Product Type: Vauxhall cars
Newest Review: ... that has refused to help with anything I've asked. Novas have had a bad reputation in the past for being owned by 'barryboys' and 'boyra... more
Member Name: k.mccrindle
Date: 18/04/01, updated on 01/10/01 (5853 review reads)
Advantages: Cheap to run, easy to acquire parts, nippy, comfortable
Disadvantages: I've had my fair share of problems (See below)
UPDATE: My little Nova is no more - I mis-judged a bad corner at around 50mph last Friday (27th April 2001) morning and it ended up going head-on into a wall. It is now rather crumpled and there isn't much left of it. Oh well, at least I was lucky enough to escape with only a few injuries and that I wasn't hurt too seriously...
R.I.P. Vauxhall Nova (January 1992 - April 2001)
I had been saving all my pennies for years until earlier this year when I went on the lookout for an ideal 'boy racer' type of car to put my CD player, amplifier, and 12" sub-woofer into. Whilst looking around at different cars, I came across a wee white Nova (1992 'J' reg.). I ended up buying this car on February 8th 2001 for £1050.
I can remember the excitement and anticipation...after all, I was 'upgrading' from a 1-litre Nissan Micra to a Nova 1.4 SRi. Being a typical 18-year-old boy racer, I was dying to get it out on the road to show off to my mates.
First of all though, there was the small matter of insurance - ack. I had received many quotes from around the internet, most of which being absolutely extortionate (some were even asking up to £3500 for fully comprehensive cover) for the size of engine the car runs on. I eventually however came across a cheap(ish) quote compared to any other I had been offered - this was from CIS (Co-operative Insurance Services). The quote came up at £1094.70 per year for fully comprehensive cover under my own name - a rather nice improvement from some of the other recent quotes. I immediately phoned up my local CIS representative, and was visited by him just 1 hour later. He confirmed that the quote I had received was correct, verified my details, handed me my cover note, and off I went - cruising the street
s in my 'new' motor.
Now, I will firstly outline the good points of this car...there really are quite a lot.
Firstly, the engine seems to run really well for its age - considering it has done just over 100,000 miles. It also seems to be very high in performance for such a small engine size (1389cc). Below I have compared the statistics shown in a popular car magazine with my own self-proven statistics of my car...
Magazine: 14.5 secs
Self-tested: 7.5 secs
Self-tested: 125mph on the flat (Goes off the clock to about 135mph going down the M8)
Self-tested: N/A, but I would say it is at least 40 more than stated.
And there you have it...I don't know where they find these so-called 'factory' statistics, but my little Nova seems to out-perform them anyway.
Another good point about the Nova SRi is that it comes with electric windows, central locking, and sunroof as standard - quite a nice touch for an older car, especially seeing as no other model of Nova has these features. In addition to this, the fuel economy on these cars is quite outstanding. My car can run for a good while with only £5 of petrol in it (around quarter of a tank).
As far as boot space goes, it is pretty average for a car of this size - there would be ample enough room for the weekly shopping, but that doesn't matter to me, as long as my amplifier and sub-woofer fit in!
The comfortability of this car is pretty average, but I didn't expect it to be too fancy seeing as how it was an older car. The front seats are comfy enough and hold you in quite well as they are shaped like 'bucket' seats. The interior in my Nova is almost spotless, with only one tiny hole in the corner of the front passenger
seat. The steering wheel feels good on the hands when driving, this is due to it being the SRi specification steering wheel - this being a little smaller than standard Vauxhall steering wheels. The dashboard contains white dials for the speedometer and rev counter - however I am planning to get them for the fuel and temperature gauges also. I can't think of much else to say about the interior apart from that I've got a Magic Tree hanging from my rear view mirror!
The SRi spec Novas also come with body-coloured wing mirrors and clear indicator covers at the front - a nice improvement over the standard SR models. A nice, tidy but not too large rear spoiler also adds to the sleek look of the car.
All I wanted now was for my car to be the dog's b*llocks, and so I began to ponder on what modifications I could give it to help it along the way to being a supernova...
Seeing as the car had already gone through a few upgrades, such as lowered suspension (60mm), full sports exhaust system (Sportex), 14" 3-spoke alloys, and had been de-badged at the front grill, the next step for me was to get my money saved for an induction kit. I managed to pick up a top of the range induction kit from a local performance motorsport store (http://www.motorspeed.co.uk) - it was a K&N 57i kit and cost me £48. I took the kit to a local garage who fitted it for £8 and off I went with my car sounding even better than it did before - and pushing out an extra couple of bhp too.
