Tag Archives: Autoeclectics

Friday Autoeclectic: Astra GTE



By Tim Smith

A few months ago I wrote a post about the Ford Sierra XR4i. My father owned that car around about the time we, as a family, were members of a local Fellowship. It was all about holding hands in the air and speaking in tongues and people who had been spoken to by The Lord.

If I’m honest I found it all a little confusing. Anyways, something that particular church was good at was cars. You see this was the eightees. Young twenty/thirty somethings who had the will and the way were making money left, right and, well, mostly to the right, regardless of belief.


While my Dad had his 4i, one of his mate’s at the Fellowship had an Astra GTE. I knew, as a kid, that the 4i was faster, but not by much. They used to joke about racing. I’m not sure they ever did.

Fast forward ten years or so and myself and a date have been stuffed into the back of an acquaintance’s modified GTE. She was a nice girl, that date. I definately laughed too loud at one point (where nobody else did) while we watched American Pie in the Cinema, and I definately didn’t laugh anywhere else, but what the hay… what was I talking about?


Ah, yes. The GTE. As he threw that thing along the main road from Stroud to Gloucester I can honestly say I’ve never been in something that felt so deeply overpowered. If this was Star Trek and I was an engineering chief, I’d be shouting  STRUCTURAL INTERGRITY FAILING.’


Vauxhall, historically aren’t very good at making something that handles. However, they are quite good at getting people to make engines for them.

The GTE was no exception, the first version developing 124bhp from 1.8 litres. Later versions employed the 2-litre ‘red-top’ with 148bhp (or 150 of those slightly smaller German horses).

That doesn’t sound much in today’s money. After all, you can get that in a mid-range Corsa. But, here’s the rub: the Golf GTI of the 1.8’s time developed 112bhp. The Escort XR3i only 105bhp.


The GTE, then, could outgun anything in it’s class at the traffic lights. In a time before Nurburgring lap times and ‘handling’ this was all that mattered.


This week’s chosen car comes with the later red-top engine and the paint job, alloy combination I’ll always remember the GTE as having. At two-six, it does seem a little steep, but then, I reckon, that value will only climb.

Advert reproduced below:

Key facts

  • 1990
  • Petrol
  • Hatchback
  • Manual
  • 105000 miles

Solid Artic White, CURRENTLY UNDERGOING FULL SERVICE AND MOT AND CAMBELT, THIS GTE 16V IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS! VERY CLEAN INSIDE AND OUT WITH NONE OF THE USUAL RUST. CALL FOR FULL DETAILS, 12 months MOT, 6 months tax, Last serviced on 02/01/2014 at 105,000 miles, Service history, Excellent bodywork, Grey Cloth interior – Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, Immobiliser, Sunroof, Electric windows, Electric door mirrors, Sports seats, Power steering. 5 seats, CAR HAS BEEN GARAGED FOR LAST FOUR YEARS WITH VERY LITTLE USE. ORIGINAL SERVICE BOOK WITH STAMPS IN IT, ALL PREVIOUS MOT’S AND TAX DISCS! HPI CLEAR. A USABLE CLASSIC! CALL FOR FULL DETAILS, Experian auto check clear, £2,680


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First And Last Rover

The Rover P6, first delivered in 1963 is, and was, the last truly good car to come from Rover. Most would point towards the SD1, but this, in many ways was a step backwards for a manufacturer that had, for a time, considered placing a gas turbine engine in the nose of the P6.


Inspired by the DS, the P6 had unstressed body panels bolted onto a large unitary frame. It also featured a synchromesh transmission, a rear de-Dion non-independent suspension set-up and disc brakes all round. Reckoned too expensive, those last two would not make it onto the SD1.


The interior included standard seat belts, a feature not made law for another five years and not made compulsory to wear for another twenty. The controls were arranged in a manner that made sense to operating the vehicle safely and efficiently. Many of those controls were designed to break on impact, one of the first cars to allow for soft human bodies. Lastly an extension to the front lamps was made proud of the front wings allowing the driver to place the nose of the car accurately during low-light.


Styled to appeal to a new executive class, one more amenable to change, the P6 was like nothing before it and was replicated by nothing proceeding it. Shades of the P6 can be found on the 75, on the headlight design and rear-three-quarter view, for instance, but that would almost be thirty years later and attached to a company that in 1963 had only just defined its Neue Klasse sports saloon. Had British management and political attitudes been different, then perhaps the 320d that now achieves 60mpg while undertaking you at 90mph on the M1 would have had a distinctly British(1) competitor.


No matter, it was always going to happen like this, it cannot be sufficiently gauged how things would have been different for better or worse. What we can do, though, is look to the classifieds, indulge the idea.


