Blog : X X X – That’s all men think about!

When cars had the X-Factor - The awesome Ford Granada 2.8i Ghia X Executive.
When cars had the X-Factor – The awesome Ford Granada 2.8i Ghia X Executive

It’s been too hot to spend any time outside down here in leafy Sussex. ‘Er indoors and I tried to visit Eastbourne on Saturday during one of the hottest weekends we’d ever known and, after parking somewhere bloody miles from the seafront, we were lathered before we had even seen the sea.

Regardless, we soldiered on dodging the pensioners and howling children on the promenade, wolfed down some fish and chips, bought a brace of ice creams and that was it – we admitted defeat. Shuffling back to the car with facial expressions like the desert scene in that excellent film Ice Cold in Alex, we came home.

Checking out the old mags

Both being bookworms, we purchased some reading material from a charity shop while we were there – in my case, one of them was an old car magazine which was testing a Cavalier with a Montego LX and a Sierra – one would never have thought a hospice book shop sold porn would you?

During the nice cold, ice cold Golf climate-controlled journey home, I was pawing through the mag with all the adolescent glee I would have done decades earlier. A rusty silver Merc E-Class estate slowly passed us on the A27 looking as rough, appealing and offensive as a cold pizza and I chuckled at the badge on the side: Elegance!

I pointed this out to ‘er indoors and she replied in her blunt Cheshire style ‘how’s that Elegant’ and so right she was on that score, too. You see my point is this: once upon a time, car model monikers were simple digit affairs that not only pigeonholed you in the class society as an adult but also gave you that playground credibility when your parents picked you up from Comprehensive school.

Screaming poverty and desperation

For example, a Champagne-coloured Maestro City or Terracotta Escrot Popular 1.1 screamed poverty and desperation – not to mention the skin graft inducing vinyl trim in the Ford on scorching days.

Oh, the horror of being penned into the back of the car with your younger sibling armed with luke-warm Ribena and a ham bap glumly staring at the blanking plate where the wireless should be. A Granada Ghia slowly passes by with the serene grace of an ocean liner in the billion mile traffic jam at the end of the M55.

You just knew they would all be appreciative of the Windsor velour cloth and the standard Ford ERST-21P radio cassette player providing stress-relaxing Ovaltine for the ears as they all listened to National Radio One – calm and cool as cucumbers.

It used to be so simple…

It was all so simple then, too – as a young car spotter I could tell the difference between a Marina De-luxe or a Super from 50 paces and, just to confirm, the badge on the boot would tell you. Today everything seems de-badged with only subtle differences in wheel styles or interior trim.

Now, everything has a name like the aforementioned ‘Elegance’ or ‘Dynamique’ or ‘Avantgarde’ – oh, spare me please and just give me GL or HLS or GTi. But who remembers the heady excitement when Ford and Vauxhall offered the world the X factor, eh?

I think it may have been Ford who started the trend with the outgoing Granada Mk2 by trying to add some X appeal by adding a rev counter, front fogs and a sunroof to the cooking versions shortly before replacing it with the new model. And what about Vauxhall with their Cavalier shortly before the Mk3 was launched?

The thinking-man’s SRi became the Cavalier LX or LXi with its pretty alloys and faux Recaro front seats – just one cleverly-added letter made middle of the road become the new black.

Take a Cavalier and add some alloys and a red stripe, call it the LX and Voila! - Instant hit!
Take a Cavalier and add some alloys and a red stripe, call it the LX and voila! – instant hit!

The Montego catches the Cavalier

Rover followed suit with the Montego ’89 range adding electric bits and a nice two-tone paint job with similar tweaks to the Seamrot – oops! I mean Maestro. Owners actually thought they were getting a little extra for free and, in the case of the Montego LX, they were really strong sellers.

I owned an LX Monty myself and almost fainted with euphoria when I added some walnut garnish door cappings from a written-off Countryman. With the introduction of the ‘X’- names like Vanden Plas or Ghia became as stale as a week old French stick, but then things took a turn for the worse!

De-badging became de-rigueur with Rover offering a de-badge option at no extra cost cleverly saving three bob on the production line while passing motorists were none the wiser if you were smoking an Si or SLi.

