In memoriam : Vauxhall Astravan

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

2012 Vauxhall Astravan

Come the end of 2012, one of the UK’s most enduring motoring icons will be getting the bullet. Vauxhall has confirmed that production of the Astravan is to cease, although the company says that there will be sufficient stock to cover sales through to at least the first three months of 2013.

The new Combo, which offers larger payloads and more choice, will fill any gaps in the market created by the loss of Astravan. But although the tall-bodied Combo offers an appealing range of payload options, what it doesn’t have is over 25 years of heritage – the Vauxhall (nee Bedford) Astravan, and the late, lamented Astramax were highly regarded within the trade, and with their drivers.

And as we all know, ever since the first Bedford Astra Mk1 van appeared on sale back in 1981, it’s consistently been the fastest moving vehicle money can buy. It’s impossible to imagine the outside lane of any 1980s or ’90s motorway not stacked with the things, generally riding hard the back bumper of whatever unsuspecting saloon driver is unfortunate enough to be stuck in front of it. But the Astravan wasn’t driven to within an inch of its life for fun – these sporting little vans were generally driven by Britain’s hardest working professionals, and were inevitably on a mission.

The Astravan was probably the best vehicle of its kind – the Escort might have been cheaper to run, and the Maestro more economical and sensible – but the plucky little trooper from Ellesmere Port just felt ‘right’. Its model development echoed that of its car contemporary, but more often than not, new models were rolled out several months afterwards.

Except in the case of the current generation Astra, the Mk6, which never made the transition into commercial vehicle. Back in 2009, when the Astra I/J was launched, it was assumed that the late arrival of the Sports Tourer was also responsible for the arrival of the Astravan – but it would later become clear that the Mk5 was to be the final example of the breed. It’s a reflection of what happened at Ford – when the Focus was launched, a van version was never forthcoming, leaving the Escort to soldier on for another three years before being supplanted by the far more commodious Transit Connect.

Perhaps times have moved on, and we don’t have need for vans like the Astra anymore, going the way of the Visionhire, Rediffusion and VHS  rentals… but it’s still sad to see the end of the line. Adieu Astra!

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

95 Comments

  1. I have vague memories of Clarkson doing a piece on Top Gear about the original Astramax as the worlds’ fastgest vehicle. I think they were produced in Portugal, only the Estate shaped variants coming out of Ellesmere Port

  2. 25 years heritage? I saw an Bedford ‘Viva’ van on the road last week (what are they called?)

    I thought small car-based vans were dead and then Mini has come along with the Clubvan…

  3. @2, Will,

    The Viva van was called the Bedford HA (HA being the Vauxhall nomenclature for the first generation Viva, rather than ‘Ha!’, an expression of joy…). From all accounts it was an awful thing to drive, and was only kept in production for so long because the pre-privatised British Telecom (and its various previous incarnations), British Gas and British Rail kept buying the bloody things- given lack of competition for those industries little effort was made to ensure that their drivers had comfortable transport… They were made from 1963 to 1983 and were notorious rustbuckets, and looked extremely antique by the end of production, especially when viewed alongside the Mk3 Escort van, and the slightly later Astramax (possibly the best looking car-derived van of all time?).

    An eccentric uncle of mine ran an ‘old D reg’ Viva HA until it rotted away. He was an extremely miserly man, and managed to keep it for about 22 years. I think it had less than 5000 miles on the clock when it was scrapped, and he replaced it with a brand new Fiesta Mark 2 Ghia- which was a very attractive restyle, especially in two-tone Ghia trim.

  4. @ A huge error on Vauxhalls part,when a handy sized van of this size is just enough,its bad enough getting used to the Fiat doblo/combo’s looks that are awkward.
    @1 The Astramax 1.6 was good for well over 120 mph greater manchester police was always chasing these in the 90’s-with 16V astra’s!

  5. The days of the car derived vans are slowly dying. This is a shame as it was always fun spotting a modern supermini/mid ranger with plated out windows but still having a modern, powerful TD lump under the bonnet.

