News : Vauxhall Heritage goes on public display

Vauxhall XVR Concept

For the first time in its 72-year history, a selection of cars from the Vauxhall Heritage collection will be on public display from next month, telling the incredible story of Vauxhall Motors’ rise from a niche sporting car manufacturer to one of the UK’s best-known automotive brands.

‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ opens on 5 September at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton. The main exhibition will include 10 of Vauxhall’s most significant Luton-built cars from the last 115 years, book-ended by the very first model to be produced at the famous Kimpton Road factory – a 1905 7/9hp – to the last passenger car to roll of the line – a 2002 Vectra, before the plant started to produce LCVs exclusively.

As well as the main exhibition cars, which will be on display until Easter 2021, each month ‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ will feature a different hero car, starting with the chrome-and fin-laden 1959 PA Velox, which brought a welcome slice of colourful Americana to austere 1950s Britain. Other hero cars include the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton, Firenza HPF ‘Droopsnoot’, and OE-Type 30-98, Britain’s first 100mph car.

Vauxhall became a car manufacturer in 1903. It was originally based in the South London suburb from which it takes its name, but after two years needed larger premises and moved to a six-acre site in Luton, where it still manufactures motor vehicles today. The availability of skilled local workers, many of whom were displaced from the town’s ailing hatting industry, sealed the deal and Vauxhall went on to become Luton’s largest employer.

‘We are proud and excited to host such a unique exhibition’

‘This is a perfect opportunity for the public to get up close and personal with cars from our collection that are normally only seen via the hundred-or-so media loans that we arrange each year,’ said Simon Hucknall, Vauxhall’s Head of PR. ‘There are some extremely rare and valuable cars on display, but many that will conjure ‘my-dad-had-one-of-those’ memories, too. Most importantly, it paints a wonderful social picture of Vauxhall’s importance to the Luton community, through all the highs and lows of the twentieth century.’

Karen Perkins, Director of Culture and Engagement at The Culture Trust Luton added: ‘The Culture Trust is passionate about Luton, its heritage and its people. Vauxhall has been an integral part of our community’s landscape for 115 years and we are proud and excited to host such a unique and rarely seen exhibition.’

‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ opens at Stockwood Discovery Centre, London Road, Luton LU1 4LX on Saturday, September 5 and runs until Easter, 2021. Opening hours are Thursday to Sunday 11am to 5pm (CLOSED Mon-Weds) and admission is free. COVID-19 protocols will be in place to ensure social distancing.

Keith Adams
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  1. The orange Vauxhall XVR concept car from fifty-four years ago still looks sharp today. Apparently the Opel GT had something to do with its stillborn status. Interestingly, unlike most cars that went the retractable headlamp route, the XVR looks better with the headlamps UP, despite the mild insect-like look.

    To my eye, this car looks quite “inspired” by another GM offering from the previous year of 1965: the Mako Shark concept car, which led to the third generation of Corvettes, starting in 1968. In a connected sort of part of the story, the Opel GT used to be referred to as a “baby” Corvette. Perhaps two production offshoots of the Mako Shark were enough for GM on the international stage.

    • LOL, I think the Corvette may have unintentionally “rear ended” the Vauxhall, hence the surprised look……..

  2. Brilliant news! In these troubled times it’s so good to see a major manufacturer spending time and money providing us with elements of its history – and in Vauxhall’s case – what a history!
    It’s only a couple of hours from us – we’ll be there as soon as it’s open!

  3. Vauxhalll is still manufacturing in Britain and will also be producing Peugeot and Citroen vans in Luton, so seems to have an assured future, and is the longest lived British car manufacturer, so why not celebrate this by opening up the heritage centre to the general public.

  4. Back in the late 60s I was a member of the “Vauxhall Craftsmans Guild” that encouraged young lads into car design by an annual model making competition. The winner got a trip to GM America.

    And yes, my Dad owned 2 Vauxhalls (Victor F and a VX4/90 FC). I owned a Viva HC for over 3 years.

    Good to hear they are celebrating Vauxhalls history in Luton in this manner. Does anyone know the exact models that will be displayed?

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