As our fleet did consist solely of 3 Mk2 Astras, I thought I'd give the 1.3 it's own thread. From here on, it shall be referred to as the "Mk2", as the other two were called "the estate" and "the GTE". Keeps things simple.
The story really begins sometime in 1997. I bought my first Mk2 Astra. A 1.3GL in Gazelle Beige:
That's it next to my brother's. Mine was awesome. It had 47k on it when I bought it for £750 to replace my Orion (yes, I used to be a Ford man!). It was so more specced than the Ford it was unreal. Rev counter, adjustable steering wheel, 5 speed box, velour interior. The feeling of quality was far and beyond the Orion I actually felt quite posh driving it. This is the car that got me into DIY due a local garage nearly killing the engine, so I decided I was the only one to touch my cars from then on. In 18 months of use, I'd increased the mileage to 78k! I decided Vauxhall was the marque of choice for me. So I looked for, and found, a 5 door GTE, which I paid £650 for. In hindsight, it was a dog. Arches repaired, albeit very well, with filler, oil leaks, no service history and bald tyres.
I drove it for a couple of months, not realising just how badly this thing was running. Then, in preparation for the MOT, I removed the sill covers... and found absolutely nothing underneath. I was speechless. I didn't know what to do, so jammed the sill covers back on. Then a few days later I was out in town near college, just parking up one lunch time, when there was a soft pop and a huge cloud of steam from under the bonnet. I'd had enough, and walked into the nearest branch of Barclays and secured a 1k loan. Sod it I thought, I want something nice and modern, simple and reliable.
So I decided I wanted a 1.3 again. Nice, simple, economic motoring, just not white. I looked at about 8 I think. All expensive, scruffy and with high miles. I finally settled on mine in September 1999; a F reg 1988 Tiffany silver 1.3L with 104k miles for £1000, got it for £925 and the guy said he'd put a new MOT on, which he did. It was his son's girlfriend's car. She'd had it for a few years as she worked through college. Now in university in London, she barely used the car and it'd covered just 400 miles in the last year. It had sat in their car port covered in dust. But it started and drove fine. Original wheel trims and radio present. Sadly this is the days before digital cameras, so no 'just bought' pics.
First stop was Dad's work to wash off the thick dust. It looked mint! I remember being so chuffed! On the drive home the wheel wobble nearly broke my wrists, so the wheels from the dead GTE (still in the garage) went on as I'd had to fit 4 new tyres to the POS. This is largely how it stayed for a couple of years with the addition of the grey front indicators. This is it on a trip to the Motor Museum at Bealieu:
The car got a lot of use. By this time I was confident to replace the cam belt and water pump myself. Because of my dad's job, I was able to change the oil and filter every 3k miles with Elf 10/40 semi. I got into motor sport a little, and took part in a few road rallies, and even a few rally action days. The poor thing got the **** kicked out of it and never gave me any bother. Sure the back box broke off and a wheel bearing was grumbling after one of these rally days, but I was always able to get to work/ college with no fuss. The rally days basically involve a marked out track on an army training ground, and you ragged the hell out of the car all day. You just queued up and went from 9am to 5pm!
Over the following years I did various mods to the car, like LXi alloys, a facelift but still grey bumper, the front seats from my old GTE (now broken for spares and scrapped) and eventually I bought a scrapper 1.8i CD for it's interior and bumpers and it's engine for a Nova project I had on the go. I saved up and had the top half resprayed due to lacquer peeling. I also had the CD bumpers sprayed. It looked superb! I remember finally fitting the CD interior the first day I picked Sharon up for our first date (we're now married!)
The rallies also continued, now with Sharon as navigator:
Eventually greed set in and again I wanted something more powerful, or slightly different. But this time I was smart and kept the Mk2. Insurance was an issue, so any car I had alongside only tended to be insured for a month at a time. The list included a G reg Mk2 5 door SRi bought cheap as it had a fault which I found out when I managed to roll it, a Fiat Tipo (digi dash tastic!) bought cheap as a accident victim, fixed up and sold, a Nissan Sunny Coupe (always loved these), sold on after someone hit it, my old beige Astra was given back to me as a present and, finally, when I was able to afford to insure 2 cars full time, I plumped for a 2.0 8V Mk3 Astra. Some may remember. I started to be more active in MIG about this time.
The Mk3 proved troublesome for the first few months. Alternator failure, heater matrix failure followed by head gasket failure meat I spent more time in the faithful Mk2. Eventually I sorted the problems and the mk3 started to prove reliable. Sharon couldn't drive at this point so the Mk2 sat idle for long periods of time. It never failed to start though.