PH Carpool: Vauxhall Nova GSI

Name: Ben Nightingale
Car: Vauxhall Nova GSI
Owned since: 2007
Previously owned: Vauxhall Nova SR, GSI, Peugeot 205 1.9 GTI. Along with company cars and my current VW Golf GTI

Grist connection makes for added interest
Grist connection makes for added interest
Why I bought it:
“Having owned Vauxhall Novas in the past, for some reason you get to love them. When you sell one, and are for a short period without one, it’s not long before you want another.

“I briefly moved onto a 205 1.9 GTI. A one-owner barn find that my intention was to restore. The car was great and but never 100 per cent finished so it had to go and free up room for...

“My Nova was previously owned by Nicky Grist and was used as his toy/commuting car during his world rally winning year of 1993. In 1996 it was bought by someone who knew him and was stored, with little use, until 2007 when I took ownership of it. The car had 70,000 miles, and the previous owner had kept all MoTs and even all tax discs. It was another barn find that I couldn't resist.”

What I wish I’d known:
“As with any car, when you have owned a few you get to know them inside out. But truth is this car had been so well looked after brushing the dust off it was like new. If I had to think of one thing I guess it would be finding out that the car was 100 per cent original and, it wasn't long before a few trips out in the rain, and the poor old arch was starting to bubble. I have learnt now not to drive these in wet weather.”

No three-spokes but we'll forgive that
No three-spokes but we'll forgive that
Things I love:
“It doesn't handle like my old 205 GTI, and by no means is it fast but driving the Nova gives me great driving satisfaction. All but the wheels and exhaust are standard. I can’t remember seeing another Nova GSI without a redtop, or big speaker holes in the door cards that's why I enjoy driving mine as it would have been driven new. With only 264 (70 on the road, 264 SORN’d by my figures) GSIs remaining, they are now a rare sight and for such a cheap little car, the attention and looks it gets makes the ownership that little bit more special.”

Things I hate:
“I have had a few hateful Novas in the past, but this one doesn't seem to be. I guess the only thing to hate about a Nova is the stigma of driving one.”

“Service parts have and always will be cheap for Novas but with all models, especially the GSI, in decline, obsolescence on interior/engine parts is gradually increasing. Paying a big premium for little items is becoming the norm.”

There aren't many as original as this left
There aren't many as original as this left
Where I’ve been:
“As the car spends the winter months hiding from the salty winter roads it only gets use from April onwards. Its main use is for car shows, classic, retro and the odd PistonHeads Sunday Service. When the weather is nice I do try venture on some day trips but the car is yet to venture in Europe.  I have booked Le Mans this year so I am hopeful that it will make its maiden voyage over the channel.”

What next?
“I am currently in the process of purchasing another Nova to do a bit of hill climbing and sprints in. As for my white GSI, it’s here to stay but I'm hoping not to neglect it this summer. Only plans I have for it will be a new rear arch and a standard exhaust, if they are any GM ones out there!”

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (93) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GravelMachineGun 18 Feb 2013

    Ultimate cool un chavved version. I'd rally the hell out of this.

  • HorneyMX5 18 Feb 2013

    Lovely. I have a hankering for an early SR in yellow.

  • joe_90 18 Feb 2013

    I remember getting pissed quite a few years ago when my pals 1.4SR was quicker in my XR2..
    However, it soon was not quick when he parked it in the back of a volvo.

  • gshughes 18 Feb 2013

    Wasn't it Colin McRae's first proper rally car? (continuing the Nick Grist connection).

  • FamilyDub 18 Feb 2013

    I had a nice 'J' plate 1.4 Nova Luxe, in maroon, in the spring of 2000.

    Whilst it was reliable and cheap to run, it stealthily managed to solidify my brewing contempt for Vauxhalls.

    This one looks in nice, original condition though.

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