Of all the programs about vintage cars, Victory By Design is the GOAT. When it started showing on the Speed Channel 20 years ago I set my VHS to record every episode. I watched them over and over, but those tapes didn’t survive. However, I still have a few episodes on DVD and I regularly revisit my favorites of Victory By Design, or VBD, on Youtube since I don’t even have a way to play DVDs anymore.
VBD was the definitive vintage automotive documentary. It had it all: historically significant cars from the most important marques, shot in cool locations, ample historical context and technological highlights, and, most importantly, amazing footage (and sound) of the cars being driven in anger. Under the direction of Tony Maylam, VBD was one of the earliest uses of a Steadicam which gave it a distinctive aesthetic. I don’t know who gets credit for coming up with this format, but to this day nothing else even comes close.
VBD started airing in the U.S. on Speedvision in 2003 and ended in 2007. Only 10 episodes were ever made. Given the logistics, I can’t imagine how much effort went into each one since they were shot in multiple countries with 15-20 cars featured in each episode. The main location was Sir Anthony Bamford’s estate in England which served as a “track.” That was handy, because Bamford also had a collection that provided a fair number of the cars that appeared on the show.
Alain de Cadenet was the consummate host. He was an accomplished endurance racer in the ‘70s and ‘80s and even scored a couple of podiums at the 24 Hours of Le Mans -- in cars of his own design, no less. His subsequent experience in vintage motorsports served him well, as he made driving cars of different eras look effortless and was able to confidently four-wheel drift these priceless relics around. De Cadenet’s passion, excitement, and reverence was infectious.
Here’s the problem: Victory By Design needs to be saved. It is an essential reference material for enthusiasts, and a great way for those entering the hobby to understand the lineage of these cars. VBD in its entirety should be readily available to all, but it is not. (Or if it is and I’ve missed it, please tell me!) The Youtube copies look awful, appearing to below-quality conversions made from SDTV DVDs.
My hope would be that we could locate the original source material and have the episodes digitally remastered into HDTV format. Naturally, this would require the cooperation of whoever currently owns VBD’s rights. Then we could see if a digital platform like Amazon Prime, Netflix, MotorTrend or like would make them available. Heck, if Hulu can have old M*A*S*H reruns we should be able to do this, right?
Anyhow, if you have any more information, connections, or ideas on how to make this happen, maybe WE can be the ones to save Victory By Design together! That would be something now, wouldn’t it?
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re in.
Hmm, I heard McKeel might have some extra scratch coming his way so maybe he could help a brother out?