|Also called||Vauxhall VX4/90Vauxhall VentoraVauxhall VX1800Vauxhall VX2300|
|Production||1972-1978 44,078 (Victor 1800/2300) 11,3476 (VX4/90 to 1976) 7,291 (Ventora) 693 (Victor 3300) 25,185 (VX1800/VX2300)|
|Body style(s)||4-door saloon5-door estate car|
|Wheelbase||105 inches (2667 mm)|
|Length||179 inches (4547 mm)|
|Width||67 inches (1702 mm)|
|Height||54 in (1,400 mm)|
The last of the Victors, launched in March 1972, was the FE (1972–1976). Magazine and newspaper advertisements used the marketing slogan, «NEW VICTOR — The transcontinentals». The car appeared substantially larger than its predecessor, but was actually no wider and only 2 inches (5 cm) longer with much of the extra length accounted for by larger bumpers. Nevertheless, a higher cabin and improved packaging enabled the manufacturer to boast of 1.5 inches (38 mm) more leg room in the front and no less than 4 inches (100 mm) of extra leg room in the back, with virtually no loss of boot/trunk capacity. Useful increases in headroom and shoulder-level cabin width were also achieved through the use of differently shaped side panels and windows.
Most UK cars in this class featured manual transmission and with the FE Vauxhall belatedly fell into line with by including a four-speed gearbox — available only at extra cost on the old Victor FD — as standard equipment. The FE’s extra weight presumably made this development irresistible. The four-speed transmission used the same box and ratios across the range, from the 1759 cc Victor to the torquey 3294 cc Ventora-badged version: contemporary road tests of the four-cylinder cars comment adversely on the wide gap — highlighted on the mountain roads included in the Portuguese route chosen for the car’s press launch — between second and third gears.
1973 Victor FE.
Although the architecture of the suspension remained as before, numerous detailed modifications were made to counter criticism of the old model. Changes included an anti-roll bar as standard equipment on all but the entry-level models, and stiffer springs at the back, intended to compensate for the Victor’s tendency to understeer. At the front the springing remained soft by the standards of the time: the track was widened (by 1.7 inches / 4 cm) and wheel geometry modified to incorporate «anti-dive action», improvements intended to address the Victor’s tendency to wallow, which by then was attracting criticism from performance-oriented commentators.
1972 FE based Vauxhall VX4/90.
Vauxhall Victor FE Estate
The FE Victor was the last Vauxhall to be designed independently of Opel. The engines were carried over from the FD range although enlarged to 1759 cc and 2279 cc. For a short period, the straight-six engine was used in the Ventora and 3300SL models, the latter effectively a Victor Estate with lesser trim than the luxury Ventora. The estates had a more sloping rear, similar to a hatchback, than the Rekord equivalent. The FE estate in fact had perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
1974 finally saw the introduction of a proper Ventora Estate, along with running changes for the rest of the range.
World energy crises, falling exports and an increasingly muddled image led to Vauxhall’s decline during the early 1970s, such that sales of the FE slumped to 55,000 units before it was transformed to the VX series in early 1976.
A late Vauxhall VX2300 GLS
Since the demise of the more than three years earlier, only the Ventora had used the old Vauxhall six-cylinder engine: but now the four-cylinder VX 2300 GLS replaced the six-cylinder FE Ventora as Vauxhall’s flagship.
|Body style(s)||4-door saloon5-door estate car|
|Wheelbase||98 in (2,489 mm)|
|Length||167 in (4,242 mm)|
|Width||63 in (1,600 mm)|
|Height||59 in (1,499 mm)|
The original Victor, launched on 28 February 1957, was dubbed the F series and saw a production run totalling over 390,000 units. The car was of unitary construction and featured a large glass area with heavily curved windscreen and rear window. Following then current American styling trends, the windscreen pillars sloped backwards. In fact, the body style was derived directly from the classic 57 Chevrolet Belair, though this was not obvious unless the two cars were viewed side by side. Bench seats were fitted front and rear trimmed in Rayon and «Elastofab», and two-colour interior trim was standard. The Super model had extra chrome trim, notably around the windows; remnants of the signature Vauxhall bonnet flutes ran along the front flanks and the exhaust pipe exited through the rear bumper. The car was equipped with arm rests on the doors, door-operated courtesy lights, a two-spoke steering wheel and twin sun visors. An estate variant was launched in 1958. When re-styled, as the series II, the car lost all its ’57 Chevy styling detail and the teardrop shaped ‘Vauxhall’ flutes were replaced by a single chrome side-stripe running nose to tail. The sculpted ‘porthole’ rear bumper tips, which rusted badly due to exhaust residue, were replaced by plain, straight ones. Interestingly, the old bumper ends continued to be used for many years on a variety of motor coaches and ice-cream vans.
Vauxhall Victor FA Estate, featuring the simplified post 1959 front treatment and less sculpted rear doors
Suspension was independent at the front by coil springs and with an anti-roll bar was fitted on a rubber mounted cross member. The rear suspension used a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs. Steering was of the recirculating ball type. Lockheed hydraulic 8 in (203 mm) drum brakes were used.
A «Super» version tested by The Motor magazine in 1957 had a top speed of 74.4 mph (119.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 28.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.0 miles per imperial gallon (9.11 L/100 km/25.8 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £758 including taxes. The estate car cost £931.
A Series II model was announced in 1959 with simplified styling. The new car was available in three versions with a De-Luxe as the top model featuring leather trim and separate front seats.
F Series Victors sedans were assembled at General Motors New Zealand plant in Petone. Most were Supers with column shift, three-speed manual transmission though some base models were made for government fleet contracts. Wagons were imported.
These were extremely rust-prone cars, with the worst quality bodywork rusting from the inside out that had been produced before or since by anyone.