Unsung Heroes : Vauxhall Astra Mk1 (1980-1984)

Keith Adams continues AROnline‘s series devoted to celebrating the great and the good that used to be familiar UK street furniture.

Who remembers the Astra Mk1, a blisteringly capable, fun-to-drive small car that redefined Vauxhall’s standing in the small car field? We do, and we love ’em!

Vauxhall Astra: A quantum leap

Vauxhall Astra Unsung Heroes (2023)

The Astra was a landmark car for Vauxhall. It was a new entrant into the front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf sector – a fast-growing area of the market – and went straight to the head of the class when it was launched in early 1980, replacing the ageing Viva HC in the process. Sales success quickly followed and, within no time, the conservatively styled two-box from Vauxhall has a familiar sight in the UK.

In August 1979, when the Opel Kadett D went on sale, the common assumption was that a Vauxhall version would subsequently appear with alternative styling, to replace the Chevette.

This had been the pattern established with the T-Car Chevette/Kadett C, Carlton/Rekord and Cavalier Mk1/Ascona, which remained visually quite distinctive, and it was assumed that for GM’s first front-wheel-drive car, we’d get British production, UK-sourced engines and a droop-snoot front-end. In the end, the UK Astra was all-but identical to its Opel cousin and was sold alongside both the Chevette and the Kadett in British showrooms.

Vauxhall Astra Unsung Heroes (2023)

From modest beginnings

In model range terms, the Astra started off slowly, initially available only in relatively plush 1300S GL hatchback and 1300S L estate car forms. If you’re wondering what the S meant, it was nothing more than the state of tune its 1.3-litre overhead cam engine was in – S for 75bhp.

The E version with 60bhp would follow, but not until 1981 once production was fully up to speed at the Ellesmere Port factory. Despite the slow model start and relatively high list price (£4602 against £4533 for a Volkswagen Golf 1.5GLS), sales started strongly – meeting demand from an appreciative audience in the market vacuum that existed prior to the launch of the Ford Escort Mk3 later that year.

With each passing month, further additions were made to the Astra range – first the 1.2-litre overhead valve models, then the L and SR models of 1981. The 90bhp 1.6-litre arrived on the scene in January 1982, turning the Astra into a near GTI rival in cooking form.

Vauxhall Astra Unsung Heroes (2023)

Turning it into a hot hatch

However, by the following April, that ‘nearly’ car, the two-tone 1600SR, had been supplanted by the 115bhp 1.8-litre fuel injected GTE. This is when the Astra – for many people today – got interesting and really unleashed the potential of the tidy-handling chassis and sharp-looking square-rigged styling.

Mind you, it wasn’t perfect – the gearing was too long (fifth was a leisurely 25mph/1000rpm more suited to the Cavalier) – and it wasn’t until 1984, that it was dropped, thus turning the GTE into a genuine Golf GTI rival (and Escort XR3i killer). Ironically, within months of the optimum GTE being unhatched, it was replaced by the aerodynamic Mk2 – an entirely different proposition.

So why do we consider the Astra Mk1 too be an unsung hero? After all, it sold well and helped radically change perceptions of Vauxhall (alongside 1981’s Cavalier Mk2) but also indoctrinated fleet managers across the land to the idea of reliable front-wheel-drive company cars. Quite simply because there are so few left today and this fine car seems to have been forgotten, except by a handful of enthusiasts.

What the press thought of the Astra

The magazines loved the Astra, too. They praised it to the hilt for its crisp and potent engines (75bhp from 1.3-litres was really quite an achievement), flat and stable handling and high overall levels of practicality.

The wraparound dashboard might look dour and boring today but, back then, it was the height of big-car sophistication, giving reps and family men a real sense that they were driving something that had been conceived with ‘drivers’ in mind. What Car? magazine didn’t hang around waiting for the model range to broaden, awarding the Astra 1300S GL its Car of The Year in its April 1980 issue.

When the Escort Mk3 arrived in September 1980, it was assumed that the Astra’s reign at the top of the Golf-class tree would be toppled

A winner to the end

As it happened, Project Erika wasn’t quite developed enough and its ride/damping set-up was so badly tuned for UK roads that it totally compromised the car’s critical reception, sending the boys at Dunton back to their proving ground in order to dial in some ride quality. They never quite managed it. Not that this mattered one iota, as the Escort had masses of appeal elsewhere and soon usurped the Cortina as the UK’s best-selling car.

The Astra therefore remained a front-runner in its class pretty much to the point it was replaced by its (strangely unappealing) successor, the aero-bodied Astra Mk2. Its chief rivals in the UK, aside from the Escort, were the VW Golf (a bit player at this time, due to high prices and a small dealer network), Talbot Horizon, and (from 1983) Austin Maestro. It could be argued – certainly for keen drivers – that the Vauxhall’s appeal transcended them all.

Its decent into bangerdom, though, was quick and painful. Rust was a killer, as were toffee camshafts (in the overhead cam models), gearboxes and driveshafts. By the late 1990s, numbers were thinning alarmingly – and today, it’s nearly extinct. That’s why now is, perhaps, as good a time as any to declare the Astra an unsung hero, especially now that the latest (German-built) version is the first one in decades that recaptures its original excellence.

Vauxhall Astra Unsung Heroes (2023)

Keith Adams


  1. BSD

    True,a great car!

    Here in Israel it replaced the RWD kadett (the Chevette’s twin) with huge success.

    It was sold in 3,4&5 doors,and in 5 doors estate,with 1.3,1.3S and 1.6S engines with manual and auto transmission.

    the SRI (equalls the UK GTE) was never sold here.

    I remember as a kid (i was in junior high then) that because the Opel importer brought the cars in their basic trim level (basic and lux only),many people made self import to Kadettes with higher exuipment levels.

    The Berlina (featuring wider tires,alloy wheels,rev counter and velvet upholstery) and the SR 9the same but wuth sport seats,sport leather covered steering wheel and colour coded bumpers) were highly popular during the happy self import days.
    I also remember that many of them also had C/L and 2/4 Electric windows with switches located near the handbrake.

    Many of these Kadettes are still on the roads today in everydat use.

    This car really deserve the title “UNSUNG HERO”,because it really is one!!!

  2. BSD

    By the way,the Mk2 Astra (Kadett) was mentioned in the article.

    It’s asian cousin (the Daewoo Racer) was sold here in Israel since the early 90’s in 4 doors version which included everything 9except alloys) in big numbers,and these cars are still in use today!

    Later it was replaced by the Super racer (Cielo) and the Nexia (3 doors) which was also sold in bug numbers and is still in use today.

