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The Vauxhall Chevette was a model of car manufactured by Vauxhall in the UK from 1975 to 1983. It was Vauxhall's version of the family of small "T-Cars" from Vauxhall's parent General Motors (GM); the family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in Australia, the Chevrolet Chevette in the United States, Canada and Brazil and a badge-engineered Pontiac Acadian/Pontiac T1000 across North America.
In 1976, at the instigation of new chairman Bob Price, Vauxhall decided to increase their profile in international rallying. In conjunction with Blydenstein Racing, who ran Dealer Team Vauxhall, the nearest thing to a 'works' competition effort, they developed 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, using a sixteen valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing. Suspension and rear axle were from the Opel Kadett C GT/E, while the gearbox was a Getrag 5-speed. Chevrolet Vega Alloy wheels (similar in appearance to the Avon wheels used on the droopsnoot Firenza) were used, as well as a newly developed glass-reinforced plastic air dam.
The resulting car was extremely fast, with 135 hp (100 kW), and a far cry from the small-engined Chevettes from which it was developed. In order to compete in international rallying, the car had to be homologated; for Group 4, the class the HS was to compete in, this meant building 400 production examples. The result was an incredibly fast and well handling, if rather unrefined, road car. Like the Droopsnoot Firenza, the HS was available only in silver, with red highlighting and a bright red, black and tartan interior; though (partly to help sell unsold vehicles) some cars were repainted black, such the Mamos Garage HS-X.
The HS was a great success as a rally car, clocking up notable wins for drivers such as Tony Pond. It advanced the state of the art in world-class rallying quite significantly, and was a challenge to the most successful rally car of all time, the Ford Escort, which had dominated the sport. 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, an evolution version, the Chevette HSR, was developed, which held its own for several more years into the early 1980s. Evolution demanded a production run of 10% of the original build incorporating the new modifications; these were made by rebuilding unsold HSs and by modifying customers' vehicles. However, the merger of the Vauxhall and Opel marketing departments had already resulted in Dealer Team Vauxhall and Dealer Opel Team (DOT) joining to form GM Dealer Sport (GMDS); with the Chevette soon to be obsolete, Opel were able to force the cancellation of the HSR rally programme in favour of the Manta 400.
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Design quirks and oddities Edit
Richard Wilson used to own a Vauxhall Chevette and was using one on the last program of the series Britians Best Drives
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