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Vauxhall SRV: State of the dart in 1970

Chris Haining March 27, 2017 All Things Hoon 29 Comments

The Vauxhall XVR concept actually had its feet bound firmly to 1965, despite styling that couldn’t look any more outlandish if you ate your own body weight of LSD and looked at it after spinning around really fast.

One of the names associated with its very existence was one Wayne Cherry, who went on to style a great many General Motors products – his overseeing the Vauxhall Astra GTE being of particular note. His concept game wasn’t over after the XVR, either. Witness the Vauxhall SRV of 1970 – a car which ventured far, far beyond the relative sanity of the XVR.

The Vauxhall SRV (Styling Research Vehicle) was designed first and foremost as a publicity vehicle. It was a sign that Vauxhall was still prone to occasional flights of fantasy, and that the XVR hadn’t run the Vauxhall creativity reserves dry just yet.

Firstly, well, just look at it. I’ll fall short of calling it pretty – it’s striking and has presence, but was never likely to sire a million kit car replicas, let alone a production car – but it must have caused quite a stir at the 1970 London Motor Show. Hell, it drew quite a crowd when I caught it at the 2017 London Classic Car show.

Although it was clearly a world away from production likelihood. the SRV did have features that have ultimately made it onto today’s cars. Its side view might recall a wildly cartoonised Lamborghini Espada, but it’s actually a four-door car. The trailing shut-line for the rear door can just about be distinguished in this side view.

The door handle is concealed in the way that has become de rigeur on so many of today’s more desperately styled family cars, and the door opened up gullwing style so ridiculously low, wide concept could seat four. Although probably not in the height of luxury.

Other innovations that the SRV had included active aerodynamics thanks to various adjustable parts around the nose as well as a rear suspension levelling system. It also had a Concorde-style multiple fuel-tank system. Fuel could be pumped from one tank to another in the interest of weight distribution, although I imagine it was more to establish the general poise of the car than as an active handling optimisation device. It would also have worked far less effectively if you ran low on fuel.

And fortunately, the latter was unlikely. For starters, the SRV was intended to use a fuel-injected version of Vauxhall’s slant-four engine, an engine that would later find fame in the Vauxhall Firenza Droopsnoot in 2.3-litre carburetted form. Secondly, the engine actually fitted to the SVR, was pretend.

It was a fake. A charlatan. And who knows whether the active aero was properly functional, or whether that fuel tank transfer system did anything but make an interesting bullet-point on the press release. But who cares?

It gave potential Viva and Victor buyers who visited that motor show stand reason to believe they were buying into a brand driven by real passion. And they were. Go and read about the Firenza if you’re in any doubt.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)