RE: Vauxhall Astra GTE (Mk1): PH Heroes

RE: Vauxhall Astra GTE (Mk1): PH Heroes

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Discussion

Mike1990

733 posts

79 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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I wish modern car magazines had the same format as they did back then! Strangely informative yet satisfying.

Love the GTE’s, but the warm SR is such a rare car.

Did they so a SR in the Mk2 or was it just SRi instead?

Flat6

571 posts

203 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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blade7 said:
Lifted straight from the pages of Max Power?
Max Power wasn't around in the 80's and any MP feature on this would surely have been for something in a lurid colour with tacky bodykit and double its weight in speakers hehe

w824gb3

207 posts

170 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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Surprised nobody is harping on about the camshafts in these engines. The first lasted about 70k miles before it wore out leading to a horrible knock from the top end. You could buy a replacement from the main dealer for about £350 which was a lot of money back then - or get one for £80 from the local motor factors that wasn't hardened properly and only lasted 12 months. The roads of the mid 1990's were full of knocking 80's astras and cavs!

The clutch was a good design tho - could be changed without separating the engine and gearbox because it had a removable plate on the bell housing and the main shaft could be withdrawn through the end of the gearbox. Job could be done in less than an hour.

I leant a lot about spannering cars from Vauxhall.

ToothbrushMan

1,684 posts

73 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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similar engine i believe in the 1.8 injected Mk2 Cavaliers of the time rated at 112bhp.

I had a GLi 1.8 on a D reg pre face lift and that was great to drive in an age where you very rarely came across any of the faster turbo cars so the GLi was a good under the radar motor that could beat a lot of cars of the time away from the lights when such childish behaviour was in vogue of course.

good slug of pull at exactly 4000 revs through to 6k. great engine.

loved the cosy velour interior and low down driving position too. they made great cars back in the day but as the article says the handling and braking werent at the same level.

hondansx

3,653 posts

173 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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s m said:
greenarrow said:
That's a very good point which I've been musing over myself, although in the case of the E30 M3 and 964RS they were always pretty highly regarded.

In Modern Classics Magazine its interesting that the original road test winner often isn't their favourite on the day. Cars like the MG Maestro Turbo get a positive re-appraisal when revisited as classics. Makes you wonder how much badge and image influences journos when these cars are new, less important perhaps when testing years later
That is true, a lot of the older stuff was highly regarded but I remember the Sierra getting the verdict over the M3 a fair few times and the 964RS was often slated for being too unrefined, too expensive and too stiff for the road.

Certainly depends on the journos doing the writing and it’s interesting to see a few of the also-rans from years back being lauded. Badge helps a lot too
This goes both ways.

I remember reading Chris Harris lauding praise on (his) Ferrari FF, I'm sure influencing many people.

He then sold it, test drove a GT4C Lusso and discussed all the things that were crap about the FF...

greenarrow

1,808 posts

65 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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Miglia 888 said:
Shakermaker said:
XK140 said:
IMHO the Manta GT/E,which would have sat alongside the Astra in the Vauxhall showrooms at the time, was the nicer car.
Yes, but it was a class above in terms of size etc. The Manta was the Cavalier/Ascona sized car, the Astra a smaller and cheaper option for buyers
The Astra GTE was smaller on the outside, but in reality it wasn't any cheaper than a Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, while a 3dr Manta GT/E hatch was only £250 more.



I went for the larger, faster, rwd Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, but did enjoy driving Mk1 Astra GTE loan cars while the Manta was being serviced, and they certainly handled better than the Mk2 Astra GTE's which replaced them, imho.
I think there was something wrong with Motor's Astra GTE! I got out all my road tests earlier having read this article yesterday and the What Car Astra GTE hit 100MPH in 25 seconds dead, their XR3i 28.6 secs. In an Autocar hot hatch test from 1984, the GTE was actually called out along with the then new Mk2 GTI 8 valve as "our choice", beating the XR3i and Strada Abarth 130 TC, so it really depends which test you read.

The main point is that this car was quite regarded when new, but was only on sale for a very short time so perhaps that's why it has never been remembered in the pantheon of 1980s hot hatch greats.

