Vauxhall Heritage Collection on the move
It's been a pleasure to curate the Vauxhall Heritage Collection and we look forward to seeing the Collection in its new permanent home.
Manor Park Classics has provided exposure for six cars at our HQ in a bespoke Vauxhall Heritage area, complete with ephemera taken from the old Heritage Centre. We've loved playing a part in keeping Vauxhall Heritage’s flame burning while it developed its plan for a future permanent base. Our experience and enthusiasm for a wide breadth of classic cars, like those in Vauxhall’s Collection, is immense and we know that the carefully selected models which we have had on display was a great attraction to people visiting our offices and will be in their new home.
THE CARS BELOW WERE DISPLAYED IN MANOR PARK'S VAUXHALL HERITAGE AREA while their new permanent home was under construction
- Rare, original London-built Vauxhall
JNM400, Vauxhall Heritage’s 6HP model was one of 70 cars produced by the company in 1904. Costing £150 when new, the 6HP is a London to Brighton regular (56 runs under its belt, and counting) and like the very first Vauxhall - 5HP - it features tiller steering and chain-drive to the rear wheels.
It was a remarkably prescient design, which effectively integrated the chassis with the body, and was an easier car to drive than its predecessor - and slightly faster, too. Its single-cylinder, 1029cc engine, complete with trembler coil and Vauxhall’s own spray-carburettor meant that 25mph was achievable – quite respectable for the day.
Controls for the 6HP, which Vauxhall has owned for over 40 years, are counter-intuitive to anyone used to a modern car, with a two-speed epicylic gearbox, a knurled brass wheel that you ‘throttle’ back on start-up, and manual ignition advance/retard. Modern drivers would also be aghast at the lack of dampers, making its top speed more than enough over rougher surfaces.
1926 Vauxhall 30-98 OE-TYPE
Built from 1923 to 1927, the OE-Type 30-98 was, in its day, the fastest catalogued production car in Great Britain, with a factory-warranted top speed of 100mph, when fitted with a high axle ratio.
Almost every 30-98 was sold with a tourer body (this Vauxhall-owned example sports one made by in-house coachbuilder, Velox), but the most dramatic-looking was made by Wensum with no doors, no hood, flared wings and a £150 premium – a sizeable increase when a standard Tourer cost around £1200.
During its production life, around 600 30-98s were built, and it says much for its legacy that today around 170 still survive, many of which remain in regular use. The 30-98 had exceptional performance in its day, producing around 112bhp from its four-cylinder, 4224cc engine. But a centre throttle, extremely heavy flywheel and weak brakes by today’s standards make this a challenging – if very fast - car to drive on modern roads.
1964 Victor FB Estate
When the FB series of four-door saloon and five-door estate bodies was introduced in 1961, Vauxhall’s growing expertise in the design of unitary construction meant that it weighed 77kgs less than the outgoing F-series car. The FB Victor was also notable in that it finally banished the Vauxhall ‘flute’, a design cue which had featured on almost all its models since the Edwardian age. But the FB’s crisp, well-proportioned lines were an instant hit with the buying public, as was its larger cabin, thanks to a body that grew in every dimension, apart from height.
Powering the car was Vauxhall’s overhead-valve 1,508cc (later 1,594cc) four-cylinder engine, driving the rear wheels through either a three-speed or optional four-speed transmission. Maximum power was a mere 55bhp, but a healthy 80lb ft of torque at just 2,000rpm gave the FB brisk mid-range poke and a 0-60mph time of 22.6 seconds. Maximum speed was 76mph.
Vauxhall’s Heritage Collection car is a late ’64 model, with a four-speed gearbox and Webasto sunroof. Painted in Persian Blue (one of 14 colours available to FB buyers) and costing £861.13s.1d when new it feels surprisingly agile for a 52-year-old car. Independent front suspension with coils and wishbones, and a live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf-springs allow for spirited driving, combined with ride comfort that would shame many a modern car.
