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Alexander Wilson founded the company in Vauxhall, London in 1857. Originally it was named Alex Wilson and Company, then Vauxhall Iron Works, the company built pumps and marine engines. In 1903 the company built its first car, a five-horsepower model steered using a tiller, with two forward gears and no reverse gear. This led to a better design which was made available for sale.
To expand its production the company moved the majority of its production to Luton in 1905. The company continued to trade under the name Vauxhall Iron Works until 1907, when the modern name of Vauxhall Motors was adapted. The company was characterised by its sporting models, but after the First World War, designed more austere models.
In 1925 Vauxhall was bought by GM for 2.5 million US dollars. The influence of the American parent was pervasive and together with Ford, Vauxhall's main competitor, led to a wave of American influenced styling in Europe that persisted through to the 1980s. Bedford Vehicles, a subsidiary constructing commercial vehicles, was established in 1930 as the Stock Market Crash of 1929 had made importing American lorries uneconomical.
During World War II car production was suspended to allow Vauxhall to work on the Churchill tank, which was designed at Luton in less than a year, and assembled there (as well as at other sites). Over 5,600 Churchill tanks were built.
After the war, car production resumed but models were designed as a more mass-market product leading to expansion of the company. A manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port was built in 1960. During the 1960s Vauxhall acquired a reputation for making rust-prone models, though in this respect most manufacturers were equally bad. The corrosion protection built into models was tightened up significantly, but the reputation dogged the company until the early 1980s.
From the 1970s, most models were based on models made by Opel in Germany. The Chevette, Cavalier and Carlton were basically restyled versions of the Kadett, Ascona and Rekord, featuring a distinctive sloping front end, nicknamed the "droopsnoot", first prototyped on the HPF Firenza. The Viceroy and Royale were simply rebadged versions of Opel's Commodore and Senator, imported from Germany.
This was the starting point for the "Opelisation" of Vauxhall. With the 1979 demise of the Viva, GM policy was for future Vauxhall models to be, in effect, rebadged Opels, designed and developed in Rüsselsheim, with little engineering input from Luton. In the late '70s and early '80s, GM dealers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland sold otherwise identical Opel and Vauxhall models alongside each other. This policy of duplication was phased out, beginning with the demise of Opel dealerships in the UK in 1981. The last Opel car (the Manta coupe) to be "officially" sold in Britain was withdrawn in 1988.
Similarly, the Vauxhall brand was dropped by GM in Ireland in favour of Opel in 1982, with other right hand drive markets like Malta and Cyprus soon following suit. (In New Zealand, the brand was withdrawn after the demise of the Chevette.) Many new Opel-badged cars have been privately imported into the UK from Ireland, and other EU countries, while many Vauxhalls have been imported second hand into the Republic.
GM Europe then began to standardise model names across both brands in the early 1990s—the Vauxhall Astra and Opel Kadett for example were both called Astra from 1991 onwards; the Vauxhall Cavalier and Opel Vectra were both called Vectra from 1995 etc. With the exception of the VX220, sold by Opel as the Speedster, all of Vauxhall's models now have the same names as those of Opel.
Since 1994, Vauxhall models differ from Opels in their distinctive grille featuring a "V", incorporating the Vauxhall badge. This has also been used by Holden in New Zealand, and on the Indian version of the Opel Astra. The "V" badging is an echo of the fluted V-shaped bonnets that have been used in some form on all Vauxhall cars since the very first.
A model unique to the Vauxhall range is the high performance Monaro coupe, which is sourced from Holden in Australia. Although this model is also produced in left hand drive (LHD) for markets like the U.S. (known as the Pontiac GTO) and the Middle East (known as the Chevrolet Lumina), the model is not currently offered by Opel in Europe. Imports of this vehicle are limited to 15,000 to avoid additional safety testing. A future vehicle that Opel has not confirmed but Vauxhall has is the Holden Commodore SSV and the HSV GTS. The SSV has a GM 6.0 L98 V8 and the HSV uses the high performance GM 6.0 LS2 V8. Both are on the new GM Zeta platform which will underpin many future full-size GM vehicles. Vauxhall confirmed the import of the HSV just after the reborn Opel GT roadster was announced as not being imported into the UK. Vauxhall claim the Vauxhall Commodore and HSV will replace the Monaro and be far more aggressively styled than the HSV and have several defining Vauxhall features.
The bodywork for the Holden Camira estate was used for the Vauxhall Cavalier estate in the UK (though not for the identical Opel Ascona in the rest of Europe), while Vauxhall's compact car, the Viva, formed the basis of the first Holden Torana in Australia in the 1960s.
Many cars badged as Opels, even LHD models, are produced by Vauxhall for export. Vauxhall has built some Holdens for export, too, notably Vectra As to New Zealand and Astra Bs to both Australia and New Zealand.
