Vauxhall Velox PB
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
At the time, the Vauxhall Velox and Cresta were the biggest cars made by the British branch of the General Motors' empire. Back in 1957
, these six-cylinder Vauxhalls caused plenty of interest - in Australia, as in Britain, because of their highly individual appearance. In the intervening years the cars retained their appearance, being long, low and square at the both ends. Examined in detail, there was nothing pretty about them, but the overall effect was the impression of speed and good road-holding.
After a few bugs had been ironed out in the first year or two of production, the Velox and Cresta lived up to their reputation, and ranked among the most outstanding performers in the medium-size cars available in Australia. During that time the size of the six cylinder engine increased from 2.2 to 2.6 litres, the horsepower was upped from 82 to 113 bhp and GM's Hydramatic transmission
became available as standard equipment on the Cresta and as an option on the Velox.
The final version of the Velox was launched along with the Cresta PB
at the London Motor Show in October 1962
. It was well over four and a half meters long, making it the largest Velox ever built, longer and wider than the benchmark Ford Zephyr
with which it competed in the UK. The new car was considered stylistically more restrained than its flamboyant predecessor, the removal of vertical fins emphasizing the car's width.
The new model did not make an appearance in Australia until the 1963 Melbourne Motor Show - that the long awaited change in styling was made. Once made, it proved a radical alteration. There was not a panel of the Vauxhall sixes that was derived from the old models, with the result that the cars looked much more like members of the General Motors' stable than any other Vauxhall had since the marque joined that vast organisation during the depression.
Front disc brakes
were standard but the traditional three-speed column-mounted transmission
persisted; there was also a three-speed Hydramatic automatic
which changed to a two-speed Powerglide
. Futuristic names were then all the rage of course. Initially, the 2651cc six-cylinder engine was carried over from the PA, but this jumped to 3294cc in 1964
, the 115bhp providing a much-needed shot of adrenalin.
The styling was obviously borrowed from the then popular Vauxhall Victor
, which got its new body in 1962
. The big Vauxhalls were only 23 inches longer, 11 inches wider and half an inch lower than the previous models. One major effect of the new body was that the cars actually looked smaller than the ones they replaced. And despite the slight overall increase in external dimensions there was a substantial increase in interior room, six inches more headroom, more or less equally divided between the front and back seats when the front seat is pushed right back.
The back seat was substantially higher than the old one, giving the back passengers a better view of what is going on around them, but they still got an extra 15 inches of headroom. Trim in the PB Velox was a type of synthetic vinyl material that was softer than on the earlier model. There was more padding below the trim and the pleating was thicker. The seats were better shaped and were considered by most road testers as being very comfortable. Well padded, arm rests were fitted to the doors, and there was a broad, centre arm rest in the back seat. The more expensive Cresta also had a centre arm rest in the back and carpet on the floor, instead of the Velox's ugly and comfortless composition matting.
No Demister - and No Cigarette Lighter
There were several other features of the Velox which made the interior somewhat lacking in comfort, especially considering it cost over £1300 in standard transmission form on the showroom floor in Australia - and that was a hefty £35 premium over the PA model. There was no heater or windscreen washer, and the otherwise good fresh air ventilation system below the dashboard could not be directed on to the windscreen to demist it. And in an era when the cigarette ruled supreme, even a humble lighter was missing. Instead, there was a large, blank chrome disc on the dash, where you could option a Nasco accessory.
Following the lead of most American General Motors' products, and some of Vauxhall's British rivals (such as the Mark 3 Ford Zephyr
), the trim on the doors was neatly carried right up to the window sills, leaving no metal showing. Instruments were similar in style, number and layout to the previous model. They were grouped in front of the driver in a binnacle shrouded to prevent reflections in the windscreen. There was a strip-type speedo that changed colour at various speeds, but was difficult to read and pretty inaccurate. There was a total mileage recorder but, sadly, no trip meter. Smaller gauges told the driver how much petrol they has and, approximately, the temperature of the engine coolant.
Vision, which was not poor on the previous model, was outstanding on the PB Velox. The pillar blind spots were minimum, and view through the large, well curved back window was excellent. Of course, the lack of a window demister didn't help. In fairness to the Vauxhall, many cars of this era were still being sold without these basic necessities for safe driving. But there were disc brakes
- they were only on the front wheels but they were combined with large drum brakes
at the back and a magnificent servo-assistance unit - and the brakes
during various road tests proved to be remarkably fade resistant. Better still, the brakes
were not the only good thing about the car - there was an equally high standard maintained in the steering and suspension departments.
Recirculating Ball Steering
Both were fairly conventional - the steering being the well-known GM recirculating ball mechanism and the springing being independent at the front and not independent at the back, with simple semi-elliptic leaf springs. But the Velox would handle with all the poise and grace of a thoroughbred. You could place the car exactly where you wanted to on a road and it would stay there, unaffected by changing surfaces or variations in wind. On a corner, the Vauxhall would go round at reasonably high speeds without losing any adhesion at all and with virtually no body roll. Near the limit the car understeered mildly.
The ride was dead smooth, even on rough roads, and there was none of the jolting pitch that used to be a fault on British cars of this size. The powerful, exactly square 2.6 litre engine was smooth and silent. At no stage could it be strained, and it was perfectly happy to lope along at any speed, even its maximum. Although not as distinctive in appearance as older Vauxhall sixes, the PB Velox was a better car all round - smoother, more comfortable and considerably roomier.
Two years after launch, the Velox PB became available with a more powerful 3294 cc engine for its third and final year: this made it one of the fastest European saloons of its day. October 1965
saw the introduction of the Vauxhall Cresta PC, equipped with that same 3294cc engine. The difference between the Cresta and Velox did not warrant different models, and soon the Cresta itself became the base model, with two headlights, complemented by the more luxurious Cresta Deluxe, with four headlights, and the vinyl roof Vauxhall Viscount with more luxurious trim and power windows.
Vauxhall Velox PB Quick Specifications:
Cylinders six, in line. Bore and stroke 82.55 by 82.55 mm; Cubic capacity 2651cc; Compression ratio 8.5 to 1; Valves
pushrod, overhead. Carburettor Zenith, downdraught; Power at rpm (gross) 113 bhp at 4800 rpm; Maximum torque (gross) 147.8 ft lb at 2400
Hydramatic, 3-speed auto
Front Independent, coil springs / Rear live axle, half-elliptic springs. Shockers telescopic all round
Burman, recirculating ball. Turns, L to L 5. Circle 36 ft 6 in.
Type servo assisted, dies front, drums back
Wheelbase 8 ft 11.5 in; Track, front 4 ft 6.75 in; Track, rear 4 ft 8.25 in; Overall length 15 ft 1.75 in; Width 5 ft 10.75 in; Height 4 ft 8.25 in
Size 5.90 x 14
Top speed 91 mph; Maximum speed in gears: Low 35 mph; Intermediate 61 mph; Drive 91.2 mph
Standing quarter mile: 21.7 sec; 0 to 30 mph 4.8 sec; 0 to 40 mph 8.0 sec; 0 to 50 mph 12.2 sec; 0 to 60 mph 19.3 sec; 0 to 70 mph 28.0 sec; 0 to 80 mph 43.2 sec; 20 to 40 mph 5.0 sec; 30 to 50 mph 6.7 sec; 40 to 60 mph 10.1 sec; 0 to 60 mph 23.4 sec Fuel Consumption: 17.7 mpg Price: £1483 (1963 - automatic model)