The Oldsmobile Firenza was a compact car, produced by Oldsmobile from 1982 to 1988. It was based on the front-wheel drive GM J platform, shared with the Buick Skyhawk, Cadillac Cimarron, Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird, it was not based on the European market Vauxhall Firenza, but on the same platform as the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2 / Opel Ascona C. The all-new Firenza was introduced in March 1982, as a replacement for the departed rear-wheel drive Starfire. Available as a 2-door hatchback and 4-door sedan, the lineup was expanded to include a 4-door "Cruiser" wagon in 1983, a 2-door notchback coupe in 1986; the name "Cruiser" was applied to all Oldsmobile station wagons at the time. The Firenza was positioned as Oldsmobile's entry-level compact car, priced below the sightly larger Omega and Calais/Cutlass Calais. Despite this, the Firenza could be equipped with premium options such as power windows, power locks, 14-inch alloy wheels, it is named for the Italian translation of the city of Florence.
Although related to its J-body siblings, the Oldsmobile Firenza was badge engineered with distinctively Oldsmobile front and rear end styling found on larger Oldsmobiles of the time. The upper portion of the Firenza front end featured quad rectangular headlights separated by signal lights in recessed housings, with a sloped body-color panel between the recesses. A horizontal-barred grille was mounted in the lower portion of the front fascia; the rear featured nearly square taillights with a slight wraparound at the outboard ends of the upper rear panel. The Firenza was launched with a 2.0-liter OHV inline four-cylinder engine as the sole powerplant, but an overhead-cam 1.8-liter engine was added during the model year. Oldsmobile did not utilize the turbo on these engines, Buick did offer the turbo. Wraparound amber turn signal lights were added outboard of the headlights for 1984. In 1985 the 2.8 L LB6 V6 was added on the GT package. The GT was only available on the S Coupe, unlike Chevy Z24, Buick Skyhawk T-Type, Pontiac Sunbird GT could be had as either hatchbacks or 2 door sedan.
GT's first were introduced in 1983, 65 were built. FE3 suspension was included in the package with a rear stabilizer bar, heavier struts all the way around, with a wider tire offering on the polycast wheels as standard for the GT package. 1984. 2312 - GT's were produced, less than 20% were white. Engines either were the 1.8 liter. The GT for 1985 - 498 built. 1987 GT - 783 built. Interesting note. 1988 the designation became "International Series", replacing GT. The Firenza ES sedan 1984. Not much is known of this offering, it had blacked out headlight bezels and blacked out trim on the tail lights, the interior upholstry used the same two color gray combo and red piping as with all the GT's; this was offered as a 4 door GT idea, with the same polycast wheels, heavier suspension, used on the 1983 and 1984 GT hatchbacks. They were only offered in a dark silver body color. For the Firenza's last model year, 1988, it received a new open grille, aerodynamic composite headlamps, tail lights, styled after those of the Cutlass Ciera.
For the Firenza's final year, the hatchback was dropped along with the V6, leaving just the four-cylinder notchback coupe and wagon models. For 1988, all previous trim level designations were dropped. All Firenza bodystyles came in a single unnamed base model that could be equipped with six various option packages; the Firenza was never a strong seller for Oldsmobile. In keeping with its premium image, Oldsmobile always had better luck selling larger, better equipped cars, most notably its wide range of Cutlass models. Part of this was due to Oldsmobile management fought hard not to have to sell the J body cars, but had to, due to keeping the division EPA mpg mileage average up, to meet GM corporate rules, thus Oldsmobile did not promote this car well, was putting their effort toward the Cutlass Calias. To blame was competition from its rebadged J-body siblings. Sales of the Cavalier and Sunbird annually dwarfed the Firenza, as they better fit into Chevrolet and Pontiac's value-oriented brand portfolios.
Due to this, the Firenza was not replaced in Oldsmobile's lineup, leaving the Cutlass Calais as the division's smallest car. The Cimarron was discontinued that year as well. Leeds Assembly, which built the Firenza, was closed; the Skyhawk lasted another year, while GM kept the first-generation
Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II is a 2009 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the second major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, a sequel to 2007's Assassin's Creed; the game was first released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2009, was made available on Microsoft Windows in March 2010 and OS X in October 2010. Several minor game related features could be redeemed on Uplay and three downloadable expansion packs were released on Xbox Live; the plot is set in a fictional history setting and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, the Knights Templars, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and follows Desmond Miles as he relives the genetic memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze; the main narrative takes place at the height of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th and early 16th century. Players can explore Florence, Venice and Forlì as they guide Ezio on a quest for vengeance against those responsible for betraying his family.
