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Five Vauxhall GSIs you’ve probably forgotten about

Let’s reach back into the annals of fast-ish Vauxhall history. Yes, there was one

  1. Vauxhall Astra GSI Mk3

    Many a young motoring enthusiast longed for a car with a ‘16V’ sticker on the back, and the 16V under the nose of the rather handsome Mk3 Astra was a good ‘un. The ‘red top’ C20 XE 2.0-litre (so-called because it literally had a red cam cover) was a cracking engine, good for 150bhp or thereabouts.

    In this, it’d do 0-62mph in around nine and a half seconds. Glacially slow by today’s standards, and possibly even slow back then, it wasn’t actually half bad. Super rare today, too.

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  2. Vauxhall Carlton GSI

    Not sure who signed off on the design of those rear arches (did Vauxhall just give up at that point on the car?), but whoever signed off on a hearty 3.0-litre straight-six should be rewarded. The Carlton – Vauxhall’s luxury 5 Series rival – came with a spoiler, a nattier bodykit, nice wheels and a decent engine.

    The rear-drive saloon was good for 177bhp (rising to over 200bhp later in its life), and 150mph flat out in 24V guise. Contemporary reports praised that 24V car, and if you can actually find one, would make a very interesting used buy.

  3. Vauxhall Nova GSI

    'Twas a time when the humble Nova GSI was one of the go-to cars for young people who wanted to... 'personalise' their little hatches with mountains of fibreglass and stereos that’d shake the Royal Albert Hall.

    Suffered from an image problem, and could never really go toe-to-toe with peak Eighties hot hatches (you know The Ones), but was a tidy little car… if you left it unmolested.

    Also… rust. So much rust.

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  4. Vauxhall Cavalier GSI

    Oooh, bet you’re thinking about the British Touring Car Championship, right? Let’s face it, seeing a Mk3 Cavalier being driven at unholy speeds across British racetracks in the Nineties was about as cool as a Mk3 Cavalier ever got. Heck, it even won the 1995 BTCC crown.

    The road car was… well, it was a road car. Good engine – that familiar 2.0-litre 16 valver. Discreet bodykit too, with that all-important GSI badge making it the one your parents probably wanted… before retreating back into the safe confines of a 1.6 GL or something equally dreary.

    Good luck finding one today, mind.

  5. Vauxhall Manta GSI

    One of Vauxhall/Opel’s finer moments, at least in terms of design. The rear-drive Manta was an undoubtedly cool motor, and the ‘B’ version – essentially the Mk2 – featured a 2.0-litre with around 110bhp named ‘GSI’ in 1984.

    That wasn’t the most powerful one, though. That honour went to the Manta B ‘400’, so-called because Opel had to make 400 for Group 4 homologation. That car featured a 2.4-litre four-pot, made around 140bhp, and won the two-wheel-drive class of the 1984 Paris-Dakar rally. It finished fourth overall. Not bad, eh?

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