The Vauxhall Viva is a lively, spacious small saloon, with rather supple suspension. This induced Ian Walker Racing to get their engineering consultant, Bill Blydenstein, to go to work on a Viva, tuning its engine mildly and taking much of the sogginess out of its suspension. The engine tune costs £35 on an exchange cylinder head basis, or £50 inclusive of fitting and testing. It embraces re-shaped combustion chambers, c.r. raised from 8.5 to 9.5 to 1, a mildly-re-contoured inlet manifold, altered valve timing by regrinding the camshaft, and different carburette, choke and bigger jets.
The suspension mods cost £37 10s., inclusive of fitting, and consist of a set of four Armstrong shock-absorbers, anti-roll bar, and wider wheels (from a Singer Chamois) shod with Dunlop SP41 tyres. The test car also had a 15 in, dia, wood-rim steering wheel costing £7 19s. 6d. and a tachometer reading to 8,000 r.p.m., on a central panel on the transmission tunnel, which also contained an oil-gauge.
The increased suspension stiffness was just right, not spoiling the ride but materially enhancing stability. Taking the engine to 5,500-6,000 r.p.m. in the gears we improved on the 0-50 time recorded with a standard Viva by 0.9 sec. but found the 0-60 m.p.h. time to be fractionally slower. The s.s. 0.25-mile times were identical. The engine showed no temperament, except for occasional stalling. Again I was able to appreciate the light Viva gear-change and steering.—W. B.