Okay, okay. At first glance, this Vauxhall Firenza looks impossibly dated and recalls a Chevy Chevette for anyone in the USA.
But think of the Firenza in the context of the Ford Mustang II, Pacer and Gremlin. The 1970s was a pretty gross period in car design overall. Shrinking engines, sloppy style and floppy suspensions are preeminent themes of the 1970s, from the cheapest cars to the priciest Lamborghini’s.
The Firenza was a flagship sports coupe for the Vauxhall brand, introducing aerodynamic shrouds for the headlamps under flat glass, a single-piece nose design with integrated airdamn, and a pointy hood point that flowed into a long-nose, rear-drive hood shape. This ‘droopsnoot’ design was carried almost unaltered onto the Baby Bertha WTCC cars, and launched Wayne Cherry’s design career to new heights.
Cherry also penned the rounded glasshouse, fastback shape and sloping, chopped-look trunk. Slimline rear lamps live just above the back bumper, and the whole machine is a remarkably coherent piece of design for a mass-market coupe. The cost of the Firenza was barely 1/10th of a comparable Ferrari Daytona, after all.
Think of it like the Hyundai Tiburon vs Ferrari 456GT. But for its day, the Firenza’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder making 135-horsepower through a five-speed manual were actually darn respectable, and gave it great pace over the road.
In addition to the Vauxhall GT concept of 1966, Roadster concept of 2003, Lotus Carlton and VXR220 – this Firenza is one of the most special cars from the Griffin brand in the last 50 years.
Unfortunately for the Firenza, it launched just as oil and gas prices jumped 10-fold overnight in 1973. Few people were buying anything, let alone a fun sports coupe, and the Firenza bowed out with only 204 produced.
Cherry would go on to shape the look of Vauxhall and Opel machines for the next 30 years, however. Proof that the Firenza was as well-received in Detroit and Germany as it was in jolly old England.
1973 Vauxhall Firenza