Vauxhall Astra Coupe 888: Catch It While You Can


In the automotive industry, surprises are few and far between. So continuous (and often intentional) is the flow of leaks that spew forth that official announcements are more usually a confirmation these days, rather than a revelation.

But it's safe to say we all got probably the surprise of the year when news broke a few weeks back that GM was considering selling Opel and Vauxhall to Peugeot.


Does the news mean the end of the Vauxhall brand? Hopefully not. For one thing, there's the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods that depend on it in the UK. But for another, Vauxhall's come out with some pretty neat stuff in times past. And we'd like to see that continue.

"Come off it," we can hear you saying. "Vauxhall makes dreary repmobiles that it sells to fleets at a whacking great discount." Well, yes, it does. But then it also brought us the Monaro and the VX220, both cars that are ripe for the plucking now values have fallen.

But even more intriguing is this: the Astra Coupe 888. It was born of a collaboration between Vauxhall and the Triple Eight racing team, which at the time of the Coupe 888's conception ran Vauxhall's BTCC entry. It was built to commemorate Vauxhall's overall victory in the 2001 championship, and designed to be about as hardcore - and on reflection, as PHey - as any Vauxhall ever before it.


It was based on the Astra Coupé Turbo, itself something of an unsung hero; beneath its handsome, Bertone-styled body sat a 192hp 2.0-litre turbo, the very same used in the Mk4 Astra GSI, giving it enough punch for 0-60mph in 7.5sec. The downside was its handling, which was as you might expect from a late 1990s Vauxhall with a pokey turbo engine and front-wheel drive. Let's be kind, and call it a trifle unruly.

The 888, however, changed all that. The basic engine stayed much the same, admittedly, though tuning the Z20LET engine is pretty easy, so there are plenty of tuners out there who'll give you more go if that's what you want. But you did get Eibach springs and dampers and 17in OZ Racing alloy wheels, with wider tyres than the standard car.

It wasn't so much the hardware that made the difference as what was done with it, though. Triple Eight Engineering spent plenty of time fettling the Coupé 888 at Millbrook Proving Ground, quickening the steering and setting the suspension up with handling as a priority. This was, let's not forget, a bona fide race team - and they were given carte blanche to make the Coupe 888 as racy as they liked.


The result feels like a touring car for the road from the get-go, with Alcantara featuring throughout the interior (not to mention splashes of the Europa Blue paintwork) and a bone-shaking ride. But the payoff was that the 888 stayed relentlessly flat through corners, and combined with the extra grip of those tyres, that meant cornering speeds were considerably higher than the standard car.

Only 100 were built, which makes the Coupé 888 a rare thing today, and difficult to price. The only one in the classifieds looks good, but it's on for strong money. That said, an example with just 7558 miles on the clock went under the hammer in February with a guide price of £15,000-£18,000 - though it failed to sell.

In short, the experts reckon these things are going to be worth big money soon, if they aren't already. Yet examples for sale by enthusiast private sellers with average mileages can still be had - very occasionally, because they don't come up often - for below £10,000. If you can find one, pounce on it - it's one takeover bid that's sure to pay dividends later on.

 

 

[BTCC photo: LAT Photo]

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Comments (57) Join the discussion on the forum

  • CraigyMc 15 Mar 2017

    "Come off it," we can hear you saying. "Vauxhall makes dreary repmobiles that it sells to fleets at a whacking great discount." Well, yes, it does. But then it also brought us the Monaro and the VX220, both cars that are ripe for the plucking now values have fallen.

    The VX220 is a Lotus. The Monaro is a Holden.
    Neither would have been lost had Vauxhall never existed in the first place.

  • ianwayne 15 Mar 2017

    Strong money is right, even over the top considering the admittance in the description that it has areas of rust on it -

    http://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/v...

    Also, considering it sold for just over £6k at the last Anglia Classic car Auction in Jan - http://www.angliacarauctions.co.uk/en/classic-auct...

    I was there and thought it was a bit high at that price considering its condition!

    We all know people buy and sell cars to make a living, but going for 100% mark up?

    As for value in the future who knows. There are such mental prices now paid for basic Fords such as Escorts and Capris (let alone the rarer models), it may happen. There's an MG Metro frown on ebay at the moment with 17k miles up past £8k.

  • J4CKO 15 Mar 2017

    ianwayne said:
    Strong money is right, even over the top considering the admittance in the description that it has areas of rust on it -

    http://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/v...

    Also, considering it sold for just over £6k at the last Anglia Classic car Auction in Jan - http://www.angliacarauctions.co.uk/en/classic-auct...

    I was there and thought it was a bit high at that price considering its condition!

    We all know people buy and sell cars to make a living, but going for 100% mark up?

    As for value in the future who knows. There are such mental prices now paid for basic Fords such as Escorts and Capris (let alone the rarer models), it may happen. There's an MG Metro frown on ebay at the moment with 17k miles up past £8k.
    8k for a Metro, sounds mad but they were fun little cars and it isnt much money nowadays, anything that has survived with low miles in good condition is worth something, if a Porsche 911 is worth 250 grand, surely there is room for other stuff, might not sell for that anyway, prices do seem to be somewhat speculative, hence why so much stuff sits around for months if not years.

    These were good, a mate had one with 300 bhp, remember 4 of us in it blasting up Chester road in old Trafford in it, it felt super rapid.

    These are in that transition from fast old, moderately interesting special edition banger to rare classic, they arent there yet at the 12 grand area, you would have to be super keen, keep an eye on Gumtree and one will pop up for 4 or less.

  • IanJ9375 15 Mar 2017

    Most "PHey"

    Hmm - I'd suggest the Lotus Carlton, Chevette HSR, Nova Sport and even stuff like the ST200 Supertouring would have stong words about that.



    ST200 - http://www.detailingworld.com/forum/showthread.php...

  • The Crack Fox 15 Mar 2017

    Nearly all cars look cool when, like this one, photographed from ground level. But it's a blobby thing, styling and performance wise, isn't it?

    Let's have a look at it in ten years when we've almost forgotten who Vauxhall were.

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