• VAUXHALL 94000 - HC SPORTSHATCH
Image description

Vauxhalls Design Deprtment had been playing around with various styling variations on the "hatchback" theme as far back as the HB Viva. Several hatchback HB prototypes were built and evaluated and were internally known as “Kamback” and “Sportshatch”, nothing much came of these ideas until the T Car Chevette project got under way in 1971 when Vauxhall were made the lead division within GM to design the hatch version of the T Car. With the advent of the HC Viva 2300, also available with a fastback 3 door estate body, the idea of a sporting estate in the mould of the Reliant Scimitar GTE (Grand Tourismo Estate) found favour again in the Luton Design centre. In any event the HC Estate had been styled in a way that deliberately sacrificed absolute practicality as an estate in favour of a much nicer looking, sporty fastback rear end treatment. There were several prototype HC Estates made with additions such as spoilers and uprated engines and wheels. A completely separate project, which Wayne Cherry was heavily involved, was trying to enhance the appeal of the slow selling Firenza coupe, the style of which had been compromised by relying so much on the standard HC saloon body. Cherry and his team came up with what we now know as the Droop Snoot Firenza and was launched at the 1973 Motor Show as a 1974 model range topper. Initial plans were for annual production in excess of 20,000 but for a multitude of reasons, not least the fuel crisis, this was wildly optimistic and in the end sadly only 204 were built. The model was still being listed for the 1975 model year yet surprisingly at the October 1974 London Motor Show Vauxhall displayed, as a last minute addition, an HC Estate with the Firenza Droop Snoot front end called the Firenza Sportshatch to gauge public reaction and therefore prospects for production, and it was supposedly intended as a sister model to the Firenza Coupe. Fate intervened, yet again, and by the end of 1975 the Droop Snoot Firenza disappeared from the price list and no single Firenza Sportshatch was ever sold to the public.

Image description

THE ONE OFF HP FIRENZA SPORTSHATCH ON THE OUTSIDE VIEWING AREA OF THE LUTON DESIGN CENTRE 08.74, THIS SAME CAR WXE939M, BECAME THE BASIS FOR THE PROTOTYPE 2300 SPORTSHATCH

Image description

THE ONE OFF HP FIRENZA SPORTSHATCH SHOWN AT THE LONDON MOTOR SHOW IN OCTOBER 1974 SUPPOSEDLY TO "GAUGE PUBLIC OPINION" WITH A VIEW TO PRODUCTION

Image description

A CLOSE UP OF THE SPORTSHATCH SEAT TRIM WHICH WAS NOT THE SAME AS THE HP FIRENZA

None of these setbacks prevented Wayne Cherry from conceiving another Design study based around the Sportshatch theme, this time called “Silver Bullet”, and featured a 6 headlamp version of the Droop Snoot nosecone, a potent prototype fuel injection version of the 2.3litre slant four engine and some wild Tartan trim for the interior, a theme that would continue through to the late 70s for Vauxhall. By the end of 1975 Vauxhall had two problems, amongst many others, one was a surplus of Magnum & Firenza Coupe body panels. The Magnum Coupe had been dropped from the range by this time. The other problem was a surplus from the initial order of fibreglass Droop Snoot nose cones and Avon safety wheels.
Ford decided to launch a stripped down version of the Mk2 Escort called the Popular & Popular Plus to boost sales, in
response Vauxhall launched a special edition version of the Viva called the Viva E and used up all the remaining panels for the Coupe body.

The Design department came up with the solution for the remaining stock of HP Droop Snoot front nose cones, with a Griffin badge & Cibie hologen headlamps with Triplex covers, Wayne Cherry’s team put together a package that combined the Magnum Estate body with a standard specification 2279cc engine, recently reduced to single carburettor but with the revised head from the VX Series producing 108bhp, combined with the normal Magnum seating & trim but in the much favoured wild red tartan with matching Huntsman red carpet including the load area along with the HP Firenza steering wheel. The interior was finshed off with Onyx headlining, sun visors and spare wheel cover.

The Sportshatch retained the HP Droop Snoot’s Avon Safety wheels with 185/70 tyres but used the standard HC Magnum suspension. The package included a laminated windscreen, Extra Dark Wine paintwork, which was then reserved only for the top line VX2300GLS, with Volcano Red window trimmings, red colour coded bumpers with rubber inserts and twin bold red stripping along the sides, 2 matt black door mirrors. It was given the name Sportshatch and carried a decal on the rear tailgate, the HC Magnum sill strips were deleted. A limited production run of 195 were made around April to May 1976. These were all built at Ellesmere Port using the production code 9155NFX and were hand finished in a special area of the factory at the rate of about 20 per week.

The car was never advertised and no brochure or price list was ever printed, the reason being they were specifically sold to dealers to run on their own demonstration fleets, as did Vauxhall themselves, and then to sold on to the public as ex demonstration models. In any event Vauxhall had created another instant classic and the few remaining are highly prized today. The name Sportshatch went on to be used on the Mk1 Cavalier as well as the Astra H.  

Image description

WXE939M IN 2300 SPORTSHATCH PROTOTYPE GUISE ON THE DESIGN DEPARTMENT VIEWING TERRACE. DASC86A-Bk2-002_Wayne Cherry_87468 © GM ARCHIVE

Image description

The car was never advertised and no brochure or price list was ever printed, the reason being they were specifically sold to dealers to run on their own demonstration fleets, as did Vauxhall themselves, and then to sold on to the public as ex demonstration models. In any event Vauxhall had created another instant classic and the few remaining are highly prized today. The name Sportshatch went on to be used on the Mk1 Cavalier as well as the Astra H.  

Image description

TWO FACTORY PICTURES OF THE PROTOTYPE VAUXHALL 2300 SPORTSHATCH SHOWING THE DOOR AND REAR LUGGAGE COMPARTMENT TRIM

Production:      April to May 1976 (approx)

 

Prod No’s         Total = 195

                                                        

Factory:            Ellesmere Port (plant code E) 

                             

Model ID:          9155NFX


Chassis No:     Between 9155NFX119000 to 122000 (approx)

 

Engine:             2279cc = 108bhp (net) @ 5000rpm  140lb-ft @ 3000rpm  (Comp Ratio = 8.5:1)

 

Wheels:            Avon Safety Wheels 6J rims & Michelin XVS 185-70HR 13 Tyres

 

Colour:             Extra Dark Wine        

ENTHUSIAST'S CARS:

Image description
Image description
Image description

THIS SPORTSHATCH IS OWNED BY CHRIS ROGERS WHO HAS NOW MOVED TO AUTRALIA MAKING IT THE ONLY ONE KNOWN TO BE OUTSIDE THE UK