The Firenza was a model of car produced by Vauxhall Motors between 1970 and 1976. It was a development of the Viva, but had a distinctive coupé body style (fastback) and only two doors.

The initial Firenza was available in 1159cc and 1598cc OHC variants, later enlarged to 1256cc and 1798cc. All models had a front mounted four cylinder engine driving the rear wheels. Suspension was double wishbone and coilsprings at the front, and a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear.

Table of contents
1 Droopsnoot Firenza
2 Performance:
3 Comparable Contemporaries
4 External Links

Droopsnoot Firenza

In 1973, Vauxhall decided that their rather dull model range needed a makeover, and developed a radical version of the Firenza, known officially as the High Performance (HP) Firenza, but known colloquially as the "droopsnoot" after its dramatically styled aerodynamic nose. The nose was moulded from GRP, and featured two pairs of Cibié headlamps behind toughened glass covers. At that time, the original flat-fronted Firenza model was rebadged as the Magnum coupe, and the name Firenza was used exclusively for the HP version. This car was an exciting styling departure for Vauxhall, and certainly created something of a buzz. The engine was the 2.3 litre variant of the OHC Slant Four engine, uprated to a very torquey 131bhp using a variety of parts developed by Blydenstein racing. It had twin Stromberg Carburettors, high-lift camshaft and free-flow tubular exhaust manifold. The car was styled by American designer Wayne Cherry and the result was an exceptionally low drag coefficient for its time. Suspension was uprated and lowered, brakes uprated, and a 5-speed ZF gearbox was installed. Another unusual and unique feature of the car was the alloy Avon Safety Wheels, which were designed to retain the tyre safely in the event of a puncture. This was the first car to use these wheels in production. All production cars were painted in the same colour - Silver Starfire.

The car was a design triumph for Vauxhall, but a marketing failure. The car was launched to much publicity in a special one-off race at Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, with top drivers of the day taking part including Gerry Marshall and Barry "Whizzo" Williams, who won the race. However, the fuel crisis of the time meant that suddenly it became very hard to sell gas guzzling cars like this (even though the aerodynamics benefitted fuel economy greatly), and coupled with some production line difficulties in actually building the car meant that sales and delivery was slow, and eventually just 204 examples were built, far short of the 30,000 projected. This very low volume was obviously a disaster for Vauxhall, but ironically it has led to the car becoming a very collectable classic, thus ensuring its survival - some of the much more common production cars produced alongside it are now harder to find! A celebrity owner of a droopsnoot Firenza was footballer Luther Blissett.

The Firenza was also very successful in saloon car racing in the 1970s, especially in its Old Nail and Baby Bertha versions, piloted to great effect by Gerry Marshall.

Despite the low production run, the aerodynamic qualities and styling of the "droopsnoot" were incorporated, with improved productionisation, into most of Vauxhall's remaining 1970s new models - the Chevette, Cavalier and Carlton. The Firenza can be seen as a styling prototype for these models. Its influence can be judged from the fact that Ford adopted a very similar look for its MkII RS-2000 Escort and the 1982 Ford Sierra, which in turn were widley copied throughout the 80s by others. For this reason, the HPF looks far less dated than many of its contemporaries.


  • Top Speed: 120 mph
  • 0-60mph: 8 seconds
  • Economy: 25 miles per gallon

Comparable Contemporaries

External Links