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Brabham Vauxhall Viva GT


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#1 griffinvale

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Posted 16 April 2020 - 22:50

Hi,

 

I am doing some research on the 1965 - 67 HA Vauxhall Viva Brabham GT. I have seen a picture of Jack sitting in one at Longford in 1967.

 

I believe he was driving one around Phillip Island between races in 1966 (or possibly 67).

 

I also have been told of one in Queensland around the same period.

 

Can anyone here verify that or have pictures of any HA Viva GT's that were out and about in that period.

 

Cheers,

 

Leigh.



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#2 BRG

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 12:37

The Brabham Viva in the UK was a bolt-on kit of twin carbs and cylinder head offered by Brabham's company based at that time in Woking (premises now rebuilt and occupied by Topp's Tiles).  I am unsure how things worked in Australia as I thought the Viva was badged as a Holden?  So were these cars at Longford, Phillip Island and Tassy Brabham Holdens or did Vauxhall versions somehow get Down Under?   :confused:



#3 John Ginger

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 13:59

I remember there being an HB version

 

http://www.classicca...a-brabham-1968/  



#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 14:55

The 'Holden Torana' name was applied to the Viva when the second body shape arrived...



#5 griffinvale

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 21:19

Thanks guys,

 

the later HB Viva and Torana both had Brabham versions but I am seeking information on the original HA Viva. Same model that ran at Bathurst in the same period.

 

Brabhams workshop in England converted, I believe, 10 cars - all fitted with a long list of modifications and extras. My research so far has uncovered at least 4 cars here, and possibly a fifth - a very high percentage - with 2 known survivors.



#6 cooper997

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 10:03

Lindsay Ross, who frequents TNF as ellrosso runs http://www.oldraceph...m/content/home/ He has access to the archives of many of his fellow Tasmanian race photographers and would be a good start for looking for more Viva related Longford shots.

 

If Jack Brabham visited Phillip Island in 1966 or 1967 then one could surmise it was during a spare moment around Tasman time and would likely have been to give advice to Len Lukey during the rebuild of the track. Phillip Island didn't officially reopen until October 1967, with a shakedown meeting held there a month earlier. Having closed after the 1962 Armstong 500.

 

Unrelated to the exact quest, but on subject

May 14, 1965 Autocar ran a Brabham Viva GT story.

 

January 1965 AMS ran a news story on the UK Brabham Viva conversion.

 

November 1983 Classic & Sports Car has a Vauxhall supplement and the later HB Brabham/Crayford Viva gets featured.

 

Stephen



#7 group7

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 21:33

Leigh, I have some Viva GTs in my computer files, not sure if the first two are the Brabham version ?

 

Alan Boyle/Viva GT '68 Pukekohe

 

Heasell/Marshall Viva GT '68 Snetterton

 

Jean Ouellet Vauxhall Viva-Brabham '65 Le Circuit Mt. Tremblant, province of Quebec, Canada

 

Cannot post pictures here, If these are of interest, pm me and I could send them to you.

 

Michael, in Canada


Edited by group7, 18 April 2020 - 21:33.


#8 griffinvale

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 22:46

Hi Stephen, nice to hear from you again.

 

I am chasing up on a story that a chap from Adelaide saw Jack Brabham driving a HA Viva Brabham GT ( not the one from Longford by the way, a different one ) around between races at Phillip Island. He then went to Cheney's in Melbourne and purchased the car which was on display there. None of this really makes sense if the P. I. track was not reopened until October 1967 as by then the new HB's were already out and Vauxhall had been taken off the Australian market.

 

Several other details also dont fit but something must have happened as that car is still around in Adelaide.

 

Hopefully someone somewhere will have seen Jack and the Viva GT somewhere over that period.

 

Leigh. 



