‘NOBODY’s AskeD Us tO sCRAP A CALiBRA’
Vauxhall communications director, Denis Chick, talks classic cars with CCW
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.