MYS­TERY CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - AUTOMOBILIA - 12. 25. 5.

This month we’re go­ing back to Italy with yet an­other of the in­ter­est­ing lit­tle coupés that graced the Ital­ian scene in the mid-1950s. Send your so­lu­tion, by email, or snail mail, to Mys­tery Cars No. 230, Nzclassiccar, PO Box 46 020, Herne Bay, Auck­land by mid March. The win­ner will be the first cor­rect en­try opened from the en­tries box. Last month’s Mys­tery No. 229 was the rare Dor­mo­bile es­tate car vari­ant of the Vaux­hall Velox / Cresta E-se­ries, in­tro­duced very late in the model’s pro­duc­tion run, prob­a­bly be­cause it was de­vel­oped out­side the Vaux­hall fac­tory by coach­builder Martin Wal­ter Ltd, bet­ter known for the Dor­mo­bile mo­tor car­a­van. This was pretty much a stan­dard Velox chas­sis and body shell, sup­plied to the coach­builder, which then cut away the rear part of the roof, rear win­dow and boot area, and care­fully stitched on the es­tate-car rear end in its place. There was noth­ing un­usual about this process, as Ab­bott was do­ing a sim­i­lar job on the Ford MKII Con­sul and Ze­phyr range, and many other such con­ver­sions were be­ing done on a one-off ba­sis by other coach­builders to cus­tomer re­quire­ments. The Dor­mo­bile es­tate con­ver­sion was fully sanc­tioned by the Vaux­hall fac­tory (there was also an­other (even uglier) es­tate ver­sion built by Grosvenor, also Vaux­hall ap­proved) but sales were very slow — not only was the price rather high, but it was not a hand­some car, and any­way sales of the E-se­ries Velox and Cresta had dropped sharply as Vaux­hall cus­tomers waited for the soon-to-come PA se­ries car. We have no de­tails of the sales fig­ures, but in terms of tech­ni­cal de­tail, it’s es­sen­tially a stan­dard late-model Velox Se­ries E with the 2262cc short-stroke en­gine. The pro­duc­tion run was very short any­way, as Martin Wal­ter re­al­ized it was do­ing much bet­ter with full-scale mo­tor-car­a­van con­ver­sions, which it had be­gun do­ing a few years ear­lier on the Bed­ford CA van base ve­hi­cle. The camper­van con­ver­sions were sell­ing well, and were avail­able by then on other base ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing Land Rovers. The com­pany changed its name to Dor­mo­bile — in­ci­den­tally, that word is still listed in many UK English dic­tio­nar­ies as a syn­onym for mo­tor car­a­vans, so widely known had it be­come — and did good busi­ness un­til the mid 1970s, when the ad­vent of cheap flights over­seas changed UK hol­i­day pat­terns. Regular con­tes­tant and mas­ter spotter David North from River­ton was quick to spot the nice lit­tle 1953 Moretti coupé, our Mys­tery No. 228.

An­swers to last month’s crossword #270 Across: 7. Header 8. Con­sul 10. Porsche 11. Omega Osca 13. Kombi 17. Ri­ley 18. Lube 22. Astre 23. Tra­bant 24. Di­ablo Bit­ter Down: 1. Chapron 2. Dar­racq 3. Repco 4. Colombo Es­sex 9. Ve­lo­cette 14. Fire­fly 15. Bu­gatti 16. Cen­tury 19. Halda 21. Rapid

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