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Cavalier Mk3 - Saloon and Hatch 1988 - 1995/96

The dealer presentation for J’89 the Cavalier Mk3 was at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in Bayswater Road, London. I was a full week of presentations beginning on the 24th August 1988 and continuing until the Friday. Dealers arrived at the Royal Lancaster by coach or via a fleet of chauffeur driven Carlton’s and Senator’s. Once at the Royal Lancaster they proceeded into the foyer for coffee and biscuits and the into the main ballroom called the Nine Kings Suite. The Nine Kings Suite had been transformed into a private theatre, complete with projection equipment, trained on 3 large screens. There was a central turntable, raked with plush new read seats especially purchased for the occasion and two mysterious shimmery mirror-surfaced side walls. Seating the number of people attending would take some time and while this was happening on stage was a shiny 1978 Cavalier Mk1, where three dancers performed a stylized dance rendition of a car polishing routing. This was alternated with slides and films of the more memorable television adverts on the large screen. Peter Batchlor Director of Sales and Marketing acted as host and Welcomed every to the launch of the “New Cavalier” after a brief introduction he said that “Vauxhall would have no option but to meet that competition head on.” He then left the stage were a dance crew then entered and a gutsy rap number was sung going through the strenghts and weakness of each of Cavalier’s competitors.. Vauxhall decided not to go with professional presenters and went with Vauxhall Staff instead backed up with lots of media, props and various dance crews. Peter Batchlor Director of Sales and Marketing as mentioned above acted as host. He along with Chairman Paul Tosch, John Butterfield, Mike Tearle, Mike Bonner and Ian Coomber the Fleet Sales Manger performed well. But the real star of the show was Wayne Cherry. Unlike everyone else who was relying on the autocue monitors, Cherry had memorised his remarks. Word got back from the rehearsals of how good Cherry’s delivery was which caused a flurry of activity in the Batchlor house hold was Peter was know at the time to be the on-stage Presenter Vauxhall had. What Wayne Cherry had done was have his words written on a role of wallpaper and with assistance from his wife used the wallpaper to go over his remarks many times and memorise the whole script. Wayne Cherry talked about the design of the car and how each surface element makes a flowing transition into the next. He swept his hands over the lines of the full-sized glass fibre model on stage. He turned up stage and nodded at the actors who represented clay moulders. John Butterfield gave a 15mins talk on what Vauxhall would do for the public launch as well as what would be expected from them in turn. “Check your customer mailing lists are ready” “Be sure you have enough sales people and that they are property trained. Paul Tosch then made a few closing remarks before the key moment arrived. The reveal of J’89 the New Cavalier. A film showing three Cavalier’s was shown, this having been filmed in deepest North-West Scotland and included the Kylesku Bridge which crosses the Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin in Sutherland. Then at the end of the film there was a blast of recorded music and from two previously unseen balconies’ two singers one male and one female became to sing a song called ‘a step beyond’. The two-mirror side walls turned transparent, one car revealed behind each. The cars rose slowly on hydraulic lifts, surrounded by dry ice. Two more Cavalier’s arrived from the wings and drive towards Centre stage. A fifth Cavalier this time a GSi came around the turn table. The troupe of dancers danced with the car’s while the signers climaxed the song. The assembled audience cheered. Upstairs at the Royal Lancaster the roof top car park had been transformed into a showroom and bar where the audience could have a drink and closer look at the new models. Just before the audience arrived from the first presentation, Wayne Cherry was upstairs looking at the cars. He was not happy, the wheel-trims were wrong. After all those years of design, discussion, packaging and negation – in the words of Eric Morecombe the right wheel-covers were on the wrong cars. After the a few drinks the dealers were ushered back to the foyer. The foyer had been reset with round tables during the presentation ready for dinner and a few after dinner jokes and songs from Bruce Forsyth and his band. 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. R ange 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. The earliest Cavalier Mk3 drawing being dated 1983. The design department was always 5 years ahead. Design of the Cavalier Mk3’s replacement the Vectra B would have started in 1990.
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.
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.