Mile-eater of the

late 1950s

Vauxhall Victor, 1959, front

EFFORTLESSLY eating up the miles recently in one of the latest Vauxhall Insignias I was reminded of one of my early drives from this great British stable.

This was the original Vauxhall Victor, introduced in 1957, a roomy family car that was comfortable and pleasant to drive.

The car came my way via a used car column I was writing in my early days in the 1960s.

This original Victor enjoyed a production run of more than 390,000 units.

Of unitary construction with a large glass area, it boasted some distinctly American looks, courtesy of Vauxhall's parent company General Motors.

It looked like nothing else on the road in the UK, except perhaps its larger stablemate the Cresta.

In true Transatlantic style, windscreen pillars sloped backwards and the car's similarity to the classic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was obvious if the two were compared

Bench seats were fitted front and rear and two-tone interiors were the fashion. The car I drove featured a surprisingly smooth column gearchange and the handbrake was of the scuttle mounted shepherd's crook variety.

The Victor was equipped with arm rests on the doors, door-operated courtesy lights, a two-spoke steering wheel, and twin sun visors.

Although the four-cylinder engine was of similar size to that of the outgoing Wyvern it was in critical respects new. Fitted with a single carburettor it had an output of 55bhp and gained a reputation of giving a long trouble-free life.

The Victor's three-speed gearbox was joined in 1958 by an optional Newtondrive two-pedal control.

The example I drove had around 20,000 miles on the clock and was a smooth performer with nearly 75mph in its sights and a not bad for the day 0-60mph sprint of about 28 seconds.

Mechanically it was a cracker, but as far as bodywork was concerned it was showing signs of terminal rust.

The radiator grille, front trim and the chrome flutes on the bonnet were all showing signs of rust and those vertical lines of re-hued bubbles at the rear of the front wings told their own story.

And it was rust that proved this model's major drawback and had the effect of making a lot of previously loyal Vauxhall customers going elsewhere.


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