SOTW: Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch


Say the words 'Vauxhall' and 'Sports Hatch' in the same sentence these days and you'll probably think of the thoroughly forgettable three-door version of the Astra (You know, the one that tries really hard to pretend it's a coupe when it really isn't).

Say the same two words to a moustachioed, over-lapelled gentleman of the 1970s, however, and he would probably nod, smile and point you in the direction of his rakish looking, velour-upholstered fastback coupe. Which would be, in all probability, some shade of brown. (Not sure why this chap would be mute but, hey, it's my fevered imaginings...)


What you will see is a Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch. And if this looks to you exactly like an Opel Manta, that's because it is just that, save for a spot of badging. But while the Opel Manta B soldiered on until 1988, Vauxhall was done with the Sports Hatch by 1981, when the Cavalier went all modern and front-wheel drive.

Mechanically identical to the Cavalier saloon (and thus also both the Opel Ascona and Manta), the Sports Hatch was fitted with either a 75bhp 1.6 (in GL form) or a 100bhp, 113lb ft 2.0-litre unit (for the bells-and-whistles GLS model). And that was good for 110mph.


This particular car is the fancy-pants GLS, but with a three-speed auto gearbox we're not sure it would set said fancy pants on fire in terms of performance. The interior would definitely impress, though, with its symphony-of-gold crushed velour upholstery.

Better still it's got tax and ticket, some history and is clearly a runner, having "just been to hull without a issue" (not something I've ever managed, but that has nothing to do with the reliability of the cars I've taken there).

Not sure about the 'Rostyle' wheels, mind - they look like nasty plastic Halfords jobs to us. 'Rostyle-style' wheels, the vendor could have got away with...

Ps - Kudos to PHer MotorsortTom for spotting this gem.


Advert is reproduced below

Vauxhall Cavalier sports hatch V reg For Sale (1979), £995

Nice rare cavalier sports hatch, metallic bronze, 89,000 miles, 2 owners, some history, new mot, taxed, automatic gearbox, rostyle wheels, 2000 gls model, very solid car, drives very well, jvc stereo and 6 disc multi changer, great car in daily use, great mpg, just been to hull without a issue, uniroyal rain tyres all round matching, valour seats, multi dash gauges, metal sunroof, front air dam, very good chrome all round, sun tint windscreen, new battery, new exhaust, recent service including cam belt, great everyday cool classic, grabs attention where ever it goes. Car 10 minutes from dartford crossing m25/jtn 2 m2



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Comments (172) Join the discussion on the forum

  • s m 13 Sep 2011

    marcosgt said:
    I replaced the Cavalier with a Renault 5GT Turbo having for a long time planned to get a Manta GT/E, but when I seriously looked, the Manta was an old car with limited dynamics whereas the Renault was state of the art (if you ignore the ancient pushrod engine design) and in a different league. That said, even in period, I can't imagine the Metro GTi being a better drive than a healthy GT/E and certainly no quicker.
    A 5GTT was pretty much the fastest small hatch at that time. Much faster than the Metro though

  • B'stard Child 13 Sep 2011

    s m said:
    B'stard Child said:
    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    Always thought the manta should have had the 24v senator engine as an option/spec.
    Was almost out of production by the time that engine came along - Irmscher did an i300 though with the 12v
    Yeah i remember it. Just thought tht 24v would have been a good one to see in there, more in keeping with the style and size of shell.
    The 156bhp 2.0XE would have been a good factory engine
    Absolutely this or maybe if more poke is required one of the 2.5/2.6/3.0/3.2 V6 24V engines

    The straight six 3.0 24V is a bloody boat anchor(*) in bigger cars never been convinced that it works in a Manta/Cav etc

    (*) I'm a huge fan mind
    Would have been a good replacement in a Monza though wink
    hehe

    Even better when it gets an LC crank (C36GET) and rods and 6 custom oversize pistons to take it out to 3.7 wink

    Although I'll still end up with old school fueling on it biglaugh

  • marcosgt 13 Sep 2011

    bluemoon79 said:
    Was there a snide dig at the Calibre at the start of this article, I don't think they were that bad!
    Assuming you mean the Calibra (wasn't the Calibre a horribly plastic clad Cavalier 'special' edition? And actually re-reading the article, I suspect it wasn't btw smile) I might be unique on here in having owned both a Cavalier Coupe and a Calibra.

    The Cavalier (like the Sports hatch, but better looking in having a boot, although not as practical) was a great car to drive. I bought mine in 1981 (5 years old) and had it until 1988. Admittedly, by then it had died a death having been rear-ended by some idiot (making it look more like a BMW Compact) and then the engine losing oil pressure (one of the not so good 1.9s).

    On the other hand, it rode amazingly well (I could drive it high speed across Thruxton's field/car park with ease) and handled pretty well for an old car - A mate who had a 205 GTi, then the high point of hot-hatchery, was moved to remark how well it handled.

    One on memorable day a few months after I bought mine, a friend of the family (about my age) turned up with her new car which was the same car! I think I have a photo somewhere of the two cars parked outside my parents' house. Hers was sadly squashed by a careless delivery lorry...

    I bought a Calibra when they came out (A redtop one with FWD only) and it had its virutes (it looked great, imo, and was very comfortable and economical), but not a drivers car at all, it really was a Cavalier in drag.

    I replaced the Cavalier with a Renault 5GT Turbo having for a long time planned to get a Manta GT/E, but when I seriously looked, the Manta was an old car with limited dynamics whereas the Renault was state of the art (if you ignore the ancient pushrod engine design) and in a different league. That said, even in period, I can't imagine the Metro GTi being a better drive than a healthy GT/E and certainly no quicker.

    I wouldn't buy this Cavalier, I never liked the hatches much and I hate autos, but I often nostalgically long for a nice booted Cavalier Coupe or Manta.

    Edited by marcosgt on Tuesday 13th September 09:27


    Edited by marcosgt on Tuesday 13th September 18:31

  • s m 13 Sep 2011

    B'stard Child said:
    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    Always thought the manta should have had the 24v senator engine as an option/spec.
    Was almost out of production by the time that engine came along - Irmscher did an i300 though with the 12v
    Yeah i remember it. Just thought tht 24v would have been a good one to see in there, more in keeping with the style and size of shell.
    The 156bhp 2.0XE would have been a good factory engine
    Absolutely this or maybe if more poke is required one of the 2.5/2.6/3.0/3.2 V6 24V engines

    The straight six 3.0 24V is a bloody boat anchor(*) in bigger cars never been convinced that it works in a Manta/Cav etc

    (*) I'm a huge fan mind
    Would have been a good replacement in a Monza though wink

  • B'stard Child 13 Sep 2011

    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    s m said:
    Y282 said:
    Always thought the manta should have had the 24v senator engine as an option/spec.
    Was almost out of production by the time that engine came along - Irmscher did an i300 though with the 12v
    Yeah i remember it. Just thought tht 24v would have been a good one to see in there, more in keeping with the style and size of shell.
    The 156bhp 2.0XE would have been a good factory engine
    Absolutely this or maybe if more poke is required one of the 2.5/2.6/3.0/3.2 V6 24V engines

    The straight six 3.0 24V is a bloody boat anchor(*) in bigger cars never been convinced that it works in a Manta/Cav etc

    (*) I'm a huge fan mind


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