Minor Details: No.2 Vauxhall Nova flared arches

It’s been eight months since the last Minor Details update, so without further ado, here’s another one.

This week, Vauxhall has proudly revealed that its forthcoming MINI and Fiat 500 rival will be called the Adam. No, this isn’t a typo, that is what Vauxhall are genuinely going to call their ‘premium urban car’. Make of that what you will, but I fail to see the name catching on. Renault can kind of get away with it with the Zoe, as the Z.E reference is quite logical. I even have a fondness for the Nissan Cedric, Nissan Silvia and Datsun Violet. But Adam? No.

This is the Vauxhall Adam. No really, it is.

They would have been far better off sticking with the ‘Junior’ codename that has been used during testing. And quite what this bizarre comic strip is all about, I have no idea. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Vauxhall Adam Comic Strip

But it’s the ‘Junior’ reference that has reminded me of the launch of the Vauxhall Nova which was announced almost 30 years ago this very month. Car magazine gave the Nova the front page treatment, proclaiming the car to be ‘Vauxhall’s Metro!’. They went further by predicting it to be ‘next year’s Metro/Fiesta basher’. There’s no doubting the impact it had on the UK market, going on to sell nearly half a million cars by the time it was replaced by the Corsa in 1993. But maybe it’s just me, but I would have expected something like the Nova to have sold a million. I was also surprised to see that there are still 3.5k Novas on Britain’s roads with a further 3.9k currently registered as SORN. So there’s certainly no shortage of stock.

A-reg Vauxhall Nova Swing on PetrolBlog

The Nova also had the codename ‘Junior’, so Vauxhall’s decision to lift the lid on the modern-day ‘Junior’ this week is either rather astute or purely coincidental. Had Vauxhall chosen the name ‘Adam’ for the car that eventually went on sale in 1983, I’m sure there would have been direct references made to Adam and the Ants. At the time, Adam Ant was at the peak of his career and could arguably claim to be the nation’s most famous Adam. But whilst Adam and his Ants disbanded in 1983, the Nova went on to enjoy a decade of success.

But why does the Vauxhall Nova deserve a place on PetrolBlog’s Minor Details section?

Well it’s none other than those flared rear wheel arches of course. Car referred to them as ‘eyebrows’ and they remain one of my favourite details on any car from the 1980s. Naturally, the 5-door models didn’t get them and they’re certainly not available on the Shatchback, but on the 3-door cars, especially the SR and GTE editions, they just look perfect. So simple and yet so right. I’m sure it’s a petrolhead thing and most people wouldn’t notice them, but that’s half the appeal.

D-reg 3-door Vauxhall Nova

In the UK, the Nova suffers from a damaged reputation following its tendency to be the car of choice for the ‘chavved-up’ brigade in the 1990s. But today its stock is rising. Find an original and unmodified example and you’ll have yourself a nicely proportion, economical little runabout. You’ll also have a set of the best rear arches this side of the Golf Rallye. It certainly beats hanging around with Adam, doesn’t it?

The Vauxhall Nova’s rear arches get classed as a Minor Victory.

For the verdict on the Jeep Cherokee, see this earlier review

White 3-door Vauxhall Nova L

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

17 comments

  1. May 9, 2012
    Joseph

    Although examples such as the GTE are interesting, I am drawn to the more ‘basic’ models. My favourite has to be the saloon/shatchback. Especially so as a company in England used to offer a convertible version!

    Reply
    • May 9, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I wonder how many are left untouched.

      And your favourite Nova is the Shatchback version? Really?!

      Reply
      • May 9, 2012
        Joseph

        Has to be due to its rarity. Sorry!

        …Although the early, pre-facelift hatch in yellow (above) runs it very close.

        Reply
        • May 10, 2012
          Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

          No need to apologise. Variety is the spice of life! 😉

          Reply
  2. May 9, 2012
    Richard Lyle

    I thought the Corsa roadster concept which introduced the Nova looked brilliant and it had the flared arches too. The three-door looked so cool with those arches; you’re right.

    Reply
    • May 9, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Spot on. I nearly waffled on about the Corsa concept here, but decided that two PetrolBlog posts in one day was enough for anyone, so kept it short!

      Reply
  3. May 9, 2012
    Matthew L (@365daytonafan)

    My first car (a few too many years ago) was a Nova 1.3SR. It looked great and if your squinted a little like an Integrale. If probably didn’t drive as well as a Peugeot 205 but I suspect rather more robust. By some distance the cheapest car to run I’ve ever owned too.

    Reply
    • May 9, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I totally get your Integrale reference. I nearly used it instead of the Golf Rallye!

      And hold that thought about your first car. I may drop you an email. Cheers Matthew.

      Reply
  4. May 9, 2012
    gordon

    the wheel arches seem to be a remake of the old viva hc which was a scaled down version on a pontiac le mans……..not a lot of people know that!

    Reply
  5. May 10, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Chalk me up as another fan of the shatchback (preferably the two-door one), though I wish it had been granted the same slashes of flared wheel arches as the hatch. Maybe some modifier somewhere transplanted the hatchback’s arches onto the two door without ruining the rest of the car, but my hopes are slim.

    Incidentally, my fondness for the two-door isn’t without basis. Retro Cars mag featured two stunning two-doors in back to back issues a few years back. To prove I’m not mental, it’s the brown example next to the yellow 2002 on this page: http://www.retrocarsmag.com/downloads.asp

    Reply
    • May 10, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I agree with you 100% about that Nova. It’s a thing of beauty. #browncar love! 😉

      Reply
  6. May 10, 2012
    FailCar

    I wonder if one day in ten years or so more will look back lovlngly to the Citroen Saxo VTR/VTS which became the barry brigade replacement for the Nova.

    I do have more than a soft spot for the VTR and VTS and in standard form without the eye raping bodykits they look pretty decent and faily discreet with the simple arch extensions and alloys and slightly bigger exhaust.

    At the moment due to image issues the Saxo is not faring well in the classifieds while the 106 GTi/Rallye/XS are faring better.

    I reckon if you have the space a nice tidy VTR/VTS will be just the ticket when in ten years time all the barry boys start to get nostalgic and crawl out from their baddly modded VW T4’s.

    Reply
    • May 10, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Funny, I’ve been thinking about the Saxo too. Would quite fancy an original and untouched VTR or VTS.

      Off to eBay I go…

      Reply
  7. May 10, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    I’ve obviously not been paying attention as I thought Sniffpetrol’s Adam article earlier in the week was pure pastiche!
    As for the Nova I’m afraid they didn’t do anything for me ‘in the day’ and they don’t now but then I mainly really dislike Vauxhalls 😉

    Reply
  8. June 9, 2012
    Glyn

    Our nova SR is still on the road and original
    great car

    Reply
    • June 9, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Nice. You simply don’t see enough of them these days.

      Reply
  9. July 24, 2014
    Tom Ellis (@Elstro1988)

    This is an old blog post but as a passionate Nova owner I couldn’t not comment. I have a 1989 F-reg 1.0 poverty-spec 3 door in black that I’ve run for over 4 years now and apart from service parts/wear and tear, it’s been a cheap, fun and reliable hack. I refuse to own anything newer. OK it’s got the Vauxhall rear arches (read: disintegrating by the day) but still polishes up nice and those flares still look very good. I intend on modifying it albeit with ones that can be reversed as I’ve started using it in sprints and hillclimbs this year.

    I actually have a soft spot for the ‘Shatchback’ (brilliant word BTW! In Nova owner circles we simply call them loons). Especially an early one. In brown. With terracotta interior. And those triangular-hole steel wheels.

    Reply

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