1987 Vauxhall Belmont GLSi 1.8 petrol
Temperature gauge doesn't work.
Cold idle is erratic - needs resetting.
Rust in the rear wheelarches.
What can you get for £50 these days? Well, you could do worse than an 18-year old Belmont 1.8 GLSi, one elderly owner until 2004, with 58,000 miles, that's for sure. But that's the beauty of eBay.
As purchased, the car had two weeks' tax and a month's MOT. Immediately put in for another MOT, it needed welding in the rear sills and a new exhaust back box to pass. To be on the safe side, I got the cambelt changed as well. So we're on the road for under £300 - still a bargain as far as I'm concerned!
Finished in a delightful metallic brown with brown velour interior, the Belmont would never win any beauty prizes - but due to the enormous boot that has been grafted on by GM designers almost as an afterthought, this wouldn't happen even if it was a decent colour.
To overlook it as something that should have gone to the crusher years ago would be a tragedy though - by modern standards, this car is nippy, if not ultimately rapid.
The key to it's success? Low weight - 115bhp can be mustered up by most 1.6-litre shopping cars these days, but the Belmont, unadorned by airbags, side-impact beams, lashings of soundproofing and A/C, tips the scales at under a ton... this results in the most frightening torque steer I have ever encountered (I've not driven an MG Maestro Turbo though), although that may be down to the budget tyres.
Seriously, I would assess the car of being able to do 0-60 in about 9 seconds. Top speed is reputedly 124mph - faster than any 1987 Ford Orion anyway.
The payback for this light weight is the tinny clang when you slam the doors, the rattles and zizzes eminating from one of the ugliest dashboards ever designed...still, it's all there and original. Not much in the way of toys - but electric heated mirrors and a manual tilt-slide sunroof were enough to arouse the 1987 sales executive. Both still work perfectly, as does the oh-so-80s Philips stereo.
It's amazing that we can put a man on the moon, but up until about 1995 Opel was incapable of designing a car that didn't have a rust trap in the rear wheelarches. Even though this car has always been garaged (and has no rust anywhere else - how rare is that for a Mk2 Astra?), the rear arches have crumbled.
Handling is suspect - the steering is exceptionally heavy until it goes really light. Blame those budget tyres again - although they were never rated for handling when new. Vauxhall - great engines, shame about the handling, went the contemporary reviews. I do like the dinky 13" Ronal alloys though.
Interstellar gearing (3500rpm in 5th corresponds to over 90mph - private road, m'lud) contributes to good economy, as does the slippery shape no doubt.
The front seats are very comfortable. Rear legroom is surprisingly good as well, although the car is quite narrow so shoulder width is at a premium. The boot, unsurprisingly given the hunchback styling, is enormous.
One problem - it isn't considered a classic car for insurance purposes, so check your premium before you buy. This is the most-stolen car (percentage of models still registered) of 2003 remember!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd December, 2005
6th Dec 2005, 04:54
Great, entertaining review.
I recall my mate having a 1.3 GL version of this car, and its ability to top an indicated 115 mph (at what sounded like about 20,000 RPM in 4th) when 5-up was quite a talking point at the time. Totally reliable and reasonably comfy too.
Interesting point on the theft statistics. His got nicked no fewer than seven times in the two years he had it. Got to the point where he didn't even bother fixing the locks. Just left a note in the glovebox asking the thief not to torch or trash it and to let him know where to pick it up from.
The last thief clearly couldn't read and one burnt out shell later, that was that.