The history of Vauxhall Motors

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

With over 112 years of history, Vauxhall Motors is famous for its griffin emblem derived from the Falkes de BreautĂ©‘s coat of arms. You can also read more about the Vauxhall griffin emblem history. With so much heritage and numerous iconic models, here is the history of Vauxhall Motors.

Founded - 1857

Founded in 1857 by Scottish Engineer Alexander Wilson in Vauxhall, London, Vauxhall was originally the Alex Wilson and Company then the Vauxhall Iron Works from 1897. The company was a pump and marine engine manufacturer. Wilson left the company 1894 and the company moved to manufacturing petrol engines.

Vauxhall Logos

First car manufactured - 1903

The Vauxhall Iron Works manufactured its first car known as the 6HP in 1903. The single-cylinder car was steered using a tiller, featured two forward gears and had no reverse gear for £136.

Laurence Pomeroy joined - 1905

Laurence Pomperoy joined Vauxhall under the chief engineer Frederick Hodges. Pomperoy has become known as an early engineering genius due to his innovative four-cylinder monobloc engine and pressured fed bearing 20HP A-Type led to a pioneering high-speed engine. Pomperoy stayed with the company until 1919.

Vauxhall - 1907

In 1907, the Vauxhall Iron Works changed its name to Vauxhall Motors to define its move to manufacturing vehicles.

Vauxhall C10 "Prince Henry" - 1910

Later called the Prince Henry due to car’s successes during the Prince Henry of Prussia Trial, the Vauxhall C-Type featured a distinctive pointed radiator. The Vauxhall Prince Henry has become one of the most famous Edwardian Vauxhall vehicles and is now acknowledged as the first sports car from a British car manufacturer.

Vauxhall 30-98 - 1913

The Vauxhall 30-98 set the fastest time of the day on its first outing. It is now recognised as one of the best sports cars of the 20th Century.

General Motors buy Vauxhall - 1925

General Motors bought Vauxhall in 1925 for $2.5 million.

Vauxhall Ten-Four - 1938

The Ten-Four introduced the British automotive industry to unitary vehicle constructions. The car also featured innovative features such as torsion bar independent suspension and hydraulic brakes.

World War II - 1939 to 1945

During World War II, Vauxhall manufactured and designed 3 Marks of tanks called the Churchill to help in the war effort.

Vauxhall Victor - 1957

The large family Victor cars was produced for 21 years and became Britain’s most exported car.

Ellesmere Port Vauxhall

Ellesmere Port- 1962

The Ellesmere Port plant was used for sub-assembly and engine production initially, but soon changed to be the small car production plant producing the Viva, Chevette, Astra and Vectra. The plant currently employs approximately 2,000 staff and in 2014 the plant manufactured its five millionth car. The plant founded the Vauxhall Motors Football Club in 1963 and played in local leagues until it fought to be semi-professional. Today the football club plays at Rivacre Park. X

Vauxhall Viva - 1963

The small family Vauxhall Viva was introduced in 1963. In 1970, the HC Viva was launched. The HC Viva car became Vauxhall’s best-selling car of the 1970s and appeared within the 10 top best-selling cars in Britain until 1976.

Royal Warrant Holder - 1967

Vauxhall became a Royal Warrant Holder as a Motor Vehicle Manufacturer to HM The Queen in 1967. The warrant was extended in 1994 when HRH The Prince of Wales was also added.

Vauxhall Cavalier - 1975

Initially produced to complement the Victor, the Cavalier was one of the most successful Vauxhall cars ever produced and it became the fifth most popular car ever sold in Britain. There were three Marks of the Vauxhall Cavalier produced between 1975 and 1995. The Cavalier was an innovative car with 4x4 traction and the first Vauxhall V6 engine featured throughout its models.

Vauxhall Chevette - 1975

The Vauxhall Chevette was designed to be a supermini for families. From 1976 to 1983, the Vauxhall Chevette HS was a major contender in motor sport resulting in many wins throughout Europe and Britain, including the British Rally Championship in 1979.

Vauxhall Astra rear

Vauxhall Astra - 1979

The Astra range was launched in 1979 and since then has produced seventh generations of the small family car. Ever since 2007, the Vauxhall Astra has been used as a neighbourhood policing and emergency policing vehicle. The Vauxhall Astra has been Britain’s second best-selling car many times and also featured in the top 30 world’s most popular cars.

European Car of the Year - 1985

Vauxhall has so far won the European Car of the Year four times. The Vauxhall Astra Mk 2 won the manufacturer’s first European Car of the Year award. Badged as an Opel Omega for Europe, the Vauxhall Carlton won the European Car of the Year in 1987, then the Vauxhall Insignia won the European Car of the Year in 2009. In 2010, the Vauxhall Ampera won the European Car of the Year. Vauxhall also appeared in the second and third positions often between 1980 and the present day. 

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Vauxhall Corsa - 1993

The supermini was stripped of its Nova name in 1993 for the Corsa branding. With four generations, the Corsa has had regular facelifts to maintain its stylish and modern image. The Corsa has featured in Britain’s top ten most popular cars since it was first released and has become a popular vehicle for younger drivers.

VX BTCC Racing Team- 1997

From 1997, Vauxhall took part in the British Touring Car Championship. The Vauxhall BTCC team changed their name to the VX racing team in 2003. The team made 119 race wins since their first entry eighteen years ago making them the most successful team of the modern car championship. Vauxhall and the VX racing team stopped competing in 2009.

Vauxhall Zafira - 1999

The Zafira continued Vauxhall’s history of creating spacious family friendly cars. The vehicle provided enough space for a 7 person family as well as their luggage.

Vauxhall Insignia - 2008

Launched at the British International Motor Show, the large family Vauxhall Insignia has been two facelifts since it was first introduced in 2008. Since its release the Insignia has won over fifty awards, scored a 5-star Euro NCAP rating and by April 2012 the 500,000th Insignia was manufactured.

Vauxhall’s 110th anniversary - 2013

In 2013, Vauxhall celebrated their 110th year anniversary while they continued to manufacture high quality family cars. 

Vauxhall Adam

Vauxhall Adam- 2013

The popular Vauxhall Adam was released in 2013, with three different trims the JAM, GLAM and Slam. The Adam can  be personalised to your individual style. Since its release, the Adam was won many awards including the Red Dog Design Award for design.

Vauxhall Viva - 2015

To be released next month, the Vauxhall Viva is pitched as the replacement for the Agila. The Viva will be the most affordable car in the Vauxhall range and harks back to the beloved 70s Viva car released in 1963.