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Vauxhall Astra Mk I



Vauxhall Astra Mk I

Astra is a model-name which has been used by Vauxhall, the British subsidiary of General Motors (GM), on their small family car ranges since 1979. Astra's are technically essentially identical with similar vehicles offered by GM's German subsidiary Opel in most other European countries. For the first two generations, the nameplate was applied to UK spec right-hand drive versions of Opel Kadett (which it was sold as in the Republic of Ireland in right-hand drive), and since 1991, Opel also uses the Astra nameplate, so Vauxhall and Opel Astras are essentially identical vehicles. General Motors' Saturn division in America also offers the Astra since late 2007.

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Vauxhall Astra Mark 1

The Astra name originated with Vauxhall's 1979 model, though the car was designed and built a year earlier in Germany as an Opel Kadett. This model replaced the Vauxhall Viva in the UK, along with some versions of the Vauxhall Chevette. However, the Chevette remained available for several years afterwards until the Vauxhall Nova was launched. The Astra was Vauxhall's first model to have front wheel drive. Not all trim levels were available with all body styles

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Production began at Opel's West German plant at Bochum in August 1979, and the first British customers took delivery of their cars in February 1980.

The overhead-camshaft engine (not 1200) was a huge leap forward from the earlier generation of small engines used in Vauxhall and Opel cars in terms of power, economy and refinement. It was initially available in 1300 and 1600 forms, and later an 1800 fuel-injected version was added, used in the Mk 1 Astra GTE model, introduced in 1983. This version of the Astra was a quick and stylish alternative to the Ford Escort XR3, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Fiat Strada 105TC.

Vauxhall now had a serious rival for the Volkswagen Golf at just about every level The car featured a new unified engine for Vauxhall/Opel, featuring an all-aluminium head, overhead camshaft and hydraulic valve lifters., and it quickly became popular with buyers. A 1200 cc version which used the older Opel OHV engine was also available.

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There were three body styles for the first generation Vauxhall Astra, hatchback, so-called "saloon", and estate, all available with two or four side doors. The saloons were styled exactly like the hatchbacks, except for a different rear window above a boot lid; from the side they looked almost indistinguishable from the hatchback, with no protruding notch at the rear. .

There was also a van version which was badged the Bedford Astravan the Bedford brand at that time being used for GM's commercial vehicles in Britain. Unlike the previous Opel T-Car, no Coup was offered.

Production of the MK1 Astra took place in West Germany initially, with production moving to Vauxahll's Ellesmere Port plant in Britain some two years later, on 16 November 1981.

Vauxhall Astra D Estate based on the Mk1


Vauxhall Astra D Estate

Sales of this first Astra were strong, and gave Vauxhall a much-needed boost in the small family car sector after several years of declining sales with the Viva HC. It soon overtook the Austin Allegro as Britain's second most popular small family car, although it was still a long way behind the Ford Escort in terms of sales success.


Versions available were:

  • 1200 E (2/4-door saloon, 3/5-door hatchback, 3/5-door estate)
  • 1200 L (3/5-door hatchback, 3/5-door estate)
  • 1300 E (as 1200 E)
  • 1300 L (as 1200 L)
  • 1300 GL (5-door hatchback, 5-door estate)
  • 1600 L (5-door hatchback, 5-door estate)
  • 1600 GL (5-door hatchback, 5-door estate)
  • 1600 SR (3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback)
  • 1800 SRi (5-door hatchback)
  • 1600 L Diesel (5-door hatchback, 5-door estate)
  • 1800 GTE (3-door hatchback)
  • 1900 SR (3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback GDO)
  • 1700 SRi (5-door hatchback GDO)
  • 1900 L Diesel (5-door hatchback, 5-door estate GDO)
  • 1700 GTE (3-door hatchback GDO)


The MK1 Astra was a strong seller in the UK and quickly established itself as Britain's second most popular small family car, but was never able to match the runaway sales success of the Ford Escort, rather narrowing the gap between itself and the market-leading Ford Focus. [2]

Opel Kadett D Car


The German version of the Vauxhall Astra Mark 1 was also known as the Opel Kadett D


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Vauxhall 1984 MkI Astra Estate, 1.3L


Vauxhall 1984 MkI Astra Estate, 1.3L



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