CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

An unusual sighting on the highway yesterday

Yesterday afternoon, on I-287 in NJ, I was passed by a very fast-moving car with a very loud exhaust. I thought that the logo looked vaguely familiar, so I caught up to the car and it turned-out to be a late-model Vauxhall–a make that has not officially been imported into The US since (I think) the 1960s.

By perusing Vauxhall’s website, I was able to figure-out that it was their Insignia model, which–I assume–is just a variant of an Opel model. The one remaining thing that I’m trying to figure out is how the owner of this car managed to get it configured properly for US safety and emissions regulations. I don’t believe that a buyer can order “US specifications” on a car that is not normally sold in The US, and–unlike exotic makes–this Vauxhall sedan is not worth enough for an owner to pay an aftermarket outfitter the big bucks necessary to convert it to US specs.

Anyway…this is what I saw yesterday on the highway:
http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/vehicles/vauxhall-range/cars/insignia-family/insignia-grand-sport/overview.html

:thinking:

Would be interesting to see what plates are registered to?
I did go to vauxhall site this spring to get info on my Opel motor

Yes, that would be interesting, but he was moving far too fast for me to take note of the license plate–other than the fact that it was a NJ tag. Just getting close enough to see the logo wasn’t easy!

They are actually identical, except - Vauxhall = RH drive, Opel = LH drive.

I could imagine that the driver was some British embassy staff and they might be excempt from any regulations when in other countries.

Back in -97, when I lived in California, I saw a Skoda 130 Rapid:

image

It must have been a staff member from the Czech embassy. No sane US person would drive such a heap and if it were equipped with the emissions control systems, it would not be able to pull a mosquito off of a wall.
I have seen on many occasions that embassies often bring their own vehicles with them here and are excempt from any testing here.

Maybe it is registered in Canada. I saw an Opel minivan in MD a few years ago, and it clearly couldn’t have been registered here. Maybe it was a diplomat’s car and was allowed in because of that. This is a guess, though.

Vauxhall is the English Opel. Opel was sold to Peugeot since GM is getting out of Europe, and Vauxhall was part of the transaction.

If that was the case, the car should have diplomat plates, not NJ plates.

Does all cars, belonging to an embassy, have to have diplomat plates in USA?
Would be interesting to know.
Not all embassy vehicles here have those plates, but they are still covered by diplomatic immunity which enables them to avoid speeding tickets and many other things, unfortunately.

That jogged my memory, and I now recall reading that Peugeot opened a US office–in northern NJ–a couple of years ago, and the take-away from that story was that they were exploring a re-entry to the US marketplace.

This article speculates which of their marques would be sold here, and I think that I might have discovered the answer to that riddle yesterday:

It looks similar to a Buick Regal. Not my cup of tea, but it’s nIce looking car.

It is a Buick Regal. The 2018’s are the same car as the Insignia. Some people like to put the “original” badges and trim pieces on their car, so they buy what they need off of Ebay and replace stuff.

Ah, that makes sense. Buy a Buick, and change the badging. But a Buick to a Vauxhall? Seems like it would pay off more to buy a Corolla and change it to a Mercedes :wink:

The car on the left is a chinese imitation 9th generation Corolla.

Other than the strip along the side, looks nearly identical. If it ain’t broke, why fix it I guess is their theory.

I’m betting the mystery car started life as a Chevy SS, which was the Australian made version of the Vauxhall. Some folks are rebadging them as Vauxhalls.

They’re certainly darned close. The front bumper/valance panel, the hood lines, the accent lines down the sides, the grills, the small triangular windows behind the rear doors, the handles, even the mirrors. It seems a bit too close to be coincidence.

I wonder if the stuff under the hood is as close as is the sheetmetal?

1 Like

China’s pretty famous for blatantly copying other cars:

And no, usually the only similarity is the sheet metal. The performance is often laughable, especially when they try to copy something like Porsche.

2 Likes

I disagree for two reasons, one of which is factual, the other of which is speculative, but based on local realities:

The tail lights, the trunk lid, and the rear fenders were very different from those of a Chevy SS. Converting a Chevy SS to look like a Vauxhall would take a lot of bodywork, in addition to re-badging it.

Peugeot’s relatively-new US operations are based only about 40 miles from where I spotted the Vauxhall. Since it is fairly obvious that the company is planning on returning to the US marketplace, I think it is reasonable to believe that the car is owned by Peugeot of America, and was being driven by one of their employees.

The plates were definitely NJ tags, and while I couldn’t get close enough to see the exact details on those plates, I would be willing to bet a cup of coffee that they were “manufacturer” plates, which we see fairly often on NJ roads.

I’d rather drive something with a name that 'Mericans can pronounce.

VDCdriver

Did You by chance notice if the turnsignal lenses were red or orange/yellowish?

IIRC, in USA you still use red rear turnsignals, whereas in Europe, they are illegal., I have a hard time believing in somebody making only one set of tail lights if GM don’t sell the same carbody in USA so they can pick a set on a shelf.

That could be true, but just weird that it was a Vauxhall, not Opel.

Well, the guy was driving REALLY fast, and I was focused mostly on the logo and the general configuration of the bodywork, so I can’t be 100% sure, but I think that the entire tail light lens area was red.