1974 VAUXHALL FIRENZA Droop SnootView vehicle description
The Vauxhall Firenza HP (‘High Performance’), or Droop Snoot as it is affectionately known, is a rare car. Just 204 were built, despite Vauxhall’s claim back in the day that the market would welcome a thousand or more. Every year. There are thought to be fewer than 80 on the road today.
That it wasn’t more of a success is a bit odd. After all, it sports a 2,279cc engine that had been breathed on by Bill Blydenstein, the legendary Vauxhall tuner. Bill had little time for power outputs and 0-60mph times, arguing that the amount of torque an engine produced and its subsequent 20-100mph acceleration are far better indicators of a car’s true performance. That said, the ‘standard’ Droop Snoot develops 131bhp and 144lb.ft of torque, and you’ll find twin carburettors, a high-lift camshaft, gas-flowed head and a tubular manifold under the bonnet.
To further distinguish it from the standard Firenza, the Droop Snoot has a proper, dog-leg, five-speed ‘box too, which is surely the epitome of seventies gearbox-cool. A deep-dish steering wheel. Lowered, uprated suspension and more powerful brakes. Plus Avon safety wheels (a production car first). And, of course, the aerodynamic glassfibre nose cone from which it draws its nickname.
If you’re in any doubt about the performance of the ‘standard’ HP Droop Snoot, copy and paste the URL below into a browser to watch highlights of the 8-lap race around Thruxton organised by Dealer Team Vauxhall (DTV) in 1974 to promote the launch of the car. Twenty standard road cars - with just a half roll-cage, aluminium firewall and battery cut-off added - each represented a Vauxhall dealership with their choice of driver. Favourite Gerry Marshall, of ‘Old Nail’ and ‘Baby Bertha’ racing fame, was beaten to the win by Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams despite a broken right foot!
But this car is no ordinary Droop Snoot...
First registered on 13 Dec 1974, this originally road-going Vauxhall Firenza HP Droop Snoot has since been re-tuned and prepared for the track, although it is still road legal.
After its fifth keeper, in 1991 it came into the 20-year ownership of an engineer from Pontypool who was the Wales area representative of the “Droop Snoot Group”. He prepared it for and used it on track days.
It was then bought by the north west area organiser of the Opel Vauxhall Club of Ireland - who also used it on track days and retro rallies.
In August 2016, the car was repatriated to the UK by its most recent private owner, a Firenza enthusiast from the West Midlands who continued to look after and spend money on the car, as can be seen in the documents library.
We’re unsure as to how much use he has made of it as it would seem that the speedo hasn’t been working during the last few years but back in March this year, he had the speedo overhauled and it is now reading just 43 miles.
The car was sold in October to a specialist dealer who also competes in a few hill climbs and sprints. He was considering it as a stopgap competition car whilst another was having work done but now that it’s finished, the Firenza Droop Snoot is looking for a new home.
On the Outside
From the outside, the addition of the Castrol and DTV decals and the race number panels, give the biggest clues that this is no ordinary Droop Snoot Firenza. Further nods to the racy nature of the car include the AeroCatch bonnet panel fasteners, Vitaloni-style sports mirrors and a large boot lid wedge spoiler.
The ‘Silver Starfire’ paint was the only choice of factory finish and this car wears it well. There’s a small repair to the offside corner of the front air dam and a few chips and knocks on panel edges here and there but otherwise the exterior paint appears fairly good. The bonnet and bootlid are glassfibre panels.
The bodywork isn’t bad although there are a few undulations in some of the panels, notably the offside rear wing, which also has an area of repair at the back corner. There are a few other places where a light rust is developing or where window seals are splitting but for a 46 year old car, such things are to be expected.
The wheels are lightweight 13-inch competition four-spokes from Revolution Wheels, which have seen some use but appear in good order. All are fitted with Kumho Ecsta V700s which are characterised as “racetrack and autocross” tyres.
