The used car market’s fondness for the good old days shows no signs of abating. As new models grow ever more complex, heavy and expensive, so the desire for (and value of) the simpler charm from days gone by increases. Any belief that classic GTIs, Turbos and Cosworths were enjoying a temporary blip in values has been firmly put to bed now after years of previously unheard-of prices, both in classifieds and at auction. As we all age, that eagerness to relive our youth only grows; once upon a time that was with a classic British sports car, then with an '80s and '90s hot hatch - now it’s surely time for the 21st-century classic.
No, seriously. Nobody likes to admit it, but we’re 22 and a half years into this millennium; cars from the early 2000s are now old, and in many aspects will feel it - in some good ways as well as less desirable ones. Those who were early 20s back then are now in their 40s (sorry to remind you) and so, like every era, the cars from back then are beginning to hold some nostalgic appeal. And general appeal too, let’s be honest, the turn of the century representing a high point to many of cars that were genuinely fast and desirable and good, while also not being frail old heaps or fiendishly difficult modern motors.
Vauxhall will always hold a special appeal in the UK to car enthusiasts; you only need look at the affection for old Nova, Cavaliers, Calibras, and particularly the fast ones, for proof of that. But times change, and now a new generation will have their own stand-out era for hot Vauxhalls - the VXR era. Though the badge launched with the limited edition VXR220 in 2004, it was in 2005 - so yes, 18 years ago - that VXR laid out its stall for production models. And it could hardly have looked more desirable: alongside a Monaro flagship, with an even bigger V8 than standard, there was also an Astra VXR, offering loads more power than a Golf GTI for less money. Exactly where a fast Vauxhall has always been, basically.
Both Monaro and Astra VXR encapsulated the new brand perfectly, offering loads of performance and entertainment for not much cash. Alternatives were maybe more sophisticated coupes or hatches, but that didn’t matter - the UK loved the slightly uncouth charm that came to characterise a lot of the early VXRs. It helped, moreover, that both looked fantastic. And there was an Astra BTCC car.
Will the VXR become a dearly loved classic like its GSI and GTE predecessors? It’s hard to be sure for now, given there are still quite a few around and nobody knows quite what the future holds for old cars. But for those of us who were young, impressionable petrolheads back then and astounded by the prospect of a £19k, front-wheel drive Vauxhall with 240hp, one this good has to hold considerable appeal.
This particular example has covered just 8,731 miles since 2005, its first owner keeping it from new till 2020. It was then with another owner for six months, and now the third custodian - having bought it in April 2021 - needs to get rid because of a lack of space. For a VXR enthusiast, it must be an unrepeatable opportunity, because it’s not like this car was known for being steadily driven by considerate folk. It looks as fresh as the mileage would imply, and is priced accordingly - £17,995 is almost back to the new price once more. If not a bondafide Vauxhall classic just yet, it can’t be far off…
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