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Vauxhall Heritage announces first free public exhibition

Display includes Vauxhall’s most significant Luton-built cars from the past 115 years

For the first time in its 72-year history, a selection of cars from Vauxhall Heritage’s famous 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 September 5 at Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton – a stones-throw from where almost all the exhibits were originally manufactured.

The main exhibition will include ten 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 Fifties’ Britain. Other ‘heroes’ 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. 

‘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. 

Exhibits include:

1905 7/9hp – first Luton-built Vauxhall

1910 C-10 ‘Prince Henry’ – Britain’s first official production sports car

1923 23/60 Tourer – awash with high-technology for middle-class motorists

1926 30-98 OE-Type Tourer – Britain’s first 100mph production car (November only)

1936 BXL Limousine – the default pre-war mayoral conveyance for many UK municipalities

1959 PA Velox – flamboyant US-style, with compact dimensions (September only)

1963 Viva HA – Vauxhall’s first post-war compact car

1966 XVR Concept – curvaceous design study debuted at the Geneva Motor Show

1968 Bedford CA – Britain’s first purpose-built panel van that dominated its market for 17 years

1975 Firenza HPF – svelte coupe that enjoyed success on and off the race track (December only)

1979 Cavalier Mk.1 – the mid-size nameplate that led Vauxhall’s market dominance in the 80s/90s

1983 Astra GTE Mk.1 – Vauxhall’s first genuine ‘hot hatch’ (October only)

1993 Lotus Carlton – world’s fastest four-door production car, with max speed of 176mph (Jan only)

2002 Vectra – display vehicle was last passenger car to be made in Luton

2003 VX Lightning – concept car created to celebrate Vauxhall’s centenary

Find more info:

Join the Club: 
Vauxhall Owners Club

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