Vauxhall in a Decade-a-Day

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Vauxhall XVR concept

Number 7 in our Decade-a-Day series is a product from what was, for 20 years, the UK’s leading design facility: Vauxhall’s Design & Engineering Centre. The XVR was so nearly a production reality, but Opel’s GT – a similar design and concept – failed commercially, which gave Vauxhall cold feet.

And since the XVR is inextricably linked with what was to become Griffin House in Luton, we’ve also attached a tribute to that building, written for the employees who vacated it last year.

Built to showcase Vauxhall’s design innovation and autonomy in the mid-Sixties, the XVR project was managed by the legendary Wayne Cherry at Luton’s industry-leading Design & Engineering Centre, later to become Vauxhall’s Griffin House HQ.

Inspired by parent company GM’s work with concepts in the US – including the ‘65 Mako Shark II – the XVR (Xperimental Vauxhall Research) had a simple purity of line, gull-wing doors forming a unique split windscreen, a clam-shell bonnet and pop-up headlights.

Three cars were built, including a 100mph driveable vehicle with a 1.6-litre engine producing 74bhp (see photograph). And while the car never reached production, design cues like the ultra-slim rear lights could later be seen in Vauxhall’s Viva HC and Firenza models.

‘Uncompromising in its styling treatment, the XVR shows the future trend in world automotive design’, said Vauxhall’s Director of Design, David Jones, when he revealed the Luton company’s radical concept at the Geneva Motorshow in 1966.

Technical Data:

Body: 2-seat sports coupe

Engine: 4 cylinders in-line

Engine Capacity: 1,595cc

Top Speed: 100mph

0-60mph: n/a

Fuel Consumption: n/a

Transmission: RWD, 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox, limited slip differential