Vauxhall Cavalier 2-0 Sporthatch

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Keywords: Vauxhall Cavalier 2-0 Sporthatch
Description:

IN THE UNDERGROUND CAR PARK AT EARLS COURT WAS A CAVALIER MK1 GL 2 DOOR SALOON THAT WAS NEVER SHOWN, OR SOLD, BUT THINGS WERE SO UNCERTAIN THAT VAUXHALL WANTED TO ENSURE WHICHEVER WAY THEY WENT THEY HAD THE CARS AVAILABLE FOR DISPLAY

It was first shown to dealers in September 1975 at the Elstree Film Studios, and although they liked the car they had grave reservations that fleet buyers, vital to Vauxhall sales, would accept the car as most companies at the time had a British car only purchase policy. Vauxhall Executives including Bob Price and John Butterfield made a great play on the fact Britain was part of Europe, Britain had voted to become part of the EEC just over a year earlier, and the "we are all Europeans now" message was rammed home at every opportunity. However, the situation was made even more controversial by headlines such in the Daily Mail on 10 October 1975 "Stop This Foriegn British Car" and even the Finacial Times on the same day stated that Vauxhall "would be closed within months". Even executives from Ford & BL were concerned at the trend that was being set. Against this background it was no surprise that the TGWU union were deeply suspicious of General Motors motives, in fact negotiations were still going on right up to the day before the Motor Show was due to open for Press Day. In fact it was not even certain if the car would be shown at all or even which models would be available, a 2 door GL Saloon was photographed hidden in the underground car park at Earls Court but was never shown or sold in the UK. In the end the car was launched at the last minute at the October 1975 Motor Show as planned - although Bob Price was on hand to answer the many awkward questions from journalists. The launch also forced Opel to reduce the price of the Ascona & Manta models they were selling in the UK.

The initial range available in the UK was made up of a 1600L 2 & 4 door Saloon, a 1600GL 4 door Saloon and a GL 1900 2 door Coupe which featured a deep front spoiler that was never used on the Opel Manta in the UK, it was in Europe on the Manta GT/E.

The 1900 engine was an option on the GL Saloon and not initially a model in it's own right. All were imported from Belgium, the Opel Ascona and Manta launched in August 1975 were made in Bocham Germany as well as Antwerp. One difference between the Cavalier and Opels was the under-body protection which was far more comprehensive on Vauxhalls and was in line with the other models such as the Chevette and Viva. In export markets the 1256cc engine was available in the Cavalier within months of launch, unlike in the UK, in both L and GL trim, Saloon and also the Coupe. Sweden was the only market where a 1900 GL 2 door Saloon was available. The car was an instant hit in Britain with both private and company car users, the biggest problem was always supply which did not catch up with demand until the sales slump of 1980 when things were the reverse and Vauxhall had fields full of Cavaliers without buyers.



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