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Vauxhall Reviews

Vauxhall built its first car in 1903. It was the first foray into car manufacture by the Vauxhall Ironworks, and the company specialised in mostly sports and touring cars, becoming known as Vauxhall Motors in 1907. However, the takeover by General Motors in 1925 as part of its European expansion saw it head more profitably for the mass market that was starting to grow during the inter-war years.

In 1932 the milestone Cadet became the first British car with  a synchromesh gearbox. another first came in 1938 with unitary construction for the Vauxhall 10. Subsequent rationalisation gradually pushed Vauxhall closer to its German counterpart Opel and, after Viva production ended in 1979, all subsequent new Vauxhalls were in effect little more than rebadged Opels.

Good: Great to drive with both excellent performance and roadholding
Bad: Rust was a big killer, as was camshaft failure in the Family II engines, it was the beginning of the end for an autonomous Vauxhall
Good: Brilliant handling, nice gearbox, fast acceleration - a proper hot hatch
Bad: Too few are left, rust, heavy steering, low seating position
Good: Fast and smooth, 16V has epic performance
Bad: Road manners not as good as they might be, scruffy handling in 16V form, hard to see out of, still has a 'yob' image
Good: Strong engines and comfortable ride. Power steering on all models from 1995. Estate was the most practical in its class when new.
Bad: Poor front-end grip in corners. Saloons are just plain ugly. Worn suspension. Engines aren't immune from problems.
Good: Decent, honest family car. Estates particularly well equipped and thought out.
Bad: Nondescript looks. Petrol engines are designed to use oil, so this needs regularly checking.
Good: Cavalier in a sharp-looking designer suit, practical four-seat coupe with some good engines and a decent-sized boot
Bad: Short of front-end grip, poor rear visibility, bulkhead can crack around the steering rack mountings
Good: Great steering and RWD handling, plenty of performance, capable of 150mph in 24V form
Bad: Styling didn't age well, still suffers from an unfortunate image
Good: Honest, solid, big saloons and estates capable of high mileage. Good rear-drive handling and comfortable ride
Bad: Getting old now and they look it. Baulky manual gearboxes. Lacklustre diesels. Beware of clocked cars.
Good: Big and roomy, late injected models also fast and fun to drive
Bad: Rare, parts proving a problem to find, specialist support almost non-existent
Good: All the good points of the Cavalier, but even more stylish, and practical in Sportshatch form with a large opening hatchback
Bad: Rust, rarity and lack of street cred compared with the Capri
Good: Good ride/handling balance, 2.0-litre version fast and reasonably frugal, roomy for four, good visibility
Bad: Awful driving position, so-so steering and gearchange
Good: Eager engines and all have great performance, roomy, useful hatchback, a real nostalgia trip for 1980s fans
Bad: Rust and crust, and only the absolute best worth any money
Good: Fast, sharp dynamics, eager engines
Bad: Creaky interior, a bit cramped, low driving position and heavy steering don't suit all.
Good: Tough engines, sturdy interiors, great driving position, huge nostalgia factor - as long as it's a nice example
Bad: Ride and handling have not stood the test of time
Good: Great steering and handling, available with a variety of body styles, cheap to run and insure
Bad: Rust and low values mean there are some very neglected examples out there.
Good: Brilliant handling, great steering, accurate gearbox, chunky styling and rally winning kudos
Bad: Runs lumpy in town
Good: Simple, practical supermini. Good engines. Cheap to buy and run. Generally reliable. Plenty of choice.
Bad: Unremarkable drive. Premature wear on the front suspension.
Good: Six-seater with front bench, effortless performance from 3.3-litres, cool breeze-block styling.
Bad: Heavy appetite for fuel, a bit cumbersome
Good: Interesting Capri alternative, with one or two advantages, still excellent value for money too.
Bad: Parts can be scarce, restoration is not economically viable unless DIY
Good: Quick, quirky, and great fun to drive
Bad: Hard to find, and difficult to repair
Good: Monstrous performance, brooding presence on the road, relatively straightforward to maintain for a supercar-slayer, good value for money at current prices
Bad: Many tired and abused examples out there, the interior doesn't feel as special as a BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz AMG's
Good: Very quick, especially for the money, and plenty of equipment. Rear-drive handling to thrill any enthusiast. The 6.0 VXR is a beaut, mate.
Bad: Uninspiring looks for such a fast coupe. Problems with some 5.7-litre engines.
Good: Still readily available, easy to service, surprisingly tough
Bad: Unloved, aside from the fast ones
Good: Comfortable, well-equipped, big cruiser with balanced rear-drive handling. Improved throughout its life so later ones are better.
Bad: General and wide-ranging reliability problems. Heavy oil consumption on 2.2 DI. Faults like heater matrix failure and transmission heat exchanger failure make the car an economic write-off.
Good: Great driving position, characterful interiors, fast in injected form
Bad: Heavy on fuel, rusty, not a cool choice
Good: Spacious, easy performance in 3.0-litre form, CD models come with a very cool digital dashboard
Bad: It's a bit of a velour overload inside, structural corrosion took most of them, rare and difficult to find parts for now
Good: Huge and airy inside, fast in 24V form, good handling considering bulk, consumate long distance machine
Bad: Heavy on fuel and consumables such as tyres and dampers, lacking image, not everyone likes the digital dashboard
Good: Comfortable family car that's well suited to motorway life. Cheap to buy and run. Sports models now have a decent classic interest.
Bad: Stolid handling, especially on early cars. A few reliability concerns. Rust. Some repairs will rack up a surprisingly high labour bill.
Good: Cool USA-inspired styling, survivors will have been restored by now, smooth six-cylinder engine
Bad: Thirsty, and sluggish considering its 2.3-litre engine
Good: Teddy-boy styling has a firm following, huge inside, and a lot of fun to be seen in
Bad: Steering and handling vague and wallowy, high fuel consumption
Good: More subtle than the Cresta PA, easy straight-six performance
Bad: Less appealing than the Cresta PA
Good: Good, solid classic car with lots of nostalgic appeal without the Americana of older Vauxhalls, surprisingly good to drive
Bad: Still not quick, and rusty examples are still out there
Good: Larger and more accommodating than the Victor FB, improved ride and handling, more performance
Bad: Slightly lacking in charisma, and corrosion has killed them almost to extiction
Good: Excellent to drive but largely ignored, higher powered models genuinely fun to drive
Bad: Entry level cars over-bodied and underpowered, rust and neglect
Good: Great styling, bench seats if you want them, nice handling and engines
Bad: Entry level models were underpowered and looked over-bodied
Good: Quicker than a standard Viva HB
Bad: Expectations were probably a bit high as a result of the racer's name attached to it
Good: Small, economical, and good to drive
Bad: Lacked the flair of a Ford Anglia 105E or Triumph Herald
Good: More grown-up and stylish than the Viva HA but just as practical and economical, new suspension meant excellent handling
Bad: Still and bit 'tinny' and rusty compared with much of the opposition
Good: Cheap to run, easy to service, very capable of turning to daily duties without too much pain
Bad: There are still rusty and neglected examples out there, be careful when buying
Good: Lotus Elise-based sports car with stronger engines, better equipment and more forgiving handling. A hoot to drive.
Bad: Some sellers asking overly optimistic prices. Patchy build quality. Beware of track day damage.
Good: Like a Victor FB, only quicker - and cooler, a bargain at current values
Bad: The usual period Vauxhall caveats about rust and technical support
Good: Cool Trans-Atlantic looks, good to drive with nice ride and handling
Bad: Rust was a big problem when nearly new, always check quality of restoration work, glacially slow