Another battle, another lighthearted comparison between two icons of the Vauxhall world, this time it’s the Chevette HSR and the Manta 400.
Okay, so these two are equally cool, but we thought it’d be worth comparing the offerings from Shepreth and Rüsselsheim. The HSR was an evolution of the HS, and as such was homologated with some of the earlier car’s shortcomings. This included limited room for suspension travel, and an engine that was nearing the end of its development life.
The upside was that the ‘slant four’ – when coupled with a 16v head – was a snorting monster of an engine, and a reliable one to boot. It meant that DTV could be pretty confident in their cars getting to the finish of even the toughest events, and this certainly played a part in the HSR’s success on the Manx and Scottish Rallys and Circuit of Ireland.
This is a bit unfair as the Manta 400 was a Group B car, effectively deigned to replace the HSR! The Manta was effectively an evolution of the Ascona 400, but it was homologated for the then new Group B rules, allowing greater freedom to tune the car. That meant a Cosworth designed head and a rock-solid diesel crank. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, and early cars were frustratingly unreliable and outgunned. Though the reliability was eventually cured, the rear-wheel drive Manta was always up against it, and its DCOE induction and NA setup effectively limited it to the 300bhp mark.
That said, the Manta did prove to be an effective rally car, especially on sealed surface events, and it eventually established itself as the car to beat on events like the Manx and Circuit of Ireland. It wasn’t half bad on the rough, either, and a Manta 400 came achingly close to winning the roughest event of all, the 1984 Safari.
WINNER : manta 400
Both had their limitations, but it was the Manta that earned itself a place amongst the Group B greats, though we’ve no doubt that plenty of you will wholeheartedly disagree with the decision!