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The Luton plant employs around staff and has a capacity around , units. In the company built its first car, a five-horsepower single-cylinder model steered using a tiller , with two forward gears and no reverse gear. A single survivor could still be seen at the London Science Museum in To expand, the company moved the majority of its production to Luton in Much of Vauxhall's success during the early years of Vauxhall Motors was attributable to Laurence Pomeroy.

He joined Vauxhall in at the age of 22, as an assistant draughtsman. Hodges took a long holiday, and in his absence, the managing director Percy Kidner asked Pomeroy to design an engine for cars to be entered in the RAC and Scottish Reliability Trial, held in June that year.


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The cars were so successful that Pomeroy took over from Hodges. Pomeroy's first design, the Y-Type Y1, had outstanding success at the RAC and Scottish Mile Reliability Trials — showing excellent hill-climbing ability with an aggregate of 37 seconds less time in the hill climbs than any other car in its class. The Y-Type went on to win class E of the trial.

The Y-Type was so successful that it was decided to put the car into production as the A09 car. This spawned the Vauxhall A-Type. Four distinct types of this were produced between 27 October and when mass production halted in One last A-Type was put together in Two cars were entered in the Prince Henry Trials, and although not outright winners, performed well, and replicas were made for sale officially as the C-type, but now known as the Prince Henry.

During the First World War, Vauxhall made large numbers of the D-type, a Prince Henry chassis with derated engine, for use as staff cars for the British forces. After the armistice, the D-type remained in production, along with the sporting E-type. Pomeroy left in , moving to the United States, and was replaced by C. The company's future chief engineer, Harold Drew, left Luton for a spell, working as a draughtsman with GM's Lansing -based Oldsmobile division.

During the Second World War, car production at Luton was suspended to allow Vauxhall to work on the new Churchill tank. Despite a bombing raid in August , in which 39 employees were killed, [18] it was taken from specification to production in less than a year, and assembled there as well as at other sites. More than 5, Churchill tanks were built.

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Luton also produced around , lorries for the war effort, alongside the new Bedford Dunstable plant , which was opened in , with Bedford designs being common in British use. As a morale booster for the company employees, on 23, 24, and 25 February , Adelaide Hall appeared in concert at the factory in Luton, where she entertained the employees during their lunch break. In all, she performed in front of more than 10, workers; this was the first time that Vauxhall had contracted a star to perform at their factory for three consecutive days.

Passenger-car production resumed after the end of the Second World War. Models were more mass-market than prewar products, helping to drive an expansion of the company. A manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port , Cheshire, was opened in , initially making components to supply to the production lines in Luton, before passenger-car production began there in In , production of the Vauxhall Viva small family car commenced, with the new car being aimed at the likes of the Ford Anglia and Morris Minor.

The German version of the car was sold as the Opel Kadett. The locally assembled Vauxhall Viva was launched in Australia in May In , Vauxhall's Slant Four went into production — the first production overhead camshaft inline-four engine to use a rubber timing belt. During the s, Vauxhall acquired a reputation for making rust-prone models. The corrosion protection built into models was tightened up significantly, but the reputation dogged the company until the early s. By the late s, the company was achieving five-figure sales on its most popular models, including the entry-level Viva and larger Victor.

In , the HC Viva was launched, which went on to become Vauxhall's best-selling car of the decade, featuring among the 10 best-selling cars in Britain each year until after , with production not finishing until , when the Viva nameplate was finally discontinued after 16 years and three generations. In , the Vauxhall Firenza "Droopsnoot" coupe was unveiled at the Earls Court Motor Show, introducing the public to Vauxhall's new aerodynamic look for all of its subsequent s models.

By , the Victor was losing sales in a market that was becoming increasingly dominated by the Ford Cortina. This was not enough to keep Vauxhall from being well behind market leaders Ford and British Leyland in sales, and most of its range was struggling even to keep pace with Chrysler UK formerly the Rootes Group. Vauxhall's sales began to increase from , with the launch of two important new models, the Chevette , a small three- door hatchback that was the first car of its kind to be built in Britain, and the Cavalier , a stylish four-door saloon designed to compete head-to-head with the all-conquering Ford Cortina.

