Vauxhall dealers in the past have had a range of cars on their forecourts to suit even the lowest budget. The company itself, if not the dealers, has been in existence for more than one hundred and fifty years. The founder of Vauxhall Motors was Alex Wilson, the factory he opened originally manufactured pumps and engines, it wasn't until the turn of the century, or more precisely 1903 when the company produced its first motor car. At this time the dealers were in a minority and those who wished to buy this car will have had trouble finding one.
Twenty years later the Vauxhall Motor company made a deal that would affect its dealers and customers for generations to come. Put simply, the British company was bough out by American car manufacturing giant General Motors. At this time, GM only had to spend two and a half million dollars to purchase the entire Vauxhall company, factories and dealers included. The American influence on design and manufacture meant that for almost sixty years Vauxhall cars were very similar to their American cousins. A brief interlude during the war years saw car production cease for the manufacture of the Churchill tank for the war effort.
After the war it took Vauxhall and its dealers another twenty years to achieve a revival of fortunes. Two cars, namely the Viva and Victor were instrumental in this resurgence during the late sixties. Ford has always been a major competitor for Vauxhall and the seventies were no different. While the dealers reported high sales of the Viva countrywide, the Ford Cortina was still a far more popular option of motorists. At this time it was also the case that as well as Ford being a major rival, British Leyland was considerable competition.
The mid seventies were a battlefield in the British motor market with dealers making fortunes selling a variety of models. The primary Vauxhall model of the period was the Chevette, a three door hatchback representing a new trend in the car industry for smaller family cars while the Cavalier, a saloon car produced by Vauxhall was finally beginning to compete with the dominant Cortina from Ford. By the end of the seventies the gap between Vauxhall and Ford was closing, although Ford were still the most popular car company in Britain in terms of sales by dealers.
Dealers were blessed with a complete revolution of the Vauxhall range during the eighties. Some of the cars that rolled onto the forecourts of dealers during this period are in fact still in production today, although heavily revised. The Astra was one of this new generation and continued the trend for small family cars replacing the rather tired Viva. More importantly, the eighties saw the release of the Mk 2 Cavalier, now competing against the Ford Sierra, the replacement of the Cortina. In addition, a foray into the executive saloon market was undertaken by Vauxhall with the Carlton rolling out to dealers all over the land. This car was rather successful, packing a punch in terms of technology and comfort.
More recently the nineties saw Vauxhall building upon past successes. The Astra was still the core car in the range and the most popular amongst dealers. This decade did see the release of the Corsa representing a move by all the major car companies to produce a' supermini' car. These two models have continued being produced going into the new century with a variety of facelifts and minor changes. Today, the cars produced by Vauxhall range from small hatchbacks to large MPV family vehicles. Ford are still their main rival and only in recent times have the Vauxhall Motor company's dealers released figures showing that they have finally taken the mantle of Britain's most popular car manufacturer.
Motor industry expert Thomas Pretty looks into the history of Vauxhall dealers and the cars on their forecourts