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nova fan club
After an early launch in 1983, the Vauxhall Nova quickly established itself as a contender in the small hatchback market. At the same time Vauxhall's sister company (Opel) released the same car under the name of Corsa on the continent. The Vauxhall Nova is General Motors UK version of the identical Opel Corsa and shares many mechanical components with the Astra & Cavalier range (which is handy to know when your modifying your car).
The model line-up includes 2 and 4 door saloon (which isn’t very popular), 3 & 5 door hatchback versions, available with a choice of 1.0 litre ohv and 1.2, 1.2i, 1.3, 1.4, 1.4i & 1.6i litre ohc engines, and lastly a few diesel models as well. The Nova was practical yet stylish and it's own distinctive arches soon made it one of the classic hatchbacks.
Various levels of trim and optional equipment are available depending upon the model selected from the range. For example the low 1.0 litre is not very refined, but the new GSi 1.6 litre models have a lot of mod cons. Fortunately the Nova is of a straightforward design and build, with easy access to major components and service parts from dealers to scrap yards.
But a firm favourite is the 1.3 Nova SR. Make no mistake this is no standard car with a few stickers and a different colour scheme. The SR was the only Nova to be given the Astra/Cavalier 1297cc cross flow engine, also included was a 5 speed gear box, uprated stiffened suspension to improve handling, RECARO racing seats, bodykit with rear spoiler and a dashboard with more dials than you could shake a stick at. The SR was soon to become the popular "boy racers". Which is unfortunate, as there are a lot of thrashed SR’s out there.
In June 1988 Vauxhall realised they were onto something good so they brought out a more serious Nova, the GTE. This was similar to the SR but it had a few modifications like electric windows, alloys (both came as options), side skirts, body coloured bumpers, sunroof (optional on the SR) and the main being a 1.6 litre 100 BHP engine. In a car as small as a Nova a 1.6 litre engine creates one flying machine. A standard GTE will do 0-60 in 9.1 seconds compared to the 11.8 of a SR and will hit 119 mph top end, 17 mph more than the SR.
In-between October 1989 and November 1990, the Nova SR was rewarded with a new 1.4 litre engine as well as more styling goodies such as central locking, electric windows, tinted glass, electric front windows, sunroof etc as standard. The most dramatic change to hit the SR happened in 1991, as with all Novas the whole front end was given a more streamline ninety’s look, as was the interior, which has a more "curvy" dashboard. Vauxhall didn’t change the shape too much and the car was still very noticeable as a Nova.
With the new front came the SRi, this was simply a 1400 SR with a fuel injection system. At the same time the popular GTE was replaced with the GSi which had a revised 1600 injection engine. The GSi had vented discs, electric sunroof (optional on the GTE) and the trademark RECARO racing seats. Novas are very easy to modify which made them popular with boy racers and enthusiasts. They can easily be made to handle 200BHP and many have had a 2 litre turbo engine dropped in from a Calibra to send them supersonic. The Nova finally went out of production in 1992 and the last one left the factory at Bedford.
In an attempt to go more European the Nova was replaced with the Corsa (no Opel didn’t call theirs the Nova). Although the Corsa was released in a SRi model it was not quite the same as the Nova. Although the production of the Nova is no longer, they are still alive and kicking at cruises throughout the UK and you’ll be lucky not to find one in a copy of Max Power or REVS!
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