1996 Holden Barina SB 1.4 EFI from Australia and New Zealand


A great car if you like to get your hands dirty now and then


It was extremely noisy when I bought it due to the rear tyres and the clutch bearing (so I got it for a good price as nobody would look at it). I had to buy two new tyres and they were not cheap.

Clutch bearing was very noisy (95000 km) and I replaced the whole clutch kit (not very expensive), the water pump failed (97000 km) and the clutch cable broke (97000 km).

The aircon is not working properly (keeps on leaking gas). It was fitted by the dealer, so it's not an original Holden item.

General Comments:

The first owner had fitted a sport suspension (about 1.5 inches lower and much stiffer than the regular one), sports exhaust (decent one and still in perfect condition) and 15" low profile wheels (hence the price of the tyres). The car looks great and handles exceptionally well compared to similar cars.

It was not in a very good condition when bought. The previous owner (a lady, the second owner from new) used the car for short distances only and her husband serviced it poorly. He used low grade oil that left a lot of dirt in the engine. A good synthetic oil change fixed the problem and the car really came to life!

The spares are cheap and I managed to do all the repair work at home (the car is really simple and easy to service). If you can't do that I don't recommend going to the dealer, as the quotes I got from them were ridiculous!

Once I got everything fixed the car is a real pleasure to drive. It is very close to the ground, stable, the engine is good enough for it's size and the sound of it is quite nice. The thing drives like a go-kart around the corners and it can easily do 140 for long distances.

The interior is in very good condition for it's age and it has two airbags (which you don't see on many new cars of this class).

Fuel economy is reasonable for the age/class of the car (7.3 l/100km on the highway, 8.2 l/100km in the city). Thinner tyres may improve it, but the handling would most probably suffer a lot.

The body is in excellent condition, there is no rust anywhere. The flares are grey, but that is common for Barinas. At least they are all the same colour :-)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd May, 2005

1st Nov 2008, 16:35

I agree with the problems of the fading trim, but for under $20 I bought a bumper black kit called "Forever Black" from Supercheap that stored the bumpers etc to black.

1996 Holden Barina GSi 1.6 16 Valve from Australia and New Zealand


A great pocket rocket but reasonably well appointed too. Inspect carefully before purchase


Engine rebuilt three times - no oil rings in one first cylinder from new - then undersize pistons were discovered.

Problems with suspension (bushes etc.) makes a few noises now.

Camshaft rollers collapsed meaning head had to be rebuilt.

Still no reverse lights after 3 attempts to fix.

Problems with the temperature after the air con was fitted.

This model had no body kit which was very disappointing.

General Comments:

Have enjoyed the car the time I have had it, most of repairs were done under warranty. I love the styling of the car but had to put an aftermarket kit on to make up for none on the new car.

Brilliant torque, very driveable around the city and handles like a big car on open roads.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th August, 2000

9th Feb 2001, 04:01

I am having problems with my car's cooling as well and would like more information please.

25th Mar 2001, 05:05

The Barinas seem to run at a very high temperature naturally. The temperature gauge rockets up to 100 degrees C very quickly in heavy traffic, but once moving again, the airflow into the engine brings the temperature down very quickly. Its also easy to believe there is a fault with your thermostat for your electronic fan. It cuts in very high, around 100 degrees, but this is perfectly normal. The biggest concern with these cars are the plastic cam belt tensioners which have a habit of self destructing taking out the engine with them (ie belt snap = bent valves etc) Only cure is to service regularly (recommended belt change before dealer specifications). Otherwise a great fun little car.