The Opel Kadett saloon (1984–1991) shared its body with the Belmont
The Vauxhall Belmont was a saloon car sold in the United Kingdom by Vauxhall 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 of Europe's saloon version of the Ford Escort hatchback was badged the Ford Orion, and the Volkswagen Golf based saloon was sold as the Volkswagen Jetta.
However, when GM launched a saloon version of the Vauxhall Astra/Opel 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) along with a convertible. This replaced the Opel Ascona.
Besides the boot, the only other differences were extra rear legroom, a tinny fuel door and a less gloomy interior. The Belmont was almost as big inside as a Vauxhall Cavalier, with luggage space particularly impressive.[according to whom?] When the Astra II was replaced in September 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 December 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.
According to DVLA records, only 23 Belmonts remain on the roads, with a further 69 on SORN.
End of the Belmont
In September 1991, Vauxhall deleted the Belmont nametag with the launch of the Mark 3 Astra, and the Astra nameplate was used on all body styles. For later variant of the Astra, see the Opel Astra. 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 in the United Kingdom was only sold as a Vauxhall. The saloon version was dropped altogether in 2004 upon the launch of the MK V Astra, although RHD saloons with Opel badges have continued to be sold in Ireland.