1956 Vauxhall Cresta
Year of manufacture1956
Mileage89 987 mi / 144 821 km
The Vauxhall Velox had been introduced in 1948, with a new version in 1951. The Cresta E version, launched in 1954, had the same 2262cc six cylinder engine in the same state of tune but scored over the Velox in having a choice of leather or fabric upholstery, optional two-tone paintwork, a heater as standard, a small electric fascia mounted clock, a cigar lighter and a vanity mirror on the inside of the front passenger's sun visor along with a special ornamental badge above the V (for Vauxhall) badge on the nose of the car called a Speedbird. A radio was optional.
In October 1955 a facelift model with deeper front and rear screens was introduced. The balanced drop windows were replaced by ones with proper winding mechanisms, there were interior trim improvements, separate amber rear flasher lights and windscreen washers became standard. A new chrome plated grille with fewer vertical slats replaced the earlier diecast version. This model was assembled in New Zealand, alongside the Wyvern and Velox, with 840 being built in 1956, according to a local owners' group with access to copies of the GM Petone plant ledgers. More changes were made in October 1956, with a new grille with horizontal bars, higher compression ratio engine, electrically operated windscreen wipers (replacing the camshaft driven system) and changes to the body trim and two-tone colour scheme. In June 1957 the Cresta received a redesigned engine of the same capacity based on the deeper block design introduced in four-cylinder form in the Victor F series in March of that year. A Cresta tested by the British magazine ‘The Motor’ in 1956 had a top speed of 82.2 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.2 seconds. The test car then cost £931.
This stunning Vauhall Cresta E has been something of an obsession with our vendor, he fondly remembers having a Cresta when new and now in his retirement, decided in 2012 to undertake what can only be described as a breath-taking restoration for what is now a rare car on our roads. The restoration took two years with sourcing of parts sometimes proving impossible and bespoke engineering also having to be sought, the cost is something he would prefer not to think about but on an initial tally we believe over £50,000 was spent to achieve this level of finish with not a single corner cut in the strive for perfection. This included being completely stripped out to a shell and total rebuild of the engine and gearbox, steering box, heater box and back axle. Stripped and repainted with all brightwork rechromed, New white wall tyres, new exhaust and a completely retrimmed interior in leather, including door cards, new headlining, new carpets and over mats and boot carpet (all bespoke). Also new old stock sun visor, new wheel trims and hubs, new badges the list would go on.
The car itself was sourced from New Zealand for reasons of finding a strong rust free starting point but even this was not good enough when the project started with 3 months’ work carried out on the chassis alone before the body was set to. The paintwork is deep and displays the lovely shine of a show car with impeccable chrome work (and there is plenty) throughout the car which alone cost in excess of £4,000. The bodywork with that Americana 1950’s feel is a real joy to inspect and upon opening the door the interior certainly doesn’t disappoint with the two-tone colour combination continuing, near flawless and a very enjoyable place to sit.
Our vendor does not just trailer this car from show to show collecting trophies (although upon its first outing in 2015 it was taken to the National Vauxhall Rally at Billings and came 1st in class for the E Series) he actively drives the car having covered 400 miles since completion and as such wanted to ensure it is again perfect for the prospective purchaser; he has therefore had the car serviced prior to auction and obtained a new MoT (unsurprisingly without advisories) by his local specialist. Complete with a comprehensive file showing all documents from the import in 2012 to the present day MoT’s and with two CD’s cataloguing the restoration in pictures.
In his words he wants the winning bidder to enjoy driving the car home as he did when the car was completed in 2015, and testifies that the rebuilt 2.3 litre straight six runs extremely well.
According to records there are only four roadgoing E series Crestas and three on SORN in the UK. This is a car that you couldn’t recreate for less than £50,000 or more, in near concours condition displaying all the chrome and American flair of the 50’s and truly has to be seen to be believed and appreciated.
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