Griffin or Wyvern: exactly what is the fabulous beast on Fulk le Breant’s coat of arms and today’s Vauxhall logo? Vauxhall seemed unsure themselves when they called a series of nineteen fifties models Wyverns and in the nineties called their Luton HQ Griffin House. The dictionary defines the two contenders as follows: A griffin (or griffon) is a fabulous animal typically half eagle and half lion, whereas a Wyvern is a fabulous animal usually represented as a two legged winged creature resembling a dragon.
Look at any Vauxhall badge over the last century and it’s certainly an eagle on top (just look at that beak and eyes and compare to the Welsh dragon) but it’s represented as a two legged creature as our friend is standing on a heraldic device called a bridge. The clincher, however, is the bushy end to the tail and the fur feathers on the front legs which shout lion! So he is a Griffin and Vauxhall should be ashamed for introducing the interloper Wyvern who has no place in Vauxhall history aside from being the name of some interesting four cylinder cars built in Luton from the late forties to the late fifties.
Shown below are a small selection of Griffins from over the years which have been culled from books, headed notepaper and web sites. They span over one hundred years of Vauxhall’s existence and show how marketing men over this time have moulded our stalwart guardian to suit the fashions of the day. But through it all, he still comes out triumphant, flag in hand (V, B or blank), ready to go and defend Vauxhall’s honour. You may notice one highly unauthorised version used by a bunch of eight year olds who belonged to the Rascals (after the van) Kart Team.