Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Vauxhall

Vauxhall


A chronological day-by-day history of Vauxhall.

Wednesday 27th March 1907

110 years ago

Vauxhall Motors Ltd was registered in Great Britain. The first model was just five horsepower, had no reverse gear and cost £136 – a goodly sum at the time. A six horsepower model – with reverse – followed in 1904 and it was the following year that the company moved to Luton in Bedfordshire, which was to be its home ever after.In 1911, Vauxhall produced the C-type, later known as the Prince Henry – a door-less four-seater which was effectively the first true sports car from a British maker. After the first world war, the company introduced the D-type and the glamorous 4.5-litre 30/98 which proved a big motor sport success. But the company pulled out of motor sport in 1924 to concentrate on the needs of ordinary drivers, producing the M-type, later known as the 14/40. In December 1925, Vauxhall Motors became a wholly owned subsidiary of America's giant General Motors Corporation (GM). The move led to a big expansion of production, which in 1925 was only around 1,400 cars from a workforce of about 1,800. There was also a move into commercial vehicle production, with the first Bedford vehicle – a two-tonner – appearing in April 1931. The Bedford was an instant success, spawning a whole succession of buses and vans. For the growing number of families now venturing on to the roads, Vauxhall produced the Cadet in 1930, with prices starting from £280. Other successful models included the 10-4, a variant of which appeared at the 1938 motor show priced just £189. During the second world war, Vauxhall churned out Churchill tanks and Bedford trucks for the services and also did work on aircraft jet engines. By 1953, output topped 100,000 vehicles a year for the first time and the company built its one millionth vehicle. Four years later, the new truck plant at Dunstable in Bedfordshire was up and running, there were 22,000 people on the payroll and the first Victor car had been produced. Work began on a new car plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside in 1961, with production beginning there in 1964. There was also expansion in the 1960s at Luton and Dunstable. Vauxhall enjoyed a boom in the 1960s, with nearly all families now able to afford a car. The Viva was a success and then, in 1975, came the Cavalier and, in 1979, the Astra. Other top-selling models included the Nova, the Corsa, the Vectra and more recently the Zafira and Insignia – vehicles that were to keep Vauxhall snapping at the heels of Ford as the UK's biggest-selling manufacturer. Vauxhall cars have sported the famous griffin emblem which was derived from the coat of arms of Fulk le Breant and which has undergone a number of reincarnations down the years.

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Friday 13th October 1916

101 years ago

General Motors Corporation was incorporated under Delaware law and acquired all stock of General Motors Company. neral Motors Corporation (GM), American corporation that was the world’s largest motor-vehicle manufacturer for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries. It operates manufacturing and assembly plants and distribution centres throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Its major products include automobiles and trucks, automotive components, and engines. Its subsidiary General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), founded in 1919 to finance and insure the installment sales of GM products, entered the mortgage business in 1985 and expanded into commercial finance in 1999. GM’s headquarters are in Detroit, Michigan. Under the leadership of William C. Durant, the General Motors Company was founded in 1908 to consolidate several motorcar companies producing Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (later Pontiac), Ewing, Marquette, and other autos, as well as Reliance and Rapid trucks. GM introduced the electric self-starter commercially in its 1912 Cadillac, and this invention soon made the hand crank obsolete. GM remained based in Detroit and was reincorporated and named General Motors Corporation in 1916. The Chevrolet auto company and Delco Products joined GM in 1918, and the Fisher Body Company and Frigidaire joined in 1919 (the latter was sold in 1979). Durant was forced out of the company in 1920 and was succeeded by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., who served as president (1923–37) and then as chairman of the board of directors (1937–56). Sloan reorganized GM from a sprawling, uncoordinated collection of business units into a single enterprise consisting of five main automotive divisions—Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet—the activities of which were coordinated by a central corporate office equipped with large advisory and financial staffs. The various operating divisions retained a substantial degree of autonomy within a framework of overall policy; this decentralized concept of management became a model for large-scale industrial enterprises in the United States. Sloan also greatly strengthened GM’s sales organization, pioneered annual style changes in car models, and introduced innovations in By 1929 General Motors had surpassed the Ford Motor Company to become the leading American passenger-car manufacturer. It added overseas operations, including Vauxhall of England in 1925, Adam Opel of Germany in 1929, and Holden of Australia in 1931. The Yellow Truck & Coach Manufacturing Co. (now GMC Truck & Coach Division), organized in 1925, was among the new American divisions and subsidiaries established. In 1931 GM became the world’s largest manufacturer of motor vehicles. By 1941 it was making 44 percent of all the cars in the United States and had become one of the largest industrial corporations in the world. General Motors grew along with the American economy in the 1950s and ’60s and continued to hold 40–45 percent of total U.S. automotive sales. It bought Electronic Data Systems Corporation, a large data-processing company, in 1984 and acquired the Hughes Aircraft Company, a maker of weapons systems and communications satellites, in 1986. Along with other U.S. automobile manufacturers, the company faced increasingly severe competition from Japanese automakers in the 1970s and ’80s, and in 1984 GM began a new automotive division, Saturn, that used highly automated plants to produce subcompact cars to compete with Japanese imports. While GM’s modernization efforts showed some success, heavy losses in the early 1990s forced the company to close many plants and reduce its workforce by tens of thousands. Like other American automakers, however, GM made a robust recovery by the middle of the decade and returned its focus to its automotive businesses. It sold Electronic Data Systems in 1996, and in 1997 it sold the defense units of its Hughes Electronics subsidiary to the Raytheon Company, thus leaving the computer-services and defense-aerospace fields in order to concentrate on its automotive businesses. General Motors became the sole owner of Saab Automobile AB in 2000. By the early 21st century GM had equity shares in a number of car companies, including Fiat, Isuzu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), and Suzuki. In 2004, however, it discontinued the Oldsmobile brand. Four years later GM was surpassed by Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s largest automaker. In December 2008 Pres. George W. Bush announced an emergency financial rescue plan to aid the “Big Three” automakers—Chrysler LLC, General Motors, and Ford—to prevent the collapse of the country’s struggling auto industry. The plan made immediately available $13.4 billion in government loans from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a $700 billion fund approved by Congress to aid the financial industry following the subprime mortgage crisis. The loans would allow the auto companies to continue operating through March 2009, by which time the plan required them to demonstrate “financial viability” or return the money within 30 days. An additional stipulation required the companies to undergo restructuring. The money was initially made available to General Motors and Chrysler; Ford claimed to possess adequate funds to continue operations and thus did not apply for government relief. As its financial troubles mounted—the company claimed to be some $173 billion in debt—GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2009. It emerged from bankruptcy reorganization the following month. In 2010 the company officially discontinued both the Pontiac and Saturn brands and sold Saab. The downsizing left GM with four vehicle divisions: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. In November 2010 GM returned to the stock market with one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history. The following year GM regained its title as the largest automaker in the world.

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Monday 16th November 1925

92 years ago

Carmaker Vauxhall Motors of Luton was purchased by American giant General Motors for $2.5 million.

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Monday 18th March 1929

88 years ago

General Motors (GM) announced its plans to acquire Opel AG, one of Germany's largest car companies. When Alfred P. Sloan became president of GM in 1923, there was already a GM of Canada, but all other foreign markets were still being served through export. Throughout the 1920s the economic nationalism of European countries made international expansion difficult for the U.S. car companies. Ford attempted to crack foreign markets by setting up manufacturing subsidiaries in other countries. GM's Sloan decided that purchasing existing companies in countries with desirable markets was a better policy. In 1925, GM purchased Vauxhall Motors of Great Britain. Sloan's policies allowed GM to expand its market without attracting attention as a foreign company. On this day in 1929, GM announced its plans to buy the Adam Opel A.G. GM still runs Opel under the Opel name. Alfred Sloan is credited with turning GM from one of the most successful car companies in America into what was once one of the greatest industrial giants in the world.

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Monday 6th October 1930

87 years ago

Vauxhall announced an entirely new model, the Cadet VY, the first car in Europe with a full synchromesh gearbox. The first Vauxhall priced below £300, it was intended to supplement the existing 24 h.p. 20-60 thereafter to be known as the Vauxhall Eighty. When exported it was usually supplied with a 27 h.p. engine and named VX.

Vauxhall Cadet VY (1933 saloon)

Vauxhall Cadet VY (1933 saloon)

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Thursday 1st October 1931

86 years ago

Production began at Ford’s Dagenham Plant in east London, then Europe’s largest factory. The first vehicle to roll off the production line was a Model AA truck. Planning of the Dagenham plant began in the early 1920s, a time when lorries were small and road networks little developed. In the UK, bulk supplies were still delivered by water transport, so the Dagenham plant, like the Ford Trafford Park plant which it would replace, needed good water access. Dagenham on the southern estuarial edge of Essex offered the prospect of a deepwater port which would allow for bulk deliveries of coal and steel on a far larger scale than the barges of the Manchester Ship Canal could manage at the old plant. In 1924, Ford Motor Company purchased land in the Dagenham marshes for £167,700. On 17 May 1929, Edsel Ford marked the start of construction on the site by cutting the first turf in the marshes.[4] Construction on the site continued for 28 months and required around 22,000 concrete piles to be driven down through the clay of the marshland site to adequately support a factory that from the start was planned to incorporate its own steel foundry and coal-fired power station. At the time when the plant was planned, western governments were increasingly responding to economic depression with protectionist policies. This was the context in which Henry Ford’s policy of setting up relatively autonomous car-manufacturing businesses in principal overseas markets can be seen. The drive for self-reliance implicit in including within the Dagenham plant its own steel foundry and power station nevertheless went beyond anything attempted by other European mass-production automakers such as Morris in England, Opel in Germany, or Citroën in France. Inspiration for Ford’s Dagenham plant came more directly from Ford’s own Rouge River plant on the edge of Detroit. The first vehicle out of the Dagenham plant was a Ford AA light truck, produced in October 1931. However, the British economy was in a depressed condition at this time, and the surviving local market for light trucks was dominated by Morris Commercial products. Production at Ford’s Dagenham plant got off to a slow start, but picked up as the local economy recovered, so that by 1937, the plant produced 37,000 vehicles, an annual total that would not be exceeded until 1953. Most of the output of the Dagenham plant during the 1930s consisted of various editions of the Ford 8, a successful model first built at Dagenham in 1932, which probably inspired the even more successful Morris 8, first produced at Cowley in 1935 by the UK market leader of the late 1930s. Wartime production included large numbers of vans and trucks along with Bren gun carriers.[5] The plant produced numerous 'special purpose' engines. Agricultural vehicles were also an important element: at one point, the Fordson represented 95% of UK tractor production. After the Second World War, Ford’s UK operation set the pace for the UK auto industry, and Dagenham products included models such as the Zephyr, Cortina, and (until production of Ford’s smaller saloons transferred to Halewood), the Anglia.[1] The 1950s was a decade of expansion: a £75 million plant redevelopment completed in 1959 increased floor space by 50% and doubled production capacity.[5] This went hand-in-hand with the concentration in-house of car body assembly, following the acquisition in 1953 of the company's principal UK body supplier, Briggs Motor Bodies. In 1960s, Ford finally began to merge its previously competing British and German subsidiaries, culminating in the creation of Ford of Europe in 1967. The new entity began to systematically merge the once-separate product lineups from Dagenham and Cologne. The 1960s was an era that had several European automakers, including Ford, investing in new assembly plants on greenfield sites.[5] The Dagenham plant was, by 1970, becoming one of the Europe’s older mass-production car plants. In 1970, production of the Ford Escort began at the new Saarlouis in West Germany.[citation needed] By this time, the UK auto industry was gaining a reputation for poor industrial relations,[1] with a particularly lengthy strike leading to a three-month shut-down at the Dagenham plant at the start of the summer of 1971. This savaged availability of the Ford Cortina Mk III during its crucial first year. By the time the Ford Cortina Mk IV was introduced to UK customers, the cars inherited several Ford UK engines but were, in other respects, virtually identical to those branded in left-hand drive European markets as Ford Taunus models. Saarlouis was joined in 1976 by another new European plant in Valencia, Spain, to produce the then new Ford Fiesta concurrently with Dagenham. The same European strategy was followed by Ford's US rival General Motors, which in the 1970s, also merged the operations of its previously independent Opel and Vauxhall subsidiaries, with similar results. Ford Dagenham in 1973, displaying what was at the time the largest neon sign in Europe This decision to concurrently manufacture the same models in other European plants reduced the company’s vulnerability to further industrial disruption at Dagenham, and gave Ford a crucial advantage over strike-torn domestic rival British Leyland, which was often unable to fulfill customer orders during the all too frequent times of industrial unrest in the 1970s, and eventually ceded its long-standing UK market leadership to Ford, something from which it would never recover, but the duplication of production also made cost comparisons between the company’s various European plants increasingly stark. During the closing decade of the 20th century, UK government policy and the country’s status as a major oil producer left the UK with a currency which by several conventional criteria was significantly overvalued against the German Mark and the currencies that tracked it.[citation needed] This tended to exacerbate any cost penalties arising from relative inefficiencies in the Dagenham plant’s operation, and new model investment decisions during the 1990s tended to favour mainland Europe. For instance, the Sierra for the European market had its right-hand drive models made at Dagenham and the left-hand drive models in Belgium; in 1990, though, all Sierra production was concentrated in Belgium, leaving the Fiesta as the only model being built at Dagenham. The Sierra's successor, the Mondeo (launched in early 1993), was also built in Belgium. However, Dagenham did become a two-model plant again in January 1996 with the introduction of the Mazda 121 - essentially a badge-engineered Fiesta - as part as a venture with Mazda until its demise four years later.[6] By 2000, the only Ford produced at Dagenham was the Fiesta, itself competing in an increasingly crowded market sector. The lead plant for Fiesta production was in Spain, however. Faced with a cyclical downturn in car demand across Europe, Ford took the decision not to tool the Dagenham plant for the replacement Fiesta due for launch in 2002, which was the year in which the company produced its last Dagenham-built Ford Fiesta. Mindful of its image as a good corporate British citizen, the company stressed that the plant engine-building capacity would be further developed to "help the UK to become the producer of one in every four Ford engines the world over". The site has also been the location of the Dagenham wind turbines since 2004. Ford announced in October 2012 that the stamping plant activities at Dagenham would cease in summer 2013. Some additional jobs would be created in the engine-assembly departments at Dagenham, but the GMB Union stated that 1,000 jobs would be lost at Dagenham, saying, "This is devastating news for the workforce in Southampton and Dagenham. It's also devastating news for UK manufacturing," according to the BBC.