We’re looking after this car during the sale and both welcome and encourage a personal inspection of such a non-standard car; even though we’ve provided a comprehensive set of photos. Use the ‘Contact Seller’ to either arrange a visit or a video call to see everything in more detail.
On the Inside
Hopefully by now you won’t be expecting a nicely upholstered interior, because most of it has been stripped out, so instead we’ll give you an account of what is present, rather than what isn’t.
Driver and passenger have reasonably comfortable black vinyl racing bucket seats to wedge themselves into and can be further secured with the four-point harnesses. The driver’s seat covering is showing some cracking on the seat cushion and on the entry side but otherwise both seats appear intact.
The full roll-cage looks fairly recently renewed as does the passenger footboard. Other floor plating and protection looks in reasonable condition too. Track use additions include the battery cut-off switch, fire extinguisher, girling hydraulic handbrake and period leather-rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel.
There’s no radio even though an aerial and loud speakers are still fitted to the car. The presence of disposable foam ear plugs in the front ashtray suggests that the engine and transmission might be the overwhelming soundtrack inside this car anyway.
Under the bonnet the engine bay is in a very clean and orderly condition. We understand that the 2.3-litre engine has been further breathed on, fitting a DTV big-valve head, forged JE pistons, a lightened and balanced bottom end with a dry sump, a 4-into-1 stainless steel exhaust header and twin Dellorto 48 carburettors. It now reportedly puts out around 170bhp; a 30% increase on factory spec. This Firenza also benefits from an electronic race fuel pump, & an oil cooler mounted behind the front valance.
The transmission has been changed from the stock ZF unit to a bigger and stronger Getrag 265, the type fitted to the later 3.0-litre Opel Monza. It also has a fresh limited slip differential in the back axle & a new prop shaft.
In terms of other handling refinements, the steering rack requires fewer turns lock-to-lock, the car has Spax adjustable gas-shocks and stiffer springs and for additional stopping power has servo-assisted M16 brake calipers with drilled & vented discs, with brake bias adjustment - more often found fitted to fast Fords of the era.
Inside the boot, the installation of the battery and the aircraft spec aluminium oil and fuel tanks has been done very well, with all the cables, stainless steel hoses and pipework neatly presented. Even the spare wheel looks clean and tidy.
Underneath the car, it’s all pretty clean and tidy with nothing other than a little surface rust here and there. Sometimes the non-standard parts have required a bit of Heath-Robinson inventiveness, such as a heat shield cable-tied to the steering rack, but all seems undamaged and the Ashley competition exhaust looks in good order - it certainly sounds like it.
In the 10 UK roadworthiness tests since 2007, the car has passed them all with no advisories. It holds a current MOT certificate, which is valid until September 2021. There is understandably a gap in testing 2012-2016 when the car was in Ireland and inexplicably three identical MOTs recorded between April and June of 2017.
The history file includes a number of invoices from recent ownership for parts and maintenance work, as well as a copy of the car’s previous Irish registration papers.
There’s also the Jan-Mar 2017 issue of Irish Vintage Scene’s Retro Classics Magazine which features an article on the car - bearing its Irish registration - entitled “Stunning Droopsnoot built for the track” - where it describes it as a potent Vauxhall HP Firenza track car.
What We Think
This Firenza Droop Snoot is certainly no Concours Queen but is perfect for track days or, subject to homologation, for historic motorsport competitions such as ‘70s Roadsports. With it’s stripped interior, fibreglass bonnet and boot lid it now weighs only 700kg - which is just over 240bhp per tonne - a comparable power-to-weight ratio to a Porsche Cayman S.
If you’ve watched the video mentioned in the Background section, you will see how much fun the road car was on track - this one would be on another level entirely.
It’s more straightforward to put an estimate on a standard road car than one tailored for track performance, but we think this bit of Anglicized GM muscle will fetch between £18,000 and £22,000.
There are plenty of contemporary fast Fords both road-going and competition-oriented selling for escalating amounts of money at the moment. Surely the less numerous fast Vauxhalls have a chance of catching a similar wave sometime soon?
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car and an array of regional providers for transporting it.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.
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