1975 Vauxhall Firenza hp 'droopsnoot'
In 1973, Vauxhall rationalised its Firenza range, and the HP (for 'High Performance') model was created. Based on the Magnum Coupe, the HP had additional aero appendages at the front, giving rise to the model's nickname: 'Droopsnoot'.
In many ways, the model's launch was well timed, heralding Vauxhall's triumphant return to motorsport in the guise of DTV (Dealer Team Vauxhall). And the 'Droopsnoot' certainly had the brawn to go with its distinctive looks.
This was the first Vauxhall with a five-speed gearbox, and its 2.3 litre slant-four engine had hand-finished combustion chambers, inlet tracts and valve throats to liberate an extra 21 BHP. As a result, the Droopsnoot because the fastest-accelarating Vauxhall, with a 0-60mph time of just 7.6 seconds. But industrial disputes, a looming fuel crisis and the consequent sales fall-out from the performance car market signed an early death-knell for the Firenza HP. Despite a brave sales projection of 1000 cars per year, only 204 cars were ever built.
1983 Vauxhall Astra GTE MK.1
The Astra GTE Mk. 1 marked Vauxhall’s first foray in to the relatively new ‘hot hatch’ segment, which had been dominated by the Golf GTi since the late Seventies. Based on the 1980 Astra Mk. 1, its fuel injected, naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine produced 115bhp, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 115bhp per tonne, and a top speed of 115mph. Acceleration from 0-60mph was a highly competitive 8.5 seconds.
But the GTE wasn’t all about power. The standard Astra on which it was based was highly acclaimed in the dynamics department, but with revised springing and damping, wider and lower profile tyres and a close-ratio gearbox on later cars, the GTE is now regarded as near-iconic. As Car & Car Conversions reported: “Remarkably high cornering loads are attained without any deliberate ‘unsettling’ of the chassis. As with less powerful Astras, it is virtually impossible to spin the car and it always turns-in on command, irrespective of entry speed.”
1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton
- World's fastest four-door production car
How times change. Nearly 70 years before Vauxhall’s Lotus Carlton was launched, Messrs. Pomeroy and Kidner were being lauded for their achievement in bringing the 100mph 30/98 to market. But in 1989, Paul Tosch – Vauxhall’s then Chairman and MD – was thrown on the defensive with the mainstream press when the Lotus Carlton became the UK’s fastest four-door saloon car, with a top speed of 176mph. But those in the know realised what a technological tour de force Vauxhall had developed.
Using GM’s 3.6-litre straight-six, on to which Vauxhall grafted two Garrett T25 turbochargers with twin water-cooled intercoolers, the Lotus Carlton produced a quite shocking (even by today’s standards) 377bhp and 419lb ft of torque, enough for it to attain the controversial top speed, along with a 0-62mph time of just 5.4 seconds. Lotus Engineering, after failing to shoehorn their own version of the Corvette ZR1’s V8 into the car, was responsible for developing the LC’s MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear set-up, by lowering it, stiffening it and increasing wheel travel. The result was a superbly assured and blindingly fast GT of the highest order. Our event car once took pride of place on Vauxhall’s press fleet, one of only 286 UK examples built. It’s cost when new? £48,000.
VAUXHALL PRESS RELEASE 27th November - 10:00am
• Vauxhall’s renowned 60-vehicle collection relocates to interim home while plans develop for all-new public-facing premises
• Exhibitions in Luton & Cheshire to display a third of all vehicles after move
• Vauxhall Archive moves to new permanent home at company’s Toddington site.
Luton – Vauxhall’s famous Heritage Collection and Archive are set to move from the company’s Griffin House site next month, as plans develop to create an all-new public-facing Heritage Centre in the future.