Ford  Dagenham

Ford Dagenham

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Thursday 15th October 1936

81 years ago

The 30th International Motor Exhibition opened in London, England, at Olympia. The following review of the show appeared in The Spectator the following day: "One of the few real surprises of the show is the new 12- cylinder Lagonda, designed by Mr. W. 0. Bentley. It was only announced a week before the opening, a very brief warning of what is only the second British Twelve in history, apart. from the sleeve-valved Daimlers built to the order; of the late . King. The new Lagonda has its cylifsders set' ià the two banks of six each, V-fashion. The bore and stroke are 75 by 84.5 (very nearly "square "), the cubic content is 41 litres, the rated power 42 and the tax 2.31 10s. It has a four-speed synchro-meshed gearbox, with central change, and it is built in two chassis lengths, 11 ft. and 11 ft. 6 in., both with a 60-inch track. There is independent front,wheel springing and in most respects the design follows the most recent trend. Another new model which might almost be called a new car is the 8-cylinder Sunbeam, a notable addition to the respectable list of British luxury cars. It is two years or so since any Sunbeams have been built, and there is no question but • that the company are re-entering the market with a striking car. The engine has its cylinders in line, but in spite of that it is one of the shortest units of its power made. It is much shorter and more compact than either the last 8-cylinder Sunbeam or the better-known 3-litre Six, which, with the original Bentley and the " 30-98 " Vauxhall, led the world in high-performance ears. The power is a nominal 30, an actual 150 hp., the cubic content being 41 litres, from a bore and stroke of 80 by 112. It is a beautiful piece of work, admirably laid out and superbly finished. The chassis costs £750 and £800, according to length, and the complete car costs from £1,195 upwards. The new 6 h.p. Fiat is interesting in that it is the smallest 4-cylinder car in existence andAprohably the. smallest eves made. The bore and stroke are 52 by 67, a shade over 2 in. by 21 in., which gives a capacity of 570 c.c. and a 13.11.p. of 13. It has a. 4-speed gear box with synehro-meshed third and fourth, and except for its minute dimensions the whole ear is exactly like any other. It is, as it were, a made!, the only difference, which incidentally is not noticeable with the bon- net down, is that the radiator and axle are behind the engine and-not in front. 'A single transverse spring provides independent suspension in front, while the rear axle is sprung on ordinary quarter ellipties, and the whole is assisted by hydraulic shock absorbers. The wheel base is 6 ft. Olin., the track 3 ft. 71 in. and 3 ft. 61 in. in rear. The body is a 2-seated saloon-with the usual " occasional " accommodation behind, and, considering the very small .dimensions - of every- thing, entrance should be fairly easy through the very wide door. Apart from these new models, the new editions of existing cars all show that steady advance which distinguishes the whole Exhibition. "Armstrong Siddeley make an impressive display with _no . fewer. than nine cars, -two examples of the 14 three of the 17 h.p., three of the 20-25 and one of the Siddeley special. The particular improvements which apply to all these models include increased power and more vivid acceleration. There is no-noticeable change in any of them, but there is. a better single-plate clutch which is stated to give very smooth. engagement for the pre-selective gear- box, and all models now have' centralised chassis-lubrication and permanent jacks; In all these cars, the back seats are well forward oft he axle. Of the cars shown I like best the 14 h.p. 4-window-saloon, the 17 h.p. touring saloon, and the 20-25 h.p. Atalanta. saloon. These are all excellent examples of first-class British coach-work of plain and unostentatious design. Nine Austins in-all are shown, the 20 11.p. Mayfair limousine, the 10 h.p. York saloon, the 14 h.p. Goodwood saloon, the 12 h.p. Ascot saloon, the 10 h.p. cabriolet and. aaleon, and cabriolet and saloon on the 7 h.p. The principal changes in all the Austin cars is in their bodywork, which no*: has decidedly flowing lines:- Perhaps the model that 'is likely to be the star turn of the stand is the new 14 h.p. six-cylinder "• Goodwood " saloon, a very good-looking car that sells for £235. I had a special opportunity of examining this car when if was shown at the first " Television Motor Show" at Alexandra Palace last week, and I was impressed then with its sensible design and the comfort of its body. The newest Austin product is the " Conliay " cabriolet, shown on the Ten chassis. There is plenty of room in it and the hood can be left open at full or half-dropped positions. This car costs £182 10s. The New Ascot" Twelve has a 4-cylinder engine of 11.9 h.p., mounted on rubber, and looks excellent value at £210. Altogether a good display. Daimler are showing seven different models, of which perhaps the 15 h.p. is the most interesting, in that the power of the engine has been now increased to 17 h.p. Of the two examples shown I imagine the sports saloon at £475 will attract the most attention. Its lines are excellent. There is a Light Twenty with a 6-window saloon, a light straight 8 with a sports saloon (this is the car that has done 94 m.p.h. at Brooklands), and a decidedly impressive example of the 41 litre straight 8 with a limousine body by Hooper, costing £1,510. With the exception of the 15 h.p. there are no changes worth mentioning in the Daimler design for 1937. The chief exhibits on the Rolls-Royce stand are naturally the new Phantom III 12-cylinder, which made its first appear- ance last year. The engine of this, it will be remembered, consists of two banks of 6 cylinders each ; the treasury rating of this is 50.7 h.p. Minor improvements have been made throughout, but in general the car remains the same. It is shown in two types of limousine costing £2,605 and £2,650. The other exhibits are two limousines on the 20.25 h.p. 6-cylinder chassis, one by Thrupp & Maberly and the other by Park Ward, costing 11,572 and £1,767 respectively. In this chassis also there is no change to report. Rovers are showing their new 16 h.p. saloon and their new speed model, which is a 20 h.p., the remaining cars shown being a Ten, two Twelves and two Fourteens. Very little change has been made in the Rover chassis for this year, and what there is is chiefly in the line. The radiator guard has been brought a little further forwards and, as far as I can see, there is rather more room in the bodywork. The roof and the rear panel cantours of the Ten have been redesigned and the front door is now hung on the centre pillar. The prices of the cars Shown arc, tha-Ten-A248, the two Twelves 1285 and £295, the two Fourteens £305 and £315, the Sixteens 1345 and 1355. and the sports, a good-looking car finished in two shades of greed,: at £415. Vauxhall's new car, the chief exhibit, is their 25 h.p., which sells at the remarkably low price of £298. The 6-cylinder engine has a bore and stroke of 81-94 by 19L6, with a cubic capacity of 3215 c.c., and a very remarkabl' performiuice is claimed for it. The maximum speed- is stated to be 80 ' while the claimed acceleration is as follows. In top speed it takes 7 1/5 seconds to reach 30 m.p.h.'from 10 m.p.h., and 53/5 seconds on third speed ; 50 m.p.h. is reached in 16 seconds, using all gears. The Vauxhall independent suspension is used in front, and, in general, all the familiar features of the make are incorporated. The makers consider that this car is the fastest they have made since the famous " 30;98 " of distinguished memory. The chief exhibit of interest of the Lanehester stand is the new 18 h.p., which is shown with a saloon No. 581. The bore and stroke of its engine are now 72 by 105, which gives it a treasury rating of. just -under g0 h.p. The price complete of the ear shown is.£595. Another very interesting-looking ear, which I hope to try for report in The Spectator in a few days, is the 14 h.p. 6-cylinder " Roadrider." This has a bore and stroke of 00 by 90, with a wheel base of 8 ft. 7 ins., and sells as shown on the stand for £330. The 11 h.p. remains much the same as last year, and an example of it with a neat saloon body is shown. To experienced motorists, one of the main points of interest in the Morris display will be the fact that practically no alterations have been found necessary—or if they have the makers have not considered it worth while to mention them. A strict adherence to approved design is always, to my mind, the best advertisement any car can have. The entire range of the six Morris cars is shown from the £120 8 h.p. open tourer to the £280 25 h.p. saloon. The new features of the 8 h.p. include a spring steering-wheel, a carburettor silencer, a fume exhaust-pipe and needle bearing universal joints. The 10 h.p. and the 12 h.p. are fitted with a permanent jacking system, the accommodation in the rear compartment in the saloon has been improved and a new, type, of external oil filter, which can be easily dismantled for cleaning, has been adopted. Officially speaking, the centre of attraction on the Riley staiakii-nep. Monaco, which has been reintroduced after a lapse of a year. Bodywork has been considerably improved and there are six windows instead of four. For my part I consider the 14 litre Falcon, which I recently tried for The Spectator, of greater interest if only because it is more powerful. This chassis is shown with the Falcon and Adelphi saloons, the Lynx tourer and the two-seater Spright. Perhaps the most attractive-looking car on the stand is the 15 h.p. 6- cylinder Kestrel, which has what is called aero line coachwork. The new V8 Ninety is shown with a very agreeable saloon body finished in what looks like transparent green. , : All the Humber models, the Snipe, the Pullman, the 18 h.p. and the 12 h.p., are represented in the eight cars displayed. While it is not exact to say that the :bigger Humber is a new „ car, the engine's dimensions have been increased, bringing the capacity from 34 litres to just over 4 litres, and- the rated - h.p. to 27; and the 18 h.p. -has _now-: a 2-ilitre ingine.1 In. Other respects the design of the HUMber remains much the same as before, the two larger cars having:the even-keel front- . Wheel suspension, while the 12 h.p. is fitted -With -the normal type. The Snipe and 18 h.p. can be fitted with the de Nora-am- -vine quick-changing gear which was recently described in The Spectator, while the 12 h.p. uses the normal type. The display of cars is a notable one; the Snipe is shown as a Pullman limousine, the Pullman Sedanca de ville as a saloon, and as a sports saloon, the last being fitted with the de Normanville gear-box. The 18 h.p. is shown as a 4-window saloon with a division and as a particularly attractive grey foursome coupe, while the two 12 h.p. are the standard saloon, which has been reduced in price to 1258, and the Vogue, which is now sold for £298. The latter, it will be remembered, was what is called '7 inspired " by'Molvneux, the dressmaker. • B.S.A. again show their Scout front-wheel drive 10 h.p. car in six different forms. - There are no differences between this tear's and last. year's model except in detaiLand,also in a.slight increase in power. Steering has been greatly improved as I have been able to prove for myself, and, all things considered, I regard this car as one of the most interesting in the Show. One regrets: that the idea has not been; adapted to a larger machine. There is a stripped chassis; that very rare and-wel- come thing in these days, two 2-seaters, two 4-seaters, and a , coupe de luxe. The prices range from £150 10s. to £189. A' Point of interest is that for an extra five guineas twin car- burettors can be fitted to any model. : Ford has his usual impressive display at the Albert Hall; a_ display. _of _such_variety...this music by a band called the V-8 Shadow Symphony Or- : iiiestra,"1--that there. in some -danger- of the. principal per- forthers being overlooked. The new car this year is the 22 h.p. V8, of which several attractive examples are shown. The original 30 h.p. V8, the Eight and the Ten, are displayed in various forms. 4 As in tlie case of the.standard productions, the special coachwork shcivis signs. of steady progress. Among the problem, that have been studied more particularly since last -year is sound-isolation, and there are various ingenioui methods by which noise- is kept away from the inside of the body. In some cases much trouble has been taken to reduce as far as possible the noise caused by wind-rush---a problem as difficult of solution as any, one would imagine. Ventilation has also advanced a good. deal - and it may be taken that from now on the ordinary well-built closed car will be free from " draughts and always fresh. -Several; leaves seein to have been taken out of the American coachbuilders' book in- the matter of the disposal Of luggage, and throughout the special coachwork section you will see' quite remarkably neat methods of carrying considerable quantities of suitcases and other kWard things protected from the weather and withoUt detracting from The 'lines of the car. These lines, by the way, are perhaps the best we have seen since the insane craze for what was called streamlining reached its peak and began to subside. There are _ very few examples of absurd designs and, on the ,other hand, nearly all the English coachwork has returned to dignity. There is a certain lightness of touch even on the largest and heaviest cars, which is very pleasing to the eye. Park Ward show some attractive work on Daimler, Bentley and Rolls-Royce chassis, Of Which I thought the four-wiudg, :nv saloon on the Bentley the most interesting from the. con- structional point of view. The frame, usually made of wood, is in this case made of 22-guage aircraft steel. The company show a division window which is decidedly novel. When the winding handle is turned the window rises Eat with the rOof where it is concealed by a flap. It is extremely neat and one of its advantages is that it gives more leg-room. Barker and Company show. some fine examples of their best Work on one straight-8 44 litre Daimler chassis, on two Rolls-Royces and one Bentley. Of these, the touring limousine on the 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce is perhaps the most striking, bat the Sriorts on the 44 litre Bentley, painted in light yellow, a colour that will remind_ old nuttorista_Qf cheerful days long past, runs it very close. The limousine has a special 'compartment for golf -Clubs which is likely to be one of the most popular innovations in coachwork generally. • Hooper and Company, show -a very agreeable sports saloon on a 25 h.p. Rolls-Royce, finished in grey, and a cream-and- black " Sedanca " on a 40/50 chassis. The Burlington Carriage Company have fitted an Armstrong Siddeley with a Town Brougham of attractive design, and Martin Walter has an excellently designed cabriolet on a Daimler-light straight 8. I do.not think there are any more open cars than there were last year, but there are quite a number on various stands, and most of them are certainly viry alluring.":.:In-the medern open 4-seater you sit consider- ably lower down than in the old-fashioned type, and, with Proper screening, there is no reason why,.in any weather but a raging north-east gale,--the 'occupants' Should not be well , preteeted. *There is an '- all=weitber. "tourer on two small WOlseley chassis Which' will explain what I mein.. Vanden Plas show an interesting :example of the pillarlesa saloon on the new Alvis 4.3: litre. ,--Jt is a matter. for some surprise that this design has not progressed any faster. It is not of any great importance on a big car, but on a little one it makes all the difference in the world. There is every reason to be well satisfied with the trend of coachwork design as well as with the improved workmanship. In spite of the fact that punctures and bursts-seldom happen to modern cars, old-timers (perhaps for the good of their souls)- are generallYitill slightly obsessed' by their possibility,. , or, if you prefer it, suffer a distinct inferiority complex on the subject. A de,ad'tyre 'will immobilise the best car as completely if not as long as will a petrol-shortage. At every motor-show therefore I slink round to that part which .houses the tyres, beautiful, new, tightly blown-up, obviously good for a. year's driving, and feast lay eyes on them. It is a senseless procedure, but I like it. This year I-am specially taken with,the Dunlop show, where they have all kinds Of dark, gleaming tyres toeheer me up, including the new " Cruiser " cover and- the _" Sports," which has a ferocious-looking.tread. Here, too, you can see all the kinds of wheels Used, centre-lock; ordinary detachable, Magna and disc, Also a very intriguing pressure-gauge."

