History of south african cars


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If you look back at some of the best years in Formula One racing history, two of the most brilliant designers, Gordon Murray and Rory Byrne, hailed from South Africa. One of the earliest fibreglass sports cars to come out of South Africa, the GSM, is quite a success story.

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Robert van Niekerek and Willie Meissner dreamt of building their own sports car, but could not find the skilled craftsmen to build it. Meissner moved to England where he discovered the perfect product called fibreglass, which would enable their dream to come alive. The cars built in this period were a mixture of parts from other General Motors products and featured a body shell similar to the Opel Rekord but with a Vauxhall Victor FD grille, and internal parts from various large Vauxhalls and Holdens , although the European Rangers had very little to differentiate them from Opels.

However, as the second generation cars became even closer to models marketed by Chevrolet in South Africa and Opel in Europe , it was decided that this kind of brand was irrelevant and thus the marque was discontinued. A Belgian road test of the Ranger even begins by calling the existence of the Ranger brand hard to explain.

Ranger (automobile)

South Africa received the Ranger A only, introduced in the summer of In April the sporty SS model arrived. Rather than the standard 2.

The SS also received a chromed air cleaner and valve covers, a vinyl roof, twin exhaust tips, and other sporty embellishments. It was mostly based on the European Opel Rekord , with a locally built engine of Chevrolet origin and the grille and headlights of the Vauxhall Victor. The Rekord bodywork was slightly altered to accommodate the different grille.

The steering was also from Vauxhall, as was the suspension, which gave the car a somewhat wider track than the Opel.


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The engines were referred to by their displacement in cubic inches, part of an attempt of differentiating the car from its Opel counterpart. There were the , the , and the HC high compression to choose from, with the more powerful SS version added later. The Ranger was discontinued in , without a direct replacement in the South African market.

When they were introduced, GM South Africa made it a point to state that the Ranger lineup was not affected by the new car. The existence of the Ranger brand was a result of General Motors continuing a policy of theirs in the United States, with a number of brands competing directly with each other.

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Sold by dealers alongside Vauxhalls, the lineup was carefully limited so as not to compete directly with Vauxhall's four-door only Victor, and thus the smaller-engined Ranger As were usually only available as two-doors. Aside from some minor trim differences, including twin headlights and a grille with a crossbar, as well as different taillights and a rear license plate mounted higher than on the Rekord.