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As has been said before as a Division of General Motors Vauxhall had access to all sorts of styling and engineering projects that were undertaken by other divisions throughout the world and the same applied to Vauxhalls own experimental projects which could be accessed and evaluated by other parts of the Company worldwide. This was particularly evident in the 1950 & 1960s with the trends in styling which were primarily dictated by Harley Earl & later by Bill Mitchell. Some were more successful than others, the Panoramic windscreen caused more problems than advantages as has been detailed in the F Series Victor section. However, the “coke bottle” style was a huge success first with the Cresta PC then the Viva HB and finally the Victor FD in the 1960s and it was a trend that was widely copied by GM’s competitors later.

All this did not mean that individual GM Divisions couldn’t come up with their own styling ideas, an example of this was in the 1970s when the Vauxhall “droop snoot” style was made famous under Design Head Ed Taylor, and particularly his replacement Wayne Cherry, first with the HP Firenza and then the Chevette, Cavalier etc. Although the front end treatment was specifically honed by Vauxhalls Design Team for aerodynamic efficiency as well as strong visual aesthetics, or DRG – Down the Road Graphics – as Cherry termed it, the idea was not totally new or unique.

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The first “popular” car to feature the earliest example of what we now call a droop snoot was probably the American Studebaker Avanti announced in June 1962 and produced until December 1963. The design theme was originally a “doodle” by Studebaker’s President Sherwood Egbert in February 1961. These “doodles” were then properly built into a full sized concept by Studebaker’s design team headed by Raymond Loewy along with Tom Kellogg, Bob Andrews and John Ebstein in less than 40 days. Much of the problems with the build of the HP Firenza were associated with its fibreglass nose cone, ironically the Avanti was even more radical in that it featured a complete fiberglass body mounted on a modified Studebaker Lark Daytona convertible chassis. The car, like the HP Firenza, was a style sensation but not a sales success.

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The development of the PC Series was primarily centred on the 4 door saloon, the design of which was being overseen by David Jones and his Assistant Design Director Leo Pruneau. There were no plans for a Vauxhall built PC Estate model, but a fully working prototype was built by Vauxhall at Luton with production contracted out to Martin Walter as was the case with the previous PB model. However, there was another much smaller project that was managed by one of Vauxhalls Senior Exterior Designers, Aubrey Cohring, working with a select few specialist prototype build engineers. The aim of the project was for a 2 door Concept of the PC Series using as many mechanical components as possible from the production model but clothed in a 2 door body that was distinctly different from the regular car but still retaining a full 4 seat passenger capacity. The body design planned to use the same chassis and wheel base of the standard PC but considerably shortened overall length because of an envisaged shorter front and considerably reduced rear overhang.

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The styling from the side was a little anonymous, even a little bland with a rather heavy looking rear quarter design and a high rear deck that in principle was not that far removed from the Firenza HC. Apart from the wheel trims the car showed no sign of the prototype’s PC lineage, all the body panels were unique although the front windscreen was the same. It featured opening rear quarter windows for passengers in the back. Inside the car was trimmed in lots of leather and wood panelling but used a standard dashboard from the forthcoming PC Series but also featured a centre console between the front seats which were narrower than the Saloon. There was ample room in the rear and even headroom was only slightly less than the production PC. What made the cars styling radical and dynamic was the dramatic front – a “droop snoot” front end if ever there was one complete with headlamps set back and using near flush metal framed glass covers thereby giving a smooth, back slanted front end style a full 8 years before the launch of the HP Firenza in October 1973. The bonnet scoops were not dummies, they were needed to compensate for the reduced airflow through the 2 front end nostrils and the gap cut out of the bumper. Mechanically the car used the 3.3 litre PC engine with a 4 speed manual gearbox.

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The Concept Car was named Vettura which means “an Italian 4 wheeled carriage” but only one prototype was built and was never publically shown. The Vettura was registered and was tested on the road and at Chaul End, the number plate dates it to around August 1965 as it is only 7 digits out from one of the pre-production PC Cresta press cars. The car was reviewed by Vauxhalls Product Planning Committee who were not particularly impressed with either the design style or the prospective sales forecasts so as a result no further development was undertaken and unfortunately the Vettura was eventually broken up late in 1966.  

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