Wednesday October 16, 2019
Any FE-series Vauxhall has the ability to turn heads – especially the 1978 VX2300 owned by Paul Stokes.
JGR 687 T was first registered to Durham Constabulary on 1st August 1978, just a few months before the debut of the replacement Carlton – and ‘she is believed to be the only genuine police liveried Vauxhall VX 2300 in existence in Britain’.
The VX range was introduced in January 1976 as a successor to the FE Victor and many Vauxhall enthusiasts regard it as a highly underrated vehicle.
The excellent Vauxpedia site makes the point that the Vauxhall offered very good value for money - a VX2300 was ‘priced to within £10 of a Ford Granada 2000L, and generally offered more performance, comfort and standard equipment’.
Another major selling point for police and civilian fleet buyers alike was the flexibility of the 2.3-litre engine while the handling was praised in a 1976 Motor road test as ‘totally safe and predictable on any surface’.
The writer also noted how ‘the Vauxhall’s forte remains its roomy accommodation’ and praised the ‘much improved economy’. In short, the VX was a logical choice of squad car.
Paul’s Vauxhall is fitted with manual transmission, and it served for two years as ‘an area patrol vehicle’, most probably as ‘a supervisor’s car’.
By December 1980 the Vauxhall was ready to be demobbed but instead of being despatched to auction, ‘she was then employed at the force headquarters at Aykley Heads in Durham as a training vehicle on the skid pan until the early 1990s’.
At that point, JGR 687 T ‘went into retirement, undergoing a minor restoration process prior to being be retained in the force workshops for use at official force engagements and open days etc.’.
The Vauxhall was finally decommissioned on 8th April 2008 – when the restoration process slowly began. Paul removed the engine, transmission, interior, axles, interior and all brightwork.
The FE was ‘completely stripped down’ in addition to receiving ‘a full respray. The engine block and wheels have been shot blasted and painted’.
In terms of corrosion, ‘the underside of the vehicle has an accumulation of oil and grease from being on the skid pan and has acted as a preservative’.
Today, the VX ‘is now in her correct period livery, and the search for correct police equipment is ongoing’ – although, as Paul also observes, the blue lamp and the two-note horns are in working order.
Mr, Stokes has not only restored a very rare and handsome Vauxhall – he has also preserved social history on wheels.
WITH THANKS TO: Paul Stokes