Since I started Uni, I've become lazier than usual and I still haven't got round to doing a History page.
Then Gareth (PNG Online) jumped in and said I could use his history page!! Cheers mate!
Well, here it is. If you want more Offical Perfomance Nova Group then visit the Official Site!
The Vauxhall Nova

compiled by Gareth Lewis

Models covered:
Nova - 1983-1993
(1.0 two-door and four-door Saloons, three-door Hatchback [base, Trip, Merit] / 1.2 two and four-door Saloons, three and five-door Hatchbacks [Expression, Trip, Merit, L, Luxe, Merit+, Flair, SX] / 1.3 four-door Saloon, three and five-door Hatchbacks [L, SR] / 1.4 four-door Saloon, three and five-door Hatchbacks [iC Merit, Merit+, L, Luxe, Flair, SR, SRi] / 1.6 three-door hatchbacks [GTEi, GSi] / 1.5 diesel three and five-door Hatchbacks [Merit+] / 1.5 turbo diesel three and five-door Hatchbacks [Merit+,SX])

The Vauxhall Nova represented the first attempt by General Motors' European operation to launch a supermini - and a very successful one it was too. The little car (called the 'Opel Corsa' on the continent) had basic yet classic 3-box styling but was bang up to date underneath that legendary bodywork. There was a vast range of trim levels and engines, as Vauxhall attempted to create the perfect Nova for just about everyone.

By the time the Nova was succeeded by a newer supermini (now universally called 'Corsa') in April 1993, it was just under ten years old; to be honest, cars of this age were beginning to look it. However the later models and those lovingly modernised by Nova devotees look as if they just rolled out of the showroom.

The History
Launched in 1983, the Nova promised much for Vauxhall. The dealers had long wanted a car to take on the Fiesta; the Nova proved to be an ideal competitor. An advantage it had over most rivals was the availability of a saloon variant (in both two and four-door versions), though these were never as popular as the hatchbacks, and their second hand values reflect this. However the 2 & 4 door saloon models have become very popular in Belgium, Germany and Holland.

Engines ranged from 1.0-litre, through 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4-litre petrol units to 1.5-litre diesel and turbo diesel engines; there was also the sporty 1.6 for the GTEi. This model was rebadged GSi after the 1990 facelift, which, amongst other spec changes, brought a new front grille and clear indicators with slimmer headlamps to give a sleeker, more modern look to all models.

The best seller both new and used has tended to be the 1.2-litre Merit, which, like the Fiesta, appeals mostly because of its availability as a five-door. Another popular version was the 1.2 Luxe (this trim level introduced in 1990), which came with central locking, electric windows, split-folding rear seats and a radio cassette player all as standard. The SR is probably one of the most popular small cars around - due to its cheap insurance and running costs, as well as respectable performance and handling.

What You Pay
The performance is mostly acceptable, though the diesels and 1.0-litre petrol cars are a bit on the slow side. A handy little car that serves equally well as either a first car, practical runabout or a performance car, as the Nova will accept larger engines from other Vauxhalls, up to the 2.0l 16v Turbo from the Calibra.

As a practical car, the Nova runs rings around its opposition, - there aren't many rivals for such a range of economical, performance, stylish and practical cars. Nova saloons and their generously-sized boots, whilst laughed at amonst 3 door owners played a large part in the Nova's success, as it was the only saloon in its class.

What To Look For
Areas of major concern on these cars is simply rusty rear arches. (Vauxhall's cunning design flaw - Spot welds joining the inner & outer wings fail, causing extreme bubble troulbe - The only way to repair properly is to grind out ALL the rot, and weld in replacement panels) Also the floor pan on early models may have begun to rust, especially along the sills. , so take extra care when assessing them. The 1.6-litre cars may have suffered a little at the hands of former over-enthusiastic owners, so check any GTEi or GSi for crash repairs and smoking engines or graunchy gearboxes.

Interior trim on some early models is a little on the grim side - dark colours and brown plastics are much in evidence. Check the dashboard switches and buttons to make sure everything is in working order, especially if the car you're viewing has a lot of electrical equipment as standard.

