Fonthill Media /

By Tom Dare

A SERIES OF INCREDIBLE pictures charting the fascinating history of Britain’s oldest car manufacturer, Vauxhall, have been published as part of a new book about the company.

Images from ‘Vauxhall: Britain’s Oldest Car Maker’ by Ian Coomber show the first ever car produced by the company, back in 1903, as well as some of its more recent offerings.

To current eyes, the interior of the new works looks a health and safety nightmare. Belt-driven machinery was the order of the day. Skylights provided excellent lighting as the photograph attests. Fonthill Media /


Further images from the book highlight Vauxhall’s role in the war effort with a picture showing Winston Churchill examining a truck off the assembly line, while another shows TV personality Noel Edmunds testing out one of the racing models on a racing track.

Formed in 1897, the Vauxhall company first came about as Vauxhall Iron Works Company, created to run the bankrupt engineering business founded by Alexander Wilson in 1859.

Producing its first car in 1903, Vauxhall soon developed a reputation for producing sporting and luxury cars, and was eventually purchased by the American company General Motors in 1925.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Charles Bartlett in K-Block watching a MW truck on the K-Block line. Fonthill Media /


Author of the book, Ian Coomber, has been working for Vauxhall for the past 38 years, and has been with the company through thick and thin in that time.

And he says it’s nothing short of remarkable that the Vauxhall company has had the kind of longevity it has.

“Vauxhall Motors has been making cars in Britain for longer than anyone else,” he says.

A Dealer Opel Team (DOT) Opel Commodore GS/E driven by Radio 1 DJ Noel Edmunds. Fonthill Media /


“Today, there are over 3.5 million Vauxhalls on UK roads. Your chances of seeing one are better than one in ten, and the Vauxhall brand has become a household name.

“For a company to survive for more than eleven decades in the same business is a notable achievement, but to do so in the motor industry is remarkable.

“The journey has required innovation and adaptability as social and economic backgrounds have changed and the market for cars and commercial vehicles has changed with them. It has competed with some of the toughest businesses in the world and survived.

HA Vivas on the pilot line in EC-Block at Ellesmere Port. Fonthill Media /


“It has helped fight two world wars and given employment to thousands. Its history is rich in terms of the products, the people, and the effect it has had on the local and national economy.

“The journey from the Thames to today’s modern marketing and global manufacturing facilities is a bumpy one, so you had better fasten your seatbelts.

“It features a Plantagenet mercenary, a Victorian steam engineer, bedroom furniture, an early automotive design genius, an American corporate giant, a German bicycle manufacturer, a giraffe, and thousands of ‘Vauxhall people’ who created and nurtured their Vauxhall. This book is dedicated to them.”

Group photograph of Y-Block Tank Shop personnel as the suitably adorned last Churchill tank leaves the line. Fonthill Media /


‘Vauxhall: Britain’s Oldest Car Maker’ by Ian Coomber is published by Fonthill Media, and can be purchased here: