Home | Wiki | Live Chat | Dev Stream | YouTube | Archived Forums | Contact

Vincent Automotive (1952-Endgame)


#1

Vincent Automotive, founded as a maker of luxury coupes for the elite, now produces a wide range of cars for almost any budget from the low end Erupt to the full size Caldera, Monolith and Spectre. Vincent is, nowadays, known for its progressive design languages that have evolved through the ages, with some complete revolutions in styling along the way. Here we go through, not in any order at all, the story of Vincent Automotive and their pioneering designs.

First though, we need to cover some basics-
Post 1985, there are 4 trim levels for each model, these are:
EcoLine - The Eco model, focused on being high tech and very fuel efficient, these cars use smaller vaiants of the EcoSport engines to maintain an engaging drive.
EcoSport- the eco model with a twist, not the most economical, but faster and sportier than EcoLine.
ComfortLine - The comfort oriented trim, it will have a bit more of a lazy engine and a more supple ride than EcoSport.
SportLine - The sport model, with a powerful engine and a more sporty setup than EcoSport, SportLine cars mean business on road and track.
Vincent also has an in-house team of petrolhead loonies (because every company has one of those these days) that was formed in 1976, initially, they took the name VRS (Vincent Race Sector) but, in 1985, to coincide with the new concepts, was changed to VST (Vincent Sport Tuning).

Design was always important to founder Vincent Lee Laithwaite, who decreed that every model should be uniform and represent Vincent in a way that stands out from the crowd, he gave each of these design languages names to reflect their look, a tradition which Vincent Automotive still follows to this day.

1952-1965: Atomica
1966-1978: Capacia
1979-1985: Sportiva
1985-1990: Futurisma
1991-1996: Late Futurisma
1997-2004: Millenia
2005-2010: Moderna
2011-2014: Arrow
2015-endgame: Arrow Minima

Founded in 1949 by Vincent Lee Laithwaite of Ynysybwl, Wales, near Cardiff, Vincent Automotive had its first factory located just west of Pontypridd as well as 2 showrooms, one in Cardiff and one in Swansea, built and ready for use by 1951, at the same time, Laithwaite was designing and engineering his first model, it was in production by 1952. Laithwaite, a recent engineering and design graduate from Oxford, was confident in his designs and was intent on having only the highest quality parts go into his cars, the upshot of this was that it was easily the most reliable car in the UK, but, it was very expensive and only the upper middle and upper classes could realistically afford one at that time, despite this, it sold well nationwide and Vincent Automotive went on to be the top British automaker every year since 1968.


#2

And finally, I have the first example of the early Atomica design language with the original Vincent Atomica coupe. The first model to be penned by Laithwaite featured a dramatic, wide faced stance and a fascia reminiscent of recent high end cars in the USA. Indeed, the whole car was very American in style with is high ride, long hood, and curved front screen. Laithwaite is quoted as being “heavily influenced” by the trendy Atomic Age styles adopted by those west of the Atlantic immediately after the war. The styling proved polarising on home turf and many customers, those in East Anglia, Wales and Scotland especially noted that the vehicle’s large stance and floaty ride, while nice on the motorways, de-restricted in those days, at speeds of over 125mph, made it a handful on tight country roads. This setback was practically disregarded by Laithwaite as he had more nimble things up his sleeve…

But for the mean time, have a look at some photos of the car.


#3

That’s a very interesting design concept… I like it! Can’t wait to see more designs, I’m especially interested in Arrow.


#4

Arrow is the first design I actually made, and I have quite a few cars in it atm, but I’m going to go through the languages chronologically. Capacia is coming.