Why aren’t brochures as good as they used to be?

Long gone are the epic brochures of yesteryear where all the UK makers had everything from a Bobby-basic Metro through to an all-singing Granada 2.8i Ghia X Executive – learning all the trim differences in time for the playground trivia test on Monday morning break periods sure took some serious studying I can tell you.

The Montego LX became a strong seller thanks to good advertising and good trim spec.
The Montego LX became a strong seller thanks to good advertising and good trim spec.

Nowadays, as we all have stiff limbs and grey hair, even the model names are being changed for a surreal mixture of letters and numbers rather than safe classic titles like Astra, Megane or Mondeo. No one is more guilty of this than Hyundai, whose cars all look the same but just come in different sizes and with an i-40 Dtech 1.7 Hokey Cokey 3000 title.

Names and numbers are all we need – it was all so much simpler.

**STOP PRESS** my idea pitched to Hyundai to bring out a special ‘i- Claudius’  edition celebrating the Roman empire and Derek Jakobi seems to have been rebuffed – oh, well… back to drawing board!

Mike Humble


  1. Ah the Granada 2.8i Ghia X. The old man had one of those, same colour, I remember the front valance spoiler with the 2.8i logo. Albeit it wasn’t Executive, but a manual gearbox and cloth seats.
    Nice V6 thrum.

    Hyundai, when they were using names, went over the top with badging. I followed a Santa Fe SUV once that had about 7 standard manufacturer badges, all in different font styles. It looked like someone had been busy in the Halfords bargain bin…

    They’re following the likes of the Germans who traditionally had a car in medium, large and XL size. (C/E/S, 3-,5-,7, A4/6/8).

    Renault moved from (illogical) numbers to model names, Citroen moved from letters to names to numbers. However this leaves no room for new models, hence the DS and Picasso lines.

    With all cars fairly well specced these days, model trims other than the likes of VXR/RS/FR/VRS etc. are fairly redundant. What is a Titanium Mondeo vs a Zetec (which is now a trim rather than an engine) and how to they compare to a Ghia?

    The Metro City of old is now the Sandero. The Granada 2.8i Ghia X is now a 530D with an M pack.

  2. The other variation on this theme is having numbers on certain models of car which look like they reflect engine capacity when they don’t.
    Think BMW 116, 118 and 120 which are all 2 litre engine.

    That said, the badge on the back of my car says (Rover) 400. Earlier versions used to say 420GSI.

  3. good facts from Mike. One of my colleagues had a Montego 1.6 LX Estate after an earlier L. For myself I had an Escort L then got an LX company car.

    It was a time when manufacturers would like to create a more upmarket perceived car by adding a couple of extras and that simple letter “X”.

  4. X as a character has always had a scientific, oddly futuristic ring to it.

    When Ford were pushing futurism in the 80s (their model badging font was straight out of an 80s SciFi film set in the year 2010…) the XR- series sounded apt. Mazda used it as their ‘experimental’ range – MX-5, RX-7…

    LX rolls off the tongue almost saying the world ‘LuXury’.

    The letter is starting to make a comeback with the Crossover / SUV, as it could be used to evoke a ‘cross’ or 4 points on the letter eg. XC90

  5. Then there was all that nonsense about saloon cars being somehow ‘posher’ than hatchbacks..

  6. I do think that most saloon cars have a more elegant silhouette than modern hatchbacks.

    Hatchbacks of the form of the Xantia, Insignia, Mondeo etc. look fine. However, since the focus there has been a trend for tortoise shaped cars that look like a tail docked dog.

    See the last Lancer for a prime example. The saloon looks like a rally car, the hatch looks a bit off in profile.

    Ireland gets a lot of saloon cars that the UK market will never get, so it is interesting to see things like Fluence diesel hire cars or Corolla/Astra/Focus new model saloons, some are very well resolved – the last model Astra in particular was a handsome beast in saloon form.

  7. When you think back to the glory days of Renault, you think of numbers with unique trim badges such as L, TL, GTL, TS and TX. Nobody else produced a Tourisme Luxe!

