Ever since the Capri became a big success for Ford, various manufacturers here in Britain and in Europe have been trotting out “fastbacks” in an attempt to catch a share of the market. Now General Motors, through their British Vauxhall concern, have just announced the Firenza range.
These new Vauxhalls are very much fast-back Vivas and though styling is a matter of personal choice we found the general effect a success. The Firenze name is a rather nasty Americanised derivant of the Italian word for Florence, of which the less said the better. Nevertheless, we were impressed by the cars, if not their name, when we drove them briefly just before announcement day.
The Firenza comes in three engine sizes, 1,159 c.c., 1,599 c.c., and finally, 1,975 c.c. As sporting motorists, the 2-litre is the one that creates the most interest, for it fills the gap left when the Viva GT was left out of the latest Viva range.
We were able to drive a Firenze around the lanes of Bucks, as well as put in several laps of the Silverstone GP circuit and found it responsive and fast, with a top speed over 100 m.p.h. Probably the chap who would reckon to throw the car about a bit would want stiffer front suspension and wider wheels, but the basis is there.
The 2-litre engine is, of course, well tried with its belt driven o.h.c., five bearing crankshaft, and slant block. The 1,600-c.c. version is also on the same principle but we only tried an automatic, which definitely did not have the flair of the more powerful car by a long way. We look forward to testing the new Vauxhalls at greater length in the near future and feel that in the 2-litre class GM now have something to make Ford think a little.—A. R. M.