The Vauxhall Astra has been with us since 1979, a family car which has been the pride of Liverpool for almost 40 years.

It was originally the Opel Kadett and built in Germany before General Motors decided to switch production to Mereyside and came up with the name of Astra to replace the old Viva.

But things are changing in the motoring industry and it won’t be long before the Vauxhall production line is closed at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside and manufacturing switched to France.

The French car giant PSA Group, which includes Peugeot, has bought the European operations of General Motors, which includes Vauxhall in the UK, for €2.2bn (£1.9bn).

And as Peugeot has bags of spare production capacity in France it would make sense for them to shut down the English operation. There’s a nice bit of Brexit for you.

Vauxhall employs 4,500 people in the UK and there are a further 23,000 people working in the retail and support operations plus 7,000 more in its supply chain whose jobs depend on the company’s presence in the UK.

It’s a shame if it closes down because the British manufacturing operation is a slick one and the Astra is a great car, but there’s no sympathy in the motoring business. Hard cash is the modus operandi.

The first British customers took delivery of their new Astras in February 1980 and it was initially available in 1300 and 1600 forms, and later an 1800 fuel-injected version was added, used in the Mk 1 Astra GTE model, introduced in 1983. This is the one which took on the Ford XR3 and the VW Golf GTI.

There were three body styles for the first generation Astra: hatchback, saloon, and estate, all available with two or four side doors.

The saloons were styled exactly like the hatchbacks, except for a different rear window above a boot lid; from the side they looked almost indistinguishable from the hatchback, with no protruding notch at the rear.

The white 1800GTE was the first UK car to be 'colour-coded' with body trim that matched the base colour of the car, this included wheel arch extensions, front side and rear lower skirts, mirror covers, bumpers and even the alloy wheels were painted white.

The black, silver and red versions of the GTE also had colour-coding but had the more conventional black bumpers and silver painted alloy wheels.

Sales of this first Astra were strong, and gave Vauxhall a much-needed boost in the small family car sector after several years of declining sales with the Viva.

It soon overtook the Austin Allegro as Britain's second most popular small family car but was a long way behind the Ford Escort in terms of sales success.

However the Astra was awarded the What Car?: Car of the Year for 1980.

The Mark 2 Astra arrived in October in 1984 and this was voted the European Car of the Year and it was seven years before Mark 3 appeared and seven years more before Mark 4 arrived.

One title which did not suit too well was that the Astra Mark 2 was the most stolen car in Britain along with the Vauxhall Belmont.

Around four million Astras have been sold over 37 years and it was the Astra which broke Ford’s lead in the family car market after almost 40 years.

The motoring experts rate the Astra and there is everything you want from prices, through to engine to economy.

There are five different levels and the cheapest Astra from new is just short of £16,000.

Engines vary from the one litre petrol while there is a 1.6 diesel engine which does around 90 miles to the gallon.

Performance is excellent as it just was back in 1979 when the Astra first came out.

In 2013 the Astra was named as the new reasonably priced car in the Top Gear's Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car and the Astra is beloved by the police with more than 50 police forces using them as panda cars.

It will be a shame if the production leaves Liverpool but I guess that’s motoring progress.