    Another issue of course is that Combos, transit connects and the like aren’t viewed as “car derived vans” but in the same class as transits and vivaros. This means that they’re limited to 50mph on a standard single carriageway and 60 on dual carriageways that aren’t motorways.

  6. I think manufacturers are moving away from vans derived from cars, as they tarnish the image of the car they are derived from..

  7. I have not seen one of these for ages, probably as more people are buying the likes of Doblos and Transit Connects. The greater height you get from these proper vans is probably the reason as their payload is more flexible.

    @ 7.Funny how Vauxhall are dropping the Astravan and BMW are introducing the MINI Van!

    @8 Yes the P200, built in South Africa. I also remember the P100 which was a cortina based pick up, which was manufactured long after the Cortina had gone out of production. The caravan site where my grandad has his Van has an old P200 sitting rusting away in his barn, as the head gasket has gone and needs too much welding to pass the MOT.

  8. Ever since Ford decided not to put out a Focus panel van (though in Ireland you could get a Focus van until recently – basically a panelled off 3 door) I was wondering how long it would take GM to follow suit.

    My dad had the Bedford Astravan based on the mk2 Astra, they seemed to be fairly good workhorses as his place of work was hauling boat engines and industrial steam components all over the land.

    Not being a car derived van has it’s negatives – usually insurance for a CDV is based on the car, would be higher for a bespoke van, and Ferries usually have one rate for cars and CDVs, and another for vans.

    The Sierra (and previously cortina) pickup was the P100, it was car based from the B pillar forward, the rear was a ladder chassis. According to Wikipedia the Cortina P100 had a Rover SD1 PCD – the alloys can be used?

  9. Ford apparently put Cortina Estate bodies on the P100 chassis for some special applications – I’ve not found any factual evidence for this, only hearsay, but I remember Radio Borders having a C-reg Cortina Estate with the radio mast – and apparently, that was why it was a C-reg, it was a P100 chassis underneath to support the weight of the extending mast.

    As I say, this is ‘from memory’ and could be pretty inaccurate – I saw the vehicle and asked about it, but never looked at it close up.

  10. Car derived vans have been replaced by purpose built small vans, and as a by product, some useful small MPVs have been created, e.g. Kangoo, Partner etc

    It’s interesting that the new Combo (which also replaces the previous Corsa derived model) is derived from the Fiat Doblo and built in Turkey, manufacturers in this class seem very happy to badge engineer vehicles, e.g. the new Mercedes-Benz Citan is a rehashed Renault Kangoo!

  11. always prefer a car based van to one of those neither one or the other things they all make now, I am using an estate at the moment but I will be looking for an another (good) escort van or maybe an astra-max next year. The driving position is never quiet right in the connects and kangoos etc and they just don’t sit happily on the road. My first memory of the astra-max was one we borrowed when the sherpa was having new king-pins fitted(again)found myself doing 70 in a 30 zone just up from the depot had to watch myself very carefully after that.

  12. As Adrian 7 says, perhaps manufacturers do regard car derived commercials as detracting from the image of their main product nowadays. Having said that, it’s a shame the new Astra won’t be available as a van – the Sport Tourer is an attractive design…

  13. Funny reading this, there is a guy in a silver, 06 registered one that I unfortunately have on my morning commute for whom nothing at all gets in his way (he even tried to take on someone in a BMW M3 one morning, and lost admittedly…but was entertaining to watch nevertheless)

    ….what will Astravan-man move onto next??

  14. The Astravan story made me wonder what was the outright record for a van outlasting its passenger counterpart in production.

    My guess is the pre-Farina Austin A60 half ton van – still available around 12 years after the saloon was replaced.

  15. @Robert Leitch
    “The Astravan story made me wonder what was the outright record for a van outlasting its passenger counterpart in production.”

    Citroen C15?

    Visa: 1978 to 1988
    C15: 1984 to 2005 (17 years after the car had been discontinued!)

    I drove a Fiat Duplo recently and have to say that while the carrying capacity was uncanny for such a small van (can it load pallets?), you do sit bolt upright, and the brakes on this thing gave me no confidence in pushing it whatsoever!

