Vauxhall Motors: A historic timeline
- Vauxhall is one of the cornerstones of British motoring with a rich history stretching back over 100 years. In that time, it’s been responsible for some of the UK’s best loved vehicles, the Victor, Cavalier, and Corsa to name but a few. The car maker also produced the Bedford van, one of the most popular commercials vehicles ever seen on our roads.
- The first car to bear the Vauxhall name rolled from the original garage back in 1903, the company itself had been formed back in 1857 as an ironworks.
- Motor historians have found out that the name Vauxhall actually dates back as far as the 12th century. Fulk le Breant was granted lands by King John and the house he built there became known as Fulk’s Hall, which was corrupted into Fawkes Hall, then Foxhall and finally Vauxhall.
- The name was subsequently given to the district of London it was located in. The Vauxhall Iron Works, the precursor to the motor company, was located near the site of Fulk’s Hall, and this was where the first Vauxhall was constructed.
- The pioneering Vauxhall boasted just five horsepower, had no reverse gear, and cost £136 – which was a princely sum at the time. It was followed in 1904 by a six horse power version, complete with reverse. In 1905 the company relocated to Luton, their home ever since.
- 1911 saw the debut of the C-type, affectionately known as the Prince Henry – a four-seat sports car that had no doors.
- Fourteen years later, in 1925, the company was bought by American motor giant General Motors (GM). This led to a massive increase in production from an annual output of 1,400 cars, built by a workforce of 1,800.
- The company released its first commercial offering, the Bedford van – a two-tonner – in 1931. It was an instant success and led to a whole range of buses and vans that followed in its footsteps.
- The idea of the family car saw the Vauxhall makes its debut in 1930, reasonably priced at the time at just £280. Other popular models included the 10-4, a variant that appeared at the 1938 motor show priced at just £189.
- The Second World War years saw the company turn its production to Churchill tanks and Bedford trucks, as well as various early works into jet engines.
- Vauxhall’s annual output exceeded 100,000 vehicles for the first time in 1953, and that year the company also produced its one millionth vehicle.
- In 1957, a second plant was opened at Dunstable in Bedfordshire, taking the total workforce to 22,000 people. That year saw the Victor first roll off the production line.
- The start of the sixties saw another new plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside begin production (1964). Both Luton and Dunstable plants were also expanded.
- This period was a particular boom time for Vauxhall. Most families could now afford a car and the Viva and Cavalier were particular successes of this time. The Astra followed in 1979.
- Other best sellers included the Nova, the Corsa, the Vectra and more recently, the Zafira and Insignia – two vehicles that have kept Vauxhall snapping at the heels of Ford – the UK’s largest car manufacturer.
- The iconic Vauxhall griffin logo is derived from the original coat of arms of Fulk le Breant. In essence it remains the same despite passing through several redesigns over the years.
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