Viva! – Vauxhall Viva

Kim P Moody revs things up a little

Viva Vauxhall Viva HA advertismentIt was my pride and joy in the late 70s. The 1972 silver, Vauxhall Viva HC Estate, was a sleek and modern car, just right for the family man.

The Viva was introduced in 1963. The HA was produced until 1966 then replaced with the HB. The last version was the HC, introduced in 1970. Production stopped in 1979 when it was replaced by the Astra. The HC was mechanically similar to the HB but the styling was changed from the sexy ‘Coke bottle’ curves to a sleeker, more modern shape. Interior space was improved, too.

Vauxhall Viva HC 1979One of the first things I did to my Viva was to change the styling. I parked it against a lamp post and put a huge dent in the passenger door. The estate version was great for shifting family stuff, including the dog.

I found that the handling was improved by placing a couple of breeze blocks in the back to aid traction. Cars were still made with the mechanical bits in the right place in the 70s – engine in the front driving the rear wheels – the way the gods intended (ask BMW).

Sporty versions, Magnum and Firenza, were successful in rallies and racing. The were fitted with a distinctive ‘droop snoot’ front that improved their aerodynamics. I have fond memories of the late Gerry Marshall throwing the Dealer Team Vauxhall Firenzas (named ‘Old Nail’ and ‘Baby Bertha’) through the chicane at Thruxton racing circuit – making more use of the grass than was appropriate. Nice style, Gerry! Nice car, Vauxhall!

http://www.vauxhallviva.com
http://www.vivaoutlaws.co.uk

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2 Responses

  1. I owned a 1966 HA viva purchased in 1968 for a couple of years. The lively 1058cc engine was amazing & the road holding equally as good. Unfortunately with drum brakes (previous models had discs at the front) all round, brake fade was experienced at high speeds. Also the clutch cable had a bad habit of breaking every six months in way of the pedal. I became quite experienced in making clutchless gear changes when this all too often phenomenom occured.
    In 1970 I replaced my HA with an HB SL model. Although the engine was slightly larger at 1168cc, its performance was disappointing. However, this was compensated to a certain degree with the considerable extra comfort the SL offered, with its more advanced suspension particularly at the rear.. remember the HA front suspension was an eliptical spring mounted crossways similar to many pre-war motor cars. Rear suspension was the conventional semi eliptical on each rear wheel.

  2. Vivas were just So Cool lookin’ 🙂

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