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Daveyc's 1974 hc viva


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I thought it was about time I shared my viva with you all. Here we go....  

I moved over to nz from the UK nearly 5 years ago. I told myself that once I was settled I would get myself an old car. I was on the look out for an escort or cortina, but with prices rising the prospect of owning one was slipping away.  I wanted a rolling restoration something useable that I could tinker with. 

Previous to buying the viva the most work I had carried out on a car was an oil change. I loved the idea of doing more and learning as I went, but didn't want to take to much on....... I took to much on.

Two years ago a viva popped up on a Facebook but sell page. I went for a look. Not having a clue what I was looking at I thought it doesn't need to much doing and I bought it.

I quickly realized it was a way bigger job than I anticipated. There was virtually no interior and what was There had been 'modified' it was missing the alternator, the fuel pump, bits of wiring had been cut out, it had a Victor grill fitted. It was in quite a sorry state really, but overall the body was pretty solid. These are some of the first pictures I took of the car




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If anybody happens to recognize the car and has any Info on it I would love to hear from them.

With no mechanical knowledge I decided to start by doing repairs to the flared wheel arches as these had all cracked and one had a chunk missing. I'm pleased with the results, the car will eventually get resprayed. But for now just blowing in the repair sections is fine for me





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There is still some body work to do, but there are two patches of welding to do, so this will be done later.

My first purchase for the car


Due to my lack of knowledge not much happened with the car. I bought some of the missing parts but really it just sat there.

A good friend from work said he would come give me some help with the car. I honestly couldn't have done it without his help! He's taught me heaps and now I feel fairly confident about giving most things a go!

We checked the compression, serviced the engine, fitted an electric fuel pump and an alternator .  It seems to run nicely.  The rear main seal leaks. But is actualy getting changed this weekend! 

With so many parts missing it was decided a donor car would be the best next step to take. A couple of weeks later a Vauxhall magnum turned up on trade me. It was bought and trailerd home 20170311_084227-800x450.jpg.2154f65d68e3999560a680476b6ea6c6.jpg

The magnum gave me nearly everything I was missing which was a great result! I still needed seats but managed to pick up a mint set of another viva owner! Suddenly I had an interior!20170328_181142-800x450.jpg.32cdc80d29ff9501d6154fa967616848.jpg20180113_154315-800x600.jpg.22903b285dadff4179dbfc69465083d7.jpg20180113_154302-800x600.jpg.d6e61dc91806b89c76d79d2c7a8afaa4.jpg

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The seats needed a good clean, I was over the moon with the results 20180104_160835-800x450.jpg.a4503271b028b116ee6f1c8deead3bc3.jpg

I made some doorcards, just covered in plain black vinyl. They look okay for now, perhaps in the future I will make some better ones. 20180107_123016-800x450.jpg.cbb40509c3a90f0248044d281e639b11.jpg

Installed some speakers too!

We  fitted the complete wiring loom from the donor car as the original was cut up and it was the easiest option.  A few niggles were sorted and everything electrical  minus the interior light works! The car came with a Victor grill fitted and the head lamp buckets on the car had been cut to make this work. 

I spent hours drilling spot welds and fitting the headlight buckets from the magnum. Then the magnum grill was fitted..... it started to look like a car!20170827_171222-800x450.jpg.b32d169fa610b568121f45a97d69cef2.jpg20180812_114433-800x600.jpg.9c7a25e646601a4bb06a62335fc17351.jpg


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  • 2 weeks later...

So  the weekend before last I removed the engine to change the  very leaky rear main seal.

Firstly a huge thank you to Valiant for lending me the crane! Quite literally couldn't have done it with out that!

Removing the engine was hassle free, everything went exactly as planed. The old rear main seal was to small, which explained the leak. The new seal was not fun to fit but eventually got it in and dropped the engine back in the hole. Refitted all the necessary bits and pieces to fire it up and it started first turn of the key! Result!!!!

When we had the sump off the internals looked immaculate which is great news and a much appreciated bonus! I'm not sure as to the extent of it but the engine has had work done to it!

With every plus there has to be some negatives..... the old engine mounts had been cut to allow the engine to sit lower as the Weber carb that's fitted  hits the bonnet. Not the best way of dealing with the situation but I shall see what I can do to make things work. It hits on the cross brace so potentially I can modifythe brace slightly and gain some clearance. There is a spacer between the carb and manifold so I'm go8ng to remove this and replace it with a gasket. 

The radiator now sits to close to the fan, this is an easy fix with just six new holes to drill.

The springs have been cut and are not captive. These also need changing. I will do some research  on what my best options are here but ideallyI would like to keep the car pretty low..

So the car runs great! Idles nicely and doesn't leak any oil! Next jobs on the list are to replace the clutch and sort the brakes.  

Will hopefully get to spend a few hours on it this week tidying up the wiring and what Not!




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  • 4 weeks later...

Unfortunately I was wrong. It still leaks oil. Not as bad as before but the seal needs to be changed again. I took the engine out of the car on saturday and will take it to an engine shop this week. The crank needs to be removed or At least loosened and lifted to fit the seal properly. I feel this is a bit more than I can handle. I can also get the engine looked over to make sure all is well.