    Citroen used to use badges such as Special, Club, Pallas, then went for letters, such as E, RE, TRE, TRS, TXS for the AX. Then for the ZX went back to names again, Reflex, Avantage, Aura and Volcane. Them went back to boring letters with the Xsara…

    Austin Morris were fairly unique in using HL/HLS instead of the usual GL/GLS, did anyone else use the ‘H’ in trim levels?

  8. I blame Citroen…

    Upto 1990, we all knew our Spec (Popular/City/Merit) upto the Ghia X, Sterling/CDX etc. Then they brought out the ZX and if i remember rightly, wanted to shake up traditional perceptions of spec, by having 4 sub-brands (Reflex/Advantage/Aura/Volcane) each reflecting specific “lifestyles”

    Been all down hill since then.

  9. Maestro 1.3 HLE “E” meaning economy with a particularly dreadful high 4 gear and flashing LED to show how economical it was?

  10. Mike, I would say that Ford are just as guilty as Hyundai for making variable sized versions of the same car.

    There used to be a Ford dealership & Shell garage a couple of miles from us in Dalkeith (Stewart Motors) who had all the latest models and didn’t mind an 18 year old in an old Mini popping in, looking around and taking the brochures. Taking 1981 as a ‘control’ year, you had the Fiesta, Escort, Cortina, Granada & Capri. Apart from the Cortina & Granada looking similar, the rest of the range of cars bore no similarity to its stablemates. The Ghias were always an aspiration (I eventually owned a Mk5 Cortina with the alloys etc) and just oozed class.

    As you say, the badges defined status and like Roger A says in comment 2, I was disappointed that Rover just put a single number on the tailgate which meant you had no idea how much dosh the owner had!

  11. My ZXs, one was Elation and the other didn’t seem to have any trim, was just TurboD.

    My dads BXs, one I think was was RD and the other was Meteor – bucket seats, electric windows, spoiler. All you would want in an early 90s repmobile. Was a runout special before the Xantia.

    My Xantia was LX, my dad had the SX, I know a Citroen collector had the Activa. Executive was the spec to go for…

  12. I saw a Hyundai the other day that had FIVE badges on the bootlid

    They read; Hyundai/Santa Fe/4WD/CRTD/ GSi


    Do we need to know all of that?!

    As others have said it does seem to get harder to keep track of where the models sit in the line up, for example Ghia X always used to be the top model in the Ford line up but on the last Scorpios a line called ‘Ultima’ was created and nowadays a top Ford is a ‘Titanium X’.

    Its also worth watching the spec levels when they change the names.

    I say this because my Mum recently bought a 2010MY 207 VTi Sport Auto which is the top model automatic 207. Also available at the garage was a 2011MY 207 Allure Auto, Allure replaced the VTi Sport, but it lost auto lights, auto wipers,cruise and climate control in the process…..

  13. It was so much easier then! I have no idea whether an Elgance is more upmarket than Avantgarde, and so on. On Mikey C’s question, the only other ‘H’ trimline I recall was on the poshest Opel Rekord from about 1979, which was the Berlina HL. A kind of Ghia X equivalent I suppose.

  14. I had a Vauxhall Astra 1.4 LX as my first company car – biggest pile of steaming horse poo that ever came out of a car factory.

    • Not even close, Ford Orion 5, the only car you’d be happy for the insurance company to write off. We were.

      • Ford Escort 1.3 Harrier from the early nineties in two door form, these were powered, or underpowered, by the ancient Valencia engine, struggled on the slightest incline, were noisy at motorway speeds and didn’t like to start in the rain. A shame as the early Mark 3 in 1.3 form was quite a sprightly car and good to look at.

  15. Ford love to just add a new trim level at no notice, you could only get a titanium cmax until recently, they then added a Titanium X model, my brother ordered a focus zetec last year and whilst waiting for it to be built they added another model above it in the range and downgraded the spec on the zetec so the car he got was missing items that were on it when ordered.

  16. I think all manufacturer should use a new method, you put on the back the price the current owner paid for it and its 0 – 60 time, as that’s what the badge all comes down to, mine cost more that yours and its quicker.

    But you have to have what the current owner paid, so the man in his new £17000 ford can feel he’s better than the man in his 3 year old £14000 BMW. And the 0 – 60 time will cut down on the people trying to race you at the lights as they think their car is quicker.