British Motor Show at Olympia, London, 1936

British Motor Show at Olympia, London, 1936

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Tuesday 17th June 1947

70 years ago

Sir Edward Holden (61) the Australian vehicle manufacturer, ‘the father of the Australian car industry’, died. From 1905 to 1917, Holden was manager of the Holden & Frost Saddlery Works in Adelaide. He was the grandson of the man that founded that firm, James Alexander Holden. That firm crafted horse saddles and other leather goods as well as some small-scale ironwork. It also performed repairs on horse-drawn carriages and coaches. Around 1908, Holden & Frost began to repair and manufacture automobile components such as upholstery, hoods, and side curtains. Holden became managing director of Holden & Frost's new automobile coach building operations in 1917. This operation built coaches for chassis imported into Australia, including those built by Buick, at a time when the Australian government placed wartime restrictions on imports. In 1919, the name of the company was changed to Holden’s Motor Body Builders. In 1931, General Motors, who had a presence in Australia and exclusive production and assembly agreement with Holden since 1924, purchased the entire Holden’s Motor Body Builders operations and merged it with General Motors-Australia (GMA). The resulting enterprise was named General Motors-Holden's Limited (GM-H) and was headquartered in Melbourne with Edward Holden as its chairman and managing director. In 1934, Holden was replaced as managing director by Laurence Barnett of Vauxhall who General Motors brought in to return GM-H to profitability. Holden retained the title of chairman of the board. He remained in this position until 1947 when he resigned in ill health.

Edward Holden

Edward Holden

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Saturday 4th December 1948

68 years ago

Leading British car manufacturers Austin, Morris, Ford, Rootes, Standard and Vauxhall agreed to standardise motor parts in the interests of economy and efficiency.

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Monday 9th July 1956

61 years ago

Mettoy introduced Corgi Toys model cars, manufactured in South Wales. The name 'Corgi Toys' was chosen by Philip Ullmann in honour of the company's new home, taken from the Welsh breed of dog, the Corgi, and the iconic Corgi dog logo branded the new range. The name was short and easy to remember, further aligning the range with their rival Dinky Toys. Corgi Toys also included plastic glazing,[4] which lent the models a greater authenticity, and they carried the advertising slogan "the ones with windows". The 1956 releases were all familiar British vehicles. Six family saloon cars; Ford Consul (200/200M), Austin A50 Cambridge (201/201M), Morris Cowley (202/202M), Vauxhall Velox (203/203M), Rover 90 (204/204M), Riley Pathfinder (205/205M) and Hillman Husky (206/206M),[4] and two sports cars; Austin-Healey 100 (300) and Triumph TR2 (301). Initially, all models were issued in free-rolling form, or with friction drive motors, with the exception of the heavy commercials which would have been too bulky and the sports cars whose low slung bodies would not be able to accommodate the motors. The Mechanical versions, as they were known, were indicated by an 'M' suffix to the model number and were available in different colour schemes. They were issued with tougher die-cast bases to support the extra weight of the motor, and in far fewer numbers. Mechanical versions did not sell particularly well, partly due to a significantly higher purchase price, and were phased out in 1960 with Ford Thunderbird (214M) the last of the line. The die-cast baseplates were expanded across the range to replace the original tin plate at the same time. Today they are considered more collectable because of their relative rarity.

Riley Pathfinder (205/205M)

Riley Pathfinder (205/205M)

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Thursday 28th February 1957

60 years ago

The Vauxhall Victor was launched. The car was of unitary construction and featured a large glass area with heavily curved windscreen and rear window. Following then current American styling trends, the windscreen pillars sloped backwards. Bench seats were fitted front and rear trimmed in Rayon and "Elastofab", and two-colour interior trim was standard. The Super model had extra chrome trim, notably around the windows; remnants of the signature Vauxhall bonnet flutes ran along the front flanks and the exhaust pipe exited through the rear bumper. The car was equipped with arm rests on the doors, door-operated courtesy lights, a two-spoke steering wheel, and twin sun visors. An estate variant was launched in 1958. When re-styled, as the series II, the car lost all its '57 Chevy styling detail and the teardrop shaped Vauxhall flutes were replaced by a single chrome side-stripe running nose to tail. The sculpted "porthole" rear bumper tips, which rusted badly due to exhaust residue, were replaced by plain, straight ones. Fitted with a single Zenith carburettor it had an output of 55 bhp (41 kW) at 4200 rpm and gained a reputation of giving a long trouble free life. The Victor's three-speed gearbox had synchromesh on all forward ratios and was operated by a column-mounted lever. In early 1958 Newtondrive two-pedal control was available as an option. Vauxhall Victor FA Estate, featuring the simplified post 1959 front treatment and less sculpted rear doors. Suspension was independent at the front by coil springs and with an anti-roll bar was fitted on a rubber mounted cross member. The rear suspension used a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs. Steering was of the recirculating ball type. Lockheed hydraulic 8 in (203 mm) drum brakes were used. A "Super" version tested by The Motor magazine in 1957 had a top speed of 74.4 mph (119.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 28.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.0 miles per imperial gallon (9.1 L/100 km; 25.8 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £758 including taxes. The estate car cost £931.

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Thursday 20th June 1957

60 years ago

Pontiac announced plans to sell British-made Vauxhall cars through its dealer network.

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Friday 1st January 1960

57 years ago

Production at Luton’s Vauxhall car plant halted because the men were ‘too hot’.

