With a road-trip to and across continental Europe becoming somewhat of a regular retreat now, actually hitting the road never gets old and is always a real treat. There’s always something new to discover, new people to meet, old acquaintances to get reacquainted with and new experiences to be had. You can be driving along the same route with the same group of buddies and have a totally different experience each time, without fail, but the depth of every trip resides in the many different lessons travelling has to teach about so many different aspects of life.
On the most recent trans-Euro road-trip we outright bought a used Vauxhall Astravan from stockist Van Monster, which had some sort of celebration going in line with the 80 year history of one of Britain’s favourite vehicles. Amongst many other things, we learned that the Vauxhall’s 80 year history essentially goes back to the 1936 production of the original Opel Kadett, which essentially went through a transformation along its development into the Vauxhall Astra brand that was itself only established in 1979.
Living out its previous life as an Opel Kadett, it was launched to compete with the VW Beetle and was known for its affordability, a tradition which largely still holds water to this day, although the modern day Vauxhall has a lot more nifty tech to go with.
Things we take for granted today, like engines which are both water and air-cooled, were exactly what made the Kadett stand out over its rival particularly, with a water-cooled engine and fastback build. Following its disappearance after a four-year production cycle, the Kadett resurfaced again in 1962 until 1979 when the Vauxhall Astra arrived.
Well as far as the road-trip goes and some of the lessons learned, it went beyond this brief history and transition of the Kadett into the Vauxhall with which we explored the open road. We learned quite a bit about fuel efficiency in the true sense of the phrase in that the latest version (of which we had the use of a pre-owned one) seems to use fuel more economically on the open road as opposed to the stop-start, narrow and congested roads of the city, but this only applies when it’s more fully loaded.
Performance is on tap, but driving like a Formula One driver naturally guzzles a bit more petrol, so it’s just a matter of pacing oneself and being sensible.
The ride comfort seems fair enough, but appears to have the Vauxhall built for a road-trip because you have to stop and step out every so often and enjoy the environment.
I’ve personally now since become somewhat of an expert in used cars, amongst many other things which the open road in a Vauxhall has taught me. It’s really quite a challenge to try and sum all the lessons up, but one such lesson is that the best way to see if something works is indeed to try it in whatever situation it’s needed in, practically. I mean what was meant to be a used car we were to re-sell immediately after the road-trip is now part of my growing fleet because it’s so good.