Vauxhall Senator 2.5

Any pristine 1980s executive saloon is rare, but ones from GM are an endangered species

Cost New £12,796 Price £4995


e don’t often get the opportunity to test Vauxhalls and Opels in our Ads on Test section and that’s certainly not due to a lack of enthusiasm for 1980s GM products. It’s simply because they're something of a classified ad rarity and hardly ever come up for sale.

Take this Senator for example. Along with the Carlton, upon which it’s based, it was a fairly common sight in the carparks of service stations up and down the nation’s motorways. According to DVLA figures however, this executive shuttle is nearing extinction. This very car is the only 1986 Senator 2.5 left on the road, there’s only a total of 11 left in any state from the whole decade.

This particular car is in remarkable, and largely original, condition. The factory optional Carnelian Red paint shines with the same deep lustre that made it the envy of every senior sales executive when it was new back in the 1980s. There’s only the slightest of imperfections to the pinstripe on the boot and a few equally minor marks to the rear bumper that give away that the car’s actually been used at all.

Inside, this Vauxhall’s truly a retro lover’s dream. The combination of beige crushed velour seats, which look as though they’ve never been sat in, and brown dashboard top invokes a lost era.

Despite its three-decade-age this Vauxhall is remarkably well equipped. There are electric mirror controls, a tilt and slide sunroof, electric windows, a clutch wear indicator and central locking, all of which still work perfectly. The specification even lists height adjustable driver's seat, and twin-tone horn.

On the road it's well behaved and doesn’t make any unusual noises. The ride is superb but the trade-off is less than race-car levels of body control. Let’s be honest, this car was never supposed to clip apexes, it was always a high-speed cruiser and at that it still excels. With only 138bhp that straight-six under the long bonnet provides eager if not rapid progress, but it’s still perfectly capable of keeping up with modern traffic.

With a decent history and just over 44,000 miles on the clock to back up this car’s superb (near new) condition it was hard to give back the keys. This Senator really needs to be seen to be believed.


Year     1986
Mileage     44,308
On sale at     KGF Classic Cars

Engine     2490cc, 6-cyl, SOHC
Transmission     RWD, 5-speed manual
Power     138bhp@5200rpm
Torque     151lb-ft@4200rpm
Weight     1405kg

0-60mph     11sec
Top speed     130mph
Economy     33mpg


1983: Opel Senator A replaces Royale in the UK.

1984: Opel badge is replaced by the Vauxhall one, leaving the British brand as the flagship for GM large saloons in the UK. The facelifted shape of this Senator reduced drag by 10%, giving it better fuel economy.

1984: Very limited production four-wheel drive versions were produced by Ferguson for the British military stationed in Germany. The power was split 60/40 with the bias to the rear axle, maintaining the Senator’s handling characteristics.

1987: Vauxhall Senator A is replaced by the Opel Omega-based Senator B.

Lewis PlumbVauxhall, Senator, 2.5