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Tuesday 25th October 1960

57 years ago

Harry Ferguson (75), the Irish-born designer of automobiles, airplanes and farm tractors, died in Abbotswood, Gloucestershire, England. After falling out with his brother over the safety and future of aviation Ferguson decided to go it alone, and in 1911 founded a company selling Maxwell, Star and Vauxhall cars and Overtime Tractors. Ferguson saw at first hand the weakness of having tractor and plough as separate articulated units, and in 1917 he devised a plough that could be rigidly attached to a Model T Ford car—the Eros, which became a limited success, competing with the Model F Fordson. In 1917 Ferguson met with Charles E. Sorensen while Sorensen was in England scouting production sites for the Fordson tractor. They discussed methods of hitching the implement to the tractor so as to make them a unit (as opposed to towing the implement like a trailer). In 1920 and 1921 Ferguson demonstrated early versions of his three-point linkage on Fordsons at Cork and at Dearborn. Ferguson and Henry Ford discussed putting the Ferguson system of hitch and implements onto Fordson tractors at the factory, but no deal was struck. The hitch was mechanical at the time. Ferguson and his team of longtime colleagues, including Willie Sands and Archie Greer, soon developed a hydraulic version, which was patented in 1926. After one or two false starts, Ferguson eventually founded the Ferguson-Sherman Inc., with Eber and George Sherman. The new enterprise manufactured the Ferguson plough incorporating the patented "Duplex" hitch system mainly intended for the Fordson "F" tractor. Following several more years of development, Ferguson's new hydraulic version of the three-point linkage was first seen on his prototype Ferguson "Black", now in the Science Museum, Kensington, London. A production version of the "Black" was introduced in May 1936, made at one of the David Brown factories in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and designated Ferguson Model A tractor. In 1938, Ferguson's interests were merged with those of David Brown junior to create the Ferguson-Brown Company. In October 1938, Ferguson demonstrated his latest tractor to Henry Ford at Dearborn, and they made the famous "handshake agreement". Ferguson took with him his latest patents covering future improvements to the Ferguson tractor and it is these that led to the Ford-Ferguson 9N introduced to the world on 29 June 1939. The 1938 agreement intended that the Ferguson tractor should also be made in the UK at the Ford Ltd factory at Dagenham, Essex but Ford did not have full control at Dagenham and, while Ford Ltd did import US-made 9N/2Ns, Dagenham did not make any. Henry Ford II, Ford's grandson, ended the handshake deal on 30 June 1947, following unsuccessful negotiations with Ferguson, but continued to produce a tractor, the 8N, incorporating Ferguson's inventions, the patents on almost all of which had not yet expired, and Ferguson was left without a tractor to sell in North America. Ferguson's reaction was a lawsuit demanding compensation for damage to his business and for Ford's illegal use of his designs.The case was settled out of court in April 1952 for just over $9 million. The court case cost him about half of that and a great deal of stress and ill health. By 1952, most of the important Ferguson patents had expired, and this allowed Henry Ford II to claim that the case had not restricted Ford's activities too much. It follows that all the world's other tractor manufacturers could also use Ferguson's inventions, which they duly did. A year later Ferguson merged with Massey Harris to become Massey-Harris-Ferguson Co, later Massey Ferguson.

Harry Ferguson with Henry Ford and the tractor in America in 1939.

Harry Ferguson with Henry Ford and the tractor in America in 1939.

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Thursday 20th September 1962

55 years ago

Ford launched the Cortina Mk1. The chief designer was Roy Brown Jr., the designer of the Edsel, who had been banished to Dagenham following the failure of that car. The Cortina, aimed at buyers of the Morris Oxford Farina and Vauxhall Victor, was designed to be economical, cheap to run and easy and inexpensive to produce in Britain. Originally to be called Ford Consul 225, the car was launched as the Consul Cortina until a modest facelift in 1964, after which it was sold simply as the Cortina. It was available with 1200 and 1500 four-cylinder engines with all synchromesh gearbox, in two-door and four-door saloon, as well as in five-door estate (from March 1963) forms. Standard, Deluxe, Super, and GT trims were offered but not across all body styles. Early Standard models featured a simple body coloured front grille, earning it the nickname 'Ironbar'. Since this version cost almost the same as the better equipped Deluxe it sold poorly and is very rare today. Options included heater and bench seat with column gearchange. Super versions of the estates offered the option of simulated wood side and tailgate trim. In an early example of product placement many examples of the brand new Cortina featured as "Glamcabs" in the comedy film Carry On Cabby. Costing £573 for the standard 1200 saloon, it became an instant best-seller and enjoyed a 20-year career in which 4.3 million units were produced. The last Cortina was assembled in July 1982, to be succeeded by the Sierra, by which time the entry-level model was priced at £4,515.

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Friday 6th September 1963

54 years ago

The Austin 1100 (ADO16) was launched. Front-wheel driven, with front disc brakes and interconnected Hydrolastic fluid suspension, it had a surprisingly large interior considering the compact external dimensions. Performance was lively by the standards of the day thanks to the A-Series engines, in 1098cc and (from 1967) 1275cc capacities, and steering and handling came close to Mini levels of fun. Much cleverer than their Ford, Vauxhall and Rootes rivals, these cars consistently topped British sales charts but rusted as badly as any other British mass-produced saloons of the time.

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Thursday 26th September 1963

54 years ago

Vauxhall launched the new Viva, a small family saloon similar in size to BMC's 1100 and the Ford Anglia. It was Vauxhall's first serious step into the compact car market after the Second World War. The first new small car produced by Vauxhall since 1936, the Viva was powered by a 1,057 cc, overhead valve, four cylinder, front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels. It was offered only as a two-door saloon.

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Wednesday 9th October 1963

54 years ago

The Rover company, previously manufacturers of staid and technically unadventurous cars, announced the advanced P6 2000. The vehicle was marketed first as the Rover 2000 and was a complete "clean sheet" design intended to appeal to a larger number of buyers than earlier models such as the P4 it replaced. Rover had identified a developing market between the standard '1.5-litre' saloon car class (such as the Ford Consul and the Singer Gazelle) and the accepted 'three-litre' large saloon cars (typified by the Wolseley 6/99 and the Vauxhall Cresta). Younger and increasingly affluent professional workers and executives were seeking out cars that were superior to the normal 1.5-litre models in style, design and luxury but which offered more modern driving dynamics than the big three-litre class and lower purchase and running costs than sports saloons such as the Jaguar Mark 2. Automotive technology had improved significantly in the mid-to-late 1950s, typified by the introduction of cars such as the Citroen DS and Lancia Flavia in Europe and the Chevrolet Corvair in America. The replacement for the traditionally-designed P4 would therefore be a smaller car with a two-litre engine (although a gas turbine was invisioned as power unit in the future) utilising the latest design, engineering and styling, thus making the Rover one of the earliest examples of what would now be classified as an executive car. The P6 would be lower-priced than the P4 and sales volumes were anticipated to be significantly higher. The P5 was sold alongside the P6 until 1973.[citation needed] The 2000 was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame, inspired by the Citroën DS. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the "tube" was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed "safety" interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering.The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover's Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width facilitated the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the P6's initial launch. Sculptor Flaminio Bertoni's Citroën DS body inspired David Bache. With a nod to the new Kamm tail, the finished Rover appearance incorporated a necessarily enlarged boot filled otherwise by Rover's de Dion rear suspension. It lacked the Citroën shark nose, which it was planned to introduce later as a drooping bonnet with headlamps in pods and projecting sidelights. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the "base unit" construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space led to the optional mounting on the boot lid and also to optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology for a limited time on later vehicles. The car's primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover. In continental Europe the Rover 2000 contended in the same sector as the Citroën DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a situation which was resolved in the Rover four years after its launch, when Rover's compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroën rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. Six days later Standard-Triumph announced the Triumph 2000.

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Wednesday 2nd December 1964

52 years ago

The first Renault 16 was completed at the purpose-built car plant at Sandouville, near Le Havre in France. One of the world’s first hatchbacks – halfway between a saloon and an estate body style - which would eventually become the most popular car body style in the world, the R16 won the prestigious European Car of the Year award in 1965. Over 1.8 million R16s were produced during the model’s 16-year lifetime. The Renault 16 was an innovative and interesting middle-class family car that proved that Renault's front-wheel drive concept pioneered in the 4 could be scaled up successfully where the profits were much higher. It also could be described as being one of the fathers of the modern family car, offering a hatchback and front-wheel drive years before it was popularised by cars such as the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 or Volkswagen Passat. Although not an obvious candidate for stardom, the Renault 16 was actually one of the 1960s most important cars. The monocoque body housed Renault's first front-wheel-drive arrangement on a large car; although unlike the BMC equivalents the engine was mounted longitudinally. However, the unit was thoroughly modern, with an aluminium cylinder head and block and wet liners, and it would go on to power millions of Renault vehicles well into the 1990s. The long-travel fully-independent suspension, which employed all-round torsion bars, guaranteed a soft ride, and soft and supportive seats and a well-trimmed cabin, merely enhanced the feeling of luxury. The column-change gearbox was popular on the continent, but British buyers couldn’t get on with it, although this wasn't a problem for most owners as it was light and smooth to operate. The R16's claim to fame, however, was its hatchback rear end. Other cars had been built with an opening rear hatch before, including the Renault 4, but it was the 16 that introduced such practicality to large, mainstream family cars, and wouldn't be rivalled until Austin's Maxi debuted in 1969. 16TX was the top models, with luxury cabins and 90mph capability. Conceptually it was similar to the R4, so that meant an odd longitudinal engine with the gearbox placed ahead of it in the nose, but in a larger car, the space inefficient layout was less of a problem. Lively alloy engines delivered fine performance, and disc brakes were powerful. The 1973 Renault 16TX was the ultimate version, with 1647cc 93bhp engine, five-speed transmission and quad headlights. Today it's still a great drive, but the best examples are now fetching strong money after years in the doldrums.

Renault 16 brochure (Canadian)

Renault 16 brochure (Canadian)

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Wednesday 9th November 1966

51 years ago

Rootes introduced the £838 Hillman Hunter. In its 13-year production run, its UK market contemporaries included the Ford Cortina, Morris Marina and Vauxhall Victor. The Hunter was rebadged as Chrysler from 1967 until Chrysler sold its European division to Peugeot, whereupon Hunter production was shelved.

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Monday 26th February 1968

49 years ago

The first bus lane in London was put into service on Vauxhall Bridge.

A202 crossing the Thames at Vauxhall Bridge. Two bus lanes a cycle lane and four lanes for general traffic, unusually the Southbound Bus lane is in the middle of the road.

A202 crossing the Thames at Vauxhall Bridge. Two bus lanes a cycle lane and four lanes for general traffic, unusually the Southbound Bus lane is in the middle of the road.

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Tuesday 20th July 1971

46 years ago

The 1,000,000th Vauxhall Viva rolled off the production line at Vauxhalls’ Luton plant. The Viva was introduced in 1963, a year after Vauxhall's sister company Opel launched the Opel Kadett A. Visually the two cars' kinship was obvious. A van version was also produced, as the Bedford HA. In the UK the Viva's principal competitors at the time of its launch included the well-established Ford Anglia and Morris Minor. The third generation HC series was the last solely Vauxhall designed passenger car when it ceased production in 1979, since all future Vauxhalls would be badge engineered Opel models.

Vauxhall Viva HC Saloon Advert 1972.

Vauxhall Viva HC Saloon Advert 1972.

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Thursday 1st May 1975

42 years ago

The Vauxhall Chevette, Britain's first production small hatchback, which was similar in concept to the Italian Fiat 127 and French Renault 5, went on sale, prices starting at £1,593. It was Vauxhall's version of the "T-Car" small car family from Vauxhall's parent General Motors (GM). The family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in Australia, the Chevrolet Chevette in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, and in the U.S. and Canada was re-badged as Pontiac Acadian/Pontiac T1000.

Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette

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Friday 3rd September 1976

41 years ago

The Ford Fiesta was formally launched. It was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127 (although shorter than some other rivals, like the Peugeot 104, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo), but with an overall length shorter than that of the Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in December 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors when the car was designed, as they had used the name for the Oldsmobile Fiesta in the 1950s; however, it was freely given for Ford to use on their new supermini. Ford's marketing team had preferred the name Bravo, but Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of the Fiesta name. The motoring press had begun speculating about the existence of the Bobcat project since 1973, but it was not until December 1975 that Ford officially announced it as the Fiesta. A Fiesta was on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission of the Ford BC-Series mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine, dubbed "Valencia" after the brand new Spanish factory in Almussafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England, and Saarlouis and Cologne (from 1979) in Germany, also manufactured Fiestas. To cut costs and speed up the research and development, the new powertrain package destined for the Fiesta was tested in Fiat 127 development "mules". Unlike several rivals, which used torsion bars in their suspension, the Fiesta used coil springs. The front suspension was of Ford's typical "track control arm" arrangement, where MacPherson struts were combined with lower control arms and longitudinal compression links.The standard rear suspension used a beam axle, trailing links and a Panhard rod, whilst an anti-roll bar was included in the sports package. All Mk1 Fiestas featured 12-inch wheels as standard, with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear.[3] Ford paid particular attention ease of service, and published the times required to replace various common parts.UK sales began in January 1977, where it was available from £1,856 for the basic 950 cc-engined model.[7] It was only the second hatchback mini-car to have been built in the UK at this stage, being launched a year after the Vauxhall Chevette, but a year before the Chrysler Sunbeam and four years before the Austin Metro. The millionth Fiesta was produced in 1979.[1] The car was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc (58.4 cu in) I4 (high compression and low compression options), and 1,117 cc (68.2 cu in) engines and in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. The U.S. Mark I Fiesta was built in Saarlouis, Germany but to slightly different specifications; U.S. models were Base, Decor, Sport, and Ghia, the Ghia having the highest level of trim.[8] These trim levels changed very little in the F iesta's three-year run in the USA, from 1978 to 1980. All U.S. models featured the more powerful 1,596 cc (97.4 cu in) engine, (which was the older "Crossflow" version of the Kent, rather than the Valencia) fitted with a catalytic converter and air pump to satisfy strict Californian emission regulations), energy-absorbing bumpers, side-marker lamps, round sealed-beam headlamps, improved crash dynamics and fuel system integrity as well as optional air conditioning (a/c was not available in Europe). In the U.S. market, the Ford Escort replaced both the Fiesta and the compact Pinto in 1981. At the beginning of the British government's Motability scheme for disabled motorists in 1978, the Fiesta was one of the key cars to be available on the scheme. A sporting derivative (1.3 L Supersport) was offered in Europe for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 L (79 cu in) Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph (169 km/h) top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. For the 1979 auto show season, Ford in conjunction with its Ghia Operations in Turin, Italy, produced the Ford Fiesta Tuareg off-road car. It was touted in press materials as "a concept vehicle designed and equipped for practical, off-road recreational use." Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. In 1978, the Fiesta overtook the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain's best-selling supermini, but in 1981 it was knocked off the top spot by British Leyland's Austin Metro and was still in second place at the end of 1982. The Fiesta has sold over 16 million units over 6 generations making it one of the best selling Ford marques behind the Escort and the F-Series.

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Saturday 23rd July 1977

40 years ago

Chrysler Europe launched the Sunbeam, a three-door rear-wheel drive small hatchback similar in concept to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Chevette.

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Friday 26th August 1977

40 years ago

The first British built Vauxhall Cavalier rolled off the production line.

Vauxhall Cavalier (1977)

Vauxhall Cavalier (1977)

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Tuesday 9th January 1979

38 years ago

Just 33 months after its launch, the millionth Ford Fiesta was built at Ford's Cologne (Germany) facility, breaking all previous European production records. The Fiesta was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was the smallest car made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford's Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta (meaning "party" in Spanish) belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed and was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford's new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was launched as the Austin Metro in 1980.

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Friday 30th March 1979

38 years ago

Conservative MP Airey Neave (63) was killed when a magnetic car bomb fitted with a ball bearing tilt switch exploded under his new Vauxhall Cavalier at 14:58 as he drove out of the Palace of Westminster car park. He lost his right leg below the knee and his left was hanging on by a flap of skin. Neave died in hospital an hour after being freed from the wreckage without regaining consciousness. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), an Irish republican paramilitary group, claimed responsibility for the killing. Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher led tributes, saying: "He was one of freedom's warriors. No one knew of the great man he was, except those nearest to him. He was staunch, brave, true, strong; but he was very gentle and kind and loyal. It's a rare combination of qualities. There's no one else who can quite fill them. I, and so many other people, owe so much to him and now we must carry on for the things he fought for and not let the people who got him triumph." Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan said: "No effort will be spared to bring the murderers to justice and to rid the United Kingdom of the scourge of terrorism."[25] The INLA issued a statement regarding the killing in the August 1979 edition of The Starry Plough. In March, retired terrorist and supporter of capital punishment, Airey Neave, got a taste of his own medicine when an INLA unit pulled off the operation of the decade and blew him to bits inside the 'impregnable' Palace of Westminster. The nauseous Margaret Thatcher snivelled on television that he was an 'incalculable loss'—and so he was—to the British ruling class. Neave's death came just two days after the vote of no confidence which brought down Callaghan's government and a few weeks before the 1979 general election, which brought about a Conservative victory and saw Thatcher come to power as Prime Minister. Neave's wife Diana, whom he married on 29 December 1942, was subsequently elevated to the House of Lords as Baroness Airey of Abingdon. Neave's biographer Paul Routledge met a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (the political wing of INLA) who was involved in the killing of Neave and who told Routledge that Neave "would have been very successful at that job [Northern Ireland Secretary]. He would have brought the armed struggle to its knees". As a result of Neave's assassination the INLA was declared illegal across the whole of the United Kingdom on 2 July 1979.

Airey Neave's bomb-damaged car on the ramp of the House of Commons car park

Airey Neave's bomb-damaged car on the ramp of the House of Commons car park

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Wednesday 14th November 1979

38 years ago

Vauxhall launched its first-ever front-wheel drive car - the Astra range of hatchbacks and estates - to compete in the growing family hatchback sector. It replaced the traditional rear-wheel drive Viva saloon, which had been produced in three incarnations since 1963. Initial production of the Astra took place at the Opel factory in West Germany, with production transferred to Britain in 1981. In 1983 they vamped it up to a GTE model which had a 1.8 litre fuel injection engine. The option to have a convertible was also introduced. The following year it won European car of the year with a more aerodynamic body shape.The third generation from 1991 focused heavily on safety features and introduced side bars and air bags. An all-new Astra came out in 1998, and to up the style stakes, Vauxhall commissioned the Italian designers Bertone to draw up a coupé version, which also resulted in a new convertible. By the era of the fifth generation in 2004, a lot more attention was paid to the interiors and they became much classier inside. This version also featured a folding metal roof for the first time. Just before the Mark 5 was launched, they put out a three-door GTC, sold as the SportHatch. 2009 saw the sixth generation which has been a huge success, perhaps due in some part to the recommendation from hit show "Top Gear" which awarded it the "most reasonably priced" car distinction. By June 2010 it was the best-selling car in the UK. The design for the Mark 6 is heavily based upon the Vauxhall insignia and one of the defining features is the clever use of storage areas for the top twenty most used car items.

Vauxhall Astra - 1979

Vauxhall Astra - 1979

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Wednesday 26th August 1981

36 years ago

General Motors launched the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2, available for the first time with front-wheel drive and as a hatchback. On its launch, it offered class-leading levels of fuel economy and performance which had previously been unthinkable for this sector of car. Sales began towards the end of September. This model was part of GM's family of compact "J-cars", along with the Ascona, the Australian Holden Camira, the Brazilian Chevrolet Monza, the Japanese Isuzu Aska, and the North American Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Cadillac Cimarron. In the UK, the new Cavalier was a huge success and challenged the supremacy of the Ford Cortina as the company car of choice. By 1982, Ford and Vauxhall had an effective two-horse race at the top of this sector on the British market, as sales of the Talbot Alpine (previously a Chrysler until Peugeot took over the European operations of Chrysler) had tailed off by 1981, while British Leyland was winding down production of the Austin Ambassador hatchback and Morris Ital saloon and estate in preparation for the launch of all-new car (which would be sold as the Austin Montego) by 1984. Cavalier sales topped 100,000 in 1982, compared to less than 40,000 the previous year.

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

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Monday 16th November 1981

36 years ago

Production of the Vauxhall Astra commenced in Britain at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire. The Astra was launched two years earlier, but until this day had been produced solely at the Opel plant in West Germany.

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Tuesday 28th September 1982

35 years ago

General Motors launched the Spanish built Opel Corsa, which was sold in Britain from April 1983 as the Vauxhall Nova. The new front-wheel drive range of small hatchbacks and saloons effectively replaced the Chevette. However, the transport workers union threw the future of the new car, which was expected to sell around 50,000 units a year, into jeopardy by blocking imports to Britain.

Opel Corsa

Opel Corsa

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Tuesday 1st March 1983

34 years ago

The launch of the seven car Austin Maestro range was greeted with huge enthusiasm; maybe more so by the dealers than the public, who after enduring some horrible years selling some horrible mid-range cars, had something new and competent to sell. "Miracle Maestro – Driving is Believing" claimed the brochure for the long-awaited Allegro replacement. In its summing up of the new car the Consumers' Association, in the June edition of Which? magazine described it as roomy, comfortable, and nice to drive, and said "If you are considering buying one now, our advice, based on our first impressions, is to go ahead". In January 1984, after testing the car, they concluded: "In comparison with opposition of a similar price and body size, the Maestro has a clear advantage on room for passengers, with few cars equalling it for comfort either in the front or back". They also considered it to be a serious rival to the higher-segment Vauxhall Cavalier and Ford Sierra, apart from its smaller boot space. The Maestro incorporated many novel and pioneering features for its class. It had a bonded laminated windscreen, homofocal headlamps, body-coloured plastic bumpers, an electronic engine management system, adjustable front seat belt upper anchorage positions, an asymmetrically split rear seat, and a 12,000-mile (19,300 km) service interval. The MG and Vanden Plas versions had solid-state instrumentation with digital speedometer and vacuum fluorescent analogue displays for tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges, trip computer and a voice synthesis warning and information system.The car was a reasonable success, but not as much as beleaguered BL had hoped. After the "boom" years of 1986 and 1987, Maestro sales went into terminal decline. Production ceased in 1995 - although descendants of the Maestro are still being produced in China.

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Friday 22nd July 1983

34 years ago

The Ford Orion was introduced in Europe. Over 3.5 million Orion’s, which was in essence a saloon version of the Ford Escort, were sold throughout the car's 10-year life. In the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing, reflecting shifting patterns in the new car market across Western Europe at this time, as front-wheel drive gradually became more popular than rear-wheel drive and hatchbacks began to eclipse traditional saloons and estates. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, starting with the Escort MK3 in 1980 and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina) in 1982. By 1985, even the top-of-the-range Granada would offer a hatchback bodystyle, with the saloon and estate models not debuting until the early 1990s, while a booted version of the Sierra was finally launched in 1987. The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, which had been absent from the Escort range since the end of MK2 production in 1980, and also in larger cars by the demise of the hugely popular Cortina in 1982. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front apart from the different grille design, but the rear of the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra (then only available as a hatchback) it had more rear legroom and a larger boot. This concept was similar to the Volkswagen Jetta, the saloon version of the Golf hatchback which had been on sale since 1979. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the lower specification levels available on the Escort, as well as the basic 1100cc engine. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available from launch (though with both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 diesel engine on L and GL models. The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included central locking, sunroof, sport front seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. The Orion 1.6i shared an engine with the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s due to its popularity with car thieves - and it was also less frequently targeted by thieves than the Escort XR3i or RS Turbo. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in the autumn of 1988, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E from 20 years earlier, as both were considered to be well-equipped saloon cars with decent performance for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, of which 1,000 had leather trim. With the facelift in 1986, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's and lower-specification models crept into the range along with equipment levels being brought together between the two cars, and helped Orion sales increase further. The Orion also gained the new 1.4 "lean burn" petrol engine which was added to the Escort at this time. The success of the Orion across Europe, particularly in Britain (where it was among the top 10 selling cars every year from 1984 to 1990), was followed by several other manufacturers launching saloon versions of their popular hatchbacks. By 1986, General Motors had launched a saloon version of its Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra hatchback, which was sold as the Vauxhall Belmont on the British market. Austin Rover, on the other hand, made use of a Honda design for its new Rover 200 Series saloon, which was launched in 1984 and gave buyers a booted alternative to the Maestro hatchback, although with a totaly different platform, as the true booted variant of the Maestro was the larger and more upmarket Montego. The Orion was launched around the same time as the Fiat Regata, saloon and estate versions of the Ritmo (Strada in Britain), although the Regata was aimed further upmarket at cars like the Ford Sierra. The Orion was a strong seller in Britain, peaking as the seventh best selling car in 1987 and 1988 with over 70,000 sales.