#9 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 23:46

The Brabham Viva in the UK was a bolt-on kit of twin carbs and cylinder head offered by Brabham's company based at that time in Woking (premises now rebuilt and occupied by Topp's Tiles).  I am unsure how things worked in Australia as I thought the Viva was badged as a Holden?  So were these cars at Longford, Phillip Island and Tassy Brabham Holdens or did Vauxhall versions somehow get Down Under?   :confused:

HA Vivas were the last Vauxhall badged car from GMH. 

HBs were badged Torana and while far more attractive to look at were still a bad car. As were all 4cyl Toranas. In fact all 4 cyl Holdens from 67 until now.

Brabham Toranas/ Viva GT HB were similar cars though the Australian one had hinged rear 1/4 windows and generally better finished.

The Torana 6  based on a HC Viva were a far stronger car and a cult car here. Living on the reputation of the XU1. Still a bloody awfull car in hindsight as everything was compromise. BUT a very good thing for motorsport as they handled quite well and had great power to weight. As well as that narrow frontal area pushed less air. I had at least one here as racecars for over 25 years!!



#10 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 00:01

Thanks guys,

 

the later HB Viva and Torana both had Brabham versions but I am seeking information on the original HA Viva. Same model that ran at Bathurst in the same period.

 

Brabhams workshop in England converted, I believe, 10 cars - all fitted with a long list of modifications and extras. My research so far has uncovered at least 4 cars here, and possibly a fifth - a very high percentage - with 2 known survivors.

HA Viva that were raced at Bathurst were normal standard ones AFAIK. A DNF in 66. There is footage around of a Viva rolling and the roof folding over near flat on from memory the last corner.

Two started and on finished in 65. Look at Wiki, results are on there. 



#11 griffinvale

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 00:37

HA Vivas ran at Bathurst in 1964, 65 and 66. In 1964 they totally dominated their class and of 6 entered they filled positions 1 through to 6. They still hold their class lap record there.

 

The HA Brabham was a stock HA Viva modified by Brabham at their workshops in Woking and had lowered suspension, wide wheels, twin Stromberg 125 carbies, full flow exhaust, side stripes, woodgrain steering wheel and gear lever knob, Brabham GT badging, etc.  I dont believe any were actually raced here in period but I am seeking information on cars that were imported by Holden or its dealers to gauge interest in this type of vehicle in Australia. It could be said it spawned the GTR.



#12 cooper997

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 08:20

Hi Stephen, nice to hear from you again.

 

I am chasing up on a story that a chap from Adelaide saw Jack Brabham driving a HA Viva Brabham GT ( not the one from Longford by the way, a different one ) around between races at Phillip Island. He then went to Cheney's in Melbourne and purchased the car which was on display there. None of this really makes sense if the P. I. track was not reopened until October 1967 as by then the new HB's were already out and Vauxhall had been taken off the Australian market.

 

Several other details also dont fit but something must have happened as that car is still around in Adelaide.

 

Hopefully someone somewhere will have seen Jack and the Viva GT somewhere over that period.

 

Leigh. 

 

Leigh, I know we are dealing with someone's memory of more than 50 years ago, but the scenario you mention would be far more likely if Sandown was the venue. A Tasman meeting most likely.

 

The magic would be if that Adelaide car still has the original handbook/documentation with delivery date to help piece the jigsaw together. That might be too much wishful thinking though.

 

Stephen



#13 cooper997

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 08:38

Leigh, I should have dragged out the Sandown programme folder before making my last post.

 

It appears your Adelaide source is mostly correct with their facts other than venue and year. In the February 21, 1965 Sandown Tasman meeting programme there's a full page S A Cheney advert "Watch for Jack and his Pet G.T VIVA" and then it goes on to tell how JB would be demonstrating the car publicly for the first time in Australia....

 

Stephen



#14 griffinvale

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 09:54

Thanks so much Stephen, what you suggested and later confirmed has set us on a new path - the correct one. What we need to find is any details or photos from that Tasman Cup Meeting at Sandown and not Phillip Island.

 

Is there any way I can obtain a copy/scan of the Cheney advert please.

