The Ellesmere Port facility in the U.K. is celebrating its 50th year of operation this year, a milestone which happened to align with an inarguably bigger accomplishment: today, the plant produced its 5 millionth car.
The EP plant in Cheshire, England, has been responsible for compact Vauxhall cars since 1964, including the Chevette, every model of Viva, and all six models of Astra to appear since 1982. Currently the plant employs around 1,800 persons, although an additional 300 are coming onboard next month as the plant ramps up in preparation for the all-new Astra in 2015.
But part of the plant’s history – and this is where the video below comes into play – is wrapped up in its peculiar sign-off procedure. As Vauxhall shared in a release, ever since 1964, a plant employee known only as “Ellesmere Pete” has randomly selected so many cars produced by the plant, and used the factory’s body shop as a high-speed testing grounds for his random sampling.
“The Firenza Droopsnoot was a cracker. It had so much poke that the biggest challenge was not clipping some of the machinery as you drifted it between production lines,” says Pete. “And when I got my hands on the first Astra GTE back in ’82, it was by far the fastest thing I’d put through the stillage-chicane in Body Shop. I could hit 60 on a good day.”
When Plant Director Stefan Fesser first came to Ellesmere Port in 2013, he was understandably unnerved by the procedure. But luckily, he’s since been won over:
“You know what? After fifty years, he still does a fantastic job of validating the great quality that comes with every car we produce. Long may he continue.”