1993 Vauxhall Cavalier GLS 2.0 petrol

Summary:

Would love another, even today!

Faults:

Usual wear and tear stuff during the years I had it.

CV joints, suspension ball joints, exhaust, alternator, etc.

Locks can be temperamental.

Generally I looked after it - oil changes and cam belt done. Do this and you won't get any major trouble.

General Comments:

What can be said about the Cavalier that hasn't been said already on here? Well here is my experience of one I had many years ago.

Let's get the rivalry out the way first - yes I had a Ford Sierra previous to this car. I have no bias to either manufacturer - both are decent cars if you look after them and are similar in ability. And all cars from this era were a blast to watch on the Touring Car circuits in the UK!

So I got this at 5 years old with over 50K on it in good condition. Dark red with a nice set of aftermarket alloys, looked very nice. 2.0 engine pulled strong, and not far off the SRi model in terms of performance; I believe however the GSi was much faster out of the cars, but I could be wrong. Either way the standard 2 litre I had in 8 valve form if I recall correctly is a safe bet with enough performance while doing about 35MPG.

Interior is as dull as it gets, but it was comfortable and well equipped. This GLS model was about mid-range and had some electrics. Gear change was slick and the handling was as predictable as any front wheel drive car - understeer if pushed too hard.

In the end it was in an accident (not my fault!) and at 13 years old with over 160K by then it was obviously scrapped. I have fond memories of it and I miss this car very much. That goes for all 80s and 90s saloon/hatchback family cars of similarity from these eras. It's not just nostalgia, because I definitely had some solid cars from these times with excellent reliability. Shame I can't say the same about cars nowadays with electronic problems galore.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th June, 2017

1993 Vauxhall Cavalier V6 2.5 litre V6

Summary:

Brilliant all round package

Faults:

Failed lambda sensor at 18k - £19 to replace.

Water pump noisy at 65k - £119 with fitting for a new one.

Second new pump fitted as a precautionary measure with new cam belt and pulley at @ 72k.

Fitted new battery myself to replace the original when the car was 10 years old, at a cost of £34.

One new complete exhaust system, less the catalyst and down pipe, at 77k, fitted by a leading quick-fit outfit for £250. New system - from the best after market supplier - gives marginally better performance.

Juddering brakes at high speed - 70 mph plus - cured by new front discs at the same time as the exhaust was fitted. This cost £350 for new discs and pads all round. Tends to be a recurrent issue, as the car now does a low annual mileage, which inevitably gives rise to some corrosion on the discs.

New front springs fitted at 80k at a cost of £216 by an independent garage, to remedy the damage caused by the appalling local road surfaces and the proliferation of traffic humps!

Failed brake pad and expansion tank sensors replaced at 90k - £19 and £34 respectively.

Clock works only when it feels like it.

General Comments:

Bought the V6 Cavalier 5 Door Hatchback at 6 months old from a main dealer for £4000 less than the then highly inflated list price.

The car has been, and continues to be, nothing less than brilliant in terms of performance, comfort and above all reliability - still on the original clutch, catalytic convertor and all the electrics, save the two sets of sensors - and it's in excellent condition other than some rust along the windscreen seal where an incompetent fitter managed to damage the paintwork. Didn't show for 2 years and has been contained ever since.

Brake fluid and coolant changed regularly. Cam belt assembly changed every 36k. New oil in the gearbox at 50k.

Used these days only for long distance work, at average speeds perhaps best not mentioned, when it regularly returns between 32 and 40mpg. The engine runs feels barely run in, uses no oil, and delivers its power smoothly by any standard.

Suffers a little from the old Vauxhall trait of an excessive gap between 3rd and 4th, but more than counterbalanced by 100 mph plus in third and 25 mph per 1000 rpm in fifth. While smooth throughout the rev range, the unit needs to be revved to above 3800 to deliver its real potential. This can make it feel lumpy around town, but it devours dual carriageways and motorways effortlessly. Perhaps the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing, as everyone thinks it's just another old Cavalier in its dotage!

Runs far better on 98/99 Octane juice such as Shell V power, than on regular unleaded.

Serviced once a year at the local main dealer, who have proved efficient and reasonable value. Plenty of spares availability both there and from independent suppliers.

Running costs low - the 2007 annual service and MOT were £210, but insurance group 16 means the exuberance of youth will pay a considerable penalty! The repairs detailed above seem more than reasonable for a 14 year old car, which has never let me down other than a dead battery discovered at home, and having to limp back from Devon in emergency engine management mode when the Lambda sensor failed.

The interior is better equipped and finished than many current models - but thankfully omits superfluous gizmos - and the seats, with full range of adjustments still in perfect order, are more than comfortable and provide good support. Pleasantly finished in grey cloth with leather trimmings.

The handling is much better than the less powerful model derivatives, although the substantial weight at the front can lead to ploughing on if you really overcook things, and understeer remains the order of the day unless you keep a constant heavy foot on the loud pedal.

The switchable traction control has proved a godsend on several occasions - pulling out hard from a junction in wet weather, and starting uphill with a heavy load being examples.

The real problem will come when it eventually has to be replaced - I reckon Vauxhall made some seriously good cars in the mid 1990s - and the range now seems somehow less appealing, apart from the Monaro/VXR8 and the defunct VX220. Perhaps time to look elsewhere. Does an immaculate Calibra Turbo still exist???

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th December, 2007

9th Dec 2007, 11:25

Keep it if its only done 91k. they are known to do 150k or more. very nice cars, probably future classics.

11th Dec 2007, 06:17

Thanks for the comments re. the dangers of chav attention. The security level on this model is significantly better than the later Mk.3 Cavaliers and is extremely flexible in terms of immobiliser and alarm settings. Admittedly the reliance on the battery is an inescapable weak point in the system, but any security set up that still works perfectly after 14 years of exposure to the elements demonstrates, to my mind at least, that Vauxhall did a good job. Interestingly the Red Top Engine was made at Ellesmere Port and the rest of the car by Opel in Russelheim.