Reliability runs and record-chasing figured prominently in Vauxhall activity in the early years. Top executives including Percy Kidner and AJ Hancock were committed sporting enthusiasts. 'Jock' Hancock set new lap and distance records at the banked Brooklands track in Surrey. Success in such events added greatly to Vauxhall prestige and sales of standard cars must have obviously benefitted as a result.
The 30-98 model was a true sports car for road and competition use. Ronnie Hughes' car seen here is competing in a speed trial.
The Swedish Winter Trophy event of 1912 was won in difficult conditions by a Vauxhall Prince Henry model driven by Percy Kidner. This Michael Turner painting was commissioned by Vauxhall and presented to Kidner.
The journalist, Ronald 'Steady' Barker driving a Prince Henry Vauxhall at Prescott Hillclimb in the 1950's.
The Vauxhall Firenza 'Old Nail' in the hands of Gerry Marshall was a very successful racing car, winning over 60 races during its career before being retired in 1975.
Gerry Marshall was also a successful proponent of production saloon car racing and here he lifts a wheel on a Vauxhall Magnum Coupe.
Vauxhall, through the Dealer team equipe, commissioned a V8 engines 'Super saloon' race car, based on the FE Ventora model. Nicknamed 'Big Bertha', the car won three out of the first five races entered, but on the sixth, a brake pad/caliper problem saw a high speed impact with the Silverstone barriers and the car was destroyed. Out of the remnants of this car, salvaged mechanical components were engineered into a Firenza 'Droop Snoot' shell to produce 'Baby Bertha'. The car went on to win over 90 special saloon car races.
The Dealer team equipe commissioned another new car, this time for the 'Thundersaloon' series. Vauxhall's Design Department fashioned a dramatic bodyshell based on the Carlton GSi and this was mated to a 6 litre, V8 engine. Driven jointly by John Cleland and Vince Woodman, the car took the Thundersaloon series by storm and is still winning races today in the hands of Pete Stevens.
Featuring as support races to the British Touring Car Championship, The Vectra V6 SRi Challenge was a race series for identical models with a carrot of a supported drive in the BTCC for the overall victor.
'Old Nail' took on a number of guises during its race career. Here it is seen with a 'flat' front and Thames TV livery to reflect the sponsorship tie-up. Gerry Marshall's flamboyant driving style was a big hit on the televised races.
The Chevette model, fitted with a 2.3 litre engine became Vauxhall's rally weapon of the seventies and early eighties. The HS model came first(see picture 12), piloted by Pentti Airikkala and Jimmy McRae and then later, the model was honed to become the HSR model (seen here), driven by rally stars McRae, Tony Pond and Russell Brookes.
Pentti Airikkala and Terry Harryman on the 1977 Ulster rally in the Chevette HS. Airikkala went on to win the 1979 British rally Championship driving a Chevette HS.
Barrie Williams and Don Barrow get the DTV Firenza flying high on the Scottish Rally.
The Vauxhall Nova emerged onto the rally scene in 1985 and was an instant class winner. Harry Hockly and Colin McRae both piloted 1300 cars successfully, but when the 1600cc GTE variant was introduced, Dave Metcalfe performed many a giant-killing act against much more powerful opposition.
The Astra B GTE model had a successful rally and race career. John Cleland took overall honours in the 1989 British Touring Car Championship, whilst in rallying Louise Aitken Walker was crowned World Ladies rally champion whilst Malcolm Wilson and Dave Metcalfe both pedalled the car to notable class and group honours. Driving a showroom standard car, Brian Wiggins Astra was always the car to beat.
The Saltire decorated helmet is that of a young David Coulthard who honed his technique in the Formula Vauxhall single seater race series. Other notables to come out of the series included multiple Le mans winner, Allan McNish and Fi's Mika Hakkinen and Reubens Barrichello.
The Formula Vauxhall single seater race car.
The Saltire decorated helmet is that of a young David Coulthard who honed his technique in the Formula Vauxhall single seater race series. Other notables to come out of the series included multiple Le mans winner, Allan McNish and Fi's Mika Hakkinen and Reubens Barrichello.
