May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on January 10, 2019

Vauxhall LogoBrief History About Vauxhall

Vauxhall was founded in 1857 in England by Alexander Wilson. The company started off in marine engineering as ‘Alex Wilson and Company’ and then changed its name to ‘Vauxhall Iron Works’ in 1897.

In 1903 the company built its first car (motorised carriage really), using a tiller to steer and it also came with no reverse gear. A steering wheel and reverse gear was added however in 1904.

In 1907 the company was renamed to Vauxhall Motors and soon entered motor sport events with great success. In fact their race cars were way ahead of the competition.

Vauxhall did well selling their cars pre-WW1, however after the war they struggled, as their more expensive cars were no longer in demand. This led to General Motors acquiring Vauxhall in 1925, who gradually changed Vauxhall and introduced a more cost effective production process and cheaper cars.

During the WW2 Vauxhall worked on the Churchill tank and also built lorries. After the war, production of cars resumed and the company expanded and began to produce more cars, although they did suffer with a quality issue with rust during the 60’s. In 1967 they gained a Royal Warrant.

In 1973 Vauxhall got a little more aerodynamic with its designs, when they introduced the Vauxhall Firenza Droopsnoot. During the rest of the 70’s and 80’s new models were introduced, most notably the Chevette, Astra, Cavalier, Carlton and Calibra, with Vauxhall achieving great sales success.

Also during the 70’s and 80’s Vauxhall got heavily involved in motorsport. The Chevette (Chevette HS/HSR) was homologanised for Rally racing in the 70’s and did rather well and won the British Rally Championship in 1979. The Nova and Astra also saw Rally action during the 80’s. While the Cavalier introduced Vauxhall to the British Touring Car Championship in 1989.

In the 90’s the Corsa and Vectra was introduced, however Vauxhall suffered some bad feedback from numerous surveys and motoring magazines during the late 90’s with regards build quality, but despite this, they still almost kept up with Ford in sales figures.

The Astra continued with good success in rally events, while the Cavalier was replaced by the Vectra in 1996 in the BTCC.

With the new millennium Vauxhall decided to get a little bit more sporty, by bringing out the VX220, the Astra Coupe, introduced the VXR badge to its cars in 2004 and also brought the Holden Monaro and later the VXR8 to the UK. Rule changes in the early 2000’s saw the Vectra replaced by the successful Astra Coupe in BTCC races and with another change in the rules in 2007 saw the reverse with the Astra replaced by the Vectra until 2009 when finances became strained and they were forced to stop racing in the BTCC.

In 2009, with GM having financial difficulties, GM filed for bankruptcy with the near sale of Vauxhall at one point, but lucky for both GM and Vauxhall, they got a bail out, financed by the US government and have therefore stayed afloat and have even managed to continue to move forward again in the research and development of their cars.

Vauxhall Firenza
Firenza 1971-1975

Vauxhall Chevette
Chevette HS & HSR 1978-1980

Vauxhall Nova GSI
Nova GTE / GSi 1988-1994

Vauxhall Corsa VXR
Corsa VXR 2006 on

Vauxhall Astra GTE Mk1
Astra GTE Mk1 1983-1985

Vauxhall Astra GTE Mk2
Astra GTE Mk2 1985-1991

Vauxhall Astra Turbo
Astra Turbo 2000-2004

Vauxhall Astra VXR
Astra VXR 2005-2010

Vauxhall Carlton GSi
Carlton GSi 1987-1993 & Omega Evo 500 1991-1993

Vauxhall Calibra
Calibra 1990-1998

Vauxhall Tigra
Tigra 1994-2001

Vauxhall Vectra B GSi
Vectra B GSi 1998-2001

Vauxhall Vectra C GSi
Vectra C GSi 2002-2005

Vauxhall Vectra VXR
Vectra VXR 2005-2008

Vauxhall VX220
VX220 2000-2005

Vauxhall VXR8
VXR8 2007-2009 & 2011 on

Vauxhall Insignia VXR
Insignia VXR 2009-2017

See Holden for Monaro