1975 Vauxhall Viva Review

1975 Vauxhall Viva HC 1.3 from Australia and New Zealand

Year of manufacture1975
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 1.3 Manual
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired177000 kilometres
Most recent distance178572 kilometres

Summary:

Good cheap runabout

Faults:

Rocker cover gasket leak.

Radiator hose-to-water-pump-housing leak.

General Comments:

I've had a really good run from my viva.

When I got it, it was a 1256cc HC model (1975). The engine has done some 177,000 km's, which is quite a lot for an English car!!!

ENGINE:

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Currently, the 1256 engine runs very well, but the oil pressure is a little low, and takes a good 5 seconds or more after starting, before the oil light goes out. During this time, then engine coughs and makes nasty noises, due to the fact that the crankshaft is probably running dry until the oil pump can force some oil into the journal bearings!!!

This is not that good, I know, and I'll be interested to see the condition of the internal components when this engine is pulled out. (I'm planning to put an 1800cc Magnum engine in) For now, I am just going to keep driving it, until the engine packs up completely.

The engine itself is relatively gutless, and in my opinion, the Viva model should have had at least 1500cc engines as a minium, as 1256cc is not a lot of engine for this size of car; IE: The power-to-weight ratio is not quite right!

The 1256 engine at least, has a very unusual cylinder head, in that the intake is on the top face of the head, and the exhaust on the side. This is contary to most other cylinder heads, where the exhaust and intake manifolds are on opposite sides of the head for seperation. Access to the starter motor is difficult, as you have to remove the alternator to be able to take it out.

The spark-plugs are burried between the exhaust manifold, and the intake manifold. This means that there is rather a lot of heat right beside the carb, and also the ignition leads. You must make sure that you use high-temperature spark-plug leads, or older plastic ones will melt from the heat radiated off the exhaust manifold - I've seen this on other Viva's!!!

Be extremely careful that any/all fuel hoses or lines around the carb are not leaking in any way, or fuel will leak onto the hot exhaust manifold, starting an engine-bay fire - I've seen this too!

ELECTRICAL:

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The electrical system is very basic, and cars of this period, are an excellent starting point for any new mechanic, as there are no computers to worry about, and you can tune the engine this way and that way and see what happens.

CLUTCH:

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Clutch is nice and basic, and have not had any trouble with it, although, pedal is very stiff and hard to push down - unlike modern cars. Perhaps this is related to the clutch cable, but other Vauxhall's have similar heavy clutch pedals...

Adjustment easy, but requires you having to get under the car. It would have been better, if the adjustment was accessible from within the engine-bay, as with modern cars.

BRAKES:

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No problems to report here.

Brakes seem to be trouble free.

(for me at least...)

GEARBOX:

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Standard "Four on the floor" type box, with no problems. Can be quite easy to chew out the layshaft bearings, if you drive the car too hard, but the HC boxes with the needle-roller bearings pretty much solved this issue. Earlier HB and HA Viva's are the ones to watch...

Gear change is stiff compared to modern gearchange, but the short-shafted gear lever is a nice touch, and makes the gearchange look sporty. Actual gear changes are good, with no problems. 2nd gear synchromesh on the way out, but this is the first synchro to casue problems in pretty much any manual gearbox.

A good box all round.

A nice car, really, for the cheap prices that you can grab one for these days.

BODYWORK:

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Bodywork is quite stylish, really, and these 70's model cars are starting to become collectors items.

The 2-door Viva is a good choice for anyone wishing to pep up a Viva, as they look better then the four-door versions, in my opinion.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th July, 2004

21st Apr 2005, 09:40

I agree with your review of the hc viva. as I own one myself I can certainly agree that the 2 door model is a lot more attractive model. the brakes are better on front disc and not drum all round. the disc and servo seem to stop the car a lot better than the drum brakes.

Plus a great addition to any 1970's viva/firenza is some fury dice.

20th Jan 2010, 18:58

Hi there.

I own a 74 Viva 1275cc 4 door and totally agree with the above review and comments. Love my Viva and never want to sell it. Would have to say I like the four doors best, but that's probably because I have one.

Goes well for age, and have spent no more than $300 NZL on repairs. I am currently doing it up, so far has 16inch mags, sports exhaust, new sound system and speedline steering wheel. Hope to lower it and change the engine to a V6 (maybe from a Ford) at some point when I have the cash.

Love this car, because everyone always comments on it, and there are no others on the road done up, which makes it very unique.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 1 review