Vauxhall Velox

Vauxhall Velox front view

The Vauxhall Velox (L-Type) is a medium-sized six-cylinder saloon. By the time production ended, in 1965, it had evolved into a large family car, competing in the UK with the contemporary six-cylinder Ford Zephyr. It was introduced by Vauxhall in 1948 as a successor to the Vauxhall Fourteen. Between 1948 and 1957 the Velox shared its body with the less powerful four-cylinder-engined Vauxhall Wyvern. Between 1957 and 1965 it shared its body with the more luxuriously equipped Vauxhall Cresta.

The Velox and its Opel contemporaries are remembered for having mirrored North American styling trends much more closely than other European models of the time: this was particularly apparent following the introduction in 1957 of the confidently styled PA version of the Velox.

Velox LIP 1948 - 1951

The classic four-door saloon boasted a newly developed straight-six-cylinder engine of 2275 cc, with overhead valves. The 54 bhp (40 kW) power output provided for a claimed top speed of 74 mph (119 km/h). Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a three-speed manual gear box with synchromesh on the top two ratios.

Optional extras included a heater from which warm air was evenly distributed between the front and back areas of the passenger cabin and which could be set to de-ice the windscreen in winter or to provide cool air ventilation in summer. Also available at extra charge was an AM radio integrated into the facia.

The body was shared with the four-cylinder Vauxhall Wyvern, a pattern that continued with subsequent versions of the Velox until 1957. The interior of the Velox was not greatly differentiated from that of the Wyvern, but it could boast superior seating materials and, for the rear seat, a central arm rest.

Early Velox and Wyvern models were assembled at Vauxhall's Luton plant in England, at the General Motors plant at Biel in Switzerland and in Australia (by Holden in Melbourne) and New Zealand at the GM plant in Petone near Wellington.

A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 74.1 mph (119.3 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 22.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 22.3 miles per imperial gallon (12.7 L/100 km; 18.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £550 including taxes.

Velox EIP 1951 - 1952

Late in 1951 a completely new, much larger Velox was launched, featuring a modern 'three box' shape and integral construction. The body was again shared with the 4-cylinder-engined Wyvern. The car was launched with the previous model's engine but with power output increased to 58 bhp (43 kW).

A car with the original 2275 cc engine tested by The Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 77.4 mph (124.6 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 23.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 23.5 miles per imperial gallon (12.0 L/100 km; 19.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £802 including taxes. In the same year, the magazine tested the similarly sized Ford Zephyr Six. Ford's test car was fitted with options including a radio, a heater and leather seating: thus equipped the Zephyr came with a recommended retail price of £842.

Velox EIP/EIPV 1952 - 1957

Less than one year after the appearance of the first ponton models, the Velox received a new over-square 2262 cc engine which had been in the development pipeline for several years. This provided either 64 bhp (48 kW) or, with a compression ratio improved to 7.6:1, 68 bhp (51 kW) of power.

1954 saw a significant facelift. Most obvious of the many cosmetic changes was a new front grill. More important was the introduction at this time of a sister model, branded as the Vauxhall Cresta. In addition to superior equipment levels, the Cresta was distinguished by a two tone paint finish.

Detroit was by now favouring annual facelifts, and Vauxhall reflected that trend, announcing a facelifted Velox for the 1955 London Motor Show and again in 1956. Technically, however, there were no further changes until the arrival of a completely new Velox in October 1957.

A further test by The Motor magazine in 1952, now with the short stroke 2262 cc engine, found the top speed had increased to 80.4 mph (129.4 km/h) and accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) to 21.4 seconds. A similar fuel consumption of 23.6 miles per imperial gallon (12.0 L/100 km; 19.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost had risen to £833 including taxes.

Velox PA S/PA SY 1957 - 1960

At the 1957 London Motor Show Vauxhall presented radically new Velox and Cresta models: these would come to be known as the PA versions, being the first of the P series. Particularly eye catching was the new wrap-around windscreen, which combined with a huge three part rear window to create an exceptionally airy passenger cabin, providing exceptional all round visibility. The back of the Velox was graced by tail fins, a Detroit inspired trend already taken up by the car's Ford rival, and which would in the next two years be followed also by such European competitors as Fiat, BMC and Peugeot. On the inside the new Velox also followed US practice, combining a front bench seat with a column-mounted gear change / shift, continuing a trend back to the first Velox of 1948.

Minor modifications to the car's six-cylinder engine raised power output to 83 bhp (61 kW). As before, the Cresta was distinguished from the Velox model by superior levels of equipment and a two tone paint finish.

The Velox PA received its first facelift in October 1959 when the front grill was enlarged and the three piece rear window was replaced by a single wrap-around window. Technical improvements had to await the 1960 facelift, however.

Velox PA SX 1960 - 1962

The October 1960 facelift was marked by further modifications to the trim and to the rear lights. There was also a new engine, still of six cylinders, but now increased in capacity to 2651 cc, and delivering 95 bhp (71 kW). The UK had recently embarked on its first programme of motorway building, and the Velox now boasted a straight line maximum speed of 94 mph (151 km/h).

At the same time, the saloon models were joined by a five-door estate.

In their 1960 form, the Velox and its Cresta sibling continued without further significant changes until replaced in Autumn 1962.

Velox PB 1962 - 1965

The final version of the Velox, launched along with the Cresta PB at the London Motor Show in October 1962, was well over four and a half meters long: it was the largest Velox ever built, longer and wider than the benchmark Ford Zephyr with which it competed in the UK. The new car was considered stylistically more restrained than its flamboyant predecessor, the removal of vertical fins emphasizing the car's width. Power output was increased to 115 bhp (86 kW). Two years after launch, the Velox PB became available with a more powerful 3294 cc engine for its third and final year: this made it one of the fastest European saloons of its day.

October 1965 saw the introduction of the Vauxhall Cresta PC, equipped with that same 3294 cc engine. This time no Velox version was offered. Rather, the Cresta itself became the base model, with two headlights, complemented by the more luxurious Cresta Deluxe, with four headlights, and the vinyl roof Vauxhall Viscount with more luxurious trim and power windows.


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