British Vauxhall enthusiasts have voted the Lotus Carlton super-saloon their favourite Vauxhall in a poll run by website, vauxhalldriverscentre.co.uk
The site editors collated votes from 630 owners in the month-long poll which put the 282km/h (176mph) Lotus Carlton in first place, ahead of the Calibra coupe and Cavalier sedan/hatch.
If the Carlton’s lines remind you of a Holden Commodore, it’s no accident. Both brands drew on General Motors’ German division for their large cars’ body styling.
The Lotus Carlton was the fastest four-door production car in the world when Vauxhall launched it in 1989, and its twin-turbo 377bhp engine powered it to100km/h in 5.4 seconds.
In the same poll, fans voted the re-badged Holden Monaro the best Vauxhall of the last five years. It went on sale in Britain as a 5.7-litre and got a 6.0-litre the following year.
The Chevrolet Corvette 6.0 V8 made the Monaro VXR the fastest Vauxhall ever with a top speed higher than 295km/h.
The Calibra coupe was based on the Cavalier sedan and debuted in 1989. Four-wheel drive and turbocharging were added later. Holden marketed the car here in limited numbers.
Vauxhall is General Motors’ British arm with a range based chiefly on Opel-developed cars.
Vauxhalls were sold in New Zealand until the early 1980s, and a Vauxhall nameplate – Viva – lives on in the current Holden range.
Notable Vauxhalls sold in New Zealand included the Velox, Cresta and Victor, the last-mentioned spawning one of the first locally-marketed muscle cars, the Victor 3.3, which used the Cresta’s six-cylinder engine and offered a top speed higher than 180km/h.
Vauxhalls were raced extensively in New Zealand in long-distance production car events like the Wills Six Hours and Benson and Hedges 500. Among drivers who raced them were Auckland car magnate and A1GP team owner, Colin Giltrap.
Highly modified Vauxhalls were raced by star drivers including Alan Boyle with the Coca-Cola Viva (based on the HB Viva road car whose bodywork was nicknamed globally as Coke Bottle), and Jack Nazer.
Nazer’s racer was the fearsome Vauxhall Victorious, based on a Victor four-door saloon fitted with a large V8.
Vauxhalls are still active in historic rallying in New Zealand, with John Kershaw alternately fielding a Viva or Chevette.
Vauxhall’s truck brand, Bedford, was a mainstay of the NZ trucking industry from the 1930s through the 1960s. The NZ Army ran a fleet of rugged four-wheel drive Bedford RLs.
Bedford’s van, the CF, did battle with the Ford Transit in the 1970s and 1980s.
In Britain, Vauxhall shoehorned the CF’s OHC 2.3-litre four into the Viva sedan to create the high-performance Magnum 2.3, and also used it in the good-looking Viva two-door fastback coupe, the Firenza.
The Vauxhall Drivers’ Centre website offers owners and fans on-line technical support, special offers, event information and plenty of information about the Vauxhall brand.
Photo captions: Vauxhall’s Carlton; and the Carlton and the Monaro race neck and neck; sleek and stylish Calibra coupe.