    For some reason,unlike heir stigma,these cars proved to be reliable if serviced on time.

  3. Great car.Almost bought a 1300 L 5door after being p/ex at Rover dealer I was working at,but had high miles so plumped for an Horizon that had barely run in !.Numpty.However,next p/ex that I did buy was the GTE in white.I had the body painted in the yellow,red and blue slashes across the bonnet and boot a la Vauxhall motorsport in the late eighties.Great recaro seats,very refined and quite brisk with mid 8 secs to 60.Had for 3 years and by the time it was 8 years old,rust in inner wings and rear valance.Chopped in for Rover Metro Gti.

  4. My Dad (initially) reluctantly bought a Mk 1 Astra to replace a long line of Vauxhall Victors when he finally realised he didn’t need loads of luggage carrying capacity as we no longer took family holidays.
    It was an excellent car, plenty of passenger space, far cheaper to run and leaving more space in the garage than his FD Victor 2000.
    OK, we did have to replace the front wings due to rust, but they were bolt on, so that wasn’t a major problem.
    The only thing I couldn’t understand was why GM also sold the Opel version here in the UK at the same time, that must have been very confusing for the buying public…

  5. We had a 1600 diesel GL in blue (looked a bit ike the one in the bottom picture)

    Really nice car.

    This, the nova and the cavalier were so similar. It was really easy to swop parts from any one of the 3 onto each other!

    When Vauxhalls were good. Alas, the MK4 astra was the last one I would have bought 🙁

  6. The very definition of “unsung hero”. Astra mk1 not only began Vauxhall’s rebirth, but I believe was a quantum leap for car design. This, more than the too-small Golf, set the template for the medium-sized hatches that we can still buy today.

  7. May family had one of these from 1983 (bought new) to 1997, when it was scrapped. It was very reliable, the only problem with it was its unappealing brown coloured bodywork matched with orange upholstery..

  8. These were and still are bonny little cars, with a surprisingly short shelf life (about 4 years only wasn’t it).
    1.6SR was a capable little car definitely, I did however feel that the mk1 Astra suffered from the same design stupidity as the Allegro and early Citroen GS as it had the shape of a hatch but a silly little bootlid (at least the Astra was offered with a Hatch, as indeed the later GS/GSA was.

    • Yes ! They did have some ‘saloon’ versions that looked like a hatch, but weren’t, bu they did offer a full.hatch too. I’ll dig out an old brochure ….

  9. Indeed, another forgotton hero.
    Two friends had these, one a basic, boring, orange coloured example with a 1.2(?) engine which did the job but died a death when the engine gave up. However, a female college friend had a newish (1 year old?)beautiful black model which was kitted out to look like a GTe(?). This was immaculate, with beautiful interior and alloy wheels. We certainly felt like the dog’s dangly bits when posing in various car parks, as you do. Unfortunately it was stolen & stripped but the insurance coughed up for an identical replacement, but sadly we drifted apart.
    Thanks for the memories.

  10. As Mark Mastro mentioned, the Princess style saloon function with a hatchback form was pointless. Though they learnt their lesson with the Belmont (the joyriders favourite) and now you can’t even get an Astra saloon (the previous gen was the last one offered even in saloon-friendly Ireland).

    Was a fan of the mk2, it was distinctive. I remember my dad though trying to put spotlights on one (as was the 80s thing to do) and giving up (the one piece grille/bumper was unusual in the 80s!).

  11. I bought the opel kadett 1.3 version new in 1981, it was cheaper than the vauxhall and had a radio /cassette as standard but only 60bhp compared to 75 on the vauxhall.
    The camshaft went after only about 25000 miles but the non GM replacement lasted twice that mileage!
    Exhausts did’nt last long and despite my best efforts the lovely red paint faded badly on the bonnet and roof.
    The gearbox was light and accurate and the ride was good.
    I loved that car and kept it for 8 years before replacing it with a Citroen XSI.

  12. Strangely enough the Astra never made it to australia and new zealand until several generations later in the late 90s. We were lumped with the isuzu a.k.a Holden gemini instead. They came in sedan only and remained in rwd configuration. This generation of cars is where the uk and her colonies posted ways. BLs distribution went bust, vauxhall was quietly dropped for the gemini. Even the market dominating cortina / escort duo were unceremoniously dumped in favour of the japanese based laser and Telstar.

  13. I had an Opel Kadett version of this model. It was about a year old and was pretty good, sharp and pokey (1.3), reliable and well put together. Downside was that it was a bit basic and spartan; similar to sitting in a biscuit tin. For those times it was ok; but I don’t think those levels of “luxury” would be tolerated today

    I also later had an early MkII Astra, one of the first jelly moulds. Horrible car. Dull, slow, wallowy. Got rid of it as soon as I realised the mistake.

  14. @markosity1973

    The original Gemini was Kaddett/Chevette based was it not? The mk2 was some sort of Isuzu bespoke design.

    Interestingly the mk1/2 Holden Astras were Nissan Sunny/Pulsars! Would be the equivalent of selling the Qashqow as an Astra.

    The mk3/4/5 Holden Astras were the same as the Vauxhall mk3/4/5 /Opel (mk1/2/3 as Astra name) offerings.
    The latest Astra was not adopted, instead the GM/Chevy/Daewoo Cruze was offered as the replacement.

    Indeed, the Vectra and Corsa were once sold as Holdens, now replaced by the Epica/Spark.

  15. @Will I am not sure about the origins of the gemini. It could well have been chevette based for all I know. I do know that it was sold in very small numbers alongside the chevette for a short while.

    I did wonder if the astra was a pulsar, They look very similar side on. We got the pulsar here in the mid 80s, but it’s sales were eclipsed the very similar looking all new corolla fwd range

  16. I recall friends of ours in the mid 80s having a lovely metallic blue 1.6GL, much like the one in the bottom photo. They kept it for years, before eventually swapping it for a very late mk2 Astra GL. As a youngster I much preferred the mk1, and still do. It’s a shame they are so rare these days.

    Having said that, even as a kid I remember thinking how silly the saloon version was after seeing one in a car park with the little bootlid open. It had those black plastic covered external hinges – was it a cheaper option or something? They all seemed to be lower spec models, so perhaps they were. And almost always the Opel Kadett version.

  17. Landyboy, yes, the PLM was a Daewoo.
    Will M, the first Gemini was a 1.8-engined RWD saloon or coupe, which replaced the Ascona and Manta in the US and inherited their “Buick Opel” name! The same 1.8 engine ended up in the Hindustan Ambassador and the Contessa, which was the Indian FE Victor.

