Vauxhall Heritage Centre nostalgic trip down memory lane

A 1926 Vauxhall OE-Type 30/98 Velox Tourer, the first car to achieve 100mph in the UK.

A 1926 Vauxhall OE-Type 30/98 Velox Tourer, the first car to achieve 100mph in the UK. - Credit: Andy Russell

Vauxhall Heritage Centre is home to the world's biggest private collection of classic Vauxhalls. Motoring editor Andy Russell enjoys a trip back in time.

Vauxhall is proud of its heritage as the oldest surviving car manufacturer in the UK.

It's been in the UK for 113 years – 111 of them at Luton – and its history comes to life at the Vauxhall Heritage Centre, home to the world's biggest private collection of classic Vauxhalls, a stone's throw from its headquarters in the town.

Simon Hucknall, Vauxhall PR manager for product and heritage, said: 'Brand is really, really important to us.'

He explained that the collection was pretty much unrivalled in the UK with the 70 vehicles – from head-turning concepts to humble vans and family holdalls – telling the story of the griffin-badged brand.

The comprehensive timeline of motoring milestones through history goes from its first model – a 1903 two-seater, single cylinder car – through veteran, vintage and post-war Vauxhalls to modern times and takes in a few concepts on the way.

One of the stars is a 1926 Vauxhall OE-Type 30/98 Velox Tourer, the first car to achieve 100mph in the UK and now worth more than £300,000.

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The collection really is a nostalgic trip down memory lane with pre first world war Band C-Types rubbing fenders with Big Sixes and Ten-Fours from the Thirties and a host of Victors, Vivas, Viscounts, Ventoras and Crestas from the Sixties and Seventies before coming more up to date with Astras, Cavaliers, Chevettes and Novas from the Eighties, then right up to more modern models including Corsa, Vectra and Frontera from the Nineties and Noughties.

It's a showroom where you'll find a humble little Nova supermini alongside the awesome 377bhp Vauxhall Lotus Carlton saloon.

It also includes a number of unique concept cars including the stunning VX Lightning, first shown in 2003 as a potential replacement for the VX220, which was based on the Lotus Elise chassis. Unfortunately the car never made it into production with the cost of engineering versus the projected sales volumes making it unfeasible.

Some models are loaned out to other museums, including the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, but the heritage vehicles are a working collection with two-thirds of them fully roadworthy, making appearances at various motoring events, with a team of three dedicated to their care and restoration.

Since 1993, the heritage centre has opened its doors to the general public for one day each year giving visitors to opportunity to view classic Vauxhall models free of charge.

The date of this year's event has yet to be announced but making a date for a trip back in time.

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