Mythical Wyvern

changed perceptions

Vauxhall Wyvern

THE Wyvern is a mythical beast but in the 1950s it meant just one thing to the average Brit - a flashy Vauxhall.

The country was shaking off the shackles of post war austerity and was ready for something new in terms of style and performance.

So, in came the Vauxhall Wyvern, an American juke-box styled saloon which featured what could be termed the Wow! Factor of its day.

The Wyvern was not a new name for Vauxhall, but the E version of 1951 heralded a new era of popularity for the company.

It was big, bold and because of a roomy front bench seat couldaccommodate six with ease.

The Wyvern was aimed at the customer who wanted a roomy car without going the whole hog and buying a six-cylinder model.

As such it was powered by a 1,142cc and later 1,508cc four-cylinder engine, the latter being the better option in terms of performance.

The thoroughly modern monocoque body, bold chrome bonnet flutes and acres of brightwork was the order of the day for this General Motors company, as was the curved windscreen which was something of a sensation in Middle England.

The Wyvern received a new bonnet and grille in 1955, a wrap-round rear window in 1956 and another new grille in 1957.

The Wyvern was a competitor to the successes of the Ford Consul and sold well in Britain Vauxhall abandoned the six-seater four-cylinder market and replaced it with the smaller but more radically styled Victor in 1957.

The Wyvern with the more powerful 45bhp engine had a top speed of 71.6mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 37.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 30.4mpg was claimed and it cost £771 in the mid-1950s.

A total of 105,275 were made, but rust was a major problem with the red ruin bubbling the paintwork of cars which were relatively young.

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