1988 Vauxhall Nova Merit (5 door hatch) 1.2 petrol from UK and Ireland


A nippy, but unreliable first car!!


Fuel cap was broken.

Battery coil failed.

Heated rear screen failed.

Rear wash wipe kept tripping its fuse.

Horn came on of its own accord and jammed on!!

Bulkhead rusted through, causing major water leak.

CV joints needed replacing.

General Comments:

This car was a major disappointment in some ways, but very good in others.

Reliability was probably the worst I have seen on any Nova.

Performance on the other hand was excellent for a 1.2 55bhp car.

Handling was also good, considering that the car was 11 years old, on standard suspension and with fairly skinny tyres (155/70/13).

Most of the faults described above were electrical; mechanically the car was bullet-proof and felt like it would rev forever (all Vauxhall engines of this era are like this I am told).

Underneath the car and inside the wheel arches had been treated with rust protection, so the car was virtually rust free.

Trim was basic but hey, this was a Merit! Spec was no worse than the equivalent Fiesta/AX/205/Metro etc.

In my humble opinion the Nova is one of the best first cars / cheap runabouts that money can buy (so long as you get a good one!!).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th January, 2002

1988 Vauxhall Nova Merit 1.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Excellent first car - come on Fiestas!


Brakes have been warped.

Gearbox was a bit dodgy.

VERY sticky clutch.

Rust on the arches.

General Comments:

Reasonable acceleration for a first car.

Cheap to insure, which means more cash for modifying!!

Great fun racing Fiesta 1.0/1.1's.

Great fun thrashing Metro 1.0/1.1's.

Needs a major interior upgrade - GSi stuff on the way.

A better drive than my Ford Orion, had to sell it because it cost too much to run (I'm only 17!)

When looking tidy, you can quite easily pull in it!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th November, 2001

1988 Vauxhall Nova SR 1.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


Small budget performance hot hatch


The engine has lasted well with no serious faults.

Driver'a side caliper seized.

Steering rack needed replacing.

Faulty ignition switch caused an electrical fire which melted a lot of the wiring loom.

The gearbox and clutch needed replacing before I got the car at 80000 miles.

General Comments:

For a 1300CC engine this car is seriously quick and is easily one of the most powerful 1.3 engines ever mass produced with 75 brake horse power as standard on post 1985 SR models (72 on pre 1985 SR models). The handling is very good for a standard suspension set-up.

The 1.3 over head cam engine also responds well to tuning and the other parts of the car are easily and cheaply modified.

However, the SR retained the brakes from the standard 1.3 Nova which means they do not match the performance of the car which lets the car down.

The ride can be a bit bumpy and noisy, but not unusual for a car of that age and size.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th August, 2001

1988 Vauxhall Nova GTE 1.6 from UK and Ireland


Super little sports car


Rust in the engine bay, bad enough to fail its M.O.T. Small amounts of rust around the bodywork, but not serious.

Driver's seat showing signs of wear.

Sunroof has a slight leak.

General Comments:

The GTE is a super car, it's fast and fun.

Parts are cheap and it's easy to repair.

Like all old Vauxhalls, they are easy to get into, so make it secure.

Ideal second car, not really a motorway car due to the hard ride and lack of space. Ideal for around town and boy racing!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th July, 2001

16th Dec 2005, 06:37

The nova gte is a fast car I agree, but its not for boyracing because it deserves to be looked after there getting rare now. It would be a shame to lose a motoring icon that so many people love + hate.

1988 Vauxhall Nova Club 1.2 (12ST OHC) from UK and Ireland


Novas are timeless :)


The brake discs were badly warped, so I replaced them and the pads all round.

The fuel line between the pump and carburettor sprung a big leak, but was easily changed in 5 minutes.

The only big engine problem (and even it was relatively minor) was that the electronic ignition module failed at 82000 miles, but was easy to fix.

All the wheel bearings have been replaced.

The offside outer CV joint and track rod end have just been replaced to cure a knocking noise at speed.

General Comments:

My Nova Club is a cracking little car and in the 11 years it has been in the family, it has only broken down once - the battery packed up!

Things that have gone wrong are from normal wear and tear, and the parts are so cheap.

7 of my friends have Novas, all modified to some degree.

I have done extensive modifications to my car (interior, ICE, engine bay cosmetics) and I am going to get alloys, lower the suspension, and put the late Nova front on.

The bodywork is great for an E-reg - the arches are fairly rusty, but not as bad as some J-reg Novas I have seen! There is some rot on the O/S front strut, and a bit on the boot floor, but it is all easily welded.

The Club's bright interior is cool. I have added an SR dial set - rev counter, etc with white backgrounds, and highlighted the dash panels with aluminium paint which looks very up-to-date.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th June, 2001

9th Jan 2002, 17:46

Are there any standard Novas left??!! I too know loads of people who have had Novas, many of them modified; and they all seem chuffed with them!! I don't own one myself, am I missing out??!!

16th Mar 2004, 06:53

No, you're definitely not missing out. 205 XS, Citroen AX GT, Rover Metro GTa 16v, Fiesta 1.6S, Mini Cooper, 205 GTi's, Renault Clio 1.8 RSI, Fiat Uno Turbo, R5 Turbo, Renault 5 1.7 GTX, 106 XSi, Mitsubishi Colt GTi, VW Polo GT/G40 (if you can find one); these are just a few hot hatches that are better than Novas in every area!

Nova's as a car are fine, but they are crap round corners, fairly slow (my old 1.1 Metro, which cost £90, is faster than my friend's mint 1.3 SR) look crap, especially with all those heavy creaky body kits. They're unreliable, especially now every boy racer has owned or smashed them up.

There are far, far, far, far better cars about than Novas.