  16. I was behind a hard-worked Astra van which blew up in spectacular fashion on the M6 at Thelwall viaduct. How there wasn’t a massive pile up in the “Days of Thunder” smokescreen was a miracle! These things always seem to be driven to within an inch of their lives!

  17. There is another thing at work here leading to the demise of the station wagon-derived panel van – taxation.

    As car derived vans represented a nice tax evasion haven for private car buyers, cat and mouse plays between them and Treasury – keen to plug loopholes – ensued in most countries.
    Here in The Netherlands they sold VW Type 3 Variants as commercial vehicles with a rear seat kit offered as spare parts in the 1960s. Then the Treasury mandated a fixed load floor for vans so that you could not install a rear seat.

    People still bought car derived vans for private use, so the next step was outlawing all side windows behind the B-pillar (to the detriment of pedestrians and bicyclists´ safety), then there had to be a separation between cabin and load area.

    People still bought ´tax free´ car derived vans, so the Treasury introduced the ´fiscal block´, a ca. 1 x 1 x 1 metre cube. If it doesn´t fit in the load bay, it is not a commercial vehicle. Which means either the roof needs to be raised on a normal station wagon by way of a GRP hump on top of the car after cutting open the roof with a giant jigsaw, or a ´proper´ panel van in the Combo/Transit Connect/Kangoo mould. It´s not hard to see why the market went with the latter…
    I´m sure it´s been a similar story in other European countries.

  18. @Eric van Spelde

    The Netherlands had a van version of the XM

    http://www.citroenet.org.uk/utilities/xm/xm-break-service.html

    Basically an estate with a raised roof, like you said.

    Ireland has many vans which are basically cars with the rear side windows smashed and panelled in and rear seats removed in front of tax officials (eg. mk1 Megane, Corolla, Focus and many SUVs such as Land Cruisers and Discoveries). Saves on 40% vehicle tax.

    Recently I’ve seen firms use things like Megane estates and Kia Sportages as vans, presumably because of low tax rates based on emissions.

  19. I’d read that the Cortina and Sierra pickups were more or less a Transit at the back and car at the front.

    Where is the dividing line between a CDV and proper van.

    The Nemo/Bipper/Fiorino triplets are based on the Fiat Punto but share no external metalwork. Are the CDVs or vans?

    CP

  20. I got offered a late, low miles Astra van through the Trade the other day. The unusual thing about was that it featured the current diesel/autobox powertrain. Now that is surely the ulitmate AstraVan?

  21. Wasn’t the astra convertible based on the van ?

    I know it sounds silly but I heard that the astra cabrio is quite different from the astra hatch back.

  22. @23 – I think you might be thinking of the Ford Escort Cabriolet – it was based on the 3 door estate.

  23. Tony, yes that’s it the Fiat 127 (Fiorino).

    My mate had one.
    They were very quick up till about 60mph.
    At the time I had a 127 and that was quick but the van was quicker.

    Shame it ate front tyres though

  24. @No1Tony
    Yeah I remeber Clarkson doing that in old TG. He was roadtesting a Lotus Esprit? He came to tyhe comclusion that the only thing faster was “A plumber in an Astra van” 🙂
    @Chris Baglin No3 The HA was agreed not much cop. However posties round my way loved them. They were easy to get in and out of, they also had light steering, unlike the MK3 escort diesel vans which replaced them.

  25. Great story. However for years now there have been two faster vehicles on the motorway: any hire car and the supremo, the Mercedes Benz Sprinter. How something so big can be driven so fast never ceses to amaze me.

  26. I remember having a very early (and very new) 1.6 petrol Astramax back in 1986. Never, ever, has 90bhp seemed so fast. By modern standard it probably weighed next to nothing! Also, by modern standards, the build quality was absolutely shocking, but that didn’t matter…

    Even finding that one of the wheel bearings was so loose that a wheel could have fallen off on the first day and the fact that there was visible body filler on a brand new van didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it one jot!

