Vauxhall Company History

Despite the fact that it's not one of the most famous brands on the automotive market out there today, British car makers Vauxhall actually enjoy a long history that goes back to 1857, when it was founded by Alex Wilson as a company that built pumps and marine engines.

It wouldn't be until 1903 that Vauxhall would build its first car, equipped with a 5 HP engine with 2 forward gears but no reverse. Gradually, Vauxhall Motors as it became known in 1907 began producing more and more cars that were thought of as sporty back then.

Soon after the end of the first World War, the company was bought by GM in 1925 and from then on Vauxhall took on a more “American” feel to the way in which they made cars. When WWII hit, production in the factories of Vauxhall turned to making Churchill tanks (some 5600 units).

After the war, the entire car-making process saw a mass-market orientation in order to help the company grow. But in their haste to make more cars, Vauxhall actually cut a few corners when it came to quality and thus acquired a bad reputation that their cars were rust-ridden, which was actually unfair since many producers suffered of the same problem at the time. Regardless, this reputation was going to haunt them until the 80s, despite all efforts to make their cars rust-proof.

The biggest step in the company's history was going to be their partnership with Opel that started in the 70s. From then on, most of the cars Vauxhall produced were going to be restyled Opel models, like the Kadett, Ascona and Rekord which translated into the Chevette, Cavalier and Carlton respectively in the UK factory.

The difference between the German cars and the British ones was a sloping front end, but as time passed, not even that made the difference. Soon, Vauxhalls would be practically Opel cars with the griffin emblem on them. At first, Opels and Vauxhalls were sold through the UK together, but then Opel dealerships closed down in England. As a result, even the names of the two brands were standardized.

2004 - Astra Hatchback However, Vauxhall did retain a note of originality because from 1994, all the front grilles on Vauxhalls had a distinctive V under the badge. Also, there is a car that is unique to Vauxhall, the Monaro coupe also known as the Australian Holden, the American Pontiac GTO and the Asian Chevrolet Lumina.

Although faced with a wave of consumer dissatisfaction back in the UK, Vauxhall managed to reduce the gap between them and Ford with the launch of the 2004 Astra and become one of the most important car manufacturers in Britain.

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