header image
Homepage. This page: Vauxhall's two-door coupe version of the Viva HC saloon car.
Original transport photographs
Old Classic Car Image Archive index >

1971-1975 Vauxhall Firenza HC.

It's fair to say that many coupe conversions based on saloon-car beginnings don't always work out well, stylistically-speaking, witness the oddly-proportioned Morris Marina Coupe for example (although the base saloon was no masterpiece either). In a bid to claim sales within the UK's growing coupe market, ignited by Ford's Capri a few years earlier and not least due to the introduction of the Manta by sister company Opel, Vauxhall took the HC-series Viva and transformed it into the two-door Firenza that's shown here.
Unlike the Capri, which could be specified with four- or six-cylinder powerplants, the Firenza would only ever be offered with a four-cylinder engine. Initially there were three options available, a 1159cc OHV unit, or alternatively OHC engines of either 1598cc and 1975cc capacity. It wouldn't be long until these engines were improved upon slightly, capacities of 1256cc, 1798cc and 2279cc now being offered, to give a little more "go" to better match the coupe's rakish styling. SL versions of each featured a higher specification of trim, and were available across the range. The (then) range-topping 2300 Sport SL came onto the scene early in 1972. Improvements included a more comprehensive, seven-dial, dashboard, while under the bonnet its 2279cc twin-Stromberg-fed inclined four engine endowed the model with a useful 122bhp. Bucket seats held the car's occupants in check during spirited motoring, and luxuries such as a centre console and rev counter reminded those inside that this was a special model. The successes on track thanks to Dealer Team Vauxhall's activities with the 2300 Sport SL did no harm at all to the car's image.
Kevin, who kindly emailed over the following snapshot, was less enthused about his particular example, as he says:
"I've attached a photo of a Firenza I owned in the late 1970s - registration was XAL 343M. It was a bit of a rough dog of a car which never performed as well as I'd expected it to, and these days it would probably be embarrassed by almost anything. The photo was taken where I lived at the time in Nottingham ... and the car had the 1800cc engine, but as I mentioned, it felt much less. Many years later I read that the rough-running problem was due to the original carburettor fitted; changing to a different make of carb made a massive difference - I learned that 30 years too late."
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
White Vauxhall Firenza
Clearly Vauxhall too realised that the flat-fronted Firenza needed a further sprinkle of magic dust to maintain buyers' interest in what was becoming an increasingly-competitive marketplace, so plans were hatched for the ultimate road-going Firenza, the "droopsnoot" Firenza HP (for High Performance). With its sloping front panel, uprated 131bhp engine (thanks in part to the efforts of Bill Blydenstein's racing activities), smart Avon safety wheels, beefed-up suspension, and five-speed gearbox to name just a few of the extensive modifications made to the Firenza's platform, it transformed the car. Despite this, for various reasons the car did not sell in any great numbers. Only 204 examples out of a projected 30,000 were built. All the coupes were finished in silver, although a small number of "droopsnoot" estates were also produced, in black with red pinstriping. With the HP in production, the existing flat-fronted Firenzas were re-named as Magnum Coupes for the remainder of the production run.

Buying a Firenza in the 1970s.

Several pages on OCC are given over to the HC Viva range and its derivatives. This page for example, lists the range of accessories offered by Vauxhall for the Viva in 1971, and also describes the Firenza's pricing and options list in some detail.
Firenza prices and options list
Return to Page 21 in the motoring image archive, or visit the main index of vintage & classic photographs here.

Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2020. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers