Vaux­hall com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, De­nis Chick, talks clas­sic cars with CCW

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - De­nis ChiCk, Vaux­hall com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rEc­tor

CCw Will the de­ci­sion by PSA – which owns Peu­geot and Citroën – to buy Vaux­hall have any im­pact on the man­u­fac­turer’s her­itage op­er­a­tions?

De­niS ChiCk I don’t think so. PSA is very brand-fo­cused, and Vaux­hall will ef­fec­tively be­come its fourth brand in the UK. The her­itage of Vaux­hall is very im­por­tant to the brand, and we’ll con­tinue to look af­ter and sup­ple­ment the line-up of cars we have. We’re still look­ing out for good ex­am­ples of clas­sics – there are a cou­ple of gaps in our 1950s models in par­tic­u­lar – and we’ll be adding the fi­nal VXR8 to the col­lec­tion later this year.

Can you forsee a sce­nario where Vaux­hall’s her­itage op­er­a­tion is look­ing af­ter 205 GTis as well as As­tra GTes?

I cer­tainly can’t! I know Peu­geot and Citroën have their own col­lec­tions of clas­sics, and that’s where they should stay – with the brands, where the mes­sages aren’t be­ing mixed up.

What can Vaux­hall do to sup­port the sup­ply of parts for its clas­sics?

You can still get lots of Vaux­hall com­po­nents, but get­ting body pan­els for cars like the Viva GT that we re­stored ear­lier this year can be dif­fi­cult. Jaguar Land Rover has made a big in­vest­ment in panel pro­duc­tion and tool­ing, but it’s not some­thing that Vaux­hall can cur­rently af­ford to do, and it’s not a core part of our op­er­a­tion. We don’t have the lux­ury of JLR’s money to in­vest in these things, but we would look to the clas­sic car in­dus­try and en­cour­age busi­nesses out there if there’s a de­mand. If you’re de­ter­mined enough you can of­ten find what you need – I was sur­prised by how much stock was at the Vaux­hall Bed­ford Opel As­so­ci­a­tion’s na­tional rally, for in­stance.

Vaux­hall her­itage is cel­e­brat­ing its 70th an­niver­sary this year. What chal­lenges do you think it will have to over­come to sur­vive an­other seven decades?

We’re very for­tu­nate to have ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grammes at Vaux­hall, in­clud­ing at the her­itage cen­tre. That’s the way to keep things go­ing – bring young peo­ple in, re­tain them, and fo­cus on them main­tain­ing those skills. Main­tain­ing these cars in 20 years’ time shouldn’t be any more dif­fi­cult than it is now, but the dif­fi­culty is what hap­pens to the elec­tron­ics and com­plex com­po­nents on to­day’s cars – will you be able to re­pair an ECU in 40 years’ time? I worry not for the clas­sics, but to­day’s cars.

Vaux­hall has given as­sur­ances to clas­sic own­ers con­cerned about its dealer-run scrap­page schemes. Would it make the same as­sur­ances should the Gov­ern­ment rein­tro­duce one?

We’re very care­ful when we come up with these pro­grammes that we know what we’re go­ing to be do­ing with the old car when it comes into us. If the Gov­ern­ment was to bring in an­other scheme and the cars came to our deal­ers we would have ex­actly the same process in place, and there’s no rea­son why we can’t watch out for the good cars com­ing through. I’d be sur­prised if the Gov­ern­ment does in­tro­duce an­other scheme – there are other in­cen­tives to get peo­ple into cleaner diesel cars, and I don’t think there’s the money in the sys­tem to jus­tify scrap­ping thou­sands of cars. There haven’t been many clas­sics com­ing through to us in the scrap­page pro­grammes we’ve been run­ning – they’re pri­mar­ily vol­ume cars, and we’ve never had the sit­u­a­tion where some­one’s asked us to scrap some­thing like a Calibra in or­der to get a dis­count on a new car.

But what about the in­fa­mous Mae­stro in the skip?

That was taken out very quickly when it was spot­ted! Those cars now are quite col­lectable be­cause there’s hardly any of them around now. I don’t think we’ll have a sit­u­a­tion where any­thing re­ally de­cent is go­ing to end up go­ing through the scrap­page sys­tem – if we do, we can catch it in the net early. Peo­ple in the clas­sic car move­ment are a lot more aware of the value of these cars now, and don’t put them through these pro­grammes.

Vaux­hall has 70 clas­sics in its her­itage col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing this 1969 Viva GT, which it re­stored last year.

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