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Vauxhall Chevette Gallery Pages

Vauxhall Chevette

In 1925, Vauxhall was bought by GM for US$2.5 million. The influence of the American parent was pervasive and together with the Ford Motor Company, Vauxhall's main competitor, led to a wave of American influenced styling in Europe that persisted through to the 1980s. Bedford Vehicles, a subsidiary constructing commercial vehicles, was established in 1930 as the Stock Market Crash of 1929 had made importing American lorries uneconomical. During World War II, car production was suspended to allow Vauxhall to work on the Churchill tank, which was designed at Luton in less than a year, and assembled there (as well as at other sites). Over 5,600 Churchill tanks were built. Post World War II After the war, car production resumed but models were designed as a more mass-market product leading to expansion of the company. A manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port was built in 1960. During the 1960s Vauxhall acquired a reputation for making rust-prone models, though in this respect most manufacturers were equally bad. The corrosion protection built into models was tightened up significantly, but the reputation dogged the company until the early 1980s. By the late 1960s, the company was achieving five-figure sales on its most popular models including the entry-level Viva and larger Victor. 1970s and 1980s Vauxhall's fortunes improved during the 1970s, with an updated version of the Viva continuing to sell in huge volumes. By 1973, however, the Victor was losing sales in a market that was becoming increasingly dominated by the hugely popular Ford Cortina. The Viva was still among the most popular cars in Britain, as a facelift in 1970 stopped the design from becoming too outdated. But this wasn't enough to keep Vauxhall from being well behind market leaders Ford and British Leyland in the sales charts, and most of its range was struggling even to keep pace with Chrysler UK (formerly the Rootes Group). Vauxhall's sales began to increase in 1975 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. By the end of the 1970s, Vauxhall had boosted its market share substantially and was fast closing in on Ford and British Leyland. At the end of 1979, Vauxhall moved into the modern family hatchback market with its Astra range that replaced the ageing Viva. The Astra quickly became popular with buyers, but the 1981 Mk2 Cavalier - the first Vauxhall of this size to offer front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle - was the car that really boosted Vauxhall's fortunes. The 1983 Nova supermini (replacement for the Chevette) completed Vauxhall's regeneration, and it soon overtook Austin Rover as Britain's second most popular carmaker. The Astra further strengthened its position in the market with an all-new 1984 model that featured an aerodynamic design reminiscent of Ford's larger Sierra. By 1979, Vauxhall had increased its market share substantially, but was still some way behind Ford and British Leyland, even though it had overtaken Talbot (the successor organisation to Rootes and Chrysler UK).

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