The Cohort comes up trumps again. – I was admiring the Hudson Wasp, and “Hey, what’s that in the background?” A 1960 Vauxhall Victor Super saloon, spotted by Curbivore Fred Oliver, somewhere in California, and the subject of some detail shots straight after the Wasp. How many of these are there still on the roads of the US?
The first Vauxhall Victor, from 1957 to 1961 and known as the F Type, was a standard a family size car, for the UK, and we’ve looked at it in detail here before, so no need to go over old ground. It was as conventional as any other, with a OHV four cylinder 1.6 litre engine with 55bhp, 3 speed gearbox with column change, a leaf spring rear axle and a bench front seat on many versions.
Like many Vauxhalls from the early 1950s to the early 1970s, when Vauxhalls stopped being Vauxhalls and became Opels in a very light disguise, the styling was clearly influenced by contemporary North American trends, albeit reduced in size. Often striking, sometimes a bit of fun, sometimes a pastiche, and sometimes oddly proportioned. Even more than British Ford and Rootes products, Vauxhalls brought a bit of US glamour (or glamor?) to Britain, and the Victor was a prime example. 1955 Chevrolet, and an erroneous hot wash cycle?
Reports suggest that this was at the direct instruction of the 14th floor of the GM building, and it had one root cause or by-product depending where you sit. That same 14th floor presumably saw potential for this car to be sold in North America as an import fighter, albeit imported from the UK.
It was shown in September in 1957 and sales started in November, through Pontiac dealers, taking on the sub-compact imports. The car was offered as a Standard or a Super, though little, if any, evidence exists of any Standards actually being sold. The Super cost $1975, and included twin speed wipers, push button door locks, a heater, a choice of interior finishes and trims, and a big boot.
This is a Series 2 car, distinguished by its simpler, calmer grille, loss of bonnet ornamentation, smoother over rear doors and much more modest bumpers.
The original Series 1 cars had more prominent bumpers with bulbous ends, which at the rear enclosed the exhaust pipe on one side, and from which the condensation contributed to corrosion. This was just the start of the Victor’s corrosion issues though. This thing rusted badly enough, from leaks in door seals and round the wraparound screens to get Vauxhall a rust reputation that lasted until the Opel derived cars came through. 1961 cars had a larger rear window and revised rear pillars as well.
Add to this the lack of value in the Victor – at just under $2000.00, and $2400.00 for an estate, it was around 25% more costly than Beetle and nudging towards a full size Ford or Chevrolet.
There may have been little to compete with it in the Pontiac showroom, but any one shopping around would find something. And people not shopping around probably wouldn’t find the Victor. It was also pretty slow – over 25 seconds to 60 mph – and reliability in Interstate use was not great either.
Pontiac stuck at it until 1962, when the F Type was replaced by the FB, again styled as a small North American car way, although a lot more successfully. GM sold 27,000 cars in the US in those four years, but over 390,000 in total, including 250,000 in the first two years. Vauxhall could claim a commercial success.
Canada got the car too, badged as the Envoy, with a different bonnet pressing and trim details, sold through Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealers. There was more success here, selling something like 40,000 cars through three generations of Victor, before the Envoy name was moved onto the smaller Viva.
And “V” got its entry in the A (Austin) to Z (Zastava Yugo) in the list of Foreign Brands that didn’t make it in America.