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Homepage. This page: Vauxhall's in-house motoring magazine of 1961 - 1964, including F-Type Victors and PA Crestas.

The Vauxhall Motorist.

Magazines from the car makers of Longbridge, Cowley, Solihull and Canley already get a mention in this section of the site, and now it's the turn of Luton's finest to get a look in. The three copies of The Vauxhall Motorist that I have to hand all date from the early 1960s. The earliest is dated April 1961 and features an F-Type Victor on its cover. Slightly younger is the copy dating to April 1963 which includes a photograph of a happy family unloading their later Vauxhall Victor estate, while the December 1964 issue has a 101 saloon flying the flag for the Vauxhall range.
Vauxhall cars magazines from 1961 to 1964
Readers keen to gen up on all the latest news from Vauxhall could either purchase their copy of the magazine from their local Vauxhall agent, or else direct from Vauxhall Motors Ltd. The price was 9d, with an annual subscription available for six shillings - post free.

Vauxhall news for February 1961.

News section.

Vauxhall F-Type Victor estate
The editorial for the Feb '61 issue made great play of Vauxhall's sales successes in 1960, the first year in which the combined production of Vauxhall cars and Bedford commercials combined, exceeded the quarter million mark. In all 252,026 vehicles were produced, a rise of 2.4% over 1959's level. Commercial vehicle output had increased by 20% in 1960, with the overall number vehicles destined for the home market increasing by 8.2%. Far more interesting though on page 1 was the photograph of the now-rare F-Type Victor estate car, being ably modelled by a young lady - "Miss Kenya" no less. The "two lovelies", Ms Batty and the F-Type, were photographed together in Mombasa, one of them at least sporting very fine lines indeed. Ding dong.
Readers would no doubt have been excited to read about a new reversing lamp kit was being made available for post-1957 Velox and Cresta (PA) models. The kit included two lamps that could be fitted to the rear face of the bootlid, with the 21 watt bulbs being ignited by the selection of reverse gear in the cockpit. Both manual and automatic cars could be accommodated, so owners of six-cylinder Vauxhalls equipped with Hydra-matic transmission could also avail themselves of the extra illumination.

Heated roads, and Swiss yodellers.

Of interest to anyone living in the Basildon area was the decision taken by the Development Corporation to incorporate under-surface heating within a new bridge being built. The new structure connected a housing estate to a main A road nearby, with thermostats designed to switch on the heating whenever the temperature dropped below 35 degrees. Did this make it into service I wonder, and if so, for how long? It sounds like an interesting idea, albeit expensive to implement and run. The subject of road heating would emerge again, in the December '64 issue mentioned further down this page.
Rounding out the News section is a photograph of F-Type Victors lined-up in Switzerland. Seven out of fourteen members of a Swiss singing and yodelling group ran Vauxhalls apparently, with the majority of the seven having opted to sit behind the wheel of an F-Type.
Vauxhall PA Cresta wins an endurance race

PA Cresta wins its class in a 500-mile endurance race.

Phillip Island in Australia was the setting for the Armstrong 500-mile race, an event where four-door saloons built or assembled in Australia could compete in a 500 mile, 167 lap endurance challenge. The only permissible modification was the fitment of Armstrong shock-absorbers, understandable given that it was sponsored by the Armstrong York Engineering Company. The PA Cresta entered by sales agent S.A. Cheney Pty. Ltd of Melbourne, and driven by Bill Coad and John Roxborough, won the class for 2001 - 3500cc motor-cars. Apart from routine servicing and tyre stops, the car ran faultlessly and at one point was timed at 96.4mph on a one-mile stretch. Given that the surface of the three-mile circuit was anything but smooth, with ruts and potholes developing as the event unfolded, no wonder that Vauxhall were keen to make the most of this achievement. Both drivers are shown sat on the Cresta's bonnet, clutching the winner's wreath.

Elsewhere in The Vauxhall Motorist.

Enthusiastic motorists, the type who would spent their weekends religiously greasing kingpins and studiously discussing the inner workings of their automobile's innards with like-minded souls, would no doubt have expressed interest in the next article to feature in the magazine. Three pages are given over to the workings of Vauxhall's Hydra-matic (automatic) transmission. A helpful guide instructs the reader as to the use of the column-mounted gearshift, explaining the letters R-L-S-D-N-P on its selector. This is followed by a look at how the innards of the gearbox function, explaining in some detail the key components that exist within the gearbox's casing.
Other articles include photographs of a trip taken around the Middle East in a Victor by an employee of the De Havilland Aircraft Co., while another takes a light-hearted look at approaching the task of driving a LHD, be-finned automobile on the roads of America. Two pages are then given over to the zoos of England, although not particularly relating to Vauxhalls the article does at least feature two photos that happen to have a Victor parked in the background. Some tips about dealing with customs on a return trip to the Continent are also given, the underlying suggestion being to not "try it on" with the men in peaked caps.

