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17 Sep 2013
Rob Griffin Rob Griffin

The best and worst Vauxhall cars ever made


Here are some of the best and worst creations that have rolled off Vauxhall's production lines over the past 100 years.

collage of three Vauxhall cars

The best Vauxhall cars ever made

1. Chevette

Vauxhall chevette

The Chevette was a supermini made from 1975 to 1984.

It was arguably the car that turned everything around for Vauxhall and helped shake off its unenviable reputation for producing rust-prone machines.

This is something that had dogged the manufacturer for the best part of two decades.

It was introduced to the car buying public with a television add featuring a catchy tune and jingle proclaiming: "It’s whatever you want it to be."

This was actually a fair point. Its versatility and stylish good looks made it hugely popular and introduced a new generation of potential buyers to the Vauxhall marque.

2. Astra

Vauxhall astra

The Astra name has been around for more than 30 years but the latest model to bear its name is a stunning machine and seen as a viable rival to Ford’s Focus.

Top Gear even branded it as "perhaps the best Astra ever".

Available in a variety of options, the Vauxhall Astra has sleek, sporty lines and a well-designed interior – in contrast to the rather bare and basic look of the past.

With its punchy performance it’s fair to say this Astra is no longer a dull company runaround.

3. Zafira

Vauxhall Zafira

The Zafira may not have been enough to take your breath away when it first arrived around at the tail end of the 1990s.

But this family transporter actually warrants its place among the most important Vauxhalls ever made, according to motoring author Giles Chapman.

"It was the first seven-seater compact MPV where the seats would properly fold into the floor," he says.

"It was also based on the Vauxhall Astra so you knew it was going to be pretty bullet proof."

The worst Vauxhall cars ever made

1. 1957 Victor F Type

Vauxhall Victor

Despite its American styling and lavish amounts of chrome – quite radical as far as affordable British family cars were concerned – this car was a disaster, recalls Chapman, author of The Worst Cars Ever Sold.

"It set the Vauxhall cause back enormously through the 1960s because it was such a rust bucket," he says.

"The inner body tended to trap a lot of rain water and, as it wasn’t very rust proof, it just rotted."

Although thousands were shipped overseas its popularity didn’t last.

"Its bad reputation meant it was only an export star for a brief time," adds Chapman.

"It was just poorly conceived and poorly designed."

2. 1995 Vectra

Vauxhall Vectra

The Vauxhall Vectra replaced the popular Cavalier in the UK but didn’t get off to the best of starts when it was savaged by Jeremy Clarkson in a six-minute long segment on Top Gear.

Clarkson described it as a "box on wheels" and "like road testing a microwave oven".

It was the dictionary definition of a boring, functional company car with a pretty cramped and unappealing interior.

While there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the Vectra, it did nothing to trigger excitement and was overshadowed by the Ford Mondeo at the time.

3. Belmont

Vauxhall belmont

It might be hard to believe but the Belmont can actually lay claim to being one of Britain's most regularly stolen cars.

In fact, a Home Office commissioned car theft index revealed it to be the car most at risk in 2005 with 76 stolen out of every 1,000.

First appearing in the mid-1980s, the Belmont was a saloon with a huge boot at a time when hatchbacks were the shape of choice.

Had they called it an Astra Saloon it may have been better received but its name reflected its styling - ugly.

Enjoyed this? Take a look at the history of the motor car decade by decade.

History of the car


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