Getting quick at removing the engine now!

I finally found and bought some tyres! So to cheer myself up I got them fitted and balenced and chucked on the car. They are a little chunkier than I would have liked but they look great on the car and are a good tyre and a good price!20181103_153217-800x600.jpg.cc0f7989bf34de0d9755d017d81a8677.jpg20181103_153302-800x600.jpg.0d084a0f6ae6068fc47a94b86ea6accd.jpg20181103_153250-800x600.jpg.0c827b2d27182894c5842199b63adea2.jpg

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Whenever something goes well it's always closely followed by a problem. One of the front arches is bigger than the other one. So the wheel looks more inset on the passenger side. I will try and sort this out as best I can (another job added to the list) eventually I want to repaint the car, it it's possible I think I will get the four flares cut off and standard arches welded in place. I'm going to constantly have issues with them cracking and what not. But I don't need to worry to much about that now.

So a few weeks ago a viva estate arrived in Christchurch pick a part. I have been after some interior parts for a while so went and had a look. The car was pretty far gone but I managed to get what I needed. Mainly just switches and switch covers. Being an estate it has the same size doors as a two door so I managed to get the door panels. I was really happy to find a set, they are a little water damaged and one has a tear on the lower part. I'm sure I can fix them up. These will replace the ones I made. They will look better for having the stiched Patten.20181020_094630-800x600.jpg.7b35d5416fe306e7140bd4c2a036b3f9.jpg20181020_095852-600x800.jpg.af8d1b9f64aa8695161829a25cedb790.jpg

I have a new clutch and the machined flywheel ready to go on once the seal has been sorted! 


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  • 3 weeks later...

A little update, got the engine back from the reconditioners! So all should be well! Got it sat back in the car on Friday. I got a case of the man flu so that's all that happened.20181116_092253-800x600.jpg.5cfead7e838f675074fedc0c971bad5b.jpg

20181116_093041-800x600.jpg.a41acb9dfb02ee15fb96b15f82c2c7cc.jpgmy new (new to me) inlet manifold arrived today, so that now means the bonnet will close! Succses!20181120_174946-600x800.jpg.cdb5eca835a4daa4761281d2a79d1984.jpgplans are to fit the clutch and gearbox on Thursday. Hopefully it should be all up and running by the end of the weekend!

I had a thought regarding the wheel arch issues, I could cut them off and fit some universal 50mm flares, and paint them black? Thoughts? 


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  • 2 weeks later...

A little update, the gearbox and new clutch are in the car!  

The gear lever retaining clip got damaged on removal so a new one is on its way to me. Also the clutch pedal spring disappeard, so a replacement is on the way also. 

I need a phenolic spacer for the carb, the accelerator lever hits the manifold. There was one fitted to the old setup, but it was all cut about to make it work. If anybody knows of somewhere I can get one please let me know, I don't really want to wait for one to arrive from the UK.

I have some bits and pieces I can carry on with until these parts arrive but I just wanna get the engine running!

Brakes and front wheel arch rubbing issues are the next big things!

A pair of black two door reclining seats popped up on a Vauxhall Facebook page, waiting on more pics but hopefully they will be mine!

No real progress photos so here is just a general pic!20181201_120019-800x600.jpg.ac988012aa82985447ab43be9c35b817.jpg

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So today I made a phenolic spacer out of a chopping board (forum recommendation, cheers guys)

Put the last bits and pieces back on the engine, filled with oil and coolant and it fired up straight away!

Starts easily and no signs of oil leaks! There is a little coolant leak from a deteriorated hose so will sort that. Overall very happy!  It's also given me a big burst of enthusiasm so will hopefully spend a couple of evenings on it this week and sort the front wheel arch issues and see what needs replacing in the brake department!

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Okay next big issue, the wheel on the drivers side hits the wheel arch when turning.20181203_171029-800x600.jpg.81a9447e7c7256901b7288cd20c71885.jpg20181203_171019-600x800.jpg.65d6ae7649ab433a9c09a6ea6b158e9b.jpg

So my thoughts were bigger springs and a little bit of adjustment to the arch.

Somebody at the storage unit where the car is kept suggested pulling the arch out. I'm not 100% sure how this works? I guess it gets pulled out above the fibreglass arch? I was given the number of a panel beater so following on from forum advice I will go and see him.

So what would you do in this situation? 

If I were to go with taller springs will certain torana ones fit?

Any info is, as always really appreciated 

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  • 1 month later...

A small update, unfortunately I tore the ligaments/damaged the cartalige in my knee so work stopped on the viva. I then had my brother visit from the UK so nothing had Happened for a while.... until Saturday!

I bought a springalex deep dish steering wheel from the UK and my brother bought it over with him. So that has been fitted20190119_145211-800x600.jpg.1bfd53b8dddff0e6f3083c090219d6ac.jpg

I'm really pleased with it! I'm rather tall so this makes for a comfortable driving position!

