It would appear the press reporting on the Ranger at the time can be largely blamed for the lack of support for the Ranger. And it all started with the media launch in 1968, as shown by an excerpt from a letter written by regular CCA contributor Roger Houghton, who at the time was Motoring Editor at the Pretoria News:
“We flew to Port Elizabeth and spent the night in the Marine Hotel before the launch. The unveiling event took place on a specially built stage at the factory the next morning, with the Ranger driving through a huge sheet of paper in the old fashioned way! However, chaos erupted when we were able to get up close to the new model and saw the Vauxhall Griffin crest badge on the bonnet, in the centre of the steering wheel and on the chrome hubcaps. Immediately the impression was that this was not South Africa’s own car, but a GM parts bin special.”
Clearly the press that followed was less than favourable. And rightly so I’d say. So what was the Ranger thing? And why did GM feel the need to launch a totally new brand in South Africa?
The need to invent was forced when GM’s Vauxhall products started faltering in the local sales department thanks to a perceived image of them being ‘soft’ and ill-suited to the ruggedness of Africa. The Vauxhall Viva, which on paper was a reasonably decent offering, attempted to resurrect the brand but the sales people at the dealerships were less than thrilled with having to sell the British marque. When the announcement was made to them that the Vauxhall Ranger would be the next vehicle for them to move they threw their toys out the cot.