Our Cars : Keith’s Calibra – welcome to a new coupe?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Calibra (1)

Just a quick addition to the site, and one that I hope will back up my recent assertion in a blog that, in many ways, the affordable motor car reached its peak in the late-1980s/early-1990s. The Vauxhall Calibra might be looked down upon by keen wheelmen, as it’s based very closely on the Cavalier MkIII, but as an item of desire in 1990, few cars come close.

My recollections are that it seemed like everyone wanted one – I was 20 when the Calibra was launched, and the excitement that it aroused was immense. Hard to believe now, isn’t it? Its arrival on the market certainly kickstarted the rebirth of the coupe, with buyers turning their backs on hot hatches, which were so popular during the 1980s.

Today, it’s almost forgotten. You can pick them up cheap. Very cheap… Too cheap… Perhaps it’s a victim of Vauxhall’s subsequent fall from coolness following the death of traditional company car – a change in culture that followed the rise in mass sales of the premium German manufacturers. Maybe, just maybe, they should have called it the Opel Manta MkII…

Anyway, that is why I found myself behind the wheel of this Calibra, which belongs to the Cavalier and Chevette Club’s webmaster, Kev Bricknell, and heading to work in it. It’s for sale, and seriously well priced – and I’m at a bit of a loss to understand why as I drive it home. It reminds me of the Cavalier MkIII I owned and loved in 2014 – quiet efficient, quick and unobtrusive. However, unlike its five-door cousin, it turns heads wherever I go; a fact that constantly reminds me of how rare they’ve become in a relatively short period of time.

This one is an SE4 special edition, powered by the 130bhp eight-valve 2.0-litre GM Family II engine. This, I guess, is why it’s survived. No Corsa wants its engine for a transplant – and, unlike the V6, it’s simple to work on and cheap to repair. It cruises at 70mph with ease, sips fuel and, from what I can ascertain from my initial motorway and A-road run, it steers a whole lot more sharply than the Cavalier it’s based on.

And you know what? After one drive in it, I am quietly impressed. Cars like this one still cut it on the roads today, and this one – on my brief first impression – seems like a very agreeably inexpensive way into the classic car club.

Is it a keeper? I’d be mad not to consider it. I’ll let you know what I decide. I’d be interested to hear what you think about it. One thing I do know – I’m very glad it’s not a Ford Probe!

Calibra (2)

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

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.
Keith Adams

61 Comments

  1. Where have all the Calibra’s gone? I’ve not seen one for a very long time,so where have they all gone, it’s not that it was like other Vauxhall oddities such as the Monterey or the Sintra which hardly sold at all, the Calibra was a pretty good seller for the company. So Keith enjoy the car one of the nicest looking vehicles sold by Vauxhall in the past thirty years

    • I reckon it looks like a latter day 3-door Princess 😉
      Alright, it doesn’t look that bad but I wouldn’t say time has been kind to the Calibra, like a lot of the designs that came from the Opel studios at that time, think Tigra, Omega, Corsa, this was hardly a svelt design…

  2. Yes, just where have they all gone?! Even if no longer around in big numbers, you’d think they’d be a more common enthusiast, owners’ club sighting.

    A truly fantastic looking car. Just so right.

    I always thought the Cavalier dash needed a few enhancements though, to make it more suitable for such a stylish coupe. A deeper centre console, between the seats. Something similar to that on the SD3 facelift springs to mind.

    Keep it Keith. So rare, so special.

  3. Where have they gone?

    I try to visit one or two local car breakers at least once a month, more frequently when time allows. Always interesting and fascinating places for me since my father first took small boy me to one in the 1950s. Two and three years ago there was a steady stream of Calibras in local breaker yards … not seen one there since. Not seen one on the road either. Last time about six years ago when one tried to keep up with my 620ti.

    There’s a steady stream of Rover 75s and MG ZTs in local yards now. Two years ago, they were very rare sights in local yards unless accident damaged. Life expiry time for them as all these cars now over ten years old, some nearer fifteen. Local “Arthur Daley” used car dealers taking ZTs and 75s in part exchange no longer regard them as “nice little earners” so straight round to breaker yards and weighed in.