A two-door coupe and three-door "sport hatch" had joined the Cavalier range by , but there never was an estate version. The Cavalier helped Vauxhall regain lost ground in this crucial sector of the market, while the Chevette proved to be hugely popular in the growing supermini sector, as more buyers turned to smaller cars following the oil crisis of The Chevette range later evolved into a three-door estate, as well as saloons with two or four doors.

Both models were based on models produced by Opel, GM's German subsidiary, the Chevette being based on the Opel Kadett , but with a distinct front end. These models were built on the GM J platform. This marked the end of a long and gradual process by GM to consolidate its two European subsidiaries with preference for the larger, and in terms of both absolute sales and market share, more successful Opel.

Since the early s, Vauxhalls, whilst being designed and built in the United Kingdom, increasingly shared their general specification, engineering features, and styling with Opel counterparts the Viva with the Kadett and the Victor with the Rekord , for instance even if the two cars were distinct, with few to any interchangeable parts. From the late s and into the early s, increasing economic turmoil in the UK, declining build quality, and increasing strike action throughout British industry and in stark contrast, the Wirtschaftswunder or economic miracle of West Germany during the same period , plus the entry of the UK into the European Economic Community in , made maintaining two parallel model lines serving similar markets increasingly undesirable.

Following the introduction of the Chevette and Cavalier, virtually all future Vauxhalls would be lightly restyled Opels the exceptions would be based on models from elsewhere in the GM organisation. However, Vauxhall retained its two British factories at Luton and Ellesmere Port, with most cars wearing the Vauxhall badge still being built in the UK. The introduction of the Opel-based Vauxhalls marked a significant improvement in both the design and build quality of Vauxhall cars, which were now considered strong rivals to their Ford competitors.

By the end of the s, Vauxhall had boosted its market share substantially, and was fast closing in on Ford and British Leyland. In , Vauxhall strengthened its position in the executive car market with the launch of its all-new Carlton saloon and estate, which were facelifted versions of the German-built Opel Rekord.

A year later, a more upmarket saloon model, the Senator , was launched under the Opel brand, and finally became available as a Vauxhall from By , Vauxhall had increased its market share substantially; it was still some way behind Ford and British Leyland, but had overtaken Talbot the Peugeot -owned successor to Rootes and Chrysler UK. Early in , Vauxhall moved into the modern family hatchback market with its Astra range that replaced the aging Viva, and quickly became popular with buyers.

The Astra was a rebadged version of the first front-wheel drive Opel Kadett, which had been launched in , and was sold alongside the Astra for several years. In , the company released the Mk2 Cavalier , the first Vauxhall of this size to offer front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle. Built at the Luton plant, it really boosted Vauxhall's fortunes, with the Cavalier's sales for almost trebling its total for , and peaking at more than , by During that time, sales of the Vauxhall brand more than doubled.

This was complemented in with an estate , based on the Camira produced in Australia by Holden , with the tailgates for the Vauxhall version being built there and shipped to Luton. It was Britain's second-best selling car in and , and spent most of its production life vying with the Ford Sierra for top place in the large family car market.

The Cavalier was relaunched in , an all-new format that won praise for its sleek looks and much-improved resistance to rust. April had the launch of the Nova supermini, a rebadged version of the Spanish -built Opel Corsa. The new entry-level model in the Vauxhall range, it was available as a hatchback or a saloon and was solely built at the Zaragoza plant in Spain.

This completed Vauxhall's regeneration, and by the end of the s, it had overtaken Austin Rover formerly British Leyland as Britain's second-most popular carmaker. The arrival of the Nova also spelled the end of the Chevette in after nearly a decade in production. The Astra further strengthened its position in the market with an all-new model in the autumn of , featuring an aerodynamic design reminiscent of Ford's larger Sierra.

From the spring of , the Vauxhall Nova was also available as a four-door saloon and five-door hatchback. In January , Vauxhall launched the Belmont , a saloon version of the Astra, which offered more interior space and was almost as big as a Cavalier. However, this car failed to reach Vauxhall's expectations in terms of sales, and from was rebadged the Astra Belmont.

Vauxhall won another "European Car of the Year" award with its all-new Vauxhall Carlton , a rebadged Opel-built vehicle and badged Opel Omega in the rest of Europe, sealing the award for A year after the launch of the MK2 Carlton, Vauxhall revitalised its flagship Senator to create a new-generation luxury saloon.

