Canada’s Unique Autoscape, Part 2
Vauxhall’s Victor FB debuted in 1961. The Envoy again was basically the Victor FB, this time adopting a fancy front end largely borrowed from the European Victor’s sporty new VX4/90 trim. As mentioned earlier, they also saw increased competition from the new American bred compacts now on the market. This internal competition arguably had the upper hand, having been developed with American tastes in mind.
The Victor adopted another new bodystyle in 1964 with the FC, and again the Envoy adopted the sportier, chrome laden front end of the Vauxhall’s VX4/90 variant. Also debuting this year was the new Epic, based on the new, even smaller, Vauxhall Viva. Considered its own brand, although it also carried Envoy badging, the Epic differed from the Vauxhall Viva sold at Canadian Pontiac/Buick dealers in that it adopted the fancier SL exterior trim of its British sibling (not unlike what’s its bigger brother the Envoy was doing). This new compact car was quite a success, being the second best-selling import behind the venerable VW Beetle in Canada for a period. Meanwhile, the Acadian debuted in Canadian Pontiac/Buick showrooms the previous year, giving the Victor-based Envoy FC some strong internal competition for sales.
It was during this time that the Canadian government would begin to make things difficult for this unique Canadian brand. Being part of the British Commonwealth, vehicles from the UK and other Commonwealth countries had previously entered Canada free of duty. With the growing number of imports being sold in the country, the government began to be concerned that British imports would have an unfair advantage to competitors like the VW Beetle, and passed a bill to start collecting taxes on British cars. Although the subsequent rising prices negatively affected sales of the larger Envoy, the Epic debuted in the midst of it all and was relatively unaffected, with customers being drawn to its tidy size and lower price.
Continue this story on page 14.