    I bought TWO MG ZT 1.8Ts from local dealer/traders the past month for reasonable money. Both with long MoTs. In a year or two such opportunities will no longer be there. They are currently remarkable value because they no longer have any value for those “in the trade”. What folks throw away in local breaker yards nowadays often beggars belief. Not just MGs and Rovers of course but so called superior German product too no longer seen as nice little earners “in the trade”.

    • Interesting. What do you plan to do with your two MG ZTs?

      “What folks throw away in local breaker yards nowadays often beggars belief.”

      The age at which cars are scrapped has been steadily going UP since the phasing out of the scrappage scheme in 2009.

      http://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/Scrappage.jpg

      Average age of cars being scrapped is 13.5 years. That includes some cars going to an early grave due to accident damage that is uneconomic to repair. Excluding accident damaged cars, I reckon that average age of scrapped cars is probably closer to 15 years.

    • Don’t know where you live John, but the age of scrapped cars varies notably around the country. I left Milton Keynes in 1985, and left behind an abundant supply of 8yo scrap cars – good for updating my 12yo Viva 2300 with later parts. I moved to South Wales, where cars were scrapped at 13yo and more! They were a bit desperate down there, buying cheap and unloved cars like Cortina Mark 3’s, Talbot Tagoras, and Manta 1.8’s. I had to return to England to get late model scrapyard parts and to buy my Manta GTE.
      I still see plenty of well cared for MG and Rovers, but the tatty ones are slipping away. Jag X types are now only rarely used for motorway commutes. A colleague recently sold his 02 BM325i coupe for £250 for spares, as repairs to the dual clutch box were set to cost him £1500. Ginormously expensive repair costs are the usual reason for scrapping German cars, although rust can do it too. My old mate Evangelos restored a Merc 190 Cosworth and took it for MoT. He thought the tester said it was in FLAWLESS condition, but actually, he said FLOORLESS!

  4. Interesting, I had a discussion about these a few years ago as to where they all went. Over the years, I just seem to remember so many of these modded.. and over time the mods got worse.. Either that or the low cost meant that the boy racer wannabes ended up ragging these into the ground. Then of course there was that stupid scrap-for-cash scheme that saw a whole load of usable cars wiped out. If a few classic cars of some value got trashed in this scheme, the Calibra had no chance.

    If you are lucky, you might find one or two. If you are a natural born lotto winner, you might find one untouched (currently there is a very tidy base model silver early one for £1250)

    Whilst I agree this is a sensible classic car for not much money, you may still have trouble finding decent quality parts these days. I had an F-plate Manta and some parts were impossible to get. The Calibra may have the advantage that it shared mechanical parts with another mass produced car the Cavalier Mk3, and possibly some bits with the Astra Mk3.

    Still, if I was in the market for one – despite the rarity – I would still have to be choosy. It would have to be absolutely spot on and spotless for me to part with some cash. An 8v machine might be the least glamourous level of Calibra but it may actually end up being the most desirable because of the idiots that maybe *didn’t* own it.

    Not a bad purchase Keith….

  5. I agree that it was one of those cars that was well ahead of it’s time. Bit like the Ford Focus mark1, which still looks quite modern on our roads today. My father owned one in the late 90’s in red,which looked fantastic, slick and fast even just parked. Big problem he had was the reliability was pants, the parts then were quite expensive and it sucked juice like it was no tomorrow. The reliability got so bad, he totally gave up on it with only about 6 months ownership. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong-whether it was a rogue car or not, who knows? He put it on the market at a knock down price to get shot and didn’t really care what price he got for it, he just wanted it out of his life. He went back to Ford and hasn’t looked back since. I always thought it was a nice looking coupe with flair and pace. Can,t be many left now, I haven’t seen one in years. Shame really.

