1978 Vauxhall Viva GLS 1.3


A great fun car and the cheapest motoring around


Nothing has gone wrong since I bought it however there were a few faults at the time of purchase. these were:

A fair amount of rust, car is structurally sound however.

New exhaust needed.

Blown rocker gasket.

Various service items (air filter, distributor components, etc.)

The indicator stalk it also not securely fixed, and will pull out if not used carefully!

General Comments:

This car is an absolute bargain, mine was £250 and although it needed some work the parts cost next to nothing and it is very easy to work on, cutting out most labor costs if you are prepared to get your hands dirty.

It is a very comfortable car, with great seats and soft suspension as well as very light steering (lighter than some cars with power steering once it is rolling) and an easy, but slightly lumpy gear change.

The rear seats however are not ideal for adults as there is little leg room especially when the front seats are all the way back (as they have to be when I'm driving, I'm over 6ft tall).

Its performance is not amazing, being a fairly large car with a small engine, but it will cruise happily at 70mph and has no problem keeping up with the traffic (even if there is no chance of outrunning it at all).

The handling is also pretty average, with no real problems, but without being amazing in any way. it is nicely balanced and predictable however.

The real fun with this car is its character and individuality, it stands out where ever you go and attracts many compliments and questions. It is always great fun to travel in and has never let me down (yet!?!)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th February, 2003

1964 Vauxhall Viva L 1.1 Litre petrol


Nice car, shame about the rust


Steering ball joints needed replaced.

Major rust problem.

General Comments:

This was my first "Modern" car - only 3 years old. My previous (and first) car had been 10 years old.

The car was bought new within the family, so I knew the service and repair history when I bought it - there had been no particular problems.

The HA model Viva was a slab sided fairly unlovely looking car, but was competent enough at its job. Back in 1964 when it was new there were no luxuries like heated rear window, power steering or anything else like that. It came with a heater. If the rear window fogged you bought a stick on plastic double glazing gizmo. If you wanted a radio you bought one from the auto store and fitted it yourself. At 3 years old it cost £330 - half cash and half on a loan (£330 was more cash than I owned in those days)

I do not remember any problems with handling etc. It would be poor by modern standards, but it never went fast enough to matter. I do remember the very good gearshift. The transmission tunnel hump came back between the front seats, and the gearstick was a short stubby lever with a slick shift. I used to be able to change gear with one finger laid on top of the stick and just flick between gears.

The big killer was rust. After I had the car about 18 months year, and with only being about 4.5 years old, I jacked it up to do some servicing. The car was the usual integral chassis/body, but had two longitudinal chassis channels. On setting it down on blocks, the chassis members crushed - the whole car was undersealed, and looked good from the outside, but the chassis channels were totally corroded internally.

It went for a trade in within a few weeks - I got worried if the rest of it would start to fold up.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th February, 2003

26th Mar 2011, 14:47

One thing that you mention that I didn't in my review was the gear change; it was great wasn't it!

You talk about rust, and the following is not a plug for Vauxhall, but more a little of what I remember about cars & rust at that time.

I seem to recall that the Vauxhall Victor (the one with the curved "dog-leg" windscreen) was prone to rusting. Vauxhall subsequently undersealed their cars and injected a protective coating into the box sections at the production stage. At this time underseal, like a heater was an extra on most cars. My father bought an HB Viva because of this after owning a young but rusty MG 1100.

You may recall the various after market rust protection centres that sprang up in the 70's (Was one called Ziebart?)

I bought a second hand Renault R6 that had an after market treatment. Everything was coated in underseal, even the underside of the bonnet. The box sections were injected with wax, & inevitably, all the drainage holes were blocked. The result, I suspect was 5mph off the top speed due to the weight of the rust protection and the water trapped in the sills! The box sections still rotted like those on most cars of the period; probably faster but undetected because of all the "gunge" that had been sprayed onto them. The amazing thing was that at the time, second hand cars would be advertised as having these treatments & command a premium price!

Well done Vauxhall for contributing to the long but successful development of rust prevention.