Vauxhall aristocrat

of luxury

Vauxhall Viscount

IT was the mid-1960s and big cars were all the rage.

Most major auto manufacturers fielded at least one example, usually powered by punchy six-cylinder engines.

Vauxhall had the latest series of the Cresta, which was a good car in itself, but the company bosses wanted to go a stage further and have a peck at the market dominated by Jaguar.

So, in swept the Viscount, a luxury take on the Cresta which was claimed to be faster than a Rolls-Royce andwas the largest post war Vauxhall at that time.

Included on the comprehensive standard equipment list were automatic transmission, leather upholstery, a wood veneer instrument panel, rear-passenger reading lights, a carpeted boot and safety features such as an energy-absorbing steering wheel.

It was voted The Sunday Times British Car of the Year 1966 and cost £1,457 when new.

There were inertia reel seat belts front and back, and even a heated rear window.

This was a time where the jukebox look and pure American styling had given way to a sharp-suited stance and to fit in with this image areas of the grille and headlamp surrounds were blacked out to give a classier look and the tail-lights had a chrome overlay.

The dark green, blue or maroon paintwork featured simulated, hand painted coachlines, along each flank, to give the car a coachpainted appearance. The outer pair of the quad, five inch, sealed beam headlamps were twin filament, giving the car four main beams.

The Viscount also came with wider tyres than the Cresta. Some 3.3-litre examples had twin tail-pipes as this was a performance option of the time. The standard transmission option was GM's Powerglide two-speed automatic system, but a four speed manual gearbox was available, initially on the UK market at a saving of £85.

In the third quarter of 1970 the two-speed Powerglide automatic was replaced with a GM three-speed automatic transmission.

Some South African versions were fitted with a Chrysler V8 as an option - one of the rare times a General Motors product used a direct rival's engine.

With an overall mpg figure of 15mpg, this was indeed a fuel guzzler. It lasted until 1972 and was only ever equalled in luxury by the later Royale.

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