    As for FWD Astras handling well, they had that wonderful GM combination of stiff springs and soft dampers, which could have had some influence on the appalling torque steer. If you gave a 1.3 full beans out of a T-junction, you could go anywhere. By the time the Rover R8 came out, you needed at least 130bhp to get that sort of hazard. In the ’80’s, the smart money bought FWD cars with PAS, to damp down the torque steer – particularly on Talbot Alpines and Solaras.

    The diesel Astras deserve a mention – deathly slow, but very economical. The vans did good service, e.g. for British Rail.

    I remember seeing a 5-dr estate in Splott, Cardiff, with a DIY high roof conversion aft of the C pillars, to carry children’s beds, which the owner made for a living. That business went broke, so he then went into painting and decorating – no doubt storing the wallpaper upright!

  18. The front wheel drive Gemini (Isuzu I-Mark in the USA, among other aliases) was withdrawn after a very short time on the Australian market. I think it was down to cost – the price Isuzu wanted was uneconomic and two generations of pretty nasty Nissans took its place, followed by a Corolla, re-badged Holden Nova, in the Button Plan era.

    The comparative standing in the UK of the Escort Mk.III and the first Astra demonstrates the power of the invincible Ford marketing machine. It was the GM car which set the benchmark for the next generation, not the Escort or Golf Mk.1.

  19. Nice car, and the one that made a clear break between Vauxhalls as re-engineered Opels, and then being merely re-badged Opels. Opened the door to great sales increases in the early 80s, although the mkII Cavalier made the bigger difference.

    NB not sure that they sold the 60hp 1300E engine in the UK. There was an Astra E, but it came with the 1.2 engine from previous generation kadetts and the ‘E’ was a trim level rather than an engine spec. That model also came with cheap-looking round headlamps too.

    Now that GM are looking to save money again, I wonder how long it will be before the Opel/Vauxhall and the Chevy/Daewoo ranges merge? It would be repetition on a global scale of the Vauxhall/Opel merger of 30 years ago.

  20. Looking at that top picture, you can see the resemblance to the Talbot Horizon.

    It was an important car, as GM showed that FWD didn’t have to mean complicated and expensive maintenance, and started the shift away from simple rwd cars in the company car fleets.

  21. Jonathan, that would be a step too far for GM. Chevy and Vauxhall are in two similar but not really too related portions of market. Should be interesting to see how the Vauxhall/Opel/Buick merger goes. Some of the Buick range, despite being already close to the Vauxhall range, does look good. Wonder if V&O will be given more freedom outside of Buick to be original?

  22. These are really hard to spot today, even the MK2’s are a rare sight after being around a lot until 10 years ago.

  23. I’m hoping the buick tie up will let them introduce a big saloon and coupe.
    Think Monaro and VXR8, but with diesels/4 cylinder petrols and hybrid drivetrains.

  24. loadsa young lads had them round my area!! rare beasts now hotpoint had loads of mark one vans in brown and beige!! i,vve driven astras mark 1 to 4 and the mark one was the best handling of them!! vauxhall did away with handling in later astras!

  25. a truly great car of the eighties,much,much better than the escort,rare genuine gte’s getting very thin on the ground and pricey-i once owned very rare 5door MK1 and MK2gte 16v models.loved em.

  26. One of the blokes working with us, a young lad called Adrian who always had nice, interesting cars and used to do a radio show in the US whilst running the Minolta Club, had a black GTE when they were new. I thought it was lovely, having tried and failed to persuade my dad that rather than a practical Passat, we needed an Opel Manta.

    Somewhere we probably still have a print of the car splashing through a ford in I think Clumber Park with a model standing up out of the sunroof.

    The 4 door fastback is a hangover from the range of bodystyles the Kadett was traditionally offered with. Also, a fully enclosed boot offers insurance advantages and security benefits, which some regions value more than others – I think it was an option more tailored to mainland European tastes and indeed, more Northern territories where letting the warmth out of the car when opening the hatch was really quite unwelcome.

  27. The reason that both Opel Kadetts & Vauxhall Astras were wold in the UK was a legacy one. Only a year previously, the GM Europe large saloons differed i.e. the Opel Rekord and Vauxhall VX series. The only thing these two had in common were the floor pan and door locks & handles. And back when the latter was launched in 1972 as the FE Victor, there was no commonality between Vauxhall & Opel.

    Therefore when the Kadett & Astra were launched, there were still separate Vauxhall & Opel dealers. GM Europe realised that the situation couldn’t continue so the Kadett was quietly discontinued & the two dealer networks combined.

  28. These are very rare cars to see on the road. I couldn’t remember the last time i saw one, so when i spotted one for sale I had to buy it. It also happens to be the one in “shep” post above.That particular pic above was taken last year @ the vboa national show in northants.
    I have owned it for 6 years now & can be seen regularly on the show circuit. Give us a wave if you see me around and about.

  29. I often see a yellow estate going the opposite way in the morning near the A1/M18 intersection. Makes me smile.

  30. One thing it had over its rivals too was the low loading lip of the boot. It made loading the boot a doddle compared to the Scrote and Golf.

  31. My old man had a 1300S (I think) in the 80s. Definitely seemed like a nicer drive that the car I learned to drive on (a SEAT Malaga of all things) but didn’t realise it had quite so much poke! They did seem to get thin on the ground pretty quickly in the 90s.

  32. The geek in me seems to recal at launch..
    Opels had a hatch and the Astra
    was boot only. Cavaliers were called Vectras on the continent at that time.
    Until the Opel was dropped in the UK and Vauxhalls
    were the brand for this country.
    I live near Ellesmere port and it still looks funny seeing all the LHd Opels leaving for Germany!


  33. BSD

    Vauxhall makes cars for Opel and exports them to Germany!?

    I thought that Vauxhall makes only RHD cars for the UK market only,to be sold as Vauxhall.

    Nowfinding that Vauxhall makes LHD cars for opel-thet’s something new!

  34. Cavaliers were still Asconas on the continent up until the Mk3 Cavalier (at which point, as you rightly say, they became Vectras

  35. I miss my ’83 Mk1 Astra 1600S L Estate dearly. Loved that car, got it for peanuts (less than £100 if I remember) as a one owner car (elderly gent) with circa 60k on it back in 2002, and it was as fresh as a daisy. I ran it for a couple of years, then it became a “hack” used by family members for a couple more. Late 2006 was when the tin worm finally won its battle and she went to the scrappers with 75k on it.

