Oh how the rest of Europe laughed when Vauxhall launched the VX220 in the UK with the disastrously appalling advertising campaign. Oh how the Germans mocked us when Griff Rhys-Jones appeared wearing nothing more than a white vest, a pair of Y-fronts and a ginger beard to announce Vauxhall’s sports car.
According to the ad agency, the campaign was called ‘Dream Car‘, with Rhys-Jones attempting to discredit the sexiness of the car. Well, I can safely say that the ad campaign worked – it had the desired effect of discrediting the VX220 from the outset. Despite amazing reviews, a host of accolades and ultimately being a damn fine sports car, the VX220 was a sales disaster. While the Lotus Elise had an F1 heritage, a strong brand and a back catalogue to dream of, the VX220 had to make do with a Y-fronted comedian… in a ginger beard. Oh dear.
In Europe, the VX220 was badged as the Opel Speedster. Fundamentally the same car, but without ginger beards and Y-fronts. For three years, Germany had the upper hand over the UK. The VX220 couldn’t shake the memory of Griff and it wasn’t until the launch of the Turbo in 2003 that the VX finally earned some credibility.
However, there was about to be a sting in the tail for the Speedster in 2003. Remember the Scorpions? Well in mainland Europe the ageing band is a giant of the rock world, still filling stadiums in front of adoring fans. But even with this fact in mind, surely you wouldn’t consider a tie-up between a two-seater Elise-based sports car and the Scorpions would you? Exactly.
Unfortunately, Opel didn’t agree and in 2003 they launched the Opel Speedster Scorpions. No really, it did.
So what did the Scorpions owner get? Well all cars were silver, with hard top, black windscreen surround, anthracite alloys and black leather interior. In addition, each owner got a Gibson guitar and a signed photo of the band. Finally, if the buyer agreed not to haggle on the price, they’d get a 12-inch version of the classic single, Wind of Change, with David Hasselhoff making a guest appearance. These now fetch a pretty penny on eBay.de.
There are rumoured to be about 80 Opel Speedster Scorpions in existence. Many examples have appeared to grow mullets in their old age, but are still able capable of making the occasional appearance on MTV.
So did the VX220 actually get the last laugh? Well maybe not. There are apparently top secret documents at Vauxhall HQ that outline plans for a rather special VX220 of their own. The VX220 Chas & Dave edition never actually made production, but plans to give an old piano, a pint of ale and some jellied eels with the car would have been a huge success. With Chas in Y-fronts.
Which one was Chas? Did he have the beard? Or was he the smaller one? Oh never mind. I’m off for some rabbit. From Sainsbury’s.