1968 Vauxhall Victor FD Estate
  The Vauxhall Victor FD was introduced at the Earls Court Motor Show held from the 18th to the 28th of October 1967. The British motor industry was starting to suffer from increasingly poor relations with its workers which would eventually see most of the independent car manufacturers go out of business or swallowed up by British Leyland or foreign manufacturers. This was also a period of instability in the UK currency which was causing inflation and hitting sales. Vauxhall was delighted when the Victor FD was named "Car of The Show" and hoped the increased acclaim would also increase sales. History says this was not to be the case.
   The Victor FD was a sleek modern looking car. Drawing heavily on American design influences, and having to live up to the looks of the Cresta PC & Viva HB, the new Victor FD was designed entirely at the Luton offices of David Jones and future lead designer at Holden, Leo Pruneau. The only compromise was the front grill which had originally been designed with a single square headlamp each side but soon to be introduced Canadian regulations required four front lights and instead of using "Opel Commodore" style grille an GM designed grill was implemented. 
   There was almost no carry over of parts from the FC "101" and Estate version, on sale from May 1968, also looked sleek with the extended roof line having no detrimental effect on the look of the car. Through the entire Victor production period there was almost no changes to the exterior styling of the Victor and this stands as a testament to the fact that the design team got it right first time.
   The modern American influence "coke-bottle" body styling covered a new engine that had been on the drawing boards since 1963 and had been through much testing. The block was canted over at 45 degrees to the left so the overhead cam’ unit didn’t get in the way of the lowered bonnet line. This design would become known as a "slant-four". In testing it was also found that the canted over thin wall cast iron block absorbed the secondary out-of-balance forces inherent in an in-line four-cylinder engine.
   5-bearings carried the crankshaft with belt-drive to the ohc. Chain drive for the camshaft was thought to need slack adjustment every 20,000 miles but use of a rubber-toothed belt type, first used in the US by GM in the Pontiac, remover this service need and had proven its durability. Not convince by the Pontiac belt the R&D department at Vauxhall tested the belt extensively. They failed to break a belt but did break three of their own testing rigs. 
   In other testing emissions were subject, combustion chamber volumes & spark timing carefully adjusted and to counter the timing variations suffered by the ohv Viva engine a new wide-based AC Delco distributor was used which didn’t exhibit the flexing and movement found to be the cause of the Viva’s timing issues.
   The cast iron cylinder head had hemispherical combustion chambers with the valves set at an angle of 6 deg. to the cylinder centre line. These large valves were also arranged alternately so as to help spread temperature build up evenly. All the valves were operated by a single overhead cam. The spark plug was set almost at the centre of the combustion chamber and was also a new AC product.  
    1599cc & 1975cc versions of the Slant 4 ohc engine were produced and both were fed by a Zenith 36IV carburettor.
  Vauxhalls Victor FD had a number of firsts to the market. It was the first mass produced car to be sold with a timing belt instead of a chain and Vauxhall tested every single engine with a 20-minute run before it was allowed to be installed in the car. At the time it was arguably the most advanced engine available in Europe.
    Power was few to the rear wheels through a manual 3-speed gearbox operated be a lever on the steering column. A 4-speed ‘box with floor mounted lever was an optional extra for saloons and standard on the 3294cc estate. Also available was a 3-speed automatic ‘box from Borg Warner. 
   Suspension was a break from British norms in having a live rear axle held in place by trailing arms and a Panhard rod, cushioned by coil springs rather than traditional leaf springs. At the front a double wishbone assembly located the front uprights. Drum brakes all round provided stopping power but the 2000 series had servo assisted 10inch discs at the front; which became an option on the 1600 model. 
    In the cabin the design followed some of the current GM styling in having simple and functional controls, and a wood effect dash’. The traditional front bench seat was still available but most models had comfortably contoured bucket seating front and rear.

   Canadian and US safety requirements were somewhat ahead of the European markets and as a result of the GM design demands the Victor FD was designed way above that normally seen in a British car. Most notable was the energy absorbing steering column combined with a padded steering wheel boss. Sun visors and dash board were also padded and the rear view mirror had a special breakaway fixing and was shatterproof. The front seats had seat belts and the backs of the seats were also padded for impact absorption. Interior door handles and switches were recessed and flush to avoid injuries in a crash and despite the front roof pillars being thin to increase visibility the car could roll over its roof and not collapse. Crash protection was further enhanced by energy absorbing impact zones front & rear which Vauxhall tested regularly to ensure safety standards were maintained.
   The Victor was so advanced in this respect that it won the much coveted Don Safety trophy in April 1968. Don brake linings sponsored this annual award specifically to recognise, and encourage, manufacturers to contribute to road safety.

   The Estate version was to be offered in the same engine sizes as the saloon and launched at the same time. However, the engines were in short supply so only the saloon was sold until engine stocks had caught up. That meant the Estate didn’t really get launched until May 1968. It had a stronger rear suspension set up and front disc brakes as standard. 
   Having set a standard with the attractive Viva HB Estate the design team needed the Victor FD estate to be an eye catcher too. In order to do this the team went for a gently sloping rear which traded load space for looks. The “sports hatch” concept was yet to catch on but the decision to go with this styling did result in a car that was at least the equal of its stablemate. 
   The 1960s and ‘70s were a difficult time for the UK car market. Not only were there currency and inflation issues to think about. Trade relations continued to deteriorate at a time when the consumer was demanding better quality and new options. The one engine policy for a mid-sized car was being rejected by the public and fleet managers were starting to want more features in the new “company car” market. 
   Despite having a longer production run than the previous model the Victor FD sold less well than the FC. Two obvious reasons for this were the lengthy strikes that affected production and the loss of some export markets. Efforts to boost sales, like a new dashboard, new colour and trim combinations, re-badging as Victor Super or SL did little to help, even the addition of a Stromberg CD carburettor couldn’t make up the Victor’s sales losses.
   Vauxhall lost over £9m in 1969 and was unable to invest in the FE replacement which didn’t launch until the early part of 1972. FD production ended in February 1972 with around 198,000 units produced.
1/32nd scale kit.
Built by Rod.

   Airfix kit # M302C, 1/32nd scale released in 1968 and now one of the most sort after, rare and very expensive Airfix kits that there is.

   Rod built this model in 1968/9 at a time when a 4-year-old Ian must have been sticking his little fingers in the glue and paint and generally being more of a hindrance than a help. It is painted by brush with Humbrol enamel paints and would have been glued together with tube cement.

   The kit is very nicely detailed and if it were possible to build this model with today’s spray paints and bare metal foil the results would certainly be much better.

   However the kit is incredibly rare and expensive so we doubt he'll get a second chance. Other options for a Victor model are equally rare but you might see offerings like these once in a while.

   Onethirtysecond Brand Vauxhall FD series Victor estate. Consists of a 1/32nd scale resin bodyshell and Vac-form windows first released in the 1980s.

   FROG 1/16th scale Vauxhall Victor, kit # F601, a 1967 release which was later sold in the 1980s under the “Donetsk Toys Factory” label catalogued as #601 and M4.