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The chassis dynamics were impressive too with the basics being laid down by the legendary Peter Hanenberger prior to his departure to Holden. The compound crank rear axle suspension featured a smaller version of the Miniblock spring design first seen on the Vauxhall Royale in 1978 and again were unique in this class of car, at the front MacPherson strut springing was common and was combined with cartridge type shock absorbers which were relatively easy to change. Front and rear anti roll bars were fitted to 1300S, the steering rack was mounted high up on the engine bay bulkhead to assist with crash worthiness & also ease of maintenance, the column also featured an in improved collapsible mesh section. For the same reason the 9.2 gallon fuel tank (11.0 for the Estate) was located under the rear seat to keep it away from any rear end collision. The braking followed the established GM diagonally split system but also incorporated a pressure conscious reducing valve in the circuit to help prevent the rear wheels locking up before the front, a sort of crude ABS type affair which gave mixed results. The other braking problem was for RHD cars the servo was remote unlike the LHD models which meant brakes had a very spongy feel to them although they worked fine. The steering was seen as a possible problem area in terms of heaviness and torque steer. The final set up used negative offset geometry, first used on the Vauxhall HC Viva in 1970, with a steering ratio of 22:1 giving 4 turns lock to lock. The negative offset was 0.15ins and negative camber of 1.5 degrees, late in testing the engineers decided that a 20:1 rack would be more suitable but it was too late to change for the launch. The Astra was widely criticised for having heavy steering at parking speeds so the change would have made this worse.

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As if nothing else could go wrong for Vauxhall the news reached the unions at the company of plans to import the Astra fully assembled from Bocham in Germany and in the middle of an unusual, for Vauxhall, protracted nine week strike over pay & conditions as well as the now rather precarious future of the Ellesmere Port factory it made the whole situation worse. There many rumours that GM was about to pull out of the building cars in Britain and the Vauxhall name would disappear. The original plan was the Vauxhall Astra MK1 would be unveiled at the UK Motor Show in October 1979 but due to the protracted union negotiations it ended up being launched, at the last minute and in relative obscurity at the Kelvin Hall Scottish Motor Show in November 1979. The car was all but identical to the Opel Kadett D which had been launched in August 1979 apart from the badges. In terms of price and trim it sat between the Kadett LS and Berlina. Only 2 models were initially available, the GL 1300S 5 door hatch and a 1300S L Estate 5 door, there were two reasons for this – one was a question of supply availability and the other was Opel did not want the car competing directly with their own Kadett models which were still, rather stupidly, being sold in the UK. In addition, and in order not to try and aggravate the delicate situation with the unions further, the official launch of the Vauxhall Astra was almost a non- event, there was a short but rarely seen television commercial and very little press advertising. Unsurprisingly, initial sales were slow. Also the car was quite expensive compared to the British offerings from Ford, BL and Chrysler.