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Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 1 Coupe Fact File - By Paul Brennecker & Mark Kinnon

Produced From: 1975 - 1981

Total Number Produced: 16 535

Mention the name Cavalier and most of us think of the Mk2 SRi or the Mk3 rep's car see on motorways. It seems that the Mk1 coupe and hatch is almost forgotten.

The car is identical, engine and running gear-wise, to the Manta B and has almost the same trim variants except the Vauxhall griffin and nose cone with no slots.

Built between November 1975 and July 1981, a total of 16,535 Coupes and Sportshatches were built, all at Opel's Antwerp plant in Belgium (where all the post facelift cars were produced!).

The saloon Cavalier was the only variant of the Mk1 to be built at Luton.

The Cavalier Coupe 1975 - 1979

The new Cavalier range was announced in September 1975 and launched in October. At first the Coupe was a 1.9 GL. The interior was finished in "Diamond Velour" cloth trim and the seats and door pads either in black, beige, blue or red. Both door panels had a wood insert, while the driver's side had a door pocket.

The instruments in the early GL models were the 3 clock items found in all the Cavalier range at the time and incorporated fuel, temp. and speed only.

The headlining was white with the roll bar finished in black as are the back of the sun visors.

The top of the dash is finished in the same colour as the interior trim while the bottom was black (Inverse of the same period Manta models - Nick Webb).

At the rear of the seats, the parcel shelf is black without the carpet found on the Manta B.

The Cavalier Coupe in Detail by Sean Hunt

Engine and Gearbox (1975 - 1978)

The engine was an 1,897cc all iron cam-in-head four cylinder unit which developed 90bhp at 4,800rpm and 105 lbft of torque at 3,800rpm. 0 - 60 mph took around 11.5 seconds and the top speed was 109mph. The standard carburettor across the range was a Zenith INAT with automatic choke. The electrics were provided by an AC Delco or Bosch 44A alternator.

The gearbox was a 4 speed, all synchromesh, unit with the following ratios:

1st 3.640
2nd 2.120
3rd 1.336
4th 1.000

The clutch was a single plate 8" item.

Rear Axle and Running Gear

The rear axle was a live unit with four links. The final drive ratio was 3.67:1 (1.9 litre models) and 3.44:1 (2.0 litre models). GM oil filled shock absorbers were standard.


These were dual circuit and servo assisted. The front discs were solid 9.7" diameter with twin piston (2 pot) callipers, made either by Lucas or ATE. Therear brakes were 9" diameter drums with manual adjusters up to 1978.

Wheels and Tyres

The wheels were 5 1/2J x 13" pressed steel Rostyle wheels painted in silver. A chrome centre cap with the Vauxhall griffin and chrome wheel inserts ("trim rings") add the final touch. The tyres were 185/70x13".

Exterior Features

Front and rear chrome bumpers with plastic mouldings. There was a front ABS spoiler (not fitted as standard to the Manta until 1980) mounted on the lower front valance and a Vauxhall griffin on the nose cone.

There were full chrome sill covers, whereas the Manta B only had a thin moulding.

The glass was plain on all Cavalier Coupe models. At the rear the name "VAUXHALL" is in individual chrome letters between the rear lamps and this area is painted matt black. The rear registration plate is located under the rear bumper.


Unlike Opel, Vauxhall did not offer many factory options, only automatic transmission being available.

Of course, your "Friendly Vauxhall, Bedford dealer" had a brochure full of goodies for your Cavalier, including headrests, spot lights and radios (you did not get a radio on a Cavalier coupe until 1977!).

Development of the Car, 1975 - 1981


New Cavalier announced in September, launched in October. Available as 1.9 GL Coupe.


August - Coupe now rebadged from GL to GLS. The interior now has the 6 instrument dash found in the Manta range. The car now costs 3,161.34.

Automatic transmission was 251.65, metallic paint was 43.24.


No change to the car.


June - the 1.9 engine now upgraded to the 100bhp 2.0S power unit.

October - Cavalier Sportshatch introduced in 1.6 or 2.0 GLS. Costs were:

  • Coupe 2.0 litre - 4,334.85
  • Sportshatch 1.6 litre - 4,174.56
  • Sportshatch 2.0 litre - 4,373.46


August - Cavalier Coupe dropped from the range.


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