Vauxhall Cresta PA

Vauxhall Cresta PA 1960s British classic car

The Vauxhall Cresta PA first appeared in '57. At the time, Vauxhall - a mainstay of British car manufacturing - was under the aegis of GM, in Detroit. Unsurprisingly, the PA picked up several US styling motifs. The rear fins, for example, were pure Americana ... suitably reined in for British tastes, of course! Likewise, the PA's wraparound windscreen clearly originated on the other side of the 'pond'. Stateside-style two-tone paint - and whitewall tyres - were optional extras. The Cresta was Vauxhall's answer to Ford's Zodiac. It was there in every larger-than-life line of the British-made car. The PA's cabin continued the 'Britmobile' theme. Bench seats, white steering-wheel, and column shift all came courtesy of the American Dream.

Mechanically, the PA harked back to the 'E' Series. Its pushrod straight-six engine produced 78bhp. That gave it a top speed of 90mph. Capacity was 2,262cc. Power was delivered in relaxed fashion. The gearbox was a 3-speed synchromesh set-up. Soft suspension was via a leaf-spring rear axle, wishbones and coil-springs. Many of these components derived from the Vauxhall Velox - the Cresta's less sophisticated predecessor.

In '59, the PA got a face-lift. Its three-piece rear screen became one-piece. Up front, the 'egg-crate' grille was revised. Coachbuilders Friary built an estate car version. The Queen gave it her personal seal of royal approval ... she drove one for years! 1960 saw further updates to the PA. Its motor was taken out to 2.6 litres. That upped output to 96bhp. The Cresta was given larger wheels and fins. The 'box was now a two-pedal 'Hydramatic' auto. Or, alternatively, a dual overdrive manual. Front disc brakes were servo-assisted. British motorists clearly liked the improvements ... the PA sold well, right up to '62. By then, though, its fins - state-of-the-art in the '50s - looked a tad past their sell-by date. Its production run over, the Vauxhall Cresta PA was put out to pasture ... in the British sunshine.

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