News : Vauxhall ups its presence at the Classic Motor Show


Vauxhall Motors’ Heritage Centre is preparing for its largest ever display at next month’s Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show at the NEC, in its fifth year supporting the event.

The Heritage Centre, home to one of the largest, manufacturer-owned car collections in the UK, will be celebrating two important anniversaries – 50 years of the Viva HB and 85 years since the birth of Bedford. Centrepiece of the HB Viva display will be the Heritage Centre’s 1970 Mk1½ GT (below), making its public debut after a two-year ground-up restoration by Vauxhall’s Andy Boddy, Terry Forder and the Heritage Centre team. Resplendent in Monza Red, with its original Rostyle wheels and the later, body-coloured bonnet, this 2.0-litre Viva GT is thought to have been registered by Vauxhall Motors when new.

The Viva GT will be joined by the Heritage Centre’s 1966 Viva SL and a stunning replica of Gerry Marshall’s famous DTV GT racer, which was prepared by the great Bill Blydenstein and competed in the 1971 Osram Saloon Car Championship.

Vauxhall is now the UK’s only remaining LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle) manufacturer and, to celebrate 85 years since its Bedford CV division was born in 1931, two of the most recognisable Luton-built models will be on display: a Series 1 2.3-litre Bedford CF panel van, in fully-restored condition, and a Viva HA van, which had a remarkable 20-year production run between 1963 to 1983.

Joining Vauxhall at the NEC will be a total of 13 Vauxhall owners’ clubs, including the Droopsnoot Group, the Cavalier and Chevette Club, Vauxhall Viva OC and Vauxhall Cresta Club. Together, the clubs’ and manufacturer’s stands will represent a ‘Vauxhall Zone’ in Hall 5 (near Entrance 5.1) and be easily identifiable by red carpeting throughout and Vauxhall banners around the perimeter of the area.

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show runs from 11-13 November at the NEC, Birmingham. It is the biggest club event of its kind in Europe and one of the top five classic car shows in the world.


Keith Adams


  1. Great to see this. That Viva GT in Red looks great with its Rostyle wheels. I once owned a Viva HC with those. The HB series Viva did much to advance Vauxhall’s model range in the 60’s after the HA.

    The Viva GT was the culmination of the HB range after the Brabham performance versions.

  2. Yes – that HB looks great, far better proportioned than the HC that followed. The HB was only 4 years when replaced. It could have gone on far longer and with some development been strong competition for the Escort. The HC’s development money could then have gone into a larger car to rival the Cortina in 1970 rather than waiting another 5 years for the Cavalier.

    • Paul, my brother had a J reg HB SL saloon in dark blue which was a nice car, though I was not a driver back then. As you say, the HB was only in production for 4+ years. Vauxhall tended to change their body designs more frequently then.

      • Between 1961 and 1967 Vauxhall changed all their car bodies every three years: 1961 FB, 1962 PB, 1963 HA, 1964 FC, 1965 PC, 1966 HB, 1967 FD. There would have been a new PD in 1968 or 69 and there was the new Bedford CF in 1969 and the Viva HC in 1970, so styles did change more frequently then. Things hit a bit of a bad patch at the end of the ’60s with strikes and early ’70s with problems with the HCs exported to Canada so replacement slowed at the same time as co-operation with Opel was being pushed creating a bit of a hiatus until the Chevette and Cavalier marked the transition to the new era.
        The HB does still look good, except perhaps in four door form. Ironically I feel the HC looks best as a four door saloon with the neater windows and straight waist; the upswing came in the wrong place on the 4-door HB.
        That CF is smart, but I reckon THE classic Bedford light commercial has to be a CA ice cream van; they seemed to live on for ages!

  3. In the days when the HC was current, I always thought they looked bland and boring. But if I see one today I reckon they’ve stood the test of time well; they look neat, clean and elegant. (And I had an early J reg model).

    • KC – my Viva was a K reg and needed both front wings replaced when 4-5 years old. Looked a much better car when I sold it in 1979 though. Mostly good memories.

      • Mine was my first ever car (WDD 234J) and didn’t have a problem with rust; I had it when it was just over 4 years old and got rid of it when it was about 7, and the bodywork was still good. Mechanically it was eventually the roughest thing on wheels, but it continued to work without any big problems.

  4. I’m guessing the HB was looking a little dated by 1970, but there seemed to be a fair about of carry over parts.

    According to my cousin’s husband who has done up an HA, the engine family used a lot of common parts until the Chevette was withdrawn, quite useful when sourcing spares.

  5. @ maestrowoof, it was quite a good looking car, but the best looking Vauxhall of all time had to be the FD Victor, with its four headlamp front end, coke bottle styling and vinyl roof. In 3.3 litre Ventora form these could really motor for the time and looked nicer than the Cresta.

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