    Loved the “made in West Germany” sticker on the windscreen, it handled OK and with the 1.6 90bhp lump it was quick too – I nicknamed it the flying wardrobe. I will have to have a rummage and see if I can find some pics of the old girl. Great car, I’m feeling all nostalgic now.

  36. A friend of mine had his company Astra replaced by a 1.3 Maestro (metal bumpers) and he was not a happy man. Another colleague based near Cambridge bought a silver GTE and was absolutely besotted.
    My preference, which I never got round to, was the estate which was absolutely spot on for practicality (low sill, square box) but looked tremendous at the time.

  37. Opel also continue to make RHD Opels for Ireland and Cyprus (including variants such as the last gen Astra saloon).
    Quite a lot of Grey Import Opels in NI.
    Google used RHD Opels for their Streetview camera cars.

  38. I’ve seen a few RHD Opels around my way as well.

    In the mid 1990’s I kept seeing a Mk3 Opel Astra on ZZ Irish temporary plates.

  39. I do recall the launch of the MK1 Astra, not long after I bought a new Datsun Cherry hatch. Couldn’t afford an Astra back then! My favourite at that time was the 1300S GL especially with its square-spoked alloy wheels.

    The 75bhp engine was more powerful than its rivals in those days. The later MK1 GTE with full colour coding was a car to aspire to and I still think the MK1’s looked better than the subsequent MK2 & 3 versions.

  40. There was always an air of quality around the MK1 Astra which was lost on the MK2. Every one remember the awesome M1 GTE but one of my favorites was the 1.6 SR. A very good friend with loaded parents bought him a ‘A’ reg MK1 GTE brand new for his 18th and fair play to him he still has it in mint condition.

  41. I see a lot of Opel badged Astras on transporters coming away from Ellesmere Port on the M56. Also, when the Vectra was still built at Luton weren’t all the saloons built here and all the hatches built in Germany? (or the other way round?). My Dad had a (German built, Vauxhall badged) 2.5 V6 Vectra SRI back in 96, that was a quick car.

  42. @45 Simon – I agree the MK1 Astra seemed better in quality than later versions. Your friend was very lucky getting a new Astra GTE for his 18th – I was nearly 20 before I bought my first car, a used MINI…

    @46 Russell – I think the power output for that 2.5 V6 Vectra was 170ps.

  43. back in 1998 when the Ford Focus mk1 was revealed. It got a lot of hype about the new edge styling and handling, fare play.

    The mark 4 Vauxhall Astra was plane jane in compasion but seeing it first time at a dealer launch party in the showroom reminded me of the mk1 and a bit of mk2 Astra’s apperance.

    I thoughts at the time Opel/Vauxhall were going back too basics with this one and even sharpen up the handling with lotus help as cars got more safety built in each new model.

    I still got the free CD from that party and saw the traffic cops down the road waiting to breathalyser people who drank too much bubbly on the way home.

    I don’t think dealers do launch partys the same on the new motors even if they are over styled today.

  44. Vauxhall’s and Datsun’s in ‘unsung heroes’…poor old Marina in ‘Not their finest hour’ and ‘Was the Marina necessary?’

  45. My Uncle Bob had an Astra EXP just like this one but his was black/gold – http://www.motorbase.com/profiles/picture/index.php?i=1946551946

    With the two tone paint which made it look like a Lotus Sunbeam and the front fog lights I thought it was the coolest car in the world when I was a kid.

    Two tone paint seemed to be a bit trency back then, anyone else remember this? – http://www.fiesta-mk1.co.uk/press_releases_adverts/press_photos_uk/limited_editions/fiesta_kingfisher_001.php

  46. @48 Yes there was something “Mk1-ish” about the Mk4, the basic models came with bare steel wheels with little plastic centre caps – pure Astra Mk 1 and Cav Mk2. Remember the multispoke style steels on the Mk3s, they were nice, I had a set painted black on a Cavalier I once had, but they looked crap on that car though!

  47. Hi, I had a Mk1 diesel estate in that funny orange-brown colour called “Henna Red” which looked very like something else! Something you don’t mention, this was one of the earliest mainstream diesel cars which was a trickle then and a flood now. Only about 60BHP so very gentle. Also, like most Vauxhalls of the period, very garish orange seats. I ran it to 165,000 miles with only 1 replacement camshaft and sold it. Imagine my surprise when I saw it YEARS later in an episode of “Last of the Summer Wine”, a scene set in a scrapyard and there, clearly visible on the heap behind the actors, was RTN621Y! Goodness knows what the mileage was by then.
    Cheers, David

  48. My estate was L spec and the interior was lovely. Black dash, black cloth seats (with headrests) and the door cards featured a lovely stainless steel (possibly plastic!) trim piece running along. It was quite a classy interior – the Mk2s were far more plasticy and nasty, a Mk2 we had was fitted with horrid beige everything – seats, door cards, dash, the lot!

  49. @54
    Your right about the MK2 plasticy dashboard.
    Serving my time as a apprentice both guys at work had MK2’s
    one 1.3L (C-reg) with a duff engine ticking over the whole dashbord would rattle in front of you for ages but the other Astra owned by Gordon time served (G-reg) 2.0 GTE with the digital instrumentation binnacle, it stayed firm.

    My mates first car (B-reg) Astra it too suffered shaky dashboard syndrome but that car was a rust bucket at 10 years old. Still happy days running rusty old banger cars back then.

  50. Bought a new 1.3 Astra Estate in 1980, remember driving for the last time May 1999 with 80,000 miles and thinking ‘I like this car’. That day it suffered a short circuit in the main loom and destroyed the front end.
    Still miss it 13 years later!

    • The under bonnet electrical short, perhaps it was the failure of the heavy-duty earth link around the rubber mounts of the alternator and engine block which afflicted later versions of the Astra, when the link failed, the car would still be drivable but the current overload over the the rest of the loom lead to meltdown of the loom, smoke, and sudden failure of the car.

  51. It’s normally the crankshaft that goes at 80k on Vauxhalls of that era.

    The base spec Astras had round headlights that used to look odd, my sister’s friend’s Mum had a V reg yellow one with these.

  52. Thev round headlight cars had different type of bulbs than the “normal” type – I bought some from Halfrauds and it turned out I had the “round” type rather than square.

    They were gutsy motors though the camshafts used to get rattly on ’em though the Mk1 it 1.6 never did but it only did 75k. The Mk2 (1.3) had a camshaft at about 100k, but the car wasn’t the same after, apparently. We had a trailer tent years ago that the 1.3 Mk2 would quite happily drag along with a family of four and all the associated crap loaded on board. The 1.6 Toyota Carina E that followed was useless, while it had over 100bhp it not a happy bunny when loaded.

