In memory of my favourite Batmobile

I’ve mentioned before how difficult it was, at times, to winnow down the topics I’d selected for my book New Zealand On the Move. Cars particularly.

Take the four door family saloon of the 1950s or 1960s, redolent of Kiwi Sunday afternoon drives, beach picnics and camping holidays. Humbers? Fords? In the end I couldn’t go past the PASX and PASY Vauxhall Velox of 1957-62. Britain’s effort to make an American style car – and what a car it was. Veloxes had been around for a while by the late 1950s. The E-series was itself somewhat Americanised, and a very popular four-door family car in New Zealand.

Either power plant gave the Velox a good deal of poke by period standards, up there with the Zephyrs and in sharp contrast to most mass-market British cars of the mid-twentieth century, which didn’t race about so much as pootle. Think Morris 1000 or Hilman Minx (Humber 80 to many Kiwis).

The Velox was big, it was powerful, and it brought such novelties to Kiwi roads as the strip-speedo, an instrument that changed colour with rising speed. And servo-assisted brakes – though they were a bit academic over about 45 mph, where stopping the wheels turning didn’t equate to actually stopping the car. Later, Vauxhall replaced it with the boxier PB model. But that didn’t have the raw chutzpah of the PA.

Or the epic weights of chrome.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2011

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