The Diana Dors of the car


SOME cars of the late 1950s and 1960s still have the power to generate a sharp intake of breath from admirers, even in this high-tech day and age.

The Vauxhall Cresta PA model, announced October 1957 is one of them.

This car was once described as the Diana Dors of the car world. Named after the stage and screen star of the time the Cresta was bold, glitzy and very glamorous - just like Diana.

The Cresta was top of the Vauxhall range and there was nothing whatsoever that was understated or dumbed down. It was fabulous performance, white-wall tyres, two-tone paint and American-style power dressing all the way.

It mimicked the Transatlantic fashion for tail-fins and wrap-around windows, taking its cues from the 1957 model Buick Special, also a General Motors product.

With independent front suspension and leaf springs at the the rear, Cresta PA had a refined ride and I remember it well as the first really powerful modern car in which I rode as a child.

I never forgot the punch-in-the-back acceleration of the 2,262cc six-cylinder engine which was a real old gas guzzler.

With a three-speed manual gearbox, this car had a power output of 82.5bhp and was very well-equipped with bench front and rear seats. In order to accommodate six passengers, the handbrake lever was mounted under the dashboard.

The car could be ordered painted in either single or two tone colours and one of the favourites was salmon pink and white which made the car stand out even more.

Costing around £1,070, the Cresta could manage nearly 90mph and cpuld whoosh to 60mph in 16.8 seconds, which was fast for the time.

This model of the Cresta lasted until 1962 and won many frinds. It was gradually improved and updated over the years.

Sadly, it was a victim to rust and quickly lost its residual value.

There were a number of water traps and it was not that long until the pride of the driveway started to develop automotive acne with brown, weeping raised rust spots marring the once beautiful lines of the car.

As such it became a flashy favourite of small-time crooks and so-called Teddy Boys, which was a shame because this was one of the most iconic Vauxhalls ever.

Thankfully, many have been preserved and are genuine people magnets at classic car shows.


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