12 Griffin Icons: The American Influenced PA Velox & Bedford CF

Vauxhall Velox
Vauxhall Velox - the less excutive version the PA

Part 6 of Vauxhall’s 12 iconic icons takes a look at the 2.25-litre, six-cylinder 50s American influenced PA Velox/Cresta and Bedford CF Panel Van.

The halfway point recognises the influences from over the pond as the company also embraces the growing importance of commercial vehicle division to the business. Hence, we have two vehicles for your automotive enjoyment today: the PA Velox/Cresta, and the Bedford CA panel van.

PA Velox and Cresta

Arriving on the scene in 1957, the 2.25-litre, six-cylinder PA Velox and Cresta came with US styling and the obligatory oversized steering wheel. Bling was on the increase too as chrome switches, knobs and buttons were strategically placed around the exuberant cabin area.

Vauxhall PA Cresta
Vauxhall PA Cresta

Braking was less impressive than nowadays with a drum brake system that required the assistance of a ship’s anchor if the driver didn’t plan at least two miles ahead of slowing down. Illustrating the company’s huge growth in export sales at the time, a PA model even became the two-millionth Vauxhall to roll off the Luton line.

A large car by post-war British standards, but diminutive compared with GM’s Stateside behemoths on which its design was based, the PA Velox/Cresta was the perfect antidote to the UK’s largely grey and austere ‘50s motoring landscape.

1958 Vauxhall Cresta PA Rally Car
1958 Vauxhall Cresta PA Rally Car

Vauxhall’s famous ‘flutes’ made a final appearance (though they were only represented in concave chrome side-strips), but in every other respect, the PA embodied a brave new world for Vauxhall. Tail fins, swathes of chrome, a bright body-colour palette and the wrap-around front screen gave it the scaled-down look of a ’57 Chevy Bel Air, while inside, bench seats and a column gear-shift completed the US feel.

 Friary Estate
The Queen’s Vauxhall Cresta (Friary Estate)

As all PAs were saloons, Vauxhall would send a full car to Friary Motors who would ‘cut off’ the back end and produce a ‘stylish’ estate version, one of which (pictured) was used by HM The Queen, fitted with a gun rack and vinyl floor covers for her corgis.

Bedford CF Panel Van

Like the PA, the Bedford CF carried some American influence, this time from the popular Chevrolet Van. Introduced in 1969 to replace the older CA model, it was marketed in direct competition to the gangsters favourite, the Ford Transit and came in a range of full-size panel type vans.

Bedford '56 CA
Bedford ’56 CA

Discontinued in 1987, the CF was the last home-grown Vauxhall-engineered vehicle and can still be seen trundling around various meetings and classic vehicle shows around the UK.

Technical Data:

Body: 6-seat saloon
Engine: 6 cylinders in-line
Engine Capacity: 2,262cc,
Top Speed: 90mph
0-60mph: 16.8 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 23mpg
Transmission: RWD, 3-speed all-synchromesh gearbox (auto optional)

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