  53. I remember driving an Astra 1300 hire car in 1984 and being astounded by the smoothness and liveliness of its engine. Compared to my MG Metro at the time it was a different beast in the engine department although the Metro was impressive in its own way.

    The Astra was a good backup for the Cavalier in overhauling Vauxhall’s fortunes in the 80s. I was going to say that the Astra whipped BL’s bottom but that’s not the case,when I checked the figures, at least for the Mk 1. While the Maestro was on sale (full year 84 onwards) it beat the sales for the Mark 1 Astra. The Mark II Astra was always ahead and it was rapidly downhill for the Maestro from then on with the Astra selling twice as many cars by 87.

  54. My first car was a 1982 1300 GL Auto 5Dr, in hazel brown metallic. A great little car after changing water pump, top end rebuild with just about every component needing replacing and Webber carb conversion to manual choke.

    Ignition was a bit of a problem requiring constant attention, as was rust, but having had £400 welding done to get through MOT and spending countless weekends learning how to spray metallic, it died a horrible death in 1994 – burst into flames at rush in town centre. Fire brigade on a hoax call, not much left by the time the flames went out. Still, at least I then moved onto a Montego…

  55. Sorry, but just read through it all again and have to add more nonsensical memory-ness!

    The sound of a GM Family II 8-valve engine! God its a lovely noise – no other make quite does it, I can’t describe it but to me it’s the sound of a (80’s at least) Vauxhall. Of course being an “old skool” 8 valver me trusty Cav has the awesome sound, but not so much as my old Mk1 Astra.

    And the people these days don’t want engine noise! I tell you what, I want a bit, and I want to hear “character”! 🙂

  56. My dad had a 1980 astra 1300 s l estate 3 door, toffee camshaft had to be replaced 3 times before vauxhall got it right, handling was subperb, fast for its time as the previous car was a moris marina 1300 estate and was no compitition for the astra.exhaust note was great, shame they dont do this with cars anymore exept the astons and ferrari’s……

  57. Just come across this thread! I had a Mk1 Astra 1.6D van in Post Office red from new. I had it for just under 2 years and did 65,000 miles in it. The only things it had were new glow plugs at 60,000 in the very harsh winter of 1984. It did me great service considering that it was routinely driven at 80mph everywhere (wot me, officer?) which was a comfortable cruising speed.

    The main luxury was that it had a rear wash-wipe. No radio, I was allowed by my employer to have one installed so long as I bought the radio. The van had the square lights and was basically the estate with no side windows to the rear passenger compartment. The load bay was completely flat and big enough to sleep in (and I did). It made a pretty good passion wagon too!

    Unfortunately I had to give it back when I left the company – who would not let me buy it off them, 🙁 I ended up with a pageant blue Dolomite 1500 HL instead.

    Being a 1.6D, acceleration wasn’t a strong suit. I think the 0-60 was 19 seconds but it felt faster and in practice was not too shabby if driven enthusiastically. The handling and roadholding were brilliant for the day and you could chuck it round bends and roundabouts with complete confidence.

    I would still love one today. Truly a forgotten hero.

  58. Hi all can anyone remember the mk1 astra exps i had one which was red top with black bottom tinted glass as standard it was a 1.6 , iv’e been trying to find one since in this colour but no joy.

  59. @53 David Walker
    I had a Henna red MK1 estate,my first car,with the orange seats.Mine was a 1600S petrol and was no slouch.Great car,went all over with it,even on holiday to Stockholm via Harwich dfds.Kept with Astra estates for the next 10yrs but am now on Golf TDi’s.Have still got a MK2 Astra Belmont LXi from 1990 in mint condition,will never part with it(only 22 left).

  60. Wow, interesting to see the ‘droop snoot’ Astra.

    Will M – February 28, 2012

    The current Astra is available as a saloon in Ireland – http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/cars/astra-4-door/index.html as well as South Africa – http://www.opel.co.za/vehicles/opel-range/cars/astra-4-door/index.html

    The 1980 Astra model was sold in South Africa as an Opel Kadett – at the time, the main GM brand in South Africa was Chevrolet, although by that time, these were Opel-based Asconas, Rekords, Commodores and Senators, which became Opels in 1982. (South Africa kept the Kadett name for the Astra hatchback until 1998-99.)

    markosity1973 – February 28, 2012

    You’re right about NZ and Australia not getting this model – I was amazed when I saw Vauxhall Chevettes when I visited NZ in 1996, though not as amazed as I was to see Vauxhall Vivas still on the road. There were a few Opel Kadetts and Asconas sold in NZ in the late 80s, as niche models.

  61. Yep, I suppose they were a bit of a landmark car. A really good car. Somehow though, I was never that struck on the mk1 Astra. GTE maybe.

  62. These seemed to be one of the first decent “Golf beater”, as the Renault 14 & Fiat Strada were a bit short of the mark.

    For some reason these were the first 1980s cars to start vanishing from the roads, even when it was still fairly easy to see 1970s cars in everyday use.

  63. A vastly underrated car.Nice to see all the affectionate comments.I started my long Vauxhall career at a small dealer in 1983(Astra mk1 last full year of production),and always thought they were a smart,well built motor.The Mk1 GTE actually came out in April 1983,remember seeing a red Y reg,with the legend on the rear tailgate ‘1800 FUEL INJECTION’on the dealer forecourt.

  64. The astra was the first modern car we had. Such a difference from the old BL cara we had. The wrap around facia was a hugh step forward. For me the Mk2 was a further step forward. I’m no Vauxhall fan, but these cars marked a real change in what was available and made other manufacturers review their offer.

  65. I had an early GL in Sapphire Blue just like the Kadett in the lower picture. It was fully loaded with sliding steel sunroof and the nicest OEM alloy wheels I have seen to this day. Fantastic car. Like a properly built Alfasud. Shame it only stayed in production for 4 years. The slug like MK 2 was inferior in very way. Cheaply finished with sloppy handling and the rep car image every Astra has suffered from since

  66. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Astra, although I’ve never [knowingly] had much to do with a Mk1. My mum and dads first brand new car after I was born was a Mk2, on an E reg. From what I can remember it was a 3 door in white, not sure if it was an L or a Merit though. I’m sure there’ll be some old family photos featuring it somewhere.