    • My X type diesel (155hp) was considerably quicker than the Fiat Punto 70(hp) which made a terrible rattling noise as it tried to keep up… it’s hard to read badges on the boot when you’re on the left side!

  17. Ah but the badging on your Rover had two advantages; the procurement guys got to buy in the badges cheaper since they were buying in, say, fifty thousand 400 bages instead of 10000 for each engine size & the production guys didn’t have to worry about whether the end user of the car had specified a debadged version as the car was as good as with the revised model designations.

  18. My 1997 Rover 400 1.4 was badged rightly as a 414Si as per its correct spec. However most newer 400’s I saw were all badged simply as 400. So it was unknown as to their engine and trim. This trait followed on the 600 range too.

  19. @Ben Adams

    That Hyundai with the badges was the model I’d seen!

    Except the one I saw had an extra 7 seat designation too:

    Hyundai/Santa Fe/4WD/CRTD/GSi/7Seater

    And all of the above badges were in different styles and fonts, it just looked a mess like someone threw the 50p badges from Halfords bargain bin onto it.

  20. My Wolseley Nine is 9 RAC horsepower. You know where you are with horses – they are as easy to count now as they were in 1934.
    So in 2013 What the blue blazes is a Volkswagon UP?
    Does Juke mean something (of which I am totally ignorant) or is it an obscure reference to the styling – Juke Box?

  21. @The Woseley Man

    Of the small citycars of the VW group, I always thought ‘UP!’ was a disney film, ‘Citigroup’ was a bank, and ‘Mii’ was a character on a Nintendo Wii.

  22. Nowt wrong with an AX, made a fine first / economy car for many a folk.
    Wouldn’t want to crash in one, mind, though I would say the same about many small cars of that era.

    Remember when old Mercedes diesels used to have the word ‘ T U R B O D I E S E L’ spaced across the bootlid?

  23. The interesting one was the E badge that Ford and Vauxhall used for different reasons in the seventies. If you owned an E model Ford like a Cortina 2000E this meant executive and the car came with foglights, radio, velour trim, wood door cappings and an uprated engine. Vauxhall used E to denote the basic Chevette, but where E badged Fords meant luxury, this meant economy on the Vauxhall, ie the old seventies favourite in basic cars of vinyl seats with a spec that was so low to cut costs a rear demister was not fitted.

  24. @25,Its funny how things change,from Cortina GXL to 2000 E then to Ghia,Ghia X and now Titanium-did the sapphire 2000E spell the end for these once must badges?

    EVERYONE wanted to own a Granada Ghia X didnt they?

  25. Words do change meanings, for example the word “Standard” used to be associated with a high level of quality and consistency (quality standards, Standard Chartered Bank, Gold Standard), but came to be seen as the basic, cheap model in a car range, hence Standard Triumph dropping the Standard badge!

    Mercedes used ‘E’ to signify fuel injection (280SE etc), whereas most manufacturers tended to use it high fuel economy models, e.g. the Metro HLE and VW Formel E models, which probably spoilt the use of it by Ford on luxury models!

  26. Another great item Mike- as always.

    Never been all that keen on riding in Granadas, however, as a young brochure collecting fan of about your vintage, there was a definite glamour to the top spec models that their modern counterparts don’t seem to have. I suspect it is because of the relative dearth of modern refinements in cars of that era, with even mid-range models having wind-up windows, and clear and obvious demarcations between trim levels which barely exist today, with even base models of most cars having air con, a decent stereo, etc, and slightly higher ones having cruise control, etc.

    Much harder to justify spending extra on a Tit X version over a midrange Zetec.

  27. Ah yes the Granada 2.8i Ghia X, which in automatic form had a set of badges that extended almost the full width of the massive bootlid!

    I owned one of these fine beasts for a couple of years in the late 80’s, and still have misty eyed memories of it today, a wonderfully cosseting car.

  28. The worst offenders for confusing trim levels these days must be Vauxhall. There’s eight trim levels on the Insignia and that is before you consider that some of those are available as ‘Nav’ models. There is no logic to the names either. Design, Tech Line, SRi, SE etc all give limited indication of their place in the range. The final layer of this unfathomable mess is that some trims that are targeted at fleet buyers have lower prices than more sparsely equipped models intended for private customers.

