Cohort Outtake: 1961 Vauxhall Cresta Estate by Friary – Not Elegant But Good Enough For Some

Nathan Williams is a loyal CC Cohort contributor and has posted many, many great finds over the last few years. But this is a bit of a CC topical find, and, like several of Nathan’s finds,  deserves a wider outing.

Paul N recently showed us an aftermarket conversion of the BMW 3.0Si saloon to an estate format. Notwithstanding the fact that the BMW was not a true capacity first estate but more of an early interpretation of the BMW Touring format, the idea of an aftermarket conversion to create an estate was not a new one.

From 1959, Friary Motors, in Basingstoke in southern England, produced Vauxhall Cresta PA series estates in limited numbers from 1959 to 1962. The actual style was defined by Vauxhall but the volume judged as too low to justify the Luton factory tooling up, so Friary were contracted to productionise and build the car in smaller numbers.

The Cresta was and its decontented sister the Velox were competing with Ford Zodiac and Zephyr, the larger Rootes saloons and the likes of the Austin Westminster and Morris Isis.

The basic Cresta shape was closely based on contemporary American and GM Detroit practice; the 1954 Cadillac Park Avenue concept is often cited as the starting point.

The limitations of using the original saloon rear doors are obvious, as well as the challenge of adding something harmonious with the rest of the very fully styled car. You can debate the success (or otherwise) of the adaptation, but the cargo volume was substantial.

One person, though, was seemingly quite happy with the style – HM the Queen had a Cresta estate at Sandringham until the early 1980s.