Vauxhall Belmont 1-6

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Description: Vauxhall Motors is a British automobile company owned by General Motors. Most current Vauxhall...

Vauxhall Motors is a British automobile company owned by General Motors. Most current Vauxhall models are right-hand drive derivatives of GM's Opel brand; however, production of left hand vehicles also takes place for export to other parts of Europe and certain marginal markets. There are also several performance vehicles coming from Opel Performance Center (OPC) and Holden /Holden Special Vehicles in Australia. Vauxhall is headquartered in the Griffin House in Luton. United Kingdom. [3]

In early 2009 the future of Opel was thrown into uncertainty as the global financial crisis drove GM towards bankruptcy. New GM Europe (Vauxhall plus Opel, minus Saab ), [4] is presently controlled by a trustee, with a controlling board made up of representatives from GM, employees and the German Government; the company was subject to a bidding process. On 10 September 2009, it was announced that Magna. a Canadian car part manufacturer, and Sberbank. a Russian company, would buy a majority stake (55%) in its European Opel/Vauxhall operations. GM would have owned 35% of Opel; while Opel employees would have owned 10%. The agreement would have kept Opel/Vauxhall a fully integrated part of GM’s global product development organization, allowing all parties to benefit from the exchange of technology and engineering resources. [5] On 3 November 2009, the GM board called off the Magna deal after coming to the conclusion that Opel and Vauxhall Motors are crucial to GM's global strategy.

Alexander Wilson founded the company in the Dusian Road, Vauxhall, London in 1857. Originally 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, 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 adopted. The company was characterized by its sporting models, but after World War I the company's designs were more austere.

Much of Vauxhall's success during the early years of Vauxhall Motors was due to a man called Laurence Pomeroy. Pomeroy joined Vauxhall in 1906 as an assistant draughtsman, at the age of twenty-two. In the winter of 1907/8 the chief designer F.W. Hodges took a long holiday and in his absence the managing director Percy Kidner asked Pomeroy to design an engine for cars to be entered in the 1908 RAC and Scottish Reliability Trial, held in June of that year. The cars were so successful that Pomeroy took over from Hodges. [6]

His first design, the Y-Type Y1, had outstanding success at the 1908 RAC & Scottish 2000 Mile Reliability Trials showing excellent hill climbing ability with an aggregate of 37 seconds less time in the hill climbs than any other car in its class. With unparalleled speeds around the Brooklands circuit the Vauxhall was so far ahead of all other cars of any class that the driver could relax, accomplishing the 200 miles (320 km) at an average speed of 46 mph (74 km/h), when the car was capable of 55 mph (89 km/h). The Y-Type went on to win class E of the Trial.

The Y-Type was so successful that it was decided to put the car into production as the A09 car. This spawned the legendary A-Type Vauxhall. Four distinct types of this were produced between 27 October 1908 up to when mass production halted in 1914. One last A-Type was put together in 1920. Capable of up to 100 mph (160 km/h) the A-Type Vauxhall was one of the most acclaimed 3 litre cars of its day.

Two cars were entered in the 1910 Prince Henry Trials, and although not outright winners, performed well and replicas were made for sale officially as the C-type but now known as the Prince Henry.

During World War I Vauxhall made large numbers of the D-type, a Prince Henry chassis with de-rated engine, for use as staff cars for the British forces.

After the 1918 armistice, the D-type remained in production along with the sporting E-type. Pomeroy left in 1919, moving to the United States, and was replaced by C.E. King. [6] In spite of making good cars, expensive pedigree cars of the kind that had served the company well in the earlier prosperous pre-war years were no longer in demand: [1] the company struggled to make a consistent profit and Vauxhall looked for a major strategic partner.

