I’ll start this blog by admitting I’m creating it from a completely biased position. My first (legal) car on the road was a Cavalier Mk1, and despite it being ropier than a ropey thing fashioned from hemp, I had a lot of great times in it. Character-building episodes, such as locking my keys in it in the Welsh mountains at 2am, while answering the call of nature; dealing with four punctures on two consecutive weekends (with a broken jacks); learning to live with a duff carburettor and non-functioning auto-choke; repeatedly setting fire to the dashboard through not knowing how to fit a stereo… you get the idea. Point is, I grew up, and learned a lot about driving, and despite everything I loved my Cavalier Mk1 back in 1987…
But now, 25 years on, the world’s changed considerably. For a start, I now know how to wire a stereo.
Borrowing one from the nice chaps at Vauxhall Heritage in Luton is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. And not entirely for personal nostalgic reasons. The Cavalier was a groundbreaking car for Vauxhall, and as explained in the AROnline development story, its success began a process of revitalisaton that went on to springboard GM’s British offshoot to a firm number two in the UK market.
Why was the Cavalier such a success? Quite simply, it was good looking, well engineered, and excellent to drive. It took on the Ford Cortina MkIV and pretty much beat it at its own game. Revisiting the Cavalier now – after generations of its replacement, the Vectra and Insignia – is interesting. And Vauxhall’s huge success currently is based on this car, and its brother, the Chevette. As as old car, it should be riddled with foibles when driving in modern traffic, but actually, the Cavalier is an absolute delight.
It’s easy to see out of, is reasonably quick and flexible, and the ergonomics excellent, with everything a mere finger stretch away. Okay, there’s not much in the way of equipment, but that’s how things were in 1980! Could I be a sales rep in this car? Absolutely. Me selling Hai Karate by the box-load in 1980 would have been a cinch in the Cavalier – and Mk2 Granada and Rover SD1 aside, I’d have been king of the fast lane. And now, I have to say that other than being unable to listen to my iPod, I’d happily live this car on a day-to-day basis.
But instead of just saying it, I’m going to do it over the next week. And we’ll see if the Cavalier lives up to its promise of being the best repmobile of its era.