Vauxhall through the Ages: The Cresta

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

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The two-millionth Vauxhall, the Queen's car, and the first Armstrong 500 winner

The Vauxhall Cresta of Frank Coad and John Roxborough won the inaugural 1960 Armstrong 500 at Phillip Island beating the Standard Vanguard of Norm Beechey and John French and the just-launched Falcon XK of Bob Jane and Lou Molina. 

The Armstrong win at the Island, the  precursor to the Bathurst 1000, put the Cresta on the shopping list of buyers along with the original Falcon and FB Holden, with which the Cresta shared showroom space. 

But racing was the last thing the Cresta was designed for. It was, after all, an affordable but premium model that competed against the Ford Zephyr in its English homeland. 

The 2.25-litre six-cylinder Cresta with a 90mph top speed and 0-100km/h time of 18.3 sec (also knowns as the Velox in some markets) debuted in 1957 with a production run lasting until 1962 and a few styling tweaks along the way. 

Thanks to a significant increase in exports through the Commonwealth the Cresta’s  biggest claim to fame was it became the two-millionth Vauxhall to roll off the Luton UK production line. 

Considered to be a large car by post-war British standards, but small in stature compared to GM’s American behemoths on which its design was based, the Cresta was a breath of fresh air to the diminutive and largely dull offerings of the UK’s ‘50s motoring landscape. 

The Cresta in every way was a huge step forward for Vauxhall with the Cresta featuring bold  tail fins – an influence from the States and GM parent company, plenty of chrome, a bright body-colour palette and distinguishing wrap-around windscreen. 

At the time many observed it had the appearance of a scaled-down 1957 Chevy Bel Air, while inside bench seats and a column gearshift for the standard three-speed manual completed the US feel.

Almost all Crestas were sedans, but UK bodybuilder Friary produced a wagon version, one of which was used by the Queen, fitted with a gun rack and vinyl floor covers for her corgis.


Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part I - Vauxhall's first car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part II - Britain's first racecar

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part III - Britain's fastest car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part IV - The H-Type Ten-Four

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VI - The XVR Concept

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VII - The Firenza HP DroopSnoot

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VIII - Vauxhall's first hot hatch

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part IX - The world's fastest sedan

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part X - The Australian finale


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