Vauxhall in the

space race

Vauxhall Victor

THE pulse of the 1960s motor trade was footfall in dealers' showrooms and if the product was not up to par then these halls of automotive glamour could start to become very empty.

For that reason the bigger names in the industry were locking horns in a neck or nothing race to provide the latest trends first and fill the order books.

A case in point was Vauxhall, engaged in a ding-dong battle with Ford which was raking in the cash with its Cortina family car.

Vauxhall's answer was the Victor, but the car was still struggling to cast off the reputation of rust problems experienced in early versions of the car.

So in drove the FC model which ran from 1964 to 67.

This was the first Vauxhall to use curved side-window glass, allowing greater internal width. This was especially true of the estate which had bags of room.

It retained the familiar 1,594cc engine it was not that modern technically with semi-elliptic springs at the rear,seen before it was still suspended by wishbones and coil springs at the front along with a live axle and semi-elliptic springs at the rear.

But it did look better with thin pillars and a much more businesslike styling.

You could have a three-speed column or four-speed floor-mounted gearshift. There was even a two-speed Powerglide automatic gearbox, available from 1966.

A main selling point was a massive boot and the car had the style of the American Lincoln about it. But from the side this was offset by hints of the Vauxhall Viva.

There were saloon and estate versions, including a performance orientated VX4/90.

The car became known as the Victor 101, the name arising from the claim that there were '101 improvements' over the previous FB version.

Bench or separate front seating was offered and I remember the car having an excellent ride quality. .

But there were some features which even in those days prompted concern. One was the ridge of brightwork atop the wings was curved down to frame the grille.

This formed an almost cutting edge and these days would never be allowed due to pedestrian safety. This also attracted rust and I remember many of these cars sporting the old red spot horror along the tops of the wings.

Vauxhall had high hopes for this car but although it could soar to more than 80mph it was more expensive than its Austin or Ford rivals. It would have set you back £822 which was just a bit over the top when you could get a Cortina for £761.

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