A long established tradition with virtually all car makers is the desire to have each new model offer better performance than the one it replaced. There are of course two ways to achieve this, modify and tune the existing engine to that it offers better performance and fuel economy, or simply plonk a larger engine in it.
For the FD Victor
installed the 3.3 liter straight six as fitted to the Cresta. Not a sporting proposition, nevertheless one that would give the Ventora plenty of low down torque and provide a more effortless proposition, particularly when towing. The extra 1.3 liters meant there were 176 lb. ft. of torque available at 2400 rpm, compared with 116 lb. ft. at 3200 rpm from the 2 liter engine fitted to the Victor.
The 100 miles per hour speed was not only more easily attainable, but was more importantly practical. 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) was made in 11.8 seconds, you would hit 80 mph at the 21.7 second mark and reach 100 in 45 seconds. Vauxhall chose the Cersta's gearbox ratio's instead of the Victor's because first and second were much closer to third. This meant 1st could reach 40 mph despite the 6 cylinder engines narrower rev range, and allowed the car to be driven smoothly.
Better still, the engine would pull strongly in top gear from as low a speed as 30 mph, the additional torque again going a long way to making the Ventora an easy and effortless car to drive. But there were some draw-backs to having additional weight sitting over the front wheels. Understeer, evident in the Victor, was now even more pronounced.
Inflating the front tires to above the recommended pressure by a couple of PSI would go a little way to assisting things, but push the car hard into a corner and the tendency for the front to run wide was always pronounced. That said, the Goodyear G800 radials, along with the low centre of gravity of the car meant the Ventora suffered little other handling foibles.
The car was stable, free from roll and the suspension was generally considered very good at the time, the relatively low-rate springs firmly but unobtrusively damped. Those that travelled in the back would not be quite so flattering of the suspension set-up, the ride being noticeably more harsh and intrusive. But sitting up front was not without issue, the front pews unable to be reclinded or adjusted for rake.
There were six round instrument dials for the speedo, tacho, water temperature, oil pressure, ammeter and petrol gauges that had matt black faces with adjustable lightling for the white readouts. The switch gear was set into a panel behind the gear lever, their symbols illuminated from behind at night. During testing it was found that the wipers would lift clear from the windscreen at speeds above 65 mph, not ideal if travelling at speed in the wet. At least there was a four headlamp set-up which gave excellent range and spread on high beam, although they were average on low beam.
On a more positive note, the brakes were well sorted having larger calipers and pads than the discs found on the Victor. Other safety considerations included a collapsible steering column, thin screen pillars which made for exceptional forward visibility, thick doors with firmly padded trim panels, and a flow-through ventilation system with demister. Many of the niggling issues were addressed in 1972
when Vauxhall released the Ventora FE, although not much changed mechanically.
The world energy crises, falling exports and an increasingly muddled image led to Vauxhall's decline from the early 1970s, such that sales of the FE Victor slumped to 55,000 units, and the FE Ventora only managed to sell 7291 until it was transformed to the VX series in early 1976