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Wednesday 25th April 1984

33 years ago

The Austin and MG Montego’s were showcased to the press in the South of France. It was initially available as a four-door saloon only, filling the gap in the range left by the discontinuation of the Morris Ital saloon two months earlier. However, it would be produced alongside the Ital estate until that model was axed in August 1984. The estate variant was launched at the British International Motor Show in October of that year. The 150 bhp (112 kW) MG turbocharged variant was released in early 1985 as the fastest production MG ever with a 0–60 mph time of 7.3 seconds, and a top speed of 126 mph (203 km/h). The Vanden Plas version, and featured leather seats, walnut veneer and features such as electric windows, central locking and power door mirrors.[4] Like the Maestro, the Montego suffered from its overly long development phase, which had been begun in 1975 and which was hampered throughout by the industrial turmoil that plagued both British Leyland and Austin Rover Group during this period. The Ryder Report had recommended the costly modernization of both the Longbridge and Cowley factories, and since Longbridge was to come on stream first - the Austin Metro was put in production first, even though its design had been started after the Maestro/Montego. As a direct result of this delay, the two cars were now stylistically out of step, having been styled by several different designers - Ian Beech, David Bache, Roger Tucker and finally, Roy Axe, had all contributed to the Montego's styling. Arguably, both the Maestro and Montego had been compromised by the re-use of a single platform, doors and wheelbase to bridge two size classes - a mistake that BMC/BL had made before with the Austin 1800 and the Austin Maxi in the 1960s. Indeed, Roy Axe, when installed as Austin Rover's director of design in 1982 was so horrified by the design of the Maestro and Montego when he first viewed them in prototype form recommended that they be scrapped and the whole design exercise restarted. Like many BL cars before it, early Montegos suffered from build quality and reliability problems which badly damaged the car's reputation amongst the public. In some ways, the technology was ahead of its time, notably the solid-state instrumentation and engine management systems, but the "talking" dashboard fitted to high-end models (and initially used to promote the Montego as an advanced high-tech offering) was prone to irritating faults and came to be regarded as something of an embarrassment by BL and the British press. This feature was discontinued after a short period. There were also problems with the early sets of body-coloured bumpers which tended to crack in cold weather at the slightest impact. Development on the Montego continued. A replacement was proposed by Roy Axe in 1986, which would have been the existing Montego core structure clothed with new outer panels to mimic the design language set by the recently launched Rover 800-series, and would have been designated the Rover 400-series. This concept, designated AR16, would have also spawned a five-door hatchback version (designated AR17) to better compete with the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier. The AR16/17 concepts were however abandoned due to lack of funds, and a facelift to the existing car (designated AR9) released in 1988 enhanced its appeal, which was buoyed up by both the Perkins-engined Diesel model, and the seven-seater version of the "Countryman" estate. The 2-litre turbodiesel (often known by its Perkins designation 'Prima') was a development of the O-Series petrol engine already used in the range. The diesel saloon won a CAR magazine 'giant test' against the Citroën BX (1.8 XUDT), the then new Peugeot 405 (1.8 XUDT) and Audi 80 (1.6) turbo diesels. They rated the 405 the best car, followed by the BX and then the Montego, with the Audi coming in last. "But if people buy diesels, and turbo diesel for their economy, the winner has to be the Montego. ...its engine is - even when roundly thrashed - more than 10% more economical than the rest. For those isolated moments when cost control is not of the essence, the Montego is a car you can enjoy too. The steering and driving position are quite excellent. ...the suspension as 'impressively refined'. It is silent over rough bumps, poised and well damped." The turbo diesel became a favourite of the RAF for officer transport. Car Mechanics Magazine ran an RAF officer transport de-mobbed Montego bought from a Ministry of Defence auction in 1996.The facelift also saw the phasing out of the Austin name. These late-1980s models had a badge resembling the Rover Viking longship, but it was not identical, nor did the word "Rover" ever appear on the cars.Though the car failed to match its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Passat, the car sold well[clarification needed] to the likes of the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier. By the early 1990s, the Montego was terminally aged, and production effectively ceased when the replacement car, the Rover 600, was launched in 1993 (special fleet orders were hand-built until 1994, while estates continued until 1995). In its final year, What Car? magazine said "Austin Rover's once 'great white hope', Montego matured into a very decent car — but nobody noticed". The chassis development for the Montego and Maestro's rear suspension was used as a basis for later Rover cars, and was well regarded. Montegos continued to be built in small numbers in CKD form at the Cowley plant in Oxford until 1994, when production finally ended. The last car was signed by all those that worked on it, and is now on display at the British Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. A total of 546,000 Austin/Rover Montegos and 23,000 MG Montegos were produced, with Britain by far being the biggest market for the car. In all, 436,000 Montegos were sold in the UK between 1984 and 1995. In August 2006, a survey by Auto Express revealed that the Montego was Britain's eighth-most scrapped car, with just 8,988 still in working order. Contributing to this, areas of the bodywork that were to be covered by plastic trim (such as the front and rear bumpers) were left unpainted and thus unprotected. In addition, pre-1989 models fitted with the A and S-series engines cannot run on unleaded petrol without the cylinder head being converted or needing fuel additives.[11] This led to many owners simply scrapping the cars, as leaded petrol was removed from sale in Britain after 1999, and by 2003 most petrol stations had stopped selling LRP (lead replacement petrol) due to the falling demand for it. The Austin Montego, like many other Austin Rover cars at the time, offered a high luxury model. Sold opposite the MG, the Montego Vanden Plas was the luxury alternative. The Vanden Plas featured leather seats and door cards (velour in the estate version), powered windows, mirrors, door locks and sunroof. Alloy wheels were offered and later became standard on all cars. An automatic gearbox was also offered. It was available in both saloon and estate bodystyles. All Vanden Plas Montegos were 2.0 litres, either EFi (electronic fuel injection) or standard carburettor engines.

MG Montego

MG Montego

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Friday 24th August 1984

33 years ago

Vauxhall unveiled the Astra Mk2, which went on sale in October. It used the same range of engines and running gear as the Mark 1, but with a completely restyled body with better aerodynamics. It was voted 1985 European Car of the Year. Long-lived, the Mark 2 was available in estate, hatchback, saloon and cabriolet versions. The saloon was launched in January 1986 and sold as the Vauxhall Belmont; this trend to brand saloon models independently of hatchbacks was also used by other manufacturers of the period, with examples including the Ford Orion and the Volkswagen Jetta. However, this strategy was mostly unsuccessful, as this was Vauxhall's only attempt at badging its hatchback-based saloon as a separate model, and Ford rebadged its Orion range as Escorts in September 1993. In 1987 a special one off "design exercise" based on a 1986 1.8 GTE was built by the Ellesmere Port factory to celebrate its 25th (Silver) Anniversary. The Astra GTE "Quicksilver" was first shown at the British International Motor show in 1987 and displayed in the Ellesmere Port showroom throughout the Plant's "Silver Anniversary" year. Bertone built 6,764 cabriolets from 1987 to 1993.[5] These came as 1.6 (with 82 bhp (61 kW)) and 2-litre (115 bhp (86 kW)) GTEs, the latter available with powered roof and electric windows.[6] These cars are praised for their shake-free shells and their looks.

Vauxhall Astra Mk2

Vauxhall Astra Mk2

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Wednesday 17th October 1984

33 years ago

The Vauxhall Astra Mark 2 was launched. It used the same range of engines and running gear as the Mark 1, but with a completely restyled body with better aerodynamics. It was voted 1985 European Car of the Year.

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Saturday 23rd July 1988

29 years ago

The 1,000,000th Vauxhall Cavalier was sold. Sold primarily in the UK by Vauxhall from 1975 to 1995, it was based on an succession of Opel designs throughout its production life, during which it was built in three incarnations. The first generation of Cavalier, launched in 1975 and produced until 1981, was based on the existing Opel Ascona with a few minor visual differences. The second generation of Cavalier, launched in 1981 and produced until 1988, was launched simultaneously with the identical new generation of Opel Ascona, which was sold across the world in various guises on the General Motors "J-car".The third and final generation of Cavalier, launched in 1988 and produced until 1995, was based on the first generation of Opel Vectra with the same production span.

1990 Vauxhall Cavalier 1.4 L Saloon

1990 Vauxhall Cavalier 1.4 L Saloon

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Saturday 27th August 1988

29 years ago

General Motors introduced the Opel Vectra and Vauxhall Cavalier to the western European market.

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Friday 3rd January 1992

25 years ago

The Citroen Xantia made its market debut. The Xantia replaced the earlier Citroën BX (which straddled both small and large family car segments), and maintained the high level of popularity of that model, but brought the car more into the mainstream to compete harder with its rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo, Nissan Primera, Rover 600, Toyota Carina E and Opel Vectra/Vauxhall Cavalier. The car was built from November 1992 to October 2002 in France, totalling almost ten years, including the facelift in December 1997. It signalled that Citroën had learned from the reception given to the staid Citroën ZX, introduced two years earlier, and criticised by contemporary journalists for its lack of traditional Citroën flair, in engineering and design. Citroën addressed these concerns in the Xantia. The Xantia also used the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic suspension system, which was pioneered by the older DS. It was initially only available as a hatchback (notchback) (Berline), but an estate (station wagon) (Break) version, built by Heuliez, appeared in September 1995. Inline with PSA Group policy, the Peugeot 406, launched two years later, used the same floorpan, core structure and engines as the Xantia. The Hydractive suspension system was not carried over, and the 406 utilised a more traditional spring suspension. Sales in the United Kingdom were strong, and even though it was never able to match the volume of British favourites, such as the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra, the car did help Citroën establish a strong foothold in the business car market in the United Kingdom. Citroën sold over 1.2 million Xantias during its 9 years of production. Furthermore, in January 2001, when production ended, Iran's SAIPA produced it.

Citroen Xantia

Citroen Xantia

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Monday 23rd November 1992

24 years ago

The Ford Mondeo was launched, with sales beginning on 22 March 1993. Intended as a world car, it replaced the Ford Sierra in Europe, the Ford Telstar in a large portion of Asia and other markets, while the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz in North America. Despite being billed as a world car, the only external items the Mondeo shared initially with the Contour were the windscreen, front windows, front mirrors and door handles. Thus, the CDW27 project turned out not to be a true world car in the sense that the original Ford Focus and newer Ford developed under the "One Ford" policy turned out to be—that being one design per segment for the world. The first generation Mondeo was replaced in 2000, by the larger second generation; in the United States and Canada, the Countour/Mystique were replaced by the Fusion. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programmes ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe. Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "world car". The head of the Mondeo project was John Oldfield, headquartered at Ford Dunton in Essex, England. A large proportion of the high development cost was due to the Mondeo being a completely new design, sharing very little, if anything, with the Ford Sierra. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk I car only. Over optimistically the floor pan was designed to accept virtually any conceivable drivetrain, from a transverse four to a longitudinal V-8.[citation needed] This resulted in a hugely obtrusive and mostly disused bellhousing cover and transmission tunnel. The resulting interior front of the car, especially the footwells, feel far more cramped than would be expected from a vehicle of this size. The Mondeo featured new manual and automatic transmissions and sophisticated suspension design, which give it class-leading handling and ride qualities, and subframes front and rear to give it executive car refinement. The automatic transmission featured electronic control with sport and economy modes plus switchable overdrive. The programme manager from 1988, and throughout its early development, was David Price. The car was launched in the midst of turbulent times at Ford of Europe, when the division was haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars,[citation needed] and had gained a reputation in the motoring press for selling products which had been designed by accountants rather than engineers. The fifth generation Escort and third generation Orion of 1990 was the zenith of this cost-cutting/high price philosophy which was by then beginning to backfire on Ford, with the cars being slated for their substandard ride and handling, though a facelift in 1992 had seen things improve a little. The Sierra had sold well, but not as well as the all-conquering Cortina before it, and in Britain, it had been overtaken in the sales charts by the newer Vauxhall Cavalier. Previously loyal customers were already turning to rival European and Japanese products, and by the time of the Mondeo's launch, the future of Europe as a Ford manufacturing base was hanging in the balance. The new car had to be good, and it had to sell. Safety was a high priority in the Mondeo design with a driver's side airbag (it was the first ever car sold from the beginning with a driver's airbag in all of its versions, which helped it achieve the ECOTY title for 1994), side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and ABS (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-levelling suspension (top estate models), traction control (V6 and 4WD versions), and heated front windscreen, branded Quickclear. The interiors were usually well-appointed, featuring velour trim, an arm rest with CD and tape storage, central locking (frequently remote), power windows (all round on higher models), power mirrors, illuminated entry, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer and alloy wheels. During its development, Ford used the 1986 Honda Accord and in the later stages the 1990 Nissan Primera as the class benchmarks that the CDW27 had to beat. In December 1998, Ford released in Europe a sports car with a coupé body shell based upon the Mk II Mondeo called the Ford Cougar (or Mercury Cougar in North America). This car shared the engines (2.0 I4, 2.5 V6), transmissions, suspension (partially) and floorpans from the Mondeo, but the body shell was unique to the Cougar, and was one of the last Ford cars to be designed under Ford's New Edge philosophy.

