Practical Classics (UK)
VAUXHALL NOVA GSI
Why is the Nova worth seeking out in 2023? Well, it’s quite simple… unlike its period competitors from Volkswagen, Peugeot and Ford, it’s still relatively affordable. While the Golf GTI, Peugeot 205 GTI and Fiesta XR2I have long since been changing hands for big, big money, the sporting Novas such as the SR, GTE and indeed the GSI that we have with us here have yet to reach the stratosphere and remain eminently attainable. But that won’t be the case forever.
Don’t think that you must stick to the sportier models and swerve the ‘cooking’ versions though. The Nova remained a small, light car throughout its 10 years on the UK market and the early models weighed in at a mere 740kg. This makes them unexpectedly interesting to hustle along, even with one of the smaller engines under the bonnet. The 1.2-litre-engined cars are one of life’s simpler pleasures and, while you’re never going to confuse them with a modern hatchback, they’re miles ahead of anything from the Seventies.
As a practical motor, the Nova is as good as its opposition, and arguably better in some ways – there aren't many rivals for the Nova saloon and its generously-sized boot, for example.
It's common knowledge that a sporty Nova was the chariot of choice for many a boy (or girl) racer back in the Nineties, which also means that lots of them suffered from dubious modifications in period. Massive subwoofers, gaudy alloy wheels and plastic trim adornments as far as the eye can see… you get the picture. If you can find one that avoided that fate, then you’ll have a motor to cherish for years to come. Better still, as many modifications or ‘upgrades’ are a case of personal taste
from the current
owner, wildly modified cars often struggle to find a willing market come sale time. If you take such a project on and bring it sympathetically back to Oe-spec, you’ll not only have a great modern classic on your hands, but you’ll likely improve its value in monetary terms, too.