  6. I always thought they were great looking when they were around and could’ve owned one but I never had the nerve to actually buy one. I was always worried that if I parked it somewhere, I’d come back later and find it gone.

    During those days I was quite a fan of GM, and owned various Vauxhalls and Opels, partly on the grounds of “it’s not a Ford”.

  7. Still a stunning looking car, the basic sillouette lived on briefly as the Astra coupe, but as this was blatantly Astra based – same name, same front end, same taillights as the saloon version – it didn’t quite have the same appeal.

    It had everyday underpinnings and everyday engines, perfectly usable.

    May I nitpick about the name – it would be a mk3 Manta? The original mk2, in facelift form, was the rallycar version.

    Though having phased out Opel, perhaps the Royale name?

    As for rarity – again my pet theory of the Banger Valley, which now includes a ‘scrappage trench’.
    They start off on one side brand new and highly desirable, then get on a few years less and less desirable. Go through a cheap banger phase, which also included the risk of the scrappage scheme. Then, when they’re rare enough, they start to climb in interest – starting with the “haven’t seen one of those in a while” gaining interest and, for surviving well kept examples, value, before climbing up to classicdom.

    • I agree with your theory of the banger valley. Many cars that are now worth a few thousand and exhibited at classic car shows (Capris, SD1s, pre-XJ40 Jags) were once seen as cheap bangers. They only escaped the crusher because of a small minority of owners who were willing to spend time and money on maintaining cars which were next to worthless at one stage in their life.

      All of those examples are from the 1980s or earlier – I don’t think many 1990s cars from mainstream brands (i.e. not Porsche/Ferrari/Bentley/whatever) have really escaped from the banger valley yet. The only exceptions to that rule are maybe a few hot hatches (Honda CRX, Clio Williams, late 205 GTIs and Mk2 Golf GTIs) and limited production motorsport specials (Escort and Sierra Cosworth, Delta Integrale, Celica GT4, BMW M-anything, Audi Quattro).

      Slippery wheeler dealer phrases like “appreciating future classic” or “getting rare now” are usually false.

      The banger valley is long and deep!

      • @Andy W:

        The notion of “banger valley” is sadly also present in more recent cars, as a recent visit to a well known car body repairers with branches all over the U.K. has found.

        Despite having had my last to be registered diesel MG ZR from new, treating it like a baby from day one and it having covered very low miles in that time, it does have some minor surface rust on several wheel arches. When I went to one of the local Devon centres of this national body shop (someone might work out their name) they did not want to know and effectively cancelled their commitment to honouring a quote I had previously been given to carry out the work.

        Their less than veiled view was that it was a waste of time spending money on a ten year old car whose value, in their eyes, is only just head height above banger valley territory. “Live with the problem and then pass it on to the next owner,” was what one estimator said. When I said I had bought the car to keep indefinitely and what else could I buy that was newer than this (the MG3 and MG6 don’t appeal to me), they gave me a quote that was well into four figures!

        From this experience I genuinely feel that saving cars from the 1990s and beyond is now up against the resistance of major players such as national body repairers to help the cause.

  8. Hurrah! Finally some positivity about the Calibra!

    Great old cars these, had one for about five years and as is quite rightly said, always gets looks and ‘I haven’t seen one in ages!’ comments when out and about. In fact, last Friday, picked up a second from a fellow owners club member. And it was very cheap (he literally gave it away). So far it’s cost me £39 on one tyre.

    Unfortunately, the Calibra still hasn’t quite shook it’s bad reputation more aligned with some owners. Even though I’m an enthusiast, I keep my voice down when mentioning that I own one (or two now).

    Thousands of these were built through the 90s and with plenty on the used market, I suspect values soon plummeted so it wasn’t ‘premium’ for long. Cheap, sporty coupes were bound to attract all types of buyers.

    Sadly, most have been scraped after having their redtop and V6 engines and leather interiors ripped out. Not that long ago there was a thread on a forum how a guy had picked up one of 25-ever-built Tickford models and took great pride in removing the engine before smashing it with a forklift.