Ford Mondeo

Ford Mondeo

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Monday 1st March 1993

24 years ago

The Citroen Xantia arrived in UK showrooms.The Xantia replaced the earlier Citroën BX, and maintained the high level of popularity of that model, but brought the car more into the mainstream to compete harder with its rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo, Nissan Primera, Rover 600, Toyota Carina E and Vauxhall Cavalier.

Citroen Xantia

Citroen Xantia

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Friday 5th March 1993

24 years ago

Ford introduced the "world car" Mondeo in Europe, 18 months before the Ford Contour in U.S. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programmes ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe.[4] Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "world car". The head of the Mondeo project was John Oldfield, headquartered at Ford Dunton in Essex. A large proportion of the high development cost was due to the Mondeo being a completely new design, sharing very little, if anything, with the Ford Sierra. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk I car only. Over optimistically the floor pan was designed to accept virtually any conceivable drivetrain, from a transverse four to a longitudinal V-8.[citation needed] This resulted in a hugely obtrusive and mostly disused bellhousing cover and transmission tunnel. The resulting interior front of the car, especially the footwells, feel far more cramped than would be expected from a vehicle of this size. The Mondeo featured new manual and automatic transmissions and sophisticated suspension design, which give it class-leading handling and ride qualities, and subframes front and rear to give it executive car refinement. The automatic transmission featured electronic control with sport and economy modes plus switchable overdrive. The programme manager from 1988, and throughout its early development, was David Price. The car was launched in the midst of turbulent times at Ford of Europe, when the division was haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars,[citation needed] and had gained a reputation in the motoring press for selling products which had been designed by accountants rather than engineers. The fifth generation Escort and third generation Orion of 1990 was the zenith of this cost-cutting/high price philosophy which was by then beginning to backfire on Ford, with the cars being slated for their substandard ride and handling, though a facelift in 1992 had seen things improve a little. The Sierra had sold well, but not as well as the all-conquering Cortina before it, and in Britain, it had been overtaken in the sales charts by the newer Vauxhall Cavalier. Previously loyal customers were already turning to rival European and Japanese products, and by the time of the Mondeo's launch, the future of Europe as a Ford manufacturing base was hanging in the balance. The new car had to be good, and it had to sell. Safety was a high priority in the Mondeo design with a driver's side airbag (it was the first ever car sold from the beginning with a driver's airbag in all of its versions, which helped it achieve the ECOTY title for 1994), side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and ABS (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-levelling suspension (top estate models), traction control (V6 and 4WD versions), and heated front windscreen, branded Quickclear. The interiors were usually well-appointed, featuring velour trim, an arm rest with CD and tape storage, central locking (frequently remote), power windows (all round on higher models), power mirrors, illuminated entry, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer and alloy wheels. During its development, Ford used the 1986 Honda Accord and in the later stages the 1990 Nissan Primera as the class benchmarks that the CDW27 had to beat. In December 1998, Ford released in Europe a sports car with a coupé body shell based upon the Mk II Mondeo called the Ford Cougar (or Mercury Cougar in North America). This car shared the engines (2.0 I4, 2.5 V6), transmissions, suspension (partially) and floorpans from the Mondeo, but the body shell was unique to the Cougar, and was one of the last Ford cars to be designed under Ford's New Edge philosophy.

Ford Mondeo - market launch brochure

Ford Mondeo - market launch brochure

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Sunday 19th September 1993

24 years ago

Production of the Ford Orion ended. A total of 534,239 Orions were sold throughout the car's 10-year life. Orion Mark I: In the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, from the Escort to the Granada and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina). The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, left by the demise of the Cortina. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front, but the rear of the body was totally different; the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a Hatchback or Station wagon body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra,[clarification needed] the latter had more rear legroom with the Orion having a larger boot. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the very lowest specification levels available on the Escort. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available (though with both Carburettor and Fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 Diesel engine on L and GL models.The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included Central locking, sunroof, front sport seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. Other cars in the small executive saloon class competing with the Orion included the Volkswagen Jetta, Mercedes-Benz 190, Rover 200, Vauxhall Belmont, Daihatsu Charmant, BMW E30 and the Volvo 360. The Orion 1.6i shared the same engine as the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in 1989, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E as both were considered as decent performance and well-equipped saloon cars for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, and only 1,000 of these had leather trim. Eventually though, as the years went by, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's. Lower-specification models crept into the range. Ford Orion Mark II: In 1986, the Orion received the same facelift as the rest of the Escort range. The Mark II brought the option of anti-lock-brakes (Anti-lock braking system) and a heated front windscreen to the range. The CVH engines were upgraded and were now 'lean burn units' and various models in the range could run on Unleaded fuel without modifications to the cylinder head or to the fuel system. Improved locks were fitted across the range, and a number of other improvements were carried out. Orion Mark III: The third generation Orion had its début in September 1990, but received the similar media criticism that the Escort endured for its lack of design flair as well as the disappointing refinement of some of its engines — particularly the low powered 1.3 OHV and 1.4 OHC petrol units. As with the Escort, the arrival of the Zetec 16 Valve engines and Suspension (vehicle) changes in 1992 improved the Orion's dynamic qualities. The range topping Orion Ghia Si (sports injection) had 130 bhp (97 kW) out of its 1.8L DOHC Zetec unit, making this the fastest production model Orion that Ford produced through the cars 10 year life. Saloon versions of later Escort series: In September 1993, a decade after the cars launch Ford dropped the Orion badge (following Vauxhall Motors drop of the Vauxhall Belmont in 1991) in most markets (excepting Argentina) and simply used the Escort trademark for all body styles; amongst other things this kept the Escort in its traditionally commanding position high in sales charts. The Escort saloon was discontinued in 1998, when production was pruned back on the launch of the Focus. Sales of the Escort-badged saloon were not as strong as those achieved by the Orion, as saloons of this size continued to fall in popularity throughout the 1990s.

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Wednesday 29th March 1995

22 years ago

The Rover 400 was officially launched, and was met with a sense of muted antipathy from the press. It was clear to even the most casual observer that this car was almost pure Honda in its design – in fact, to more seasoned observers, the changes that Rover had made were disappointing in their ineffectiveness. In a nutshell, the new mid-sized Rover appeared to be almost as much a Honda (as opposed to a British car) as the original joint-venture – the Triumph Acclaim – had been back in 1981. Many questions were soon asked of Rover: Why such a disappointing design? Had it not been for BMW, would this have been the shape of Rovers in the future? Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion.Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. As it was, there was a lot to applaud the Rover 400 for, though: the car marked the first application for the new, enlarged version of the K-series engine – now cleverly expanded to 1589cc. Refinement and performance of this new version was certainly up to scratch, and like its smaller brother, it proved to be more than a match for its Honda counterpart. This change in engine policy meant that in terms of petrol powered units, the range was now powered entirely by British engines (1.6-litre automatic, aside), whilst the diesel versions were now L-series powered (as opposed to Peugeot XUD-powered). The 400 range offered a wide variety of power options – 1.4-litres through to the 2.0-litre T-series engine – and even though the entry-level model was somewhat smaller than its rivals, Rover countered the lack of cubic capacity with a high specific output. Although the 136bhp version of the T-series engine found a natural home in the Rover 400, it was the 2.0-litre version of the KV6 engine (codename Merlin) that really excited the company. Producing a healthy 150bhp, the KV6 was under development and running in Rover 400 “mules” even before the car was launched – but it would not be until the arrival of the facelifted Rover 45 model in 1999 that a V6-powered Rover midliner entered the sales catalogue. Be that as it may, the highlight of the K-series was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the car. The people that mattered – the customers – found the Rover 400 somewhat disappointing and overpriced. If the premium pricing policy seemed like a winner with the classy and compact R8, its replacement certainly did not appear to have the looks to justify the continuation of this policy. Of course, Rover countered this allegation by telling everyone to wait for the saloon version, due in early 1996, but it did not ease the fact that the new 400 hatchback was not what the public wanted at the time, and was certainly not offered at a favourable price. Autocar magazine was reasonably pleased with the 416i and reported so in their road test. The verdict was lukewarm – and they gave the car qualified approval: “with looks that will be routinely mistaken for Honda’s new five-door Civic, this latest 400 needed to be convincingly different beneath the badge. This it achieves by a whisker. With that sweet spinning, characterful K-series engine and an outstanding urban ride quality, Rover has created a car that feels genuinely unique, not just a cynical badge engineered Honda. Sure, Peugeot’s 306 still has the dynamic measure of this car, but compared with the dull homogeneity of the competition from Ford and Vauxhall, the 416i offers up just enough “typically Rover” character, just enough specialness to raise it above the common horde. But only just.” At least Autocar were realistic in their choice of rivals for this car, plucking them from the small/medium arena. In Rover’s launch advertising for the 400, they pitched it against such luminaries as the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna and Citroën Xantia. Interestingly, it compared very well to all-comers in this class on the handpicked “ride quality” index figure. All but the Citroën, that is. Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first.Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first. Sales of the Rover 400 in the UK were buoyant, and in direct comparison with the combined sales of the outgoing R8 400 and Montego, they appeared to be quite good. But the comparison is certainly muddied by the fact that the 400 was designed to fight in the “D class” rather than the upper end of the “C class”, as marketeers liked to refer to the differing market sectors. So in the heart of the UK market, where Ford and Vauxhall continued to make hay, Rover continued to appear almost mortally weak. In the first full year of sales, the 400, including the stylish saloon version, grabbed 3.15 per cent of the market – and although Rover continued to make noises about not chasing volume sales, the cold hard facts were that after allowing for Honda’s royalty payments on each 400 sold, profit margins were not huge. Export sales continued to make reasonable headway, so even though sales in the home market were suffering, Rover’s production volumes remained at a reasonable level – no doubt helped by the BMW connection. However, exports are affected by the fluctuations of the currency markets, and as we shall see, Rover and BMW would suffer terribly from these in later years. In 1997 and 1998, the Rover 400 captured 2.85 and 2.55 per cent of the UK market respectively, maintaining a regular top ten presence. By the following year, however, this had collapsed disastrously to 1.51 per cent. What had caused this collapse? Well, the product had never captured the public’s imagination in the way that the R8 had, but also, following the change in government (May 1997) and the strengthening of sterling against European currencies, the price of imported cars had become so much cheaper in relation to that of the domestically produced Rover. This allowed companies such as Renault (with the Megane) and Volkswagen (with the Golf) to make serious inroads into the Rover’s market. What made the situation even worse for Rover was the flipside: the price of UK cars became more expensive in export markets, so in order to remain price competitive, Rover needed to drop their prices to such an extent that they began to make serious losses. By 1999, BMW had begun to take emergency measures for Rover – and the first of those, was the replacement of the 400 by the 45 in December 1999.

