C155PAV Vauxhall Nova 1.3SR: a jpoc car

In the Spring of 1986, I replaced Spot with a Vauxhall Nova 1.3SR. For the first time, I had a car whose registration was fully pronounceable and so the car was known as cisspav (spoken as sisspav.)

This was also my first ever new car. It was bought with financial help from General Motors on a straight forward borrow the money and pay it off over three year. Spot was the full deposit.

I nearly didn't buy this car. I had a look at the available options in the small hatchback market. I just could not get interested in a Polo or something French and I was certainly not going to buy a Metro or a Fiesta. That left the Nova and the newly introduced FIAT Uno. My first choice was the Nova but the garage didn't have any available for several weeks and so I settled for a FIAT instead. I was told that there was one on its way from the factory and that I could have it in a week. After almost a month, I realised that the FIAT dealer had been telling me a pack of lies and there was not going to be a car for some time so I went back to the Vauxhall dealer who could now offer me a choice of cars!

I picked a white one and I duly took delivery. It had two faults on delivery. The rear screen wiper fell off during my familiarisation run with the salesman. He duly fixed that with a replacement blade. The other fault, I didn't spot. There had been some paint damage on the rear hatchback and it had been rather poorly touched up with brush on paint of the type used to fix stone chips. I'm not sufficiently sad to worry about something like that though.

The Nova had about the same power and weight as my original 1300cc Escort and so it was a bit slower in a straight line than the 1600cc cars that I had owned most recently.

It handled OK though and the 1.3SR came with a range of nice goodies from a chunky, comfortable to grip wheel to front and rear spoilers and sticky back black plastic on the sides below the waistline. The latter didn't look at all as bad as it sounds as it fitted in with the front and rear plastic bumpers and it made the car much more practical to clean as there was no danger that any grit on the lower part of the body would scratch the paint when the car was washed.

With its five speed box the gearing was pretty high and, on a couple of occasions, I had the speedo showing over 120mph down a bit of a hill. Of course, speedos are always optimistic but, if you assume that the rev counter was true (they usually are) then it was getting up to about 115mph. While doing all of this, I was using quite a bit less petrol than I had with the Escorts so I was happy enough.

Eventually, when I started contracting, my 110 mile per day round trip to work was too much for the Nova on a long term basis so I bought another car. This was an Escort RS Turbo but more of that car later. I kept the Nova because my then wife was planning on learning to drive and we agreed that cisspav would make a fine first car for her and back up for me when the Escort would be in for a service.

In his first two years, cisspav accumulated the miles at a rate of about twenty thousand a year. That was a mixture of trips to work and longer hauls to visit family members in the English Midlands. After that, the number of miles travelled dropped off and in the next six years, the car only travelled a few more miles than in the first two!

We had a few minor mishaps with cisspav over those years. The first was when the car was parked and some guy from Federal Express bumped into him. The damage looked horrible there was a great black scar across the rear quarter. The perpetrator had left an apologetic note. Score one for Fedex in the good citizen stakes there! It turned out though that there was no damage to cisspav. The other vehicle had merely smeared a large swath of rubber from a bumper or something over the white paint and it all came off with a little white spirit!

After that, I'm afraid that I hit a large bird on the motorway one night and as well as blood everywhere there was a small crack in the plastic front spoiler. Worse was to come one Christmas when my first wife was at the wheel. She was reversing into a parking spot when she caught the front corner of a Volvo with the driver's door and front wing. That left more serious damage but I spent Christmas day taking off the internal door trim panel and hammering the dent out. The Volvo was unscathed. The final problem was when the car was parked and some kids ripped off the badge from the back. It wasn't even the manufacturer's badge. It was the nasty stick on job from the supplying dealer but while we did not miss that, they did gouge the paintwork out with a screwdriver. More white spirit to clean off the remnants of the glue and some touch up paint did the trick though.

We had pretty well no mechanical problems at all until the very end. When cisspav reached a little over 80,000 miles, things started to go wrong on a very regular basis. In a couple of months I needed to replace the battery, starter motor and then two of the flexible fuel hoses. It seemed clear to me that we had reached a point at which it would be necessary to spend money each month on replacing parts that had worn out. So, C155PAV was traded in for another new car. Again, white but this time rear wheel drive. A Mercedes C Class.

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