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Adam Cav1

First Hello, Cavalier Mk1 Project.

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Hello everyone, hope you are all well.

I have recently been researching the Cavalier Mk1 and more often than not mantaclub was appearing in the google search results so I thought this would be a good place to come for some advice.

My Grandpa passed a few years ago and left behind a Cavalier Mk1 1600L manual, it's probably been sat in the garage around 5-10 years. I have been talking with my Dad about taking some time off post-lockdown to get it back on the road either as a car to take to shows or maybe to daily drive, provided we could increase the reliability. We've been thinking about swapping out the engine for something slightly newer e.g. the CIH 1.9E/2.0E for a little power boost/better reliability (injection and electronic ignition). From what I can see online, however, is that these are difficult to get hold of, particularly in a condition where we could just drop it in rather than going through a whole overhaul. My dad has also hinted at sinking some money into a V8 and full drivetrain swap although I'm guessing that would require significant modifications. Would also be nice to get a 5-speed box but I'm reluctant to start cutting up the tranny tunnel.

Unfortunately we both have busy lives and no workshop space so would have to hire out a space for 2-3weeks for this project. Maybe it would be enough of a challenge just to get it running again in it's current state and fix any inevitable problems in that time frame. We're both engineers so not afraid to get stuck in (Dad used to work on Triumphs back in the day) but have no experience with the Cavalier.  

Anyway, long post, any opinions/upgrade suggestions are greatly appreciated. I believe the car is stock ATM apart from the custom air-con system Grandad put in and an electric fan (He was also an engineer!)

Cheers,

Adam.

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Hi Adam,

A very warm welcome to you. Sounds like you have a great project car with some sentimental value to you and your family.

For those reasons and just because the 1600 L is rare in stock form these days, I would be keeping it absolutely standard.

My advice isn’t really worth tuppence to be honest, but I would:

- Inspect carefully for rust all over.

- make a lust of jobs to do

- get it running to keep you motivated

- break up the list of jobs into manageable chunks, so that you can always see the end of one particular stage of the restoration.

- slowly work through your jobs 

- never worry about coming to this forum and asking for help or advice, the people here are friendly, knowledgeable and consistently helpful.

- enjoy it!

I hope that helps you in some small way?

Regards,

Ian

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Posted (edited)

Hi Ian,

Thank you for your reply 🙂. If the 1600 L is scarce maybe it would be more popular at car shows than we previously thought!

We're hoping the car is fairly rust free as I'm told my Grandpa would care for it quite meticulously e.g. painting old oil onto the undercarriage to prevent rust. However we have not laid eyes on it in a number of years so could be worse than we imagine.

He was still running leaded fuel before it went into storage and we were wondering if the fuel system will need purging like normal or if we can get away with it. I suppose we will likely get hardened valve seats installed to run normal petrol also.

As you said hopefully we can get a solid plan together and the parts we need so we know what to do before we start.

Cheers,

Adam

Edited by Adam Cav1

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Welcome Adam I agree with ian keep its specs as standard as possible and get it running and roadworthy first believe me may be a big challenge on its own.my manta stood for 13 years a real electrical nightmare.I would drain and clean the entire fuel system including the tank remove and clean.good luck

 

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Hi Adam, as the guys say you should look to get it up & running first. 
In regards to unleaded fuel you’ll find divided opinions but lots of classics have carried on & run ok as there’s so called lead-memory which may well be fine for years of driving to shows. 
Hooby’s right, you should take the tank out & clean it all. 

The back axle won’t do well for very long with a V8 if you did go that route!

Somebody had a way of modding the later 5 speed box so it looked standard 4 speed without messing with the tunnel  I think it may have been Danny & Carl’s early B coupe  

Not so original but may want to consider keeping the varijet carb in a box for posterity but buy & fit a new Weber  

 

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Re: the petrol - you can buy an additive to add to Unleaded fuel to make your car ok to drive. That’s what I use in mine. 

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Thanks guys, appreciate the advice.

Will definitely be cleaning out the entire fuel system when it comes to it.

Interested in your carb suggestion Trooker. Would the Weber have any impact on reliability or is it just to get a bit more power?

Adam

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Are you sure you have a Varijet carb? - my old S Reg 1.6 Cav had a Solex carb

By the day way, have you got a Haynes manual for your car? - if not it’s well worth getting one.

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Put one engine in shed and get yourself a manta 1.8 gearbox/sump setup and drop a 2.0 ohc lump in 😃

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1 hour ago, Adam Cav1 said:

 

Interested in your carb suggestion Trooker. Would the Weber have any impact on reliability or is it just to get a bit more power?

