Vauxhall’s eighth Decade-a-Day chapter focuses on the short-lived, but utterly memorable Firenza HP ‘Droopsnoot’.
A ground-breaker for Vauxhall in so many ways, it became the flag-bearer for the company’s motorsport aspirations during the Seventies, fulfilled with the help of two motorsport legends: Bill Blydenstein and Gerry Marshall.
In fact, we couldn’t resist this rather rough-edged, but endearingly dated film showing what Gerry, in his Firenza-derived ‘Baby Bertha’, could achieve:
VAUXHALL FIRENZA HP ‘DROOPSNOOT’
In 1973, Vauxhall rationalised its Firenza range, and the HP (for ‘High Performance’) model was created. Based on the Magnum Coupe, the HP had additional aero treatment at the front, giving rise to its nickname: ‘Droopsnoot’.
And the Droopsnoot certainly had the brawn to go with its distinctive looks. This was the first Vauxhall with a five-speed gearbox, and its 2.3-litre slant-four engine had hand-finished combustion chambers, inlet tracts and valve throats to liberate an extra 21bhp. As a result, the Droopsnoot became the fastest-accelerating Vauxhall, with a 0-60mph time of just 7.6 seconds.
In model’s launch was well timed, too, heralding Vauxhall’s triumphant return to motorsport in the guise of DTV (Dealer Team Vauxhall).
But industrial disputes, a looming fuel crisis and the consequent sales fall-out from the performance car market signed an early death-knell for the Firenza HP. Despite a brave sales projection of 1,000 cars per year, only 204 cars were ever built.
Body: 2-door coupe
Engine: 4 cylinders, in-line
Engine Capacity: 2279cc
Top Speed: 120mph
0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 22mpg