Drive to Greece in a 1955 Velox.

In the days before cheap package holidays, and bargain-bucket flights from the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet, many people had no choice but to use their car if they fancied the idea of a holiday in a distant land, to which sea travel was either not possible or simply too slow. An article explains how a Mr M.H. Packard decided to press his six-year-old Vauxhall Velox into service, driving it to Greece for a family holiday. This wasn't its first trip to Greece either, two runs had already been made earlier in the year, so the 50,000 mile car was well-used to the varied terrain that the route threw up. Parts of the route were described as "... unsurfaced and rock-strewn, rutted and corrugated and with diversions that are at best over ploughed fields". Evidently it wasn't the easiest of journeys.
The gallant group departed London on a Friday at 4pm, heading for Southend to make use of the Channel Air Bridge service. By 6pm they were in Calais. Heading off in the direction of Belgium, by midnight the car and its passengers were in Germany, breakfasting in Munich then heading on to Austria, which they reached by 9am. Yugoslavia was traversed without incident despite many of the roads barely being fit for use. Sunday morning, 10.30am, and the Yugoslav/Greek border had been reached. The roads improved noticeably for the final 350 mile run to Athens, arriving at their destination at 8pm, Sunday evening. The plucky Vauxhall consumed fuel at an average rate of 24mpg for the entire trip.
Series 2 Vauxhall Victors for 1961

Contact from the readership.

One regular reader asks for advice on how to fit flashing indicators to his 1950 Velox, to bring it into line with the current trend for flashing indicators on modern cars. Another asks for advice regarding the re-furbishment of his Victor's starter motor, while another Vauxhall driver recounts the problems he has with starting the engine in his 1947 Vauxhall 12.

The Vauxhall Motorist in 1963.

Just over two years had passed by since the Feb 1961 issue of The Vauxhall Motorist had been published. The 1963 issue continues in a similar vein, although features a noticeable increase in advertisements from outside companies. Adverts for Dunlop, Triplex, Cleveland Discol, BP, Laycock Engineering, Connolly Bros., AC and Goodyear - to name just a few - all present themselves before the magazine's actual content is revealed.
Driving a Vauxhall along a frozen canal
The editorial section features a photograph of a (fool)hardy chap who lived near Chester. Over the chilly winter of 1962/1963 his local canal froze over. Finding the canal to be a handy shortcut to the main road, this chap decided that it'd be a good idea to use the frozen canal to cut some time from his local journeys. A photo shows his F-Type estate parked on the frozen canal, alongside a moored cruiser. I wonder how many times he got away with this stunt before the ice began to thaw? Maybe Victor, registration 83 LFM, continued to lead a useful life on the roads of the North West, or perhaps it ended its days in a watery grave at the bottom of the Shropshire Union Canal? Please don't try this at home!
Highlights of the 1963 issue include features on:
  • Road design, and making roads blend in to the countryside better
  • The search for oil
  • The story of a 1960 Victor owned in Toronto
  • Taking a Bedford CA Dormobile on a trip to Lapland

1964 Issue.

The December 1964 magazine features the "Space Curve" Victor 101 Series on its cover, while the centre pages are given over to looking at the 101 in its various forms in detail - the De Luxe, the Estate Car, the Super, and the VX 4/90.
Other items of interest this month include the news that the Luton Borough police force had taken delivery of four new VX 4/90 patrol cars, their new steeds photographed outside supplying dealer Motor Bodies (Luton) Ltd. As in the 1961 issue, Vauxhalls featured strongly in this year's Armstrong 500 endurance race in Australia. Six Viva HAs had been entered, with all six cars taking the top six (out of seventeen) finishing positions in their class.
If all this talk of brand new Vivas and Victors was just a little too modern to stomach, then comfort was at hand thanks to a two-page spread featuring a gathering organised by the 30/98 Register, held on the sports ground at the Luton plant. A fine collection of vintage Vauxhalls had turned up for this event, many of which had been caught on camera by the company's in-house photographer.

Road heating, again.

The subject of road heating raises its head again, thanks to an article penned by a J.T. Sharples BSc Tech. A.M.I.E.E. where he discusses the merits and challenges involved with implementing such schemes on key roads in the UK. He says that at the time, late 1964, there were twenty such installations to be found on UK roads, with the RAC recommending that they be introduced in a further sixty-two locations in England and Wales. The Hammersmith fly-over had cost 4000 GBP to operate during the tough winter of 1963, although it was pointed out that bridges by their design will require more heating than would a road of similar distance, due to heat escaping to the sides and underneath.
All three magazines featured here are from the early 1960s, the 1961 issue being Volume 22 No.1 suggesting that this magazine had been around since the 1930s, assuming a break was taken during the war. If any pre-war copies turn up, I'll add them in here. A selection of issues from the 1950s may now be found on this page, again here at OCC.
Return to the car magazines section for information on similar titles.

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