Rover 400

Rover 400

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Saturday 1st April 1995

22 years ago

Daewoo began selling cars in the United Kingdom. It offers a two-model range; the Nexia and Espero - updated versions of the 1984 Vauxhall Astra and 1981 Vauxhall Cavalier respectively.

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Friday 20th October 1995

22 years ago

Vauxhall unveiled its new Vectra range of large hatchbacks and saloons to replace the long-lived Cavalier in Britain. The Vauxhall badged Vectra B was the last Vauxhall to be produced at the company's Luton plant, where the end of automobile production was announced in December 2000, taking effect just over a year later. In March 2002, the plant closed down.

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Wednesday 29th November 1995

21 years ago

The third generation Rover 200 (R3) was launched. It was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. The Rover 200, codenamed R3, was smaller than the Honda-based R8 cars. This was due to Rover's need to replace the ageing Metro, which by now was 15 years old. Although some elements of the previous 200 / 400 were carried over (most notably the front structure, heater, steering and front suspension), it was by-and-large an all-new car that had been developed by Rover. Honda did provide early body design support as a result of moving production of the Honda Concerto from Longbridge to Swindon, freeing up capacity for 60,000 units at Rover. At this point, the car had a cut-down version of the previous car's rear floor and suspension and was codenamed SK3. Lack of boot space and other factors led to Rover re-engineering the rear end to take a modified form of the Maestro rear suspension and the product was renamed R3. By the time the car was launched, Honda and Rover had already been "divorced" after the BMW takeover the previous year. The new 200 used K-Series petrol engines, most notably the 1.8 L VVC version from the MGF, and L-series diesel engine. During the mid 1990s the L-Series was a very competitive engine, regarded as second only to the VW TDI in overall performance, and an improvement over the R8s XUD, particularly in fuel economy while almost matching it for refinement. Launched with 1.4i 16v (105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp)) and 1.6i 16v (111 PS (82 kW; 109 bhp)) petrol engines and 2.0 turbodiesel (86 PS (63 kW; 85 bhp) and intercooled 105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp) versions) engines, the range grew later to include a 1.1i (60 PS (44 kW; 59 bhp)) and 1.4i 8v (75 PS (55 kW; 74 bhp)) engines and also 1.8 16v units in standard (120 PS (88 kW; 118 bhp)) and variable valve formats (145 PS (107 kW; 143 bhp)). R65 Peugeot/Rover Manual gearboxes carried over from the R8 Rover 200 were available across the range and a CVT option was available on the 1.6i 16v unit. The R3 featured a completely re-designed interior and dashboard to accommodate the fitment of a passenger airbag in line with new safety standards. The 1.8-litre models earned a certain amount of praise for their performance, whilst the intercooled turbo diesel was claimed as one of the fastest-accelerating diesel hatchbacks on the market in the late 1990s. Unlike its predecessor, the R3 was not available in Coupe, Cabriolet or Tourer bodystyles, although Rover updated these versions of the older model with mild styling revisions and the fitting of the new dashboard from the R3, which was possible due to the shared front bulkhead. In the UK, these models were no longer branded as 200/400 models, simply being referred to as the Rover Coupe, Cabriolet and Tourer. The Rover 200 might have been marketed as a supermini, it compares closely in size and engine range with contemporary models such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. Instead Rover priced the car to compete with vehicles like the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra. Rover's only offering in the supermini segment at the time was the ageing Metro and this gap in the company's line-up needed to be filled. The third generation 200 was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. Within three years it had fallen out of the top 10 completely and was being outsold by traditionally poorer selling cars like the Volkswagen Polo Mk3 and the Peugeot 206.

Rover 200 (R3)

Rover 200 (R3)

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Thursday 21st March 2002

15 years ago

Car production at Vauxhall's Luton plant ceased after 97 years. The 7,415,045th and final car, a silver V6 Vectra rolled out at 10.23am, was added to a heritage collection of Vauxhall vehicles at a centre in Luton. Vauxhall Motors first came to Luton in 1905. The Vauxhall Iron Works had been operating in Vauxhall South London and began making cars in 1903.The company needed to expand and chose a seven acre site in Kimpton Road right on the edge of Luton. The town had just opened its municipal power station, was served by two railways and had a ready supply of workers. On 29th March 1903 the first Luton built car rolled out of the factory. This model was under powered and was replaced by a 9hp model in 1906 incorporating the famous bonnet flutes which were a feature of Vauxhall's until 1959. In 1925 Vauxhall was purchased by General Motors for 2.5 million dollars. Soon after bus and truck production started as the Luton factory expanded. Early Bedfords were based on Chevrolet designs, Chevrolet being a major GM subsidiary. Meanwhile Vauxhall turned to the popular car market. The 1931 Cadet was the first British car to feature a synchromesh gearbox. The 1937 Vauxhall 10 was the first introduction to motoring for many people. The 10 had four seats and returned a frugal 42mpg...quite extraordinary in its time...and all for £168. The Second World War saw Vauxhall play a major part in the war effort. The Churchill tank was produced here and battle damaged tanks came back for repair. Thousands of Bedford lorries were turned out at Kimpton Road including the magnificent QL which was the company's first four wheel drive vehicle. Military contracts were to occupy Bedford workers for years to come and it was boasted that you could find Bedfords all over the world. Initial post war efforts saw cars built for export, but in 1948 the famous Wyvern and Velox models were introduced with more than a nod to contemporary American styling. The 1951 E type versions saw the wings as being integral to the body in the way of today's cars. This was the heyday of Vauxhall with as many as 36000 people working at Kimpton Road which had been expanded by excavating the side of a chalk hill away to build AA block.n 1955 bus and truck production moved to Dunstable although the CA van remained at Luton. The 1957 F type Victor and the 1959 PA Cresta turned heads. They were finished in bright two colour schemes with fins on the boot and whitewall tyres. The Cresta wrap-round windscreen was a work of art in itself. These cars represented the end of post war austerity and were destined to become an essential part of the swinging sixties.1963's Viva was a re-entry into the small car market, but, ominously for Luton, it was built in a new factory on Merseyside - Ellesmere Port. The next even smaller car the Nova was the first example of GM badge engineering. Sold on the continent as the Corsa, Nova was built in Spain. Luton's lifeline was the 1975 Cavalier, and a very fine car it was. A new production line and massive paint shop dominated the skyline and much of the old factory was demolished. Luton built the next two Cavalier models and also its replacement the Vectra. In 1998 GM announced that the replacement model Vectra code named Epsilon would keep Luton building cars well into the new Millennium. Retooling had started when the fateful announcement was made in December 2000 that the new Vectra would be made in Ellesmere Port and Luton would close.

Vauxhall's Luton factory opened in 1905

Vauxhall's Luton factory opened in 1905

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Wednesday 9th June 2004

13 years ago

After setting out from northern Norway 38 days beforehand, the Vauxhall Zafira-based prototype HydroGen3 arrived at Cabo da Roca, Portugal, having completed the 6,000-mile Vauxhall Fuel Cell Marathon, nearly doubling the previous distance record for fuel-cell cars. Remarkably there was not a single report of an unscheduled stop for repair – the only repair made was a software update at the beginning of the trip.

GM HydroGen3

GM HydroGen3

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Wednesday 18th May 2005

12 years ago

PC Mark Milton who reached 159mph on the M54 in 2003 whilst "familiarising" himself with a new Vauxhall Vectra GSI police car was cleared of speeding and dangerous driving at Ludlow Magistrates' Court after the Judge called the constable the "creme de la creme" of police drivers.

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Sunday 7th May 2006

11 years ago

Vauxhall announced the loss of 900 jobs from Ellesmere Port's 3,000 staff. Ellesmere Port opened in 1962, originally to supply engines and other components to Vauxhall's car factories at Luton and Dunstable. The first car to be built at the plant was the HA Viva in June 1964. The Viva was joined by the Chevette in 1975, and in 1980 the plant started exporting Chevettes to Europe. In 1979 the Viva was dropped, and all Vauxhalls since have been rebadged Opel cars. Opel dealers started disappearing from the UK in 1981 (Vauxhall and Opel had previously existed seperately and for a short time sold identical badge-engineered cars), and the name finished in the UK with the Opel Manta in 1988. The Astra replaced the Chevette in 1981, and Astras have been built at the plant ever since, with the Vauxhall name used in the UK, and the Opel name for European markets. Vauxhall's Luton factory finished car production in 2002 with the end of the Vectra-B, although the Vectra-C that replaced it was made at Ellesmere Port on the same assembly line as the Astra. The Vectra-C was replaced by the German-built Insignia-A in 2008 and since then the Astra has been the only Vauxhall produced in the UK. After an uncertain period in the 2000s, Vauxhall's parent GM decided to commit to Ellesmere Port by announcing production of the Astra-J would take place there from 2009. This car is currently in production at the plant, and reports say that a hybrid petrol/electric car may be produced at Ellesmere Port in the future.

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant

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Wednesday 24th January 2007

10 years ago

Official figures released revealed that the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch (branded Opel in the rest of the EU) was Europe's best selling car.

Vauxhall Astra MkV (2004 - 2010)

Vauxhall Astra MkV (2004 - 2010)

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Tuesday 15th May 2007

10 years ago

The second-generation Vauxhall Agila was officially announced and presented at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show

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Sunday 1st July 2007

10 years ago

A Vauxhall 30-98, was auctioned by Bonham& Goodman in Sydney, Australia for £176,321(AUD$417,195) including premium. The Vauxhall, a remarkably original and unrestored 1921 model featuring polished aluminium bodywork, had been in the same ownership for over fifty years and had covered less than 20,000 miles since 1928. The Vauxhall 30-98, one of the greatest sports cars of the twentieth century was the first in the UK to top 100mph in production form. Fitted with a 4,525cc side-valve four-cylinder engine, producing 90bhp, this Vauxhall was made in two basic types, E-type and the more powerful OE-type, built between 1923 and 1927. The Autocar magazine went on to say: ‘Few cars have such graceful lines yet suggest unlimited strength allied to speed… and very, very few can take a corner stiffly with absolute certainty as this one can.’

Vauxhall 30-98

Vauxhall 30-98

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Wednesday 23rd July 2008

9 years ago

Vauxhall revealed its replacement to the Vectra at the British Motor Show. The vehicle is known as the Vauxhall Insignia in the United Kingdom, and as the Buick Regal in China and North America. It was launched in Australia and New Zealand under the Holden marque in 2015.

Vauxhall Insignia - 2010

Vauxhall Insignia - 2010

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Thursday 10th September 2009

8 years ago

General Motors announced that it agreed to the sale of 55% of Ruesselsheim-based Adam Opel and Vauxhall unit to Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. and Russian lender Sberbank. Detroit-based GM kept a 35% stake and continued to work with Opel on developing vehicles, sharing technology and engineering resources.

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Friday 11th December 2009

7 years ago

The sixth generation Vauxhall Astra hit UK showrooms after its worldwide debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Despite being more expensive than the fifth generation, the he sixth generation Astra had strong sales success in the UK, where it was the best- selling car in June 2010 with well over 10,000 sales - outselling its crucial rival the Ford Focus by nearly 50%. This, however, was at a time when production of the Mk2 Focus was being scaled back prior to the launch of a new MK3 model in early 2011. The Estate version of the Astra, the 'Sports Tourer', debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and went on sale shortly afterwards, with a starting price of £16,575 for the ES version, then Exclusiv, SRI and SE versions, with the SE costing from £20,345. The seventh generation Astra entered production at Ellesmere Port in 2015. In BBC2's Top Gear, the sixth generation Astra with the Tech Line trim, was used as their fourth "Reasonably Priced Car".

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