(first posted 3/29/2013) A rear-wheel drive station wagon featuring Italian styling touches and proven mechanicals shared with a contemporary sports car? Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what we have here, with this rare 1962 Standard Vanguard Vignale station wagon.
To be honest, the sports car engine is a bit of a stretch. While it shares the same basic engine with early four-cylinder Triumph TR-series cars (and also some Morgans), here it’s in a lower state of tune. It would be fair to say that the Triumph engine, with its higher compression and dual SU carburetors, was the performance variant of the Vanguard engine. This engine is very closely related to the engine that Standard was also building for the Ferguson tractor.
As fitted to the Vanguard, the 2,088 cc four-cylinder produced 68 hp @ 4,200 rpm. This gave the Vanguard era- respectable performance with a 0-60 acceleration time of around 20 seconds, and a top speed of 85 mph. Fuel economy was 28/34 mpg (Imperial) which is roughly 23/28 mpg American. The air filter housing was sitting off to the side, exposing the single downdraft Solex carburetor. There were a significant number of cobwebs in the engine compartment.
A new Vanguard, with a unibody and designed in-house, replaced the old humpback Plymouth-looking version in 1955.
After three years, a re-fresh was in order. Hiring Vignale was probably in part a response to Pininfarina’s contract with BMC, who would completely redo their whole line. Giovanni Michelotti is forever linked to Triumph designs of the ’50s and ’60s, and among his most well-known are the sporty Spitfire/GT6, TR4 and Stag, as well as some 2000, 1300 and Dolomite saloons. The Standard Vanguard Vignale was the result of his first collaboration with Standard Triumph. As indicated by the Vignale in the name, Michelotti was still working for them at the time; he later struck out on his own with great success. His work on the Vanguard was limited to an update of the Vanguard Phase III, adding a new grille, increasing the windshield, new rear lights, and a few other touches.
Mechanically, it was mostly carryover from the Vanguard Phase III, which itself was a radical departure from the rather staid Phase I and Phase II: This meant unibody construction with beefy subframes on the same 102.5” wheelbase. Front suspension is independent SLA with coils and a leaf sprung live axle at the rear. Steering was recirculating-ball, and drums all around handled braking duty. Manual gearbox options were limited to a three-speed column shift or a four-speed with a floor-mounted shifter. Both transmissions were available with overdrive for more peaceful motorway driving. There also was an available automatic that was rarely specified. Our example has a three-speed, non-overdrive manual box.
Inside this Vignale are front and rear bench seats covered in Vynide, a cloth-backed, vinyl-like material. Depending on the market, cloth or leather could also be specified. The large, two-spoke steering wheel dominates the sparse dashboard. The Vanguard Vignale was actually reasonably well equipped for its day, coming with a standard heater and electric windshield washers. The driver’s side window was missing on this one, allowing years of exposure to bad weather damage the interior.
Up front, the grille is missing, but a quick inspection of the interior turned up a damaged grille whose stock chrome surround had been fitted with a home-made screen mesh. This car was rolling on a set of 15” rims, but there were only a handful of stock hubcaps in the trunk. Aside from those bits and some missing chrome headlight trim, the Vanguard looked very complete. The engine didn’t turn over by hand, so it might have become stuck from sitting for a decade or two. The license plate stickers were unreadable, so it’s hard to know exactly how long it’s been off the road.
This sedan shows how the grille would look normally. It is owned by one of our readers, and I’ll let him chime in with some details if he so wishes.
I’m told the Standard Vanguard Vignale was sold in Canada for only one year, which would make this a 1962 model–a little strange, since earlier Standards had sold in small but steady numbers in Canada (one of which occasionally turns up), and especially odd considering that production back in the UK wrapped up in 1961. The six cylinder-powered variant, the Standard Vanguard Six, was sold until 1963. I can’t find any listing of its sales numbers in Canada, but this has to be a fantastically rare car, as only 26,267 of all body styles were sold in all markets. The vast majority would have been sold in the UK, with only a trickle coming to Canada. Even across the pond, the estate body style is rare, and a left-hand drive estate like this one might well be close to unique.