J4CKO

28,581 posts

148 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
quotequote all
Miglia 888 said:
Shakermaker said:
XK140 said:
IMHO the Manta GT/E,which would have sat alongside the Astra in the Vauxhall showrooms at the time, was the nicer car.
Yes, but it was a class above in terms of size etc. The Manta was the Cavalier/Ascona sized car, the Astra a smaller and cheaper option for buyers
The Astra GTE was smaller on the outside, but in reality it wasn't any cheaper than a Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, while a 3dr Manta GT/E hatch was only £250 more.



I went for the larger, faster, rwd Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, but did enjoy driving Mk1 Astra GTE loan cars while the Manta was being serviced, and they certainly handled better than the Mk2 Astra GTE's which replaced them, imho.
Manta faster, larger yes, but they weren't all that fast based on mine anyway, 5 bhp less and heavier, drove a few Astras and the handing was a bit scrappy but it was better than the Manta.

never drove a 16 valve Mk2 but drove a 130 bhp 2 litre one, swapped with a mate at work for my Manta, he was nostalgic and we swapped one lunchtime, the Astra felt so fast, he said the same that the Manta felt a bit slow, old and ponderous, it was about 4 years old at the time, but felt like a dinosaur in comparison to his car which was a 1989 I think.

Why they never put that engine, or the sixteen valve one in the Manta I will never know, they put the 1.8 90 bhp version in the Berlinetta, so it fitted but they persisted with the old bedford van engine.

Mantas are great, but they need some mods to fulfil their potential imho.


Gary C

5,421 posts

127 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
quotequote all
w824gb3 said:
Surprised nobody is harping on about the camshafts in these engines. The first lasted about 70k miles before it wore out leading to a horrible knock from the top end. You could buy a replacement from the main dealer for about £350 which was a lot of money back then - or get one for £80 from the local motor factors that wasn't hardened properly and only lasted 12 months. The roads of the mid 1990's were full of knocking 80's astras and cavs!

The clutch was a good design tho - could be changed without separating the engine and gearbox because it had a removable plate on the bell housing and the main shaft could be withdrawn through the end of the gearbox. Job could be done in less than an hour.

I leant a lot about spannering cars from Vauxhall.
The replacement OEM cam wasn't £350 (unless your talking fitted price). I did mine from Vauxhall plus new lifters for a lot less than that.

The clutch was a fantastic design

llcoolmac

69 posts

48 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
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Limpet said:
I love the proper dash with the oil pressure and battery gauges. A far cry from modern cars where you're lucky if you even get a temperature gauge. It shows what people respond to now. Take my M140i for instance. No coolant temperature gauge, never mind oil pressure, but it does have gimmicky power and torque meters that serve no practical purpose whatsoever.

Whether it's a lack of instruments, or burying engines under plastic "nothing to see here" covers, it makes you realise how increasingly disconnected a driver is now with the mechanical parts in cars, and has promoted a culture of "just drive it until an idiot light comes on". It's a complete non-issue for many (most) people, but I personally think it's a shame. Most of my formative driving years were spent tinkering under the bonnet, and learning how things worked, and for me it was a big part of the overall experience.

This was a golden era of cars in my opinion. Reliable and tough, started in the mornings, but you could still get your head around how things worked, and troubleshoot and repair with a degree of confidence, and without expensive kit.

Edited by Limpet on Thursday 22 November 09:20
And nobody seems to have any mechanical knowledge anymore either. I'd partially include myself in that as I am hopeless in comparison to my dad and uncles but I'm definitely amongst the best in my group of friends. None of the non car guys have even the slightest interest in knowing how stuff works.

I was speaking with a tractor mechanic today and he was telling me how he has 3 tractors in for replacement gearboxes. All less than 4 years old and one has less than 200 hours on it (ecu showed 100 instances of over revving in less than 200 hours!). All failed due to complete mechanical abuse and lack of sympathy. Most people driving new stuff are so disconnected that they don't even seem to realise when they are doing obviously stupid things. They just seem to think they can get in, drive it anyway they see fit and expect it to work perfectly.

