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Curios: Vauxhall Sportshatch

Published 27 March 2015

Any ‘Droop Snoot’ Vauxhall of the Seventies is a pretty special beast, but the example you see here – officially known as the Vauxhall Sportshatch – is one of the most fascinating of all. And with only 197 examples built in total, it’s also one of the rarest.

The 1976-only Sportshatch was based around the Vauxhall Magnum Estate of the time, but fitted with the famous (and slippery looking) front end of the HP Firenza coupe. The HP was meant to be a new sporting flagship for Vauxhall, with anticipated sales of around 2000 a year. In the end, however, just over 200 were built in total, leaving Vauxhall with a large quantity of its ‘Droop Snoot’ nose cones left over.

What could the Luton firm do with them? The unlikely but intriguing answer was to fit them to a modified version of the Magnum Estate, which would then go by the name of Sportshatch. And while we take high-performance estates for granted these days, this was pretty revolutionary stuff for a Viva-sized model back in the 1970s.

The Sportshatch received only the single-carb version of Vauxhall’s 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, but it was still good for around 110bhp. And handling was vastly improved over the standard Magnum, as the Sportshatch came with the HP’s uprated suspension.

Each Sportshatch was finished in dark maroon with contrasting red stripes and badging, as well as Avon alloys for a sporty appearance. The end result was dramatic, eye-catching and really rather handsome. It might have been based around an estate, but thanks to its rakish lines and fastback-like styling it was a genuinely sporty looking machine. In fact, the Sportshatch was almost a precursor to the hot hatch phenomenon.

Whatever you think of the Sporthatch, its scarcity alone makes it highly collectable amongst classic Vauxhall fans. It might not have been a huge commercial success but the Sporthatch remains one of Luton’s most creative products of the 1970s.


Chris Pickering    on 22 October 2017

I bought the car in the photo from new. “Emva” created a lot of interest and was lovely to drive. It is nice to see her looking so good.

Colin Burton    on 26 March 2018

The Sportshatch did not come with the HP Firenza’s uprated suspension it was standard Magnum suspension.

Edited by Colin Burton on 26/03/2018 at 12:54

Trich    on 29 March 2018

Clour was Extra Dark Wine ,depending on light conditions it looked black ,red or a ice deep maroon ACE

Trich    on 30 March 2018

Colour was Extra Dark Wine depending on the light it looks black red or a deep maroon ace. Extremely quick comfortable and nice to drive. Distributor is rubbish so replace with electronic ignition module. Rubber suspension parts prone to falling apart.gear box a bit iffy and prop shaft seal even more so. A great car if you can maintain it and fight the rust. I loved mine but couldn't keep up with the restoration. If you find one Love it for me.......

Bronco Laine    on 14 December 2018

Worked for a main dealer in the 1970s , bought a 2 year old one of these that was a trade in .
Fitted twin dellorto twin chokes , big valve head and sports cam , set it up on rolling road and it was superb but a bit scary at 120mph !
Just another motor I regret selling !

RFS 400P if its still out there

Jeffrey Alan Tyrrell    on 28 August 2022

I bought one in 1978, MTY 717 R first reg. 1976. I rolled it into my garage in the early 80's and it stayed there till 2007. This was due to a variety of reasons, but then I decided to sell my house and subsequently gave the car away. I often wonder what happened to it. Anyone out there with a story?

   on 3 August 2023

I have one of these cars , my mum bought it in Luton 1980 ish we kept it through the family for few years till a lotus Sunbeam came along
Sold it then many years later 2008 saw it in bits on the web bought it back and shipped it to Australia it’s awesome big valve head twin Dellorto’s Kent Cam optronic ignition 5 speed box Lsd axle HPF bottom and top arms poly bushed through out Quick rack Bilstiens yes it’s my favourite rocket ship on Oz rego plate 2300HC it’s an even rarer sight down under

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