1990 Vauxhall Nova Reviews - Page 4 of 6

1990 Vauxhall Nova SR 1.4 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2001
Engine and transmission 1.4 Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.6 / 10
Distance when acquired44000 miles
Most recent distance95000 miles

Summary:

Well balanced hot hatch

Faults:

Carburetor was replaced for the weber 32/34 DMTL which gave vast improvements to economy and power.

Rear arches starting to rust.

Leaking fuel tank.

General Comments:

The car as standard is quick and will keep up with most cars along back roads, but the power is lacking on the motorway.

The seats are comfortable, but the dash is dull, dated and rattles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th March, 2001

1990 Vauxhall Nova GTE 2.0 16v turbo from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership1999
Most recent year of ownership2001
Engine and transmission 2.0 16v turbo Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired77000 miles
Most recent distance92000 miles
Previous carFiesta RS Turbo

Summary:

Mental performance from a small hatch

Faults:

Head cam went at 83,000 miles - Calibra 2.0 16v Turbo engine at a hefty price.

Had a fault on indicators.

Cold starting problems.

General Comments:

This car borders on insane.

0-60 in 5.5 seconds is just awesome, people look and think it is just a poor 1300cc boy racer car, but watch those so called Cossies vanish into the distance as you boot the throttle.

The handling is fine thanks to the 17 inch Venoms and the brakes have been upgraded in case you were wondering (although they'd have to be).

Shame the boys in blue don't like it much.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd February, 2001

1990 Vauxhall Nova GSi 1.6i (Bosch Jetronic) from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission 1.6i (Bosch Jetronic) Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired80000 miles
Most recent distance86000 miles
Previous carVauxhall Nova GTE

Summary:

An excellent early 90's hot-hatch

Faults:

Blockage in the heater matrix - heater still worked but an annoying "trickling" noise (water) all the time when on the move. Quite expensive to fix - dashboard has to come out etc.

Head gasket blowing (reason for sale). There wasn't any evidence of water/oil mixing (cream like substance in the engine), but it showed in the performance and the garage confirmed. Again, costly to fix.

Baffles in the standard Vauxhall exhausts - they break up internally and you get a rasp/rattle at certain points in the rev range.

Rust! (speaking from experience with my GTE). The door bottoms rot from the inside out (check), the rear arches do the same (check) and the bottom of the tailgate also (check). Any signs of rot/bubbling here, walk away! If it is okay at these points then the first thing you've gotta do is Waxoyl it, the above points in particular.

General Comments:

Fast enough.

The early GSi's had the more temperamental Bosch Jetronic management (same as the GTE), but the later one's have an Ecotec (?) system which is MUCH better and refined.

There are a few knocking about on L-reg plates. These are very much sought after as there weren't many registered on an L. Also, the Silk Violet metallic colour is VERY rare and are quite sought after.

You must Waxoyl them (see above) or they WILL rot in a spectacular fashion if neglected!

The ride is a bit jolty and unrefined for my liking, but I am a Nova enthusiast so I put up with it.

The gearbox needs TLC. Neglect/abuse it and you WILL have problems. One of the key problems is engaging 1st gear when crawling along. Get the gear linkage adjusted on a regular basis - this will help.

Anyone thinking of buying one (GTE/GSi models in particular) feel free to contact me at no1@ccsleeds.co.uk and I'd be more than happy to answer any queries.

Good luck.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th February, 2001

11th Aug 2006, 01:08

Silk violet GSI Nova's are not rare. They might be the nicest colour they came in from Vauxhall, but they ain't rare.

Heater matrix is an easy fix too, the dash does not need removed to fix it, just the center console, which is all of about 3 screws.

15th Sep 2006, 03:42

Vauxhall Nova Gsi is the best.

10th Mar 2010, 06:16

I got a 1 liter Nova, and planning to put in a 1.4 8v multipoint engine out of an Astra. Are they a good engine to put in to a Nova laadddd???

10th Mar 2010, 16:19

Basically that would be turning it into a Nova SRI, they had the same 82 bhp multipoint 1.4 engine as the Astra.

1990 Vauxhall Nova Merit 1.2 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership1994
Most recent year of ownership1999
Engine and transmission 1.2 Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired28000 miles
Most recent distance85000 miles
Previous carVauxhall Chevette

Summary:

Good but unexciting small car - better than a Fiesta!

Faults:

Cylinder head gasket went at 60,000 miles which was disappointing. Other than that it was just odd things related to age e.g. a wheel bearing at 75,000 miles.

Also had to have the carb taken off and cleaned at about 60,000 miles as it was very dirty and was causing very lumpy running/bad starting but think this may have been due to my using crap petrol and always running around with the tank near empty.

With age it did tend to take a few attempts to get started on very cold or very wet mornings but it never actually failed to start.

General Comments:

I really liked this car for running around in and for middle distance journeys. The Merit (the one I had) did run out of steam at higher revs and you really missed a fifth gear on the motorway. However it did pull and accelerate very well at lower revs for a 1.2. Apart from the problems outlined above it went very well and I was very pleased with it.

It was involved in two minor collisions (both times with a Ford Fiesta), on both occasions the Ford had bent panels/damage while my Nova was not affected at all!! (That says it all, better than a Fiesta).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th December, 2000

24th May 2001, 07:00

I don't normally like Nova's, having used to own one, but can double the fact about it being better and faster than a Fiesta. I crashed into a Fiesta once and it suffered no damage, but the Fiesta needed a new wing haha.

20th Jul 2005, 08:19

Good to see people being so public spirited and crashing their Novas. That's a few less for the Max Power sheep to get hold of, modify, and drive around like utter asshats.

30th Nov 2007, 10:56

Why do people always assume that when you modify a car you are going to drive like an idiot and crash it? I have spent nearly £10,000 on mine, and there is no way in hell I would drive like a prat, purely because if I crash it, the repair bill will be huge and the insurance company will laugh.

Plus modified cars are not always cars with a loud exhaust and a body kit; upgraded brakes and performance parts for the engine class as modifications, and these improve a cars handling and reliability as I have found.

And as always the people that slag off modified vehicles are they type of people that drive BMW's or Golfs, appalling cars basically.

Average review marks: 7.4 / 10, based on 36 reviews