When was the last time you saw someone driving an Envoy?
And no, I’m not talking about that innocuous SUV of the pre-bankruptcy GM era.
Canada’s mid-century love affair with cheap British imports is a well-known phenomenon, and this rare rolling artifact is another piece of that story.
The Vauxhall Victor F-Series was one of Britain’s most popular exports, with hundreds of thousands snapped up by cost-conscious buyers around the globe.
The model debuted in 1957 with distinctly American styling, but tell-tale British size. Powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder making 55 horsepower, the model wasn’t particularly fast, but by all accounts it was durable and reliable.
A three-speed column-mounted manual transmission put the power to the rear wheels.
In North America, Vauxhall Victors were sold through GM dealerships – Pontiac and Buick ones, to be exact – alongside their massive American brethren.
That left the other half of the GM stable (minus Cadillac) without a cheap import to sell.
Enter the Envoy.
Sold at Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealers in Canada starting in 1959, the Envoy F-Series was a Vauxhall Victor with different options and better trim. Nowhere on the body is it mentioned that the vehicle is entirely a Vauxhall.
Two-tone paint and interior fabrics showed that Britain was easing out of its postwar slump, and was now able to appreciate (and offer) nicer things.
Note: the aftermarket rims and mirror dice on this pristine example did not come from 1959. Not even close.
The Envoy, like the Victor, lasted in the Canadian market until 1970. The first generation, with its 1950s proportions, lasted until 1961, before Vauxhall adopted a modern, Ford Falcon-esque styling treatment.
This example wore vintage 1961 Quebec plates, marking it was the last year of the first generation, and a badge showing its sale at a Farnham, Quebec Chev-Olds dealer.
Once commonplace, these imports are now a distant memory for older Canadians. Though imports of Vauxhalls died off, overseas GM subsidiaries (Europe’s Vauxhall and Opel, Australia’s Holden) now share hardware and designs with many of their American counterparts.