The VXR range is analogous to the OPC range made by Opel, the HSV range made by Holden and the SS range made by Latin America Chevrolet. The models include the Corsa, Astra, Vectra, Meriva, Zafira, VX220 (no longer in production), and the Australian-built Monaro. These vehicles are high performance machines and are idealy aimed for younger buyers. Vauxhall unveiled a new model based on the Australian Holden Maloo at the 2005 NEC motor show in Birmingham, England. It was claimed that the monstrous V8 Pick-Up could do about 200mph which is incredibly fast for a utility vehicle. Sadly, the model never got to the showroom in the United Kingdom. The VXR badge is a symbol of the combined technological resources of the global General Motors group and the recognised expertise of consultants Lotus and the Triple Eight Racing Team.
Closures and restructuring
Vauxhall announced that the Luton plant would close in 2000, with the final vehicle being made in March 2003, but production still continues at the plant in Ellesmere Port.
On 17 May 2006 Vauxhall announced the loss of 900 jobs from Ellesmere Port's 3,000 staff. Despite already meeting efficiency targets Vauxhall has been told to further improve productivity. Vauxhall's troubled parent GM is cutting 30,000 jobs in the United States. 
Origins of the name and the logo
The griffin emblem, which is still in use, is derived from the coat of arms of Fulk le Breant, a mercenary soldier who was granted the Manor of Luton for services to King John in the thirteenth century. By marriage, he also gained the rights to an area near London, south of the Thames. The house he built, Fulk's Hall, became known in time as Vauxhall. Vauxhall Iron Works adopted this emblem from the coat of arms to emphasise its links to the local area. When Vauxhall Iron Works moved to Luton in 1905, the griffin emblem coincidentally returned to its ancestral home.
List of vehicles
- 10-4 (1937–1947)
- 12-4 (1937–1946)
- 14-6 (1939–1948)
- 14 and 14/40 (1922–1927)
- 20/60 (1927–1930)
- 23/60 (1922–1926)
- 25 (1937–1940)
- 25/70 (1926–1928)
- 30/98 E-type (1913–1922)
- A-type (1911–1914)
- B-type (1911–1914)
- C-type "Prince Henry" (1911–1913)
- D-type (1912–1922)
- Agila (2000-present)
- Astra (1979-present)
- Belmont (1984-1991)
- Cadet (1931-1933)
- Calibra (1989-1997)
- Carlton (1978–1994)
- Cavalier (1976–1994)
- Chevette (1975–1983)
- Corsa (1993-present)
- Cresta (1954–1972)
- Equus (1978 concept)
- Firenza (1970–1975)
- Frontera (1991–2004, rebadged Isuzu MU Wizard)
- Magnum (1973-1978)
- Manta (1970-1987, was also sold as an Opel)
- Monaro (2001–present)
- Monterey (1994–1999, rebadged Isuzu Trooper)
- Meriva (2002-present)
- Nova (1983-1993)
- Omega (1994-2003)
- Royale (1978-1986), rebadged Opel Senator
- Senator (1978-1994)
- Signum (2004-present)
- Silver Aero (1983 concept)
- Silver Bullet (1976 concept)
- Six (1933–1938)
- SRV (1970 concept)
- T and T80 (1930–1932)
- Tigra (1994-present)
- Vectra (1995-present)
- Velox (1948–1957)
- Ventora (1968–1972)
- Viceroy (1978-1982), rebadged Opel Commodore
- Victor (1957–1972)
- Viscount (1966–1972)
- Viva (1963–1979)
- VX220 (2001-2005)
- VX4/90 (1961–1972)
- VX Lightning (concept)
- VXR8 (2008-present)
- Wyvern (1948–1957)
- Zafira (1999-present)
- Bedford Beagle (1964–1973)
- Bedford Astramax (1984-1992)
- Bedford Rascal (1986–1993, rebadged Suzuki Supercarry)
- Bedford CF Van
- Bedford Midi
- Bedford Dormobile
- Arena (1997-2000, rebadged Renault Trafic)
- Combo (1999-present)
- Movano (1999-present)
- Vivaro (2001-present)
- General Motors
- Wayne Cherry - Vauxhall's (and later GM's) head of design, responsible for most Vauxhall/Opel designs since 1970.
- Gerry Marshall (racing driver strongly associated with the marque)
- Slant Four (type of engine made by Vauxhall)
- 1903 - Vauxhall car company created in London and named after the residential area in which it was formed. Its first production car goes on sale, without having a reverse gear!
- 1905 - Vauxhall builds a factory at Luton where most of its vehicle production will be completed.
- 1925 - Vauxhall becomes part of the American automotive combine General Motors.
- 1930 - Bedford Vehicles - the commercial vehicle arm of Vauxhall - is founded.
