Vauxhall Motors (not to be confused with the district of South-West London in the borough of Lambeth, Vauxhall) was founded in 1857 by Scottish marine engineer Alexander Wilson under the name of Alex Wilson and Company, then Vauxhall Iron Works from 1897. They originally built pumps and marine engines but produced the first Vauxhall car in 1903.
The company continued to trade under the name Vauxhall Iron Works until 1907, when they adopted the name of Vauxhall Motors for the successful A09 and subsequent Vauxhall A-Type models. However, demand for expensive pedigree cars fell dramatically after World War 1, and the company looked for a strategic partner to refocus the company.
In 1925, Vauxhall was bought by the General Motors Corporation who gently but firmly changed the company’s reputation to that of an affordable mass-producer of practical cars. With the American giant’s oversight and knowledge of mass-production methods, manufacturing of Vauxhall tyres and parts grew considerably in the next 5 years.
Low-cost cars – such as the Vauxhall Cadet – increasingly came to represent the company’s line-up, and General Motors subsequently tried to lower production costs by moving away from Britain and towards Germany. Because the British factories were suffering from declining build quality and increasingly militant union action, Germany was fast becoming the more desirable base of operations, with most production of Vauxhall tyres and parts being shifted to the German Opel’s facilities. Most Vauxhall cars are currently engineered in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and are essentially German Opel cars with a different badge, making the current state of Vauxhall a rather disheartening ‘living death’ of a once resplendent British brand.
However, trading old-fashioned British luxury for efficient German engineering has produced a champion range of hot hatches and work vans that have served young motor heads and builders the world over. We recommend standard factory-fitted Vauxhall tyres on most models to tackle the suburban landscape, from the plains of supermarket car parks to the jungles of estates.