(first posted 3/8/2013) So far we’ve seen the original–and very much American influenced–Vauxhall Victor F-series, as well as the ‘FB’ follow up. This FC generation Victor; introduced in 1964 is often called “the forgotten Victor” due to its humble styling and low survival rate.
Vauxhall’s official designation for this generation of Victor was 101, a reference to its (apparent) 101 new improvements versus its predecessor, probably the biggest of which was curved-glass side windows that provided rather generous interior proportions, especially in width, for its class. Its slab-sided exterior, which reflected rather shrunken American styling, was not terribly well accepted at home, and generally viewed as a step backward from the subtle but charming FB.
Mechanically, the FC was mostly a carry-over from the previous generation. A 66-hp OHV inline four was utilized throughout the entire run; in 1968, it would be replaced by the first of a series of OHC engines for a new and larger generation of Victors. Gearbox-wise, buyers could still choose from a three-speed, column-mounted manual or four-on-the-floor. Your transmission choice also dictated the front seating arrangements: Three-speed cars got a bench seat, while four-speeds were fitted with buckets.
Also available for the first-time was a proper automatic transmission (the F-series offered an optional, rarely-picked and troublesome semi-automatic), a two-speed Powerglide gearbox that probably provided extremely leisurely acceleration. Our featured car features this transmission–I imagine it is rare to see a survivor like this anywhere in the world.
Once again, the sporty VX4/90 model was offered, featuring an uprated engine with twin carburetors, an alloy head and higher compression, as well as a stiffer suspension and an available limited-slip rear axle. Unfortunately for Vauxhall, the VX4/90 didn’t prove competitive with the hot Ford Cortinas of the day, and sold in quite-low numbers.
Inside, the American vibe continues with a dash featuring chrome in place of traditional British wood. The radio holes were pre-cut–again, a very American touch not usually seen on British motor cars of this era. Viewed as a whole, it certainly looks like the 2/3-scale interior of an average American sedan of the same era. Of course, that could be partly due to the fact that this is the higher-spec Super model.
Overall, the interior seems to have suffered just a bit from wear, showing only a little fading on the seats and a layer of dust. Note the attractive, two-tone color scheme of the door panels. The odometer showed a mere 34,000 miles, a figure I believe is actual, original mileage due to the remarkably good condition of the interior and the rust-free body.
While Vauxhalls were sold alongside Pontiacs, Canadian Chevrolet-Buick dealers once again got their own variant, the Envoy, offered as the Special sedan and Sherwood wagon. Only badges, a U.K.-market VX4 specification grille and minor trim variations distinguished Envoys from their Vauxhall cousins.
I actually quite liked this Victor–in fact, I liked it enough to bid on it. On the face of it, and even with my questionable taste in cars, that seems ludicrous: Why would anyone in their right mind want this elderly Vauxhall, especially since it’s saddled with a two-speed automatic?
Well, for one thing, it was going too cheap. It also did have some good points: The interior was usable as-is (after a good cleaning), and while the paint might have suffered in the sun, the body itself was remarkably free of rust. The hot rod crowd pays good money for patina like this. I also know that this particular car had been a running and driving vehicle only a few years earlier. The engine wasn’t stuck and the fluids were clean, so there a good chance it would revive easily and make this an affordable classic driver. And as a bonus, it also reminds me of the Volga GAZ-24 (above), which also has slab-sided styling and a chrome grille. I’m unlikely to ever see Volga over here, so this Victor could be as close as it gets.
I actually did win it, for the princely sum of $250, but when my friend and I arrived in his two-wheel drive truck to collect, disaster struck. First, the yard was indescribably muddy (it’s not really visible in these photos–all the mud is just out of view, just where the truck needed traction)–which hindered our progress. Next, we discovered that the rear brakes were seized solid. While this wouldn’t have been the end of the world within the comfort of my own garage or even in my driveway, it was a major issue when it came to loading it on a trailer in a mud pit. Thanks to some tall, very dry grass, using a torch was out of the question.
Ultimately we were unsuccessful in freeing the drums, and we had to call everything off. If we’d been closer, I’d have made another attempt, but I didn’t fancy another unsuccessful, three-hours-each-way drive with a truck and trailer. My friend was similarly stymied in an attempt to load the Jaguar he purchased when we discovered it was missing a rear tire: A classic case of seeing a car through rose-colored, potential-project buyer’s glasses. The Jaguar problem was later remedied with a Daimler spare rim and tire, but the auction allowed me to pass on the little Victor.
Spent a lot of time in one of these,my Dad had a dark blue one which he kept spotless.
When I first saw the clue, I thought it was some sort of North American Ford product, likely some variant of a Mercury. Imagine my surprise when I found out this was a Vauxhall. Imagine my further surprise when I saw the pix of the Volga and how much it resembles the Vauxhall!
The hot rodder in me really likes the idea of pulling that Victor out of the yard and stuffing a SBC in it. It’s already got the ‘Glide, so it would make an entertaining little dragster.