#5

The late 1960s, fuel prices were low, cars were cheap, the population, booming. The number of cars on the road was increasing at a rate that the industry, try as they might, struggled to keep up with, but Vincent Automotive’s sales were falling. After a very simple analysis of the situation, Laithwaite noticed that the sales of high-end cars industry wide was down in favour of more practical, cheaper cars that other automakers were already offering and selling by the boatload. In order to ensure Vincent made it through the era, it had to reinvent itself, cars of the late 60s were still, at this point, not far removed from the flowing lines of the 40s and 50s, Laithwaite had an idea, a new design language that used simple ‘boxy’ shapes in order to increase interior volume without increasing the actual size of the car. This also meant that construction was cheaper as the number of complex folds was lessened by no small amount and some parts of the production line could be replaced by machines to speed up production and lessen costs. Enter Capacia, the new revolution in styling, lead by Vincent Automotive. The first car in this bold suit was the 1966 Evora, a mid sized family car, and by far the most customisable car in Vincent’s history, with customers being able to choose from 2 and 4 door saloons, 2 and 4 door estates and a coupe. The base trim level featured an efficient 1.8l 4 cylinder engine, this time, coupled to the front wheels in order to remove the hump in the cabin floor that made back seat passengers feel claustrophobic, especially in cars with dark interiors. From this year on, FWD is commonplace on Vincent cars, as is the economical trim level. The Evora was initially met with criticism for its ‘bland’ design, but the public eventually warmed to its simple yet characterful design, citing that its presence was ‘understated enough to blend in, but just enough to look good’. The public liked the way it drove too, the FWD setup meant that grip leaving a corner was much increased, and the suspension setup negated a large portion of the understeer that previous attempts at FWD setups had become known for. Customers thought that it drove as well as or better than the Austin Minis that were much smaller than the Evora. The Evora was a complete success and placed Vincent in the #2 spot for sales, behind Austin and their Mini, by 1967.

Here is the design, seen here with the 2-door estate ‘shooting brake’ body:


#6

As the 80s neared, it became clear that, to stay ahead of the curve, Vincent needed to update its style and set a new trend. However, a new image was in the works already so the design wouldn’t end up lasting too long so only an evolution was needed in the mind of Laithwaite. Sportiva was the name given to the new design owing to the car’s low slung, sporty appearance. The design features a full length chrome strip running from headlight to taillight with door handles built in to make for a clean and modern aesthetic. The double headlights and front/side indicators are housed within the same ‘cluster’ for the first time on a Vincent car, underneath the black plastic bumper strip, a simply designed double lower grille houses the license plate and fog lights, in order to protect the car from car park scrapes, the bumper strips extend to the wheel arches and the lower part of the door is equipped with a similar black strip, another pair of ‘cluster’ housings carry the rear lights, reverse lights and rear indicators while an inset black strip, bordered in chrome to link the lights and the badge to eachother, hides a boot catch release handle, the rear bumper is almost identical to that of the front, a double grille setup, although completely sealed shut with plastic, carries the license plate and exhausts, dual exited on this 3500cc example. License plates are updated in promo shots to the new UK style, with black on white on the front and black on yellow plates on the back. This example is the 3.5l Inline 6 powered Monolith estate which received praise for its engaging drive characteristics and comfortable ride, the engine in this is also the first engine by Vincent to receive Fuel Injection technology, however, despite this new technology, the 3.5l Monolith received harsh criticism for its very poor fuel economy, achieving only 14.3mpg UK in testing, despite this, the fuel injection did deliver on its other promise- much increased power output, this 3.5l 6 cylinder engine makes over 200bhp, a similar figure to the 6.2l V8 in the 1952 Atomica and over 3 times the power of the 1.8l i4 in the Evora, an engine half the size. The Monolith sold well and proved that the advances that Vincent made with the new styling and new technologies was here to stay.

The promo material, however, for legacy’s sake, did not change much.





#7
  1. The time has come for the first stage of the great Vincent Automotive global re-branding, due to issues with obtaining modern tooling equipment for a more ahead-of-the-curve, curvy styling, the new design had to make do, until 1991, with a similar, boxy, body shape to the outgoing models. The new design featured a pair of futuristic, angular headlights, the full length chrome strip remains, as do the reach-under door handles, the rear has a familiar, squared off shape with another pair of futuristic light clusters capping the inset plastic strip, a carry-up from the Capacia and Sportiva eras, the fake rear ‘grille’ houses the yellow license plate and, in the case of this SportLine model, dual exhausts exit through the end segments, this SportLine model features a rear wing of new design and front/rear lips. As with Sportiva, the lower front grille houses the fog lights in its end segments, however, the license plate is placed just above it rather than inside it. Customers liked the new deisgn, commenting on its forward thinking front end and enhanced interior. The media, however, were very cynical, commenting on the new, entry level Erupt’s customisable interior trim pieces that were designed to be removed by the customer in order to change the colour or pattern of that segment, remarking “The supposedly consumer customisable interior trim is tacky and is simply too easy to take off, our test driver worried that pieces may fall off mid drive”. When it came to the high end, the praise was never ending, one outlet reviewed the SportLine trim of the Mk. 2 Caldera, commenting on its rapid acceleration, good handling and satisfyingly raspy Boxer 6 engine. This rebranding also brought some new colours- Nightfall Black, Blood Maroon, Midnight Blue and SportLine Green. These promo shots feature the Mk.2 Caldera SportLine in matching green colour.



