Vauxhall Viva HC
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The last of the Viva's, the HC, was released in October 1970
, and went on to enjoy a long 9 year production run. Again both wider and longer than its predecessor, the HC featured a masculine look, with straight lines and edges and flat-faced front end.
Visibility was improved too, the extra glass being one of the main design features of the new model. The 1159cc 4 cylinder unit was initially carried over from the HB Viva
, however it was found to be too underpowered to cope with the extra bulk of the HC, and so the engineers quickly up-rated the engine to 1256cc.
There was also a 1600 (1599cc) and 2300 (2279cc) engines fitted across the range. As it stood, the base model offered unmatched value for money, and success at the showrooms was almost guaranteed.
Almost a year after the HC was released (20th July, 1971
), the one-millionth Viva rolled off the production line, and after that time some rather strange variants started to appear.
The Firenza, manufactured between 1971
, used the coupe body shell and underpowered 1159cc engine, although the 1600 and 2000cc engines were available as options. Replacing the single rectangular headlights was a more sporting twin headlight setup, and attractive rostyle wheels were fitted.
Vauxhall took the covers off the most sought after of the HC models today, the Firenza HP (High Performance), only 204 being manufactured up to 1975
. Soon to be given the moniker "Droopsnoot" by enthusiasts, the new version was a rather radical departure from the HC's rather staid styling.
Designed by American Wayne Cherry, the radical
wedge shaped nose cone of the Firenza HP was grafted onto the front, while under the bonnet the 2.3 litre OHC slant 4 engine was fitted - this unit being bestowed with twin Stromberg carbys, a high lift camshaft and free-flow tubular exhaust
was upgraded and lowered, the brakes
up-rated, and a 5 speed ZF gearbox installed.
Special Avon safety wheels were used, not only being very attractive (similar to minilites), but providing the added benefit of helping to retain tyre
safety in the event of a puncture. All 204 Firenza HP's shared the same paint colour, Silver Starfire.
But the timing of the Firenza HP could not have come at a worse time, with soaring petrol prices and uncertainty about the continued supply of oil. While we in Australia were starting to question the viability of V8's, in the UK a 2.3 litre high performance car was considered to be a gas-guzzler, and the Firenza HP failed to make any impact on the showroom floor. Of a projected 30,000 sales, only 204 would be manufactured, and even some of these were hard to move.
A few years later Vauxhall decided that, to move the models more upmarket, the Viva name (with its connotations of "cheap and cheerful") would need to be used exclusively on the base 1256cc car.
The upmarket "Magnum", manufactured from 1973
, came fitted with either the 1800cc or 2300cc engine, and was available in both 2 and 4 door versions, along with a 3 door estate model. It took its styling queues from the Firenza, using the handsome twin headlight configuration.
Today the Viva's enjoy a stong following with enthusiasts.