But it would be a shame to trash such a complete car to make it a racer. A real time capsule. Hopefully someone will preserve it.
What a great little car. David I must admit I’m a bit disappointed, it would have been great to have some in-progress reports on returning it to the road.
I think some sort of GM V6/auto transplant would be good for this, a little less nose heavy and a bit better driver.
There is a guy in the UK on the Retro Rides board who swapped a Rover V8 into one so there is room in the engine bay. These have very little demand or value so if you built something like that you’d have to be prepared to own it forever. I go through cars too fast for that.
The GM V6/auto conversion has already been done here in NZ – and there’s one for sale currently! It’s the ubiquitous Buick 3.8 V6 transplanted out of a 1989 Holden Commodore. Pic below shows it, and the auction link is here: http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/used-cars/other/vauxhall/auction-569991530.htm
This wasn’t the last Victor imported into Canada – the FD series was also available through 1970 as the Victor and Envoy 2000. The profile shot in the black and white ad is a dead ringer for an early Chevy II.
Thanks for that – I didn’t know we got the FD. Sales must have been rather poor because I don’t think I’ve ever seen one even thinking back to childhood. Rather like the MkIII Ford Cortina – in theory it was sold in Canada but I’ve never met anyone who has seen one.
I’ll make the correction too.
My first car was a gold FD Victor.
In the UK
Bummer. What a cute little car. Love the chrome accents along the belt line and then dropping down in the back. The shot of the front end at the top evokes the early Falcon quite strongly, but with Lincoln-esqe fender blades (in vestigial form)
The similarity of the Volga to this generation Victor is unmistakable. The timing is about right too: The Volga came out in 1968.
Hard to believe they mated Powerglide™ to a small four!
Indeed that car looks more American than British or European, which is not a bad thing since American styling had sobered up considerably since the late ’50s. BTW, even as late as 1965, the Fiat 1300 also had the mail-slot speedo.
Hard to believe they mated Powerglide to a small four?
Oh yeah. So how well did the thing drive?
I just remembered, the original Hondamatic was 2-speed (nominally a 3-speed with its lockup mode).
“One-shift-no-clutch semi-automatic Torque-Drive”?!?!?! I don’t remember GM ever offering that kind of tranny. Did that ever make it into production?
For 1959 F series 2 only. Newton Drive semi-auto. Button on end of column shifter released the clutch. Very unreliable so offered for less than a year. Many troublesome cars converted back to conventional manual. No more auto Victors until this FC 2spd Powerglide option launched in 1966. It was offered in New Zealand on the locally assembled Super sedans and carried over to the 1968/68 OHC four and I6 FD models, too.
More on the FC: http://vauxpedianet.uk2sitebuilder.com/vauxhall-fc—victor-101-vx490
My elderly, great aunt had Torque Drive in a used 1969 Nova. She didn’t realize it wasn’t a fully automatic transmission, but drove it like one, so you can imagine what that was like. If you search Curbside Classics for 1969 Camaro, there is a write up on a six cylinder with Torque Drive
Imagine the Vega with the Torque-Drive matched with the 2.53:1 rear end…
I’ll quote Marlon Brando here. ‘The horror, the horror’. Thankfully I never experienced this kind of automotive hell. I imagine the 153 c.i.d. Four with 90 screaming gross horsepower in the 1970 Nova with the TD would have been just as bad. And you know someone ordered it.
Damn when I saw the clue I thought 101 Victor then, where the hell is anyone gunna find one in the States ok shoulda writ it down. Vey few survivors out here too. Vauxhalls of this era had shocking rusy problems mostly caused by poor assembly protection this one is remarkably solid, Roomy cars when new most here preferred the larger 100mph cruise capable Velox or Cresta which share doors with the mid size Victor, consequently the Cresta engine will retrofit into the lighter Victor and local speedway here we come that killed many in Hawkes Bay in fact there is only one on the road around here a very dark green sedan with ironicly powerslide trans which is why it survived noone wanted those. What was the PAX next to it like for cancer ads those are worth saving.
Bryce, remember, David is a Canuck (Canadian).
Yes in Canada we got all sorts of cars the US didn’t. The difference is much less but still there.
It was sold in the UK as a left-hand driver?
It looks a little bit like a Rambler American circa 64-67.
All UK Vauxhalls were RHD,both mine and my parents definitely were
I thought “Vauxhall” as soon as I saw the CC Clue. I had one as a Matchbox or Dinky or something when I was small. I’ve always thought it’s a good looking car, especially for a British sedan. Paul nailed it, it’s that sixties Lincoln look on a small car.
New Zealand celebrity Selwyn Toogood [aka Seldom Anygood] -a rather l a r g e chap- pitched the Victor 101’s alleged 6-seater roominess, back in the days of large Kiwi families and small cars, with this early NZ-made advert.
