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Vauxhall Chevette

The Chevette is a model of car manufactured by Vauxhall in the UK from 1975 to 1983. It was Vauxhall's version of GM's family of small 'T-Cars', which included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, and the Holden Gemini in Australia.

It was designed to replace the Viva, but was sold alongside that model for much of its life.Unlike the Viva, the Chevette was designed as a hatchback, a style that was rapidly becoming popular in the mid 1970s. More conventional saloon and estate versions were also built.

The Chevette shared the 1256cc overhead valve engine of the Viva, but featured MacPherson strut front suspension with trailing arms, Panhard rod and coilsprings at the rear. Drive was conventional rear-wheel drive using a live axle.

The Chevette's front end featured a more aerodynamic nose treatment based loosely on the design of the "droopsnoot" Firenza. In contrast the Kadett had a flat fronted design. In [1980]], the Chevette was phased out in favour of the Astra, Vauxhall's version of the front wheel drive Kadett, before being droped in 1983.

Chevette HS

Vauxhall decided to abandon company-sponsored saloon-car racing in 1977, and instead decided to go into Rallying. They had a long-standing relationship with Blydenstein racing, and commissioned them to develop a rally version of the Chevette. They created a far more powerful Chevette variant by shoehorning the much larger 2.3 litre Slant Four engine into the shell, and with Vauxhall developed a twin camshaft 16-valve cylinder head for it. The gearbox was discarded in favour of a much stronger Getrag 5-speed box, and the bodyshell was strengthened. Avon Alloy wheels (similar to those used on the droopsnoot Firenza) were used, as well as a newly developed GRP nosecone. The resulting car was extremely fast with almost 200 bhp, and a far cry from the small-engined Chevettes from which it was developed. In order to compete in rallying, the car had to be homologated, which basically meant that it had to be a production model derivative in order to be eligible. Thus Vauxhall motors manufactured the HS following the Blydenstein pattern for sale. The result was an incredibly fast road car, and while production was limited to around 400 only, they all sold like hot cakes.

The HS was an immediate success as a rally car, clocking up notable wins for driver Tony Pond. It advanced the state of the art in world-class rallying quite significantly, and easily outclassed the Mk2 Ford Escort which had dominated the sport recently. However, its reign was not to last, as the Audi Quattro soon appeared, raising the stakes once again by introducing four-wheel drive. To stay competitive, a further version, the HSR, was developed, which was an even more powerful variant, and held its own for several more years into the early 1980s. However, the days of rear-drive rally cars were numbered, and the sport was dominated from then on by 4-wheel drive designs. The HSR was also homologated and sold to the public, though in very limited numbers.

Both the rare HS and the even rarer HSR are now very sought-after collectable classics.

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