The Luton-built Cavalier Mk3 sold as the Opel Vectra in Ireland and mainland Europe entered its third generation in with an all-new sleek design that further enhanced its popularity. Falling between the Cavalier and Senator was the Opel-built Carlton Opel Rekord and later Opel Omega elsewhere — relaunched in , and was voted European Car of the Year , a large four-door family saloon. Most importantly, the latest generation of Vauxhall models dispelled the image of rusting cars that had for so long put potential buyers off the Vauxhall brand, and given it a strong competitor in all the major market sectors, whereas during the first half of the s, only the Viva was a serious threat to any of its key rivals.

At the end of the s, General Motors had decided to restrict the Opel brand on the UK market to sporting models, and with the success and wide range choice of the new Vauxhall products of the early s, the Manta was the only Opel-badged car being imported to the UK by the end of When the Manta was finally discontinued in , Opel models were no longer officially imported to the UK. Its successor, the Calibra, was badged as a Vauxhall on the UK market.

By , Vauxhall was preparing to launch the MK3 Astra, and its first 4X4 off-road vehicle, while a replacement for the Nova was also in development. In , Vauxhall's corporate headquarters were moved to Griffin House, formerly the company's design and testing building. Vauxhall joined forces with Isuzu to produce the Frontera , a four-wheel drive off-roader available in short- and long-wheelbase versions. In , the Cavalier was firmly re-established as Britain's most popular large family car, with more than , sales, while the third-generation Astra relaunched in with , sales was continuing to narrow the gap between itself and the best-selling Ford Escort.

The Astra was now joined by the Belmont, a four-door booted version of the Astra. The decade-old Nova was axed in , in favour of the all-new Corsa , adopting the European naming of the model; its distinctive styling and practical interior began attracting more sales than its predecessor had done. In , GM ceased production of Bedford Vehicles because their profits were decreasing over time. Bedford Vehicles had been Vauxhall's commercial vehicle arm, making successful vans, trucks, and lorries since the s.


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  • The last "true" Bedford light commercials — the Bedford HA and Bedford CF panel vans — had already ceased production in and , respectively, and had been replaced by licence-built versions of Isuzu and Suzuki vans such as the Midi and Rascal. Also in , the Vauxhall Carlton nameplate was abandoned after 16 years, and Omega took its place, becoming the first model to feature the new corporate "V" grille. Vauxhall also added another vehicle to its four-wheel drive line-up in the shape of the Isuzu-based Monterey.

    The Cavalier nameplate was axed in after 20 years, a full model after Opel had dropped its Ascona nameplate, Vauxhall adopting the common Vectra nameplate for its successor, completing a policy by General Motors that aligned and identically badged all Vauxhall and Opel models. Vectra received disappointing feedback from the motoring public, and several well-known journalists, most notably Jeremy Clarkson , yet it was still hugely popular, and for a while after the facelift, it was actually more popular than Ford's highly acclaimed Mondeo.

    The Astra entered its fourth generation in , and offered levels of build quality and handling that were better than all of its predecessors. In , the seven-seater compact MPV Zafira , based on the Astra chassis, went on sale and the Vauxhall Monterey was withdrawn from sale in the UK, although it continued to sell in the rest of Europe as an Opel.

    In the late s, Vauxhall received criticism in several high-profile car surveys. In , a Top Gear customer-satisfaction survey condemned the Vauxhall Vectra as the least satisfying car to own in Britain. A year later, the Vauxhall marque was ranked last by the same magazine's customer-satisfaction survey. The Vauxhall range received particular criticism for breakdowns, build-quality problems, and many other maladies, which meant that quality did not reflect sales success. Nevertheless, Vauxhall was competing strongly in the sales charts, and by was closer to Ford in terms of sales figures than it had been in years.

    In , Vauxhall entered the sports car market with the Lotus -based VX roadster. The new Agila city car and a second-generation Corsa supermini also went on sale. On 12 December , Vauxhall announced that car production at its Luton plant would cease in , with the final vehicle being made in March following the end of production of the Vectra B and production of its replacement moving to Ellesmere Port alongside the Astra. On 17 May , Vauxhall announced the loss of jobs from Ellesmere Port's 3, staff, part of significant worldwide staff reductions by GM.

