Concepts : 1970 Vauxhall SRV1

Ever wondered where the Vauxhall droopsnoots come from? Their creator Wayne Cherry honed his passion for the wedge with the sensational SRV1 of 1970.

Who’d have thought it would had led to the Vauxhall Chevette?

The thin edge of the wedge

1970 Vauxhall Safety Research Vehicle (SRV1)
1970 Vauxhall Safety Research Vehicle (SRV1)

Presented at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1970, the Vauxhall SRV1 (Styling Research Vehicle) was a radical looking car that echoed the dramatic designs coming out of Italy at the time. It was penned by a new designer at Vauxhall in Luton, Wayne Cherry, who envisaged that a vehicle designed for safety should have the profile resembling a scalpel blade!

Under the fripperies of a motor show flight of fancy, SRV1 had some interesting and prescient features.  It had an electrically adjustable front spoiler in the nose, and multiple petrol tanks that ensured even weight distribution regardless of fuel load. Inside, the dashboard, hinged away from the driver with the door, and the seat was fixed, surrounded by a full complement of adjustable controls.

Following the critical acclaim of the SRV1, Wayne Cherry was promoted to deputy director of Vauxhall’s styling department in 1971, before assuming control in 1975. The cars that Cherry oversaw to the marketplace were the Vauxhall Firenza Droopsnoot, Vauxhall Chevette (and the UK designed hatchback), Cavalier Mk1, Carlton Mk1, as well as a number of concepts, such as the Silver Aero and Equus roadster. Luton’s design influence receded into the 1980s, so we missed out on the droop-snoot T-Car Vauxhall Astra and Cavalier Mk2 that were in the pipeine, when design autonomy was handed to Russelsheim.

Cherry’s period of control coincided with Vauxhall’s mid-’70s renaissance, however, and led to its styling chief enjoying a stellar career with the General, that saw him assume control of Opel’s (and therefore European) design in 1983 before heading off to the USA to become GM’s Vice President of design.

As for the SRV1 – it’s a wonderful irrelevance today. And a stylish one at that.

1970 Vauxhall Safety Research Vehicle (SRV1)
1970 Vauxhall Safety Research Vehicle (SRV1)
Keith Adams


  1. Put a modern V12 in there and you could market that as a full-on hypercar. I’ve seen modern prototypes that aren’t half as mental to look at as that is.

  2. It’s a Vauxhall?? From the days when they had proper autonomy and could do this kind of thing. Cherry’s Equus from later the same decade was a kind of last hurrah before design went over to Opel. I do like the fact that Vauxhall/Opel, for all it’s ‘rep car’ reputation, comes up with wild stuff like this from time to time (cf Lotus Carlton, VX220, Monaro).

  3. Look at any episode of Gerry Anderson’s “Thunderbirds” and you’ll see where they got their ideas from

  4. Wayne Cherry styled the Calibra too an amazing futuristic car even by today’s standards.
    Had an astral silver 4×4 Turbo back in `94 unfortunately not reliable as it had transfer box issues. Tyre wear observation was critical for box longevity. If you had more than 2mm tyre tread depth difference from front to back then it would wind up the viscous coupling in the transfer box then a bill the wrong side of £3000. If you had tyre damage on one tyre then you had to replace the whole set of four!
    Wish GM brought out the Lotus Calibra. It was planned for launch in ’91 with RWD 3.6 litre Lotus Carlton Engine etc, however was canned due to insurance issues, joyriders hotters etc.
    There are pictures of a Lotus Carlton engined Calibra not sure if they are photoshopped though.

  5. Can’t see anything remotely “safe” in that though, i mean no pedestrian impact and it looks as though if you rear ended a mini it would go through the windscreen, let alone a lorry.

    Looks good, but seems a bit of a waste of resources, no chance that was ever going to be built in any form and doesn’t appear to lend anything to the range that was built.

  6. Agree with Dennis a bit, in this age of safety, car bonnets are now closer in resemblance to a 2CV than a razor.

    Also the average SUV would just drive over it (and, from what I’ve observed on the roads, a scary amount of SUV drivers wouldn’t even notice!!!).

  7. Following the last couple of posts, do we have any information as to just how high (or not) it actually was?

    Is the roof at knee height, thigh height, or ankle height?

  8. I vaguely remember this car – just. In the late 1960s Vauxhall set up a club/division called the “Vauxhall Craftsmans Guild” for young budding car designers to design and build their own models of Vauxhall cars of the future. The winner of an annual competition got an all expenses trip to GM in the USA.

    I joined that club… had the lapel badge but never built a model!

  9. “I vaguely remember this car – just. In the late 1960s Vauxhall set up a club/division called the “Vauxhall Craftsmans Guild” for young budding car designers to design and build their own models of Vauxhall cars of the future. The winner of an annual competition got an all expenses trip to GM in the USA.
    I joined that club… had the lapel badge but never built a model!”

    Me too – I got a set of 4 rubber wheels – but the model never left my head!


  10. Matchbox made the Guildsman – a very different thing from that competition. The SRV’s not related to that at all.

    Here’s the Guildsman:

  11. Wayne Cherry – quite a visionary designer – he pre-empted the smooth-fronted cars we had in the 80s, the shovel front, championed the new-fangled European hatchback at a time when UK car manufacturers were producing saloons, and gave Vauxhall UK a cool, unified image, following years of stagnation. I remember the Equus, Chevette Black Magic and Firenza drop-snoot well from visits to my local Vauxhall/Opel dealer as a child – always hoped my Dad would buy a new-fangled Carlton (he didn’t, we had 3 VX-series estates instead!)

  12. Matchbox lost the plot in the early 1970’s making custom concept and fantasy motors back then and missed a lot of UK/European cars to model thanks to erem? Hotwheels.