A very young Lewis Hamilton developed his race winning technique with a spell in the Vauxhall supported karting race series for 'Young Guns'.
James Hunt's connection with Vauxhall came through his first Formula 1 team, Hesketh Racing, based at Easton Neston near Towcester. Their support vehicles were all supplied by Vauxhall/Bedford. In 1976 he moved to McLaren. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the World Drivers' Championship. During this time James Hunt was often seen in Vauxhall advertisements and appeared regularly on promotional duties.
1993 proved to be hard work for the Vauxhall Cavalier teams with only two wins during the season. Here, Jeff Allam leads teammate John Cleland in the Vauxhall Sport Cavaliers.
In 1992, Vauxhall won the manufacturer's championship and it was nearly John Cleland's year too. The driver series went down to the last round and the hectic, drama-filled race featured plenty of overtaking and panel bashing. With just a handful of laps to go, Cleland was in the leading pack and in line to take the championship victory. However, Steve Soper in the BMW helped his teammate Tim Harvey to grab the drivers title when a rash lunge at Cleland took the Vauxhall driver into the gravel and out of the race. Vauxhall were the top team for the season with 6 wins, 18 podiums and 5 pole positions. Here, John Cleland in the Vauxhall Cavalier leads his main protagonist Tim Harvey in the BMW.
Yvan Muller was always dramatic over the kerbs. Here, in 2002 he take a lot of air over the Thruxton Chicane in the Vauxhall Astra Coupe.
Yvan Muller was outright Touring Car champion in 2003, but in 2004, teammate James Thompson took the title at the penultimate round at Donington Park. The Astra Coupe took the title (albeit with different drivers) four years in succession.
At the final round of the championship at Brands Hatch in 2001, Vauxhall painted the team cars in a special blue livery to reflect the launch of a special limited edition Astra Coupe 888 road car. In a rain soaked finale, Jason Plato secured the title when teammate Muller's car fractured an oil line over the rough Brands kerb and had to settle for runner-up in the series. In fact, the satelitte Egg Racing team Astras of James Thompson and Phil Bennett finished third and fourth in the series with the manufacturers title also going Vauxhall's way.
Yvan Muller taking a dramatic line over the kerbs.
1989 was the last year that the British Touring Car Championship had four different classes, and the series could be won by the best performance in any of the categories. John Cleland drove the Vauxhall Astra GTE ably supported by Ladies World Rally Champion, Louise Aitken Walker in a hastily converted rally to race car. Jeremy Rossiter in a Spax supported car also joined the team and with other privateers, such as Tony Lanfachi appearing at races in Astras, Cleland's points tally was enough to take the overall victory in the championship.
Fabrizio Giovanardi joined the Vauxhall team in 2006, replacing Yvan Muller. The Italian needed a season to familarise himself to the British series but in 2007 and 2008, he became the dominant driver in the series, taking the drivers title in both years and helping Vauxhall to take the manufacturer's honours too. Here in this picture, he leads teammate Matt Neal in the VX Racing Vectra.
Clay modellers working on the Silver Aero concept car.
Serried ranks of draughtsman's drawing boards on the third floor of AJ Block – what is now Griffin House.
An early Calibra styling effort, positioned for management appraisal.
The proposed FE model variant, the 'Ventora SS' on the viewing turntable of the Design Department's terrace.
A car that never was. After 'Big Bertha' and 'Baby Bertha' – Vauxhall's modified racing saloons, the Design Department built a shell for 'Mega Betha', using a Cavalier Coupe bodyshell with an extra section inserted along the bodyshell spine to avoid big wheel arches to accommodate racing tyres.
Carlton and FE clay models in the studio.
A clay model at a very early stage of 'sculpting'.
1963, and the brand new HA Viva models, along with a 1904 Vauxhall and a 1939 Vauxhall 10 are photographed on the Brache Estate in front of the new AJ Block (later to become Griffin House) under construction.
Vauxhall Modellers working on the Cavalier II front end appearance.
The original reception desk in AJ Block.
Another view of the proposed FE Ventora SS model.
Clay modellers working on Silver Aero.
Head of the Design Department, Wayne Cherry, at his desk.
