A look back at the Vauxhall Carlton and Viceroy (1978 – 1982) 0


By the late 1970s, Vauxhall was firmly in Opel’s grip.

The launch of the Carlton in 1978 marked the end of the Transcontinental FE/VX range. By this point, each of Vauxhall’s mid-range models was to all intents and purposes a slightly reworked Opel.

The Carlton – as it was known on these shores – was essentially a rebranded Opel Rekord E with a slightly different front-end. For Vauxhall, the Carlton marked a era of dominance over the executive sector that lasted throughout the 1980s and well into the 90s. The 2.0-litre saloon was well built and drove competently but lacked the glamour of the Rover SD1 or Ford Granada meaning it was never a true competitor to those well established models.

In an effort to add a bit of ‘star-quality’, Vauxhall launched the Viceroy model (the Opel Commodore) but most saw through this ruse, identifying it as a Carlton with a Royale front on it, plus a 2.5-litre straight-six engine. It didn’t sell particularly quickly and was easily identifiable by the VX4/90-style cross bar on the radiator grille.

1983 saw the Carlton have its first facelift which revitalised the brand, though the styling was now exactly the same as the Rekord E – the unique droopsnoot nose being dropped. As a result, sales improved dramatically; the updated Carlton proving particularly popular with both police forces and company fleets.

Only 1,317 Carlton are left in the UK, rust and neglect has taken its toll on this fine example of German solidity topped off with a dash of Luton familiarity.

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