  29. @maestrowoff

    Standard Telephones and Cables, which made the beige ‘Viscount’ phones that BT gave away with line rentals in the early 80s.
    They were mostly known as STC, then bought out by Nortel in 1991.
    The employee’s social club to the rear of the factory is still known as ‘The Standard’.

    I think the decline in the term came when it stopped being associated with ‘gold standard’ and the phrase ‘bog standard’ became common.

  30. Going all misty eyed reading this, we should campaign for a return of proper trim levels all badged on the bootlid. Still miss proper manufactueurs brochures, just been looking at my ARG “Todays Cars” from Feb ’89, covering everything from Rover 800 Sterling, down to Mini City. Happy days!

  31. All this talk of 80’s Granadas reminds me of a World Record Attempt I piloted in 1982. I and two friends wanted to set up a World Record for towing a caravan around the 4,500 mile coastline of Mainland GB. We were loaned a new Sprite Compact from CI Caravans and a Ford Dealer loaned us a new Granada. We had tried two other vehicles before choosing the Ford – a Chevrolet Blazer V8 and a BMW 7 Series. On tests – driving as if in full rally conditions – we reduced the Blazer to 4mpg and the Beemer to 7. The Ford gave us about 16 so we loaded 5 x 20 ltr Jerry Cans of fuel in the boot and off we went after some two years of planning. Way before sensible diesels and SAT nav we had an AA route set out for us – indicating every turn, every junction and every scheduled (fuel only) stop. With one driving, one navigating and the other sleeping we set off from Bristol on the Easter Break. We had previously had press photos set up with Tony Pond accompanied by lots of hurrah!
    We had enormous fun scorching through the West Country and particularly Cornwall where had some exciting encounters with narrow roads, bends and bridges – and a Rover 2000.
    Coming across the 4th Bridge our driver noticed a slight twitchiness to the outfit and as we came off the bridge past a pub, the caravan hit three Hillmans – an Imp, an Avenger and a Hunter – and then dragged the car into the side of the last one. That was slightly unfortunate as I was asleep in the back with my head resting against the door that hit the Hunter. I was OK but the caravan was flattened, one Hillman was written off and the other two damaged. The Granny suffered side impact damage all the way down one side.
    It was later discovered that the new tow bar we had ordered and paid for at the dealers had been substituted for a second hand one and this had broken its weld above the diff. allowing the van to travel about a foot to the left of where the driver assumed it was. This was of course in the dark!
    We aimed to raise £4500 (one pound per mile) for the Antony Nolan Bone Marrow Disease Appeal – but despite crashing still handed over a cheque for £750. The Granny was good and towed the van (conditions permitting) on the quiet 80’s A roads at 3 in the morning, at 100mph as steady as a rock. Trouble is, we hadn’t accounted for the skulduggery factor! Hey ho.
    And before any of you keen AR observers say anything – yes, it was way before I got involved in Advanced Driving!

  32. We had a silver Renault 12 TL estate when I was younger, with regulation maroon plastic seats that made your legs melt and burn in hot weather if you were wearing shorts. Oh how the brochure made me envious of the TS version. I used to gaze at it while eating my Saturday morning bowl of Cornflakes wondering wistfully how much better life would be with those extra coloured dashboard lights and the car radio.

  33. I strongly recall the ‘CD’ being the top of the range for Opel/Vauxhall cars. What this normally meant back in the day was electric windows, power steering, rear headrests and electric sunroof. I had a big rival to the Granada, a 1985 Vauxhall Senator 3.0i CD. This was considered fully loaded back then and had extras such as electric heated mirrors, heated seats and and electric boot release. However, the UK models (as opposed to the German Opel versions) were bereft of Air conditioning, Leather seats and cruise control. They were a costly extra of which most people didn’t go for.

    • I think this was a reference to the CD (“Corps Diplomatique”) plates on the back of Embassy cars – internationally recognized initials that stood for privilege and prestige everywhere. After all, Opel made a car called the Diplomat… quite apart from the Senator.

        • And the Ford Counsel.

          Dodge also used the name Diplomat, like AMC did with the Ambassador.