Vauxhall's Chief Executive, Bob Price (left) shows Margaret Thatcher the Vauxhall SRV Concept car during a visit to the Luton headquarters.
The Vauxhall' Havana' (nee Scotsman) ready for management viewing as an update to the HA viva Estate/Van model.
The corridor of the Design Department.
Modellers working on a specific front end treatment for the Astra A series.
The original High Performance Firenza engineering car (aka the 'Droop Snoot') along with Wayne Cherry's 'Silver Bullet' HPF estate concept car, outside Luton Hoo.
The interiors studio in the Design Department.
The viewing terrace of the Design Department, just after opening in the early sixties.
The Vauxhall XVR concept car on view in the corridor of the Design Department.
Assessing interiors in the studio.
The original main entrance to AJ Block (later restyled and re-named Griffin House).
The Bedford JJL midi bus together with the Chevette Aero (convertible) ready for management viewing in one of the Design Department's studios.
A photo opportunity for the new Viva HA against the early building work on AJ Block.
The FE Ventora SS design buck presented for appraisal.
The Carlton Thundersaloon racing car at the early stages of development together with cardboard wheels to present the finished appearance.
Clay modellers working on the Cavalier Coupe based 'Silver Aero' concept car.
The very long corridor in Vauxhall's Design Department featured a colourful, illuminated endpiece which shows off the dramatic SRV concept car to good effect.
Shown for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966, the XVR concept model was designed with a backbone chassis, all independent wishbone suspension and gullwing doors hinged around the centre windscreen pillar. The low drag body also featured a shovel nose with recessed pop up headlamps.
The SRV concept car was the work of Vauxhall's Design Department at Luton. Sleek, low built and imposing, the SRV's front doors hinged on the windscreen pillar, whilst the rear doors gave better access to the two full size rear seats hinged from the rear. The vehicle's design included an aerofoil to improve road group and electric self-levelling suspension. The car measured a mere 41.5 inches (105cm) in height.
The Design Department at Vauxhall produced Equus in 1978. Based on the Vauxhall Magnum floorpan and fitted with a Firenza engine and gearbox, the grp body was styled at Luton and constructed by Panther Cars.
The VX Lightning, a 2003 design study was produced for Vauxhall's centenary celebrations and featured a supercharged 2.2 litre engine.
Four of the Design Department stylist's renderings of cars from the seventies.
The Vauxhall name derives from a Norman soldier, Fulk le Breant who married the wealthy Margaret de Redvers. Her family had land on the south side of the Thames on London and in time, this site became known as Fulk's Hall. This name evolved hrough many generations to Vauxhall. Le Breant's coat of arms featured a mythical griffin as his heraldic emblem. When a Scottish engineer, Alexander Wilson set up a business which eventually became the Vauxhall Iron Works in the south London district adjacent to the Thames - he took the griffin as his company badge. The first motor car to bear the name Vauxhall appeared in 1903. The company that produced it had been formed in 1857 and until that time had been manufactuers of marine engines and pumps. The need for more production space led to a move in 1905 from London to Luton and in 1907, the company, moving away from marine engines and hydraulic machinery to concentrate on motor cars was named Vauxhall Motors Limited. 1903 - First Vauxhall car launched by the Iron Works in London. 1904 - 6 - Vauxhall competes successfully in the Glasgow-London reliability trial. 12/14 hp model launched. 1905 - car factory moved from London to Luton. 7/9 hp model introduced also first 4 cylinder model, an 18 hp car. 1906 - bonnet flutes introduced. 1907 - Vauxhall Motors Limited formed. Shown in the picture - Leaders of the Company gather to mark the opneing of the new Luton factory on April 5 1905.
A four seater from 1903.
The Swedish winter trophy of 1912 was run in difficult conditions and a Vauxhall Prince Henry model, driven by Percy Kidner, was the fastest car on the event.
1910 to 1920 - A Prince Is born. 1910 - Vauxhall entered three 20 hp cars in Price Henry of Prussia trial. At Brooklands, a Vauxhall became the first 20 hp to exceeed 100mph. 1911 - new 20 hp C-type Prince Henry arrived. 1913 - Classic E-type 4.5 model introduced - soon known as the 30-98. 1914 - 18 - production of nearly 2000 25 hp D-types as Army staff cars during World War One. Shown in the picture - 1917 - King George V arrives at Vimy Ridge in a 25 hp D type.
