Vauxhall has been one of the biggest car manufacturers in the UK for decades. However, not many of us actually know where they came from, why they are only called Vauxhall in the UK, and Opel in the rest of Europe? And are we going to see any more cars like the VXR8 from them?
Vauxhall was originally founded in 1857 as Alex Wilson and Company. The name given to it was from the Scottish Engineer that founded it, Alexander Wilson (strangely enough). The company originally manufactured marine engines and pumps. It wasnít until 1897 that the name was changed to Vauxhall Iron Works, presumably due to its location in Vauxhall, London. It was only 6 years later when Vauxhall produced their first car. 4 years later the name was again changed to the now familiar Vauxhall Motors. It was in this guise that it was purchased by General Motors in 1925.
Power and passion
For many years Vauxhall have produced very sporty variants of their everyday cars. We have seen GTEís, GSiís and more recently VXRís. They always proved to be a hot favourite amongst boy racers. The combination of affordability, reliability and tunability always ensured a healthy fan base. The most powerful production car Vauxhall has ever produced is the VXR8 Bathurst S. It comes straight from the showroom packing an impressive 560bhp. This power spews forth from a 6.2ltr V8. Itís a fantastic car, but we would definitely recommend joining your local petrol garages points scheme.
Vauxhall is no Mickey Mouse operation
Walt Disney recently signed a 3-year deal with GM giving them a vehicle supply contract that covers the entire Vauxhall range. GM first partnered with Disney in 1982, when Disney agreed to let them showcase their vehicles in the Epcot attraction located at Walt Disney World. Whilst Disney in the UK will use Vauxhall badged vehicles, the rest of Europe will use the Opel badges as per the local market. The Ampera electric vehicle is expected to feature heavily to reinforce Disneyís commitment to a greener future.
Vauxhall or Opel?
Vauxhall are part of Adam Opel AG, a German company that is also owned by General Motors. GM has swapped products between the brands since the early 70ís. This was nearly always in favour of Opel. So many of the Vauxhall models we see today are in fact Opelís, and many are not built in the UK. Ironically enough approximately 80% of Vauxhalls built in the UK are exported and branded as Opelís.
An instant classic
The Lotus Carlton is perhaps the most iconic Vauxhall. It was ridiculously powerful for its time, and had a top speed in excess of 175 mph. When the Association of Chief Police Officers were asked to comment on the vehicle they said it was ďan outrageous invitation to speedĒ.
The mythical creature, made up of a lions body and a eagles head and wings, was adopted by Vauxhall from the Faulke de Breaute coat of arms. Faulke de Breaute was a soldier who was in favour with King John in the thirteenth century. In exchange for services rendered, the King awarded him the Manor of Luton. He also built a house in London, Fulks Hall. Over time it also became known as Vaux hall. It was here that Alex Wilson first came into contact with the name, and the coat of arms, which he later adopted the griffin from.
American owned, British heart
Vauxhall is vehemently proud of its British roots. Itís prospectus for employment states itís as British as seaside rock. They also sponsor many British football teams including the womenís, youth and disability teams. They are currently signed up to continue this support until the 2014 Brazilian world cup. They are also proud of the cooperation in their UK plants between management and workers. They say this means they are dealing with the global downturn without having to make any redundancies. Their manufacturing plants currently employ about 3200 staff and have an output of approximately 290,000 thousand vehicles per year.
The long road to a good reputation
The modern Vauxhall brand enjoys a relatively good image. However it was not long ago they seemed to develop a reputation for prematurely rusting. A fact that seems to support this assertion is that the MK Cavalier is the most scrapped car in Britain.
The futures bright, the futures green
GM has been developing the HydroGen4. Although GM/Opel has developed the car, it is very likely it will make its way to the UK sporting a Vauxhall badge. It features a 94kw engine that is capable of covering approximately 200 miles on a 4.2 kilograms of Hydrogen. It is expected to have a release date some time in 2016.
The current Vauxhall range features 11 different models spread over a range of passenger markets. In addition to these it also has the VXR branded vehicles and 5 commercial vehicles available. In 2012 the Corsa was the second biggest selling car in the UK, pipped to first place by the Fiesta. The Astra also made its way into the top 5 UK sellers. In total Vauxhall account for 11.36% of the UK new car market. This makes them the second biggest manufacturer, second only to Fords 13.79% market share.