Wednesday 27th March 1907
Vauxhall Motors Ltd was registered in Great Britain. The first model was just five horsepower, had no reverse gear and cost £136 – a goodly sum at the time. A six horsepower model – with reverse – followed in 1904 and it was the following year that the company moved to Luton in Bedfordshire, which was to be its home ever after.In 1911, Vauxhall produced the C-type, later known as the Prince Henry – a door-less four-seater which was effectively the first true sports car from a British maker. After the first world war, the company introduced the D-type and the glamorous 4.5-litre 30/98 which proved a big motor sport success. But the company pulled out of motor sport in 1924 to concentrate on the needs of ordinary drivers, producing the M-type, later known as the 14/40. In December 1925, Vauxhall Motors became a wholly owned subsidiary of America’s giant General Motors Corporation (GM). The move led to a big expansion of production, which in 1925 was only around 1,400 cars from a workforce of about 1,800. There was also a move into commercial vehicle production, with the first Bedford vehicle – a two-tonner – appearing in April 1931. The Bedford was an instant success, spawning a whole succession of buses and vans. For the growing number of families now venturing on to the roads, Vauxhall produced the Cadet in 1930, with prices starting from £280. Other successful models included the 10-4, a variant of which appeared at the 1938 motor show priced just £189. During the second world war, Vauxhall churned out Churchill tanks and Bedford trucks for the services and also did work on aircraft jet engines. By 1953, output topped 100,000 vehicles a year for the first time and the company built its one millionth vehicle. Four years later, the new truck plant at Dunstable in Bedfordshire was up and running, there were 22,000 people on the payroll and the first Victor car had been produced. Work began on a new car plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside in 1961, with production beginning there in 1964. There was also expansion in the 1960s at Luton and Dunstable. Vauxhall enjoyed a boom in the 1960s, with nearly all families now able to afford a car. The Viva was a success and then, in 1975, came the Cavalier and, in 1979, the Astra. Other top-selling models included the Nova, the Corsa, the Vectra and more recently the Zafira and Insignia – vehicles that were to keep Vauxhall snapping at the heels of Ford as the UK’s biggest-selling manufacturer. Vauxhall cars have sported the famous griffin emblem which was derived from the coat of arms of Fulk le Breant and which has undergone a number of reincarnations down the years.