#8

After 6 years of producing the Futurisma style, Vincent Automotive had successfully obtained the advanced tooling products that would allow the originally planned Futurisma body shape to be produced en mass. This style would be called “Late Futurisma” to show that it is an evolution from Futurisma as opposed to a complete restyle, as all previous design eras had been until this point. The new design, due to its being an evolution, wasn’t much to talk about in comparison to early Futurisma back in '85. Apart from, that body style, the new, sleek curves wowed customers and gave them a sense as to what the future would hold, indeed, this overall shape would be imitated by automakers the world over for the foreseeable future, well into the post millennium. Customers and auto-reviewers alike loved the evolved design and how it managed to stay true to the history of the company with the full length chrome strip and the inset plastic strip connecting the rear headlights while also presenting a bold, modern aesthetic. This example is the updated Caldera, this time in ComfortLine trim, with the top of the line 3.5l Inline 6, complete with a turbocharger and electric fuel injection, and presented in the elegant Blood Maroon





#9

As the Millenium drew near, automakers all over the world were experimenting with wacky styles in order to bring the space age onto the roads. Vincent, on the other hand, took the opportunity to heavily refine their styling. With a less severe upward rake in the body as compared to 1991-1996 models, cars appear longer, the flatter face of new models gives them a more cohesive look as they better align to the shape of the body. Amongst this redesign, was a new, mid-spec model, called Europa, which quickly gained notability for its incredibly efficient ES4-180ti engine, a 1.8l turbocharged and electronically fuel injected inline 4, which made 160bhp, despite its larger size and high power output compared to its rival, the Toyota Prius 1 with its advanced 1NZ-FXE + Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, it was not far behind at 50.4 miles per UK Gallon, in fact, customers found the Vincent more economical in practice as its higher output lower down meant that it did not need to be driven as hard, its design also earned it sales against the Prius with its elegant styling that matched that of the larger Caldera Mk.4 and the estate version matching that of the Monolith Mk.4. As with most Vincent models, Europa was praised for its comfortable ride when cruising and engaging handling on the small circuit, although, Gear D did note that it did seem to “run out of guts” on their downhill back straight and that it “ploughed” with understeer through the slingshot when at speeds of over 105mph. The public generally liked the refreshed design language, commenting on its lack of “blobbyness” to quote one Monolith buyer. The media were also positive about the new series of powertrains, with more FWD and AWD options than prior, cars were more manageable at road speeds if less engaging on track.





#10

It’s the year 2005 and the competition are catching up to Vincent’s post millennium refinement and modern styling. A new design had to be made in order to stay ahead of the industry. This design was dubbed ‘Moderna’ owing to its modern, flowing, aesthetic, the bulbous front end from Millenia designs was eliminated and replaced with a sleek, steep angled front fascia. The improved aerodynamics of the new design had meant that the new generation Europa achieved the same fuel economy with the new estate than the old saloon, despite the fact that estates generally have worse aerodynamics than their hatchback and saloon counterparts, mainly on the part of the very flat back. The model seen here is the 2005 Europa EcoLine Estate, praised for its modern design and not looking like a typical economy car, such as the then extremely popular second generation Toyota Prius. Its drive was noted as not being as sporty as the previous Europa generations, but it was also noted that it was a step change in comfort and easier to drive by no insignificant amount due to its active suspension system- dubbed ‘ActiveRide’ by Vincent- tuned for a comfortable and easy drive in order to promote more relaxed driving habits, most of the Vincent lineup did not get this suspension tune as standard, although it was available across the whole range at a price premium of £250 in the UK, with appropriate pricing for the rest of the world. The public and media greeted the Moderna style with positivity from the majority, with its flowing lines and sporty design traits which combine to make Moderna cars as sporty as they looked under the Sportiva design era, albeit with a more aerodynamic shell.

