Vauxhall unveiled the very first Victor in 1957 – looking rather like a scaled-down 1950s Chevrolet, the Victor F was intended to bring a touch of US glamour to the cobbled streets of the UK. Unlike the V8-powered Stateside cruisers the Victor was modelled upon, the new Vauxhall had to make do with a wheezy, 1.5-litre four-banger that produced a mere 55bhp and a top speed of 75mph.
Vauxhall eschewed the F’s transatlantic styling for something rather more conservative for the 1961-introduced FB Victor. The old 1.5-litre engine was carried over but was replaced with a new 1.6-litre unit from the end of 1963. The FB series would also see the first use of VX4/90 badge for a more performance orientated model.
Launched in 1961, the so-called “space curve” styling of the FC Victor 101 introduced a crisper more modern look, although sales were well down on the FB Victor.
It was time for a change at Vauxhall, one that would bring the largely conservative company into the Swinging Sixties.
The Holden Connection
Having just introduced the trend-setting, ‘coke-bottle’ window line to the HB Viva – a huge advance over the box-like HA Viva – Vauxhall’s design team now applied the same styling principles to a new Victor model: the FD. The car’s all-new body was designed in-house at Vauxhall’s facility in Luton by a team headed by David Jones. Leo Pruneau – who would later become head of design for GM-Holden – was largely responsible for the final look of the FD Victor.
Interestingly, it was originally intended that the FD would sport an Opel Commodore-style front grille, with single square headlights. However, as a large market for Vauxhalls existed in Canada, the final design called for four round headlights in order to comply with their lighting regulations.
Power came from two, all-new slant-four hemi-head, SOHC engines, pre-production examples having already been tested in the FC Victor. Gradually increased in capacity in later years, this versatile family of engines culminated in the tuned 2.3-litre units that powered the ‘Droop Snoot’ Firenza and Chevette HS…
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