In 1925, Vauxhall was bought by General Motors for US$ 2.5 million. The company's pre-war image and target market were abruptly changed with the introduction in 1931 of the first Bedford truck, which was Chevrolet based, along with the low-cost two litre Vauxhall Cadet. [1] The company's future chief engineer, Harold Drew, left Luton for a spell working as a draughtsman with GM's Lansing, Michigan based Oldsmobile division. [1] As the first significant post acquisition passenger car, the Cadet, initially retailing at GB£280, is generally mentioned in connection with Vauxhall's newly acquired interest and expertise in controlling production costs, but it was also noteworthy as the first British car to feature a synchromesh gearbox. [1]

The influence of the American parent was pervasive and together with the Ford Motor Company. Vauxhall's main competitor, led to a wave of American influenced styling in Europe that persisted through to the 1980s. The Bedford Vehicles. subsidiary was established in 1930 to construct commercial vehicles, as the Stock Market Crash of 1929 had made importing American lorries uneconomical.

During World War II, car production at Luton was suspended to allow Vauxhall to work on the new Churchill tank. taking it from specification to production in less than a year, and assembled there (as well as at other sites). Over 5,600 Churchill tanks were built. Luton also produced lorries for the war effort (250,000), the Bedford designs being common in British use.

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 on Merseyside was built in 1960. [7] 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.

By the late 1960s, the company was achieving five-figure sales on its most popular models including the entry-level Viva and larger Victor.

Vauxhall's fortunes improved during the 1970s, with an updated version of the Viva continuing to sell in huge volumes.

By 1973, however, the Victor was losing sales in a market that was becoming increasingly dominated by the Ford Cortina. The Viva was still among the most popular cars in Britain, as a facelift in 1970 stopped the design from becoming too outdated. But this wasn't enough to keep Vauxhall from being well behind market leaders Ford and British Leyland in the sales charts, and most of its range was struggling even to keep pace with Chrysler UK (formerly the Rootes Group ). Vauxhall's sales began to increase in 1975 with the launch of two important new models - the Chevette. a small three-door hatchback that was the first car of its kind to be built in Britain, the Chevette carrying the name Opel Kadett in Europe and Chevrolet Chevette in the US market; and the Cavalier (Opel Ascona elsewhere), a stylish four-door saloon designed to compete head-to-head with the all-conquering Ford Cortina. By the end of the 1970s, Vauxhall had boosted its market share substantially and was fast closing in on Ford and British Leyland. [citation (source) needed ]

By 1979, Vauxhall had increased its market share substantially, but was still some way behind Ford and British Leyland, even though it had overtaken Talbot (the successor organisation to Rootes and Chrysler UK ). At the end of 1979, Vauxhall moved into the modern family hatchback market with its Astra. (Opel Kadett elsewhere) range that replaced the ageing Viva & Chevette models. The Astra quickly became popular with buyers, but the 1981 Mk2 Cavalier - the first Vauxhall of this size to offer front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle - was the car that really boosted Vauxhall's fortunes. The 1983 Nova (Opel Corsa elsewhere) supermini, an addition to the Vauxhall line up, completed Vauxhall's regeneration, and it soon overtook Austin Rover (formerly British Leyland) as Britain's second most popular carmaker. The Astra further strengthened its position in the market with an all-new 1984 model that featured an aerodynamic design reminiscent of Ford's larger Sierra.

Vauxhall's most important model of the 1980s was the 1981 Mk2 Cavalier. which made the transition from rear-wheel drive saloon to front-wheel drive hatchback (though there was still a saloon version available, complemented in 1983 with an estate). For much of its life it was Britain's most popular large family car, vying with the Ford Sierra for top place. The Cavalier was relaunched in 1988, an all-new format which won praise for its sleek looks and much-improved resistance to rust. [citation (source) needed ]

Vauxhall refused to rest on its laurels after the turnaround of the early to mid 1980s, and before the decade was over there was more to come. The the range was the Senator (Opel Omega elsewhere). The Cavalier (Mk3) entered its third generation in 1988 with an all-new sleek design that further enhanced its popularity. The Calibra coupé followed in 1989, which was officially the most aerodynamic production car in the world on its launch. Falling between the Cavalier and Senator, was the Carlton (Opel Rekord elsewhere) relaunched in 1986 and was voted European Car of the Year. a large 4 door family saloon. There were two sports versions of the Carlton, the 3000 GSi & Lotus Carlton. aimed a family minded executives. The later being considered as the fastest 4 door production car, at the time. Most importantly, the latest generation of Vauxhall models had eradicated the image of rusting cars that for so long had put potential buyers off the Vauxhall brand.