 

Leigh.



#15 cooper997

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 10:33

Leigh, pm your email to me and I'll photograph the Cheney advert for you.

 

Autopics will have the Peter D'Abbs photos. They are, as of 6 months ago now Melbourne-based - with new owners

 

Stephen



#16 cooper997

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Posted 26 April 2020 - 10:20

Posted on behalf of Leigh, aka Griffinvale...

 

The rare Australian-delivered Brabham Viva sold through S A Cheney, Melbourne  in 1965. If anybody has details on this or any other cars please leave a message here.

 

1964-Brabham-Viva-05-TNF.jpg

 

1964-Brabham-Viva-03-TNF.jpg

 

Note the Jack Brabham Conversions Ltd, Woking plate on the bonnet slam panel

 

Stephen

 

 

 



#17 griffinvale

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Posted 27 April 2020 - 00:07

Thanks for posting them Stephen.

 

Leigh.



#18 griffinvale

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 21:11

It has gone very quiet here, has no-one else any more to add? 

 

My sincere thanks to all who have helped, we have learned much valuable and interesting information.

 

Leigh.



#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 22:26

I wouldn't be too disheartened by this...

 

You certainly did get some information, I'm surprised that someone turned up pictures. I would have thought that a Brabham-Viva would have been little more than a passing interest to most enthusiasts looking at things today. Yes, in the sixties they might have turned a few heads, but most memory of them would be pretty much lost.

 

What you have done is shown that nobody here had one or was close to one, otherwise they would have come forward with memories and contacts.

 

What other fora have you tried?



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#20 griffinvale

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 07:08

Hi Ray,

 

I am not really disheartened, I have found, through Stephen (Cooper997) the correct racetrack and date where the surviving car (pictured) was originally seen and even found out there was an advert in that particular race meeting programme regards Jack demonstrating the car for the first time in Australia. 

 

We have proved the one Jack was pictured in at Longford is a different car, but (so far) have not been able to get anything else on that one.

 

There is another in Queensland which I am waiting for pictures of, it was possibly always a Qld car and was raced up there in period??????

 

Michael (group7) sent a picture of one racing in period in Canada!

 

It seems incredible that out of a (rumored) total of 10 cars built at least 3 came to Australia and that two are known to still be in existence, and yet none appear to have survived in England. I am fully aware that in Australia at the time  a Vauxhall Viva would have been of little interest, even though they did perform well in their class at Bathurst and elsewhere. I had sort of hoped the Jack Brabham connection might have raised a few more memories.

 

I have scoured Google for any references, contacted the various historic racing picture archives, etc. but I must admit I am running out of options. I am sure there is more out there, I will keep digging and see what we can uncover.

 

Leigh.



#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 10:53

Well, if it's of any interest...

 

Peter Brock used to fang one around Wattle Glen. Not a Brabham Viva but an HA Viva. It belonged to Ruth Brock, it was the first car I ever rode in with Brocky driving and he subjected it to severe G-forces and multiple occasions of lifting the rear wheel.



#22 griffinvale

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 13:51

Now that is a new one on me! I knew Brocky drove a Vauxhall at Spa in 1977 with Gerry Marshall but I have never heard of him in a HA Viva.

 
Would love a photo of that car!

 

I trust he did not turn it over and squash the roof like a certain car at Bathurst.

 

 

Leigh.


Edited by griffinvale, 08 May 2020 - 22:21.


#23 RogerFrench

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 16:01

I shouldn't the the survival rate of HA Vivas in the UK is high, the rustworm must have eaten most by now.

#24 BRG

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Posted 08 May 2020 - 16:54

I shouldn't the the survival rate of HA Vivas in the UK is high, the rustworm must have eaten most by now.

According to DVLA data, by the end of 2014 there were 721 Vivas of any model  or vintage whatsoever on the road, and another 552 registered but off the road (SORN) but Vauxhall then re-introduced the Viva name so the figures rose somewhat - although not very far as the 'new' Viva was rather unispiring.

