Vauxhall was founded by Alexander Wilson in 1857 as a maritime equipment manufacturer and began producing cars in 1903. Vauxhall was acquired by GM in 1925. Bedford was founded as a subsidiary of Vauxhall in 1930. After becoming a luxury car brand, Vauxhall turned into cheaper mass car brands at the end of World War II. Since 1980, Vauxhall cars have become very similar to cars from Opel, which is also a subsidiary of GM in Germany. Throughout its history, Vauxhall has been actively involved in the world of car racing, including at the British Touring Car Championship.
Vauxhall has two large factories in Luton and Ellesmere Port. The Luton plant employs around 900 people and has a production capacity of 100,000 units. While Ellesmere Port's factory employs around 1,880 people and has a production capacity of 187,000 units.
Alexander Wilson founded the company in Vauxhall, London in 1857. Originally named Alex Wilson and Company, and then turned into Vauxhall Iron Works in 1897, the company manufactures pumps and other maritime machines. In 1903, the company assembled its first car. Nearly 70 cars were assembled in the same year. One of the first 70 cars can still be seen at the London Science Museum in 1968.
To develop its business, Vauxhall moved its production to Luton in 1905. The company continued to do business under the name Vauxhall Iron Works until 1907, when the company changed its name to Vauxhall Motors.
The person who contributed most to Vauxhall's success in these early years was Laurence Pomeroy. He joined Vauxhall in 1906, at the age of 22, as assistant designer. In the winter of 1907, Pomeroy was then appointed by Percy Kidner, director of Vauxhall to design a car engine to use at the Scottish Reliability Trial, because the chief designer, FW Hodges was on vacation. The first Pomeroy design engine, Type Y, was very successful in the event with excellent capability in hill climbing, and easily devoured 200 miles (320 km) with an average speed of 46 mph (74 km/h), and maximum speed at 55 mph (89 km/h). Even this success made Pomeroy replace Hodges's position as chief designer. This type Y is then mass produced as Type A.