    Then my little brother came along in ’91 and the three door Astra wasn’t practical enough, so we ended up with an E Reg Peugeot 405 (E418 BVU) for a few years. After that we went back to an Astra, an early Mk3 estate – GLS Spec). This, alongside the Pug, was my most memorable car growing up. We kept it until a few months before I passed my test. I wanted to take ownership when I passed, but unfortunately it was sold on.

    The ironic thing is, during all the time we owned it the only thing it needed other than routine servicing was a new fuel tank, it never let us down once over more than 170k miles. The chap who bought it had nothing but trouble with it though. After a few months sent J562 LCM to the scrap yard in the sky.

    My first car was a Mk4, 1.6 8v LS 5 door. And as mentioned in a few comments here, it always reminded me somewhat of the Mk1/Mk2, especially the 3 door. This again was faultless, only needing routine maintenance over 200k miles.

    Then I got a LR Defender, which I sold to buy a house. To replace it I bought a Mk5 Astra, which I had some major issues with (mainly due to the neglect of the previous owner). Now I’ve ironed them out it’s pretty much fault free.

    I was looking to buy a Mk6 but the service I received from my local Vauxhall dealership was enough to put me off buying a Vauxhall ever again, which is a shame.

    Unfortunately circumstances change, and now the Mk5 is up for sale and I’m after a Transit.

    Who knows though, maybe sometime in the future I’ll end up with a Mk6, then we’ll have had an Astra from Mk2 to Mk6 in the family, or maybe I’ll end up with a Mk1 too so we’ll have had one of every generation…….

  67. My fave Astra, looks wise was always a particular version of the Mk1, the early low-spec 2-door saloon with, (doubtless feeble) round headlights and a deffo feeble 1.2 Opel pushrod engine from the last RWD Kadett. Uprate bulbs/brakes and engine and it would have made a nice innocent-looking road burner – with a stiffer bodyshell than the hatches were blessed with.
    As has been said, in general the Mk.1 was a better car than the version that replaced it…

    • The MK1 certainly was a better car than the MK2, but to put that in perspective, a good friend and colleague of mine wanted to buy British. He bought an Austin Allegro. It had a few problems but he bought a second Allegro. These 2 Allegros were so terrible that he bought a Vauxhall Astra. He has only driven Vauxhall Astras since, every model up to his current 2012 diesel 1.7. Now, I have no intention of knocking British Leyland because I have always liked the Allegros. Imagine the loyalty such a customer would have guaranteed had BL built their cars as well as Vauxhall built the Astra.

  68. well what can i say ? just bought a A REG ASTRA GTE . nearly 30 years old . in black totally standard car . 64k last owner has had for 28 years . drove it a few times now . you cannot beat a good old school astra . had these and sri cavaliers in my early days of driving . in mmy opinion the best vauxhalls from the 80’s . a cut above the rest )))

  69. It moved Vauxhall forward and was light years ahead of the Chevette, but somehow I prefer the Chevette’s earthy charms and its indestructible 1256 cc Viva engine and the fact it was pure British, while most early Astras were German.

    • The Chevette wasnt pure British. It was a Kadett C with a droop snoot. Even the Viva OHV Engine could trace its roots back to an Opel unit.

        • During the Viva development, Vauxhall had originally planned for the Viva to be front wheel drive, but they were behind in its development, so they moved over to use the rear wheel drive mechanics that Opel were planning. The engine that Opel was planning was just 700cc, so Vauxhall stroked it out to 1000cc to match their plans. So technically it was an Opel design modified by Vauxhall.

  70. OBA 30W – My first car was a White 1981 Astra 1200S with the 1196 OHV engine and the weird saloon/boot configuration. It had a lovely teracotta interior and I recall that it differed to most other Astras in that the manufacturers plate under the bonnet stated the car was built by ADAM OPEL AG even though badged a Vauxhall. Also, the Vauxhall badging took the form of individual letters accross the centre of the boot lid. Rust and a weak engine (The OHV only had a 3 bearing crank) got it in the end. Happy days though – if it was still around i’d have it back and restore it.

  71. I had a 1300L 5-dr hatch in Polar White, with a rust-brown tweed interior. I think she was 75bhp, which was quite impressive in its day for a 1300cc lump. Surprising how quick it was off the mark, it could easily see off a 1.6 Ghia mk3 Escort at the lights! A great car, and very underrated.

    Moved onto a Mk2 in Belmont guise after that, a 1.6L. I then bought a Mk3 in 1996, M-reg, 1.6i 16v GLS, in Nautilus green. Still driving it now. Still in mint condition, only done 90,000 miles. I shall be keeping it for the foreseeable future! Astra forever…..

  72. In 1981 I was given a 1300S Astra estate by my company (Xerox) after having had two Chrysler Avenger estates over the previous 4 years (the Avengers were dreadfully unreliable and would self-destruct at 95mph downhill on motorways). After the Avenger, the Astra 1300S was a gorgeous car: cloth interior, sports seats, incredible performance – it burned-off 2.0 Cortinas on the motorway and got to 115 mph (on the clock) on the flat. It was very reliable – the first car I had that would not need a visit to the garage for faults in-between services.

  73. My mum had a 1982 MK1 special edition invader, it was two tone brown and gold with quite an impressive list of extras such as push up sunshine roof, radio cassette player and special upholstery. It was replaced by a red MK2 in merit spec which I remember being very disappointed with the fact it didn’t even have a cassette player. Happy memories 🙂

  74. Hi guys I have just bought an 82 astra1.3GL hatchback S its in great condition just needs new roof lining where the mice lived in it in the barn.lol I gota say what a fantastic drive.really takes me back and cant wait til I can take it to shows.a little tlc she,l be looking good.

  75. The one in the photo looks very much like the W reg Astra 1300 GL my family owned for 3 years. Compared with the Mk 2 Escort it replaced, the Astra was economical, refined and nicer looking inside. 100 mph and an average mpg of 40 mpg was very impressive then, considering the Escort would probably struggle to better 90 mph and was lucky to return more than 35 mpg on a long journey. No major reliability woes with the Astra, it did everything that was asked for it and all it needed was a new starter motor, which wasn’t the end of the world, when you could source a reconditioned one easily.

  76. The car that brought Vauxhall into the eighties and started the massive surge in popularity for Vauxhall that saw the company take second place in the sales chart in 1986. While not knocking the Chevette that preceded it, which was a step forward from the Viva, the Astra was clearly aimed more at the Volkswagen Golf than the Mark 2 Escort, fwd, upmarket interior, smooth, powerful engines and a hatchback as standard. No wonder sales snowballed for the Astra, it was what the market wanted and was just as capable as the Golf, with lower ownership costs.
    For a time in the eighties, Vauxhall could do no wrong, the Mark 2 Cavalier carried on the move to fwd and was a massive success, the Nova was an instant success in the supermini class, and the Carlton became a favourite in the executive car market. The image of Vauxhall producing rust prone and not very well made cars was buried as eighties Vauxhalls proved the company could make reasonably reliable and rust resistant( watch the wheelarches, though)cars that people wanted to buy.

