Dimensions for the Vauxhall Victor were established before detail styling was completed. Typical of Vauxhall at the time, the Victor would be only a bit smaller than the older models, for which much larger replacements were already being discussed.
Against the Wyvern, the weight saving was less than 150 pounds. The Victor emerged on a 98-inch wheelbase and 50-inch wheel tracks, versus 103 and 54 inches for the Wyvern. It was also four inches shorter at 166 overall.
Bumper-tip "bombs," a panoramic windshield,
and rear-door creases were American-inspired
styling touches that were met with
skepticism in the British press.
The Victor was meant to look as American contemporary as GM thought it could get away with in Britain and Commonwealth markets. A four-door sedan was a given, but a four-door estate car was also planned -- Vauxhall's first factory-built station wagon. It arrived in February 1958.
No other body types were considered. Unlike carmakers in North America -- and some in Britain -- Vauxhall saw no need for two-door derivatives, convertibles included.
David Jones was an accomplished designer, having been with Vauxhall since 1937, but Project F must have seemed mission impossible: a smaller car that somehow had to combine GM's latest American styling with recognized Vauxhall features.
The result looked rather like a shrunken 1955 Chevrolet. It had the same basic boxy shape, a wraparound windscreen with "dogleg" pillars, and the suggestion of a notch at the waistline. There was also a full-width grille beneath a lowered, fully flat hood with twin bulged "strakes" at the front à la 1956 Corvette.
Slim concave spears or flutes, a Vauxhall must-have, moved from the hood sides to the front fenders and doors. Rear fenders suggested Detroit's de rigeur fins by extending past a squared-off trunklid. Bumper ends front and rear were shaped like jet-exhaust ports, with the left rear one serving as an exit for the exhaust pipe, another Corvette hallmark.
The "estate car" was Vauxhall's first wagon offering.
The Victor was a bit over the top for conservative British tastes and frankly clumsy, even cynical in some of its details. For example, the waistline notch, appearing on the rear doors, was just a pressed crease in the door panel, and Britain's first wraparound windshield hampered front-seat access just as it did in U.S. GM cars.
The interior, too, was quite American, with a cowled instrument cluster, column gearshift, and highly styled knobs and levers. Expected British fittings such as fascia wood (true or false) and floorshift were nowhere to be found. Standard-trim Victors even had a Yankee-style front bench seat. The upmarket Supers came with individual seats, though they weren't really buckets.
Explore the engineering behind the Vauxhall Victor on the next page.
For more information on cars, see: