How many kays? I have owned these, and my parents the same, and we have never ever had an issue with this type of car. And the V8 is dirt cheap to run.
How many kays did it have when you bought it?
I am thinking you must be hard on the car, because of the way you state things; it sounds like it has been doing wheelies etc.
I bought a Series 2 Calais V8 (5.7L, V8, automatic) brand new in 2000 and have still got it. It has now done over 200,000 kms with almost nothing having ever gone wrong with it. The only problems were headlights went out occasionally and briefly (scary, but fixed with a recall in 2000), one door lock stopped working and one electric window was making a scraping noise. Also the rear tyres were wearing on the inside, fixed by a standard suspension modification. In the last 5 years, nothing at all has gone wrong with it or broken.
The automatic change is a bit clunky if you use the 'power' mode, which I do not. The ride is a bit firm on 18 inch (factory wheels). Apart from that it is a fantastic car which I converted to LPG in 2006 and is very cheap to run. The paint (white and garaged) is still perfect and the car runs like a dream.
I have been very pleasantly surprised by my experience with this car, if only the dealers were as good.
I bought a VX Series 2 Calais International brand new at the end of 2001. It has the GEN III V8 / auto and 17" mags in delft blue wit cream leather. A very attractive looking car. I traded in a 4 year old Audi A6 2.8L, which was also a stunning looking car, but was the most expensive car to maintain I have ever owned. Body was built as if carved out a single billet of steel - but the electrics, fuel pump and front discs ($1400 to repair!!) all went in year 4!!
Comparing the two, the Calais has been way more reliable, is much more comfortable (ride quality) and outhandles the crashy Audi (only OK on smooth roads), and has the best drive train - very powerful, smooth and punchy.
I have been pleasantly surprised how smooth the auto still is (I'd heard Holden auto's and diffs were clunky) but with 170,000 kms on the clock, neither issue has arisen in my case, and I also have NO rattles anywhere.
I have had the benefit of running it in from new, and always have it serviced religiously. Perhaps that has helped.
I agree re fuel consumption comments - in town it drinks like a footballer, but I mainly cruise (115-120kph) between Sthn Highlands and Sydney (132Km each way) and regularly achieve 10.5-11/100kms. I have noticed though that the new 91 regular Ethanol (10%) blend is noticeably less efficient.
I am now thinking... do I trade it in on a new car, or have some fun and chip it and do some mild exhaust and suspension mods. It still runs like a dream - I own it outright, and it won't be worth much 10 years on.
If so... can anyone recommend a good place to go to have this work done? I am not looking to turn it into something s teenager would drive..:-) An extra 25kw and 50 Nm would be good, and I've heard you can get this PLUS better fuel consumption. Is this true?