  77. My association with the Mk1 was quite a lengthy one. It began in early 1980 when Dad took delivery of a brand new metallic blue Kadett 1.3 LS saloon and was amazed to how modern it looked, felt and sounded compared to the Chevette L that preceded it. The dash most impressed me with the silver switches inset into the dash, one being for a rear wash wipe (on the saloon the rear wiper spindle passed centrally through the rear screen withe the motor sat on the parcel shelf covered in a plastic box). Sadly for some reason, my Dad changed jobs and we went from V reg Kadett LS to a V reg Marina Base – but thats another story..

    In 1983 the company I joined were phasing out Ital Estates and replacing with 1.3L 2 door Astra Estates and some 1.6L four door estates. Being the young errand boy it was me to got sent here, there and everywhere. Although I liked the Itals (especially the 1.7s) it was a real treat to get the keys of a new A reg Astra, chalk and cheese, I loved the throaty sound of the engines which I got to thrash, 100mph was possible (on the speedo) even with a 1.3.

    When my ageing Escort Mk1 was up for replacement, my car of choice was the Astra Mk1 and in 1985 I bought a German built yellow 1981 1.2 E 4dr saloon. Very basic, but I up specced it up as best as I could, a lidded glove box, central consol, clock and illuminated switches, I left the round headlights which I liked. I was pretty happy with the 1.2 it seemed to keep up with my mates 1.3.CVH Escort Mk3. I loved the simplicity of it and in the four years I had it, oil changes aside, the only problems were a core plug and water pump. Apart from signs of rust on the front spolier it was otherwise rust free when traded for a Mk2 in 1989.

    In 1991 we needed a 2nd car and I found another 1.2E this time a British built 1983 2dr hatch but my experience this time wasn’t so good. Within a year it needed two front wings and valance, the rear arches were rusting and the mounting for the hatch gas strut had rusted through. It would also often cut out on idle which a carb replacement didn’t cure for long. It saw us through until 1996, but was dead by1998.

    In early 2000 on my commute home in my Vectra, I happened to see a yellow round headlighted Astra Mk1 approaching me (they were rare even then) it just happened to be my old car, now 19 years old. Did a quick U turn and did eventually found it parked in a pub car park, it was still seemingly rust free and looked pretty much as I had left it in 1989. Sadly I didn’t last much longer, would love to know what finished it off.

    Yes the Mk1 was an unsung hero, probably the first ‘modern’ car for the masses and better than the Mk3 Escort. Sadly my love affair with Vauxhall ended after a late Mk4 Astra 8 valve which again I liked for its relative simplicity and its nod to earlier versions, no version since has inspired me.

    If I could find a decent Mk1 (or 2) as a daily runner I’d grab it.

  78. My dad had a Mk1 Astra/Kadett and I agree that for the driver it was fine and lively to ride in. However in the back it was another story altogether: at anything over 40mph on an ordinary A road the underdamped suspension threw passengers all over the place. My wife had our first baby at the time and she became an expert on back seat ride and comfort in different cars. Comparing the Astra/Kadett with a Chevette and a Metro 1.0L produced a surprising verdict: the Metro was the clear winner, with nice seat, comfortable ride and no real complaints; the Chevette came second – its back seat was a bit basic and the ride firm but it was reasonably well-behaved; however the bouncy Kadett/Astra was judged a bit of a disaster and came last. Interestingly, the front-drive Cavalier, despite its close relationship to the Mk 1 Kadett/Astra, didn’t share the latter’s poor back seat ride – it had a stiffer rear body (raised rear cill) and properly-damped rear suspension. Clearly somebody in the GM design team had heard the complaints from Kadett back seat passengers!

  79. The Astra at the top of the article is identical to the W reg car my parents had in the late eighties, when they needed a cheap, reliable car due to forced retirement. In the 3 years we had our Astra 1300 GL, all it needed was a starter motor( replacement from a scrapyard for £ 15), and was mostly a very reliable, rust free, economical and quiet car for its size. Of course, being an Opel with a Vauxhall badge( the plate in the engine bay announced MADE IN WEST GERMANY), probably explained why it was such a well built car.

  80. I remember the first MK1 Astra’s launched were the 1300GL 5 door version with the 75bhp motor and nice alloy wheels. looked good in Sapphire blue. A powerful car at that time… Of course the later GTE became legendary

    • The original German built Astra GL was a revelation compared with the Viva or Chevette. While the 1256 used in the Chevette and Viva was a fairly economical and reliable unit, the Opel 1295 beat it hands down for refinement and performance. Also the interior was far more modern and seemed like it was hewn from granite. It was no wonder the car attracted healthy sales from the start, and Vauxhall added other trim levels and engines to improve sales.

  81. The Family 2 series of Vauxhall / Opel engines seemed to be a decent replacement for the smaller “cam in head” units, though the 1.6 seemed to suffer from camshaft troubles at higher mileages, though the next generation sorted that out.

    The Mk1 Astra was the first of that chiselled look of the early 1980s Vauxhalls.

    By 1983 the whole range was in that style, but the Mk2 Astra started the trend towards curves that most of the range started to adopt, apart from the Nova, which still had a lot the 1979 styling in 1993.

  82. The Astra was inspired by the Volkswagen Golf, which had a similar chiselled look, and the early models were aimed at the Golf, priced higher than an Escort and with similar build quality and refinement to a Golf. Certainly the Astra wouldn’t have done as well if it was fitted with the tappety 1256 Viva engine and carried over the rwd platform.
    Also the rise of the Astra saw the Chevette marginalised to a British only product. The Chevette, with its Viva underpinnings and rwd, was made more like a budget car for the British market and sold mostly to fleets( the armed forces and police were regular customers) and new car buyers who couldn’t afford an Astra.

  83. Glenn’s right, the Astra’s engines at 75 & 1.6 90bhp were particularly powerful compared to the Viva’s & Chevette at the time. There were better spec Chevettes around in the mid/late 70’s typically the GL & GLS trim – but still with the 1256 engine. It’s good to look back at photos of these cars of those days.

