Vintage Ad: GM Ranger, A Short-Lived Third European GM Brand

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.