Maybe if there were a few useful gauges dotted around the place they might wonder what that thing does?

Gary C

5,421 posts

127 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
quotequote all







My SR (tried to rotate but it insisted on rotating them back!)
Was a workhorse and went everywhere. This was in Austria about 1988. Brakes got a bit hot coming down the hill to haming.

Note the fire extinguisher in the door pocket smile essential rally equipmentsmile

Ohh and my dad's old 944 !

Edited by Gary C on Thursday 22 November 18:00

s m

18,237 posts

151 months

Thursday 22nd November 2018
quotequote all
J4CKO said:
Miglia 888 said:
Shakermaker said:
XK140 said:
IMHO the Manta GT/E,which would have sat alongside the Astra in the Vauxhall showrooms at the time, was the nicer car.
Yes, but it was a class above in terms of size etc. The Manta was the Cavalier/Ascona sized car, the Astra a smaller and cheaper option for buyers
The Astra GTE was smaller on the outside, but in reality it wasn't any cheaper than a Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, while a 3dr Manta GT/E hatch was only £250 more.





I went for the larger, faster, rwd Manta GT/E 2dr coupe, but did enjoy driving Mk1 Astra GTE loan cars while the Manta was being serviced, and they certainly handled better than the Mk2 Astra GTE's which replaced them, imho.
Manta faster, larger yes, but they weren't all that fast based on mine anyway, 5 bhp less and heavier, drove a few Astras and the handing was a bit scrappy but it was better than the Manta.

never drove a 16 valve Mk2 but drove a 130 bhp 2 litre one, swapped with a mate at work for my Manta, he was nostalgic and we swapped one lunchtime, the Astra felt so fast, he said the same that the Manta felt a bit slow, old and ponderous, it was about 4 years old at the time, but felt like a dinosaur in comparison to his car which was a 1989 I think.

Why they never put that engine, or the sixteen valve one in the Manta I will never know, they put the 1.8 90 bhp version in the Berlinetta, so it fitted but they persisted with the old bedford van engine.

Mantas are great, but they need some mods to fulfil their potential imho.
They sort of did put those engines in the Manta though Jacko.........only it was renamed as the Calibra as that was the car that took over from the Manta in essence and it got both the 2.0 8v and 2.0 16v engines

I take your point though but you have to remember that the 130bhp 2 litre didn’t appear in the Astra/Cavalier till the early part of 1987 and the 2.0 16v appeared in the Astra GTE 16v in April/May 1988.

Alongside that timeline GM had pulled the plug on the Manta around May 88 ( just as the 2.0 16v XE appeared ), the very last ones you see were 88 F plates so it probably wasn’t worth the development costs as the GT 1.8 and GTE were already a refresh of an old design in 82/83, the 1.8 engine appeared in autumn 82 and the injected version of the 2.0 CIH coming out in 83 ( plus they’d had injected versions of the 1.9/2.0 CIH in European Opels for ages before )

They never intended the old Manta to soldier on as long as it did but it remained a good seller even up to the end so to have stuck the 130bhp 2.0 engine for the last 12 months of its life wasn’t really worth it. Even in 1987 they sold more Mantas in UK than the GT86 achieved in the first three years on sale here but probably not worth rehashing for a few thousand cars

Plus you could get the Irmscher i200 ( 134bhp ) , i240 ( 160bhp ) and i300 Manta ( 175bhp ) through certain dealers if you really wanted a faster Manta and a while before the Ascona/Manta 400 road cars had been available from dealers too with an extra 34bhp over the GTE and nigh on Lotus Sunbeam acceleration

Coupes were a dying breed in the mid to late 80s - Ford had axed the Capri, another old design, and it was all about the hot hatches for a few years apart from the Jap cars

I agree though, a 2.0 XE engine in a GTE would have made a great fun car - 150-155bhp in 1050kg.

