Dear Man in a Polyester Suit

The Vauxhall Cavalier, the car that you and your fellow travelling salesmen have loved for two decades, has gone the way of last year's samples. Could it have something to do with the way you dress?
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Indy Lifestyle Online
They're taking your Cavalier away. When you hand back your faithful L-reg this autumn, you will not be given another - you will find you are driving something called a Vectra. It will not look very different from your Cavalier, of course: Germans have been calling Cavaliers Vectras for years; now you will have to learn to do the same.

No doubt you are wondering why Vauxhall is discarding such a rollickingly jolly name and giving it one with the emotional charge of a quadratic equation. I believe there was a Dalek called Vectra; if not, there should have been.

Is it because Cavaliers are royalists, and royalists are not in fashion? Probably not, though the prospect of a Vauxhall Roundhead is an intriguing one. Is it because the folks at Vauxhall are good Europeans, and they believe in harmonisation of car names? That is certainly one of their excuses. "The Vectra name brings Vauxhall back into line with the identity of General Motors products throughout the rest of Europe," the company states. It points out that GM makes beasts called the Corsa, Tigra and Omega, which are sold all over our great European Union. (It will also save on badges, which have long been the only difference between a Cavalier and a Vectra).

But that does not explain why a company would throw away that most valuable of commodities: a universally known brand name. To find the real reason, Mr 150,000-mile-a-year-Salesman, tilt the rear-view mirror and stare hard at yourself. It is there, implicit but obvious, in the press release. "Vauxhall's decision to change the name came after intensive study of the Cavalier's brand character and customer clinics which confirmed that the name Vectra had dynamic, positive associations, best suited the company's marketing aspirations for the new car."

From this, infer that the name Cavalier did not have dynamic, positive associations. It may have sold 1.75 million since 1975; it may have trounced once-mighty Ford in the business car stakes; it may have stopped General Motors pulling out of Britain completely; but it still had negative associations.

They are, I'm afraid, associations with that suit of yours, made all the more evident when you hang the jacket on a hook by the rear window (will the Vectra have a hook?). They are associations with the box of samples on the rear seat, and with your 85mph rush home after an exhausting day trying to flog them. They are associations with you, Mr Salesman. Sorry.

What is wrong with associating a hardworking car with hardworking people? I have a friend - yes, a saleswoman of sorts - who has a Cavalier with 150,000 miles on the clock. It has holes in unusual places, but she drives it to the South of France every year without a thought. She calls it the Laughing Cavalier. She loves it dearly. Tell me, Mr Salesman, can you imagine anyone except a lovelorn Dalek talking fondly of a Laughing Vectra?

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