Well, I did go and buy it…
I have to say that, so far, the Vauxhall Calibra has been as good as gold for me – as expected. It’s going to be one of our fleet that’s going to cause no trouble at all, just quietly getting on with the job, covering miles effortlessly and turning heads wherever it goes.
I must admit that I didn’t expect it to cause quite as much controversy with AROnline readers as it did. However, with 59 comments – and counting – after my introductory post about it, there’s no denying that you haven’t ignored it. I guess, though, that coming from the era of cars that we love so much and a time when life was gentler, cars were less aspirational, as well as a whole lot easier to work on, it’s easy to understand why it’s struck a chord.
Okay, so not all of you love it. There were one or two references to ‘chavs’ and Max Power that I didn’t quite appreciate, but then I guess many of you aren’t old enough to remember the era when everyone – and I mean everyone – aspired to own a red Calibra. Admittedly, mine’s a blue SE4 limited edition, and comes with the nasty chrome V affixed to the front of the post-facelift cars, but it’s close enough to mid-1990s nirvana.
In terms of where it’s at, the sunroof doesn’t work (Kevin Bricknell gave me a spare to fit) and, because I have been fiddling with the roof lining, the alarm sensor covers that held in the panel became loose and kept dropping off. Thanks to an application of duct tape to the fittings, they’re now firmly fixed – and that, really, is the sum of the car’s woes right now.
Ideally, I’d like to give it a service, as I suspect the thermostat is on its way out. The coolant temperature gauge wavers between 85-95 degrees while driving, instead of sitting steady – it’s a good job the cooling fan cuts in as it should. Honestly, that’s all there is – the Calibra’s a pleasure to drive, it starts and stops as it should and sits happily on the motorway for mile after mile.
It’s no driver’s car – the steering is too lacking in feel for that. Performance is also acceptable rather than startling. With 120bhp on tap, the 2.0-litre 8v four will give you 0-60mph in 10 seconds and a 125mph maximum speed, while fourth and fifth gears are nice and tall for relaxed cruising, rather than sprinting. Consider it a 2.0-litre Capri for the 1990s. That’s why, despite its so-so performance and dynamics, I do like it a lot, and I suspect that, once people latch on to the car’s rarity and great looks today, I won’t be alone.
Meanwhile, for now, I’m off for a nice long drive…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.