The big story 30
Viva la Vauxhall!
While the classic market gets itself into a lather over Ford Escorts, more clued-up punters are wising-up to the charms of its long-term rival, the Vauxhall Viva.
The earliest version, the HA, was launched in 1963 and pre-dated the Escort’s arrival by five years, going head-to-head with the Anglia. The HA was replaced by the more suave HB in 1966 and come 1970, the HC took its bow, surviving until 1979.
A family and company car favourite, the choice of car rental companies and – with later models – police forces, simple mechanical underpinnings and good looks saw all three generations motoring out of Vauxhall showrooms with ease. The HB’s looks were clearly influenced by American models from Vauxhall parent, General Motors, and arguably has a slight first-generation Camaro air. The HC Viva’s front took its cue from late-1960s Pontiac models, the pointed bonnet design being more daring than its Escort rival.
Vivas aren’t a regular sight at auction, but Barons’ last sale offered a 1965 37,000-mile HA saloon that had been in the vendor’s family since 1988. Estimated at £2500-4000, it failed to sell.
Historics’ Ascot auction offered two HB models a few weeks before Barons’ sale– a 1967 SL90 and a 1969 two-door DeLuxe. Both were offered without reserve, a wise move that fired up interest with punters looking for a well-presented 1960s family saloon lacking the clichéd image of a Morris Minor or the inflated value of an Escort.
The 1967 car, in white with a red interior, had full history, three owners and was in first-rate order, the auctioneer saying that the spot welds in the rear wheelarches were visible. It sold for a premiuminclusive £4928.
The younger model was owned by its first owner until 2002 and looked very smart thanks to rust removal and new steel, while the Pampas Green paint and Rostyles added to its looks, and was away for £6832.
Top Viva price at auction this year so far goes to Anglia Car Auctions’ restored 1968 HB Brabham estate, which sold for £8300. It had been very well looked-after and keeping it in that order wouldn’t require too much effort.
Offering a great way into classic motoring but also equally enjoyable for those with plenty of classic miles under their wheels, a Viva of any generation represents great value for money – it’s simply a case of waiting for one to come along.
Barons’ 1965 HA DeLuxe failed to sell, but was sensibly estimated at £2500-4k. Tidy 1969 HB Viva made a sensible £6832 at Historics’ 20 May sale – well bought.