 

Reliability plus a little more power but as Ian says you probably have a solex on the 1.6 ooops  I had memories of battles with varijet on the larger engine  

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Posted (edited)

hi and welcome along. 

everyone has their own opinions on what to do with the car. i thought id throw in my pennys worth too !

the earlier cavs did seem to be a bit better built than later mantas and seemed to survive better in some areas rust wise but that all depends on how its been looked after,where its been stored etc etc so treat it as an unknown and check everywhere. 

usual suspects ,sills,usually starting at rear end of outers and working its way along and eventually inners and footwells especially if any water leaks.

chassis sections seems to start at the suspension lower mounting bolt area( visible from looking just behind front wheel).

various other areas eventually all dependant on storage,etc etc,   rear wheel arches,boot floor,battery tray,behind headlamps/ inner wings.etc etc etc.

check all this lot first and if all is well you have got a good one.not that its not repairable if you find otherwise but lerning to weld or having a friend who can will be beneficial in the long run.

engine wise theres no reason why a 1.6 should be any less reliable than any other engine.( some say a bit underpowered but depends on what you want)/compare it to !)at least it will be easier to insure as an unmodified car for a start.

the 1.6 was possibly the most popular and had points and condensor just like many other cars of the era and could be changed to electronic ignition if so desired,the carburettor was a solex and fairly reiliable.my 1.6 ran a solex for many years with no real issues.my 2.0 is still on a varijet and ive no intention of making it non standard .

changing to a larger but same type engine is the easiest way if you plan to change it (2.0,2.2, even 2.4) or going for a v8 if you so desire is doable but i wouldnt know anything about that job. others will .

unleaded fuel should run the engine ok for a good few thousand miles providing you dont grind the valves in ,(lead memory .)my viva has run unmodified on unleaded for 5000 miles and no changes have happened to the valve clearances or running

anyway,see what you have got first, theyre a good car to work on,fantastic to drive and look good too.parts availability isnt too bad either but obviously some bits are getting harder to find . cross that bridge when you come to it/ decide what you are doing.

Edited by cam.in.head
adding more detail

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Hi Adam and welcome 

About 30 years ago lent my cav out come back with the engine blown up 

Put a Vauxhall’s 2.3 engine ( lean to engine??) with a Vauxhall victor 101 gearbox 
Had to cut the end of the manta prop and welded the victor end to the manta prop

Had to make a exhaust manifold, exhaust,engine mounts 

You should get this done in a week 

Fitted in no problem, but very scary as it used to wheel spin, ( wheel spin at 80/90 MPH when Floored it) should have replaced the axle 

Never got around to fit a axle as sold to a mate who went though 3 sets of tyres on the rear 

 

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33 minutes ago, 1200bandit said:

Hi Adam and welcome 

About 30 years ago lent my cav out come back with the engine blown up 

Put a Vauxhall’s 2.3 engine ( lean to engine??) with a Vauxhall victor 101 gearbox 
Had to cut the end of the manta prop and welded the victor end to the manta prop

Had to make a exhaust manifold, exhaust,engine mounts 

You should get this done in a week 

Fitted in no problem, but very scary as it used to wheel spin, ( wheel spin at 80/90 MPH when Floored it) should have replaced the axle 

Never got around to fit a axle as sold to a mate who went though 3 sets of tyres on the rear 

 

Great engine, basis of the lotus 2.2 (lotus copy)

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Welcome to the Forum! I’d agree with others, get it road worthy as a standard car and enjoy it for what it is. If you get bored after 12 months start upgrading. I’m building an early manta which should have had a 1.6 in it, but I’m using a 2.0 as the 1.6 engine is very rare and you can’t really find any now. Good luck with your project! 

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Hi Adam and welcome to the club .  As you can see from the replies you’ve had you’re in the right place and that whatever route you decide to go down there will be someone here with the knowledge and backing to help you. I have to agree with the general consensus of getting the car up and running first and then having a general look over it and maybe getting It to an MOT pass standard. At least then you can go on and modify it without any nasty surprises. Good luck and looking forward to some photos 👍

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Thanks for the suggestions guys, there's probably a Haynes manual holed away somewhere Ian.

Hopefully we'll be able to get it out of the garage soon to inspect it and take some pics!

Cheers.

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Did you make any progress with the Cavalier yet? I was more interested to hear about the aircon system your Grandad had fitted to it.

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