VXR8 GTS, 2015, 46k, £47,990
We need to kick off with a Vauxhall-badged Holden. But we have. In fact, this VXR8 GTS isn’t the only one here - we couldn’t resist. The Aussie connection is such a perfect point of difference. By the end of the VXR8’s time in the UK, it had evolved into a very serious sports saloon, gaining forced induction, magnetic dampers, torque vectoring by braking and a Driver Preference Dial to adjust steering, sound, suspension, throttle response and so on. All while managing to retain the easygoing, roguish charm of the original 2008 model. Despite inevitable price rises, the GTS remained conspicuously good value too: here was a 585hp, M5-sized car for the price of an M3, just £54,999 in 2013. This 2015 automatic wears its 46,000 miles well; look elsewhere for the very best in exterior style and interior ambience, but that was never the point. The ‘R8s were stonkingly fast, sounded great, and drove really well - more than good enough for a hallowed place here.
Corsa VXR, 2016, 39k, £9,995
The current Vauxhall lineup misses something small and sporty in it. Too much fun has been had in various Novas and Corsas over the years (and perhaps Adams as well) to go without them. Even in the EV age - if Volkswagen can see the potential in a charged-up city car, surely Vauxhall can. An EVXR, perhaps, for what’s said to be a very good Corsa Electric. Until then, we’ll have to be content with the old scallywags; perhaps never the best in class dynamically, but good value and great fun - more than half the job done. There were innumerable Corsa VXRs over a decade on sale, some proper little tearaways with LSDs and Koni dampers; this one appeals with its Recaro seats and Remus exhaust for the 1.6-litre, 205hp turbo. And four-figure price, even with fewer than 40,000 miles. The only thing better than fast fun is fast, cheap fun…
VX220 Turbo, 2003, 26k, £21,950
Those who’ve already scrolled to the bottom will have noticed there’s only one Lotus-influenced, Griffin-badged car in this six. Some will say it’s incomplete without a Lotus Carlton, and while it’s perhaps the most well-known of all the performance Vauxhalls, the LC sort of exists on its own planet now - you could buy the majority of this list for the price of the best ones. So to celebrate Hethel's involvement in making Vauxhall great, we've gone with the VX220 instead - the car that saved the car that saved Lotus, still very tempting after more than 20 years. Vauxhall really did nail the design of its mid-engined two-seater, too, which must have been a surprise to everyone. The standard 2.2s remain, somehow, not very much money at all, though it’s the Turbo that’s most desirable, complete with 200hp and a bit of fizz to the soundtrack. The spec of this one is a little sombre, though it benefits from four new Michleins, a recent-ish cambelt and 12 months MOT. There are far less fun ways to spend £20k.
Zafira GSI, 2002, 131k, £5,000
That Vauxhall created a turbocharged, tyre-smoking, 140mph MPV is not the crazy thing; it’s the fact the Zafira GSI was followed up by more, the Zafira and Meriva VXR duking it out for the maddest MPV made. Clearly, there was demand for souped-up seven-seaters - or else Vauxhall just couldn’t resist. In these much more virtuous (and SUV-obsessed) times, it’s hard not to be won over by such a daft idea as the Astra GSI running gear in a van. Or you merely recall the Griff Rhys Jones adverts very fondly as well. Whatever, it’s nice to see a GSI that’s survived more than two decades of use with all its vitals intact (and not a single dubious modification added on). You’ll probably want some fresh rubber on those natty alloys to really make the most of 200hp, and the ad isn’t exactly bursting with detail, but we’re keen alright. How could you not be?
Monaro 6.0 VXR, 2006, 97k, Auction
Told you we weren’t done with the Aussie brutes. The Monaro preceded the VXR8, and charmed us puny pomms with its mix of V8 muscle, handsome good looks, lairy handling and competitive pricing - the original 5.7 was just £30k back in 2004. This isn’t a 5.7, however, it’s the later 6.0-litre VXR that pushed output beyond 400hp and the top speed to 180mph. It’s being sold via PH auctions next week, so there’s a tonne of pics and info to get stuck into, plus the additional benefit with this car of an upgraded LS7 clutch and Wortec exhaust. It needs a few parts refreshing as it nears 100,000 miles, but Monaros are relatively simple and generally tough - and there aren’t many cheaper ways of getting into a manual V8. None that look this good anyway or promise such riotous entertainment. It’s estimated at £10-£12,000 - bidding kicks off on Thursday…
Insignia VXR Supersport wagon, 2015, 60k, £14,995
To finish off, perhaps the rarest of them all. Not only is this an Insignia VXR, of which precious few sold because the UK loves a 3 Series too much, it’s an estate - the majority for sale are hatchbacks. In addition, it has the six-speed manual gearbox, again seldom seen as the auto was often optioned in. And to top it all off, this VXR is a Supersport, the model introduced in 2012 that unshackled the 2.8-litre turbo V6 from its limiter and offered up 170mph potential for £29,995. The good old days indeed. Still, that didn’t shift very many, especially in wagon format (truth be told, we thought it was hatch-only), so it’s quite an interesting find all these years on. You won’t want for kit or performance, and the old bus is arguably ageing better than the hatch or saloon. Only shame, really, is that it still commands something like half of that original bargain basement RRP…
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