P6s’ can be had for as little as a grand, but you wouldn’t want to. Good ones start at around the £5000 mark. I’ve gone a little crazy with the imagined coffers this week, picking my perfect spec in my perfect colour, with the addition of a five-speed gearbox and some engine modification.

Personally I think its worth it. This is the car that Stephen Bayley called the ‘one of the greatest English saloon cars’.(2)

Advert reproduced below:

European Classic Cars
Swindontel: 01672 512879     07813394167
web:  http://www.europeanclassiccars.co.uk

1972 ROVER P6 3500S.Upgraded,3.9ltr,5 speed,£25k+ spent!! For Sale

Here we have on offer a very interesting P6 Rover.Originally a 3500cc V8 car,fitted with the factory 4 speed manual gearbox,it has been restored and upgraded with a 3.9ltr V8 which is fed by a 500cfm Eldelbrock carb and Viper Hurricane camshaft and Magnecor leads.It also has a full stainless steel exhaust system,including the manifolds.
A 5 speed SD1 gearbox replaces the orignal 4 speed and fully adjustable AVO shocks are fitted all round.
Much of the restoration work was carried out by Annable and Son of Derby and bills exceed £25k.She looks stunning with the superb red paintwork and contrasting black vinyl roof fitted with a full length Webasto sunroof.The interior is full black leather with new,cream Wilton carpets and she sits on a set of chrome Rostyle wheels.
This is a real Q car car that looks stunning,is very quick and quite unique.


1. As a side note, Vinnie Jones’ character, Big Chris, a London east-end gangster, drove one in the feature film Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. The P6 has presence.

2. Bayley, S, (2009) Cars: Freedom,Style, Sex, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything, 1st ed. London, Octopus Publishing, p.246.

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Ovlov Love

The first Volvo was made in 1927, the OV4 ‘Jacob’.

Built on a frame using beech and ash, it was, as Volvos still are, not overtly revolutionary, yet strong and capable. It was available in any colour as long as it was dark blue with black wings.

Volvo, have, over the years, become known for their solidity, and, to this day, trade inside of a culture that believes them to be safer than the competition. Occasionally, in the manufacturers history, someone, somewhere has been able to convince the powers that determine Volvo’s course to do something interesting.

Volvo 480

In 1986 Volvo launched the 480 coupe. It was Volvo’s first FWD passenger car. Early cars suffered from electrical problems, and seals tend to go on the pretty, rear, frameless bootlid, but these problems were largely cured with an attention to mechanical detail that the Swedish company have become known for. Still, it’s worth checking the footwells and boot floor for rainwater.

Volvo 480

The engines, by todays standards seem underpowered until you find out that the whole car weighs little over a ton. It might even be fun to drive. This particular car looks like it is owned by an enthusiast, a good sign for what is a rare but elderly car. Honest John quotes a 37.1% pass rate for MOTs. Enough said.


I suspect that values for this pretty little Volvo (an interesting concept in of itself) have bottomed out, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Petrolicious made a short film on one in ten years or so time.  Maybe, maybe not. Either way I’m very near to buying this one for myself…


Advert reproduced below:


£550Volvo 480 GT 3dr 2.0

1994PetrolCoupeManual168000 miles
Reduced to £550 or Best Offer! Only selling because I’m starting a business. £2k+ spent on her to date. All work done by a qualified, very experienced mechanic. Only 250 of the 480GT model were made. The 480 was the first model to have the SIPS – Side Impact Protection System. The Air Conditioning was re-charged in July ’13. Overall she is in v.g.c. All 4 tyres are good as are the brakes. It had a Full Service & a new Clutch kit fitted 3 months ago. Hardly been driven since. Body work is good overall for her 19yrs. A little bit of surface rust on the bottom of the passenger door. The driver’s door was replaced 2 yrs ago with a white one. It was professionally resprayed & fitted but has a little bit of flaking in a few places. She comes with: original set of Snow Mats – front & back + original Vesa rims. She has a Manual 5-Speed Gearbox. Being sold with 2 sets of interiors. The original individually painted ‘patchwork’ design all leather interior. However, she currently has the other set installed – the Black Jacquard, which has leather trim. She also has the rare & much sort-after Roller Boot Cover. The spring action is no longer functioning, but the cover is still operable manually. She is 19 years old & does have some age related wear & tear. Please bare this in mind. N.B. If you get no answer when you phone, please leave your details so I can return your call., GREEN, 5+ owners, Part service history, Electric windows, Air conditioning, CD player, Leather trim, Heated seats, Height adjustable driver’s seat, Height adjustable passenger seat, Folding rear seats, Sports seats, Metallic paint, Spare wheel (Space-saver), Power steering, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Central locking, Alarm, Driver’s airbags. £550


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