Earlier this week EngageSportMode was lucky enough to be invited along to the Vauxhall Media Driving Day. With the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the Griffin’s finest – both new and old – we leapt at the chance and made our way down to Luton. We’ll have full reviews of the modern metal up shortly but in the mean time, here’s a flavour of the day in photo form:
If the above picture looks like a strange juxtaposition between old and new, that’s because it is. Along with all the new metal from the current Vauxhall line up, there was a selection of highlights from the Heritage Centre. If you’re unsure what the Heritage Centre is, essentially it’s a collection of cars (and vans) from Vauxhall’s origins all the way to present day. You won’t often see a Lotus Carlton, old school Nova SR and a 1918 Vauxhall D-Type under the same roof – but you will here. It’s well worth a visit if you can make it to one of the open days occasionally offered.
In between testing Vauxhall’s latest offerings, ESM got behind the wheel of these two classic models:
Vauxhall Chevette HS
Rear-wheel drive, dog-leg five-speed gearbox, no power steering and brakes that need a hefty shove to work. If you want a reminder of what performance cars used to be like, the Chevette HS is the one to go for. Made so the Vauxhall Dealer Team could go rallying back in the late 1970s, the Chevette HS is a loud – and slightly scary – trip down memory lane. 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds mean it’s still relatively quick by modern standards, with plenty of grip from those wide wheels. It’s just a little bit mental, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Vauxhall Mk3 Cavalier 2.5 V6 CDX
Some 15 years newer than the Chevette, but still two decades old now, the Mk3 Cavalier is probably the epitome of 1990s sales-rep motoring. Whilst it sounds like an obvious reference to make, the Cavalier really was the darling of the fleet world for a long time. However, you’d need to have exceeded all your sales targets to bag yourself a V6 CDX like this, with its wafty, smooth, 2.5 litre engine making 168 bhp and 169 lb-ft of torque. Although it’ll do 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds, really you just want to hang your jacket in the back window and cruise on down the motorway, probably listening to your R.E.M, or Blur, cassette tapes. We weirdly quite liked the Mk3 Cavalier, and could have happily driven it all the way home.
Hands up, we didn’t actually get to try the Lotus Carlton. Unfortunately, as is the risk with older performance machinery, it was out of action on Wednesday. Maybe it’s for the best as, even parked inside, it looks menacing! The legend of the Lotus Carlton has existed since it first rolled of the production line back in 1990, with a 3.6 litre turbocharged engine making 377 bhp. For reference, a Ferrari 348 tb of the same time made only 300 bhp, and had a top speed slower than the 176+ mph of the Carlton! One for next time, we hope.
As noted, we’ll have more detailed write ups on the new stuff, but here’s a quick photo summary for now:
A huge thank you to the guys at Vauxhall Media for letting us be part of it. Whilst many manufacturers have historic cars collections, most are hidden away in dusty warehouses and never used. It’s hard not to admire Vauxhall for letting what would be museum pieces for many, get used on open roads. For that we’re genuinely grateful – and fingers crossed the Lotus Carlton is working next time!