          IIRC CD is also used as the symbol for drag coefficienty, often a selling point to be bigged up in 1980s car brochures.

      • Renault made a limousine 25 based on either the 2.4 turbo or the 2.9. If your name was Mitterand you could have it with factory fitted flamethrowers (base of B pillars) made of two standard fuel injectors. I could really use that option nowadays..

  34. My Dad’s Mk2 Cavalier CD had lots of extra features compared to the L before it.

    A few years later my Dad had a Carlton CDi also with lots of fancy features.

    • We had both of those too, did the Carlton have my dad’s favourite feature? A habit of getting a flat spot at full throttle that was so vicious it’d launch you through the screen? Turned out, according to vauxhall, that a earth strap was missing and the fuel flow caused static that occasionally banjaxed the electronics.. Was very dangerous. Didn’t do any damage to the engine, but almost caused several accidents..

  35. DoctorD
    My father had a 12TL saloon, I recall that it had no reversing lights. The lens covers had the space for them, but the wiring was missing! I guess you needed to upgrade to the TS to get this bit of wire…

    • opposed to my 1975 Viva S, which had a standardized wiring loom purloined from a Magnum, but no light bulb behind the heater controls; and not even a bracket for a boot light. Both of these deficiencies were promptly fixed. The phrase “plug and play” comes to mind, though I guess “plug and shine” would be more technically accurate!

      • Ken, I remember the VIVA S (limited edition) which came in metallic blue or lime green with black vinyl roof and black steel wheels with bright rim embellishers. There was also a Victor FE S too. The Victor was renamed VX series soon after.

  36. I feel the Mk3 Cavalier GSi requires a mention here… My Dad took delivery of a brand new one in 1990 and was bemused by the number of badges stuck to the bootlid:

    Vauxhall / Cavalier / GSi / 2000 / 16v / 4×4

    Nearly as many as the Hyundai Sante Fe model quoted above.

    • But at least that GSI was probably the best Vauxhall ever. I had one too. Much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

      • Until of course the 4×4 system went nuts and various fuses & relays were pulled to make it drivable.
        An old boss had a 2.5 vectra that delighted in switching itself off on the motorway – he got quite adept at fiddling with the key to start it again while barrelling along at 90 with no steering, brakes or common sense. I suspect loose immobiliser connection..

  37. Saw a mk2 Cavalier CD the other day. Had a strange grille. Looked mint and top of the range.

    I suppose they dropped the badge as it may have been confusing if it didn’t contain a CD player, nor was diesel.

  38. Ah the Granada Ghias and of my all time favourites, a real class act.
    I recall working for a local Ford dealer subsidury not long after leaving school, the overall MD had a new Ghia X Executive. Within a few years I was driving Ghias and Xs myself.
    Oddly one of the best looking Granadas ever was the Sapphire. A 1979 special edition model of the Ghia, in silver over Midnight blue, S pack suspension and TRX alloys, though it never had a Sapphire badge. As with many things, I wish I still had mine..
    No one’s mentioned “Injection”, what a novelty that was to have the word or an i on your boot. Of course another largely forgotten and very rare Granada was the sporty 2.8 injection.

  39. Dominic

    Was that Sporty Granada 2.8 Injection only available in white or silver? Seem to recall it having slightly bigger wheels, recaro seats, slightly lowered suspension, a subtle boot spoiler and the trim was similar to a GL model.

  40. I wonder if the Granada 2.8 Injection was the civilian version of the Police-spec Granny. I seem to remember Ford offering both a relatively low-spec Police version (most likely based on the GL with performance upgrades), and a taxi version, which was definitely based on the L, with the venerable Pug diesel under the bonnet. Both had wiring mods to allow for radio equipment and roof lights.

  41. Given the number of permutations of available options, the old L/GL/Ghia hierarchy doesn’t mean much any more.

    Eagled-eyed folk might spot the S-line or //M badge on the grille of an Audi or BMW, but these days *everyone* judges your car by the brightness of its headlights, the size of the rimz, and the number of tailpipes 🙂

  42. One way of telling your Ford was a bit better than the others was having vinyl roof. These seemed to be very popular in the late seventies, then died out in the eighties, in the same way sunroofs have mostly gone, aircon made them redundant.

