1980 Vauxhall Chevette


  • Year of manufacture 
  • Car type 
  • Lot number 
  • Drive 
  • Condition 
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  • Exterior colour 
  • Gearbox 


"In 1976, at the instigation of new chairman Bob Price, Vauxhall decided to increase their profile in international rallying. They developed a rally version of the Chevette in conjunction with Blydenstein Racing, which ran Dealer Team Vauxhall, the nearest equivalent to a 'works' (manufacturer run) competition team that GM policy would allow. 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 vehicles for public sale. Vauxhall created a far more powerful Chevette variant by fitting the 2.3 litre slant-four engine, using a 16-valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing - though the rally cars used the Lotus 16-valve head until a rule change by the FIA banned them in 1978. The HS became a great success as a rally car, chalking up notable wins for drivers such as Pentti Airikkala, Jimmy McRae and Tony Pond. It was a challenge to the most successful rally car of the time, the Ford Escort, winning the British Open Rally Championship for drivers in 1979 and for manufacturers in 1981. It was also successful in other national rally championships, such as Belgium's. To keep the rally car competitive into the 1980s an evolution version, the Chevette HSR, was developed which was successful for several more years. The rear wheel arch extensions are fibreglass, with lightweight tailgate and spoiler.
In period, the HSRs beat the Quattro on tarmac, not on Forrest sections obviously because the Quattro was four-wheel-drive. However, it did beat Walter Röhrl driving a 911 RS when he was World Rally Champion! He was also beaten on the Manx in an HSR, which is on YouTube and well worth a watch. The HSRs were the tarmac rally car to have in the day. All hand-built, you could have any spec you wanted, it just depended on your budget. Standard, the road cars were 135bhp to start with but could go anywhere up to 200+ depending on how much you were willing to pay. The Works rally cars were between 240bhp and 250bhp. Other modifications which were carried out at the Shepreth works included a twin plate clutch, four-link and Panhard axle location and the engine was moved four inches back (hence LWB). We understand that only 30 of them were built by the factory, and there are 28 left, we believe, as two were written off back in the day.
This fantastic example was entered by Vauxhall-Ireland in 1981 and campaigned by Dessie McCartney on mainly tarmac events with some success. In 1985 however, James Doherty entered this car into the Shell Oils National Rally Championship in Ireland and won it! This fantastic achievement is documented in the history file. The car has competed in rallies more recently with the previous owner and the present owner has just had it resprayed which looks fantastic. It is important to note that this car retains its original bodyshell and had a full mechanical rebuild 400 kilometres ago, which included the stripping and rebuilding of the engine, gearbox and axle (seat belts are also in date). The history file contains many invoices and also its buff log book from when it was registered in Ireland in 1981 (it was first registered in the UK in 1980 when manufactured), a 2018 MSA Historic Technical Passport which expires 31/12/2028 and an MSA issued Competition Car logbook from 2007. This is a superb example of the rarest of homologated rally cars which is on the button and ready to be used in anger!"