The primary focus is to utilize the player's combat and stealth abilities, as Desmond begins to uncover the mysteries left behind by an ancient race known as the First Civilization in the hope of ending the conflict between the Assassins and Templars. Using a newly updated Anvil game engine, Assassin's Creed II began development shortly after the release of Assassin's Creed; the game received critical acclaim from video game publications, with praise directed towards its Renaissance setting, characters, map design, visuals, as well as improvements from its predecessor. It has sold more than 9 million copies, it is considered to be one of the best games made, it popularized the Assassin's Creed franchise. The PC version was met with some criticism in relation to the digital rights management system, thus had the always-online DRM permanently removed; the game spawned a follow-up, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and its direct sequel, Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Remastered versions of all three games were released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 15, 2016, as part of The Ezio Collection.
Players directly control the on-screen character through a third-person perspective and can control the camera, allowing for a 360° view of their surroundings. The game takes place in an open world environment with nonlinear gameplay, allowing the player to roam within several regions of late fifteenth-century Italy such as Venice, Monteriggioni, Forlì, San Gimignano and the Tuscan countryside; the Animus 2.0, a new version of the machine of the same name present in Assassin's Creed, provides in-game context for changes and additions to several game elements. A database is available, providing extra historical information about key landmarks and services that the player encounters; the health system has been made more dynamic, with synchronization to the Animus and causing the character to recover only from minor injuries. More grievous injuries require visiting a street-side use of medicine; the player may now swim in water, Eagle Vision—the ability to identify specific people and landmarks—can now be used in third-person view and while moving.
A young Leonardo da Vinci is present in the game, aiding the player by creating new weapons from translated "Codex pages" that Altaïr, the original game's main character, left behind for future Assassins' analysis and insight. Within the game, the player will be able to use Leonardo's flying machine during one mission; the player has the ability to control a carriage in one level, can row gondolas, as well as ride horses at any point in the game where they are available between towns and cities. The setting of the various places the player may go to have been made more in-depth. Additionally, the player can hire different groups of NPCs, such as mercenaries, courtesans, or thieves. A day and night cycle has been added to the game, giving the game more of a sense of time, in addition to setting missions and events at certain times of the day. There are many ways to interact with NPCs. Money can be thrown to the ground, or a corpse carried and deposited on the ground, may serve as a distraction for both guards and peasants.
There are several different types of enemies, some more agile or stronger than others, some of which will search hiding places where Ezio was last seen. The combat system is more complex than that of its predecessor, with the ability to disarm opponents using counter-attacks while unarmed. If the player steals an enemy's weapon, it is possible to follow up with an attack that kills the enemy. Da Vinci provides the player with specialized weaponry, such as the dual hidden blades, poison blade, the miniature wheellock firearm, which are all based on schematics found in Altaïr's Codex pages. Generic swords, maces and daggers can all be purchased from vendors in each city; the player can pick up any weapon on the ground or use improvised weapons, such as brooms or halves of a spear. These weapons are used just like normal blunt weapons. In addition, players are able to purchase artwork for their villa, obtain new armor as the game progresses, dye Ezio's clothing with a number of different colors.
Other equipment includes larger pouches to carry medicine. Six additional weapons can be unlocked by connecting a PSP with Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines to the PS3; the Auditore family's countryside vil
Magical creatures in Harry Potter
Magical creatures are an aspect of the fictional wizarding world contained in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Throughout the seven books of the series and his friends come across many of these creatures on their adventures, as well as in the Care of Magical Creatures class at Hogwarts. Rowling has written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a guide to the magical beasts found in the series. Many of these are derived from folklore Greek mythology, but British and Scandinavian folklore. Many of the legends surrounding mythical creatures are incorporated in the books. "Children... know that I didn't invent unicorns, but I've had to explain that I didn't invent hippogriffs," Rowling told Stephen Fry in an interview for BBC Radio 4. "When I do use a creature that I know is a mythological entity, I like to find out as much as I can about it. I might not use it, but to make it as consistent as I feel is good for my plot."Some creatures in the series are ordinary animals, but may be imbued with magical properties.
