Sky meets VX – Me and Sports Cars

In 1980, after 2 years driving a much under-rated Hillman Hunter (1725cc alloy engine, great fun) I passed it on to my brother when I bought my second car, a 2-seat hard-top Triumph GT6 Mk3. Ironically – given the later story – we drove it more in Norway when we first lived there than in the UK. Left-hand drive, low-profile and not the most practical car for Scandinavian winters.

[During the family life taxi service period we ran 4-seat Saloon / Hatch / Estate cars (MkIV Cortina, Cavalier, Rover 216, Audi 100,  Seat Toledo GT, MG-ZTT and Astra) until deciding we didn’t need two family cars. I was at that time involved in working contracts that involved regular – several times per week – 100+ mile each-way driving commute, so driving fun and efficiency became the deciding factor.]

In Spring 2002 I took delivery of my “Tangerine Dream” VX220

Vauxhall VX220 / Opel Speedster (2001)(Wikipedia)

The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The 2.2 NA (naturally aspirated) version was considered the easier drive of the two standard variants, and some journalists recommended that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus.

Production ended on 22 July 2005, with no direct successor. It was not until February 2007, when GM Europe adopted the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky into the Opel GT, that GM Europe had a replacement sector product, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The final production number of the Speedster was only 7,207.

In Spring 2007, by then living in the US, I took delivery of a Saturn Sky.

The VX220 was easily the best car I ever owned. Fun to drive (obviously), but practical with a surprisingly large boot for a mid-engined 2-seater and a space-saving detachable soft-top, as well as being totally reliable.

The Sky was (still is) fun and reliable as well as highly unusual. Totally different construction from the VX with the US (Ralph Nader) fuel-tank and bulky folding soft-top leaving almost zero boot-space. Unusual because I took it to Norway with us when we moved there a second time in 2009. There were no other Sky or Opel GT’s in Norway and I could never get it on the road more than occasional (very expensive) temporary tourist licenses. (Full road-tax as an import of that class in Norway cost more than the original purchase price in the US!)

When we returned to the UK in 2011 we brought the Sky with us and, 7 years later I’m still driving the only one in the country despite a total production of 34,000 in the US. Just taxed and MoT’d for another year, and the car next to it this week in the local MoT test centre – was a light-blue VX220.

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