    Values may one day rise, but without the performance pedigree of other notable cars from the era, I doubt they’ll rocket like others recently have. Which is good and bad – good that you’ll still be able to buy and enjoy Calibras for some time, bad as many consider parting out theirs before weighing them in or simply buying for parts.

    Sad but hopefully one day, they’ll come back into fashion. XR3i’s and Capris did it, so there is hope for the old ‘Cali’ yet.

  9. The Calibra came out at in interesting time when hot hatches were getting a boy racer image but the market wasn’t quite ready for coupe versions of standard cars.

    I’ve seen some quite badly modded versions around, but not for a while.

  10. I used to drool over the Calibra, a real head turner before the Audi TT became the flash coupe of choice. When you see them now, they look so small. I would have one, keep it Keith, possibly the most sensible individual usable daily classic about…and not a hint of string back gloves!

  11. With Keith’s outpouring of Mk3 Cavalier love last week, and now this Calibra purchase, how long before the site is renamed VXonline?

  12. I hated the Calibra when it came out. I had a Manta, tried my boss’s Calibra – it was no sports car to drive. I actually preferred my manager’s 2.0i Carlton estate (H174ODW, IIRC) I have seen a couple of Calibras in the last couple of weeks; one good, one bad; but see more Capris.
    Regarding the Manta naming – I once saw a Calibra styling sketch with the Manta name on it when visiting Ruesselsheim on business. It was clearly designed as a Manta replacement, but marketing wanted a new name.

    • This is how much I didn’t want a Calibra when it came out: poem submitted to Manta Owners’ Club magazine (the last straw with my Manta was a leaking fuel hose, which I thought was a holed tank):

      “There she sits, all shiny and bright;
      I’d love to take her out tonight.
      Trouble is, she leaks petrol all over the road,
      soaking newts and natterjack toads.

      So I went to the parts man, said “What ho, petite”;
      what I need is a fuel tank, and I need it toute suite.
      The parts man said “Manta? We no longer stock parts!
      -and besides, they are driven by boring old farts.

      Forget rear drive, and manual steering;
      upgrade your ride, what is it you’re fearing?
      Pop through to the showroom, get right up to date,
      buy a Calibra at high finance rate!

      -at which stage, I took him firmly by the neck,
      and told him: if I want feel-less steering and a cable gearshift,
      I’ll get an old Maxi and a Winifred and Millicent sunstrip.

      This is possibly the first poem on ARONLINE; but definitely the worst.
      Move over, McGonagall.

      PS GM’s short-sighted approach of not ensuring an adequate parts supply for cars about 8 years old put me off their products for about 10 years. I think they’ve improved since.

  13. I remember the ads when it came out: “Vauxhall’s stunning start to the 90’s”. I even remember the name of the guy who designed it: Wayne Cherry.

    A very very nice car, based on a solid, well nigh indestructible mechanical platform, which the motor industry in general seems to have turned its back on in favour of self destructing super complicated cars.

  14. I wonder how many of the four wheel drive Calibras remain – sold for a very short time due to technical problems. I seem to remember that some Calibras had corrosion problems? Vauxhall/Opel had a period of designing cars that looked great – another classic must be the Mark 1 Tigra (even if the mechanicals were a bit boring) – I remember a chap at MGA telling me it was unusual in going from the original styling concept to final production with so few changes although sadly the designer subsequently died.

  15. Did they all have the V grill? For some reason I think not, and preferred it without, rather like the original R800 and R8.

    • I seem to recall early examples had the badge on the bonnet, while later examples had a Vauxhall corporate V badging.

      (A bit like the Xantia facelifts, bonnet to grille, but then that model had a further iteration of a more rounded grille.)

  16. I worked on them when new.loved them. Beautiful to look at but so practical with large boot.just as reliable and easy to fix as the mk 3 cav.The 4×4 system was poor. Unreliable and expensive. You could chuck it in the bin and fit a two wheel drive shaft. There is one comes in now for parts. Still looks good but tiny. I would pick one of the last special editions from about 1996.

