DRiViNG VAUXHALL’S FiNNED HERO
Just imagine the extraordinary combination of colour, chrome and sheer zest that was the PA hitting the smoke-blackened cityscapes of industrial Britain in 1957. To be honest, judging by the 1959 Vauxhall Velox we are about to pilot, the effect of those low looks, curvaceous roof lines, chrome (slightly less than the Cresta but still lots of it) and – of course – fantastic fins still have the same effect.
Open the driver’s door – being careful to protect your knees from the protruding windscreen pillar – and then lower yourself into the squashy seat ahead of the low-set chrome-clad controls. At least we managed to find the ignition switch.
Thankfully everything else looks fairly logical in here. The steering wheel, complete with lovely Vauxhall badge, is enormous and all the gauges are neatly housed in two enormous binnacles.
Turn the key and the straight-six engine is straight in there, burbling happily. A glance through the rear window (one-piece here, not the three- piece affair sported by earlier models) shows off those lovely rear wing tips.
Release the ‘umbrella’ under-dash handbrake, ease the three-speed column change into first gear and we’re off on a wave of low-speed torque. This is a lovely gearchange, and the ‘box is so flexible that you feel the car would operate purely in second gear. But then you would be missing out on the excellent flexibility and top-gear cruising.
There is a lot of power, but it’s well harnessed, conveying a sense that it’s extremely well engineered. The ride is exemplary and the steering light. The clutch is far from heavy and the brakes are good, though the front disc option is desirable. This Velox is on crossply tyres, and so commands respect on narrow twisty roads. Take a sharp bend quickly and you’ll be greeted with plenty of understeer and significant body roll. You soon realise the car’s limits, as we’ve said it’s a question of respect.
And no-one would deny this car such a thing.