British Motor Museums

15th April 2020

Vauxhall through the decades


In 1937, Vauxhall’s H-type ‘Ten-Four’ model turned the booming 10hp (RAC rating) market on its head. It was the first British unitary construction car, and the first mainstream British car to have synchromesh gears. It also had hydraulic brakes and independent front suspension, so quite a technical tour de force in its day.

In fact, The Motor magazine was moved to say: ‘No exaggeration…the Vauxhall Ten is one of the most brilliant pieces of design that has been seen in Britain for ten years.’

The H’s technological advances – the result of a million-pound investment by Vauxhall - proved instantly popular with British drivers, and five months after its launch 10,000 models had been sold. The price was right, too: at a highly competitive £159, it became the default choice in class for many buyers.

By 1940, when production ceased due to the start of hostilities, the little ‘H’ had found its way into more than 42,000 British households.

This Deluxe model in the photographs is owned by Vauxhall Heritage and was restored to its original specification, including an application of polychromatic cellulose paint.


The 2.25-litre, six-cylinder PA Velox and Cresta arrived in 1957 and were built, with minor styling changes, until 1962.

Illustrating the company’s huge growth in export sales at the time, a PA model became the two-millionth Vauxhall to roll off the Luton line.

Almost all PAs were saloons, but Friary produced a stylish estate version, one of which (pictured) was used by HM The Queen, fitted with a gun rack and vinyl floor covers for her corgis.


Vauxhall Ten-Four
Vauxhall Friary Estate

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