  17. Always thought the Calibra was a cheesy, council estate car, chavs idiots and morons couldn’t wait to get their hands on one. No one with any taste, sense of dignity ever bought one of these awful cars!

    • You really surprise me there Steve. I don’t and haven’t ever looked on them that way.

      Considering its humble underpinnings, I always thought that the styling on these was a triumph, being both sleek and classy. I could agree with what you’re saying if you were referring to the later Astra based coupe effort, which was as nasty as the Calibra was nice!

    • Honestly? You make these presumptions based on a model?

      I grew up on a council estate. Don’t recall seeing any Calibras. What I do recall are a mix of poorly modified Corsas/Saxos, who when they grow up upgrade to poorly modified E46/Boras.

      The only person I knew who had a Calibra was a PhD student at university. The type of clientele that Saab used to court.

  18. This website should be banned! All I did was pop in for a casual read and twenty minutes later I was eBay looking at Calibras!!!! I don’t even want another car!

    I think I should take up something safer………like crack!

  19. One of my work colleagues still owns a P reg light blue Calibra, still used for the daily commute and still looks good for its age. As Keith says, perhaps it should have been branded as the Opel Manta, but at the time of its launch, Vauxhall / Opel were rationalising lots of car names.

    I recall that the name “Cresta” had been considered, but rejected because of memories of 1960s and 70s rusting Vauxhalls.

    • Similarly the Vectra name was used for the mk3 Cavalier everywhere else, but Vauxhall chose not to as they were worried it brought up memories of the Victor.

      (Perhaps if it did have the name, then the 96 Vectra may have been seen as more of an iteration than a slightly dissapointing all new model)

      • You’re right Will, the MK3 Cavalier was named as the Opel Vectra elsewhere. I can understand the reluctance to use “Vectra” in the UK but having said that, my Father had a “Victor & VX4/90”, of which I have fond memories.

  20. I was lucky enough to have two. First one was a white 1990 (H reg) eight valve which had previously belonged to John Reid, President of the Chartered Society of Designers, who had recently died. I ran it for five years and the only expense other than for servicing and tyres was for a new water pump. I then traded it in for a 1996 16 valve which served me well.

    Biggest complaint was the poor ride, although the Calibra had a different suspension from the Cavalier. The steering was pretty wooden with little road feel.

    They were certainly very pretty cars and real head turners in their time. I understand that a lot of the later ones were assembled by Valmet in Finland.
    I remember my son who now works for Jaguar Land Rover saying that “a Calibra with a spoiler, looks like a greyhound with antlers”. Summed it up pretty well, I think!

  21. Keith, You’ve got to think seriously about buying this if the price is right. I can’t believe that it’s as stunning today as it was all of those years ago!

    The only thing that lets it down is that ghastly “V” chrome grille that Vauxhall used to insist on using – I would certainly look to remove it.

  22. I think the prob with the calibre was that German cars were starting to become all the rage, and its cache was not the same as a Capri or a Manta as back in the 70s/80s. I think it’s rather wooden steering also meant that its not seen as a drivers car – more as poser mobile.

    Another great coupe that seems to have disappeared from our roads is the gorgeous Peugeot 406 with its delicious Pininfarina styling. Far more exclusive now that the council estate 3 series!

    • Indeed the Laguna coupe was another much overlooked gorgeous coupe, though the hatchback was a bit bland and reliability was suspect.

      And may I mention the wonderful Accord coupe, a US style lazy cruiser that was sold briefly between 1999 and 2001. The only car I regret selling.

  23. I ran a 406 V6 Coupe for over 10 years. What accounted for mine, and an awful lot of them is the very fragile front bumper which was easily cracked and in four figures to replace. At least mine was 13.5 years when I had to scrap it, but I still miss it. Now really rare as they are just not worth very much.