This example is the Vincent Europa in Ecoline trim, powered by the 149bhp EL4-160i-149-DC-4v-DFI-4 engine.



#11

Its 2011. The dawn of a new era for Vincent Automotive and daybreak for the first of the Arrow designs. The Arrow style represents a step change for Vincent and a transition into the 2010s with sharp, angular designs. The media dubbed the look ‘polarising’, while, some, renegade outlets praised the design as a symbol of the modern era. The public were divided, some loved its crisp lines and modern facia, while others criticised its use of sharp angles. The styling represented a new identity for Vincent Automotive, one of a modern, ahead of the curve, high tech company, and one that was well received. The example shown here is the 2011 Monolith, the full size estate, in SportLine trim, with a 475bhp 3.5 Boxer 6 to boot. This car was adored by Gear D, stating that the 6 speed dual clutch gear box allows the driver to slot it in Drive and be cossetted by the car’s smooth ride and comfortable interior, with minimal sound coming from under the bonnet, but, when more fun is desired, a simple tap of the up-shift paddle engaged manual mode, affording the driver full control of the 475bhp engine, resulting in something very much unlike what its body style would infer, the big thing can shift, with 0-62 in 4.3 seconds, enough to go head to head with proper sports cars from the likes of BMW and Porsche. The buyers of this trim loved how effortlessly it’s power is delivered in drive and how punchy it is when driven hard, and, in general, the updated lineup had a good reception.





#12

I know this model has gotten a lot of attention, but building something and then trying to get the most mpgs from it is very satisfying to me. Its 2015, and time for a design update to the lineup, focusing heavily on refinement from Arrow, and as such, the name Arrow does not change, apart from the addition of the suffix “Minima”, to represent its sleek, minimalist looks, to sum this design up in short, it takes Arrow and removes any unnecessary complexity, for example, the headlights are no longer separated into 2 with the indicators, with the middle upwards swoosh being replaced by a straight line linking both halves, the lower grille was brought into line, the 2 step design lives no more, the rear bumper’s fake grilles change to a more rectangular style, front lower indicators disappear and the front foglights exapand to take their place. The changes are subtle, but the astute amongst the public and media embraced the updates, remarking that the new style, while subtle, made Arrow standard designs look overdone. This car is (sorry, I’m showing you another one of these) the 2015 rendition of the Europa mid size car, shown here (again) in Ecoline trim, with the fastback body style which replaced the saloon style with Arrow standard in 2011, the car is shown in Vincent’s take on Midnight Blue, a heavily desaturated blue, 1 tick above pure black, with no metal flake, or pearlescence, the colour has been common on Vincent’s EcoLine advertisements since 1985, but has seen its popularity soar in recent years. This car is powered by the 1200ti variant of the EL4, the EcoLine gaining its own family of engines with Arrow in 2011, and puts out 126bhp while attaining a claimed 56.5mpg in the fastback Europa. It would be revealed that Millenia was to be Vincent Lee Laithwaite’s final stroke of the pen, he died in 2015 at the age of 87, all designs after 1997 were produced by his son, Frederick James Laithwaite.





#13

Damn, with the swooping chrome lines, the side almost looks like a Model 3


#14

That is all of the design eras covered, get ready for a whole lot of lore (and a lot of chrome) as we head right back to 1952. The first car is one you’ve already seen and will be dropping, with more detailed information, tomorrow at around 12ishBST