Owls, for example, deliver mail and have the ability to find the recipient regardless of their location. Other animals such as cats and rats do not have magical abilities. In the Harry Potter franchise, Magizoology is the study of magical creatures. A person who studies Magizoology is known as a magizoologist. There are magizoologists who work in the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. One notable magizoologist is Newt Scamander, who in the universe of the series, is the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, an approved textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on magical creatures, popular in the wizarding world; the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures of the Ministry of Magic is responsible for overseeing and regulating magical creatures. It is divided into three divisions: the Beast Division, the Being Division, the Spirit Division. A "being" is defined, according to Fantastic Beasts, as "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws."
This includes humans, house-elves, goblins, veelas and vampires. According to this definition, pixies and most other creatures are classified as "beasts." Centaurs and merpeople. Werewolves and Animagi are notable because they are in human form—a werewolf transforms from human state only at the full moon, an Animagus is a human who has learned to transform into an animal at will, their classification is unclear, offices responsible for werewolves exist in both the Beast and Being Divisions. A number of creatures, such as banshees, Dementors, have never been referred to as beings or as beasts, so their legal status is unclear. Affairs related to ghosts come under the auspices of the Spirit Division. According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, creatures are put under danger categories. Five Xs means "Known wizard killer/impossible to domesticate", while four means "Dangerous/requires specialist knowledge/skilled wizard may handle", three means "Competent wizard should cope", two means "Harmless/may be domesticated", one means "boring".
Creatures that need to be treated with a sophisticated amount of respect, e.g. Centaurs, Unicorns and Merpeople, are given a XXXX rating. Below is a list of magical creatures mentioned in the Harry Potter universe; those creatures that Rowling took from myth and folklore have links to their mythological articles. The Blast-Ended Skrewt is a hybrid of a fire manticore. Inferi are neither beasts nor beings, but animated corpses with no will of their own. For a list of magical plants mentioned in the series, such as mandrakes and devil's snares, see List of fictional plants. Billywig – Vivid sapphire-blue Australian insects which are common but due to their speed are noticed by muggles, they have a long curved stinger at the bottom of their bodies. Victims stung will suffer from giddiness, followed by levitation. Several escape Newt Scamander's suitcase in Fantastic Beasts. Blast-Ended Skrewt – The Blast-Ended Skrewt is the result of a union between a Manticore and a Fire Crab. Skrewts make their debut in Goblet of Fire, as one of the creatures that Hagrid teaches the students about as Professor of Care of Magical Creatures.
The first fan to learn of the blast-ended skrewts was Catie Hoch, an eight-year-old cancer patient from Albany, New York. Hoch's mother, who had read the first three books to Hoch during her treatment for neuroblastoma, emailed Rowling to ask her when the fourth book would be released, Rowling gifted Hoch with transatlantic phone calls in which she read her extracts from the unpublished book, including explanations of the blast-ended skrewts, which Rowling described as looking like headless lobsters. Bowtruckle – An insect-eating, tree-dwelling, wooden creature, hard to spot. Rowling has written on Pottermore, they are alternatively called'the wandmaker's friend' as the trees they inhabit can be used to make wand's wood." A needy bowtruckle named Pickett plays a role in the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Pickett is revealed to be Newt Scamander's friend and Leta Lestrange's acquaintance since Newt and Leta's years at Hogwarts, as revealed in The Crimes of Grindelwald. Chimaera – A creature with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, the t
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Assassin's Creed: Revelations is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the fourth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, a direct sequel to 2010's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood; the game was released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows in November and December 2011. The plot is set in a fictional history of real-world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, the Templars, who desire peace through control; the framing story is set in the 21st century and features the series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. Revelations features two other returning protagonists: Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad in 12th and 13th century Masyaf, Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Constantinople; the main story follows the Assassin Ezio's journey to unlock the secret of Altaïr's vault in Masyaf using disc-like artifacts containing Altaïr's memories.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations is set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on using Ezio's, Desmond's, Altaïr's combat and stealth abilities to eliminate targets and explore the environment. One of the protagonists is free to explore the Assassin Base in the city of Constantinople and the city itself to complete side missions away from the primary storyline. Critical response towards the game was positive, with praise directed at the detailed environments, well-written protagonists and satisfying ending of the plot, although some reviewers noted that the gameplay of the series was getting overly familiar and the newly introduced features felt lacking in comparison to the ones introduced in previous titles of the series; the game was a large commercial success. The game was followed by Assassin's Creed III in October 2012, a direct sequel that continued the story of Desmond Miles and introduced a new 18th-century playable character. A remastered version, along with its predecessors Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 15, 2016 as part of The Ezio Collection.
