For many the Chevette HSR remains the ultimate example of a Group 4 rally car, a stunningly ambitious attempt by Dealer Team Vauxhall to build ‘a better Escort’ and to beat Ford at its own game. The owner of the Chevette you see here, one Alasdair Stables, probably agrees, not least as it is a car he’s spent a good portion of his life attempting to perfect.
Alasdair was keen to build the HSR he’d lusted after in his formative driving years, back when he’d been bowled over by an advert for ‘extra wide HSR tarmac arches’ in the back of an old copy of ‘Cars & Car Conversions.’ Pretty much everything you see on the car now stems from that moment, though Alasdair’s desire to build a Chevette Tony Pond would’ve been proud of hasn’t prevented him from stamping his personality onto the car – this is by no means a straight-up HSR replica, it’s much more personal than that.
Our task was made that bit easier by Alasdair having already purchased a suitable bodyshell, one he’d even had strengthened in readiness for a life spent tearing down special stages. It had even been lengthened by a full 50mm, just like the works cars engineered by DTV at the end of the ’70s. Not that this prevented us from going to down on the shell, stripping it down to bare metal and adding further strengthening modifications where required (including the roll-cage), just to be on the safe side. Said shell was eventually treated to a coat of gloss grey paint (actually a current Alfa Romeo shade), with black graphics to complement the monochrome effect while also paying homage to the DTV original.
The engine within the nose of Alasdair’s Chevette is a 2.3, much like the motor favoured by Vauxhall in the HSR. That’s where the similarities end though, as we opted to ditch the venerable ‘slant four’ in favour of something a little more modern and with far greater performance potential – the C20XE ‘Redtop.’ The Paul Exon built engine boasts forged rods and pistons, competition cams with suitably aggressive profiles and enlarged valves, with Jenvey throttle bodies and a Simpson Racing manifold and exhaust system for good measure.
The result? A thumping 280bhp, all routed through a Quaife sequential gearbox and a five-linked Atlas axle, with custom suspension to help Alasdair make the most of it.
We’ve always been about blending the old and the new, hence why we opted to add in a suite of Live Racing electronic controls. These now govern pretty much all aspects of the car via a Power Distribution Unit (PDU) and can, thanks to a mix of CANBUS mastery and the miracle of 3D printing, be controlled from a centre console mounted keypad.
The best bit about this build? Well, aside from the lashings of custom work and advanced suite of electronics that honour must go to the manner in which Alasdair plans on driving the Chevette now it’s complete – properly! Keep your eyes peeled for this Chevette blatting down a tarmac special stage in the near future.
Browse the images below to learn more about this Retropower project, or get in touch if they’ve inspired you to commission us to build you something equally unique.