’re looking at a good week or so for them to dry out.
In a bit over thirty years, I’m now into my third pair. The first had the top of the shoe split while in mid stride, and the second pair finally had a soles rot out after about twenty years of service. Incidentally, these were safety shoes in the mills for decades until EU diktat made them illegal. Which pissed a lot of industrial workers off.
Repair kits are available, see left clog and the added soles (left and right). You’re absolutely right about their relative waterproofness.
As to the Ranger – I never knew such a brand existed and never saw one even after attending more than a few car shows in Groeningen. They look pretty nice.
In the mid 1970s my German car collector friend Achim Strauss and I were checking out the new arrivals at our favorite junkyard outside of Mannheim, Germany, and we came across a wrecked Ranger, but I don’t remember what type. It looked like a large truck had hit it squarely in the passenger side. It’s the only one I can remember seeing during my 2 years in Germany, but then again, if I saw one on the road, I would probably have ignored it!
Achim told me the Ranger was not common, and it was the first one he had seen in a junkyard, He collects vehicle emblems from all over the world, so we pulled the emblems off the body. [The owner of the yard didn’t care about emblems, we could take as many as we wanted.]
The green Ranger also seems to have Vauxhall Victor FD 2000 hubcaps.
I have a June ’72 copy of Car magazine from SA in my hands. In the price list were listed 20 Ranger models covering 2 door, 4 door, coupe and station wagon variants. By ’72 Opel was only represented by Manta and Kadett. While the Ranger sold well and was well regarded, when the B series Rekord came around in ’74 [I think] the Ranger brand folded and the B series was sold as.. a Chevrolet! Talk about the Cadillac that zigs! The way Opel and Chev zig-zagged with their brand swopping in South Africa it’s no wonder they couldnt match German brand loyalty.
What a surprise, I never heard of this GM range(r) before.
I (from the Netherlands) remember the Ranger well. They were perceived as a fancy Opel Rekord. Because I remember them they must have sold pretty good in the mid 70s.
Another fascinating GM story .
The wooden shoes information is neat too ~ I had a pair in the mid 1960’s but they were too big and hurt my feet so I pitched them out thinking they were just tourist Tchatchkis .
Ranger is a new one to me, I normally associate the name with Ford from the Edsel Ranger on up through the various pickups.
The back story lends credence to my observation that 60s and 70s GM was a collection of warring fiefdoms since nothing else could explain the existence of four separate dealer networks, production and distribution systems for broadly similar cars.
Of course GM was similarly disjointed at home with six US divisions and surprisingly little commonality. It explains a lot of deadly sins and might have beens as executives struggled to increase or protect turf as in the case of the Pontiac Banshee and Fiero respectively sacrificed and neutered to protect the Corvette
Great article – fills in another gap in my auto vocabulary…