    Nothing bad about that but it was a shame it was not a seprete line next to 1-75 range production cars but Majorette, Lone Star and others filled the gaps I was gutted growing up in the eighties they did not make BL/Ford/Vauxhall cars we know.

    The Guildsmans a good model in its own right pity no FE Victor to go with it However Lonestar did the Firenza coupe and I have got one mint and boxed.
    Also the SRV1 was modelled by spainish firm (Pilen) something.

  13. @15 Chris Pryor… Yes Chris, I remember the VCG supplied scale wheels and tyres for the modellers cars. Actually I think the club was a good set-up at the time. I also still have the Dinky model of Ed Strakers car from UFO (gold) the real one was a brown colour.

  14. @17 I had the Guildsmen as well. Back in the early 80’s Matchbox got to expensive, Corgi’s went pants and Majorette seem to disappear. I remember going on holiday in about 88 to Great Yarmouth and a shop there were selling a german brand – can’t remember the name – and I got an Audi and a BMW. They were so supperior a quality. Now I see the quality that my cousins son has and they are terrible quality.

  15. A little dated now but a design that would have loked fresh at least through the whole of the seventies.

    I’m pretty sure Roy Haynes wouldn’t have designed the HC Viva. He went from Ford to BLMC and would have been designing the Marina when the HC was penned.

  16. @Simon Hodgetts – I just put ‘did Roy Haynes style the Viva HC?’ into Google and several references came bcak to suggest that he did ( eg ). Which implies he did the mk2 Cortina, the Marina and that Viva – pretty good going.

  17. @29 Not necessarily – the HC was launched in 1970, the Mk2 Cortina 1966 – so Haynes may have had a stint at Vauxhall from ’65 – ’69 – enabling him to work on the Viva, or perhaps he was a freelancer? I’ve read on a couple of Viva websites that he worked on it……does anyone have a contact at the Vauxhall museum in Luton who can shed some light? Or is it time for a Vauxhall UK story???

  18. @daveh (#27) – That German brand may have been Siku, they were (and still are) sort of the German alternative to Matchbox and Majorette.

  19. I once had the privilege of sitting in two concept cars from the 1950’s by Alfa Romeo I think… The two together were worth around half a million in the mid 90s. They didnt look far off this to be honest. The interiors were absolutely mad. Think a cross between the inside of a MiG17PF and an Avenger GLS. The entire dashboard from door to door was dials, everything that could be measured was measured and they all worked. Everything else was black faux-leather – its hazy but I think one of the pair actually had gullwing doors.

    But why, oh why, Vauxhall did you come up with this and then produce the Cavalier and Chevette. It couldnt have been that hard to productionise. Instead you came up with a range that had the common thread – that ‘oh dear’ doleful sort of expression someone would get in between the time they realise they’ve just sat on a landmine and the time they, to quote blackadder, ‘leap 200 feet into the air, and scatter themselves over a wide area’.

    As to the Calibra, its ok, but it sorta looks a little chubby to me. Notwithstanding the fact that the entire FTM population of my area owned them to a man, which doesnt help with their local street cred. (Although to be fair I think every single available colour and version available was lined up at the bottom of East Hill that particular day – a mini Calibra Rally). If I remember I counted 9 of them.

  20. @ Nick Chung.

    Wasnt there another problem with the 4×4 Calibras?

    Something to do with the electronics controlling the 4×4 system that meant they’d go berserk and cook themselves, along with anything else in the circuit – usually at the most inopportune moments?

    I remember there being a furore about it at the time because the way it failed was pretty dangerous.

  21. @28. You are correct, Roy Haynes styled the HC and also the flat-front Firenza.

    At one time I had a Magnum 2 door Saloon and 2 Firenza Flat-Fronts at the same time. i sold my last Magnum Coupe in 2002

    I also have a copy of Vaxhall Motorist Magazine with the SRV on the cover.

  22. Ron Haynes never worked on a Vauxhall. He was a Ford designer and later worked for British Leyland.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Roy D. Haynes was a British automobile designer. Haynes worked for Ford where he was responsible for the design of the 1966 Cortina MkII. In 1967 he moved to BMC [1] where he created the 1969 Mini Clubman facelift for the Mini, and where he designed the 1971 Morris Marina.
    Haynes was replaced as chief stylist of, what was by then, British Leyland in 1970 by Harris Mann. In 1976 Roy Haynes formed ElecTraction Ltd Maldon,Essex & designed several electric vehicles.

    Wayne K Cherry

  23. @ Wayne K Cherry
    It’s great to have you on AROnline. If you do decide to be interviewed, it will be appreciated by all on this site.

  24. Echo the above- would be good to see an interview here, Mr Cherry, should you consent.

    Your styling work on 1970’s Vauxhalls added a little bit of pizzazz to an otherwise fairly dull marque- I always likes the Firenza frontal styling in particular (never much cared for the basic Viva though- my Dad had one). Ford must have been pretty impressed since they nicked the idea for dressing up the ‘Plain Jane’ Escort RS2000!

    Anyone remember Baby Bertha? A Firenza based race car piloted by Gerry Marshall. Saw some footage a couple of years ago- magic!

  25. @41- Frankie- Big Bertha was based on the Ventora (which was a Victor with a bigger engine)- I think it was the Aussie Holden variety- which meant that it made nice noises but couldn’t go round corners!

    I’m sure a well-prepped Mini in the right hands would have run rings around it on our tight and twisty tracks.

  26. Re Viva HC styling, the name David Jones rings a bell, although he may have done only the Firenza coupe (flat front). This is a distant memory from the book “Vauxhall” which was published in the very early 1980s.

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