Cohort Outtake: 1961 Envoy Sherwood – A Vauxhall For Canada

I’ve said it before, but the Curbside Cohort is the gift that just keeps giving. Following on from the 1960 Vauxhall Victor we saw in May this year comes a 1961 Envoy Sherwood station wagon, or as we Brits would call it, a 1960 Vauxhall Victor estate car, posted by William Oliver.

Vauxhall was GM’s UK outpost, and had been since 1926 when a luxury car maker was purchased and progressively turned into a mass market brand. Incidentally, GM only bought Vauxhall because Austin wouldn’t sell. Volume wise, it was always behind Ford and Austin, Morris, BMC or BLMC until the mid 1980s when BL went upmarket as Rover (or started to implode?).

The first Victor, from 1957, was Vauxhall’s family car, up against the Ford Consul, Austin Cambridge, Morris Oxford and above the Hillman Minx. 1.6 litres, four cylinders, three speed gearbox (optional four speed), rear leaf springs and a fairly spartan interior. No British wood’n’leather or sports car traits going on here.

The Victor’s main distinctive feature was its very North American styling, even more so than its competitors from Ford and Rootes. You can probably spot similarities and inspirations from several brands, not all of them GM.

This was partly because of the guidance of Vauxhall’s masters in Detroit, partly Vauxhall following a fashion for optimism (it may be me but few consumer goods look optimistic like a full size, full on Detroit styled 1950s car), and partly to be able to exploit the market for an import fighter in North America, as a captive import.

Under the Vauxhall name, the Victor was sold by Pontiac dealers but in Canada it was sold as the Envoy Standard and Special, and the Sherwood (as in Sherwood Forest) wagon.

The Envoy had the distinction of minor styling changes – notably a new grille, side mouldings and a revised rear light cluster with a blanking cap at the top. Somehow, given the corrosion issue the Victor had, these do not seem like a great idea.

But, then, long term, exporting Vauxhalls to North America was not a huge success either.