#15

Its 1952, and much attention has been drawn, over the past year, to the completed, yet empty car dealerships in Cardiff and Swansea, and more attention still to the completed, and also apparently empty, factory in Pontypridd, with canvas sheeting covering potential branding in all 3 locations, while in Oxford Street in London’s West End, a car dealership is nearing completion. What could all this be? Was very much the mindset of the public in January 1952, above the Cardiff dealership, an astute passer-by noticed a brand, between the 2 storeys above the car dealership at ground level, it read “Vincent Automotive Design Studio, Cardiff”. The same lettering was noticed at the Oxford Street location, albeit reading “London” as opposed to “Cardiff”. Both people were not just standard passers-by, in fact, they were actually renowned automotive journalists, an agreement was made between them that they would meet at Bristol Temple Meads train station on the 18th January 1952 to discuss their findings and write a piece for their segments about what all of this could be on about. Meeting in the station allowed an element of privacy in the British Rail first class lounge at Bristol, and the unsuspecting location allowed them to work efficiently. It was decided that they would travel in by train, to further reduce their chances of being apprehended by enthusiasts and fans. The London based journalist departed on the 10AM train to Bristol and the Cardiff based journalist on the 11AM train to London, meeting in Bristol at 12 Noon. The meeting was over in 90 minutes, the pair had decided that something big was about to happen in the British automotive scene, and both had notes for their segments on it. Fast forward to February 12th 1952. The pair had received an invitation to a car factory opening, opening the day after, in Pontypridd, as well as the unveiling of a new car, set to revolutionise personal travelling comfort and speed. The new car was launched, albeit to little fanfare, the company being only small. But, with big, bold chrome elements straight out of an American car show, it sure turned heads.

Presenting The 1952 Vincent Atomica Coupe.
Powered by a plentiful 6.15l V8 engine making 207bhp and 321lb/ft, it was a super GT of its day, a top speed of 130mph and ability to cruise for hours at 125mph meant that it was the ultimate in prestige and performance on Britain’s roadways. The Atomica was not without its share of negativity, however, its fuel economy was terrible, especially considering that Britain was still reeling from WW2 and rationing was still in force. It’s brakes, despite being big, were tuned for comfort and therefore didn’t have much stopping power, and its high levels of power meant that eager drivers of their new super GT had to deal with much wheelspin off the line. With all of that said, however, the car was a big success, with a months long waiting list within 3 weeks of sales starting. It’s performance made headlines across the globe, with a top speed of 130mph, it was one of the fastest cars on Earth. In 1955, one even raced the Flying Scotsman on the East Coast Mainline between London and Edinburgh, the train took 6.5hours, the Atomica smashed it’s record, doing the 400 miles in just 5 hours, inclusive of stops for fuel and comfort breaks. And again in 1964, it beat the West Coast Mainline between London and Glasgow, the train took 6 hours, the Atomica, only 4.5, again, inclusive of all stops made. This car was smashing every long distance record and beating the fastest trains in the world, and driving second hand market prices through the roof.

The leadership at Vincent Automotive where extremely satisfied with the launch of the Atomica Coupe, most people seemed to like the car, and love its design, with its big front grille, full length side chrome strips and chrome strips centering the bonnet, roof and boot lid, as well as the tri-stack rear lights. But, Vincent Lee Laithwaite thought he could do better, and fix what was wrong with the Elite trim level to make it even more attractive to more people, a more mainstream trim level was needed, with a smaller engine and less expensive materials in its interior. The Atomica 6, powered by a still beefy inline 6 cylinder engine, and revised 5 seat interior. The result was a 107bhp version of the Atomica, sold at a lower markup. It sold well and Laithwaite bought one Atomica Elite and one Atomica 6, at full retail price, to show his confidence in the Atomica.

Wow. The lore stuff is fun. But that also took me about an hour to do, next one wont be so long as this was just to start off the “production lore”, to see more information about what Vincent Automotive is and how this is going to go from here, please check OP. So, you probably want some photos of the Atomica now.


The rear of the Atomica was very distinct, the black bar across the boot lid, the low mounded V badge, dual, US style exhaust outlets and triple stacked lights flanking it all.


The Atomica had an imposing stance, a wide grille low down on the front made the car look sporty and aggressive, the bonnet ornament making the front even more imposing.


The design work of the Atomica was simple, but exquisite, a long, straight chrome line accentuates the car’s length, giving it a very regal presence from the 3/4 view.


From the side, the American influence is just as clear as the front, wing mounted chrome mirrors, a full length chrome strip, and 4 chrome strips linking the rear wheel arch and rear bumper give it a high end look. The high profile of the tires is especially visible from the side, the upshot is that they give the car a very comfortable ride, but do impact ease of driving and sportiness when compared to lower profile tires.

That’s the lore started off, see you soon with the next design, and I’ve now been going at this for 1 hour. I’m insane, ok.


