4. Vauxhall Silver Bullet
At the 1973 Earls Court Motor Show, Vauxhall finally addressed its lack of a true halo performance derivative in its worthy Viva HC range by presenting an exciting new Firenza coupe, to tackle the UK market’s dominant Ford Capri and ‘hot’ Escort variants; Mexico, RS1600, etc. This appealing ‘new’ Firenza revived the poor-selling and short-lived 1971-73 Firenza model name (a two-door fastback coupe version of the Viva HC), with the add-on of a distinctive slopping nose cone, soon affectionately nick-named the ‘Droop Snoot’. Encouraged by a very favourable reception by the public and contemporary press alike to the Earls Court Firenza Droop Snoot ‘prototype,’ Vauxhall eventually put this 2.3-litre performance coupe into limited production in late 1974, available in one colour only (metallic silver) and with a single trim level. In the end, due to its unfortunate timing, arriving in selected Vauxhall showrooms just as the 1970s fuel crisis was kicking it, only 204 of the thirsty but fast Firenza Droop Snoot models were made – much lower than forecast.
This left Vauxhall with rather more left-over fibre-glass slopping nose cones than anticipated, so they cunningly used up this surplus stock by making a handful of very limited edition SportsHatch models based on the stylish Viva HC estate bodyshell, but oddly never actively promoted by Vauxhall. The ‘regular’ Firenza Droop Snoot used the same four Cibie-sourced rectangular headlamps as the facelifted Alpine A310. However, before the quiet 1975 introduction of the SportsHatch model, Vauxhall’s Luton Design Studio built a unique prototype version of the three-door estate model, known as the Silver Bullet, using the Droop Snoot’s performance 2.3-litre engine and a plush, experimental black leather interior.
Unlike the limited-production four-headlight SportsHatch, the Silver Bullet featured a unique six-lamp front end, as illustrated; this one-off prototype still existing today in the hands of a lucky private enthusiast.