WHAT TO LOOK FOR
SPOT THE ROT
Look everywhere for signs of corrosion as it killed off many a Viva in period. The rear wheelarches, front wings, shock absorber tunnels and the bottom of the A-pillars where they meet the windscreen corners are among the places to inspect for signs of bubbling paintwork, surface rust or deteriorating metal.
The HC’s rear suspension arm bushes are prone to wearing out, particularly if the car’s been used hard throughout its life. Check them carefully for any signs of perishing or flexing. Replacement bushes can be bought independently of the arm itself, which helps to keep costs down.
It’s not uncommon for Vivas to appear to have heaters that don’t work, but it’s more likely to be due to an airlock in the system rather than the unit malfunctioning completely. Plenty of owners don’t keep the system properly topped up – if at all – so it’s worth investigating if it’s not warming up.
IS IT AN AUTO?
The vast majority of Viva HCs had a fairly durable four-speed manual transmission, but occasionally you’ll find one fitted with GM’s three-speed auto. It’s a reliable unit, but you’ll want to check the colour of the transmission fluid; if it’s black or dark brown, chances are the system’s heading for a rebuild.
The Viva HC’s cabin is fairly hard-wearing, but getting replacement trim can be tricky, with no new spares available and used parts getting hard to find. It’s well worth signing up with the Vauxhall Viva Owners’ Club, which regularly carries details of spare parts that its members are selling in ReVival, the club magazine.
HOW’S IT RUNNING?
The five different engines available in the HC’s nine-year run – ranging from a 1159cc OHV unit to a 2279cc four-pot with overhead cam – are all fairly rugged, but make sure they’ve been serviced regularly. On OHC models it’s also worth checking whether it’s had a new belt in the last 20,000 miles.