By 1989, Vauxhall was on something like equal terms with the Rover Group as Britain's second most popular car brand behind Ford.

In 1993, things were still looking strong for Vauxhall. The Cavalier was firmly re-established as Britain's most popular large family car with more than 130,000 sales, while the third generation Astra (relaunched in 1991) with 100,000 sales was continuing to narrow the gap between itself and the best-selling Ford Escort. The Astra was now joined by the Belmont an 4 door booted version of the Astra. This continued for some time until being renamed Astra, presumably to provide combined sales/registration figures. The decade-old Nova was axed in 1993 in favour of the all-new Corsa. adopting the European naming of the model; its distinctive styling and practical interior began attracting more sales than its predecessor had done.

In 1994 GM ceased production of Bedford vehicles, which had been Vauxhall's commercial vehicle arm, making successful vans. trucks and lorries since the 1930s. Van production continued at Luton. now under the Vauxhall name.

The Cavalier nameplate was axed in 1995 after 20 years and Vauxhall adopted the Vectra nameplate for its successor, completing a policy by General Motors that aligned and identically badged all Vauxhall and Opel models. Vectra received disappointing feedback from the motoring public and several well-known journalists, most notably Jeremy Clarkson. Yet it was still hugely popular, and for a while after the 1999 facelift it was actually more popular than Ford's highly-acclaimed Mondeo. The Astra entered its fourth generation in 1998, and offered levels of build quality and handling that bettered all of its predecessors. [8]

It was around this time that Vauxhall was being heavily criticised in several high profile car surveys. In 1998, a Top Gear customer satisfaction survey condemned the Vauxhall Vectra as the least satisfying car to own in Britain. A year later, as a brand Vauxhall was slated as the least satisfying make of car by the same magazine's customer satisfaction survey. Its model range came in for heavy criticism for breakdowns, build quality problems and many other maladies which meant that quality did not reflect sales success. Despite this, Vauxhall was competing strongly in the sales charts and by 1999 was closer to Ford in terms of sales figures than it had been in years.

The first years of the 21st century saw Vauxhall further strengthen its position in the British market, and continue to narrow the gap with Ford. The Corsa was regenerated in 2000 and offered a better-handling, better-built and better-equipped package than ever before. [citation (source) needed ]

2002 was one of the best years ever for Vauxhall sales in the UK. The updated Corsa (launched in 2000) was Britain's second most popular new car, and gave the marque top spot in the British supermini car sales charts for the very first time. The Astra was Britain's third best selling car that year, while the Vectra and the Zafira (a Compact MPV launched in 1999) lurked just outside the top ten with relatively strong sales.

The Vectra entered its second generation in 2002 and was further improved over earlier Vectras, but was still hardly a class-leader and now had to be content with lower sales due to a fall in popularity of D-sector cars; although a facelift in 2005 sparked a rise in sales.

Perhaps the most important Vauxhall product of the 2000s so far is the fifth generation Astra. launched in early 2004 and praised by the motoring press for its dramatic styling which was a world of difference from the relatively bland previous Astra. It was an instant hit with British buyers and was the nation's second best selling car in 2005 and 2006, giving the all-conquering Ford Focus its strongest competitor yet. Many UK Police forces have also adopted the Astra as the standard patrol vehicle. The second generation Vectra went on sale during 2002 but has not sold as strongly as its predecessor. Its successor, called the "Insignia" premiered at the 2008 British International Motor Show. It is hoped that it will give Vauxhall a fresh new competitor in a sector which has shrunk considerably in Britain over the last few years.