 

Vivas specifically identified as HA, just 2 on the road and 2 on SORN.



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 May 2020 - 03:28

Originally posted by griffinvale
Now that is a new one on me! I knew Brocky drove a Vauxhall at Spa in 1977 with Gerry Marshall but I have never heard of him in a HA Viva.
 
Would love a photo of that car!


I suppose there might be a photo of it somewhere...

Like I said, it was Ruth's car, at the time fairly new and in that dark green colour they had. I don't know how much he drove it, he had his own early Holden on the road at that time, this being the car he planned to use to start racing career when the army was finished with him.

But things change, the Sports Sedan class took off with all kinds of wild engine changes and he built the wildest of them all.

As for the drive at Spa, there's a thread around somewhere here about the Spa 24-hours in which there's a discussion about him in that car. It's pretty interesting.

#26 cooper997

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Posted 09 May 2020 - 04:36

January 1965 Racing Car Show (UK) stand info

 

Brabham-Viva-RCS-stand.jpg

 

March 1965 Motor Racing (UK) magazine ran this advert. Possible feature by John Blunsden in the February issue, but that's a gap in my collection. The January 1965 Sports Car Graphic (USA) ran John's Viva GT feature over 4 and a bit pages..

 

Brabham-Viva-advert-TNF.jpg

 

Stephen



#27 griffinvale

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Posted 10 May 2020 - 02:39

Thanks, 

 

I have several roadtests but not the one in Sports Car Graphic, I suspect that it is a redone version from one of the others I already have but wont know until I have found one to see. 

Apparently there was a feature in the March 1965 edition of Motor Manual magazine but again I have not been able to find a copy of that issue to have a look at. This one is especially of interest to me as it involves the Australian car/s. Does anyone here have that issue????

 

Leigh.



#28 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 08:39

A bloke I sponsored had a HB Viva GT as his first road car. I suspect he probably still has it. Or his Vauxhall loving father may still have it. 

He then raced a succesion of LC LJ Toranas for several years

At one time we had two Vauxhall tragics in the same street. The above family as well as my mate who has now had his PA Cresta for 51 years. His dad had been a Vauxhall man too. E series, PS then a PB,,, then a Valiant

Though Bill has had his VX490 converted Victor wagon even longer!!



#29 griffinvale

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 12:12

Hi Lee, would that be Bill Brown?



#30 BRG

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 12:48

A bloke I sponsored had a HB Viva GT as his first road car. I suspect he probably still has it. Or his Vauxhall loving father may still have it. 

The HB Viva GT was such a massive missed goal for Vauxhall. 

 

They had a 2 litre SOHC in a small car and did almost nothing with it.  Ford had the Escort with an ageing 1600 twin-cam but raced and rallied it to great effect, and then went on to develop one of the dominating competition cars of the 1970s.  Vauxhall....didn't.  They could have been beating Ford on race track and rally stage with that car and then beating them in the showroom. 

 

They eventually got the message with the Chevette HS/HSR but it was too late by then to really reap the benefits as the 4WD revolution came along.  



#31 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 13 May 2020 - 07:37

Hi Lee, would that be Bill Brown?

Correct, and son Christopher.



#32 griffinvale

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Posted 13 May 2020 - 09:13

Yep, I have known Bill, Sylvia (dec) and the boys for over 40 years.

 

I only spoke to him a couple of days ago. 



#33 group7

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Posted 16 May 2020 - 14:50

Leigh, I have the January '65 Sports Car Graphic Magazine with the test of the Brabham Viva GT  as they say "in my hot little hand" I believe I have your e-mail from our previous pm's, do you want me to scan it and send it to you ?

 

Michael, in Canada



#34 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 23:27

The Aussie HB had hinged rear 1/4 windows and was generally better finished than the pommy ones. I am told similar with the HAs as well.