The game follows the series' standard open world gameplay in the Ezio and Altaïr Sequences, where the game's main story takes place. New gameplay additions include an item called the "hookblade", which can be used to zipline across the city or grab enemies to yank them in for a combo attack; the hookblade speeds up navigation by around 30 percent and serves as a replacement to the traditional dual Hidden Blade. Along with the hookblade, Ezio has around 15 different bomb variations at his disposal, which are to be crafted; the game features new Desmond Sequences known as "Desmond's Journey", five "Dalí-esque" first-person platforming missions in a radical departure for the series. Each sequence of "Desmond's Journey" can only be unlocked by collecting a certain amount of Data Fragments hidden throughout Constantinople, or by purchasing The Lost Archive DLC. Data Fragments are a new type of collectible in Revelations, replacing the flags of previous games in the series. Added and expanded are seizing districts of the city from the Templars.
While capturing a district is similar to Brotherhood, the Templars will send reinforcements to recapture districts, which Ezio must defend using a "tower defense" minigame called den defense, where he controls a group of Assassins from rooftops against several waves of Templar soldiers and siege equipment. Similar to Brotherhood, initiates can be sent on missions to other regions wresting control from the Templars, using the city to produce a stream of income and new Assassin recruits; the game is playable in full 3D across three platforms: PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360, with the console versions supporting both stereoscopic 3D mode for 3D HDTVs and for 2D HDTVs. All Revelations gameplay and cinematics have S3D support. Like Assassin's Creed, characters based on historical figures are present in the game, including Suleiman the Magnificent, Piri Reis and Maffeo Polo, Ishak Pasha, Manuel Palaiologos, Şehzade Ahmet, Yusuf Tazim, Al Mualim, Bayezid II, Selim I, Tarik Barleti. Sofia Sartor is based on Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman by Albrecht Durer.
Multiplayer gameplay makes a return in Revelations. The mode expands the basics of online modes from Brotherhood with new locations. Players are able to customize their characters' appearance. Matchmaking and game interface are improved. Ubisoft says that although this component is returning, the narrative, considered more important to the franchise, is an area of greater focus; as players level up in the multiplayer game, they move up in their Abstergo Templar rank and gain access to more information about the company. New multiplayer modes are added to the existing modes, including "story-oriented quests", as well as a much-requested Capture the Flag mode; some multiplayer maps are based in the island of Rhodes. Among the new additions is a new multiplayer mode — Deathmatch — which differs from the previous multiplayer gameplay in that there is no compass pointing toward your assigned target, there is a box in the top right of the screen where your current target is displayed, which glows blue when you enter the line of sight of your target.
There is Simple Deathmatch, which removes the abilities and perks from the players. The multiplayer function is protected by the Uplay Passport system on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which requires a code for access. Codes are included in all new copies of the game, but are tied to a single Uplay accoun
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is a 2010 action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the third major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, a direct sequel to 2009's Assassin's Creed II; the game was first released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November and December 2010, was made available on Microsoft Windows in March and June 2011. The plot follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, the Templars, who desire peace through control; the framing story is set in the 21st century and features series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. The main story takes place after the plot of Assassin's Creed II, featuring Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Italy and his quest to restore the Assassin order, destroy his enemies: the Borgia family. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is set in an open world and presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on using Desmond and Ezio's combat and stealth abilities to eliminate targets and explore the environment.
Ezio is able to explore 16th-century Rome to complete side missions away from the primary storyline. The game introduced a multiplayer component to the series, portrayed as a Templar training program; the game received critical acclaim with critics praising its setting of Rome, gameplay improvements over its predecessor and the addition of a multiplayer mode. It won multiple awards including a BAFTA award for Best Action Game, it was followed in November 2011 by Assassin's Creed: Revelations, a direct sequel that served as a conclusion to Ezio's story and continued the story of Desmond Miles. A remastered version, along with Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 15, 2016 as part of The Ezio Collection. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is an action-adventure video game with the main emphasis on nonlinear, sandbox style gameplay, parkour movements, crowd-blending stealth and melee fighting system; the combat system features several improvements and for the first time in the series, the game offers a multiplayer mode alongside 15+ hours of single-player gameplay.
