1966 Vauxhall HA Viva 90 Blydenstein



The HA Series Vauxhall Viva was introduced in 1963 and was the first entirely new Vauxhall compact car since 1936. Its development was aimed at competing with the Ford Anglia and the Morris Minor.

The HA Viva was equipped with a 1,057cc OHV inline-four cylinder engine, which delivered power to a live axle rear end, via a 4-speed manual transmission.

In 1965 the HA Viva 90 was introduced, it was powered by a modified engine now producing 54 bhp, thanks largely to a higher 9:1 compression ratio, it also came with front disc brakes and a number of other higher-end features.

This particular example is arguably the most famous of all HA Vivas, following its appearance on the Discovery TV Show, Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars (Season 6 Episode 3), starring car enthusiasts Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland.  To view the episode, follow the below link:


In addition, it was also featured in the June 1974 edition of Custom Car magazine.

Originally acquired brand new by one Mike Dobson in 1966, he owned it for an incredible 53 years until 2019 and spent most of the 60s and 70s, expertly customising and enhancing it to his unique specifications, both performance and interior wise.  This included converting the standard HA 90 engine, to a genuine Blydenstein performance engine, from Vauxhall’s tuning guru Bill Blydenstein, whose initials are stamped on the engine’s cylinder head.

Rescued from a long period of storage, the Salvage Hunters: Classic Car team sympathetically restored the car, keeping to the original owner’s vision, by maintaining all the original custom features, refreshing and restoring areas of the car as needed, but all the time trying to preserve as much original patina as possible.

The result is a genuine “one of a kind” HA Viva 90, with an incredible history and equipped with a rare and genuine performance engine, from Vauxhall’s most renown performance engine builder. As such, this car represents a fantastic opportunity for any collector or enthusiast, in search of an absolute gem of a classic car, that’s also a tv star, with a fabulous history and a captivating back story.

Recorded Mileage:
Fuel type:
Petrol (unleaded)
Engine capacity:
1057 cc
Exterior colour:
Jade Green
Engine output:
Standard HA 90: 54 Bhp @5,600 rpm 60 Ft/lbs @3,200 rpm
Interior colour/trim:
5 speed manual
Date of registration:
MOT expiry:
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No items found.
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During the restoration process, a thorough examination of the vehicle was conducted, revealing that the bodywork was in exceptionally good condition. As a result, the decision was made to preserve the original bodywork and focus on refurbishing the underside of the car. This decision was deemed to be a wise one. The paintwork boasts a genuine patina that is far superior to a fresh coat of paint, in our professional opinion. While there are a few minor dings, such as a small dent on the front bumper, some minor scuffs and blemishes and a few areas where the original owner touched up the paint with a brush, these imperfections only add to the car's charm. Furthermore, the bodywork is solid and free of any corrosion.

All chrome work is still bright, with no significant signs of any pitting.  During the restoration its aftermarket  grille was replaced with a period and model correct chrome item and is nicely set off by the additional chin spoiler, that was part of the original customisation.

All rubbers and seals, although not new, are well fitting and appear water tight.  The glass also appears original all round, with no cracks or significant blemishes and with the rear window fitted with a period electrical rear demisting panel.

During the pre-sales preparation, the original paint work was given a gentle machine polish, to help retore some of the lost gloss to the paintwork, it has then been given a couple of coats of high end Carnauba based wax, to add a further layer of protection to the paintwork. This approach has both managed to maintain the original patina, whilst at the same time enhancing the lovely Jade Green colour scheme.    


This car's cabin is a true masterpiece, a testament to the original owner's unwavering dedication to creating the perfect Viva.  It’s a far cry from even the top of the range standard HA 90 Super Deluxe set-up.

Every inch of the interior’s sporting customisations exudes excellence. The front seats are fully-reclining period Contour Microcell units with adjustable headrests and the rear bench seat has been replaced by a modified Viva HB GT set-up, featuring individual seats. The dash is a one off design item, faced in walnut veneer and is complimented by a lovely period three spoke leather bound sports steering wheel.

The attention to detail is suberb, resulting in a tasteful and well-finished interior that really impresses. When Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars featured this car, they knew they had to restore it with the utmost care and respect for the original owner's vision. They painstakingly re-veneered the wooden dash fascia and door-tops, refreshed the headlining, and re-trimmed the roll-bar. Even the boot area has been retrimmed with luxurious charcoal grey carpet. The black vinyl seats and door cards are in impeccable condition and the black carpet that runs throughout the cabin, showing little use.

The main instruments, speedometer, rev counter, oil pressure, water temperature and petrol gauges are all Triumph sourced, along with the switch gear.  In addition, the original owner also added four extra Smiths gauges to the dashboard, providing amps, volts, vacuum, and oil temperature readings. All of the instrumentation and switchgear are in excellent original condition and working, with no damage to report. If we are being picky, we did note that the rev counter does over read slightly, but we understand re-calibration solutions are available to remedy this.  In car entertainment is provide in true period style by way of an eight-track stereo!

Of course, as a 57 year old car, some of the internal trim elements show a lovely level of patination, but in our view, this just adds to the car's character, imbuing it with a sense of history.  

