1993 Vauxhall Cavalier LSi 1.8i from UK and Ireland

Summary:

A workhorse!

Faults:

Other than "consumables" (brake pads/shoes, exhausts, suspension parts, filters etc) I've only had to change the head gasket (once) - with a skim & new valves/guides to be on the safe side (2000).

The driver's side electric front door window conked out two years ago - down to the electronic controller. I swapped it with the passenger side one - so now 'my' window opens. My wife hates being a passenger in the summer - because 'her' window won't.

Heater fan gave up the ghost last Xmas (and I tell you - the Cav demister is wonderful!) so I suddenly couldn't see where I was going). Vauxhall quoted £70 for a replacement (which would have doubled the car's value). Got a second-hand one from a dismantler - £12. 3 month guarantee. Still working after 8 months. :o)

Started taking in water in the front (and then rear) foot-wells (nearside first) in 2006 – floor pan corrosion. Underside has been tortured by 200,000 miles (without any remedial work), so I'm not complaining, and after 14 years on NE England's roads, I'm amazed it's still in one piece.

General Comments:

Why I have it: I bought this car after my previous (wonderfully reliable) Cavalier (previous marque - 1.6 estate model) was stolen and torched by townie scum (who should be boiled in old engine oil). I used the 1.6 estate to pull a caravan, and assumed that a 1.8i would be more than an equivalent.

General: My 1.8 LSi is a basic, ordinary “family saloon” – but it just keeps on going. I fix it when it breaks and have spent (on average) about £100 every year (at MOT time), plus bits and pieces in between - pretty good considering that I’m a builder and use it as a skip. The most major problem I’ve had was a blown head gasket.

Engine: Apparently, the injection system was added to compensate for the cat – to maintain the power of a normally-aspirated 1.8. In any event, it’s not a particularly powerful engine (e.g. the (overload?) warning light used to come on whenever I pulled a caravan – and it's never seemed as powerful as my old 1.6 estate). But, it gets me where I need to go, and that’s better than walking. I get 36-38 mpg on a long run, though I’ve sensed it aching now that the ¼ million mile barrier looms. ;o)

Gearbox: I have never had a problem with it. Never even changed/added to the oil. Does it need oil? Do I need to touch wood?

Suspension & steering: I lug bricks, sand, plaster etc, in my Cavalier, and alhough both rear coils crumbled a few years back, the front struts are still okay. I renew wheel bearings every 5 years - or whenever I can’t hear my mp3-player over the rumbling – whichever comes soonest. Rear handbrake (brake shoe mechanism) tends to bind in wet weather (the shoes have intimate sliding surfaces that suffer from the tiniest bit of rust). Copper-slip and/or maintenance solve the problem.

Trim: Typical ‘battleship-grey’ plastic and cloth, but the seats are (very) comfortable, and head room and leg room are good front and back. (Okay, rear headroom’s a bit lower due to the hatchback shape.) Only major gripe here = dash storage shelves are almost ‘level’ – so everything you put on them lands in your lap when you accelerate. Argh! Who designed these things?

Electrics: No major problems so far – save renewing a headlamp last year.

Overall: I love this car! Simple. Ordinary. Parts and spares abound (as of 2007). Reliable. A robust piece of automotive engineering. Hats off to those concerned!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th August, 2007

1993 Vauxhall Cavalier LS 1.7 TD (Isuzu engine) from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Strong, reliable, economical and extremely comfortable - a distance travellers' dream come true

Faults:

Drive-shaft seal was leaking oil when purchased. Only cost £25 to have the engine steamed and the seals renewed.

Typically for Vauxhall, the nearside wishbone and strut were quick to wear - but very quick and cheap to replace.

Heater fan would only work on highest setting, which also failed after a further 10,000 miles. Owners Network state that a faulty plug-in resistor in the engine bay simply requires swapping to fix.

General Comments:

With the Isuzu engine, this is a supremely reliable and comfortable motorway car.

The Cavalier isn't the fastest to 60mph, having only the "low blow" type turbo fitted, but it does get there comfortably in respectable speed and even at nearly 200,000 miles still drives like new. Not many manufacturers can claim that for their cars! It is by no means slow, but isn't a car that appreciates being "ragged". Let it get there in its own time (which isn't too long) and it'll reward you amply with bags of torque, and power to spare.

This car (with the Isuzu engine anyway) will run comfortably on vegetable oil - duty paid where applicable - and just never seems to break down. With regular oil changes and a good "stretch" weekly, they really do just go on forever.

The gearboxes are very strong and smooth (unlike the Peugeot boxes I'm more familiar with). Milling your way to a silky 70mph on the motorway, cocooned in the near-silent cabin's armchair like seats, you really can just eat up the miles and hardly notice you've left home.

Cavaliers have superb handling and, where well maintained, excellent and somewhat soft suspension. They aren't necessarily the best car for cities or back-street "rabbit run" type driving, but over distances they come into their own.

There is ample space for adult passengers both in front and at the rear, although very tall (6'2" plus) gents may find the curved roof/ceiling a little cumbersome in the rear, where the car slops downwards towards the tailgate somewhat. Boot/luggage space is ample bordering on cavernous.

A pleasure to drive and very economical to maintain and run (with 55+ miles per gallon on a long journey), this is a car I'd buy again and again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd June, 2007