News : Vauxhall lines up stars for the NEC


Vauxhall’s fourth appearance at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show (November 13-15) will this year showcase cars that have never been seen at the event, forming the centre-piece of a large, eight-stand Vauxhall area.

The Queen’s 1961 PA Cresta Friary Estate is making only its second outing from Sandringham in the past 31 years, since it was moved there from the Royal Mews in London. The PA is painted Imperial Green – a bespoke colour not normally supplied by Vauxhall – and has a number of interesting features, like fishing rod holders built into the roof and a gun rack.

Also on show is Baby Bertha, Gerry Marshall’s racing car from between 1975 and 1977. Bertha won all but three of 43 races entered, and took the Super Saloon Championship two years running. Loosely based on a production Firenza, Baby Bertha was built around a spaceframe chassis and powered by a 500bhp, 5.0-litre GM V8 engine.

An equally dramatic 1970s Vauxhall taking its bow at the NEC is the SRV, or Styling Research Vehicle. First shown at the 1970 Earls Court Motor Show, the sleek imposing shape belies its four-door practicality. But with an aerofoil, electric self-levelling suspension and a ‘manometer’ to measure air pressure on the car’s hull, the SRV illustrated Vauxhall’s forward-thinking approach to engineering and design, which still exists today.

Joining Vauxhall in the Griffin-branded area will be the Vauxhall Cresta Club, Vauxhall FD Register, Vauxhall VX4/90 Drivers’ Club, Chevette Owners’ Group, Vauxhall Cavalier and Chevette Club, Vauxhall/Opel Drivers’ Club and the Just Opel/Vauxhall Car Club.


Keith Adams


  1. IIRC The PA Crests was the Queens daily drive until the Royal Household decided to take all vehicles which could not run on unleaded petrol off the road.

  2. Good to hear Vauxhall’s representation. I always liked the Firenza / Magnum Coupe’s ( body later used on Viva E).

  3. I had a Mk1 1.9 Cavalier. When I had a test drive I was absolutely gob-smacked. The handling, acceleration and general feel of the car were like nothing I’d known before. After a few minutes I felt like I’d had the car for years, it just felt right in every way. I’ve never been so pleasantly surprised by a car.

    • Yes… my favourite car of the mid / late 70’s was the Cavalier 1.9GL/GLS and 2000GLS Coupe (then Sportshatch). Looking at today’s motors, I don’t think any look as appealing as the Cavalier did back then.

  4. The SRV styling research vehicle shown at the 1970s motor show. Obviously research was some sort of skunkworks hiding in the basement that nobody else in the company knew existed. The mainstream designers only managed to come up with the HC Viva launched at the same show!

  5. The mid seventies was the start of Vauxhall’s comeback, even if early Cavaliers were made in Belgium. The Mark 1 Cavalier, when it came out, seemed a far more modern and better to drive car than the Mark 3 Cortina and the Chevette, with its hatchback design, looked light years ahead of its rivals from Ford, British Leyland and Chrysler.
    The Chevette in particular was a masterstroke. Using tried and trusted technology from the Viva, and having a hatchback design similar to those on cars like the Volkswagen Golf, it was bound to do well. Also in a period of severe inflation and the energy crisis, a car that could do 35-40 mpg and was easy to maintain and fairly cheap to buy was just right for 1975. It seemed to make its rivals like the frumpy Allegro and the Mark 2 Escort, which was saloon and estate only, look dated.

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