My Dad collected one of these from the factory in Trentham Wellington to drive back to Warkworth he said he was glad he bought a Velox, Driving cars back was more cost effective than railing cars north it saved the normal damage bill on arrival and the powertrain was nicely run in for the punter
I just about bought that one at the same time I bought the two PA Crestas. An angry wife intervened when I stupidly left my email open. Just as well, I have enough to do with combining the best bits of the five Crestas I now own into something resembling a running usable car…
Went to a car show today all driven there vehicles so I took you guys in my camera 4 Vauxhalls there 1 PC Cresta 1 PA velox 1 PASX Velox and a 47 14hp sedan and these were everywhere once
Can’t wait to see them Bryce especially the PC Cresta,I had mine for 2 years a great car.
I can understand why you would want this car, David.
Too bad it was not to be.
I’ve had good results freeing frozen brake drums with PBlaster. No heat needed.
Rear brakes locked….or gearbox stuck in park? A bash with a ball pein hammer and some wrenching to and fro ought to shift puny little drums on that Victor.
Hi Dave saw your blog 101 nice cars. Here is my 1966 vx490 306 miles in the last 19 years. rebuilt mechanicals stored dry i,m using her now beutifull cars.
Hi Dave wonder if you wanted to see my you tube video of the 1966 vx490 FC
You guys are a fair way from Luton England.Th home of the Vauxhall company.
As mentioned i have only owned this car from 2/3/2013.
Just fitted a new regulator box.Now charges battery.Will take her out the next sunny day
So July? Description on you tube details work on car.
Credit to the previous owner, apparantly it was his dream to rebuild her sadly passed away and was sold to a house clearance guy who put her on e-bay for £1950 ono i paid £1850 with new mot and FREE road tax pre 1971 dont get much free in this country.
Let me know if you see any victor 101s or 490s.
I geuss you know how tuned the 490s are
My first car was a 1966 Vauxhall Victor I bought it for 35.00 from a friend of my fathers the car had a 4 cyl, 3 speed on the tree and was a real blast to drive around almost like driving a small tank and hold on to the steering wheel when you turned a corner cause you would slide accross the bench seat.
I would have love to restore that one pictured here.
What memories Thanks
I have a VX 4/90 version of the FC. Photo attached was taken a while ago, now under a cover in the front garden awaiting a rebuild. I’ve owned it for the last fourteen years but have known it since it arrived at its first owner back in 1967. I used to get 2/6 (half a crown – 12 1/2 pence) each week to wash it as a kid. The elderly lady owner gave it to me in ’98 when she stopped driving due to failing eye sight, only 64k miles from new.
According to http://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/vehicle/vauxhall_vx_4%2F90_fc_series
looks like only two left on record in the UK.
101 is the cubic inches of the motor or 1600cc, just sayin,
From 1966 on the Deluxe 101 had a traditional British wood dashboard insert, the Supers retained that silver trim. Radio openings were not precut, the cars left the factory with solid radio delete panels. The precut panel came in the dealer supplied and fitted radio kit. FCs were also assembled from UK knock-down kits in Denmark, Portugal, Belgium, New Zealand, Trinidad and South Africa. In SA, they had a locally made, US-designed 2.2-litre four instead of the British 1.6 due to local content rules.
My parents had one of these, and a hand-me-up from mum’s little sister when when she and her English husband moved back to the UK in the early 1970s. I loved the look of it; it was the closest thing to an American car we had ever had (or would ever have) and I used to put an upturned blue empty ice-cream tub on the roof and pretend it was a cop car. I also remember having trouble reaching the roof early in its life at our home.
I always thought these looked rather strange in profile, with the bottom of the side windows sitting higher than the bonnet and boot. Most unusual to see a sixties Vauxhall that isn’t rusted out.
Looks a bit like a nova.
Brings back early memories, both cars in the first picture are familiar to me, around 66 my father had a Vauxhall Velox, Black over grey, I remember, as a child sleeping on the front bench seat (pre seatbelt days) when my father was driving home from Dymchurch to South Wales. He used to drive the thing flat out most of the time. Think is was a 2.6 straight six.
A few years later he had a White VX490, They were flash cars at the time, but not as good as the Wolseley that came between them.
He saw sense and earned more money so a Fintail 220Sb followed, then its been Volvos all the way
Don’t remember seeing an old Vauxhall for some time, but today an early 60s Wolseley passed by.
Dymchurch to South Wales must have been a fair old trek in those pre-Motorway days!
It was, but I think the M4 had reached Newport or Cardiff by then, but it was well into the night by the time we got home. Not thought of it for decades but those 2 cars brought it back
One day in the late ’60s or early ’70s I was at the library reading the yellow pages for one of the major Canadian cities, for some reason. In the automobile-dealers section, ISTR that the Envoy was billed as “the tough little car from General Motors.”
I have a Vauxhall Victor 101 supe (1965) rand need a OIL PUMP.
where can i find it?
Im in Oporto Portugal.
Also i need a schematic for spare parts for having sure what spare parts do i need to buy.
CAn you hel me on this please?