Vauxhall Viva Profile

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Vauxhall Viva General Information

It is really hard to place this car into a frame. The Viva was a small saloon, not dissimilar to GM's Vauxhall Chevette & Opel Kadett C creations later. The curiosity is that the Viva was meant to be Vauxhall's opposite number to the Opel Kadett B, yet the Viva did indeed actually look more like the C generation Kadett and was sold for a long time alongside the Chevette. By the time the WRC got under way it was only seen occasionally in private hands.

Actually - admittedly - it was only when I discovered a secret about an Opel model that I started to understand the Vauxhall Viva. The Vauxhall Cavalier range did not start until the Ascona B. Hence there was never an equivalent to the Ascona A at Vauxhall. The Viva clearly was not it. The Viva was a Kadett pendant, but why then was the Viva made for many years alongside the Chevette? When Opel launched the Kadett range it turned a big, international story. Everybody says the Russian Moskwitch was derived from the Opel Kadett A. But you only really see the relation if you take the first versions of the Vauxhall Viva into the frame as the Moskwitch is somewhere between these two cars, borrowing in front design more from the Viva. These are clearly 3 very closely related cars. Maybe the Viva front accidently was the more simple, Eastern block type design. This becomes even more apparent when you look at the early Viva's commercial van version, the Bedford Beagle. This unfortunate front is also why Vauxhall decided for a massive facelift of the Viva. Even though Vauxhall never gave the Viva generation tags like Mk1 etc., the Viva saw its first makeover already after only 3 years, and by 1970, after another, milder facelift, with front grill and side lines it reminded strongly of the Opel Kadett C saloon, even though the Kadett C never arrived before 1973!

Now the same story from the Opel side: The Kadett A was replaced by the Kadett B. Which isn't as logical as it sounds, because untypically for Opel with new generation tags, the Kadett B appeared in design like even a mild facelift to the Kadett A. While the car sold alright in Germany, general opinion was that it was a bit conservative, and it seems Opel thought so too. Vauxhall never had this problem with their more radical Viva facelift. So Opel asked their designer for a complete re-design. But the result seemed too far off subject, too different, too big. Eventually what was meant to be the 1970 Kadett C turned to become the Ascona A! Opel never intended a new model range, but the new car to their minds was not fitting as a Kadett B replacement, to start from new would take another two years at least, the Kadett B was still conservative, the gap to the Rekord big, so by accident we suddenly had an Ascona! Again, Vauxhall never had this problem with their far more daring approach to their Kadett A/B equivalent and therefore Vauxhall never saw the need of an Ascona.

By 1973 eventually the Kadett C arrived. By now Vauxhall had added a coupé version to their Viva, see the Magnum story, and an absoultely gorgeous 3-door estate that nearly looked like a sporty combi-coupé with a flat, liftback shaped tailgate and really thin yet long rear lights. Vauxhall still had no Ascona A derivate and there was this new, modern Kadett C. Therefore, even though the Viva was a Kadett A/B derivate, and I still insist some front and side design elements of the Kadett C remind of the much older Viva, Vauxhall now decided to take on the new Kadett. However the new Kadett C was launched as the Vauxhall Chevette, mainly marketed in its smallest hatchback version, equivalent to the rarer Kadett City. And all the sudden the successful Viva was available with ever growing engines, up to a version called Viva 2300 with an engine of according size - insane in that class in the early-mid 1970s! Even though the Viva started out as a Kadett A derivate, and even the Chevette was newer and for the first time showed the modern, aerodynamic Vauxhall front rather than a radiator grille, the Viva was moved to a higher level and sold alongside the Chevette for nearly the Chevette's entire production life!

Despite all this, Vauxhall never seemed to see the Viva as their Ascona A stop gap. There never was an Ascona A derivate in UK, the Ascona B was launched as the Cavalier Mk1 in UK and Vauxhall advertised the Cavalier as an entirely new model range. And the Viva even survived the launch of the Cavalier in UK by about 3 years! Still, for Vauxhall the Cavalier was an entirely new model range, and Vauxhall insists the Viva successor was the Astra, same car that is named as the Chevette successor! Note for fans outside the UK: Vauxhall introduced the Astra name already with the Opel Kadett D, because, quite rightly, they saw the step from a RWD saloon to a FWD hatchback layout a fitting moment for a name change. Therefore Chevette replaced by Astra after only 1 generation, but it still is not easy to see how the Viva fitted alongside the Chevette.

Long but hopefully interesting explanation of a car that in rallying was more used by amateur drivers on national level.

Vauxhall Viva Related Content

Vauxhall Viva Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Vauxhall Viva 1800 GT (00-00) 0 0 4138.1643.1350 1011 (0) RWD (2464)

Random Vauxhall Viva Photos

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Vauxhall Viva Results

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Vauxhall Viva Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1973 WRC Rally of Finland P. Airikkala H. Haaksiala #22 [UNKNOWN] SS11 propshaft