The game introduces a new management system: the player can recruit new members by destroying any of twelve "Borgia towers" around Rome where papal troops are stationed and rescuing disgruntled citizens in their districts from being harassed by guards. The player, as Ezio, can send them to assignments around Europe or call them for support during missions. Tasking the novice Assassins makes them gain experience, the player is able to customize their appearance and weapon training to some degree by spending the skill points they have earned. Assassins can die on missions. Ezio masters new gadgets, such as Leonardo da Vinci's parachute, which can be used when jumping from tall buildings, along with poison darts, a faster acting poison, a crossbow, the ability to hold and throw heavier weapons like axes; the primary setting is Rome, which has fallen into ruin due to the corrupt rule of the Borgia papacy and the Templars over the Papal States and concentrating all the wealth in the Vatican. Just like the town of Monteriggioni in Assassin's Creed II, the player is able to invest in the city, witness its development, unlock rewards.
The player has to destroy Borgia towers to free city zones from the family's influence. Completing this unlocks new missions and opportunities. Rome is larger than any of the cities in the first two installments and includes five districts: Vatican, Trans-Tiber and Antique. Unlike the previous installments, travel between different cities or regions is no longer present, as most of the action in the game takes place around the city of Rome. Instead, a series of tunnel networks throughout the city allow the player to travel to different sectors of the city with ease; however players will be able to explore the entire city of Rome, visit the harbor of Naples. The combat system has been modified. Striking first and offensive actions are more deadly in Brotherhood than previous games where counter-attacks were the most efficient. Before, this made; the AI in this game is thus more aggressive and enemies can attack simultaneously. To dispatch them, Ezio can use melee and ranged weapons at the same time, as well as introducing the hidden pistol in combat.
After killing one enemy the player can start an execution streak to dispatch multiple enemies quickly. Ezio can throw heavy weapons at his enemies. There are new enemy archetypes in addition to those seen in Assassin's Creed II such as horsemen, papal guards and others. Horses play a larger role in Brotherhood, not only used as a means of transport but as a component of acrobatic sequences and advanced combat as well, allowing ranged weapons to be used while riding them. Brotherhood introduces various types of horse-related assassinations, featuring horse-to-horse assassinations. There are environmental objects like the flower pot in Assassin's Creed II to move faster inside the city (a system of tunnels around the city allow f
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area. Florence was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages". A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the established Kingdom of Italy; the Florentine dialect forms the base of Standard Italian and it became the language of culture throughout Italy due to the prestige of the masterpieces by Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini. The city attracts millions of tourists each year, the Historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982; the city is noted for Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.
The city contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, still exerts an influence in the fields of art and politics. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Florence is an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy. Florence originated as a Roman city, after a long period as a flourishing trading and banking medieval commune, it was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, it was politically and culturally one of the most important cities in Europe and the world from the 14th to 16th centuries; the language spoken in the city during the 14th century was, still is, accepted as the Italian language. All the writers and poets in Italian literature of the golden age are in some way connected with Florence, leading to the adoption of the Florentine dialect, above all the local dialects, as a literary language of choice.
Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, they financed the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of Rome. Florence was home to the Medici, one of European history's most important noble families. Lorenzo de' Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family were popes in the early 16th century: Leo X and Clement VII. Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France and, after his death in, reigned as regent in France. Marie de' Medici married Henry IV of France and gave birth to the future King Louis XIII; the Medici reigned as Grand Dukes of Tuscany, starting with Cosimo I de' Medici in 1569 and ending with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737.
The Etruscans formed in 200 BC the small settlement of Fiesole, destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC in reprisal for supporting the populares faction in Rome. The present city of Florence was established by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named Fluentia, owing to the fact that it was built between two rivers, changed to Florentia, it was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated along the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement became an important commercial centre. In centuries to come, the city experienced turbulent periods of Ostrogothic rule, during which the city was troubled by warfare between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines, which may have caused the population to fall to as few as 1,000 people. Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Florence was conquered by Charlemagne in 774 and became part of the Duchy of Tuscany, with Lucca as capital.
The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854, Florence and Fiesole were united in one county. Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residency instead of Lucca at about 1000 AD; the Golden Age of Florentine art began around this time. In 1013, construction began on the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte; the exterior of the church was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. In 1100, Florence was a "Commune"; the city's primary resource was the Arno river, providing power and access for the industry, access to the Mediterranean sea for international trade. Another great source of strength was its industrious merchant community; the Florentine merchant banking skills became recognised in Europe after they brought decisive financial innovation to medieval fairs. This period saw the eclipse of Florence's powerful rival Pisa, the exercise of power by the mercantile elite following an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, that resulted in a set of laws called the Ordinances of Justice.