#16

In 1953, Laithwaite started work on a different version of the popular, yet prohibitively expensive, Atomica coupe, the new model would be smaller, but would have the same general design with the big grille, fender mirrors and chrome heavy rear. The car would, also, have 4 doors, and the Elite trim would have a new version of the V8 used in the Atomica, with lower capacity and power to make it more driveable, as this model was not intended to be a sports car, rather, a high end saloon, with a well appointed interior, short throw gear lever for greater ease of use, and a tachometer next to the speedometer to aid in driving at comfortably quiet, yet powerful rpm ranges. The engine in question was a 4.5l V8, based on the 6.2l block from the Atomica, making 136bhp and 231b/ft of torque at 3700 and 2200rpm respectively, with the engine redlining at 4000rpm, just as the Atomica’s engine did. This engine would be dubbed the “4500-OHV-1E/4C”, 4500 being capcacity in cc, OHV being valve train configuration, and 1E/4C being its fuel system layout, with 1 barrel eco carbs, arranged with 4 on each engine, the 3.5l inline 6 was also available with the new car. The new car, christened “Boulevard” at launch on March 16th 1955, proved a hit with review outlets, raving over its intelligently designed short throw gear lever that made changing gears much easier than any car on the roads, as well as its stand-out styling, bold chrome elements really set Boulevard apart from the rest of Britain’s motor cars, yet it’s size meant that it was much more manageable than the Atomica while still being just as spacious, even with its full 5 seat interior. Even its economy earnt it praise, with the 4.5l V8 sipping fuel at a rate of up to 20mpg thanks to its well tuned, eco carbs that allowed a very efficient split of fuel into the cylinders, allowing it to run a lean mix of 92RON fuel, its mix ratio was just 14.8:1.

The public were in awe, they could have their piece of the prestige that the Vincent name had picked up in the last 3 years without having to splurge on an Atomica, or on Atomica’s running costs, this was the car that would send Vincent racing into the high end consumer market. With this car, as many journalists nationwide had predicted, also came the launch of 5 new dealerships, and all 8 would be complete with maintenance shops, the new dealerships would be located in Plymouth, Ramsgate, Ipswich, York and Edinburgh, with another 7 opening by the end of the year, those in Glasgow, Bristol, Hereford, Stevenage, Norwich, Newcastle and Brighton. Rumours about Vincent, however, didn’t cease following the launch of the Boulevard for long, apparently, a convertible based on the Boulevard was on the horizon.


The front fascia was very much taken from the Atomica, refined, and shrunk to size, the design being as clean as ever.


The dramatic rear also kept an uncluttered look, with 4 chrome bars between the bumper and rear wheel, and 3 slanted tail lights to complete the American inspired Atomic era design.


#17

And so the rumour mill worked it magic for 2 years, predicting a Convertible, with the short wheelbase and body from the Boulevard, but with 2 doors as opposed to 4. A sort of micro Atomica, if you will. The car’s launch date also leaked ahead of time, for the first time in Vincent’s history, March 16th 1957. What was not known, however, was that there would be 2 cars launching that day.
Launch number 1 included the expected, a drop top fabric roofed coupe based on the short wheelbase body adopted by the Boulevard, this car would be dubbed ‘Malibu’. But, just as journalists were beginning to pack up following it, Laithwaite announced “but there’s more”. So, launch number 2, no one knew what it would be, it had not been rumoured at all, it came as a complete surprise to everyone. With it, Vincent went back to their roots from 5 years prior, a coupe, but based on the short wheelbase again, so as not to steal the limelight from the Atomica, since it’s development was kept under wraps, and no one saw it coming, it would be called ‘Mirage’. Mirage was to be the first car exported out of Britain, specifically, to 200 buyers in New York State, Florida and New Jersey, in order to start Vincent’s US sales. All 200 examples sold within 2 months, despite being right hand drive and very much UK spec. Vincent’s launch in the US was very successful, its styling going down a treat with US buyers, who had already had several years to get used to the exaggerated chrome elements and big grille. Suffice to say, Vincent had a smoother launch in the USA than in its home country, relatively predictable considering the US influences in design. But, US buyers also raved at its refined drive and drivability when compared with similar spec US cars, thanks to its Hydraulic power steering and semi independent rear suspension. Laithwaite’s car was a success, it had broken into the most lucrative post-war high end car market in the world, and it had done so with great success, another 800 cars were exported to the USA with the addition of left hand drive and a shifted interior layout to mirror the RHD counterparts.

