Mods & Consequences
’All of the Calibra’s engines have a following, but most owners want the Turbo or V6’
There have been some super-stylish coupés over the years, but few have aged as well as the suave-yet-understated Calibra. It’s one of those cars that still looks great from every angle, but despite its good looks there are plenty of things you can do to make the Calibra even better, whether that’s in terms of handling, usability, looks or performance. Even better, you don’t need deep pockets to pep things up, although if you do want to splash your cash there’s no shortage of more ambitious things you can do.
Based on the Cavalier MkIII platform, the Calibra got off to a good start when it was launched in June 1990 with independent rear suspension and the option of some rather tasty engines. These included a 2.0-litre unit in eightvalve and 16-valve forms, the latter also coming in Turbo guise from 1992. By early 1994 the 16-valve version of this powerplant had been replaced by a new Ecotec engine; in the meantime (in 1993) a 2.5-litre V6 had joined the range.
All of the engines have a following, but most owners want the Turbo or V6 models. Swapping between the different powerplants is easy enough in most cases, although it can sometimes get a bit fiddly but it’s all eminently possible. Even better, any gearbox will fit with any engine; there were five- or sixspeed manuals plus either three- or four-speed autos. The latter are unloved and unusual and while swapping between gearboxes isn’t especially difficult, things can get involved if you’re not careful because some speedometers are driven by the transmission while others are electronic. Swapping between the two is possible but tends to lead to much head-scratching.
If you’re really keen it’s possible to convert a front-wheel drive Calibra to four-wheel drive but it involves cutting the floorpan about which is why the sensible thing would be to just buy a 4WD Calibra in the first place.