There’s just something with classic cars and motorbikes that stirs the soul in a way that more modern vehicles just fail to do, despite their technological superiority. Maybe it’s that desire to recreate a time or experience from our youth that is the driving factor, that pull of nostalgia, those sepia tinted roads of the past, mixed with endless journeys upon traffic free ribbons of tarmac during those endless summer days and nights
What’s pleasing to MotorMartin is that the maunufatcturers are now getting more and more involved with this wave of nostalgia sweeping through motoring fans around the globe, bringing their own recent classics into the mix as they research the models with which they made their name, even going as far as restoring models that hold a particular significance. And it’s restoration of a rare model, which caught the interest over at MotorMartin Towers, which has turned into a labour of love for Vauxhall’s Heritage team and saw the light of day for the first time at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, held recently at the NEC.
A centre-piece of Vauxhall’s multi-themed stand this year, the gleaming Monza Red Viva GT will take pride of place in the area, celebrating 50 years since the Viva HB model was launched. The ten car stand also features displays based around Vauxhall’s vast export history, and 85 years since the birth of Bedford, its commercial vehicle division. There really is only one place to head for if you love your classic Vauxhall motoring.
Vauxhall have confirmed to MotorMartin that the Viva was restored on and off over a two-year period by Andy Boddy and Terry Forder (with assistance from their apprentice, Chris Smith) the 1970 Mark 1 ½ GT is believed to have been registered by Vauxhall as one of its company cars back in the day (its ‘YXD’ suffix makes this likely) and was purchased by Vauxhall from the partner of its late owner, Steve Walton, in June 2014.
Remarkably, the GT had just one other owner before Steve bought the car, making its history relatively easy to plot. Originally painted Sebring Silver, the team opted for a more vibrant hue and settled on Monza Red, which would have been available when the car was new. But before painting, the surprisingly sound body was stripped and acid-dipped at Enviro Strip in Tamworth, after which it was returned to Luton for some sheet metal work.
Since many HB panels, especially around the chassis, inner wing areas and in the boot floor, are difficult to source, specialist Keith May was brought in to painstakingly craft new metalwork from scratch, helped by the Heritage Centre’s apprentice, Chris Smith.
After a final visit to Enviro Strip for a further acid dip and etch priming, the body was prepared for paint, including long-blocking the shell. It was then sent to BASF’s training facility in Milton Keynes where the team there spent over 60 hours applying the primer and final colour coats, using R-M refinishing products. Such was the VH team’s attention to detail, that they tasked BASF – Vauxhall Heritage’s regular supplier – with applying the Viva GT’s Tasman Orange stripes; but these weren’t mere graphics, they were actually painted on.
In the meantime, MotorMartin has been told, back at the Heritage Centre, the GT’s 2.0-litre engine was being overhauled by Andy and the team, ready to be reunited with the rest of the car. The race was then on to have the GT ready in time for the show.
‘We’re now on the finishing straight with this restoration,’ shared Andy with MotorMartin, just before the Viva was completed. ‘It’s been a real labour of love for the team over the last couple of years, and sometimes quite a challenge when we have 70 other vehicles in the collection to maintain, too. But we’re confident that on Friday, November 11th – the first day of the show – the car will be ready to take pride of place on our stand.’ And MotorMartin’s glad to report that the Heritage team completed their superb Vauxhall Viva on time.
A great result based on the hard work and dedication of the Vauxhall Heritage team. Well done Vauxhall, MotorMartin can’t wait to see what’s up next for restoration.
Where will you go?