Ian Walker sprint
This I think is the last article on the HA Viva modified by Ian walker racing back in the 1960’s
When Vauxhall introduced the Viva in the September of 1963 a few people were surprised for this was their first venture into the small car market for many years. Generally everyone approved of the Viva although nobody went into raptures over it for it was a conventional small four-seater motor car. The engine although lively was a very un-sensational four-in line job with overhead valves and the only really new feature was the absence of the conventional rocker shaft. Each rocker consisted of a ball-mounted pivot. The engine produced 40 b.h.p. at just over 4,000 revs.
Rack and pinion steering and normal semi-elliptical leal springs on the rear endowed the car with slightly soft suspension and pleasant but sensitive steering. In short, the Viva when it first emerged impressed everyone as a thoroughly satisfactory small family saloon car, but it wasn’t really at the top of the list for the tuning specialists.
It hasn’t been until quite recently that anyone has turned their attentions to the Viva with a view to making it go faster and hold the road better. Among the noted go-faster exponents who have worked on the Viva is the firm of Ian Walker Racing (Sales) Ltd., ol Lynton Garage, Fortis Green, London, N.2.
As the name suggests Ian Walker is a man who has a fantastic experience in the field of serious competition with motor cars. Over the decade he has made a name for himself both as a brilliant driver and as a development specialist.
It is significant that when Alfa Romeo finally decided to make a return to Ihe field of competition officially that they chose lan Walker to run the show for them in Great Britain.
Walker, in conjunction with Bill Blydenstein (noted for his development work on the now defunct Borgward), started sorting the Viva out several months ago. They set out to do three things: make it go much faster, make it stop better and improve the handling. The first two they have done and they are currently working on the problem of handling. This is no great problem and in fact they were about to set the suspension up on the prototype car after we had returned it.
Since “ Project Viva ” was still in its embryo stages we didn’t do what we normally do with this Speed Shop Special feature which is to take a car along and have work done to if we borrowed the works car instead. On this car was the basic £35 kit and you’ll see from the comparison chart what it does for the car. The cylinder head had been skimmed and re-worked, the inlet manifold had been recontoured and a special camshaft added. In addition the carburetter choke venturi had been opened out and the whole thing re-jetted. The kit is supplied as a do-it-yourself job on an exchange basis at that price or if you want it fitted and tested by lan Walker the all-up price is £50. If you want to do the work yourself and want the modified bits before you take off the standard bits then all you have to do is send £30 deposit in addition to the price of the bits. This is refundable when you send back the original bits.
The fitting of the kit certainly does make a big difference to performance. The improvement in acceleration can clearly be seen and this is made without sacrificing any of the normal tractability. Most amazing of all is the fact that fuel consumption is better with the performance kit fitted. On a dead standard car we got an average figure of 31 m.p.g. for three days use and on the Ian Walker modified car we got 33 m.p.g. under very similar conditions. All of which points to the fact that the engine is breathing better and generally working more efficiently. On a standard Viva the b.h.p. output at the wheels is thirty. On the Ian Walker car the output, measured on a dynamometer, is 45 -an increase of fifty per cent.
The suspension in standard isn’t really man enough for the job and I would suggest that anyone considering the engine modifications treats suspension mods as an essential rather than an option. There’s an anti-roll bar for the front which costs £6 10s. and a set of re-rated springs for the rear end which cost £9 I Os. fitted. These two items will make an amazing difference to the car, taking all the softness out of the suspension and completely removing the normal tendency to understeer.
Add to this the cost of special wide base wheels and a decent radial-ply tyre such as the Dunlop SP41 and you’ve got a car that really handles. Taking it stage by stage—the engine mods cost £35, the suspension about £16 and another £12 for a set of wide wheels.
In addition to the above modifications there are others offered by IWR. There’s a Weber carburetter conversion which comes complete with an aluminium manifold for £27 ls. that gives much more power than the existing one modified. There’s also a special four-branch exhaust manifold to speed up the exhaust gas flow and add a few more horses for £15 15s.
Working on the assumption that the faster you go at night the better vision you’re going to need IWR also do lighting conversion kit. For £5 15s. they supply a pair of Cibie “22” headlight units complete with bulbs which improve the lighting enormously. Then there’s a wood-rimmed steering wheel made by the Formula concern which is half an inch smaller in diameter than the normal one and sells for £7 19s. 6d.
Under development at the moment is a big bore Viva of 1250 c.c. which uses a down-draught Weber carb and produces enough power to make the car about as fast as a GT Cortina. This when finished should prove very interesting indeed for go-fastcr Viva owners.