My interest in Vauxhall Victor FEs started way back in 1977 when my dad bought a 1973 Flamenco Red FE 1800. I was 12 and compared to everything else around at the time, it was to me the nearest thing to an American car I was likely to see. This was the time when Starsky and Hutch was at its peak â€“ and the iconic Gran Torino. To me it looked similar if you squinted in a bad light! Sadly by the time I could drive she was gone, so I decided to restore one as my first car. After a few years this was succeeded by another self-restored VX 1800, which I finished in black. This car did four weddings (including my own) but no funerals. As it was used as a daily driver she finally succumbed to rust.
Eager to replace it, I found a 1972 VX 4/90 for sale in the VX4/90 Drivers Club magazine. This was back in 1994. The car was in Long Eaton and to see her involved a round trip by lorry from my home in Northern Ireland and back. The Victor was in Garnet Red, tired but fairly solid where it mattered. You get to know where to look after the third one! Home she came and between 1995 and 2005 she was stripped to the metal above and below; valances, front and rear inner and outer wings etc. removed fixed or replaced.
The beige interior was shot and so it was recoloured and the interior seats of one of my earlier cars used. The engine was fine but all core plugs, starter, distributer, radiator, clutch and the like were replaced. I did add electronic ignition, electric fan stainless steel exhaust system – and a decent hidden iPod stereo.
After being disappointed with the new black spray job, I decided to repaint the car myself (first time!) and fit a new vinyl roof before putting her all back together again. Although I am not a mechanic, I did all the work myself and found it very rewarding and at times frustrating – though thatâ€™s half the fun.
I have done this Vauxhall Victor the way I wanted it and kept her true to the range, though not necessarily the model year. Using trim and other parts from my previous Vauxhall Victor FEs keep a bit of personal history alive.
I do perhaps three to five shows a years and she has a number of 1st and runner up awards to her credit. Average mileage is around 1500 miles a year and she creates quite a bit of interest, though some of the comments are amusing e.g. â€˜Is it Cortina?â€™, â€˜Does it have a Citroen engine?â€™ and even one bloke argued that it wasn’t a Vauxhall!!