Events : Vauxhall Heritage Centre’s Open Day showcases historic models

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jack Yan

Vauxhall Heritage Centre

Vauxhall will show its private collection of historic cars at its Heritage Centre’s Open Day on Sunday, 24th August, from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

The cars date from 1903 and include various concepts. Models include the D-type Staff Car, which celebrates its centenary; and the droop-snoot Firenza, designed by Wayne Cherry, which celebrates 40 years since it began production.

The Calibra and Lotus Carlton, which have Opel equivalents, mark their quarter-century.

Vauxhall will also display its British-made VX220 and the Australian-made Monaro VXR 500, along with its latest Aussie import, the VXR8 GTS, based on the HSV GTS.

Food and refreshments will be offered, and children can enjoy pedal cars and face painting.

The Vauxhall Heritage Centre, which houses 70 models and archival material, is located at the company’s headquarters in Luton, Bedfordshire.

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Lucire.]

Vauxhall D Type staff car

Jack Yan

CEO, Jack Yan & Associates; publisher, Lucire; co-chair, the Medinge Group. Founder and editor of Autocade (


  1. I had forgotten this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Vauxhall/Opel Calibra’s unveiling. Time has been very kind to Wayne Cherry’s successful translation of the Cavalier’s underpinnings into a svelte Coupe which still has a remarkably low drag factor. Just a shame they are no longer an every day sight for me (in Devon).

    With the exception of the ‘DTM’ edition, I liked the way Vauxhall introduced special edition variants using a consecutive number after the ‘SE’ moniker. Unless I am mistaken the Flame Red example in the image is the SE9 which features the 2.5-litre V6 engine and was the last Calibra to be built.

    • That droop-Snoot is a real classic. Imagine if that was on sale today.

      I can’t remember the last time I saw a Calibra either. Good cars – I had a few as fleet demos back in the day. And they were very effective in the snow for some reason. A dark green example once got me back from Yorkshire when just about everything else was abandoned on the side of the road.

  2. Any VX 4/90s on show of all three generations, as these were Vauxhall’s attempt to make a sporting version of the Victor that had a following in the sixties and seventies? Indeed the final generation makes an interesting classic, Transatlantic styling, a 2.3 litre four that was a match for a big Triumph and high levels of equipment for the time.

  3. I love Glenn’s interest in the VX4/90. The last (1977 FE) run out version also had Getrag 5 speed gearboxes and power of 116bhp I think.

    My family had a few Vauxhalls over the years, Victor F, VX4/90 FC, Viva HB & HC. One of my colleagues still has a P reg Calibra used daily for commuting and longer journeys.

    Sounds like a good day out to be had.

  4. @ Hilton, they seem little remembered now, particularly the last generation, but the final VX was ahead of its nearest rival, the Cortina 2.3 Ghia, by offering a five sped gearbox for quieter long distance cruising and more power. No wonder an S reg VS 2300 GLS was still in use by Durham Constabulary aa late as 1982, they must have realised how goos it was.
    Normal Victors in 1800 form are a bit meh, spartan and too big for their class, but further up the range, they were worthy rivals to the big Fords.

  5. @ Glenn – I agree with your comments. In 1975 they brought out a special edition Victor 2300S in two metallics, black vinyl roof and better interior. I have a 1976 brochure featuring the VX2300 GLS with cheesecutter grille, twin headlamps and cream vinyl roof.

    The front looked like the VX 4/90 & Ventora. I guess the 2300GLS was a replacement for the Ventora, albeit with smaller engine.

  6. @ Hilton, the Ventora was ditched in 1976 as sales were very slow and the 3.3 litre engine offered nothing over the 2.3. For two years the VX 2300 GLS was Vauxhall’s flagship, with a five speed gearbox, velour interior, vinyl roof, sports instrumentation, metallic paint, and foglights. A shame it never really threatend the 2.3 Cortina, as it was a better car to drive and had five speeds. I think memories of the rust problems on sixties Victors hurt the FE cars, even though rust proofing was far better on them.

  7. To add ,the VX was a better equipped car than the Victor, which was fairly spartan in 1800 form, and still looked fresh when it was axed in 1978. Also the rust issue had been largely beaten by then. However, when the Cavalier was transferred to Luton in 1977 and the Carlton was announced, that was the end for the VX and the 1.8 and 2.3 litre engines( except in the very low production Chevette 2300 HS).

  8. Glenn, thanks for your further comments. Yes, the VX2300 GLS marked the end of the FE series cars, as the Cavalier & Carlton took over. The FE models were the last wholly British designed Vauxhalls too. I still see pictures of them on classic car photostreams.

    My Viva HC did suffer from rust problems on the front wings, though my Dad’s FC VX4/90 didn’t seem to.

  9. According to the A-Z of Cars of The 1970s the FE Victor shared a floorpan with the Opel Rekord, but I’m not sure what else.

  10. Don’t also forget the Magnum, which turned the humdrum Viva into quite a Q car. I think seventies Vauxhalls were maligned by the rust problems of the sixties cars as the FE models, the Viva/Magnum( always a consistent seller) and the Chevette were quite good cars.

  11. The main problem Vauxhall had with their seventies cars until the Cavalier was launched weren’t so much reliability or qaulity based, they were a bit slackly made and very plasticky like most cars then, but they were often basic with no trim variations like Ford had. You bought a Victor 1800 or even a 2300, which was aimed at the 2 litre Cortina and Consul market, and you got a car with basic driving instruments, a heater and a demister and nothing else. Unless you spent another £ 300 and bought a VX 4/90, which brought equipment levels up to a Cortina GXL, there was nothing in between.
    Also the Viva had similar issues until 1976, you had to upgrade to a Magnum and add an extra 500 cc before you could enjoy the same luxuries as an Escort 1300 E. However, the rise of the Cavalier with its three trim levels saw all Vauxhall models see a noticeable rise in equipment levels or new trim levels introduced. The VX, a refreshed version of the Victor, finally received some luxury touches like velour seats and a woodgrain dash and sales rose for a while as this was a competitor to the basic Granada for less money and also after the summer of 1976, when the Granada was moved to Germany, a British built car with mostly British parts.

  12. I considered buying a Magnum 1800 after my Viva X14 model, because I liked the twin headlights, sports instruments and bigger engine. Never did though – bought a new Datsun instead.

    Of course in the 70s, many British cars had basic trim and equipment levels. Company Cortina Base & L models that I drove were typical of the era, though trim levels did pick up gradually.

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