Replacement Parts
(Based on a 1.4-litre three-door) A new clutch will cost you about £90 and a full exhaust system around £95. Front shock absorbers are about £80 a pair and rears around £60. An alternator is about £80 and a starter motor around £90. A radiator is about £100 and a replacement windscreen close to £80. A tail lamp is about £32, a headlamp about £45 and a front wing about £102. A catalyst is just under £350.

For the money, a Nova offers a superior alternative to most superminis of the time. It's practical, cheap and reliable and the potential for tuning and performance is unrivalled in its class

Model Cycle August 1986 - April 1993
Model Segment Supermini
Body Styles Hatchback & Saloon
Driveline FWD
Engine Options Petrol: 1.0, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 & 1.6
Diesel: 1.5 & 1.5 TD
Upgrade: 1.6 16v, 1.8 16v, 2.0 16v, 2.0 16v Turbo
Trim Levels: Note Upgrades marked ( ) Trip, Merit, L (Luxe), Flair, SR(SRi), GTE(GSi)
Significant Model Developments - 1990 Faclift across whole range
- Replaced by Corsa in April 1993
Limited Editions
Model Introduced Based On Valuation
Fling 90G Merit +£75
Diamond 90G Merit +£150
Fun 92J Trip Similar
Spin 92J Trip Similar
Swing 92J Trip Similar
Summary Cheap and fun small car with huge tuning potential.
Which Model to choose 1.6i GSi


  • 1983: Vauxhall took the plunge and the company's first ever fwd baby hatchback rolled out of a purpose built factory in Zaragoza, Northern Spain. Ironically enough, 'Nova' in Spanish means 'No Go', therefore European cars were badged as Opel Corsas. While more conservative manufacturers may well have played it safe at first by launching a range of slow and low specification cars, Vauxhall went for it right from the start. Rather than delaying development of a sporty model till they were sure the Nova was a sucess the company took no prisoners and immediately flag-shipped the range with the 1.3SR (Sports Refined). And be under no illusion, the SR was no sticker special based around a standard model. In fact it was the only model in the entire range to get the Astra & Cavalier 1297cc cross flow engine as well as a five speed 'box. Uprated suspension, Recaro look sports seats and loads of dials made the 72bhp baby stand well above the rest.
  • 1985: 1.3SR gets twin auto choke Pierburg 2E3 carb.
  • 1988: GTE Launched: 1598cc, 100bhp, 120mph - 'Nuff said.
  • 1989: SR receives bigger 1389cc engine along with central locking, tinted glass and electric windows
  • 1990: Major facelift accross the range, including sleeker lights complete with new wings and grille. The legendary rubber boot surround was dropped in favour of a tailgate spoiler. Inside a more modern dash was introduced, with chunky heater controls
  • GTE replaced by new GSi 1.6 Injection
  • Launch of 1.5 Turbo Diesel, in 3dr, 5dr & Van models
  • 1992:Last Performance Nova launched, the 1.4SRi. Fortunately Vauxhall had used up its SR brakes & suspension stocks which meant the SRi got GSi uprated suspension & brakes, as well as its multi-point fuel injection
  • 1993:Production stopped to make way for the Corsa, launched with the biggest and most expensive car advertising campaign to date. A few L-reg cars were left over, but rumour has it Vauxhall has a secret stock pile in Spain of unused Nova 1.0 Trip and Spins which it couldn't sell, and a handfull of GSis. This is backed up by the rare sighting of a N-reg Nova!!
  • Performance Nova Group Established, The largest single model club in Britain!
  • 1996:NOVADOSE emerges as the first Nova Web Site
  • 1998:PNG Online Official Website Launched

    The values quoted are estimates taken from the latest available industry sources and were correct at the time of compilation. However, used prices continually change and different garages have different approaches to valuation. For this reason, these figures should be treated as guidance values only.
    The parts prices quoted are estimates on approved used parts from the franchises concerned, provided by franchised dealerships, again correct at the time of compilation. These too however, are subject to continual change. For this reason, these figures should be treated as guidance prices only.
    Copyright ©1998
    GHL Design/Performance Car Clubs Ltd. All rights reserved. Please read disclaimer

  • Thanks again to Gareth from PNG Online for the use of this page!

    ©Copyright Jonathan Frascella, 1996-2000 All Rights Reserved