Vauxhall SRV: State of the dart in 1970


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)

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29 responses to “Vauxhall SRV: State of the dart in 1970”

  1. Van_Sarockin Avatar
    Van_Sarockin

    I like it, though it seems derivative of the Carrabo and that Porsche study. The red stripe doesn’t work, and visible fasteners on the rear wheel spats don’t belong on a show car. I’d spot them the technical hyperbole, but note that multiple fuel tanks may have been needed since there wasn’t room for one big one, or they were really grasping for some high tech marketing hooks.

    1. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      I want to live in a world where Dzus fasteners are always appropriate.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        The practicalities of the car were well worked out, including egress into that low shape as demonstrated by a young Wayne Cherry. And the chassis was engineered properly. With a bit more work it would have been driveable. Those fasteners and the ‘Concorde like’ pumping fuel for weight distribution were 70s high-tech.
        http://www.carstyling.ru/resources/concept/large/70Vauxhall_SRV_021.jpg
        http://www.carstyling.ru/resources/concept/1970-Vauxhall-SRV-Concept-11.jpg
        http://www.carstyling.ru/resources/concept/1970-Vauxhall-SRV-Concept-09.jpg

        1. Tiller188 Avatar
          Tiller188

          Does anyone know what those gauges under the trunk/hood lid are?

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Fuel tank levels?

          2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

            One of them is the ‘production likelihood’ gauge.

        2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          The “Concorde-like” referenced the transfer of fuel between tanks to trim the weight of the plane for flight after take-off. Of course.

        3. outback_ute Avatar
          outback_ute

          The engine bay shot doesn’t look like a 4-cylinder engine, more like a turbine perhaps

      2. Van_Sarockin Avatar
        Van_Sarockin

        I love Dzus as much as the next guy, but his was a zoomy prototype. I don’t want to see the screw heads, or the wiper blades, or the mud flaps on one.

        1. Alff Avatar
          Alff

          I get it – that is the ideal of prototypes. Especially from this era. I can almost hear discriminating British auto show attendees complaining about how the “Italians do it better.”
          Carry that aesthetic forward to 2017, though, and you get every single new car available today. Vehicles that are so monolithic that fake chrome is used as an accent and single use fasteners are the norm.
          F that. I like mechanical conveyances that wear the moniker proudly. Things I can look at and figure out how to repair and a world where the acronym “RTFM” is more a slam on the one who utters it than the “noob” who dares ask the question.
          Yes, I’m old.

          1. Van_Sarockin Avatar
            Van_Sarockin

            That’s why I didn’t make the comment in reference to production vehicles. There’s no reason exposed fasteners can’t look great.

    1. crank_case Avatar
      crank_case

      This car always seemed to pop up in those “what the future will look like” kids books when I was growing up, so I thought that by the 21st century, instead of the our Vauxhaull Chevette (1.3 litres of pure Luton muscle, atrophied and wasted muscle that is), the future would have us all in low sleek, ground hugging spaceships.
      We took a wrong turn somewhere, go back!
      http://cdn1.autoexpress.co.uk/sites/autoexpressuk/files/2016/09/vauxhall_mokka_x041.jpg

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Oh, the Chevette, with its recessed headlamps (on early models) and appetite for corrosion (all models). Can’t remember when I last saw one.

      2. Van_Sarockin Avatar
        Van_Sarockin

        The future I was promised had the cars from the UFO tv show.

    2. outback_ute Avatar
      outback_ute

      You would hope so for a concept car!

    3. Vairship Avatar
      Vairship

      The SRV of course *did* enter production in the Netherlands, keeping its straight-edge styling but with slight modifications to enhance headroom. Standing headroom that is, since it was a mobile supermarket. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/69/SRV-wagen.jpg/1920px-SRV-wagen.jpg Door Sebastiaan ter Burg – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/3953223272/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18912708
      Starting in 1966, they can still be seen operating in areas away from traditional “brick & mortar” supermarkets.

  2. I_Borgward Avatar
    I_Borgward

    I quite like it. But that red stripe has to go.
    Dumb Yank Question: What is the UK pronunciation of this fine marque?
    vocks-hall?
    voe-hall? (like “faux”)
    voe-kis-hall?
    va-ooks-hal?
    vawks-hawl?

    1. Tiller188 Avatar
      Tiller188

      I’m also a Dumb Yank, so take with a grain of salt, but I do base my impression off of hearing British folks pronounce it. Anyway, if you’re graphically-inclined, I’ve always heard it pronounced pretty close to “voxel”.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Or vox-hall.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I go with Vox’le, like castle or table.
      Or I say “Opel”

      1. Vairship Avatar
        Vairship

        Or pretty close to fo’c’sle, another easy to spell word…

    3. crank_case Avatar
      crank_case

      They’re pretty Cavalier about how you pronounce it to be honest.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        In America it might now be pronounced Buick?

        1. crank_case Avatar
          crank_case

          If Brexit goes really badly and Scotland gets independence, the Buick name might go down well there too.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dunbar_Buick

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            On that note, I’ll never have another bath without thinking of Buick.

      2. nanoop Avatar

        A Royale attitude.

        1. crank_case Avatar
          crank_case

          Sometimes they’ll just ignore you and do the Carlton
          https://68.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lrp034Tlly1r2aruco1_250.gif

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