  84. I used to like the run out Celebrity model in silver and black with such luxuries as tinted glass and a radio/cassette. By then, the Astra had proven itself as a worthy rival to the Mark 3 Escort, which it was light years ahead of, and had more in common with the Volkswagen Golf. While not ugly, the second generation never looked as good as the Mark 1 Astra and I’m sure Vauxhall could have squeezed out a few more years from the original model.


  86. They were rather nneat cars; I remember a friend had one that was badged “EXP”, which was a sirt of not-quite-GTE trim level.

    Early ones had a bit of a problem though – the dreaded “Varajet II” carburettor was GM’s equivalent of Ford’s horrid Variable Venturi carb and the electronically-controlled SU which blighted similar-era BL products. Poor starting, sticking chokes, stalling… replace the horrid thing with a 32/36 Weber on an adaptor-plate and the difference was astounding!

    • That is so true. My mother traded an Allegro for an Astra back in the day. The electronically controlled SU needed human intervention! I cannot now remember which way round it was, but it was either foot almost flat to the floor when cold, and not touched at all when hot, or the other way round, or it wouldn’t start!

      It had the camshaft that hadn’t been hardened properly and going up hills at speed was like something from a James Bond film. A better smoke screen than Bond’s Aston! It was hilarious to me as a child. It was an early car. The dealer hadn’t come across the problem. Vauxhall didn’t realise that there was a problem at the time, so the modified harder ones were not then available. Obviously the cam was changed under warranty for another soft one and by the time my mother traded it for a Maestro VDP (the most unreliable car she ever owned!) the Bond smokescreen was back!

      • @ Lucy P, you can see why some people went over to Japanese cars, even though the Astra was one of the better badged British cars. Also the local Vauxhall dealer was like Arthur Daley and was notorious for inventing work, poor customer care and rotten trade ins. A mile away you could buy a new Toyota from a dealer who is still in business now and whose cars and customer care was vastly better.

        • Glenn- Thanks for reminding me about the dealers! The one my mother used was the same. She took the car for a service, and they adjusted the clutch. When she picked it up, it was so undriveable with kangarooing and gear crunching. She turned round and took it straight back, before even reaching the main road from the dealer.

          The dealer said it was fine. She told them to put it back as it was before the adjustment. They told her that it would only last a few miles if they did that. She told them to PUT IT BACK, so they did. Unsurprisingly, it then drove as it always had done, and was still perfect, when she traded it for the Maestro.

          The problem with Japanese cars back then was that they were viewed as inferior. You only bought one if you could not afford to buy something British of European. You bought them because they were cheap. My parents never even considered a Japanese car. My first boss called them “Jap Crap”.

          I am very lucky that I get to drive many different cars a year, but the only Japanese car I liked was in the Caribbean. It was an old, large Japanese Domestic Market car, so the switches were unintelligible, as were the sat-nav announcements. I am pretty sure that Anguilla wasn’t in the database. It had an old car charm!

          The modern stuff just frustrates me. The Japanese have a different concept for quality and layout. You close the bonnet and it sounds like you have kicked an empty Coke can. (Honda)

          You look for the button to turn off the lane-keeping assist, which is great on the motorway, but frustrating in urban areas, and it’s just above your right knee, where you expect the bonnet release to be (Toyota), or it’s on the roof by the interior light (Subaru).

          I recently drove a new Subaru Outback hybrid CVT auto. Now I know why their sales are so poor! Combining the 2.0 boxer 4 with a hybrid system for what? Being a CVT, it was noisy. That also drowned out the great boxer engine sound. The MPG began with a 3. The hybrid was so weak that it wouldn’t even move away from the lights without the engine firing up, but the battery pack warmed the boot carpet! It had keyless entry, but if you put your hand on the driver’s door handle, it would only open the driver’s door. You had to remember to walk round and put your hand on the passenger’s handle if you had passengers, to open all the other doors, or find the fob in your bag/pocket. That defeats the object of keyless, is irritating, and makes you look like you are deliberately locking out your passengers!

          And you look at the CCA and AH of the batteries on Japanese cars, they are far lower than a European car with the same engine size, and whilst they always seem to start, they now seem to struggle like a BL car used to in the cold.

  87. It might have been badge engineering, but Vauxhall chose well with the name “Astra” as when GM Europe harmonised the badges across Europe, Astra was the only Vauxhall name to be kept.

    • I did wonder if it was due to Astra being a bit more universal a name than Kadett, especially as Opel had dropped most of their other rank names.

      • By 1984 Opels and Vauxhalls used the same drivetrains and were almost identical, but the seperate names lived on into the nineties. I think the Cavalier was such a hard won success for Vauxhall that renaming it Vectra in 1988 could have been a backward step.

        • The previous generation Opel had already changed from Ascona to Vectra, so clearly GM Europe had already decided that would be the name going forward. It’s been suggested that Vauxhall feared that “Vectra” would sound too much like “Victor”!

          • I’ve heard that one about Victor and Vectra, and to many older motorists, the name Victor meant a rotbox car from the late 1950s( even if later models were a lot better). More likely the reason Cavalier was kept for the Mark 3 model was the previous model had been a huge success, made Vauxhall into a massive player and using the Vectra name could have diluted sales. It was good thinking by GM as the Mark 3 was an excellent car and even more popular then the Mark 2.

          • I heard that Vauxhall veoted the use of Corsa at first because it sounded too close to coarser!

          • Whereas Spanish speaking markets would have laughed at a car called Nova, which meant “not going”!

  88. The Astra probably saved Ellesmere Port, as when production was moved there in 1981, the Viva had gone and the Chevette was coming to the end of its life. For the next 40 years, the factory would be the centre of rhd Astra production and became so successful, exports began to lhd markets in Europe in the nineties. Sadly the rise in popularity of crossovers and premium badged small family cars like the Audi A£ hit Astra sales in later years, but the factory is to live on producing small electric vans and an electric Citroen Berlingo.

  89. From adverts I’ve seen for the 2022/23 Astra, it also looks more like a Crossover. In my opinion, the Astra MK1,MK5,MK6 & 7 looked the best. A pity Ellesmere Port is relegated to E-van production but at least it still saves jobs! Wonder where the latest Astra’s are built?

  90. It isn’t a Crossover. It’s a VW Golf rival. The Golf is actually taller. The new Astra is built in the same factory where the Opel Astra has been built for years – Russelsheim, Germany.

    • Thanks for that info. Actually I saw a new metallic gold Astra a few days ago and yes, in reality, it does look like a normal Hatchback in profile (in the Golf segment). I don’t like the badges being black on black though. Chrome would look better!

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