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Cavalier Mk3 - Saloon and Hatch 1988 - 1995/96

On the 25th August 1988 there was a launch to the Dealers and the Press of the Cavalier Mk3 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London. Launched to the publlic the 14th October 1988 at the Motor Show at the NEC Birmingham, the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3’s main job was to halt the falling sales of the outgoing Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 which was by this time being outsold by the Ford Serria.  The car was launched as a Saloon and Hatchback with an Estate to follow (As it happened the Estate never materialised).  The car was designed by Wayne’s Cherry’s Vauxhall/Opel Design Europe Team in Germany.  Extensive winter testing was carried out on the Cavalier Mk3 as the photo’s below show.  The car was launched at the Motor Show at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, a couple of interesting things to note from the show was that Vauxhall also exhibited the 50's Car of the Future that was built and used in the launch TV advert.  The Vauxhall hostesses had an issue on the first day.  The girls arrived at the stand on time, but there striking silver lycra dresses followed 3 hours latter!!  ‘The New Cavalier.’ ‘The Future. Now.’ went the TV ad in 1988/89 with launch of the New ‘Mk3’ Cavalier.  Vauxhall is said to have spent £10 million on the launch advertising campaign for the New Mk3 Cavalier. With such an excellent engine range, the designers were able to make the new Cavalier even better.  Five-speed gearboxes became standard, plus option of new four- speed auto.  No major changes in size, trim levels (Standard, L, GL, CD, Diplomat, 4x4) but appeal was widened with more high-performance versions, SRi, GSi 16v, GSi 16v 4x4.  The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 with the first Vauxhall to be sold with a 4x4 system.  Various versions and arrangements were tried before a system co-developed with Austrian firm Steyr-Damlier-Puch was selected.  This system is similar to the VW Synchro System.  At launch there was 1.4, 1.6, 1.6i, 1.8, 1.8i, 2.0i 8v 20SEH and 2.0i 16v C20XE.  A 1.7 Diesel was offered and in 1992 a 1.7 Isuzu Turbo Diesel was offered.  The radio’s fitted to the car were Phillips and Grundig. The Cavalier Mk3 Saloon is 2.5inches longer and 1.2 inches wider than the Cavalier Mk2 Saloon and is about the same height.  The front over hang is up by 1.3 inches to help crash protection and aerodynamics.  The Cavalier Mk3 Hatchback is 3 inches shorter than the Saloon but 3.4 inches longer than the Cavalier Mk2 Hatchback. Although there was no major chassis changes with the car handling was improved.  The Cavalier topped the large-medium family car sales charts in Britain in 1990, ahead of the Ford Serria, Rover 400 and Austin Montego. Its best year for sales was 1992, when it was Britain's second best selling car. It did not lose top spot in its sector until it was overtaken by the Ford Mondeo in 1994.  Range was revised in 1992/93 with changes to the external styling, bumper mouldings, new grill, front and rear lights and wheel trim.  The 1.4 engine was also dropped, the 2.5 V6 C25XE engine was added and the 2.0i 16v Red Top C20XE was replaced by the 2.0i X20XEV Ecotec which had less power (down from 15bhp to 136bhp)  also due to emission problems the 2.0 8v 20NE in the SRI which was carried over the Mk2 Cavalier was replaced by a new less power full version 2.0 C20NE (115bhp instead of 130bhp), and finally the GSi 4x4 was replaced by the Cavalier Turbo which had the 2.0i Turbo charged 2.0 C20LET engine giving just over 200bhp along with a 6-speed gear box.  The interior was also revised and range was also re-aligned with new trim levels (Envoy, LS, Colorado, GLS, CD, CDX, Diplomat, 4x4, Sri, Sri 16v and Turbo 4x4).  Safety features like Air Bags, seatbelt pretensions and door beams were also incorporated.  ABS also became standard, the Cavalier Mk3 being the first car in its class to have these as standard fitments.  The range was replaced in late-1995 by the Vauxhall Vectra though there are a few Cavaliers about on P-Plates.  The car was very successful for Vauxhall in the British Touring Car between 1990 and 1995 and came close to winning the Championship in 1992 with John Cleland and won the Championship in 1995 with John Cleland before being replaced by the Vectra.  Further information on the Vauxhall cavalier Mk3’s success in the British Touring Car Championship can be found under the Motor Sport link. A 3-Door Coupe version of the Cavalier Mk3 was introduced in 1989 called the Vauxhall Calibra also designed by Wayne Cherry’s team.  More information on this model can be found in Calibra section. Also the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3’s mechanics are shared with the Saab 900/93 which was in production between 1993-2002.  Of course at this time Saab was part of General Motors.
Vauxhall Chairman and Managing Director Paul Tosch driving the First Cavalier Mk3 off the production line.
The Cavalier Mk3 in design.
Cavalier Mk3 Clay Model’s.
The Cavalier Mk3 in Winter testing.
The pre-facelift Cavalier Mk3
The face lifted Cavalier Mk3
The 2.0 16v Turbo engine and 2.5 V6
Not the last car as stated as that is N54 NUK but the second from last.  The Red worked better with the Vauxhall Logo and the Metal Surround.
The Cavalier Mk3 in production.
Cavalier Mk3 Crash Protection Testing.
A cut away of the 2.5 V6.
A view of the GS1 16v engine bay and the car itself.  This location believed to be an office at Bristol Docks.
The pre and post facelift Cavalier Mk3 Diplomat.  The location in the pre facelift advert is the office block at Bristol Docks again.
Two Diesels were available.  From launch a 1.7D and latter on a much better Isuzu supplied 1.7 Turbo Diesel from 1992.