Vauxhall and Opel are going back to the future at this year’s Geneva Motor Show with the stunning GT Concept. By paying homage to the 1966 Vauxhall XVR and Opel Experimental GT of 1965, Vauxhall-Opel claims the GT represents its vision of a sports car of the future.
So does this mean we could be looking at a third generation Vauxhall Tigra? Perhaps not, because by using words such as ‘template’ and phrases like ‘points to Vauxhall/Opel’s ever-evolving design philosophy’, the companies are saying this is little more than a show car.
GT Concept: front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive
Let’s consider the obstacles. Sure, the front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis will appeal to the enthusiasts, but Vauxhall-Opel doesn’t have a platform upon which to base a small rear-wheel-drive sports car. Simple things like the lack of door handles and door mirrors are classic show concept touches that are easier to overcome. Just don’t expect to find red tyres at your local Kwik-Fit.
Then there’s the brand profile. The new Corsa and Astra represent a huge step forward for Vauxhall, with both cars no longer feeling like they’re doing little more than treading water in their respective sectors. With OnStar, the company also has a unique selling point to offer customers. All well and good, but hardly sexy.
There’s one car from the back catalogue that provides a glimmer of hope, though. The last time Vauxhall and Opel brought sexy back it turned to Hethel. The Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster project was an expensive reworking of the Elise and cars were built alongside the Lotus in Norfolk. Sadly, Vauxhall failed to capitalise on the injection of added fruit and nut.
GT Concept: 1.0-litre turbocharged engine
Right, so back to the car in question. The GT Concept is powered by the really-rather-good 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine you’d find in the Adam, Corsa and Astra. Developing 145hp and 151lb ft of torque, the engine helps propel the lightweight GT Concept to 62mph in less than 8.0 seconds. The top speed is a claimed 134mph.
Design highlights include large electrically-powered doors with integrated side windows, with a pair of touchpads used to provide access to the cabin. Note how the doors open into the front arches, using what Vauxhall-Opel is calling a ‘space-saving and patented mounting’, allowing for a large opening angle in tight parking spaces.
The GT Concept also features two cameras mounted behind the wheelarches, designed to provide enhanced visibility in the city. Images are transmitted to two monitors on the left- and right-hand sides of the cabin, rendering external mirrors obsolete. At least that’s what Vauxhall-Opel is claiming.
Other features of note include the integrated headlight/indicator units, with a three-dimensional beam providing glare-free high-beam driving. They’re based on the excellent IntelliLux LED matrix lighting we first experienced in the new Astra.
Speaking about the Geneva concept, Mark Adams, vice president design Europe, said: “We created the GT Concept to capture the bold, emotional spirit of both the Vauxhall and Opel brands. It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue.
“In the mid-Sixties, Vauxhall and Opel created their own interpretations of a light-weight sports car – the XVR and the Experimental GT – both of which were thoroughly modern with dynamic sculptural forms. It’s certainly difficult to reinvent iconic concepts like these, but just as each was avant-garde back then, so too is this GT Concept today – absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising.”
The Concept GT will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
One they made earlier: Vauxhall XVR
The XVR project was managed by Wayne Cherry and was inspired by GM concepts in the US, most notably the 1965 Mako Shark II. The Xperimental Vauxhall Research (XVR) featured gullwing doors, a split windscreen, a clamshell bonnet and pop-up headlights.
Three cars were built, including one powered by a 2.0-litre engine and capable of reaching speeds up to 100mph. Like the Concept GT, the XVR influenced future Vauxhall products, including the Viva HC and Firenza.
Another one they made earlier: Opel Experimental GT
First shown at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Experimental GT became a production reality in the form of the stunning Opel GT. Like the XVR, its styling was influenced by parent company General Motors, most notably the Corvette.