The two-millionth Vauxhall rolls off the production line

Vauxhall Motors first came to Luton in 1905 and at one time 36,000 people worked at the Kimpton Road factory.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th August 2013, 5:00 pm
Charles Hill MP congratulates Vauxhall management
Charles Hill MP congratulates Vauxhall management

It used to be said that when Vauxhall sneezed, the whole town caught a cold.

Older Lutonians remember the company’s annual two-week summer holiday, known as the ‘Vauxhall fortnight’, when Luton temporarily became a ghost town.

Vauxhall was bought by General Motors in 1925 and shortly after the Second World War, the Wyvern and Velox models were introduced with more than a nod to contemporary American styling.

The Vauxhall Victor (1957) and the Cresta (1959) also turned heads as they were finished in bright two-colour schemes with fins on the boot and whitewall tyres.

In February 1959, the two-millionth car to be built at Luton rolled off the production line and VIPs were invited to celebrate the occasion with workers and management.

Among the guests was Dr Charles Hill, who had become MP for Luton as a Conservative and National Liberal in 1950.

He retained the seat in the 1951, 1955 and 1959 General Elections and in 1963 went to the House of Lords to become Lord Hill of Luton.

Vauxhall re-entered the small car market with the Viva in 1963, but ominously for Luton, it was built in a new factory at Ellesmere Port.

Luton’s lifeline was the 1975 Cavalier, which was later replaced by the Vectra.

Then the fateful announcement was made in December 2000 that the new Vectra would be made on Merseyside and that the car assembly line at Luton would close.