As launched, the F-type Victor was a gaudy piece of miniaturised Chevrolism with all kinds of exotic creases and fairings on the body and an exhaust pipe which merged though a bumper-end shaped like a jet orifice. After a couple of years, it was calmed down a bit, at a huge cost in revised press tooling, and my father had a 1960 example in which family Simister took its first foreign motoring holiday, to Brittany in 1963. To my parents' horror, during the night before departure, I had suddenly become covered in the spots of German measles, but I felt perfectly OK and so we set off as planned.
The Victor proved appalling in France, boiling up regularly – a stuck thermostat was eventually diagnosed – and breaking both its rear leaf springs. This was in the days when French roads were worse than ours. It looked quite racy with its temporarily low-slung tail, though. Then, a couple of weeks after our return, the steering failed completely, the steering wheel rotating with neither resistance nor result. So it's especially interesting to try an F-type now. Vauxhall's own example is the second facelift, with a deeper rear window than my father's car and a few subtle trim changes, but as soon as I shut the door, remembering how my mother twice caught her thumb between the pillar of the wraparound windscreen and the door frame, it all seems very familiar. After all, it was the family Victor in which I learnt to drive at the age of eight, seat fully forward, peering through the giant steering wheel past the horn-ring as my father instructed me on a disused airfield in the New Forest. It couldn't happen today, more's the pity.
The cabin is a curious mixture of painted metal and leather upholstery (it's the De Luxe model), and that forward vista is extraordinary with the slender screen pillars almost out of sight. The surprise, though, is how delightful this Victor is to drive. The 1508cc engine is smooth, sweet and plenty torquey enough to cope with just three forward gear ratios selected with a lever on the steering column, the steering is light and precise, and it rides with suppleness but no slop on rear springs which are clearly intact. And the engine stays cool. Honour restored, I feel.
Skipping the FB generation (Vauxhall does have one, in estate car guise), I next try the 1965 Victor 101, the FC version. This is squarer-cut, sleeker, simpler-looking and features Britain's first curved-glass side windows for extra shoulder room. And this particular example, in Super trim (less plush than a De Luxe, although rival Ford did it the other way round), is identical to one run by a work colleague of my father, even down to the dark green paint and the deep parp of the exhaust.