Vanguard is not an automotive brand name you hear much about these days.

But there was a time, back in the 1950s and early 1960s when they were very popular in Australia as an alternative to owning a Holden.

And they were built here too, in Melbourne, by Australian Motor Industries.

The Vanguard was released in the UK in 1947. It was the first post World War II design from the Standard company, which owned the Triumph, Vanguard and Standard marques.

Vic Lewis’ Vanguard is a series II Spacemaster model, built in 1953.

The Spacemaster name was unique to Australia.

”We’ve driven it up to Queensland and over to South Australia,” he says.

The four cylinder engine has a two litre capacity. The three speed, column-shift transmission has overdrive on second and third.

“The overdrive allows me to cruise easily at around 100km/h,” Vic says.

“Vanguards were popular in the 1950s because they were considered a good family car and also because the engine has plenty of torque for towing, with the overdrive making the experience that more enjoyable.

“The success of Vanguard teams in the Redex trials also added to their reliability appeal.” Vic says.

During the 18 years he’s owned the car, Vic has rebuilt the motor, re-painted the exterior and re-trimmed the interior.

The Vanguard is very much a car of its time. Turn indicators flick out from the centre pillar. The body rides on a full chassis, with coil springs up front and leaf springs at the back.

The steering wheel is big, has metal spokes and a wonderful chromed horn ring. The dashboard is painted metal and contains all manner of sharp knobs and levers.

The seating positions, front and rear, are up right, just like a comfortable armchair.

Six adults could squeeze on to the two bench seats, because folks in the 1950s were shorter, smaller and not as hefty compared to those today.

“We’ve had a few break downs on some of our trips, but that’s to be expected. There is always something fix on a classic car,” Vic says, “but they are such fun to drive.”

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au

CHECKOUT: A rear-engined Holden. Really!

CHECKOUT: How a car helped elect the President

Burrell

David Burrell is founder and editor of Retroautos.com.au, a free online classic cars magazine. Dave has a passion for cars and car design. He's also into speedway, which he's been writing about since 1981. His first car was a rusted-out 1961 Vauxhall Velox. His daily driver is a Pontiac Firebird. Prior to starting Retroautos, David was an executive in a Fortune 500 company, working and living in Australia, NZ, Asia, Latin America and the UK.