On 26 September 1963, The Engineer announced the launch of a compact one-litre car set to compete with Ford’s 100E, the Morris Minor and Austin’s A35 saloon: the Vauxhall Viva HA.
The ’economical, roomy and competitively priced car’ was based loosely on the design of the two-door Kadett, produced by General Motors’ stablemate Opel. It was also one of the first cars to be actively marketed at women.
There was conjecture over whether the Viva HA would have a front-wheel-drive configuration or a rear-engine, rear-drive layout. In the end, said The Engineer, ’Vauxhall… has been left unmoved by current design trends and… has remained quite faithful to the traditional layout.’
Outlining the ’Viva formula’, the magazine describes ’a front-mounted, water-cooled engine driving the rear wheel through a four-speed, all- synchromesh gearbox’. It added: ’The unit construction body provides adequate room for four persons, who are certainly not greatly limited in the luggage they can carry in the capacious boot.’
Accelerating from zero to 50mph in 13.3 seconds, the article reports that top speeds in excess of 80mph have been recorded, while average fuel consumption was ’of the order of 42mpg’.
The first Vivas to roll off the production line cost around £436, and the great success of the vehicle saw a series of models launched until 1979, when the final Viva HC rolled off the production line. It was replaced by the Vauxhall Astra.