However, shortly after this (about a week later), before I had the chance to give my car any new modifications, some problems began to emerge...
The first thing to go wrong was the rear shockers. I had noticed my car had not been handling as well as it used to whilst driving round corners etc, as there was a considerable amount of bodyroll - which there hadn't been any of before due to the stiff suspension and shockers, so I took it in to a local garage so th
at they could have a look at it and maybe diagnose the problem(s). It turned out that one of my oil shock absorbers at the rear of the car had burst and the oil had ran out of it - meaning I had to buy new rear shockers. I was informed by the mechanics that I would be better replacing the oil shockers with gas ones, so, after the mechanic phoned up for a quote on the parts I needed, I got the new shockers fitted for a total cost of £44.98 - not a bad price at all.
However, my next problem appeared when the mechanics were fitting the new shockers - they noticed that the exhaust needed some welding done to the middle pipe. I was told this was due to the exhaust hitting something when I had been driving (ie/ a speed bump or the like - remember, the car is rather low) and had therefore been dented. Well, I had no choice but to go ahead and let them carry out this necessary work also - costing me another £20 on top of the fitting of the new shock absorbers. Well, off I went again, as happy as could be with my little white speed demon...that is...until the next problem arose...
I noticed that water had been literally running out of my car from somewhere underneath the bonnet everytime I turned my engine off. Worried about the health of my poor little baby I hurried off to the garage again. After some testing by the mechanics, the problem was found to be at the water pump - yes, you've got it...it needed replaced. AAAHHH!! Yet again I had no choice but to get the pump replaced, along with a new timing belt, costing me around another £100 altogether. Once again I set off in my pride and joy...
"Uh oh"....click click click click click - "I don't think this is supposed to happen..." click click click click click...NOOOO!! My handbrake just wasn't working at all, forcing me to leave the car sitting in gear everywhere I went. Yet again, I drove the car down to my local garage. It seems that the problem was worse than I
had first thought - when the mechanics were checking the handbrake cable, it was discovered that my entire braking system needed replaced..yep...new brake pads, shoes, and wheel cylinders were needed all round as they were all worn rather badly. This now meant that I had to get this sorted before my handbrake problem could be resolved. What a nightmare this car had been so far. I got all of the necessary parts ordered and fitted within the next couple of days which added up to a total of £122.06. Now, onto the handbrake problem...it seemed that I needed a new handbrake cable and nut. By the time these were ordered and fitted, it had cost me another £30. By now I was beginning to wonder if anything was going to go right with my wee white chariot.
The wondering was soon over as yet another (small) problem cropped up. This time the problem was with one of the hoses going to my radiator - it had become very weak and was swelling up quite severely, thus threatening to explode and cause REAL damage to my engine. I had to get onto this problem ASAP, so I drove 20 miles to my nearest Vauxhall dealer (I was told by the mechanics at my local garage that this would be the only place to get a hold of this part) to get a price for one. It came up at £12 for the new hose, which had to be ordered and picked up the next morning by me, meaning another 20 mile each-way journey. After all of this hassle, I fitted the hose and there was no more swelling.
It is now April 18th 2001 and it seems that, at last, my car is running alright (touch wood) - and so it should be with the amount of money I've spent on getting it fixed up. As my parents have said, it's basically a new car with the amount of parts I've replaced!
Well, maybe by now, if I hadn't had to spend so much on fixing the car I would have had myself a nice re-spray (Tahiti blue in colour) and a set of shiny new 15" alloys slammed onto it. Oh well, it seems that I'll just have
to save up again for a while before I can give the car anymore modifications.
This opinion is only written on my personal experience so I can't really speak for anyone else who owns/has owned a Nova. One thing I can say however, is that these repairs have still been relatively cheap when compared to what alot of other car manufacturers and models would cost to get the same problems sorted.
Overall, I am now quite happy with my wee Nova and have some nice plans for it in the future (maybe even a 2.0 litre 16-valve Courtenay-tuned engine *grin*), but I would recommend anyone who is thinking of buying a used car - especially a Nova - to get someone to take a look at it before diving straight in with their hard-earned cash. Even through all of the problems I've had with my Nova, I would probably still buy another one if I saw a strikingly handsome one for sale.
Well, I think I've gibbered on long enough now about my car, so off to bed with me. Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did fixing my car! :-P