Former Vauxhall Luton boss celebrates 100th birthday

Samuel Price helped introduce the Mark II Cavalier

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 11:40 am

The man brought in to help turn an ailing Vauxhall Motors plant in Luton around in 1980, has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Samuel Price was brought in as plant director and helped launch the front-wheel drive Mark II Cavalier at the factory.

On Friday he celebrated his milestone birthday with family and friends.

Samuel Price in his younger days

"It was quite an occasion," said Samuel, who only gave up playing golf at the age of 99 after Covid closed the fairways. "It was wonderful and quite a lot of people were there, it was excellent."

He was born in Oldham in 1921 and after attending Oldham Grammar School trained as a toolmaker. During World War Two he worked in the munitions industry and did National Service in the RAF. He subsequently enjoyed a very successful career in the motor industry.

Samuel married his wife, Joan, in 1945. They met when she was 16 and he 18, and last year they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Sadly, Joan, died three months after their anniversary at the age of 97. They had three children Mark (75), Peter (72) and Jean, who was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in Luton in 1999.

After the war Samuel qualified in production engineering to Fellowship of the Institution. His career with General Motors started in 1960 at AC Delco in Liverpool and moved south in the 1960s to manage Frigidaire in Hendon.

Samuel Price with sons Mark and Peter

After four years at Frigidaire, he returned to Liverpool as plant manager of AC Delco in Kirkby where he made a great success of turning the plant around after it had suffered many difficult years.

He was then appointed manufacturing director on the boards of General Motors Limited and General Motors Ireland responsible for all car component manufacture in the UK and Ireland at plant locations in Dunstable, Hendon, Liverpool, Southampton and Dublin. He has also worked in China, Russia, Indonesia and Australia.

In 1980 he was became plant director to manage the ailing Vauxhall Motors site in Luton, After reorganisation he successfully introduced the Cavalier.

Samuel retired in 1984 and still lives in Harpenden.

The grandfather of six and great grandfather of nine said: "It's been a wonderful 100 years, I have been very productive in my career and I've got a very good family."

He retains his independence, and still drives his own car after regular reviews from the DVLA.

"I've retained all my faculties," he said. "I've taught myself to do my own ironing and shopping!"