Part 6 of Vauxhall’s Decade-a-Day reaches our half way point, and recognises not only the heavy design influence from our then US parent, but also the growing importance of Bedford – Vauxhall’s commercial vehicle division – to the business. So, we have two vehicles for your delectation today: the PA Velox/Cresta, and the Bedford CA panel van.
The 2.25-litre, six-cylinder PA Velox and Cresta arrived in 1957 and were built, with minor styling changes, until 1962. Illustrating the company’s huge growth in export sales at the time, a PA model became the two-millionth Vauxhall to roll off the Luton line.
A large car by post-war British standards, but diminutive compared with GM’s Stateside behemoths on which its design was based, the PA Velox/Cresta was the perfect antidote to the UK’s largely grey and austere ‘50s motoring landscape.
Vauxhall’s famous ‘flutes’ made a final appearance (though they were only represented in concave chrome side-strips), but in every other respect the PA embodied a brave new world for Vauxhall. Tail fins, swathes of chrome, a bright body-colour palette and wrap-around front screen gave it the scaled-down look of a ’57 Chevy Bel Air, while inside, bench seats and a column gear-shift completed the US feel.
Almost all PAs were saloons, but Friary produced a stylish estate version, one of which (pictured) was used by HM The Queen, fitted with a gun rack and vinyl floor covers for her corgis.
Body: 6-seat saloon
Engine: 6 cylinders in-line
Engine Capacity: 2,262cc,
Top Speed: 90mph
0-60mph: 16.8 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 23mpg
Transmission: RWD, 3-speed all-synchromesh gearbox (auto optional)
BEDFORD CA VAN
The van to own in the fifties and early sixties was the Bedford CA. It was arguably the UK’s first purpose-built light commercial vehicle and was introduced in 1952 as both a panel van and chassis cowl.
It proved popular for delivery drivers and roundsmen, who loved its sliding doors, and the cab-only version provided bodybuilders with many opportunities for specialist coachwork such as dropsides, milk floats and mobile shops. The Dormobile was the first of many conversions carried out to the CA, complete with an elevating roof to liberate extra space inside, bringing the joys of motor-caravaning to the masses.
Over a quarter of a million CAs were produced between 1952 and 1969, when it was replaced by the larger Bedford CF.
Body: Panel van/chassis cab/bespoke variants
Engine: In-line, four cylinder
Engine Capacity: 1595cc
Top Speed: n/a
Fuel Consumption: n/a