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Vauxhall VXR - The Flying Griffin

Sep 11, 2008
I had slightly mixed feelings the other day when I received an e-mail from the website Friends Reunited telling me that someone from my old school was trying to contact me. This was because most of the people who attended my senior school turned out to be psychopaths. In spite of this however I let curiosity get the better of me and decided to visit the site and look at the e-mail. Luckily I remembered that my personal details were not accessible so if it was someone trying to track me down and then dismember me they would have to try a bit harder.

Despite my paranoia I was relieved to discover it was my old mate Steve Singh. He was letting me know that someone else from our school had put together a collection of old sports photographs which had been published in a book. I was surprised about this but then I remembered that despite the school being set on fire as a matter of routine and having a very dubious academic record we did excel at sports and had a very good football and rugby team and produced some quite accomplished cross country runners.

It was nice to hear from Steve as we went to junior school together and I would often go to his house after school as my parents were at work. It was during this time that I was introduced to Indian cuisine and Steve's mum would insist on feeding me all kinds of exotic dishes despite the fact I would then go home and be expected to eat faggots and peas.

Steve's Dad (Mr Singh) was a real character and had his own taxi business. I remember he had a small fleet of Vauxhall Victors which to a small kid seemed enormous. Mr Singh said we could earn a few quid by delivering taxi leaflets and we soon found ourselves in the back of his prized Vauxhall Firenza. I seem to recall it was not the most attractive car I had ever seen and was basically a Vauxhall Viva that someone had stuck a moulded GRP front on and then fitted a huge engine. The Griffin emblem sat slightly to one side on the bonnet rather like the whole thing was created in some back garage instead of factory produced. We loved it though and as a taxi driver Mr Singh didn't need any encouragement to drive it rather fast. I remember flying around in the back and slipping on the vinyl seats until we reached the tower blocks. "Right" said Mr Singh "I want you to do all these and I'll pick you up later"

We were abandoned there with these huge sacks of taxi leaflets staring up at the flats towering above us. Our tactics were simple, get the lift to the top floor and then run along each landing shoving as many leaflets as we could through every letterbox until we had run out (the sooner the better).Any leftovers could be dumped in the rubbish shoot. The plan backfired however as people had telephoned to demand to know what they were supposed to do with 250 taxi leaflets not to mention the caretaker who said his rubbish shoot had been blocked by a load of 'Ace Taxi' leaflets. We returned home to find a clip around the ear waiting for us.

The first sporty Vauxhall I ever drove was a Cavalier SRI which belonged to a friend of mine who was a sales rep. There was a rather alarming delay when you put your foot on the accelerator and then the car would take off like a startled animal. I also drove an Astra GTE which had that funky futuristic dashboard. The biggest highlight for me was going for a spin in a Lotus Carlton which was owned by a printer I used to use. With the possible exception of the Carlton all of the previous cars don't even come close to the performance of the modern VXR range currently available, all of which are a far cry from Mr Singh's Firenza!
About the Author
Vauxhall has a history of making sports versions of it's popular models. Jon Barlow recalls how the models of yesteryear have given rise to the latest VXR range
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