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Viva La Viva

By raccars Published

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Vauxhall has confirmed it plans to bring back the Viva name in the form of a new city car, to be sold for under £7,000. Using the next Chevrolet spark as a base, the Viva name will be restricted to the UK, with the Opel version of the car receiving a different name in Europe.

Vauxhall is sensibly playing upon the resonance of the Viva name in the UK, but in fact, the new car will be a very different beast from the original Viva. Running from 1963-1979, Vauxhall sold more than 1.5 million units of the popular, small family car. Based on Opel's Kadett A, the Viva had to compete against more established vehicles, such as the Morris Minor and Ford Anglia.

The first generation Viva, a two door saloon designated the HA, ran for three years and was Vauxhall's first venture into compact car territory since WWII. It was a hit with consumers for its light and responsive controls and perky performance, leading Vauxhall to market the Viva directly at women drivers, an unusual commercial tactic at the time. Unfortunately, rust has seen very few early Vivas remain intact.

Despite the success of the first generation, the second Viva, the HB, was quite a departure. It ran from 1966-1970 and was larger and more American in style than its predecessor, while under the skin there were a lot of new mechanicals. For this model, there was an expanded choice of engines, plus four door and estate versions and high performance Brabham and GT editions. While the HB reported a number of brake faults and some ongoing corrosion issues, it sold well for Vauxhall until its replacement by the third and last generation, the HC, in 1970.

Mechanically there were few changes, but the HC was a larger and more comfortable vehicle than the HB, with more modern styling. 1971 saw a sporty coupe version called the Firenza and in 1973 Vauxhall split up the Viva family, retaining the original name for lower capacity models but rebadging the 1.8 and 2.3L models as the Magnum and beefing up the Firenza's performance. Throughout the Seventies the Viva underwent various trim level revisions but, by the end of the decade, it was being usurped by the Chevette, Vauxhall's newer small car, released in 1975. With the growing trend in Europe for front wheel drive hatchbacks, the Viva was superseded by the Astra in 1979.

Vauxhall's new Viva will focus on comfort, with a refined and spacious cabin, versus the Adam's funky styling. It will be powered by the brand's new range of super frugal engines.

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