    • @ Will M:

      And to think detractors still like to ridicule BMC, British Leyland and Austin Rover Group et al. for ‘badge engineering’ practices. It seems as if General Motors is just as bad, if not worse!

      The prospect of a Saab Calibra would have upset the purists as much as the MG Maestro and Montego had already done so a decade earlier, not to mention actually damaged the Saab brand at a time when their cars were well liked for their charismatic Slant Four engines, feeling of solidity and quality body engineering. Still, an interesting what-might-have-been concept to ponder over.

      Thanks for posting this interesting link.

      • No prob, you’ve posted more than your fair share of interesting material to the site!

        GM were at it, and still are – Vauxhalls are badged as Buicks, the Omega was a Cadillac and was slated, they even rebadged the 9-3 as a Cadillac BLS with a poorly disguised windowline! (And indeed the car has lived on as the NEVS electric car attempt, and the ‘new national Turkish car’…)

        The kings of badge engineering though have to be VW group. A plethora of badges and models based on the same range of floorpans and engines. Sometimes they don’t even bother hiding it – the Seat Exeo was an old Audi, the Toledo is a Skoda, the mk1 Superb was a Chinese market LWB Passat, the late 90s Polo saloon was a Cordoba…

        As for the Saab purists, they were already up in arms at the use of GM platforms and engines for the NG 900 / 9-3 (never mind using a Subaru and GMC 4×4 as bases!) albeit Saab tweaked to build in solidity. No different though to Citroen fans who lament Peugeot components, Alfa fans who think the heyday was before the Fiat takeover etc. The 900 was using the Cavalier platform, Saab had a tradition of coupes, it would’ve made some logic to badge it…

        • Totally agree on the plethora of badge engineered GM cars. The old Viva HC was sold in Canada as a Pontiac, no less.

  24. I had a few of these as lease fleet demos in the 90s. My first impression when getting in was that the roof and seat had been lowered but the steering wheel and dash were still up in the Mk3 Cavalier position. You got used to it but it was a bit wierd.

    We also had a banana-yellow example on the fleet for a while. Somewhat misguidely perhaps, we used to allocate this to the salesman of the month as a reward. Funnily enough, the lucky salesman usually elected to hold onto their usual demo rather than be seen in the yellow peril.

  25. Style over substance maybe, but I always had a soft spot for the Vauxhall Calibra right down to the point of collecting details about the various special edition models they did, from SE2 to SE9 and of course the DTM (available with or without DTM side graphics) which was limited to 200 examples.

    The Vauxhall name never really bothered me in terms of social climbing etiquette as for me the main appeal was the dramatic exterior styling of the car. Admittedly I did prefer the Rover 200 Coupe with its higher quality looking interior, but the Calibra had a much better engine line-up, including the 2.5-litre V6.

    The early to mid 1990s was an interesting period in terms of the trend for offering saloon/hatchback inspired Coupes. This included the Volkswagen Corrado, BMW E36 3 Series Coupe (which I always thought looked cheap although in reality it was actually well made and ultimately became the last great driver’s 3 Series), the aforementioned Rover ‘Tomcat’, Fiat Coupe and the gorgeous Peugeot 406 Coupe, to name a few. Admittedly most offerings had dynamic shortcomings based on their underpinnings being shared with an existing saloon car and engineers not being given sufficient opportunity to overcome them, but these Coupe variants really did symbolise an interesting chapter in the 1990s which is sadly lacking now.

    The saddest thing is that many of these aforementioned Coupes, including the more recent Ford Cougar, are now a rare sight on our roads today. Well, they are in Devon where I live. I never tire of seeing a well cared for Vauxhall Calibra that hasn’t been modified as time has been immensely kind to it and it still looks modern and fresh today.

    • Ford Cougar a good call, I saw one the other day and it still looked modern – only let down by a visibly rusting exhaust backbox.

      My own forages into coupedom have included a 1996 Alfa GTV, a 1999 Honda Accord coupe (the 2 door of the American 4 door sold alongside the European 4/5 door – the replacement for which would be sold in America as an Acura. Confused yet?) and a 2000 Toyota Celica (The GT86 being a spiritual successor and RWD to boot!)

