Deals On Wheels: Vauxhall Astra super-salesman

We meet the super-salesman who’s devoted 32 years of his life to selling Britain’s favourite hatch

It’s doubtful there’s anyone in Britain who has quite as much hands-on experience with the Astra as sales manager Simon Railton. In a career that has spanned 32 years to date, Simon has sold all seven versions of the huge-selling hatchback, and so is uniquely positioned to volunteer an opinion on the current model.

• Win an Astra for a year: enter HERE

“It’s evolved hugely,” he says. “It’s a long way from the car we were selling 30 years ago – it’s totally different now.”

And there can be no doubting Simon’s expert opinion, as he reckons he’s averaged six Astra sales a month since starting out as a trainee at the now closed Boleyn Vauxhall and Opel dealer in Plaistow, east London, back in 1983.

“Add them all up over 32 years and that works out at more than 2,200 Astras,” he smiles. “That’s a lot of cars…”

Simon’s career has developed as impressively as the car itself, and after spells at two different dealers in Chelmsford, Essex, he’s spent the past 12 years working at Tony Le Voi at West Thurrock, also in Essex, where he’s now sales manager.

Ask him which is the best Astra he’s sold, and the answer is instantaneous. “The new one, definitely,” he says. “All the tech really marks it out. OnStar in particular is fantastic. It’s head and shoulders above the competition.”

• Vauxhall Astra review

But doesn’t having to learn all the features of Vauxhall’s concierge and connectivity system make the salesman’s job much harder than it used to be in the old days? “Not at all,” he continues. “You simply tailor the benefits to the customer. And to be honest, it’s such a unique system that it appeals to everyone, which makes things easy.”

In fact, Simon is generally enthusiastic about how the whole technique of selling has progressed during his three decades in the trade – and he argues the advent of the Internet has been beneficial for everyone. “When I started selling, people came to the showroom,” he recalls. “Now it’s a more transparent process – we call it consultative selling.

“At every step, the customer knows what stage they are at and what the next step is. It enhances things greatly. And of course, customers are now very knowledgeable about the car when they come to the showroom. They have researched thoroughly on their tablet in the comfort of their front room.”

• Win an Astra for a year: enter HERE

This interaction with the public is a highlight of the role for Simon, and one of the reasons he is still going strong after such a long and successful career. And selling Vauxhalls – Astras in particular – has added to his enjoyment of the job.

“You come in each day not knowing who you’re going to meet, and that is particularly true of the Astra,” he says. “There isn’t really a typical customer: it appeals to families, singles, young and old. And the new car will take that further, with customers who’ve previously considered high-end cars now prepared to have a look as they can see the quality.”

Of course, Simon’s Essex base is in Ford heartland: Vauxhall’s big rival has its HQ in Brentwood, a technical centre in Dunton and an engine plant in Dagenham. But he claims his proximity to ‘enemy territory’ has never hindered sales, saying: “It’s not a problem at all – quite the opposite. We’ve sold a lot of Vauxhalls to people entitled to Fords.”

And he’s had a few brushes with celebrity over the years. “Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters [football World Cup winners with England in 1966] were regular visitors to the dealer in Plaistow,” he tells us. “And of course they love bling in Essex – we had Amy Childs from The Only Way Is Essex in here earlier this year buying for her business.”

But as with most car salesmen, Simon’s real motivator is a love of the vehicles – so despite his enthusiasm for the new car, he doesn’t hesitate when asked to name his favourite Astra, saying: “Some of the old GSi and GTE cars were great. The Mk1 GTE was a classic – in white, it was stunning.”

And with a new version of the GSi in the pipeline it won’t be long before this super-salesman is adding to his record-breaking figures by tempting a new generation of hot hatch fans to part with their cash.

Vauxhall Astra Special

Recommended

New Vauxhall Astra-e: electric hatchback set for 2023 launch
Vauxhall Astra PHEV - full front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra-e: electric hatchback set for 2023 launch

The new all-electric Vauxhall Astra-e will join the hatchback's line-up in 2023, and could boast a range of around 250 miles
1 Sep 2021
New Vauxhall Astra Mk8: powertrain, economy and performance details uncovered
Vauxhall Astra - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra Mk8: powertrain, economy and performance details uncovered

The new Mk8 Vauxhall Astra arrives with plug-in hybrid drivetrains, while there is also an all-electric version on the way
1 Sep 2021
Best used hatchbacks 2021
Best used hatchbacks - header
Best cars & vans

Best used hatchbacks 2021

We round up the best used hatchbacks for 2021 - cars that are great for practicality, running costs and comfort
18 Aug 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review
Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge
Car group tests

Cupra Born vs Mercedes EQA vs Volvo C40 Recharge: 2021 group test review

The all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge meets another premium wannabe in the Cupra Born. But can they beat the super-posh new Mercedes EQA?
19 Oct 2021
New Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2021 review
Ford Mustang Mach-E GT - front
Ford Mustang Mach-E

New Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2021 review

With 480bhp and a 310-mile range, does the new Ford Mustang Mach-E GT offers the perfect blend of performance and practicality? We find out...
19 Oct 2021