Flashback Friday – The Vauxhall Nova

Every week we will be looking back at 4 wheeled heroes of yesteryear. Many of these cars might not be considered classics, and in some cases they might even be considered terrible. However these cars not only make up part of British motoring history but also part of Perrys’ history, as all of them will be from brands that make up our current showroom line up.

The Vauxhall Nova

32 years ago Vauxhall entered the UK small hatchback market with the brilliant; Nova. The Vauxhall Nova was actually already available in mainland Europe as the Corsa but for the UK market a new name was needed for this very important car. At the time Ford has just launched the excellent MK2 Fiesta and Vauxhall needed to bring something to the hatchback party. Already people were beginning to take this versatile car format to their hearts and this has really been the same ever since.

Power and handling

The Nova came in a number of engine sizes from a simple 1.0 right up to a hefty 1.6 litre engine. There was also a 1.5 turbo diesel option for those who wanted it. What made the Nova stand out was the feeling of power and the way it handled. The Fiestas were fairly high riding and generally the common engines were the 1.0 and 1.1 litre options. The Nova sat lower and so handled a lot better but also the 1.2 litre engine was a very popular choice. It was partly this extra capacity and the fact it was a double overhead cam engine meant it felt considerably faster than its rivals.

Choices Choices

As well as all the engine options the Nova had, it also came in a saloon format. This meant the car could have a standard boot with no hatchback tailgate. The saloon was not as popular but it showed vision from Vauxhall and added another string to this plucky little cars bow. There were also sporty versions to rival the 1.4 S and XR2 Fiestas. The more common SRi models offered some fancy trim, body coloured bumpers and wheels as well as bucket seats! They also performed very well. For the really serious racers the GTE (later the GSi) offered some proper performance using the 1.6 litre engine as a base.

Teenage Kicks

As the Nova aged it was replaced in 1993 by what is now universally known as the Corsa. But before the Nova disappeared from our roads it had one final role to play; and a very important role at that. As the Nova left the showrooms for the last time it started life in the used car market and everyone knows what kind of people buy second hand hatchbacks…you guessed it; New teenage drivers. These hormonal wrecking balls flocked to the Nova in their thousands and it soon became the only car to own if you were to have any credibility in the 6th form car park. The fizzy engine, low gearing and reliability meant young drivers could trust their Nova and enjoy it, it also meant they could out gun their less well informed friends who had plumbed for a 1.0 MK 2 Fiesta. There are many reasons to love the Nova, the looks may not have stood the test of time but the car was brilliant and it lead to the fantastic Corsa we have today. It also put pressure on Ford to up their game and keep pushing the quality of the Fiesta, and no one would complain about that right now would they?