All lights have clear uncracked lenses and also function as they should, however we do note that the spot light mounted to the driver’s side A pillar, is not functioning.

Of course, as a 57 year old car, some of the internal trim elements show a lovely level of patination, but in our view, this just adds to the car's character, imbuing it with a sense of history.

Finally, this must be the only HA Viva fitted with electric windows! They operate perfectly from buttons located in the custom built central arm rest console, which houses a storage compartment, handy for those 8 track cassettes.

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No items found.
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For the main performance upgrade, the original owner went to Vauxhall’s then tuning guru Bill Blydentsein, a former BTCC driver and class champion. To the sweet little 1057cc engine Bill fitted one of his HB heads, which carries his still visible stamped initials (“WBB”).  The 9:1 compression ratio found in the standard HA 90 engine was increased to an amazing 11.5:1, for more power.  In addition, the car received balancing and valve/cam work, enabling it to rev to 7000 rpm. An alloy Blydenstein rocker cover was fitted along with a twin branch manifold and Vauxhall Victor 2000 silencer box. We note that the car is also fitted with a custom built single exit end box, which provides for a lovely sporty, but not intrusive exhaust note.

All Blydenstein engines are known for the exceptional performance and reliability and this is certainly true of this example, which runs like a Swiss watch.

As part of the restoration and because the car had been stored for more than 30 years, the engine was sent out to Adrian Miller, a well-known expert on Vauxhall’s of this era, who rebuilt the engine, finishing with repainting the engine block.  When finished, the rebuilt engine was then re-fitted to a freshly re-painted engine bay.

The shortened and short throw gear lever, falls to the hand perfectly and operates the 4 speed box with a tight and positive feel. Clutch engagement is smooth and with no evidence of slipping. Other elements of the drivetrain, the rear axle, differential and leaf springs have all been meticulously restored, as they all look near-new and present in excellent condition.

From a suspension point of view the front end retains the original transverse spring set up, but the front wishbones have been negativized, providing some negative camber, which improves the car’s handling and roadholding over the standard set-up. At the rear, an HA Viva Van rear axle crossmember has been fitted with thick rubber mountings, stiffening the whole back-end up. In addition, a bespoke rear-anti roll bar was made and fitted.  A set of Koni shocks dampen each corner and there are Aeon hollow rubber bump stops.  Finally, as part of the restoration, new bushes and engine mounts were fitted and the Koni shocks refurbished.

The Custom Car magazine article from June 1974, mentions that Bill Blydenstein had driven the car himself, following the original owner’s modifications and declared it to be the best handling HA ever built!


The car sits on a set of period correct 12 inch Dunlop Formula D1 alloy wheels, fitted with 155/80 Falken tyres all round, all date stamped 2018 or later, showing only minimal use. The wheels were refurbished as part of the restoration.

The braking system consisting of discs upfront and drums at the rear, was also restored including the fitting of new brake lines.  In addition, as part of the pre-sales preparation all brakes were been stripped, checked and adjusted as necessary, to ensure the braking system is operating at its best.

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No items found.
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The majority of the restoration work was focused on the underside of the car. The entire underside, floor pans, and chassis rails were thoroughly checked, cleaned, repaired as necessary, rust-proofed, and repainted. As a result, the underside of the car is in impeccable condition, with no signs of corrosion or evident damage.

In addition, as part of the pre-sales preparation the underside was fully cleaned and the previously restored finish, given an additional coating of an anti-corrosion clear wax treatment, to add an additional layer of protection to the car’s underside.



Along with the V5C showing 2 former keepers, the car also comes with a Certificate of Manufacture from the Vauxhall Heritage Centre, confirming it as a matching numbers car built in January 1966.  It was first registered on the 3rd of May later that year.

Also included in the documented history file, are a number of laminated photos of the car, taken in period, some of which contain the original owner himself and other family members, as well as the family with the team from Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars following the restoration.

There are 2 copies of the June 1974 Custom Car Magazine, which features an article on the car, as well as a wider article on Vauxhall Vivas and their tuning potential, including much content on Blydenstein tuning upgrades. In addition, there is an article from another motoring magazine on how Blydenstein converted HA Vivas, compared with standard HA Vivas, as well as some correspondence between the original owner and “The Vauxhall Motorist” magazine, from 1975.

The car is registered as an Historic Vehicle on its V5C, so is Tax, MOT  and ULEZ exempt.  The car was MOT’d following its restoration in January 2021, which it passed with no advisories at 27,875 miles and has covered a little over 1000 miles since then.  Past invoices are limited to suspension set-up at the time of the restoration.

Finally, the history file contains a number of original dealer’s brochures for the HA Viva along with a collection of period HA Viva workshop manuals and of course asset of keys which includes keys for the after-market fitted deadlocks.

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Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy of the vehicle descriptions and information, some inaccuracies may occur. It is important that you do not rely on this information but check with Montpellier Motor Cars Limited about any items which may affect your decision to buy this vehicle, as well as examine the vehicle and check the accuracy of the information before purchasing any vehicle. We cannot accept any liability arising from any errors in the data provided.

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