In an earlier post I talked about the springs being to low. I have fitted some standard front springs from a Vauxhall magnum (slightly heavier duty) so it's sitting pretty high! These are the same as lc torana springs, so I can now work out which lowering springs I need to order! Or possibly just loose a coil for now? The old ones had 3 coils cut out!

The clutch has been adjusted and is working well! 

The car now looks like a gasser!20190119_153251-800x600.jpg.adcc9721f15ebe0db3b90099d5e24116.jpg

So I need to sort out the spring situation, connect the throttle and choke cables, check over the electrics, get a couple or rust repairs sorted . Then the big one is sorting the brakes...... Then it should be ready to take for a wof and get a fail sheet to work to! 

I really want to get it on the road and have more or a rolling resto thing going on!

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  • 6 months later...

9 Resizer_15646285964330.thumb.jpg.3e43d0cb15f2aec85d590f84cbadbbc6.jpgWow 7 months without an update! To be honest I lost all motivation. Everything I tried to fix either turned to crap or created more issues. It's felt like a constant battle, I've quite literaly got a piece of shit. But I'm to far through  to give up!

So not much has happened. I have fitted a complete set of standard viva springs. I have plans to get them compressed or at least get the rears compressed and chop the fronts a little.  I want to lower it about 30mm. So this should not be an issue. In getting to this point I have learnt alot about suspension springs and can swap them out pretty quickly!

I got the radiator recored. It was an expense I didn't want to endure but getting a brand New looking radiator back was a lovely feeling! I was keeping an eye on eBay UK for a nos one for a couple of months but nothing came up.... until 2 days after I got mine back! Typical!


I fitted the bigger front brakes from the donor car. Unfortunately one of the calipers is damaged so I'm going to refit the original front brakes for now and upgrade to the bigger ones at a later date. I'm hoping to do the swap over the weekend and finaly get to test drive the car!

I still have the rust to get sorted.  Which I think is worse than I first thought !  I have lots of little  bits and pieces to sort. I'm feeling motivated so hopefully progress will be made!

My biggest concern at the moment (and it shouldn't be) is the bodywork and paint. I want to return the car to standard wheel arches and then the whole thing needs a respray. It doesn't need to be perfect but it's not gonna be cheap! But I shouldn't really be even thinking about that right now. I just need to actually get it on the road and use it.

So overall not much of an update but hopefully things will start moving forward at a bit more pace!

Heres how it's sitting eagerly awaiting the open road!


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  • 11 months later...

Oh wow almost a year without an update!  Things have been happening with the viva but it's still been slow progress. So the car now runs and has had a very brief road test. I genuinely don't think it's to far away from the road!

The bigger magnum brakes have been fitted. fully reconditioned calipers and master cylinder were what was needed with New shoes and cylinders in the drums. 

All electrics work apart from the interior light. This shouldn't be to much drama to sort. Bad earths  and poor connections were causing issues with the headlights and indicators. All added electrics run through a separate fuseboard which makes things easier.

Top and bottom ball joints replaced 

Tie rod ends replaced

A variety of bushes replaced

The engine is running really nicely, no oil or coolant leaks.  Most of the ignition system has been changed as i was having various running issues. Ultimately these were caused by the wrong coil being fitted and the ballest resistor wire not being disconnected. The  carb will need some fine tuning I'm sure. But I'll get someone who knows what they are doing to look at this. I don't even know if the jets are the correct size. The carb is a bit big for the little 1256cc engine but hopefully it can be down tuned if need be. I'd like to keep the 32/36 but if I need something smaller then so be it.

Lots of learning has happened during this project, which is exactly what I wanted. There was an intermittent hot starting problem which turned out to be the inlet manifold had no metal gasket. Something so simple which has caused me years of head scratching and Google searches! The oldschool forum and various viva Facebook groups have been an infinite source of knowledge and wisdom! A huge thank you to all those that have helped and inspired!

So i don't have to much left on the 'to do' list. But here it is:

The wipers are really slow, so I'm going to give the motor and connections a good clean and hopefully get it working a little better.

Tidy up some electrics and get the interior light working. It's mainly just checking everything over and making sure things are sheathed and tight. I'd also like to relocate the rev counter and oil pressure gauges. Which won't be to much drama 

Fit a few interior bits and pieces like the step trims are to be fitted. And then give the car a good clean.

Then the car can go for it's rust repairs and have the new window rubbers that I very prematurely bought fitted. Then off to a classic car friendly garage for a tune up and wof. I'm sure there will be things to sort out for the wof but hopefully nothing major!

It still bugs me that the paint and wheel arches are so crap. I aspire to have it shiny with standard arches one day but for now I have a bit of a plan regarding the look, which will be a kinda patina racing look. It just needs a few aged decals and aged door numbers. It'll definitely make it stand out and will be a bit of fun.  

The app I was using to resize photos isn't working and my phone won't let me download another app so I'll resize them online and post them below. Any thoughts or questions please express them in the discussion thread. I'd love to hear your thoughts.





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