- 1960 - Vauxhall builds a new factory at Ellesmere Port.
- 1963 - Production of the Vauxhall Viva small family car commences, with the new car being aimed at the likes of the Ford Anglia and Morris Minor. The German version of the car will be sold as the Opel Kadett, while Australia will see a version known as the Holden Premier.
- 1974 - Vauxhall moves into the mini-car sector with the introduction of its Chevette, a rear-wheel drive range of hatchbacks, saloons and estates. It is the first hatchback Vauxhall ever made, and in Germany it will succeed the Viva-based version of the Opel Kadett.
- 1975 - Vauxhall launches a new entrant in the large family car market in the shape of the Cavalier, an ultramodern range of rear-wheel drive saloons and a "Sporthatch" Coupe. It is a restyled version of Germany's Opel Ascona.
- 1978 - Vauxhall strengthens its position in the executive car market with the launch of its all-new Carlton saloon and estate, which are re-badged versions of the German Opel Rekord.
- 1979 - Vauxhall Viva production ends after 16 years and the car's successor is the Astra - Vauxhall's first front-wheel drive car, which comes as a hatchback or an estate. Being identical to the German-built Opel Kadett, all Vauxhalls are now identical to Opels.
- 1981 - The second generation Vauxhall Cavalier is launched, with front-wheel drive, but is pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the Renault 9.
- 1982 - Vauxhall announces the launch of the Nova supermini, which will eventually replace the Chevette. It is available as a hatchback or a saloon.
- 1983 - Production begins of the Vauxhall Cavalier Estate, which is produced in Australia alongside the Holden range. Sales also begin of the Senator executive saloon, an upmarket version of the Carlton that is the first Vauxhall to share its nameplate with Opels.
- 1984 - The aerodynamically-styled Vauxhall Astra MK2 becomes the first Vauxhall car to be elected European Car of the Year.
- 1985 - Vauxhall launches the Belmont - a saloon version of the Astra which offers more interior space and is almost as big as a Cavalier.
- 1986 - Vauxhall wins another "European Car of the Year" award with its all-new Vauxhall Carlton (badged Opel Omega on the continent).
- 1988 - The Vauxhall Cavalier MK3 goes on sale across Britan but will be sold as the Opel Vectra in Ireland and mainland Europe.
- 1989 - The Cavalier chassis spawns the Calibra coupe, which is officially the most aerodynamic production car in the world. Production also begins of the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (Opel Lotus Omega on the continent) which at 175mph is the fastest Vauxhall ever made and also the fastest four-door of all time.
- 1991 - The third generation Vauxhall Astra goes on sale with Opel versions adopting the Astra nameplate for the first time. The saloon version will be badged Astra rather than Belmont. The Frontera goes into production as Vauxhall's first four-wheel drive model.
- 1992 - Vauxhall Nova production ends after 10 years and the all-new replacement adopts the European Corsa nameplate.
- 1994 - The Vauxhall Carlton nameplate is abandoned after 16 years and Omega takes its place. Vauxhall also adds another vehicle to its four-wheel drive line-up in the shape of the Isuzu-based Monterey.
- 1995 - Vauxhall joins the expanding "compact coupe" market with its new Corsa-based Tigra sports model. Cavalier production ends after 20 years with its successor wearing the Vectra nameplate.
- 1997 - Vauxhall announces the end of Calibra production after eight years.
- 1998 - The fourth generation Vauxhall Astra is launched, winning plaudits for its much improved ride and handling. Its chassis spawns a seven-seater "compact MPV" - the Zafira. The Vauxhall Monterey is withdrawn from sale in the UK, though it continues to sell in the rest of Europe as an Opel.
- 1999 - Vauxhall facelifts the Vectra to include 2,500 improvements that bolster its previously disappointing ride and handling.
- 2000 - Vauxhall enters the sports car market with the Lotus-based VX220 roadster. It re-enters the coupe market with the Astra Coupe. The new Agila city car and Corsa supermini also go on sale.
- 2002 - The all-new Vectra goes on sale, alongside a large hatchback badged as the Signum.
- 2003 - Vauxhall Omega production ends after nine years with no direct replacement, as does the Vauxhall Frontera after 12 years.
- 2004 - The fifth generation Vauxhall Astra goes on sale and also spawns a new version of the Zafira as well as a TwinTop Astra which doubles as a coupe and convertible.
- 2006 - The third generation Vauxhall Corsa goes on sale and narrowly misses out on the European Car of the Year award.
- 2011 - As of August 1, 2010 onward, any new Vauxhall vehicle is eligible for the Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty which covers the life of the car up to 100,000 miles (160,000 km) for its first owner, albeit requiring a (free) yearly inspection.
- Official Accessories Website
- Vauxhall Heritage
- Vauxhall Motors UK Website
- Vauxhall lifetime warranty announced
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