Vincent Malibu- the Convertible.


As usual, the extravagant design carries up the generations, the body is getting a bit dated at this point but there’s still another 9 years left in the Atomica Era at this point.


The rear underwent minor changes, the chrome upper strip of the rear horizontal strip is the biggest now, as opposed to the side strips earlier.

Vincent Mirage- The Coupe


Presented in the stunning Midnight Blue, the Mirage was certainly a head-turner, even further popularised at launch thanks to its surprise unveiling, the design remaining faithful to the original Atomica.


The rear was unchanged from the Atomica, just shrunk to size. It was just as striking and just as chrome heavy as before, making this perfect mini Atomica.


#18

So, we now arrive at 1960, the Atomica is getting long in the tooth, at 8 years with no refresh of any kind, so we reach March 15th, auto journalists receive an anonymous invite, stating no more than “I’m back: Meet me, Pontypridd, tomorrow, noon”. Of course, even if simply out of morbid curiosity, everyone obliged. Being met at Pontypridd station by Vincent officials with Atomicas, a level of opulence Vincent wanted to keep as its theme for the day, the company exploding in recent years thanks to its wide variety of offerings. The founder and CEO, Vincent Lee Laithwaite stood up on the stage at the back of the factory once all the journalists and other guests had settled down, announcing “Today, we see a new face, a familiar face, but for certain, a new one, a subtle change makes all the difference.” Stepping down from the stage, the hydraulic doors opened and out rolled a familiar face, the wide, chrome heavy fascia of an Atomica, turning left out of the doors, resplendent in racing green, its 6.15l V8 engine purring. But, behind it, a familiar face again, but definitely not the same, a subtle change, a refined styling, more chrome, and a strikingly classy deep blue paintwork, it too pulls out of the factory, but, not with the purr of a big block V8, rather, a grumble, “6 cylinders, that’s for certain, but it’s no inline” noted one journalist. Turning right out of the building, back to back with the other Atomica, there was no mistaking the 2, green, blue, conservative, classy, purring, rumbling. Laithwaite was back on stage, behind the cars, their engines are turned off and their drivers leave the stage and re-enter the factory. Laithwaite then moves to stand in front of the cars, covering the gap between them. “I present to you, the updated, new 1960 Atomica Coupe” he said, obviously proud. “We have a significant update under the hood of this particular one”, he said, walking over to the front of the new one, the blue one, opening the bonnet, revealing an all new 4l 6 cylinder engine, “Rather than have our 6 cylinders in a line, like on our traditional ‘6’ models, we have moved 3 of the cylinders and put them on a horizontal plane, allowing more vertical space for suspension and other components, in fact, we did contemplate having a boot under the bonnet, but we decided against that, the rear boot is big enough for most people anyway”. In fact, this was one of Vincent’s most power dense engines to date, 197bhp comes out of its 4l capacity, giving it similar performance to the old 8 cylinder Atomica, but much improved economy, nearing 15mpg, more than acceptable for a high performance car of the early 60s. To further ice the cake, it dispatches the 0-60 run in under 10 seconds, and reaches 70 not much later, it could outrun all but the fastest sports cars out of a motorway lay-by, and that’s before we consider the V8. Revised to 6.2l, its slightly larger than before, but with 264bhp, its extra heft is a non issue, with 0-60 in 8.3s and on to a top speed of over 140mph. “Thank you all for coming, if you wish to stay on for media test drives, please use the door on your left hand side, if you wish to leave now, you may use the door on your right, enjoy your day if you are leaving us here, if you wish to stay for test drives, enjoy the car.” The presentation had been a great success, the Boxer trim dominated the motoring press in the days after the launch, with glowing reports on performance and driveability, along with generally positive reviews on comfort, practicality, handling, etc. The car did well, many buyers chose to replace their old Atomicas with the Mk. 2 and many more buyers chose Atomica as their first foray into Vincent ownership. Most of those had a positive impression.


The stance of the Atomica was as bold as ever, wide, with a large bonnet ornament, it commanded the roads wherever it went.


With one of the most intricate designs in Vincent’s 8 year history, it looked its price tag.


Even from the rear, it commanded respect from road users, the iconic and classy rear end very well known by this point definitely caught the eye.