6 tips for buying a used Cavalier 0


Back in the 1980’s, the Vauxhall Cavalier was one of the most popular cars sold in the UK. To all intents and purposes it was a restyled Opel Ascona, but the British version swiftly gained a life of its own. The first area it scored early success was the company fleet market. Vauxhall offered a vast array of differing engine options and extremely good fuel economy which appealed to families. Throw into the mix a hugely solid driving experience and you can see why such a loyalty towards the Cavalier still exists even 15 years after production ended.

The market for used Cavaliers is still strong, but it’s worth bearing in mind a few points if you’re looking to purchase one on a budget.

1. Decide on a budget. It’s a fair assumption that anyone other than a collector looking to buy a Cavalier, is going to have a limited budget to work within. It’s important to remember though that cheaper is not always better. Vehicles with rust, engine problems or alignment issues may initially be cheaper in price but subsequently end up costing a lot more to repair and maintain. Before making a purchase, buyers should decide what they consider to be a fair price to pay for a Cavalier in excellent condition.
2. Know your generations. The Cavalier was in production for twenty years, from 1975 to 1995. In total, there were three generations. Knowing the different generations as well as the different models is useful knowledge for a prospective buyer. The first generation of the Cavalier was in production from 1975 to 1978, the second from 1981 to 1988 and the final 1988 to 1995. Here are their differing specifications.

Generation Engine Facts
Vauxhall Cavalier Mark I 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, 1.9 litre, 2.0 litre engines available Restyled Opel Ascona, sports car version ‘Silver Aero’ never mass produced; few in modern existence
Vauxhall Cavalier Mark II 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, 1.6 litre diesel, 1.8 litre, 2.0 litre Restyled Opel Ascona C, second best selling car in 1984–85; only 6,343 in existence in 2006
Vauxhall Cavalier Mark III 1.4 litre, 1.7 litre diesel, 1.7 turbo diesel, 1.8 litre, 2.0 litre, 2.5 litre Restyled Opel Vectra A; top family car sales in 1990

Compared to other large family-sized cars, the Cavalier was easily one of the most popular in the UK during its run. Despite not being manufactured for over twenty years, the model still retains a fair amount of popularity as a used vehicle, no doubt due to the excellent performance of the engines and decent fuel economy.
3. Check the bodywork. A used car seller should be able to provide detailed photographs of the car’s bodywork. Request shots of the vehicle’s wheel arches in addition to other parts of the body. A bit of rust shouldn’t necessarily derail a purchase, but it’s wise to know how severe the problem is before settling on a price.
4. Tyres. Tyres with uneven wear can possibly indicate bad alignment or perhaps a suspension problem. Tyres that have been rotated on a regular basis will show even amounts of wear, but this may also indicate alignment problems. It’s likely those looking to purchase a used car won’t want to replace the tyres straight away if possible. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have the amount of remaining tread measured to gauge the tyres longevity.
5. Verify the car’s mileage. The Cavalier was an exceptionally popular company car. As a result, the car was often driven by employees who wouldn’t have shown it the same levels of care a private owner would have done. It’s important to verify the mileage on a vehicle to determine how long the engine will last before repairs need to be carried out.
6. Drive the car. If possible, take the car out for a test drive before committing to a purchase. This is a good way to get a feel for any possible issues. A thorough test drive will include a hard acceleration, hard turns, and hard braking. Test the parking brake too. If the car does have any engine problems then the test drive should unearth them.
7. Get a mechanic’s opinion. Getting the view of a mechanic is a sensible idea when buying a used car, especially with regards to the engines and brakes. It’s natural for there to be a few issues, but this will determine how extensive the repairs need to be. For example, a cracked bulkhead around the steering column would lead to an expensive repair.