Of a population estimated at 94,00
The Firenza is a model of car offered by Vauxhall from May 1971 until 1975. It had a distinctive coupé body style and only two doors. In South Africa, it was sold as the Chevrolet Firenza until it was replaced by the Chevrolet 1300/1900 during 1975, its name is derived from Firenze, the name of the Italian city known in English as Florence. The initial Firenza was available in a base model 1159 cc overhead valve and two models with overhead camshaft, in 1598 cc and 1975 cc variants; the latter was the same engine as used in the earlier Viva GT. Some six months after launch, in December 1971, performance was boosted when the engine capacities were enlarged to 1256 cc, 1798 cc and 2279 cc respectively. All models had a front-mounted four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels. Suspension was double wishbone and coilsprings at the front, a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear; the SL model in each engine size carried the highest level of trim. The model changes in early 1972 included the introduction of a top-of-the-line 2300 Sport SL model, using the 2279 cc engine.
The 2300 Sport SL was the only version to feature the seven dial dash. The engine was an inclined four-cylinder with single overhead camshaft and twin Stromberg carburettors, producing 122 bhp; the oversquare straight four engine was renowned for its big torque curve, making the car flexible and easy to drive. The interior was equipped with bucket seats and back, to carry four persons; the centre console with heater controls and warning lights was quite distinctive and luxurious for the time. The 2300 Sport SL was raced by the Dealer Team Vauxhall, following their successes with the Viva GT. In Castrol colours, these cars enjoyed many successes. In 1973, Vauxhall acknowledged that their rather dull model range needed a makeover, developed a radical version of the Firenza, known as the High Performance Firenza, but known colloquially as the "droopsnoot" after its styled aerodynamic nose; the nose was moulded from GRP, featured two pairs of Cibié headlamps behind toughened glass covers. The overall look was somewhat reminiscent of the Renault Alpine A310, used the same headlamp units.
Several prototypes of the HP Firenza were considered with different types of front end treatment, requiring different degrees of change from the standard production front end, including cars known as Black Knight and Daytona, the latter for its resemblance to the Ferrari Daytona, a favourite of Wayne Cherry. At that time, the original flat-fronted Firenza model was rebadged as the Magnum coupé, the name Firenza was used for the HP version; this car was an exciting styling departure for Vauxhall, created something of a buzz. The engine was the 2.3-litre variant of the OHC Slant Four engine, uprated to a torquey 131 bhp using a variety of parts developed by Blydenstein Racing. It had high-lift camshaft and free-flow tubular exhaust manifold; the car was restyled on the David Jones original by American designer Wayne Cherry and the result was an exceptionally low drag coefficient for its time. Suspension was uprated and lowered, brakes uprated, a 5-speed ZF dog leg gearbox was installed, a much stronger unit than fitted to the standard model.
Another unusual feature of the car was the alloy Avon Safety Wheels, which were designed to retain the tyre safely in the event of a puncture. This was the first car to use these wheels in production. All production cars were painted in the same colour - Silver Starfire, featured a black interior with silver-grey cloth seats. An unusual interior feature of dubious utility was the passenger grab handle on the dash in place of the standard glovebox; the car was a design triumph but a marketing failure. The car was launched to much publicity in a special one-off race at Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, with top drivers of the day taking part including Gerry Marshall and Barry "Whizzo" Williams, who won the race. However, the fuel crisis of the time meant that it became hard to sell gas-guzzling cars like this, coupled with some production line difficulties in building the car meant that sales and delivery were slow, just 204 examples were built, far short of the 30,000 projected; this low volume was a disaster for Vauxhall, but it has led to the car becoming a collectible classic, thus ensuring its survival—some of the much more common production cars produced alongside it can be now harder to find.
Celebrity owners of droopsnoot Firenzas are footballer Luther Blissett and disgraced former sports commentator Stuart Hall. The Firenza was very successful in saloon car racing in the 1970s in its Old Nail and Baby Bertha versions, piloted to great effect by Gerry Marshall. Despite the low production run, the aerodynamic qualities and styling of the "droopsnoot" were incorporated, with improved productionisation, into most of Vauxhall's remaining 1970s new models: the Chevette and Carlton; the Firenza can be seen as a styling prototype for these models. Its influence can be judged from the fact that Ford adopted a similar look for its Mk II RS2000 Escort and the 1982 Ford Sierra, which in turn were copied throughout the 1980s by others. For this reason, the HPF looks far less dated than many of its contemporaries. In South Africa, the local GM subsidiary built the Viva two-door and four-door sedans as the Chevrolet F