So, what of the old Cavalier? Well, Vauxhall had made a killing with the previous generation car when the Sierra came out, which looked like an upturned bathtub with wheels. The brave new Ford was a little too much to take for the conservative tastes of the reps that had to drive them. The Mk2 Cavalier was much more in keeping with what they were used to, and it leapt ahead in the sales charts.
When this Mk3 Cavalier was being designed, aerodynamics was becoming cool, thanks in no small part to the Audi 100. The old Cavalier's 0.37 coefficient of drag was akin to dragging the anchor of the QE2 behind you every time you popped to the shops; so the new car would feature a much more streamlined look. After 1,500 hours of wind tunnel testing, the engineers managed to get the drag factor down to 0.29, much better than the Sierra managed a few years earlier.
The driving experience leaves something to be desired, but it was designed for stomping up and down motorways. It errs on the side of safety rather than try to outdo rivals, such as the Peugeot 405, with their fine ride/handling balance. The safety theme was carried through to the advertising for the car; I remember seeing adverts in the 90s of various facelifted Cavaliers smashing into various immovable objects accompanied to Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer - mind, I think that was in response to the Ford Mondeo that had a driver's airbag fitted as standard.
So why should you buy this one? When you look at the car, it's amazing to think that someone would have bought a repmobile and only cover 13,168 miles in it. This could therefore be the lowest mileage Cavalier in the UK since Vauxhall's own late-model V6 has done more miles than that. The car even comes on the original tyres that were fitted at the factory (although the advert warns that if you want to press the car into regular service, you'll need to fit fresh tread).
90s cars are a dying breed, unfortunately. They were just viewed as tools and not potential classics. In a weird way, there are fewer survivors of these than there are of much older and cruder cars. And while it may not be that exciting to drive, there are, after all, a lot of people out there who've owned Cavaliers - some of them may even be reading this now - who have stories to share about them.
SPECIFICATION - 1990 VAUXHALL CAVALIER 1.6L
Engine: 1,598cc, four-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 84@5,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 94@2,600rpm
MPG: 34.1 mpg
First registered: April 1990
Recorded mileage: 13,168 miles
Price new: £8,738
Yours for: £2,995
See the original advert here.