Top driver A J Hancock (later General Manager) competing in the 1914 Isle of Mann TT race in a 3.3 litre GP.
Famed Vauxhall engineer Lawrence Pomeroy at the wheel of a Price Henry prototype in 1911.
Two of the three Pomeroy designed Vauxhalls entered in the 1910 Prince Henry trials in Germany.
1920 - 1930 - Vauxhall joins General Motors. 1925 - Vauxhall Motors became a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors. 20/60 R-type model launched in 1927. 1930 - Cadet 17 and 26 hp models launched. Shown in the picture - The famous 1930 "Cadet" 17 hp, 6 cylinders - the start of a new era for Vauxhall. It brought class motoring to a wide public costing between £280 and £295.
The 1922 Silver Arrow 30/98 (guaranteed at 100mph).
A sideways Vauxhall 30 - 98 at Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb.
1930 - 1939 - Time for expansion. 1933 - In the wake of the 'Cadet' came the 'Light Six' Vauxhall. On announcement day, 250 cars were available for dealers and 40% of all 14 hp registrations in 1933-1934 were all Vauxhalls. 1937 - The Vauxhall '10' H-type, the first British car to have integral construction - was one of the most advanced small cars of its time in the world. Shown in the picture - The 1934 ASX 'Light Six'. This successful model saw a large rise in output for the company.
The H-type Vauxhall 10. The fuel economy was one of the cars major sellings features.
1939 - 1945 - Our war effort. Design and build Churchill tanks from scratch and ready to go in less than a year. 5,640 Churchill tanks completed before the end of the war. War works at Luton concentrates on building tanks and trucks. Vauxhall's Styling Department provides expertise on camouflage. Styling Department design and build inflatable decoy tanks. 5 million jerry cans and 750,000 steel helmets produced at Luton throughout the war years. Female workforce take on skilled jobs in all departments. Under conditions of utmost secrecy, Vauxhall did most of the work on the first 12 jet-propelled aircraft engines. Resilient wheel designed to replace rubber tyres in case of shortage of basic resources. Emergency provisions of armaments for the war effort. Design engineers contracted to make ready for production essential mechanical items for other companies. Picture shows newly built Bedfords for the miltary awaiting despatch in Kimpton Road, Luton.
Winston Churchill meets his namesake in the park at Luton Hoo.
1945 - 1960 - A new era. 1946 - Vauxhall car production resumed after the war with H, I and J models covering 10 - 14 hp. 1947 - post war years saw a home market starved of new cars due to the Government's drive for exports. 1948 - £14 million expansion started at Luton. October saw new car models from Vauxhall - the L-type Wyvern and Velox. The new body shell, common to both models gave a foretaste of the styling that arrived in 1951. 1951 - L-type Wyvern / Velox introduced. 1954 - the launch of the E-type Cresta. £36 million expansion project announced at Luton. The new car factory was completed in 1958. 1957 - the launch of the 4-cylinder Victor, which quickly became Britain's top export car. Also new in 1957 was the sleek 6-cylinder PA Velox and Cresta models which remained in production until 1962. Shown in the picture - 1948 Velox.
1961 Victor.
1955 Cresta.
1960 - 1970 - Breaking new ground. 1961 - Work began on a complete new car plant at Ellesmere Port, built on the site of the wartime airfield at Hooton. FB Victors introduced. 1963 - The HA Viva was laucnhed. 1966 - The HB Viva was introduced at built at the new Ellesmere Port plant. The luxury Viscount was launched. 1967 - The FD Victors with new overhead-cam engines were launched. 1970 - third generation HC Vivas appeared in late 1970 as 2/4 door saloon and estate cars. Picture shows 2 door Viva HC estate.
1965 Vauxhall Viscount outside A J block (later Griffin House).
One of the 4 door saloons added to the HB Viva range in October 1968.
