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Vauxhall VX220

Vauxhall VX220 Published: 11th Jan 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Vauxhall VX220
Vauxhall VX220
Vauxhall VX220
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Think of the Lotus Elite under another badge and you’re almost right but this Vauxhall is also arguably the better classic. And cheaper!

On the face of it, why would you own a Vauxhall over a Lotus and an Elise at that? Simple, those truly in the know will quietly tell you that Luton’s VX220 is quite possibly the better car as well as being more exclusive. The VX is based upon the revised S2 Elise and also built at Hethel albeit with potent Astra engines. Elise specialists will admit that the Vauxhall is a mighty fine car that’s a bit better equipped (airbags and carpets) and blisteringly fast in Turbo guise plus, as it’s a Vauxhall, can be serviced and repaired at main dealerships a less cost than a Lotus one.

Badge snobbery, being what it is, will always have the Elise head and shoulders above the VX220 and that may well be – but the Vauxhall will always be the more exclusive as only 1214 were made plus now the company has recently dropped the respected VX brand label, this is already causing values to markedly rise; at the recent NEC Silverstone Auctions a mint example wore a reserve of up to £18,000 so the gap between these pair of super sportsters seems to be rapidly closing. If the VX follows the values of the Lotus (Vauxhall) Carlton saloon then buying any VX220 could be one of your wisest long term purchases.

Dates to remember

1999

With GM bankrolling Lotus, a deal was struck to use the new S2 Elise for its own means and the Opel Speedster concept was first shown that also became the VX220 with a Vauxhall badge.

2000

Production begins; essentially car is S2 Elise with a revised body, a slightly longer wheelbase, larger tyres, plus uses the mild 2.2-litre Astra SRi engine, good for 145bhp in standard tune. Spec differs from Elise by way of carpeting, a driver’s air bag and ABS.

2001

Special edition Lightning Yellow model offered.

2003

Turbo (VXT) has 2-litre Astra engine but turbocharged liberating 197bhp.

2004

Base 2.2 model dropped and limited run of 60 hard core, lightened VXR220 cars sees out the production run.

Buying advice

Although at first glance the VX220 appears to be just a rebodied Elise, it’s said that around 10 per cent of the car was shared – the chassis is substantially modified and spares and repairs may prove especially difficult over time – headlights are now a prime example, costing some £1000.

Check the chassis frame carefully; lift out the carpet to check for both corrosion and evidence of past accidents and repairs. Like the Elise, clam shell damage is a worry as parts are not so prevalent, ditto chassis – speak to an owners’ club and experts like lotushardtops.com.

There’s been a handful of recalls (brakes, wheels and airbag); see that they have been done. The Vauxhall engine is far stronger than the K-Series and only timing chain issues (2.2) are major concern. As per the Elise, running gear condition is dictated by type of use and abuse; check for a sloppy feeling donating worn dampers, poor springs (and any deteriorating spring mounts) bushes and poor braking. As the VX220 was subject to a recall concerning the rear hubs, pay special attention here. Leaky roofs are pretty common so look for damaged trim and so on.

What makes this classic so special to drive and own in 2019?

Any car, no matter what badge it bares, is going to be a mind blowing if it’s Elise-based. The Lotus turns in a little crisper than the Vauxhall, but frankly, on the road there’s very little in it. What’s more of a surprise is that, despite its sporty feel, the VX also has a better ride; by comparison, the Lotus feels quite a bit firmer in most situations and edgier when approaching the limit while the VX220 is that bit friendlier. If anything the Astra engines are preferred with their added torque. The 197bhp Turbo is blistering, the 2.2-litre is not far behind and it’s easier to live with.

Best buys & prices

To far too many enthusiasts it’s as simple as wanting a car that was associated with Formula One winners rather than the local sales rep, but to others, the anonymity of the Griffin badge will become a point worth making over a Lotus. You’re looking at comfortably over £10,000 for the best examples, with fair-to-good alternatives pitched around the £8000 mark and typically, a Turbo can be worth as much as half again over a normal VX220 and it won’t belong before the VXR make a cool £30,000 if it’s unblemished.

From £7500 target price £9500



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