Campagnolo - Victory S3

Campagnolo - Victory S3 scan 01 main image

Campagnolo never liked to be unneccessarily clear about its model names, and has a history of chosing product numbers that would have defeated the code-breakers of Bletchley Park. But the in the 1980s the situation got particularly surreal. First the company stopped writing the model name anywhere on any of the products, then it issued a blizzard of strangely vague, sometimes contradictory, often inaccurate and, seemingly, deliberately misleading catalogues.

As a strategy for sowing confusion amongst consumers, retailers and cycling journalists, it worked perfectly . No one had any idea what was going on - and some of us are still trying to work it out.

This catalogue from July 1987 is a worked example of the problem. It is titled 'Victory S3', which anyone familiar with Serie A in football might guess refers to something that could be translated as 'Victory Series 3'. Handily the derailleurs shown are, indeed, the third iteration of the Victory design. Unhandily, the derailleurs are identical to something that, in a catalogue dated February 1987 (just 5 months earleir), appeared to be called 'Nuovo Victory'.

More confusingly, the model name 'Victory S3' has almost never been used to describe the model shown in the catalogue titled 'Victory S3'. In general, when Campaphiles talk about the 'Victory S3' they are referring to the fourth iteration of the Victory design, which has a script logo on the outer parallelogram plate. As far as I am aware, Campagnolo never used the names 'Victory S1', 'Victory S2' or 'Victory S4', so we have no idea whether the Campagnolo community is using the term 'Victory S3' correctly.

Finally the catalogue itself manages not to list either of the two derailleurs shown as a separate components - so neither derailleur is explictly given a name or product number. Given that the derailleurs were probably the top selling components in the whole groupset, this is strangely odd. But, in the 1980s, that was Campagnolo through and through.