    It was capable of at least 200mph and (at the age of 22) that was all that mattered!

    A very sad day to see them finally come to an end 🙁

  27. I suspect the people that buy small vans – mainly large fleet operators wont give a damn about 25 years heritage. The roads are crammed full of Transit Connects so not having a Focus/Escort derived van has obviously done Ford no harm.

  28. @30 funny you should mention that,i was travelling to sizewell power plant with a pala couple of years ago and he was doing about 120mph in his Audi when a sprinter just passed us like we were reversing!Make good riot vans too!

  29. Big H,
    I think the reason the posties loved the Bedford HA, was because they replaced the old Morris Minor van (Bless em!)which by then were rather compromised to say the least. I remember my mates dad who was a postie bragging about them He thought he had died and gone to heaven.

  30. Very few posties actually had HA’s, it was the Telecoms side that took the bulk of HA production, and BT bought them right until around 1983!

    Before privatisation, our local leccy board had Astravans, and shedload of Astramax vans, and loved them by the looks. The trouble is thoughm the Astravan was no longer practical as a LCV, as you could not fit a bog standard europallet in the back, with the aid of a fork lift.

  31. Yep… the Bedford HA van was long lived, despite the HB Viva launching in late ’66. Does anyone remember the Bedford Beagle? an HA van body but with side windows in camper-van style. It was built by Martin Walter Motorbodies Ltd.

    The sales slogan to advertise it read “Don’t Poodle about – better buy Beagle”

  32. As a Rent-o-kil peat control ‘technician’ in the mid 1990’s, the whole company was up in arms when management decided to change from the car like Astravan to the van like Escort van.

  33. The Marina van was always a nice looking vehicle, especially customised. Having a brochure advertising the Morris Ital van and Austin Metro van is my evidence to the jury that the Morris Metro van never existed, let alone the last Morris (cue X files theme tune) would love to be proved wrong 😉

  34. Just the sight of the Bedford-badged front grill used to let you know it was time to pull over and let the Astravan past – no matter what you were driving!

  35. Sheffield City Council used Bedford HAs until the end of the eighties. They were extremely dated and very basic, but the fact they were cheap and very easy to maintain persuaded them to stick with these vans.

  36. Did the HA van stick with the original sixties dashboard to the end? I know they were given cloth seats and a Chevette engine to make them more modern near the end of their lives, but I’m sure the dashboard stayed the same.
    These vans, which are very rare now, are style icons for a minimalist form of motoring and the purist 1159cc version with its metal dashboard and absolutely no refinements should be up there with the original Mini.

  37. All but replaced by vans in the postman pat style.

    Transit Connect and the Fiat-derived Combo allow for loading of a pallet and sliding side doors.

    mk1 Corsa-based Combo had a nice “loft” above the drivers side, rather than the huge windscreens that these vans have now. Also, the last Fiat Duplo I drove didn’t drive like a car, you sat bolt upright and it had hardly any brakes!

  38. The Astravan has been in short supply for most of 2012.

    At work, the fleet department (a major UK company with a huge fleet) retired the four year old Astras and it was 6 to 9 months before the new Astras were delivered.

    The old fleet were 1.25 litre diesels, new vehicles are 1.7 litres.

    The 1.25 engine is all you need, a couple of our more immature drivers were pulled for exceeding 110 mph.

    The 1.25 is very smooth quiet and vibration free, also can return around 60 mpg

  39. The HA “Viva” van was actually known as the “Bedford Beagle”.
    The loss of “Car derived vans” will affect the speed limits. On dual-carriageways, the 70 mph limit applies to “Cars and car derived vans up to a max. laden weight of 2 tons” Otherwise vans such as the transit and now the connect I suppose and the new Vauxhall van all have a speed limit of 60 on dual carriageways. It is only on motorways that they can travel at 70mph. See the goverment web site:
    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Roadsafetyadvice/DG_178867?CID=TAT&PLA=url_mon&CRE=speed_limits

    I wonder in Range Rovers and Discoveries are classed as vans like their Defender stablemate. Hope so, ‘cos that would slow them down a little!

