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Vauxhall Cavalier MK 1 Coupe Centaur Convertible Fact File by Paul Brennecker & Dan Roberts
Produced From: 1978 - 1979
Total Number Produced: 118
In August 1978 the Centaur Cavalier Convertible was launched, based on the 2.0 litre Cavalier GLS Coupe. The car was developed by Magraw Engineering in Kent.
The hood can be opened and closed using gas operated struts. When opened, a tailored cover completely encloses the hood to enhance the car's flowing contours. When the hood is closed, this cover is stored on the rear parcel shelf.
The roof section is formed of a strong T-bar and is coupled to the B posts. Fixed rear quarter glass ensures good all-round visibility when the hood is up and offers draft protection for the rear passengers when the hood is down.
On the exterior of the car, a "Centaur" badge is on the front wings and boot lid, while on the B post mouldings a Vauxhall griffin can be found. 5 1/2J x 13" Rostyle wheels are standard, while Campagnolo alloys were an option, as was automatic transmission.
The interior trim is the standard velour trim of the Cavalier GLS in black, blue or beige.
In all, 118 of these rare Cavaliers were built between 1978 and 1979 with around 33 left on the road today. The Vauxhall rally at Billing in July of each year sees a good attendance of some of the survivors.
Badger Baiting…..by Dan Roberts
I digress; it’s a strange name to give a car. It doesn’t really sum up anything when you say the word apart from a mythical beast. Mythical its not, because it exists, and beast- well mmm. Its one that the marketing department were given a `D` on, when they sat the `typically aggressive names to give sports cars` exam. Spitfire- pass, Puma- pass, Mustang- excellent. Centaur- could try harder….
But a Centaur is what rolled out of the gates of Magraw engineering’s workshop in Mumford, Plymouth, one day back in the 1977, and was unveiled at the `77 motorfair. It was designed by a consultancy company called Crayford (they also managed to hack the roofs from many models of the period- probably the best known chop was the Ford Corsair). The end result was basically a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1, with two centre spines and outriggers for strengthening as well as front and rear bracing for rigidity. The car was sold on behalf of Crayford by Vauxhall dealers, and at the time the car cost £8K, nearly twice the price of the standard Cavalier, so only a limited production run of 118 made it to the road.
It was one of the first ever British cars to be given a full type approval by GM, and of the quantity produced, only 20-25% of these became Mantas. Based on the SR (or in the case of the Cavalier, the GLS), the conversion was only ever carried out on new coupes. Early versions were fitted with the 1900cc engine, but the 2L version was introduced in 1978 to run alongside the tin roof model. Auto transmissions and Campagnolia magnesium alloy wheels were given as an option when new, but these mods took the price of an already expensive car into the realms of the exclusive, so few were made with these additions. Each vehicle carries its own commission number in the glove box and mine is number 73.
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