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Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Vauxhall Victor, 1961-64

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    • Image: , Image Alt Text: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe, Image Caption: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe
    • Image: , Image Alt Text: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe, Image Caption: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe
    • Image: , Image Alt Text: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe, Image Caption: Elva Mk 6 at Farmhouse Bend, Harewood, June 2019, © Tony Thorpe

The first Vauxhall Victor was launched in 1957, as a replacement for the Wyvern.  A car of  wrap-around windows, rear fins, and a great deal of chrome - it was very much in the style of Vauxhall’s American parent company, General Motors. 

However, by 1961, much of the adornment of the original models had gone, and the Victor FB, as it was known, was arguably a more attractive and cleaner-looking design.  It also bore quite a close family resemblance to the soon-to-be-announced, recently revised, larger Vauxhall Velox and Cresta.

This, the second generation Victor, was available in three grades of trim: Saloon, Super and de Luxe, and also as an Estate car.

Initially powered by a slightly uprated four-cylinder 1508cc over-square engine, originally used in the Vauxhall Wyvern, the new Victor developed just over 56 bhp at 4,600 rpm.  The standard gearbox was a three-speed column change, although owners could specify a four-speed floor mounted gearbox at a further cost of £17.10s.0d.

Vauxhall used the simplicity of new Victor's design in their advertising copy, stating that the new model "bears no decoration beyond the name badge". They pitched the car as being both luxurious and practical; designed for town and country, business and pleasure.

The Victor sold well from the outset. Within a few months, sales were 90 per cent higher than those of the old model during the earlier part of the year; and a year after its introduction the company was able to claim that it was "probably the most successful Vauxhall ever built." 

The new car was well received by the press, and seen as a marked improvement on the previous model.  Small Car, a magazine that never shied away from criticism, gave the Victor Estate high praise as a jack of all trades, and with a driving position that was better than most.  They didn't like the organ throttle pedal nor the way in which the heater controls (standard equipment on the Victor De Luxe) were marked.  Their only other minor grievance was their inability to find the interior light switch without recourse to the instruction book.  This apparently revealed that the interior lamps worked of the switch for the side and headlights - who would have thought of that!, the magazine asked.

In 1963, the Victor's engine was slightly enlarged to 1594cc, giving 22½ per cent more power, and a top speed of "well over 80 mph".  Further changes included a new radiator grille and new colour options.  However, probably of most significance was the "seven-stage rustproofing, deep primer dip, and complete underbody seal" that was now part of the manufacturing process.  Undoubtedly necessary action, as far as Vauxhall was concerned, to help restore their tattered reputation after the Victors of 1957-61 had rusted so quickly.

The Victor FB continued in production until 1964 when it was replaced by the FC, known at the time as the Victor 101.

 

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