A Vauxhall Puzzle

It seems that surprises can occur when you drive a Vauxhall. While I was stationary in the road test Astra GTE in an abnormal Christmas traffic jam in Hereford, someone jumped out of a car behind, tapped on the window, and gave my wife a potted plant, with a cry of “Good luck to Motor Sport“. A few days later, driving home to Wales on Boxing Day in a Cavalier SRi, I stopped for a snack lunch at a well-known roadside cafe and was recognised by a motorcycle enthusiast who asked me if I would care to join him. Warmed by those unexpected happenings, I had a surprise of a different kind while watching the TV version of Agatha Christie’s detective story, “The Body in the Library”, when the burnt-out car essential to the mystery was described, more than once, as a Vauxhall “Coaster”. To my knowledge there was no such Vauxhall model.

So the mystery within a mystery is, did the producer make a mistake, intending the car to be called a Vauxhall Cresta, the well-known model that was in production front 1955 to 1971 in various forms, or was the name “Coaster” used as an alibi, or as a libel-fender (surely not?), or for what? As the play abounded in pre-war cars, like the Derby-Bentley of the country Squire, the SS 90 or 100 of the playboy-actor and many others, a Cresta would have been incorrect, anyway, and my guess is that a Vauxhall Cadet may have been intended, in keeping with the 1931-33 period. Whether this anomaly is peculiar to the TV play or was perpetrated by the book’s famous author I do not know, because this title is not among my wife’s Agatha collection and, being an avid Sherlockian, I lay no claim to knowing intimately the Christie saga! Over to the Vauxhall OC? — W.B.