    In , the all-new Vectra went on sale, alongside a large hatchback badged as the Signum , which arrived the following year. The year was one of the best ever for Vauxhall sales in the UK. The Corsa was Britain's second-most popular new car, and gave the marque top spot in the British supermini car sales charts for the first time. The Astra was Britain's third-best selling car that year, while the Vectra and the Zafira a compact MPV launched in were just outside the top The second-generation Vectra was launched in and was further improved over earlier Vectras, but was still hardly a class-leader, and now had to be content with lower sales due to a fall in popularity of D-sector cars, although a facelift in sparked a rise in sales.

    In , Vauxhall Omega production ended after nine years, with no direct replacement, while the Meriva mini-MPV was launched. Perhaps the most important Vauxhall product of the s so far is the fifth-generation Astra, launched in early , and praised by the motoring press for its dramatic styling. It was an instant hit with British buyers, and was the nation's second-best selling car in and , giving the Ford Focus its strongest competitor yet.

    The Vauxhall Viva is a city-friendly car with a good level of standard equipment

    Many police forces across the United Kingdom adopted the Astra as the standard patrol vehicle panda car. Also in , production of the Frontera ended after 13 years, with no direct replacement. The second-generation Corsa had been Britain's most popular supermini for most of its production life, but by , it had started to fall behind the best of its competitors, so an all-new model was launched.

    This Corsa sold far better than either of the previous Corsas, and it was an instant hit with buyers. Also in , the second-generation Zafira was the 10th-best selling car in the UK, the first time that an MPV had featured in the top 10 in Britain.

    Overall verdict

    In , Vauxhall's new 4x4, the Vauxhall Antara , was released in July. In , Vauxhall began rebranding with a modified corporate logo. Vauxhall launched the new Agila city car. On 30 May , a deal was announced that was to lead to the spin-off of the Vauxhall and Opel brands into a new company.

    By then, the sale of Vauxhall and its German sister subsidiary, Opel, was being negotiated as part of a strategy driven by the German government to ring fence the businesses from any General Motors asset liquidation. In , the new Vauxhall Movano was launched and a new Meriva launched at Geneva Motor Show went on sale in mid It won the "European Car of the Year".

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    A new Vauxhall Combo went on sale in late and a facelifted Corsa went on sale in early In , the Vauxhall Adam city car was launched at the Paris Motor Show in late , with sales beginning in early In December , safety officials asked Vauxhall to initiate a full safety recall of the Zafira B model, due to a worrying level of "improper repairs"'. The historic Adam Opel GmbH remains property of GM with the sole purpose of paying out the factory pensions of the former Opel workers who left up to 31 July These vehicles are high-performance machines, and are ideally aimed for younger buyers.

    However, the model never got to the showroom in the United Kingdom. The Monaro two-door design is also no longer made, but a new version a four-door saloon is now on sale as the VXR8. The VXR badge is a symbol of the combined technological resources of the global General Motors group, and the recognised expertise of consultants Lotus and the Triple Eight Racing Team. The VXR brand has been ushered into hiatus by the purchase of the Vauxhall brand by PSA Groupe, all models listed within the table have been discontinued. General Motors began to merge the product lines of Vauxhall and Opel in the early s, largely in favour of Opel products.

    The HA Viva was developed under some secrecy and exhibited remarkable similarities with the Opel Kadett released a year previously, while the FE Victor was essentially the first overt exponent of this strategy, sharing its platform and several body fittings with the Opel Rekord D , although it still retained Vauxhall-designed running gear and had no interchangeable body panels. By the end of the s most Vauxhalls were based on Opel designs.

    The Chevette , Cavalier and Carlton were restyled versions of the Kadett , Ascona and Rekord respectively, all featuring the distinctive sloping 'Droopsnoot' front end first prototyped on the HPF Firenza , with Vauxhall engines preserved in the form of the Viva-sourced unit fitted to the Chevette and Cavalier, and the much larger cc slant-four for the homologation-special Chevette HS.

    These were also sold in left hand drive in continental European markets, including the Netherlands , [37] Belgium , the Scandinavian countries, Italy and Portugal , in competition with their Opel counterparts. The original Astra , launched in , set the eventual precedent for all GM Europe vehicles from that point onward — apart from the badging it had no styling or engineering difference from its Opel sister — the Kadett D. In the late '70s and early '80s, GM dealers in Ireland and in the United Kingdom sold highly similar Opel and Vauxhall models alongside each other.

