When there is the opportunity to do something spectacular in this car-cult driven industry of ours, the full achievement of that often depends on circumstance…. and sadly also on the probability of clouded thinking and limited vision.
I guess the number of lost opportunities could fill a library and the number of frustrated engineers facing countless stoppages to otherwise fruitful endeavours would be difficult to estimate. Many promising projects have been stopped for good reason but I will cover just two such adventures that were not. Both of these could have changed their environments dramatically. “A very different 442” is one of these, a project running at a time when the industry was facing huge environmental challenges and would have elevated the team concerned to being ground breaking innovators.
The other, an essential project for the company involved, died through lack of vision… ‘The Lost Diamond’. …..we will start with that one first…
Picking up from the Dealer Team Vauxhall story in the previous post, 1974 was a stressful time for all manufacturers in the go-faster business. The first Fuel Crisis which hit late in 1973 forced those folk with commitments to motor sport into a bit of introspection. Thankfully, most hung on to their beliefs and realised that whilst the short term bleatings of those conveniently misusing the circumstance to bang their own agendas, were just beating empty oil drums. They believed this would pass over and get back to normal….and that is exactly what happened.
Within 18 months, things were back in gear and the self-righteous mutterings of those ‘no racing’ pseudo bunny huggers no longer held currency. In the UK, after facing a fair amount of media criticism at the time, Vauxhall, of all manufacturers, came out of this showing what they were really made of.
Uncharacteristically for a GM operation, they displayed a determination to launch their first ever Homologation Special smack bang at the height of the crisis. The HC Vauxhall Magnum arrived and signalled the first attempt by GM Europe to market a car specifically directed at motor sport. They did this exactly ten years after Ford had done the same thing with the Lotus Cortina. Only 200 odd units were built and all in silver.