Good performance and plenty of room in the inexpensive Vauxhall Velox

HAVING spent August Bank Holiday week-end with the latest Vauxhall Velox saloon we are in a position to assess the merits and demerits of this imposing-looking General Motors’ product. For its price of well below £1,0o0 this American-style saloon offers excellent value for money. It seats six if need be on its bench seats, with ample room in the boot for their luggage. It has a maximum speed little short of 90 m.p.h. and its orange-ribbon-recording speedometer winds up to 35 m.p.h. and 60 m.p.h. in the two lower gears. The gears are engaged by a l.h. steering column lever which is one of the better gear changes of this type. The lever moves positively and synchromesh on bottom gear is a definite asset. There is spring-loading to the upper gear positions but, as is usual with this type of change; no safety catch for reverse. The clutch is fairly light.

There is a dial matching the speedometer, both hooded, the second dial containing fuel, temperature and battery gauges. A small stalk opposite the gear lever operates, most conveniently, the self-cancelling-flashers, which have arrow-style warning lights on the facia, which are too bright at night. The speedometer incorporates a distance recorder with decimals but no trip.

The Velox is one of those American-style cars which get along effortlessly, offering no mean performance, great spaciousness and a good degree of comfort, while being easy to drive. The bench front seat is not particularly impressive and an average-height driver sits too low, the rim of the two-spoke wheel obscuring his view, although both front wings are still visible. The 2.2-litre six-cylinder engine is somewhat noisy but very willing. Indeed, this spacious Velox is virtually a two-gear car, for top gear can be selected directly 15 m.p.h. is attained. There is a foolproof if not outstandingly convenient pull up and twist handbrake. The half-horn-ring is unpleasantly sharp and obstructs the spokes of the steering wheel. The doors have bomb shape arm rests of no great value. There is no real crash padding in this Vauxhall.

The steering requires 3 turns, lock-to-lock, not counting a good deal of free movement. It is moderately light steering with the car on the move and would be lighter if strong castor-action did not have to be steered against. The wheel transmits vibration but no kick-back and the action is spongy and dead. The brakes are powerful from normal speeds; and entirely vice-free, but scarcely lock the wheels.

When driven round fast bends this big Vauxhall is commendably free from wallowing and roll is consistent and not excessive. In negotiating winding roads it is no better and no worse than other softly-sprung cars of its kind. The suspension is definitely supple, promoting at times more up-and-down movement than is desirable.

Visibility is assisted by the wrap-round windscreen, the frame of which obstructs the front-door area to the detriment of one’s knees, and by the complicated back-window formation. The exterior appearance of the Velox we like, but there are divided opinions about those enormously deep rear lamps. Parcel accommodation is provided by a really wide and well recessed rear shelf and a big facia cubby hole with press-button tin lid. The frame of this cabby hole attempts to remove the finger nails, Japanese-torture fashion, if one feels-around inside-for lost property. The driver has his own small cubby hole, but no door pockets are fitted. A good feature is the quick-lift front windows, the handles of which call for 1 3/4 turns, up to down, whereas those for the back windows need 2 3/4 turns. That there is individuality even amongst cars of this type is emphasised by interior door handles that move upwards to open the doors (a good safety feature) and 3/4-windows, with thief-proof catches; which open inwards instead of outwards. The petrol filler has a recessed, spring-loaded cap-cum-cover.

After driving the Vauxhall 250 miles a defect developed which could well alarm a new owner—the oil light glowed its warning permanently. Inspection of the dip-stick showed that only half-a-pint of Castrolite was required. Still the light glowed, which could mean low oil oil pressure. However, we continued for a further hundred miles and the bearings didn’t fall out, so presumably this was an electrical fault. Another defect concerned an electrical short in the radio turning-knob.

The Vauxhall has plated, rather inferior minor controls on the facia, operating two-speed wipers (incorporating screen washer button), lamps (with control of the roof light, which the doors also switch on), twin fog-lamps and ignition (detachable key and provision for leaving radio circuit “on” with ignition “off “). The lamps have a foot dipper, the heater controls are simple quadrants with two-speed fait switch (the fan sounds like a hair-dryer) and the brake pedal is set too high above the treadle accelerator. The trailing doors possess sill-hocks, the heater draws air from an intake before the windscreen, leaving the engine compartment clear of plumbing, and the bonnet is opened from outside the car, prepping and releasing automatically. The boot provides exceedingly generous luggage space, with spare wheel beneath. Its lid has over-centre hinges but the ignition key has to be used to open it. Starting is rendered easy by an automatic choke; there is no starting handle. Pick-up was at times slightly hesitant and the engine pinks very mildly on Esso Mixture but never ran on. We did not check petrol consumption, but over 22 m.p.g. driving hard should be possible, and over 25 m.p.g. driving more easily. 80 m.p.h. cruising is well within the compass of the Velox.

Those who like this form of travel will find the Vauxhall Velox excellent value, offering as it does all the performance the family motorist will ever need, generous seating accomodation and adequate equipment in spite of its modest price. The Velox costs £983 17s. inclusive of pt. or with extras as tested. £1,032 1s. 9d.–W.B.

A new Timex key-ring watch

Having had very good service over many years from a Timex key-ring watch we are interested to note that the latest version is flatter than before and beats a neat St. Christopher badge on the reverse side. Protected by a miniature (1 1/2 in.) tyre, this Timex watch for attaching to the ignition-key, is shockproof has a luminous dial, and is a good time-keeper. Priced at 54s. it makes an excellent present. These watches are made in Scotland. Details from Timex, 161/167, Oxford Street, London. W.1.