The imminent sale of Vauxhall’s former Luton site means that the Collection will find a new interim home at the company’s Ellesmere Port factory, where a converted 8,000 square-meter building has been set aside for the 60-strong Collection, which represents every decade of Vauxhall’s 117-year history. Ellesmere Port, home of Vauxhall’s compact car production for the last 56 years and current manufacturing site for the Astra, ‘…is proud to be the Collection’s temporary custodian,’ said Plant Director, Mark Noble. ‘We’re all looking forward to the arrival of these Heritage vehicles, some of which have been manufactured here over the last six decades. We’ve made sure that the area which will house the cars is heated, dry and secure, in keeping with the way the Collection has been stored in its former Luton home for the last 30 years.’.
Once relocation has taken place, the Collection will be maintained on site by local classic vehicle specialist, Manor Park Classics, to make sure that all vehicles are preserved to a high standard while in storage.
However, around 20 vehicles – a third of the Collection – will still have visibility outside of Ellesmere Port. Currently, 13 Vauxhalls are on display at Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton as part of the ‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ exhibition, which runs until the end of March, 2021. A joint venture between Vauxhall and The Culture Trust Luton, the exhibits include the world’s oldest Prince Henry sports car, the rakish 1966 XVR concept car and a beautifully restored 1970 Viva GT.
In addition, Manor Park Classics will provide exposure for six cars at their Runcorn HQ in a bespoke Vauxhall Heritage area, complete with ephemera taken from the old Heritage Centre. ‘We’re excited to play a part in keeping Vauxhall Heritage’s flame burning while it develops its plan for a future permanent base,’ said Manor Park’s Managing Director, Roger Nowell. ‘Manor Park’s experience and enthusiasm for a wide breadth of classic cars, like those in Vauxhall’s collection, is immense and we know that the carefully selected models which we’ll have on display will be a great attraction to people visiting our offices.’
Vauxhall Press Release inblog 2
Included in Manor Park’s exhibition will be a 1904 6hp Light Car that has entered almost every London to Brighton Veteran Car Run since 1927, a 1926 OE-Type 30-98, owned by Vauxhall for the last 72 years, an original Lotus Carlton press car and – fittingly, given MPC’s proximity to Ellesmere Port – a 1989 Astra GTE Mk.2.
Vauxhall’s Heritage Centre also houses an extensive archive, going back as far as the late-nineteenth century, when the Vauxhall Iron Works – as the company was then known – was formed, before starting motor car production in 1903. Like the Collection, the Archive will find a new home at another existing Vauxhall site: the historic and prominent Toddington Warehouse, on the outskirts of Luton.
Andrew Duerden, Vauxhall’s long-time Archivist, was pleased that the move would bring more order to the enormous collection of images, records and ephemera gathered over the years. ‘Our upcoming move has given me the opportunity to re-organise the Archive and prioritise the elements which add depth, colour and interest to our extensive history. Digitisation of our image library is ongoing, and provides a valuable asset to media in search of historical context to Vauxhall stories. We also have many unseen design studies from the Sixties and Seventies that, quite frankly, take your breath away. I will also be taking on responsibility for Vauxhall’s popular Dating Certificate service, providing build verification for owners of classic Vauxhalls.’
Plans for the Collection’s future permanent home are underway, with the interim storage at Ellesmere Port providing a much welcome shorter-term solution. ‘Vauxhall is fully committed to preserving its Heritage Collection and Archive,’ said Simon Hucknall, Vauxhall’s Head of PR and curator of the Collection. ‘While the move from Griffin House to Ellesmere will mean a temporary halt to the Collection’s working status, our partners at The Culture Trust Luton and Manor Park Classics have generously supported future exposure of a third of our vehicles.
‘We are currently developing plans for a new, purpose-built base for the Collection, which will allow it to be public-facing, while also bringing back its working status. This is by no means the work of a minute, but we hope to be able to share more details about a new Vauxhall Heritage Centre early next year.’ For details of The Culture Trust Luton’s ‘Vauxhall – Made in Luton’ exhibition, please go to https://www.culturetrust.com/vauxhall (due to the current lockdown restrictions, the exhibition is closed, but should re-open in early December).
Follow Manor Park Classics (@ManorParkClassics on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook, or www.manorparkclassics.com) to view its new Vauxhall ‘guests’ next month!