I always found mine was a pretty good handling car cross country - used to soak up the bumps very well compared to some of the hot hatches of the time that tended to skip and bounce around a bit. They were long geared, really a 4+E rather than a proper 5-speed as top speed was achievable in 4th as opposed to 5th but deceptively fast. There weren’t many 110bhp-ish hatches around in 83/84 that could outstrip a GTE to 100 off the mark or on top speed which was a genuine 120
Get caught in the wrong gear though and you were toast - the i200 gearset was a lot better

blade7

8,982 posts

164 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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Flat6 said:
blade7 said:
Lifted straight from the pages of Max Power?
Max Power wasn't around in the 80's
So an Astra GTE was never featured in the pages of Max Power then?

Mr Tidy

9,751 posts

75 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
s m said:
They sort of did put those engines in the Manta though Jacko.........only it was renamed as the Calibra as that was the car that took over from the Manta in essence and it got both the 2.0 8v and 2.0 16v engines

I take your point though but you have to remember that the 130bhp 2 litre didn’t appear in the Astra/Cavalier till the early part of 1987 and the 2.0 16v appeared in the Astra GTE 16v in April/May 1988.

Alongside that timeline GM had pulled the plug on the Manta around May 88 ( just as the 2.0 16v XE appeared ), the very last ones you see were 88 F plates so it probably wasn’t worth the development costs as the GT 1.8 and GTE were already a refresh of an old design in 82/83, the 1.8 engine appeared in autumn 82 and the injected version of the 2.0 CIH coming out in 83 ( plus they’d had injected versions of the 1.9/2.0 CIH in European Opels for ages before )

They never intended the old Manta to soldier on as long as it did but it remained a good seller even up to the end so to have stuck the 130bhp 2.0 engine for the last 12 months of its life wasn’t really worth it. Even in 1987 they sold more Mantas in UK than the GT86 achieved in the first three years on sale here but probably not worth rehashing for a few thousand cars

Plus you could get the Irmscher i200 ( 134bhp ) , i240 ( 160bhp ) and i300 Manta ( 175bhp ) through certain dealers if you really wanted a faster Manta and a while before the Ascona/Manta 400 road cars had been available from dealers too with an extra 34bhp over the GTE and nigh on Lotus Sunbeam acceleration

Coupes were a dying breed in the mid to late 80s - Ford had axed the Capri, another old design, and it was all about the hot hatches for a few years apart from the Jap cars

I agree though, a 2.0 XE engine in a GTE would have made a great fun car - 150-155bhp in 1050kg.

I always found mine was a pretty good handling car cross country - used to soak up the bumps very well compared to some of the hot hatches of the time that tended to skip and bounce around a bit. They were long geared, really a 4+E rather than a proper 5-speed as top speed was achievable in 4th as opposed to 5th but deceptively fast. There weren’t many 110bhp-ish hatches around in 83/84 that could outstrip a GTE to 100 off the mark or on top speed which was a genuine 120
Get caught in the wrong gear though and you were toast - the i200 gearset was a lot better
So they really didn't put those engines in a Manta then - a Calibra was just a "pretty" Cavalier with FWD that really didn't handle very well based on my experience of my sister's one!

My 1981 Capri Injection had 160 bhp and RWD and was so much quicker than her Calibra, or the OP's 110 bhp Manta - I bought it because I wanted something quicker than a 110ish bhp hatch!

And if you needed more grunt a Capri Tickford Turbo was probably cheaper than an Irmscher Manta.laugh

s m

18,237 posts

151 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
Mr Tidy said:
s m said:
They sort of did put those engines in the Manta though Jacko.........only it was renamed as the Calibra as that was the car that took over from the Manta in essence and it got both the 2.0 8v and 2.0 16v engines

I take your point though but you have to remember that the 130bhp 2 litre didn’t appear in the Astra/Cavalier till the early part of 1987 and the 2.0 16v appeared in the Astra GTE 16v in April/May 1988.

