Vauxhall Victor

Negative legacy. Vauxhall Victor. Pity really, for although the first FA of 1957-1961 was a styling disaster on the level of the Edsel, there was a Series 2 by 1959 that tidied it up. This took what looked like an accident out of the rear door and the exhaust no longer emerged from a jet-like bit of the bulbous bumper. Unburnt gases left rainbow colours on the chrome in weeks. The Victor was still too narrow and too tall but some of the worst excesses of the Detroite couture were erased. The proportions never suited a narrow car with 13in wheels, there was a lot of overhang, and the pillars of the wrap-around windscreen had a bruising dogleg. There may have been a certain logic in transplanting features popular in America but the two year face-lift was deeply necessary. Detroit never understood the British. There was a Victor estate car and in 1958 the option of the mercifully short-lived Newton two-pedal transmission.
(right)Knee-cracking entry – the wrap-round windscreen pillar.
The 1961-1964 Victor FB was not at all bad. It laid the foundations of a model range that took Vauxhall through to the second half of the 1970s with a lively turn of speed, quite a roomy body and a useful boot, in an era bored with Austin Cambridge, Hillman Minx, Standard 10 and Morris Oxford. The Victor was never going to match the Ford Consul for style but it had a hydraulic clutch and synchromesh on first gear. (below) Vauxhall classic with bonnet flutes, the Wensum.
FB second thoughts exorcised the dogleg A-pillar, and improved the proportions. It also finally banished the trade-mark flutes, which had been on every Vauxhall since Edwardian times. Crisp and even rather than beautiful, the changes put the Victor firmly into the well-respected family category. Wheelbase, track, length, and width were all increased. Only the height was reduced – by 3.8cm (1.5in) and the spare wheel was mounted upright at the side to increase luggage room. Vauxhall had been something of a pioneer of unitary structures and now it managed to reduce the weight by nearly 77kg (170lb). A 3-speed gearbox was standard but customers preferred the optional 4-speed all-synchromesh box, although it was criticised at first for being noisy, with a spongy long-travel remote control shift. Bench seats were standard; discerning customers could have comfortable bucket seats. Steering swivels were re-designed so that grease gun applications were now 12,000 miles apart.
Specification FA:
BODY saloon, 4 seats, 4 doors, weight 1016kg (2240lb); estate 1066kg (2352lb).
ENGINE 4 cylinders, in-line, front, 79.37mm x 76.2mm; 1508cc; compr: 7.8:1; 41kW (55bhp) gross @ 4200rpm, 28kW (36.5bhp)/l; 113 Nm (84lb/ft) @ 2400rpm.
ENGINE STRUCTURE overhead valves; chain-driven camshaft; cast iron cylinder head and block; 4-bearing crankshaft; Zenith VN434 carburettor; centrifugal and vacuum coil ignition; water-cooled.
TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive; Borg & Beck 7.25in sdp clutch; 3-speed gearbox; all synchromesh; hypoid bevel final drive; ratio 4.125:1 saloon, 4.625 estate; optional Newton clutch 1958 engaged at 800rpm.
CHASSIS DETAILS integral steel structure; independent coil spring and wishbone front suspension; anti-roll bar; live axle half-elliptic springs at rear (25% stiffer for estate); telescopic hydraulic dampers; hydraulic composite steel and cast-iron drum brakes; Burman recirculating ball steering; 36.4l (8gal) fuel tank; 5.60-13 (5.90 estate) tyres.
DIMENSIONS wheelbase 249cm (98in); track 127cm (50in) front and rear; ground clearance 16.5cm (6.5in); turning circle 10.5m (34.5ft); length 424cm (167in); width 158cm (62.25in); height 148cm (58.25in); estate permissible load 386kg (850lb), 1275l (45cu ft).
PERFORMANCE maximum speed 120.4kph (75mph); 26.5kph (16.5mph) @ 1000rpm (23.6kph, 14.7mph estate); 25kg/kW (18.5kg/bhp); acceleration 0-60mph 28.1sec (30.9sec estate); fuel consumption 9.1l/100km (31mpg).
PRODUCTION 390,747 all F-type.
PRICE FA £505 + PT £253 17s 0d, £758 17s 0d 1957 Super saloon. £637 + PT £319 17s 0d, £956.17s.0d 1958 estate car with Newton 2-pedal control, £931 7s 0d with manual transmission. £565 + PT £283 17s 0d, £848 17s 0d 1959 series II Super saloon.
PRICE FB with 4-speed gearbox £547, £781 8s 11d.
Unitary structure in 1937, the H-type.