VIVAis a name from the very early days of my career. It was made at Ellesmere Port and Vauxhall had apress office the run by a true gentleman called Ron who offered to lend me so many Es that by the end of my first year I was runningaround like a six year old taking orange squash intravenously.
It was the entry level Vauxhall andabout all an aspirational family of the 70s could afford. Never mind the whining of millennials, this was a time of industrial strife, interest rate turmoil andrunaway inflation.
Made from 1963 to '79 I was transported to my first wedding in a Viva. I should have known it would break down. The marriage not the car.
It was not the engines of this era you worried about in the sense that it was a given that in bad weather your car would be called the bus. No, vehicles rotted like soldiers' socks.
Incidentally the getaway car for my current matrimonial bliss was a Monaro. No one was going to stop me if I got cold feet this time.
The problem was that the Japanese had arrived. And there were tales of a revolutionary 'mini' from British Leland called the Metro.
The Viva was quietly taken behind the barn and shot.
Well the boys are back in town and the 2015 version is as far away from the three day week and Grocer Heath onpiano and sailor's hornpipe.
In its first life the Viva was not pigeonholed mainly because in those days people kept real pigeons. Where once we just had cars now we have city cars and therefore allowed no more than three cylinders and 999cc under the bonnet and acceleration measured at the speed of social history. Or 13.1 seconds to 62mph if you prefer.
Which means it fulfils the other essential of the people's republic of democratic motoring: much cheapness.
The £8,570 price tag makes this an attractive proposition and while 73bhp Ecoflex SE may have a small tank but the righteous of foot will possibly get over 65mpg, although not in an exclusively urban environment where something like 52mpg is claimed. Tax, however, is not applicable. Nice.
Out of town it will roller-skate around the bends in an enjoyable fashion but do not anticipate refinement. The engine has a fun rasping tone designed into it and handles city life well. You would not buy this car for a regular motorway commute. Not if you have any O levels.
As you may expect the inside is more functional than cosseting. Cars like this are the very basement of ownership so everything is pretty plain and plastics are hard. The SL version ups the anti considerably. If you can afford the £9,495 cost go for it.
There is no point reaching out for the sat nav and air conditioning is £495 extra but that is not to say the car is bereft of modern facilities. It has plenty of safety kit like tyre pressure monitoring, air bags and stability control and there is even cruise control and repeater buttons on the steering wheel.
Rear seats split 60\40, there is a luggage cover and leg room is good and so is the luggage space for this class.
The present good lady has just come back from a trip out with her mother and reports that apart from a persistent noise in her left ear she is impressed.
Perhaps Vauxhall should have stuck with the name down the years, the Viva was a loved model. But then everyone does it. Ford dumped Cortina for Sierra no doubt hoping to swap swish Spanish coastal delights for an image of a high plains drifter. The result was the good the bad and the outstandingly ugly.
Now Viva is back and while it does not move the crowded city car market on substantially, it does offer outstanding value for money. Vauxhall sees it as a car for the A to B motorists with a budget. And that is what it is.