VAUXHALL CALIBRA REVIEW

Vauxhall’s Calibra was stunning when new and is still a very handsome herd of horses.

The Calibra was promoted with the slogan ‘a coupe without compromise.’ And although that was a little bit of flannel – for underneath, it compromised by using the Cavalier as its platform – this was the car that reintroduced the idea of the affordable coupe. It kickstarted a whole new trend for these, as well as ushering in the adoption of svelte and sleek curves again, something that the angular ‘80s had largely eschewed.       

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Vauxhall Calibra 2.5i V6

Engine           2498cc/V6/DOHC

Power            168bhp@6000rpm

Torque          169lb ft@4200rpm

Top speed    147mph

0-60mph        7.3sec

Economy      27mpg

Gearbox        5-speed manual

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Bodywork
Rust shouldn’t be that much of a problem. However, look under any plastic trim for any indications of blossoming tin worm. The inner rear arches and quarters are sensitive spots, best checked from inside the boot with the carpets pulled aside. The boot floor and spare wheel well also corrode, as can the sills. Blocked drain holes are usually the cause, as they are with the sunroof, which can go around its edges, accompanied by water staining and warping of the headlining inside. On pre-1994 cars, the door bottoms can also go flaky.    

Because these are high performance machines, there’s every chance they might have been crashed then badly repaired. Ripples and unusual welds in the inner wings under the bonnet point to this and also scrutinise for uneven panel gaps.


Engine and Gearbox
On the four-cylinder cars, frequent oil changes are crucial to the life of turbochargers and actuators on the Turbo models. A conscientious owner will have done these at a third of the recommended Vauxhall schedule. Blue smoke on idle points to worn oil seals here. The normally-aspirated eight-valve is pretty tough, the 16-valve ‘Redtop’ less so, thanks to cracked or porous heads. So look for signs of overheating and head gasket issues and evidence that the coolant level has been religiously maintained. The 16-valve Ecotec is quite notorious for sensor problems, so be wary of any lights showing on the dashboard or a car that won’t rev properly.   

The V6 engine is robust and unstressed. However, as changing the three rear spark plugs involves removing the inlet manifold, question the owner as to when this was last done. It can get skipped because of its difficulty.  

Gearboxes are usually fine, but transfer boxes on the 4x4 turbos aren’t known for their longevity, especially if the four tyres have been allowed to wear unevenly. Check for equal treads.

With the handbrake on, increase the revs to about 900rpm and gently release the clutch. Eventually, the car should stall; if it doesn’t, then it points to this item needing replacement.

Running Gear
Press down on each corner of the car a few times; if it bounces more than a few times when released, it signals that the shock absorbers need replacing. Lower wishbone arms can break, causing the suspension to collapse. These are best checked over by a specialist. Steering racks can leak, so check the PAS reservoir. On 4x4 cars this is even more crucial as the transfer box shares the fluid.

Brakes don’t normally play up save for warped discs – a judder through the pedal – while ABS wheel sensors can fail and the common bodge is just to disconnect them. Check the light comes on at ignition but then goes out.

Interior and Electrics

Wear is common on seat side bolsters and the steering wheel. Leather interiors generally fare better than cloth ones. Check all the switches work – especially the sticking-prone hazard warning one – although with much shared with the Cavalier, replacements are easy to source. Make sure items like the electric windows, heated seats, mirrors and sunroof still behave as they should.   

OUR VERDICT

It’s not often that you can legitimately refer to a Vauxhall as sexy and not have people nervously back away from you. However the Calibra is all that and as it gains genuine classic status, appreciation for it is on the rise. And that will cause the prices to follow suit. The 4x4 Turbos deliver blistering performance, but do require much looking after, so a V6 is our recommendation for Calibra power with reliability and practicality.    

Recently Added

46719 1Sponsored Ad
1965
€6,000
S
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1098032
Incredible Mercedes, only 161,119 units were manufactured. Among its technical features highlight...
1
34682737532
View details
46717 1Sponsored Ad
1988
€18,000
2.8 L
  • 19,931
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1098030
Manufactured from 1982 to 1990 and already being Panther under the control of the Korean firm 'Ji...
1
34682737532
View details
30985 1Sponsored Ad
1959
£POA
4
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1060940
Over the winter of 1957-58 Aston Martin's racing department developed a new Formula 1 car, to run...
2
07770 762 751
View details
47488 1Sponsored Ad
1972
€28,950
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100088
You see a very luxurious and truly fantastic Cadillac Eldorado Convertible! Powered by the might...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
47474 1Sponsored Ad
1986
€23,950
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100068
If you need space, you need a Suburban. This Chevrolet Suburban is in a excellent condition. Th...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
12186 1Sponsored Ad
1973
€32,950
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1022569
The Mustang is the American Oldtimer that everybody knows. This beautiful Convertible is in a ver...
20
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
1400 1Sponsored Ad
2013
€195,000
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA967664
The Bentley Mulsanne stands for luxury, extreme comfort and ultimate pleasure. This Bentley com...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
27861 1Sponsored Ad
1966
£90,000
400
  • 2,820
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 N/A
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1059779
Black with Burgundy full hide interior, black carpets. Exceptional example of this extremely rare...
12
01428 769 289
View details
47476 1Sponsored Ad
2010
£33,995
  • 28,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100069
With only 28,000 miles on the clock, and beautifully presented in the combination of Frost Blue w...
5
01798 849 279
View details
47199 1Sponsored Ad
2017
£19,500
  • 23,181
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 Other
  • Refcode: TA1099312
Air conditioning, Alloys, Radio CD, Remote Central Locking, Sunvisors, Electric Windows Full Serv...
9
01234 739 415
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale