Vauxhall’s labour of love
The restoration of a rare model, which turned in to a labour of love for Vauxhall’s Heritage team, will see the light of day for the first time at next week’s Classic Motor Show.
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.
Restored on and off over a two-year period by Andy Boddy and Terry Forder, the 1970 Mark 1 ½ GT is believed to have been registered by Vauxhall as one of its company cars back in the day, and was purchased by Vauxhall from the partner of its late owner, Steve Walton, in June 2014.
Remarkably, the Viva 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.
Attention To Detail
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. Automotive Refinish in Milton Keynes – part of the BASF group, Vauxhall Heritage’s regular paint supplier – undertook the priming and final colour coats. Such was the VH team’s attention to detail, that they tasked AR with applying the Viva GT’s Tasman Orange stripes – but these weren’t mere graphics, they were actually painted on.
Against The Clock
In the meantime, 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,” said Andy. “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.”
Vauxhall Heritage Centre will be unveiling the Viva GT at 11am on Friday, November 11 at the Vauxhall stand in Hall 5 (near entrance 5.1) at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, NEC (http://www.necclassicmotorshow.com/).