  40. @51

    Actually, the Beagle was a passenger derivative of the Bedford HA van, with additional side windows, and rear seats added. It was sold as a poverty estate car until the late 1970s (or possibly very early ’80s) catering for those who couldn’t run to a Chevette…

  41. The company my father worked for before he retired got hold of some of the sprinters and were amazed that with a full load of chemical on board they were still good for speeding tickets (to the point of one driver being clocked at something like 105mph and getting away with it).
    A quick look under the bonnet and the reason became clear, some bright spark at the factory had fitted a 2.9 litre Merc turbo diesel in there – which meant the things didnt so much accelerate as take off.
    Empty they were prone to creep at motorway speeds, you’d settle down at 75mph and within 5 miles you’d be doing 85 at least so the company ended up speccing them with cruise control because so many drivers were being stopped.
    What made it worse was alot of the stuff they were carrying (agricultural chemical) was product that you wouldnt want to be involved in any sort of accident – over and above the standard health and safety conniption fits.

  42. I was an apprentice at Shornecliffe,Folkestone with the Dept of the Environment from 76 to 81 and they ran a huge fleet of HA vans purchased direct from the factory in,yes, cream primer! It was our job to cut out the rear panels,fit windows and a bench rear seat and then paint them yukky brown using,from recollection, standard oil paint which took a day to dry. You can imagine the quality of the finished product!
    They were,though,a hoot to drive. The gear lever was very short and precise,and with the 1200cc motor,went fairly well.
    Steering was very light as well, and spinning the rear wheels was no problem round corners!
    At around 1976,Bedford actually raised the cab roof by about 3 inches,more headroom and a larger windscreen.
    Happy days they were!

  43. The HA van outlasted the HA Viva by at least 16 years – can anyone confrim whether production ceased in 1982 or 1983? I had originally thought the former, but I’ve seen 1983 on a number of websites, but I suspect the ‘1983’ ones might just be late registrations. The dash remained the same to the end, but the steering wheel was updated at least once, possibly twice and later ones have black grilles and larger wing mirrors. I always thought the HA looked much better as a van than a car.
    The Astravan was a spiritual successor to the Chevanne, probably the most stylish van of the mid 1970s. Unlike the Mk.1 & 2 Astravans, this had a plain steel plate over the window area so it was visually one piece whereas the first two Astravans had clearly pressed marks for the door and window spaces as they used the basic 2 door estate pressing. From the Mk.3 on there was no 2-door estate so the side panel went back to a neater one-piece style.

  44. @diddy1234 I think the Citroen 2CV AU of 1951 beat the Fiat 127-based Fiorino to be the first car-based box van by a few years. Can anyone think of an earlier example?

  45. How about the MK4 Escort combo, a 3 door estate derived van, selling along side the Normal Escort van.
    Most were fitted with the ageing 1.3 HCS engine or the 1.6 Diesel.
    I also remember Rediffusion having mk3 escort 3 door estate’s with a perspex panel that would slide over each rear side window giving the appearance of a van but then at weekends would turn into a normal estate car after removing the panels.

  46. Personally I think Vauxhall have made a huge mistake. I’ve owned Astravans since the 80s because there’s been nothing to rival them. I want a stylish van that I can use for business as well as pleasure and the Astravan was perfect. I read that Vauxhall say their customers want the Combo now. Oh really? Well I’ve been a loyal Vauxhall customer since 1985 but my custom will come to an end once the Astravan is discontinued. I’ll be buying a VW Caddy or maybe another manufacturer will fill the void left by the Astravan but I certainly wont be buying a butt ugly Combo .

    • Haha, I agree. I still have a mk4 Astravan unusually on an ’07 plate- latest one and only ’07 one I’ve ever seen to this day- it’s great. It’s the seventh one I’ve had and I think Vauxhall made a bloody daft mistake killing it off. Will continue with newer mk5 ones after this but when they get scarce then Vauxhall can piss off- I won’t buy a Combo on principle. Probably Caddy or Berlingo or maybe a Fiesta mini-van.

