Events : John Cleland drives VX4/90 at the Revival

Vauxhall at the Revival (1)

John Cleland will be racing a freshly restored, competition-spec Vauxhall VX4/90 in the first of the Revival’s St Mary’s Trophy races on Saturday, 14 September. The car, which will receive works support from Vauxhall Heritage, will be celebrating 50 years since its first appearance at Goodwood, when it was driven by Vauxhall tuning-guru, Bill Blydenstein in the 1963 St Mary’s Trophy.

Now owned by historic racer, Paul Clayson, the VX4/90 will be backed by a crew from Vauxhall’s Heritage Centre and Press Garage. ‘Team Vauxhall’ will be easily identified in Goodwood’s paddock by its freshly-restored Bedford CA van, sporting period works colours and ‘Vauxhall Sales & Service’ logos.

812 FNM, the Goodwood VX4/90, started life as a Vauxhall Motors’ press car, before it was given to tuner, Chris Lawrence, to develop. In ’63, it competed extensively in the European Saloon Car Championship, before being transformed into a rally car for the ’64 season at the hands of ex-Lawrencetune employee, Rod Cooper.

Paul Clayson acquired the car looking rather the worse for wear and he and ex-Vauxhall/Blydenstein man, Gerry Johnstone, embarked on a mission to bring it back to its ’63 Touring Car appearance. Producing 108bhp at 6250rpm, the car retains its original Lawrencetune inlet and exhaust manifolds, twin Weber 42DCOEs and bespoke cylinder head. ‘I wanted to keep it as near to original spec as possible,’ said Clayson. ‘It’s never going to win anything, but the fit with this year’s St. Mary’s Trophy race at the Revival is perfect and it’s a great chance to put the car back on the map.’

Vauxhall will also have a presence in the Revival’s Earls Court Motor Show, where a heritage-meets-modern display is set to wow show-goers and illustrate the depth of the company’s 110-year manufacturing history in the UK. More cars from its heritage collection will be used to taxi drivers and VIP guests around the site throughout the event.

More information at

  • Photography: Vauxhall and Classic & Sports Car

Vauxhall at the Revival (3)

Keith Adams
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  1. An FB VX4/90 producing 108bhp… yummy. More power than my 1.6 Focus! I remember the name of Bill Blydenstein very well. I always liked these cars since my late Father owned an FC VX 4/90 from 1966 till 72.

  2. In 1960’s Manchester, my old man ran a small cab firm with a fleet of VauxhVictors of this generation. Still speaks highly of them. Rather originally the firm was called Victor Cabs

  3. I used to own a standard 1963 FB Victor 1508cc 3 speed column change and umbrella handbrake. You seemed to be able to go everywhere in top gear. It had some strange features, the ignition key went into an extended ignition barrel and you were able to take the key out after you had turned it part way and just turn the barrel without the key !

  4. You know I’d be slightly nervous if that was my car… I remember Cleland & co racing…

    Bits of Vx4/90 were later found stuffed down rabbit holes & hanging from trees…

    they’re such pretty graceful cars too.

  5. Merv: I think that could have been wear. I could start my old Sceptre & do the same thing. it’d even start with the garage door key without complaint. Mind you the first one I had you could have started it with a cotton bud, it was that worn out.. but unlike modern stuff it soldered on, and on and on…

  6. Many many years ago a work college of mine had an automatic version of an FB….Just 2 speeds: very slow and slow. Nice looking cars it has to be said.

  7. @8 – that’s interesting Ian,I thought that Auto versions of the Victor didn’t arrive till the FC/FD series. The auto gearboxes were called GM Powerglide. My Dad’s FC VX had the 4 speed floor change, but I think Auto was an optional extra.

  8. @8 No Jemma I don’t think it was wear. I seem to remember from the hand book that you could take the key out if you were taking the car to a garage and wanted them to be able to start it without them being able to get into your glove box and have a nosey (the glove box was lockable with the same key as the ignition) Can anyone else confirm this ? I did have a later Morris 1000 van with a steering lock and you could take the whole barrel out and start in with a pair of long nose pliers, but that’s another story ! Does anyone know why the Morris 1000 had the distinctive exhaust parping sound when you changed gear but no other BMC car with the same engine ?

  9. An anorak fact is that the FB VX/490 was fitted with a mechanical limited slip diff in the rear axle. (If I remember correctly it was American and called ‘Powertrak’).
    This would apparently fit the later HB Viva GT axle, a point I was never able to prove as when I eventually found one in a scrap yard, extracted and stripped it, found the friction faces way too worn for it to be used!

    • The FB was not fitted with a LSD those was only available as an option on the FC VS 4/90 early production but was a standard fitting on late models

  10. Just been referring to a book on Classic 60s cars. The FB VX 4/90 originally had a 1508cc 71.5 bhp engine, later upgraded to 1594cc 73.8bhp. My Father’s FC VX was 1595cc / 85.5bhp

  11. Ian@8
    I too am interested in this automatic FB of yours – I sold the FB and FC 101 and to my knowledge the FB was never marketed as an auto. The FC however had the brilliant GM box and speeds were perfectly acceptable for the period.
    To clarify the key issue – you could remove the key from all FB’s and FC’s once the engine was started.
    @12 – I don’t understand the comment – the blooming things 50 years old – why should it rust now? The FB rusted far less than many 60’s cars anyway – even less prone than its successor!

  12. Interesting picture- if this car is so wonderful, why are the two gentlemen pictured holding a 10′ pole?

  13. @14 Wolesley Man… Rust wasn’t really a problem on my Dad’s FC VX either. He was a seafarer and while he was away, the car was left in the garage,on raised blocks and I turned the engine over once a week for him. My Mother didn’t drive. The car did only 25K miles in seven years Happy days!

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