    This policy of duplication was phased out, when the Vauxhall and Opel dealer networks were merged and rebranded as Vauxhall-Opel in , and most of the Opel range was discontinued in the United Kingdom in favour of their Vauxhall badged equivalents. However, this strategy was gradually abandoned - the Senator reverted to being badged as a Vauxhall for the model year, and the Opel Monza disappeared at the end of , whilst the Manta was withdrawn in In New Zealand, the brand was withdrawn in favour of Holden after the demise of the Chevette.

    GM Europe then began to standardise model names across both brands in the early s. Apart from the VX, sold by Opel as the Speedster, all of Vauxhall's subsequent models have had the same names as those of Opel. However, the Viva revives earlier practice due to its Opel equivalent, the Karl, intentionally invoking Karl Opel, the second proprietor of the Opel business. Despite this, the Adam, named after his father and the founder of the company, is sold in Britain without a name change, potentially as it appears less overtly German.

    From , Vauxhall models differed from Opels in their distinctive grille — featuring a "V", incorporating the Vauxhall badge. The "V" grille was not, however, used on the Vectra-replacing Insignia , unveiled in and the Vauxhall Astra and the Vauxhall Meriva.

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    All the above, plus the US Saturn brand up to its demise in , used the same grille bar with the "V" almost entirely muted out. These bars all carried identical badge mounts, enabling brand badges to be readily interchangeable. The Opel-badged versions in right-hand drive form still however find their way into the United Kingdom; either as grey imports from Ireland or Malta, or are sold as new from car supermarkets who have sourced Irish specification vehicles in bulk.

    Imports of this vehicle were limited to 15, to avoid additional safety testing. The bodywork for the Holden Camira estate was used for the Vauxhall Cavalier estate in the UK though not for the identical Opel Ascona in the rest of Europe — conversely the rear bodywork of the T-car Vauxhall Chevette estate and Bedford Chevanne van was used for the respective Holden Gemini versions.

    Vauxhall's compact car, the Viva , formed the basis of the first Holden Torana in Australia in the s. Vauxhall is headquartered in Luton, Bedfordshire, and has major manufacturing facilities in Luton commercial vehicles, owned by sister company IBC Vehicles and Ellesmere Port , the United Kingdom passenger cars.

    The Luton plant currently employs around staff and has a capacity of approximately , units. The Ellesmere Port plant currently employs around 1, staff and has a capacity of approximately , units. From to Vauxhall operated a truck and bus vehicle assembly plant in Dunstable , Bedfordshire. Developed and opened by Vauxhall in under instruction from the Ministry of Production as a shadow factory , it became a production site for Bedford Vehicles in the s.

    Vauxhall's original car plant in Luton stood next to the commercial vehicle plant. After production ceased there in , the plant was demolished and, after several proposals for redevelopment, permission was granted for the site to be redeveloped as the Napier Park in January By marriage, he also gained the rights to an area near London, south of the Thames. The house he built, Fulk's Hall, became known in time as Vauxhall.

    Terms and Conditions. Only available on 4. Other deposit contributions may be available if you do not have a vehicle to trade in. Conditional Sale: month term. At the end of the PCP agreement there are three options: i Pay the optional final payment to own the vehicle, ii Return the vehicle, or iii Replace: Part Exchange the vehicle where equity is available. Offers subject to availability on selected models at Participating Retailers only.

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    Finance subject to status. Finance by Vauxhall Finance. CF15 7YT. Offers apply to private individuals, Vauxhall Partners and small businesses units. Orders and registrations from 7 October to 26 November Vauxhall Motors Limited reserves the right to change, amend or withdraw this offer at any point in time. Conditional Sale. Offer applies to private individuals, Vauxhall Partners and small businesses vehicles. Orders from 4 October and registrations to 5 December Griffin Terms and Conditions.

    Participating Retailers, subject to availability and status. Figures are based on a non-maintenance contract. Excess mileage chargeable. You will not own the car. Participating Retailers only. Limited stock availability. Colours and model variants for Griffin special edition subject to availability. Price inclusive of optional extras: Brilliant Paint.

    The Vauxhall VIVA Overview

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