The second generation Corsa had been Britain's most popular supermini for most of its production life, but by 2006 it had started to fall behind the best of its competitors, so an all-new model was launched. This Corsa was far better than either of the previous Corsas, and it was an instant hit with buyers.

In 2006, the second generation Zafira was Britain's 10th best selling car. It was the first time that an MPV had featured in the top 10 best-selling cars in Britain.

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 Carlton/Viceroy and Royale were simply rebadged versions of Opel's Opel Commodore C 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, by Chevrolet in Brazil on the mkI Chevrolet Astra (mk.I Opel Astra) 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. The "V" grille is not however used on the Vectra-replacing Insignia. unveiled in 2008 and the 2009 Vauxhall Astra.

A model unique to the Vauxhall range is the high performance Monaro coupe, which is sourced from and designed by 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 in the Middle East and South Africa (known as the Chevrolet Lumina ), the model is not currently offered by Opel in mainland 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) - conversely the rear bodywork of the T-car Vauxhall Chevette estate and Bedford Chevanne van was used for the respective Holden Gemini versions. 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.

Vauxhall announced on 12 December 2000, that the Luton car plant would close in 2002, with the final vehicle being made in March 2002, but production still continues at the plant in Ellesmere Port. Manufacture of vans (sold under the Vauxhall, Opel, Renault and Nissan badges throughout Europe) continues at the IBC Vehicles plant in Luton.

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. [9]

On 30 May 2009 a deal was announced which will lead to the spin-off of the Opel and Vauxhall brands into a new company. On the 1st June 2009, Vauxhall's troubled parent company, General Motors filed for bankruptcy in a court in New York. By then the sale of Vauxhall and its sister subsidiary, Opel. was being negotiated as part of a strategy driven by the German government to ring fence the businesses from any General Motors asset liquidation. [10] [11] [12] [13]

The sale to Canadian-owned Magna International was agreed on 10 September 2009, with the approval of the German government. [5] During the announcement regarding the sale, Magna promised to keep the Vauxhall factory at Ellesmere Port open until 2013 but could not guarantee any further production after that date. [14] On 3 November 2009, the GM board called off the Magna deal after coming to the conclusion that Opel and Vauxhall Motors was crucial to GM's global strategy. [15]

The VXR range is analogous to the OPC range made by Opel Performance Center. the HSV range made by Holden and the SS range made by Latin America Chevrolet. The models include the Corsa VXR. Astra VXR. Vectra VXR. Meriva VXR. Zafira VXR. VXR8. VX220 (no longer in production), and the Australian -built Holden Monaro (also no longer in production). These vehicles are high performance machines and are ideally 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 Ute had a top speed around 200 mph (320 km/h) which is extremely fast for a utility vehicle however, the model never got to the showroom in the United Kingdom. The Monaro is also no longer made, but a new version (a four door saloon) is now on sale called the VXR8. The VXR8 is based on Australia's Holden HSV Clubsport R8. This car reaches 0-60 in 5 seconds, in similar territory to other muscle car contemporaries such as the Dodge Viper (SRT-10) and Corvette Z06 and marginally slower than Fords FG F6 Falcon. 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.

The griffin emblem, which is still in use, is derived from the coat of arms of Falkes de Breauté. 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.

The logo as pictured used to be square, but it is now circular, to enable it to fit in the same recess designed for the circular Opel emblem. Since the 1920s the griffin has been redesigned and released 9 times. 2008 saw the release of a revised version of the 2005 logo. Bill Parfitt, Vauxhall’s Managing Director, said, "While the new-look Griffin pays homage to our 100 year-plus manufacturing heritage in the UK, it also encapsulates Vauxhall’s fresh design philosophy, first showcased in the current Astra, and set to continue with Insignia." [16]

Vauxhall sponsored the Football Conference, the highest non-league division of English football. from 1986 until 1998. It took over from Gola and remained in association with the league for 12 years before ending its backing and being replaced by Nationwide Building Society.



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