The Vauxhall Belmont was a saloon car sold in the United Kingdom by Vauxhall, the British division of General Motors between January 1986 and July 1991. It was equivalent to a saloon version of the award-winning Opel Kadett E, launched in the autumn of 1984, whose other body styles were marketed in the United Kingdom as Vauxhall Astra. The Belmont won praise for its huge boot compared to other rivals of the time.
With hatchbacks becoming firmly established as the preferred bodystyle in small European family cars, fewer saloons were on offer. During the 1980s, in order to enable them to position saloons as a slight cut above their hatchback counterparts, many manufacturers marketed them with different nameplates. Ford's saloon version of the Escort hatchback was badged the Orion and Volkswagen's Golf-based saloon was sold as the Jetta. However, when GM launched a saloon version of the Astra/Kadett, only British customers received it with a different badge.
The Belmont went on sale in January 1986. While sold as a Kadett in the rest of Europe, in South Africa it was called the Opel Monza (not to be confused with the large Senator-based coupé sold in Europe).
Besides the trunk, the only other differences were extra rear legroom and a less gloomy interior. The Belmont was almost as big inside as a Vauxhall Cavalier, with luggage space particularly impressive.
When the Astra was replaced in the summer of 1991, the Belmont nameplate was shelved, the car never having never lived up to Vauxhall's claim that it was "not just a booted Astra".
In late 2004, it was revealed that the Belmont was the most stolen car in the United Kingdom in terms of ratio stolen, with 1,978 vehicles stolen in 2003, which amounted to around 1 out of every 10 Belmonts registered. At this time, an estimated 20,000 Belmonts remained on the road. The car also topped a similar list for 2005, this list being published in December 2006.
End of the Belmont
In July 1991, Vauxhall deleted the Belmont nametag with the launch of the Mark 3 Astra, and the Astra nameplate was used on all bodystyles.
For later variants of the Astra, see the Opel Astra and Vauxhall Astra articles.
Sales of the Astra-badged saloon were not as strong as those achieved by the Belmont, as saloons of this size continued to fall in popularity throughout the 1990s.
Later Astra saloons (see pictures on the right) were also sold as an Opel, unlike the Belmont, which was only sold as a Vauxhall.