It was my pride and joy in the late 70s. The 1972 silver, Vauxhall Viva HC Estate, was a sleek and modern car, just right for the family man.
The Viva was introduced in 1963. The HA was produced until 1966 then replaced with the HB. The last version was the HC, introduced in 1970. Production stopped in 1979 when it was replaced by the Astra. The HC was mechanically similar to the HB but the styling was changed from the sexy ‘Coke bottle’ curves to a sleeker, more modern shape. Interior space was improved, too.
One of the first things I did to my Viva was to change the styling. I parked it against a lamp post and put a huge dent in the passenger door. The estate version was great for shifting family stuff, including the dog.
I found that the handling was improved by placing a couple of breeze blocks in the back to aid traction. Cars were still made with the mechanical bits in the right place in the 70s – engine in the front driving the rear wheels – the way the gods intended (ask BMW).
Sporty versions, Magnum and Firenza, were successful in rallies and racing. The were fitted with a distinctive ‘droop snoot’ front that improved their aerodynamics. I have fond memories of the late Gerry Marshall throwing the Dealer Team Vauxhall Firenzas (named ‘Old Nail’ and ‘Baby Bertha’) through the chicane at Thruxton racing circuit – making more use of the grass than was appropriate. Nice style, Gerry! Nice car, Vauxhall!
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