Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
Vauxhall’s FB-series Victor of 1961-64 owes a styling debt that die-hard Lutonites would rather not talk about: while it’s obviously unashamedly American in outlook and detail, a nerd will point out that the flat frontage and the turtle-deck rear of the saloon were clearly pinched from Ford. Oooh, controversy.
Genuinely beautiful bit of design though, isn’t it? This particular one, an airy estate version no less, is a 1964 car with a 1.6-litre four-pot. We’re looking at a heady 59bhp, 0-60mph in 22.6s, and a top whack of 76mph. Phew.
It’s not meant to be a sports car of course, it’s a sensible family wagon and load-lugger. OK, it’s slightly jarring to drive – the gearbox is a pain in the arse, the car leans alarmingly through the corners with plenty of tyre squeal, and the sedate pace is a bit worrying in a modern context – but it makes up for its foibles by dripping in retro charm. The push-button Blaupunkt stereo is joyful, mirroring the copious chrome details outside, and the two-tone paintjob suits the faux-US lines perfectly. The generous glasshouse makes the FB feel huge, and boot genuinely is huge.
I wouldn’t want to live with one every day, but I’m very glad I got the opportunity to try one; it’s an intriguing snapshot of everyday motoring from a bygone era – and my word, it looks good. Really good. Judging by all of the thumbs-ups I received as I trundled around the countryside, I wasn’t alone in this opinion either.