  47. The performance of the Astramax vans was incredible. I lost count of the number of times I had them up my chuff while overtaking on a motorway at 85-90, main beam on,with the obligatory ladders on the roof and two burly blokes inside. They would always accelerate effortlessly past once I pulled over as well. Good for well over a ton.

  48. ive had 9 astra vans they have always, filled the gap between the van that felt like just a van , and drove very boxy ,to somthing very diffrent with load space and some speed ,as howard says vauxhall they are making a mistake ,there is a market still for the astra van ,same as howard no way am i having a combo and judging by the fact ive just clocked some 85000 miles on my sportive no probs its a sad day ,vauxhall managment have missed a golden op to make somthing real good last very sad , bad move vauxhall r.i.p. astra van it was fun

  49. The Fiat Doblo is a good drive, in top it would still accelerate without fuss on a motorway gradient, (70 mph limit applies to proper vans when on motorways)

    Several trip meters to play with, they display miles per gallon, ie average/instantaneous/ lifetime etc, accessible by the button on the end of the indicator switch

  50. The Transit Connect is rather poor, no carpets, just rubber mats, so much road and engine noise enters the cabin, 100 miles is about the daily limit for a Connect.

  51. MM all vans nowadays do not have carpets if you actually look properly, and all vans suffer from road noise, especially when empty

  52. In response to MM: The Fiat Doblo may well be a good drive but I doubt many Astravan drivers will want one. The Astravan looks low-slung, sleek & stylish whereas the Doblo looks like a rolling abortion.

  53. There’s a gap in the market. I hope other manufacturers take heed and offer a car derived van the same size or larger than the Astravan.

  54. The Astravan was the best drivers van on the market and the goons at Vauxhall have decided to drop it. It was their only iconic vehicle and the muppets throw it away. It just proves that Vauxhall don’t know what their customers want. I don’t see that many Combos on the road which isn’t a surprise. They look horrible!

  55. It’ll be a VW Caddy van for me next. Not quite the same as an Astra Van but it’s the next best thing. I hope Ford, Citroen, Renault or Toyota etc look at this and fill the void that Vauxhall have left. I certainly don’t see many Combos on the road. Not surprising either because they look like an exploded monster.

  56. I’ve never quite liked the look of the generation of tall small vans with high windscreens. To me they look like a person with a very high forehead, you just can’t help but notice that something is slightly off with the proportions.

    The Corsa based Combo had the low Corsa windscreen which allowed for a handy ‘loft’ above the seats to store documents, small parts, lunches 🙂

    Another thing is, as the new generation of small vans are no longer ‘car derived’, then drivers need to be wary of speed limits on some roads:

    https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

    UK.gov actually point out some examples of CDVs, but point out that other vans are classified as 7.5 ton goods vehicles, with limits of 50mph on dual carraigeways and 60 on motorways!
    In a modern small van that probably has a better engine and roadholding than an old CDV!

    In practice though, when have you ever seen even a Sprinter doing 60… 😉

  57. “In practice though, when have you ever seen even a Sprinter doing 60… ”

    Loads of times.

    Admittedly, in 20mph school zones with the lights flashing, but still…

  58. Vans over 3.5t now are in the same class as 7.5t’s and are limited to 56, vans like the Combo etc can still do 70, but many companies are fitting electronic limiters set at 60 and using this to save fuel, which in the long run if you have say 100 vans, will save you a few quid over the course of a year

  59. I agree about the new Combo,why have one when you can get the Doblo,by all means have the new Combo in the range but its madness not having an Astravan-for thousands of folk they was just right,in size,everything.

  60. I don’t see many Combos on the road. It seems Vauxhall have tried to tap into a saturated market and failed. They had an unrivalled sector with the Astravan and they threw it away. I hope Ford or Toyota etc see the gap and give us a new car derived van like the Astravan. There’s certainly a demand for this type of van.