1970 - 1980. Enter the Cavalier. 1971 - Millionth Viva produced. Firenza coupe announced which takes Vauxhall back into racing. 1973 - Magnum 1800 - 2300 introduced. 1975 - Chevette hatch launched. 1977 - Cavalier production began at Luton. 1978 - 75th anniversary of Vauxhall cars. 1979 - New Astra models announced for 1980 - the first front wheel drive Vauxhall. Picture shows The Vauxhall racing Firenza.
Vauxhall Cavalier.
Vauxhall Chevette.
1980 to 1990 - Road to Recovery. 1981 - New Vauxhall 'J' Cavalier launched with the 2 door covertible announced in 1982. 1983 - Vauxhall launched the Nova and the Astra GTC. 1985 - £90 million paint shop being built at Luton. 1988 - All-new Cavalier range introduced. 1989 - Astra range grew to 32 mdoels. Cavalier 4x4 available. £50 million modernisation of Luton plant bgan. Picture shows 1989 Cavalier Sri.
MK1 Astra.
Lotus Carlton.
1990 - 2003 - The 90's and beyond. 1991 - Vauxhall launched the 4x4 Frontera. 1992 - £193 million V6 engine plant opened at Ellesmere Port. Vauxhall becomes first manufacturer to equip petrol engined cars with catalytic converters. 1993 - Corsa replaces Nova. Vauxhall received Investors in people award. 1994 - Omega replaces Carlton and Senator ranges. Tigra coupe introduced. 1995 - New Vectra is launched to replace the Cavalier. 1996 - £300 million investment at Ellesmere Port plant announced. Sintra 'people mover' announced. 1997 - V6 engine plant produces its quarter-millionth V6 engine. 1998 - New Astra nd Fronter launched. 1999 - The Zafira with unique Flex7 seating launched. New Vectra announced. Vauxhall becomes the first manufacturer to sell cars in the internet. 2000 - Marks the introduction of the VX200. New aluminum ECOTEC engines annunced. Astra couple and Agilar launched. 2001 - Vivaro medium van produced at Luton. Vauxhall becomes Britain's major manufacturer of UK produced vehicles. 2002 - New Vectra launched. 2003 - Century in Motion - 100 year celebrations throughout the year. Meriva, Monaro and Signum launched together with VX220 Turbo. Picture shows Frontera Sport
Astra Gsi.
Ampera, European Car of the Year, 2012. The revolutionary electric car, with an extended-range of up to 360 miles. www.vauxhall-ampera.co.uk
The Vauxhall Insignia combines dynamic design and innovative technology to put real pleasure into every aspect of your driving experience. And the new 2.0-litre CDTi BiTurbo engine now gives you even more power providing a massive 400Nm of torque with emissions from only 129g/km.
The new Astra VXR is here. And it means business. Packing an aggressive 280PS, 400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection engine, it's just begging to be taken out for a blast.
Corsa looks brilliant from every angle. The seriously sport three-door, sharp and dynamic with real attitude. And the flexible five-door - maybe a little more grown-up. Every model has its own unique personality, so all you have to do is choose the one that matches yours.
The new Zafira Tourer is an MPV that provides premium versatility and elegant style. The revolutionary Lounge Seating System (standard on SE and Elite models) provides limousine like levels of space for 2nd row passengers and with up to 34 storage compartments you'll never be short of space.
The RAK e is a light-weight two-seater electric vehicle concept revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011 and aimed at a younger, tech savvy audience. Weighing no more than 380 kg, with a 60-mile range and a top speed of 75 mph, this battery-powered rakish concept with production potential is designed to be highly affordable, with minimal running cost.
The New Antara has a bold new look that commands real road presence. Available in both All Wheel Drive and Front Wheel Drive this is an SUV that will fit your active lifestyle perfectly.
The new Vauxhall Mokka is a compact SUV with attitude. Exclusiv and SE models offer stylish 18 inch alloy wheels as standard and the available innovative Intelligent All-Wheel Drive technology ensures that the Mokka can handle anything your life throws at it.
Whatever your line of business, Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles can help you deliver with an award-winning line-up that runs from the stylish Corsavan through to the big, strong Movano. Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles. The Wheels of Business.