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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1962 Vauxhall

            For more than a decade Vauxhall had been General Motors' captive import, sourced from the United Kingdom. Since it first arrived in our fair domain in 1948, Vauxhall had done very well for itself. Consumers had plenty of confidence in the sturdy and very economical little cars because they were backed by the vast resources of General Motors of Canada, Limited.

            For the 1962 selling season, Vauxhall fielded three models in the Dominion through Pontiac-Buick dealers. The upscale Cresta and its lower-priced stable mate, the Velox, covered the luxury and economy six-cylinder segments of the compact market. The smaller, four-cylinder Victor, offered in three trim series, did battle with other imports on behalf of GM Canada. All were of unitized construction, like Rambler.

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            Cresta was Vauxhall’s flagship. This particular body shell had been first introduced in1958, making it five years old. Consumers were familiar with its look. Nonetheless, the original styling, inspired by Vauxhall designer David Jones, was classic and each year’s updates were attractive.

            The Cresta was “distinguished by an outstandingly generous array of extra refinements, extra luxury and extra equipment at an unusually modest price.” Its wheels were given polished aluminum trim rings to make the hubcaps look like full wheel covers. Whitewall tires were standard equipment on Canadian Crestas. Interestingly enough they were not available even as an option in Britain. Receiving brightwork in all the places a flagship should, the inclusion of arm rests, deep pile carpets with thick underlays, a wide, centre armrest for the rear seat, windshield washer, electric clock, a trunk light and a cigarette lighter in the base price all added up to one posh vehicle.

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It was offered in no less than fifteen different solid body colours and another fifteen very striking two-tone colour paint jobs with high-lustre finishes. One could choose between nylon patterned cloth or genuine two-tone leather for the interiors. If one wished to shell out a few extra dollars, Cresta could be had with split-bench seats up front or a fold-down centre arm rest.

A Vauxhall Cresta four-door sedan started at $2,791. It fit very neatly into GM Canada’s overall compact lineup.  An Oldsmobile F-85 four-door sedan sold for $3,200; Chev’s new Chevy II sold for $2,470; the Corvair Monza four-door Coupe started at $2,701 and the compact Buick Special listed for $3,218. It was in the ballpark with non-GM competition, too: A Simca Vedette sold for $2,805; A Valiant 200 four-door sedan listed for $2,571 and a Studebaker Lark V-8 Regal for $2,685.
The 1962 Vauxhall Velox rode a 105-inch wheelbase and weighed in at 2,630 pounds.

Velox was positioned downwind of Cresta by more than $300. Blackwall tires, less trim and fewer standard features made it attractive as a six-cylinder value purchase for many. Velox was available in fourteen solid colours and interior fabric choices were either Vynide or the Tygan-Rayon cloth. Velox owners still got carpeting and a padded instrument panel finished in “a quality walnut-grain finish.” Split-bench seats or the centre armrest for front passengers were optional on Velox. Delivery price for a Velox was $2,468.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Both Cresta and Velox shared the 162 cubic-inch, 113-horsepower, six-cylinder engine. The engine had proven itself well since its 1952 introduction. It was capable of pushing the big Vauxhalls to 90 miles per hour, well above the posted speed limit anywhere in the Dominion.  A three-speed, manual synchromesh transmission was standard but GM’s Hydra-Matic was available for a price.

The Victor Estate Wagon bowed for 1962.
It was the heaviest Victor with a weight of 2,200 pounds.
Victor was considerably smaller, used a four-cylinder power plant and took the lion’s share of sales in Canada. It was all new for 1962. Victor was not alone, either. Chevrolet-Pontiac dealers sold a badged version called Envoy. Advertising claimed that the little car had “fresh, new aerodynamic styling.” The editor of Track & Traffic was more guarded with his words, calling the new look “sober and unadorned.” Victor was offered in De Luxe, Super and Standard trim.

The De Luxe Victor offered optional, extra cost, two-tone colour treatments outside and sported two-tone, leather upholstery on bucket seats as standard equipment inside the cabin. The De Luxe started at $2,156. Competition included the Hillman Super Minx, which sold for $2,195.

For the 1962 selling season, the 100-inch wheelbase Vauxhall Victor was all new.
The De Luxe sedan weighed in at 2,125 pounds

There was less trim and fewer goodies found on the Super. Rear passengers sank their feet on thick pile carpeting while front passengers had   to make do with durable rubber floor mats. Super owners still got a two-spoke steering wheel, two sun visors, a padded instrument panel and a full circle horn ring. There were thirteen two-tone colour combinations available on Super models. Bucket seats were optional equipment but were upholstered only in Vynide or Tygan-Rayon cloth. The opening price on the Vauxhall Victor in Super trim was $2,053.

At the bottom of the Victor barrel was the Standard. It came without chrome on the body and was devoid of extras. The solid colour choices were limited to Black, Alaska White, Smoke Grey, Mist Blue, Bermuda Blue, Midnight Blue, Alpine Green, Glade Green, Honey Gold and Primrose. A heater, specially designed for Canadian winters, was still among the items listed as standard equipment. It carried a three-spoke steering wheel with a modest horn button at its centre. There was no deep pile carpeting; rubber flooring was used throughout.

1962 Volkswagen
It appeared to be difficult to write much about the stripper though wordsmiths did manage this: “When you buy it-when you drive it-the new Victor Standard gives you the most for your car dollar.” The owner paid $1,947 for his purchase. As basic as it was, Victor still cost a good $600 more than a Volkswagen Beetle.

All of the new Victors used Vauxhall’s 92-cubic inch, four-cylinder engine. It was rated at 56.3 horsepower. While a three-speed, column mounted manual transmission was standard equipment, a new floor mounted, four-speed manual was offered this year at extra cost.

Options for Victors included a radio and aerial, windshield washers, fog lights, a cigarette lighter, seat covers, a spare wheel cover, exterior mirrors and plastic floor mats.

Vauxhall sold well enough in 1962. The new Victor racked up 7,386 sales for the calendar year and big brothers Cresta and Velox added 817 more sales to that figure. It was still the Number Two best-selling import in the country. Only Volkswagen sold more cars in the import category.  The 8,203-unit finish was surprisingly strong in light of the devaluation of the dollar by the Conservative government and new federal government surcharges on imported automobiles.

 Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!


Copyright James C. Mays 2005 All rights reserved.


Graham Clayton said...

The Cresta was also sold in Australia in the early 1960's, but if faced stiff competition from established local make Holden and the newly created Ford Falcon and Chrysler Valiant.

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