Vauxhall builds its 4 millionth Astra 36 years after production of the iconic British car began at its Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, 215 miles (346 km) northwest of London.

The plant has built all seven generations of the Astra, exporting more than 2 million units to 25 European markets as well as to Australia in the early years.

The plant employs nearly 2,000 people and many more depend on Astra in the supply chain as it builds about 680 units a day.

The Vauxhall Astra replaced the Viva and was the first Vauxhall model with front-wheel drive.

The Astra gave Vauxhall a boost in the small family car segment after several years of declining Viva sales. The Astra overtook the Austin Allegro as the U.K.’s second most-popular small family car, although it remains well behind the ubiquitous Ford Escort.

The current model was designed by a team led by Britons Mark Adams and Malcolm Ward.

One in four Brits has owned or driven an Astra – the name derives from the Latin Astralis meaning the stars – and collectively they’ve driven 216 billion miles (348 billion km) in Astras.

The Astra always has been a popular police patrol car, with 54 different constabularies using the Mk6 model.

Vauxhall Communications Director Denis Chick says employees marked the 4 million milestone with a choreographed display of 236 Astra Sport Tourers to spell out the feat. The image using 57 red and 179 white cars took 12 hours to assemble.

“The Vauxhall Astra has been one of Britain’s best-selling and loved cars for almost four decades,” Chick says in a statement. “We felt the production of our 4 millionth Astra was worth celebrating and, as always, the team at Ellesmere Port has stepped up to the challenge by creating this stunning image.”

Vauxhall has spent more than £200 million ($259 million) on the Ellesmere Port factory in recent years. With nearly 80% of its output exported, the company says the plant is set to continue as a major supplier to customers both home and abroad.