Alongside that timeline GM had pulled the plug on the Manta around May 88 ( just as the 2.0 16v XE appeared ), the very last ones you see were 88 F plates so it probably wasn’t worth the development costs as the GT 1.8 and GTE were already a refresh of an old design in 82/83, the 1.8 engine appeared in autumn 82 and the injected version of the 2.0 CIH coming out in 83 ( plus they’d had injected versions of the 1.9/2.0 CIH in European Opels for ages before )

They never intended the old Manta to soldier on as long as it did but it remained a good seller even up to the end so to have stuck the 130bhp 2.0 engine for the last 12 months of its life wasn’t really worth it. Even in 1987 they sold more Mantas in UK than the GT86 achieved in the first three years on sale here but probably not worth rehashing for a few thousand cars

Plus you could get the Irmscher i200 ( 134bhp ) , i240 ( 160bhp ) and i300 Manta ( 175bhp ) through certain dealers if you really wanted a faster Manta and a while before the Ascona/Manta 400 road cars had been available from dealers too with an extra 34bhp over the GTE and nigh on Lotus Sunbeam acceleration

Coupes were a dying breed in the mid to late 80s - Ford had axed the Capri, another old design, and it was all about the hot hatches for a few years apart from the Jap cars

I agree though, a 2.0 XE engine in a GTE would have made a great fun car - 150-155bhp in 1050kg.

I always found mine was a pretty good handling car cross country - used to soak up the bumps very well compared to some of the hot hatches of the time that tended to skip and bounce around a bit. They were long geared, really a 4+E rather than a proper 5-speed as top speed was achievable in 4th as opposed to 5th but deceptively fast. There weren’t many 110bhp-ish hatches around in 83/84 that could outstrip a GTE to 100 off the mark or on top speed which was a genuine 120
Get caught in the wrong gear though and you were toast - the i200 gearset was a lot better
So they really didn't put those engines in a Manta then - a Calibra was just a "pretty" Cavalier with FWD that really didn't handle very well based on my experience of my sister's one!

My 1981 Capri Injection had 160 bhp and RWD and was so much quicker than her Calibra, or the OP's 110 bhp Manta - I bought it because I wanted something quicker than a 110ish bhp hatch!

And if you needed more grunt a Capri Tickford Turbo was probably cheaper than an Irmscher Manta.laugh
Like I say, they never put the XE in a rwd Manta as it was being killed off ( like the Capri) when those engines came out

A Tickford was about 15k, faster than a 12k i240 for sure.......but then Courtenay would do you a 230bhp Turbo Manta which was quicker than the Tickford!

Gary C

5,421 posts

127 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
quotequote all
s m said:
Like I say, they never put the XE in a rwd Manta as it was being killed off ( like the Capri) when those engines came out

A Tickford was about 15k, faster than a 12k i240 for sure.......but then Courtenay would do you a 230bhp Turbo Manta which was quicker than the Tickford!
With water injection !

s m

18,237 posts

151 months

thiscocks

2,116 posts

143 months

Friday 23rd November 2018
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NotNormal said:
"185/60 ultra low profile radials" oh how times have changed!

soundman_cripps

25 posts

142 months

Saturday 24th November 2018
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The Mk1 Astra GTE was my 2nd car and 2nd Astra at the tender age of 17. Cost me a fortune to insure it and could barely afford to run it but I wish I’d kept it. Great times in that car in the days of no speed cameras challenging everything from xr3i’s to RS turbo’s to R5 gt turbos, 205 gti’s and golf gti’s .... great days. I was stopped at least once a week by the cops but it was worth it. Nice to see an article about it again. You don’t often see the cars of this era being written about but they were the start of the hot hatch culture

soundman_cripps

25 posts

142 months

Saturday 24th November 2018
quotequote all
The Mk1 Astra GTE was my 2nd car and 2nd Astra at the tender age of 17. Cost me a fortune to insure it and could barely afford to run it but I wish I’d kept it. Great times in that car in the days of no speed cameras challenging everything from xr3i’s to RS turbo’s to R5 gt turbos, 205 gti’s and golf gti’s .... great days. I was stopped at least once a week by the cops but it was worth it. Nice to see an article about it again. You don’t often see the cars of this era being written about but they were the start of the hot hatch culture

v33tra

4 posts

118 months

Wednesday 28th November 2018
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Fantastic cars cool

Love mine to bits and will happily drive them instead of modern cars

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Edited by v33tra on Wednesday 28th November 17:01