  61. why oh why vauxall don’t you listen to your customers please take heed its time to see the market gap throw it away the astra van for combo you got to be mad

  62. Slightly off topic but hopefully amusing.
    A large muscular friend (part time bouncer), think of John Daly the golfer had a saying.
    “Never pick a fight with a man in a white van”

    The reason? He once got into a road rage argument with one.
    He was arguing with the driver face to face and it got to threatening each other.
    He was rather surprised to see four or five large blokes get out of the back.
    He didn’t win that one.

  63. GUTTED!!! My 1.9 Sportive is due to be exchanged in April this year and I now find out there is not an Astra to replace it!!!! Sacrilege…. I drive around 50,000 miles per year and I have had an Astravan for the last 15 years, through choice. I have a need for a small van (don’t want to pay company car tax) for my tools and spares, but do not need a high roof, or a big lulking van on my drive at home. Definitely a gap in the market now as the Fiesta and Corsa vans both have lips to the rear, making getting toolboxes in and out more difficult. Really don’t know what to go for next now 🙁

  64. have got a 2013 astra sportive I have got 1 of the last ones off the line bloody sad it will be my last one, if only vauxall could see this site,and see 25 years going down the pan what a bunch of muppets

  65. Well maybe I’m a lone voice here, but I’ve had a 1.9 Sportive for the past 5 years and the vehicle has only done 48000 miles to date. I’ve had nothing but expensive trouble (oh and all outside Warranty period of course!). The list includes: Alternator, 2 x Rear Coil Springs, Dual Mass Flywheel and Clutch, Turbo…. the list goes on!

    I loved this vehicle… great to drive and own, but not reliable. And no help whatsoever from Vauxhall who just shrugged their shoulders!! Never the Griffin again for me…

  66. @Vic

    Sounds similar to the Saab 1.9 TiD engines, which have issues with alternators and DMFs.

    The last properly reliable diesel van was probably the mk1 Caddy/Seat Incas with SDi engines.
    No turbos, no trickery, just an old fashioned diesel lump.
    Taxi drivers loved them in Skodas too.

  67. @ 87

    Until the 2010 facelift you could still get a non-turbo Caddy with the 2.0 SDi PD engine from the Golf V, probably the last non-turbo diesel van available. Yes I remember Octavia SDi taxis, could feel the difference going up a hill in one of those!

    Surprised there’s no more Astravans, Citroen UK introduced a commercial version of the Xsara estate called the Enterprise between 2002-2004 as they thought there was a demand for people wanting a smaller van than the Berlingo. Although I don’t remember seeing any on the road so can’t have been that popular.

    • You probably wouldn’t have noticed the Citroen Xsara Enterprise was a van because it looked exactly like the estate car. That was the point.

  68. We had a mk2 astramax as a works van in the late ’90s. I can confirm that they were NOT the fastest thing on the road when fitted with the 1.6 Diesel engine. A total gutless slug of a thing,

  69. I concur that a diesel Astravan was just as slow/awful as so many other vans of the era, even if the petrol ones were notably rorty.

    The never-seen Opel Rekord estate-based van of the early 80’s must have held the official ‘record’ (sorry) for the fastest standard van on the UK’s roads for
    many years – at least until those pesky big-bore turbo’d Sprinters came along.

    What must have been on paper the smallest and slowest LCV of the time proved to be great fun to drive the one time I tried one – 848cc and 40 BHP worth of Reliant Fox. Felt the fastest/sharpest/most chuckable thing on 4 wheels across a busy town.

  70. I’ve had two, an 09 1.9cdti sportive 120bhp which I had 150k in and gave to a colleague she’s now up to 210k. I also have one of the very last registered 1.7cdti sportives registered on 30/6/13 which has now just passed 101k and I’m looking to change. Such a shame there is no replacement for the astravan so I’m looking down the route of a pickup. RIP the mighty astravan. Long live the King!

  71. These remind me of the car derived panel Van’s we had in australia that were particularly popular in the 70s for modifying into shaggin wagons (ie Holden sandman).
    I once saw pictures of a maestro van done up like a MG turbo and wonder what an astravan would be like done up like a VXR

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