      Modern car ranges do lack this variety, at one point Honda would sell you a coupe version of the Civic, Accord, Legend alongside the CRX, Integra, Prelude, NSX (bit out of reach for most) and S2000 (a cabrio, but even still…).

      The Germans do still sell coupe versions of their saloons, I do begrudgingly like the side profile of the A5 (but could never drive one, not while they are fairly new anyway), the 4 series(or whatever it is called), and Merc who will sell you a 2 door C/E and bonkers huge S class coupe.

      A variant on this is the P5 style 4 door Coupe, as per VW CC, Merc CLS, and BMW 6 series 4 door. The rakish style of a coupe with the practicality of 4 doors. Mazda deserves a mention for doing things differently with their RX8, which had small rear doors looking entirely like a 2 door coupe, when it was actually a family saloon!

      Even 3 door hatchbacks are a dying breed, either evolving into the “sports hatch” GTi variant, or replaced by 5 doors which may have Alfa Romeo style hidden rear handles.

      • Good observations about Coupe’s Will. My Father at one point owned a 1973 Mazda RX4 Coupe, which I still have photos of… and it still looks appealing even now, with traditional twin round headlamps, big rear lights and chrome bumpers.

        Isn’t the Jag XF described as a “four door coupe” too?

  26. One of my favorite cars and still an amazing design, they were everywhere in the 90s but rarely seen today which is a pitty.

    Where have they all gone? Simple – once values reached banger territory they were mostly bought by morons who fitted ridiculous body kits and other crap that in some cases completely changed the styling so much it was hard to tell what car it originally was, before then proceeding to wrap them round a lamp post. Or they buy one just for the engine and transplant it into a Corsa…

    GM got the styling so perfect that all they needed for the 1995 facelift was new wheels, badges, colour options and the V grill.

    Buy a decent one that is totally factory standard and untouched by morons – it’s value will increase in time, especially a Turbo or any special edition.

  27. Ha! Following on from my comment above, someone is trying to sell a blue one on eBay for £6,499 and claims its concours. It does look like it just rolled off the production line but is it worth that much? I doubt it.

  28. The Calibre should have been called a CHAValier — at least every one I seemed to come across had bling alloys, massive spoilers and various other chav addenda. Too many of them died early as stupid 2nd or 3rd owners wrapped them round various bits of road furniture.

    Which was a shame because it was a good looking car with reliable mechanicals and ought to have sold by the bucket load. I remember fancying one but being put off by the fact that they were several insurance groups higher than the equivalent Cavalier. A bit of a show stopper for someone who did 25,000 miles a year in those days.

    • They seemed to sell new to the fairly well to do, I remember the dad of a girl I knew as school having one quite early.

      Once they came onto the 2nd hand market that the customisers seemed to stick on as many things as they could from Demon Tweaks, just like the hot hatches & Capris before when they became affordable to the boy racers.

  29. I remember making a Tamiya DTM Opel Calibra. Looked fantastic in black with all the wings and flared arches.

    Keith, would actually quite like to see an article about the Probe as well. I personally prefer them to the Cougar coupe with its unsettling new-edge styling. Interior plastics were dreadful, but then that was the case with so many cars of the era.

  30. I worked at a Vauxhall dealer once and the highlight was getting to do a service on the Turbo Calibra whoooosh…
    The Calibras suffered from Steering rack trouble but were solidly engineered as the technology was all standard Cavalier gear.
    I absolutely loved the X20XEV and all of the other incarnations of the 2L 16V engine, fantastic cars (the Cavaliers). Then I went to work at a Ford dealership and sat behind two rapidly contrasting engines, the Zetec (God awful) and the Yamaha 1275 and 1400 (eventually 1600) Sigma engines, those little Sigma engines were absolutely fantastic, unfeasibly quick and smooth, no comparision to the Zetec porker.

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