    • In some ways the current trend of having “floating” / black coloured/tinted/panoramic car roofs is a bit of a comeback for the black vinyl roof and sunroof.

    • Why yes, of course. I often leave my car parked with the engine running to drive the AC to keep the interior cool. With a glass sunroof, you could tilt it up at the back to let the hot air out.

  43. The “floating” roof feature is a strange thing because I’d never noticed it on any car – or realised what it was supposed to be – until I read about it somewhere. Which defeats the point of its existence if no-one knows its there. Design for the sake of design.

  44. Seeing “Injection” under the TRIUMPH badge whether it was on a 2.5PI MK 1 or 2 or TR5 and later TR6 during the late 60s early 70s was thrilling and so simple but really meant something and made a genuine difference.
    Many years later and I still recall a guy coming to me in the late 80s saying his lad was excited and wanted an “Injection” “R3i Escort” cos it was the thing to have cos it was Fuel Injected!!! and had an I badge on the boot lid!!

    • Used to be “injection” in the 80s then it was “16v” was the badge to have in the early 90s.

      What is the special badge to have these days? Hybrid?

  45. I loved my 1996 Peugeot 405 GLX DTurbo, they came badged as TurboD but I substituted the DTurbo (Red D) from a 306 onto mine. In Diablo Red metallic and full black leather from an Executive and the standard 5 spoke 306 alloys it was a beautiful and head turning car. One of the cars I really wish I still had!

    On the same car, I used to giggle at my bosses “STD” Turbo badged wheels!

  46. TDI is an acronym for Total Dickhead Inside.

    Does HDI stand for High Definition Injection ?

  47. Does anybody remember the ‘Automatic’ badges on the rear of various makes of cars in the 1970’s? I was always curious to know why it was so important to inform the driver behind on the type of gearbox the car in front was using.

    • I guess it was a way of saying “this car is a bit executive & the owner likes to cruise a lot”, 5-Speed was another common badge when many cars still had 4 gears.

      • I remember my grand-dad having a nearly new Vauxhall VX 4/90 version of the FB Victor in the mid ’60s. The 4/90 meant it got a 4 speed box (with floor change!) instead of 3-on-the-tree, and it promised a heady 90 mph! The ’90’ actually referred to 90 cubic inch displacement. The 4/90 designation was retained to the end of VX production in 1978, despite having a 5 speed Getrag gearbox and approx 140 cid

        • The 4/90 was better equipped and faster than the Victor. The FD 4/90 offered more driving instruments, overdrive, better seats and more power and refinement over the SL.
          Mind you, badge engineering was always an art form with BMC and I mean that in a nice way, particularly with the ADO 16. In 1970 you could buy a basic 1100 and 1300 in Austin and Morris form, but then had an option of a 1300 GT with more power and more equipment, an MG 1300 which did the same but had a more sporting suspension, and then the luxury Vanden Plas version with the GT engine but which had leather seats and a walnut interior.

    • Go back further to the 1960’s “overdrive ” was the badge of status.
      Anybody remember the “Discs” badge to show you could stop quicker than the car behind you.

    • I remember as a kid seeing this on the back of a Metro.

      I asked my dad what it meant – did the car drive itself?

      He said that it meant that the gears changed themselves.

      Perhaps in 10 years time “Automatic” will actually mean what I thought it meant 🙂

  48. Actually the naming of cars with a surreal collection of letters/numbers is a very European thing.. MGB GT V8, E-Type, 250 GT SWB, 300SL.. to name but a few

  49. E used to have different meanings if you owned a Ford or a Vauxhall in the seventies. E on a Ford meant Executive, personified by the Cortina 2000 E with its vinyl roof, velour seats, tinted glass and mock wood interior, and on the Escort 1300 E, a bit more power over the Escort 1300 XL and fittings like cloth seats. OTOH if you bought a Vauxhall Chevette or Viva E( this level of trim was never available on bigger cars fortunately), this meant economy and a rock bottom standard of trim, with even a rear demister not being a standard fitting and a bare metal and plastic interior that wouldn’t be out of place in an FSO.
    However, I always thought the Ghia trimmed Fords of the late seventies and eighties were nicest with a fancy looking Ghia badge adorning the wooden dashboard and some models having the Ghia badge on the side of the vinyl roof.

