1991 Holden Calibra YE 16v from Australia and New Zealand
Great in their day, but age is catching up with these cars
Exterior Items -
Heater Core replaced (requires removal of dashboard) - $400 parts, $800 labour. Look for coolant stains on front carpets or coolant smell in car.
Air Conditioning Pipes under engine damaged - $350 to fix and another $450 for retrofitting system to run R13 gas.
Regulator for Driver's Side Power Window - $350.
External Mirror Glass for Drivers Side $145.
Steering Rack leaks (not fixed as engine must be removed to access).
General Oil Leaks.
General Electrical Items (Alternator, Regulator generally required attention/replacement every 18 - 24 months.
Dash pad cracked.
Speedometer background 'bubbling up'
Leather gearchange gaiter replaced - $22 on Ebay.
The Calibra is a strikingly attractive car and after 15 years, has aged gracefully.
Aesthetics aside, Calibras have excellent fuel economy. They have reasonable acceleration and excellent brakes. Their handling is nimble, and for me, that is the best safety feature of the car.
I would not recommend this as a first car, because these cars are now quite old, vulnerable to wear and tear and parts are now becoming quite scarce and without exception, highly expensive.
The auto-electrical system was highly advanced (with sensors indicating everything from head/tail lamp faults to brake pad wear), and probably a little too complex for its time. I have tended to have problems with engine starting (regulators and alternators) every 18-24 months. Power windows and mirrors are expensive to fix.
The engine is generally good, although engine leaks occur and timing belts need to be replaced every 60,000 kms. The key issue about the mechanicals is that the bonnet is quite low and cramped and therefore the peripheral components (starter motor, alternator, air conditioning pipes, steering rack and heater core) are difficult to access and therefore expensive in labour costs to repair.
The interior of the car was not of a high quality, with cracks on the dashboard pad appearing after 7 years, worn leather on the gearchange gaiter and handbrake lever and seats tearing.
Body is good, with rust not appearing to be a problem. But the low front on the Calibra does not agree with gutters, park stoppers and speed humps.
If you must have one, then get a professional mechanical inspection done before purchasing and ensure that you have approximately $3,000 per year in free cash flow each year to keep these babies in good condition, or you'll have a very expensive piece of front lawn furniture.
To be fair, I've enjoyed this car immensely, and would buy another one, if I could one with less than 10,000 kms, and only driven to church on Sundays. The maintenance is just so expensive, but hey, a brand new car will cost you more in depreciation every year.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th August, 2006