Now this is not a two-door sedan, despite being a very-low trim version. The Firenza (1970-1975) was the name given to this new coupe body style of the Vauxhall Viva HC, which was sold in Canada as the Firenza (CC here). The Firenza coupe was a rather sad and late response to the runaway success of the Ford Capri. Opel responded with the much more ambitiously-styled Manta, but Vauxhall just came up with a new roof-line, and one that was hardly very original.
The close-coupled coupe roof on the Firenza harks back to similar approaches at GM going back to the 1960.5 Corvair Monza coupe, and more recently (and closer to home) the Kadett A coupe (above).
Poor Vauxhall never did get any kind of coupe roof on its version of the Kadett, the Viva, until this modest one in 1970. And the Firenza didn’t have a shot at the Capri, so the coupe went away in 1975. So this blue one found and shot by Swiss Tea is a rare find.
My first car back in 1982 was the estate version of the Vauxhall Viva HC. Now that did have a great roofline.
It really makes you appreciate the looks of the Vega, and to a lesser extent the Manta. The rear overhang is large for such a small car.
By the way a few days ago I saw a Manta C Series (the latest) rolling on the street. Manta C was based on the Ascona B (aka Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 1) and just got the idea that IT really had its SUCCESSOR which never appeared in Europe but was quite successful in the North-Americas as the Pontiac Sunbird/Chevy Cavalier Coupé…based on the Opel Ascona C (aka Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2). Somehow the missing Manta was replaced later (’89) by the Opel Calibra…
They did later develop this into the HP ‘droopsnoot’ Firenza but yes, the standard model was much too ‘samey’. Such a poor seller they used up the last of the bodyshells as a cheap entry-level model, the Viva E in 1975.
Though it was never going to rival the Capri in the sales charts the weight distribution was rather better! The estate looked almost as sporty thanks to its fastback shape, probably better balanced visually as well as more versatile as a vehicle. The HP droopsnoot’s longer nose also helped the looks of that version of the coupe.
A former buddy of mine had a 2 door left hand drive light blue Vauxhall Viva Standard HC Series for continental european markets as his 1st car during the early ’90’s…while I had got then as for my 1st car a 3 door Opel Kadett D Series l.h.d. (aka Vauxhall Astra Mk 1 r.h.d. in the U.K.).
Looks like the old saying “nobody is a prophet in his own country” could apply to the Firenza. In South Africa, the Firenza, badged however as a Chevrolet where it was raced.
GMNZ had another version called a Magnum initially with a 1800 ohc engine but later on just a 4 light grille in matt black on any Viva model even the wagons, they sold well with any engine so it didnt seem to matter,
1975 saw NZ getting some CKD packs with heavy duty suspension specced for Canada those cars handled quite well, so from very early on I knew Canada got these too.
There is/was (a while back) a soft canary yellow/sweet-cream coloured one of these being driven by a guy around the Manurewa/Takanina area …red interior i think ..a one-off private import ex UK most probably ..with the 2.3 OHC engine and manual gearbox it would be nice little car ..it certainly has ‘the look’ to my mind ..a muscular yet pleasant looking coupe with a much more characterful look to it than Mitsi’s similar-sized 1.8 Lancer Coupe to my mind . .
If it ever comes up for sale on Trade Me it would be interesting to see how it goes and for what . .
My memory of the handling of the 1975 HC Viva was of a small car with a very soft ‘floaty’ front end . .
However, the Chevette that came along about 1977 (and that had the same asthmatic weak little 1256cc engine) was a small car that actually had good quite flat neutral cornering abilities . .
The Canadian spec versions were quite good in the handling dept much better than the regular Viva it was only a short run of cars they had stiffer shocks up front and stronger springs, my dad fluked one as a demonstrator car he used it on his trips to RMTA conferences, reckoned it flew over the Kaimais.
There was also the Score 7 coupe a stripe kit hotrod, I knew a guy who transplanted a 253 Holden V8 manual into one it was a real sleeper.
Wow, that car is UGLY. It makes the US J body Olds Firenza look like a Ferrari. 🙂
I recall back in the day me and the boys dismissing the Firenza as a crap car.
We knew as an English car it was going to rust away here in the west just like the Viva and those little Japanese cars. Well actually, any car not under coated, waxed and garaged would rust away after three to four winters.
My aunt had a white one, probably almost as soon as they came out.
Effectively, it was Viva with a strange roof line, very little rear headroom and the Viva’s unremarkable interior. In the market, it was below the Capri in image, power and price.
Its sales failure , in that light, is not really surprising, though as Bernard Taylor says the Droopsnoot Firenza was something else
These werent aimed at the Capri thinking they were is a big mistake they sold to different people at very different price points.
I actually like these, and also the 4 door Magnum. The estate, no. I thought it looked awkward. To be fair, this photo shows the Firenza from a bad angle.
I completely agree with your commenting on the Firenza here.
It is in fact quite an eye-catcher from most other angles . . they are so rare nowadays and when you do spot one, it’s just impossible not to enjoy an admiring double take of this little vehicle’s sweeping silhouette.
Rare here in NZ when new, like hen’s teeth now. From an aesthetic point of view, I find their current scarcity refreshing – they’re certainly a highly ungainly looking thing. Last one I saw here (recently) had the droop-snoot front fitted, which is a marginal improvement.
I thought these looked bloody great when I was a kid. Shame no-one else did.
..’emperor’s got no clothes on’, right???
I thought they looked GRRREAT too !! lol 🙂 …still do ..and would buy one like a shot if a minter turned up one day ..and would put a 2.3 CF Bedford engine into it (a straight bolt up to the existing 1.8 OHC mounts (as with an FD Victor) ..makes for a nice torquey drive
I loved the look of the sedan version of the Firenza, but not this “swoopy-coupe”. Unfortunately as older Canadians will recall, the Firenza was a mechanical disaster which finished off Vauxhall in the Canadian market.
My brother had the Viva saloon and it was a piece of crap. I would have been 6 (so 1979) and even then I hated it. The ‘coupe’ looked even worse. And that looks suspiciously like Glasgow too. I think it’s a bit near Battlefield, where I helped my brother (the same one with the Viva), put up For Sale signs for estate agents! The van we used, an Austin Maestro 1300 was one of the 1980’s finest crap boxes 🙂