A history of Vauxhall Motors to 1950: industry, development and local impact on the Luton economy.

Holden, L.T. (1984). A history of Vauxhall Motors to 1950: industry, development and local impact on the Luton economy. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f92c

Abstract

This study is primarily concerned with tracing the development of Vauxhall Motors Limited until 1950* It involves an analysis of the reasons for the success of the company in the years "before 1920, and the factors which led to its financial troubles in the 1920's and its eventual acquisition by General Motors in 1925. An attempt is made to examine the relationship of Vauxhall to its American parent company in terms of the degree of autonomy which General Motors afforded Vauxhall.

The 1930's and 1940's were decades of prosperity and considerable expansion for Vauxhall when the company was able to enter into the ranks of the 'Big Six' ie. the six largest car producers. However, as the chapter on finance, marketing and export performance reveals it was the production of light trucks that was the major factor in the Vauxhall success story.

In tracing the development of Vauxhall an examination is made of the firm 's industrial relations. A marked contrast is shown between the pre and post 1929 era. The earlier period was marked by bitter struggles between management and unions, whilst the later period witnessed a time of relatively good industrial relations which lasted until the 1960's.

The final chapters attempt to put Vauxhall in the context of the local economy, showing how Luton developed from a town reliant predominantly on the hat trade and female labour, to one where engineering and vehicle manufacturing became particularly important and employed mainly male labour.

It is also shown that Vauxhall's predominance in the local economy was to be influential in improving wages and conditions of the Luton workers.

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