In the coming weeks, my working life is about to change in a big way. Out will go the convenience of working from home for the bonus of an extra-long working week, as in comes the pleasures of a daily commute – and work in an office. These things happen, and it’s certainly going to be a bit of a change. One thing that was consuming me in the run-up to this was what wheels I was going to use for my 60-mile daily schlep – and that’s why I ended up buying a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3.
Currently on my fleet, there’s a mere two cars that are up, running and available at the turn of a key – my Lancia Delta Integrale and a very nice Citroen XM Exclusive, which was passed to me by AROnline regular, Stewart Weller. Both are great cars, demanding of a little attention now and then, but you would no longer describe either as being perfectly suited to life in the fast lane, mixing it with the 32ods and A4TDIs.
Interestingly, I had thought about something modern, super-plush and a bit different – which led me to the Citroen C6. Regular readers will know I have a bit of an irrational crush on these cars and I have plenty of previous form with Citroens, so it’s inevitable I’m going to buy one. Not now, though… After looking at a seriously ropey example and mentally totting up the repair and servicing costs on what was a £5k car, I knew this was not a rolling project for me. No, I will wait for the right one.
So, in the meantime, and spurred on by my old mucker, Richard Kilpatrick, I ended up buying a 1995 Vauxhall Cavalier 1.8i LS instead. Talk about twisted logic… There is some logic to my impulse purchase, I am sure – but I’ve yet to truly understand what it is, other than a recurrence of CHPD (Compulsory Heap Purchasing Disorder), which I’ve been under medication for since the late-1990s.
I guess there’s some nostalgia in the purchase – as this car takes me back to the time when I was on the company car ladder and everyone’s lives were so much simpler because we were all judged by the badge on our car’s bootlid. Back then, the Cavalier was the enemy, as I chose the Peugeot 405 (for its dynamics), and then the Citroen BX (because it was a Citroen).
The Cavalier tended to be one of those cars that lived in the outside lane, pushing the rest of us out of the way, driven by pushy proto-David Brents – and yet, I kinda liked them. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cavalier, since the Mk1, and loved the way the Mk2 drove. But the Mk3 – that combined modernism, simplicity and good old-fashioned one-upmanship in an easily-financed package that rolled out of the Luton factory in serious numbers.
Today, it really does remind one of simpler times. Unlike a modern, it’s compact in size and easy to see out of while it hushes along the motorway really quite nicely. It’s simple mechanically and, on my (to be) mixed dual- and single-carriageway commute, I bet it’ll deliver 40mpg, as these Family IIs were always economical old lumps. So it’ll be pleasant to ride in, and not a little anodyne in character whilst, after the passing of two decades, the Cavalier really does stand out now, thanks to low survival and its relative rarity.
It’s not yet possible to think of these as a classic car but, for some, it’ll certainly be nostalgic. Anyone, that is, who lived in the company car fast lane free-for-all of the late-1980s and early-1990s. If you’re ever in doubt about how life has changed since the Cavalier ruled the overtaking lane, take a look at this episode of A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring, called ‘Over the moon with my Cavalier‘. It was made in 1993 and it may as well be reportage from another world…
It’s 47 minutes long, so take some time out during your lunch break to take it all in!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.