  50. German and Swedish cars often used to feature the letter ‘E’ on car boots indicating the engine had fuel injection. ‘E’ in this case stood for ‘Einspritzung’, German for injection.

    For example you could buy a Volvo 245GL which gave you 200 series, 4 cylinder 5 door GL (Grand Luxury?), with either an SU or Zenith carburettor. If you were more aspirational, you could have the 245GLE, which gave you the above, but with Bosch K Jetronic injection instead and a few extra bhp.

    Logical eh?

  51. I remember the hot Novas & Astras in the 1980s were GTE, with the E standing for ‘Einspritzung’. I think there was also a GTC, bot I don’t remember what the C stood for.

  52. Didn’t some cars have a “catalyst” boot badge? Maybe it’s for drivers who want to impress the world with their eco credentials!

  53. Some French cars seemed to have a lot of letters.

    One being Peugeot GRDT, which looked a bit like GROT thanks to the font.

  54. I remember quite well browsing through the sales brochures of the Ford Capri Mk I. After carefully studying the material and the price listes I desperately wanted to see a car with pure “R” trim as opposed to the luxurious “XLR”. I had to wait for a very long time, and I ever saw just one car so equipped. They must be extremely rare nowadays.

  55. Ford seemed to be a bit looser connecting trim & engine sizes in the 1970s, so it was possible to order a car with a the large engine & basic trim.

    Looking at old brochures this seemed to be true of the Mk4/5 Cortina.

  56. As I recall, the Rover Group actually charged £50 extra on the 600-Series for the 620 or 623 badge not to be stuck on at the Cowley factory! They called it ‘Delete Badge Option’ which was a misnomer, considering that you can’t delete what you haven’t stuck on, but it was a smart way for the company to generate a little bit of extra profit.

    I believe that MG Rover did the same sort of thing with the MG ZS – removing sound-proofing but charging for it as part of the Sports Pack because less sound insulation made the K-V6 engine sound louder.

  57. Even Jaguar got on the act in the 1990s with the XJ40, at the end of production you had XJ6,XJ6 3.2s, 4.0s Gold, Sovereign, Insignia, Majestic, XJR, Daimler 4.0 Daimler Double Six and US Vanden Plas.

  58. Vauxhall used SL( Super Luxury) on bigger engined versions of the Viva HB and Victor FD. This usually meant, apart from the extra power, you got some fake wood on the dashboard, better seats and more driving instruments. On the Victor, the basic Super often came with a steering column mounted gearchange, but the SL offered four on the floor and the options of leather seats, a radio and a demister.

  59. Ahead of the game in terms of specification were 1982 model year Talbot Alpine/ Solara SXs. These came with luxuries that weren’t available on the Cortina Ghia such as electric windows and a trip computer, and had a five speed gearbox when the Cortina still had four. I wonder if speccing these cars up so much was an attempt to boost Talbot’s sluggish sales in this sector. However, introducing a five speed gearbox across most of the Alpine/ Solara range made the cars a lot quieter and more economical and probably kept the cars competitive for a few more years.

  60. I love the Mk2 Granadas, posher the better! I remember the excitement as a kid looking for the aircon / recirc switch in place of the regular blower control switch! How decadent! If you had leatber, an electric drivers seat & a trip computer then you were living on another planet! There was another very rare Granada which was signified by the all important “i S”…the lower & upper case of the letters being all important of course! Oh and “S” in this case meant special rather than sport. 2.8i V6, 5 speed manual box, proper Recaros, white (remember that fad) TRX (and that one!) alloys & black poly spoilers front & rear….if memory serves correct they also had the ZF plate type limited slip diff…I would really like one of those now! One minor side note though…back in the late ’80s the ’90s the car most likely to be seen at the side of the road throwing all of its coolant over the road on the hottest days of summer (seemed much hotter back then!) was a 2.8i Granada! Looking back & having practical experience of the 2.8i V6 it was most likely a combination of gunked up bleed hoses, manky thermostat & duff viscous fan couplings….the carb motors were more tolerant, great old motors though.

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