A short story of (my) Vauxhall cars

by Hans Wuhrmann

The Vauxhall Iron works in Luton, south of London, built steam ship engines and their first motor car in 1903.

Up to the mid 1920 they built mostly rather large 4 cylinder cars, comparable to the Lanchesters, Rolls-Royces and similar. Big, heavy, fast and expensive.

When in 1926 GM bought Vauxhall and in 1929 Opel these plants started introducing American technology and producing rather useful, less expensive cars for the wider market.
So my 1929 R 20/60 is the last purely British engineered Vauxhall, still rather big and quiet. Originally in Queensland, I call her Matilda, or sometimes Steamship.

Vauxhall's "reasonable" 6-cylinders started in 1926 with the 20/60 type of 2.8 litres, from 1933 on with the A type of some 1.8 l, 1935 the D with Dubonnet independent front suspension and then from 1938 with the H, I and J types with integral steel body instead of chassis and (wooden) body on top. Engines still the long stroke type of 1.2 litre, 1.4 four and 1.8 six.
My DX coupé might have been a nice looking little Buick or similar. She is called Schnüggel, or Little Darling.

An important side line were the the lorries and vans under the name of Bedford.
During the war they built lorries and notably the Vauxhall-built Churchill tank. In 1946 car production resumed again with the little H  for the export markets. The I was discontinued while the slightly bigger J got the 6- cylinder.
My beautiful 1946 JIB, called the Blue Jay, is a matronly nice car, quite comfortable while not fast. (what for?) Built in Switzerland at the GM Bienne plant.

In 1948 a new front and back was added to the small prewar H body (looking like a shrunk Chevrolet Fleetline) and the old long stroke engine of 1933 was enlarged to 2.3 l. So the "new" car was called the L type, named Velox for the 6 cylinder and Wyvern with the small 4 cylinder of 1.4 l.
My 1950 Velox is slightly overengined for the small and narrow prewar body. I call her the Adelaide Kangaroo as she is rather jumpy on the road. She originally ran in South Australia.


In 1953 a completely new modern car came out: the E type. New square engines of 1.4 and 2.3 for the new Wyvern and Velox, bigger, roomier bodies, double wishbone suspension. My 1956 Cresta, Miss Marple, is the luxury version of the Velox, named after the Cresta bob run in St.Moritz. Looks similar to 1950 Chevrolets.


And then, in 1957, the PA type, sleek, lower bodied, gaudy colours, wings and all, American style, a shock and a complete change from European styling while underneath everything remained about the same. Never change a working thing! 
My 1961 PAD is called Flügeli or Winglet.


The PA were Vauxhall's 6-cylinder types from 1957 to 1962, designwise near the 1957 Chevrolet Belair, wings and wrapped round windows, new colours, followed by the rather frugal and reasonably square looking PB 1963 to 1965, similar to the Chevy Nova,

My 1963 PBD Cresta was originally with the Swiss army as an officer's transport. Thus the strange colour.
My father's 1964 PBS Velox was my first veteran car, now a beloved member of my son's family.

Finally the PC, 1966 to 1972 with four headlights and those "power bulges" over the rear wheels. I drive all of them. all with the same 2.65 l engine of 117 HP. The 2.3 was enlarged to 2.65 l and from 1966 even to 3.3 l and 130 HP.
My PA has the beautiful 3 speed Hydramatic, the PB a 3 speed manual, the PC that horrible 2 speed Powerglide. The torque converter, also called fluid drive, converts the engine's torque into noise and heat, and about half of it into powering the car.

My 1966 PCD still has the 2.65 l as the bigger one would have got expensive in taxes and insurance.


They were about the end of Vauxhall's 6 - cylinder series. From the mid 70ies Vauxhalls and Opels started to share technology, differing only in trim and badges. And the Vauxhalls had the steering wheel on the right side. The Swiss erection plant was closed down in 1976 and the Vauxhalls slowly disappeared from the Swiss market and roads.
Today there are some 80 Vauxhalls left on Swiss roads, 10% of which belong to my own fleet. Pure fun!

May 2023, Hans Wuhrmann