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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1961 Vauxhall

The 1961 Vauxhall Velox was popular with Canadians. Weighing in at 1 296 kilos (2,858 pounds), GM's six-cylinder econo-champ sold for $2,517, f.o.b. Oshawa.

Since 1948 Vauxhall had been GM Canada’s captive import, sourced from the United Kingdom. The British-built passenger car took on the task of satisfying consumers in the domestic market who wanted a car European in look and more economical to operate than the large, North-American automobiles. Like Wolfe the dauntless hero, Vauxhall had planted firm Brittania’s flag on Canada’s fair domain, carving out a very nice niche for itself. Consumers bought them because they had confidence in the seemingly endless resources of General Motors of Canada, Limited.

The 1961 Vauxhall Cresta was the most expensive car from GM’s British subsidiary. It sold for $2,603 f.o.b. Oshawa.
For the 1961 selling season, Vauxhall fielded a trio of models across the Dominion through GM’s Pontiac-Buick dealers. The upscale Cresta shared its body with the Velox. The two vehicles blanketed the luxury and economy six-cylinder segments of the compact market in Canada. The smaller, four-cylinder Vauxhall Victor did battle with other imports on behalf of GM Canada. All were clad in unitized construction, like Rambler.

1961 Vauxhall Victor.

Cresta had been Vauxhall’s flagship since the Wyvern name had been retired at the end of the 1956 selling season. The 1961 Cresta and Velox had shared the same body shell since 1957. Now in its fifth and final year on this body style, consumers were familiar with its lines. The original styling, inspired by Vauxhall designer David Jones, was classic in nature and each year’s tiny updates were progressively attractive. This year, the wrap-around rear window was particularly noteworthy.

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Advertising bragged, “Vauxhall Velox and Cresta open up a new world of luxury driving! From handsome new radiator grille to new wraparound rear window—a distinctive new silhouette appears on the Canadian road. Fashionable smooth-line roof adds to the clean, classic simplicity of these new models, new side trim and fresh, fashionable two-tone colours to satisfy the most discriminating taste.”

“There are important changes inside the car, too:--new thermostatically controlled heater and defroster; upholstery in distinctive new colours; greater seating comfort and more leg room for passengers.”

Cresta was said to “combine the mechanical excellence of the Velox with a distinguished line of luxury features. These special refinements and extra comforts will bring you pleasure and value far beyond their modest cost.”
 The luxurious Cresta came with five fancy two-tone exterior paint jobs in addition to the eight colours also found on Velox. The combinations were Maroon over Silver Grey, Coronado Yellow over Regency Cream, Kewanee Green over Silver Grey, Royal Blue over Silver Grey and Black over Silvery Grey.

 Cresta was further distinguished from Velox with tarnish-proof stainless steel trim on the door pillars and side windows. Other niceties included an automatic windshield washer, padded sun visors, white wall tires, a full-circle horn ring, door-mounted courtesy switches that operated the ceiling light, an electric clock and cigarette lighter, pile carpeting throughout, Nylon-Elastofab upholstery with or without genuine leather trim, special door trim, a private key lock for the glove box, an interior light for the luggage compartment, gold-tone Cresta name plates and stainless steel, full-width wheel discs.
Trunk space in the 1961 senior Vauxhalls was enormous. Yes, those are fins—British style.

A Vauxhall Cresta four-door sedan started at $2,683 f.o.b. Oshawa. The nimble British car fit neatly into GM Canada’s overall compact lineup. That year the Buick Special listed for $3,411, the Oldsmobile F-85 carried a price tag of $3,144 and the Pontiac Tempest could be had for $2,858. Cresta cost only a few dollars more than the stripped Chevrolet Corvair four-door sedan at $2,448.

Chrysler Canada dealers offered its "designed in Paris" captive import Simca Vedette for $2,650.

The Cresta stacked up well against the competition. A Valiant De-Luxe sedan four-door sedan listed for $2,770 and a Studebaker Lark V-8 Regal could be had for $2,687.

More economy minded than the Cresta was the value-laden Velox. “The eager Velox is powered to match its distinguished appearance. Whether it’s needling through city traffic or cruising on the open road, the husky six-cylinder engine responds willingly, smoothly. And thanks to Velox high gear flexibility—you save on gas, too.”
The 1961 Vauxhall Velox carried less chrome and brightwork than Cresta.

The less flashy stable mate sold for $2,517. Blackwall tires, less trim and fewer standard features made it attractive as a six-cylinder value purchase for many. Velox was available in eight solid colours:  Maroon, Silver Grey, Royal Blue, Banff Blue, Kewanee Green, Regency Cream, Coronado Yellow and Black. Interior fabric choices could be had in five colours--if Vynide was chosen--or a trio of hues in the less expensive Rayon-Tygan fabric.
 The 1961 Vauxhall Cresta and Velox shared a 2.3-litre six-cylinder engine.

Both Cresta and Velox shared the 2.3-litre (138 cubic-inch), 82-horsepower, six-cylinder engine. The mill had proven itself well since its 1952 introduction. A three-speed, manual synchromesh transmission was standard equipment.

Vauxhall delivered the goods for GM Canada in 1961. From St. John’s to Victoria, Canadians purchased 3,017 Cresta and Velox models that year. The smaller and popular Victor added another 11,328 units to the bottom line. Vauxhall was the Number Two best-selling import in the country.

Only West Germany’s Volkswagen sold more cars than Vauxhall in Canada in the import category.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2007
All rights reserved.

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