Mods & Con­se­quences

Vaux­hall Calibra

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

’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.

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