1990 Vauxhall Cavalier GL 1.8 petrol non-cat from UK and Ireland


Unbeatable bang for the buck


Front & rear wheel bearings @ 120K.

Rear wheel hubs @ 120K.

Intermittent heated rear window (suspect the loom).

Automatic choke has never worked properly (too expensive to bother fixing).

General Comments:

Excellent performance, comfort and economy for the money : over 45 m.p.g. motorway cruising. 30+ m.p.g. around town; even with faulty choke.

Prefer it to the various Vectras I have driven.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th June, 2001

21st May 2003, 05:56

Update May 2003 : another 55,000 miles later:-

Auto choke now working : problem was thermostat jammed open. Vauxhall replacement 15 quid.

Coolant hose split after thermostat changed; 10 quid for 3 inches of hose!

Starter motor replaced due to sticking solenoid.

50 quid on welding for last MOT : OSR spring mounting rusted.

NSF door lock solenoid jammed shut; removed : decided I didn't need central locking anymore.

1990 Vauxhall Cavalier L 1.6 from UK and Ireland


Quietly loud, and reliable


Something (probably one of the jets) in the carburettor became blocked, which would probably have cost about £100 for a reconditioned pierburg (or £20 for a kit). It was OK, but you had to go everywhere on huge throttle otherwise it kangarooed. Luckily my sister traded in her Astra and the carb fitted my Cavalier (with minor modifications to the air box).

One of the wires to the central locking snapped due to wear where the door hinges. This was easily fixed in 10 minutes with a soldering iron (but only after 4 hours of searching for the fault).

Other than that and the usual consumables (brake pads, shock absorbers), and a blown light bulb on the heater controls, this car has perfectly reliable (so far).

General Comments:

I love this car, and I loved the mk2 I had previously.

It has few frills being pretty much the base model, but makes a great family car that doesn't mind being driven hard. The acceleration is respectable for the specifications (although the mk2 was a bit quicker), and although it tends to understeer into corners and oversteer on the exit, it does this predictably.

There is acres of space in the boot, especially with the (60/40 split) rear seat down. Although the access to the boot was wider in the mk2, it is lower in the mk3.

The 10 year old factory fitted stereo still kicks ass with no buzzing speakers.

The thing I perhaps like best is that it has this 'old man' or 'company rep' image. Both of mine have been the rather boring 'nordic blue' and both were L models which underlines this assumption. It really surprises people then when you give enough right foot to fully open the carb, because that's when the suspension tightens up (the car seems to get lower) and the thing really does fly. Not really Subaru Imprezza or Cozzie stuff, but I've given a few BMW owners food for thought!

Having said that, I want to sell it on and get a 2.0 litre, either SRi or GLS 16v.

Both of my Cavaliers have left me standing at the side of the road only once each, and both times I had discovered how far beyond the red you can take the fuel gauge.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th June, 2001

1990 Vauxhall Cavalier L 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


Low cost reliable family car - buy one today!


A very neglected car when I purchased it. Brake pads, shoes and rear hubs required replacing not long after I bought it. Also required a good service with an oil change, filters and plugs, leads and distributor cap/rotor arm change.

Fuel pump was leaking fuel into the oil, so needed replacing.

Petrol tank has a leak on the top.

Full exhaust and tyres recently needed, but this is due to wear and tear.

Metal caps in the spare wheel well rotted away and needed replacing.

Battery died last winter, again a wear and tear item.

Metal heat protectors on the new set of HT leads caused shorting out to the engine block, making it run very badly.

A vacuum pipe on the carburettor split recently causing the choke to run rich and longer than usual. Got a new piece of pipe and it's as good as new.

It could really do with a new set of shock absorbers, but I keep running it as it is.

Clutch cable and gear linkages need regular lubrication to stop stiffness and noise.

Drivers side window keeps jamming due to the felt runner (what the glass runs up and down) getting twisted.

Central locking doesn't always unlock first time.

General Comments:

The list of things that have gone wrong may put you off, but I can honestly say this car has never let me down. A lot of the problems I have had are due to neglect by previous owners.

Even though it's 11 years old now, it still drives like a new car and is very comfortable. Interior is just starting to show signs of wear on the seat edges where you rub against them to get in and out. The body is just starting to fail and is in need of tidying up on the rear wheel arches and a spot of rust on the hatch. The paint comes up nice with a T-Cut and wax.

Fuel economy is around 30 mpg around town and 45 mpg on a run. Although I do have mine regularly to the garage to check the emissions and be serviced, which helps.

Servicing and parts are extremly cheap and easy to obtain both new and second hand. Working on the car yourself is very easy too with easy access to most components. No strange tools needed either.

Just gone through an M.O.T. with only £100 spent on a small patch of welding, rear wheel bearings and front to rear copper brake pipes.

For a 1.6, the performance is quite good, although nowhere near the same as my previous car! (SRi 130).

A nice feature of Cavaliers is the central locking, which also locks the petrol cap and incorporates a dead locking system.

The boot space is brilliant and easily takes a pram and the weekly shopping.

The only thing I wished my car had is Power Steering and Electric Windows.

I'm a very happy chappy with my Cav and would recommend them to anyone, just be careful of neglected examples. These cars have the potential to run forever with the proper care.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th May, 2001

9th Jun 2001, 16:05

UPDATE! 7.6.01.

Just sold the old girl for £600. Just been out and got myself another Cavalier, this time a L reg SRi 16v - Very nice!

6th Aug 2001, 09:13

Good for you, I'm pleased you have a new Cav, let's hope that the new owner of your old Cav takes care of her like you did. I wish you many happy years with the new Cav.

9th Oct 2002, 15:34

Over a year now since getting rid of my old Cav and I saw her in town looking just the way it was when I sold it. Still going well and not throwing out any blue smoke... Wish id kept her as a second car now!!