RUMBLINGS, October 1961




We have been in the game too long to believe average-speed claims, even our own! But we thought it interesting that, after driving the then hush-hush and very THE VALUE OF impressive Vauxhall Victors at a hide-out STABILITY in wild Welsh Wales we returned home in

the Editorial Mini-Minor, it proved possible to average 38t m.p.h. overall from the Spa town of Llanwrtyd Wells to .a county town in Hampshire (176 miles) without attempting to hurry unduly. There were several pauses to check the map and for road blocks and a long delay buying Esso Extra in a queue at what was apparently the only petrol station still open in Basingstoke. But, the interesting point, to our mind, is that the speedometer never indicated over 70 m.p.h. and was more often on the 55-6o mark, and presumably it is somewhat optimistic like most of its kind. In the old days it used to be said that your average speed was about half your maximum along straight roads and to be able to achieve a running-time average of 40 m.p.h. in I961 traffic without exceeding 65 M.p.h. in an 850-c.c. car with 30,000 miles to its credit (and rather tired brakes) is surely a credit to the splendid stability round bends and through traffic of the MiniMinor.? This run was made before we had tried seriously a Cooper-Mini and it made the Editorial mouth water. . . . It was a happy idea Of Michael Mares to take journalists down to the aforesaid hide-out in Wales to try the new Vauxhall Victor models. The hotel he had chosen was DRIVING THE extremely comfortable, and possessed a NEW VAUXHALL range of lock-up garages ideal for housing VICTORS “hush-hush ” new cars. It had been

built in about 1903, probably when the railway reached this small spa town adjacent to a Welsh lake, expressly as an hotel and its only worry is a shortage of water, which seems a bit droll in wet Wales. In spite Of the remote location, one Vauxhall and one Bedford owner we encountered during the brief test period evinced feverish interest in the lean new Victor.

The other journalists came down from London by train but as the writer is a motoring scribe, and doesn’t live in London anyway, he motored down and so arrived early and was able to sample two versions of the handsome new Victor between afternoon tea and dinner. These new Vauxhalls are described elsewhere in this issue, so it is only necessary here to comment on driving impressions.

The first car tried, on the appropriately twisty road to Builth Wells, was a Victor Super with floor change for the new 4-speed gearbox and stiffened suspension as requested by Swedish journalists due to arrive later in the session. This Victor proved very stable through fast corners, with a mild understeer, and its short central gear-lever was placed delightfully and swapped the cogs in the all-synchromesh gearbox with admirable precision. The return run was made in a Victor Super with normal suspension, distinctly softer, and its gears changed by a new I.h. steering-column lever that is rigid and moves, again with notable

precision, having very small movements, both up and down and laterally, which reduces the effort of gear-changing very considerably.

These new 4-speed Victors come in various styles, but all are long, lean and nicely but not flamboyantly styled. The luggage boot, with simple curved lid, is spacious, but not at the expense of rear-seat leg room, which could be where Vauxhall has cocked-asnoot at the Ford Consul Classic, with which, pretty obviously, the new Victors are in direct competition.

Next day a Victor de luxe with floor change was driven fast for a considerable distance, over the mist-enshrouded Pass to Lampeter (where the Six Days Light Car Trial of 1924 passed through and Mown SPORT played with the Citron 2 c.v., when it was a new model), and out of the rain towards Aberayron in search of sun and bathing belles. It proved an exceedingly sound all-round car, a 4-door saloon without vices, just the kind of conventional modern car so many of the World’s buyers seek. A full road-test will be necessary before the 1962 Vauxhall Victor can be properly assessed but let us say here and now that they abound in good features.

For example, the seats do not appear. to be specially shaped but they are very comfortable and provide good support, the gear-change is a honey (although too-stiff spring-loading on the second floor-change car we tried resulted in ourselves and a Vauxhall expert going smartly into top when aiming for znd gear), forward visibility over a short bonnet is good and the simple facia layout, with 90-m.p.h. speedometer and matching dial before the driver, appreciated, although everyone may not care for the plated finish.

The gears arc well chosen, an indicated 67 m.p.h. coming up in 3rd, and the box is quiet. We gather that Vauxhall engineers have taken particular pains over sound insulation (going rather deeper than just sound-damping) and a quiet back axle. The well-tried 1,508-c.c. engine works untiringly and an impressive power increase has been wrung from it. Altogether, Vauxhall Motors Ltd. appear to have an excellent new car in the revised Victor, especially as their stylists have resisted any desire to be sensational or even ” advanced,” nor have they fallen between various designs and old and new schools of thought, as some of Vauxhall’s competitors seem to have done. Prices, when announced, could be another pleasant surprise!

Moreover, rumour whispers of a higher-performance Victor to appear later this month, with 2-carburetter alloy-head engine, disc brakes, rev.-counter and very full equipment, which sounds like the first sporting Vauxhall since the Hurlingham. ARMSTRONG SIDDELEY OWNERS’ CLUB

Since its formation in July last year the Club has grown and its Secretary, Bob C.ryer, o 15, Albert Road, Saltaire, Shipley, Yorks, has now been able to introduce the first issue of the Club’s magazine, Sphinx. Although at present only a duplicated booklet. it contains notes. on ” Cars Found,” spares for sale, etc. The oldest Armstrong Siddeley in the Club, whose President is Selwyn Sharp, is a 1934 17-h.p. model, so there is scope for a vintage section or club for this stolid and famous make.