Lightning Strikes As Centenary Concept Demonstrates Vauxhall Renaissance

The VX Lightning
"Keep it simple, pure, and beautiful." The words of GM vice president Bob Lutz when launching the Solstice concept in the US.

This was the basic requirement for Vauxhall’s stunning new concept car, the VX Lightning.

Being launched as a centrepiece to the company’s Centenary celebrations, the VX Lightning is a two-seater roadster based on the same technical foundation as the Pontiac concept Solstice, first seen at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Vauxhall’s roadster concept, however, has been designed for British tastes, at GM’s UK Advanced Design Studio in the Midlands.

Under the long bonnet of the VX Lightning is a new version of Vauxhall’s all aluminium 2.2 ECOTEC engine, reworked with a supercharger to produce a maximum power of 240hp and 305Nm of torque.

A six-speed manual gearbox is mated to the new engine, which drives the rear wheels. The chassis incorporates independent suspension, the front end using a simple and reliable strut configuration with a rack and pinion steering.

At the rear, the independent suspension is all aluminium for weight saving. Overall, the car manages a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution for the best in handling and agility.

Kevin Wale, Vauxhall chairman and managing director says: "The VX Lightning says everything about where Vauxhall is heading. The car represents a return to our early performance roots when Vauxhall was famous as the manufacturer of the first true British sports car - while we continue to be both innovative and bold in exterior and interior design.

"We have made great strides recently in terms of our interior packaging through cars like Zafira and Signum. Vauxhall is also about pure driving excitement – just look at the new VX220 Turbo.

"Ultimately the VX Lightning, as a classic roadster, represents the best of our past, and our future – a vehicle that is quintessentially British."


Designed in the UK, the VX Lightning is a classically proportioned sports car with a long bonnet and short rear overhang.

There are also some subtle echoes of the past, including the rollover hoops sculptured into the rear deck and bodywork which flows down into the cabin.

Fitting for a car with the presence of the VX Lightning, it sits on 19inch alloy wheels at the front (fitted with 245/35 Michelin Pilot tyres) while at the rear massive 20 inch alloys are fitted with 255/35 tyres.

Inside, deeply sculptured seats are finished in black and red leather, while red leather has also been used to trim the sweeping dashboard.

There are currently no plans to build the VX Lightning concept, however Vauxhall will be closely monitoring public reaction to this great new car.

Published : 12/05/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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