1983 Holden Camira SL/E 1.6 petrol from Australia and New Zealand
High tech, high flying and it's high time Holden did another one - themselves
This car was generally very reliable and user friendly, but due to my driving style at the time, it was blowing smoke and using over a litre of oil per tank of fuel at 110,000klm!
It required a set of (very hard to replace) engine heater hoses at 60,000klm, cooked by continuous high speed operation.
I went through a set of Toyo Trampio tyres in around 8,000klm, including rotation. This was again due to continuous high speed operation and hard cornering.
The synchro on 2nd & 3rd gears was also pretty well shot at 120,000. Again due to my efforts at extracting the most possible performance out of this amazing vehicle.
Back in 1983, the JB Camira SLE was just a little bit fancy! While competitors like Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota were still offering a sodden rear wheel drive experience in the mid size class, the new Camira was high tech, high flying and high time according to Wheels Magazine in 1982.
It came with a very 'european' front wheel drive transaxle, compound crank rear axle and an air of quality, breeding and aplomb that the others could only dream of in 1983 (and totally blitz as history will tell).
Whilst only endowed with a paltry 1.6 litre 'camtech 4', it provided willing and more than competitive performance compared to the two litre engines from the opposition of the time. I constantly revved mine to 7200 rpm (redline 6400). This endowed the Camira with true supercar (4 cylinder in 1983 wise) performance. 52kph in first, 95kph in second, 142kph in third showed a clean set of heels to any of the others at the time. This resulted in short engine life, but gave many people a surprise, with absolutely no modifications except the fitting of heavy gas shocks all round and Toyo tyres.
The interior was beautifully laid out, and in the SL/E the tweed cloth seats were both supportive and comfortable over the long haul. The stereo was loud and clear straight out of the box, and the 5 speed was typical slightly notchy, but overall positive.
This car was possibly one of the best high speed point to point vehicles on the road at the time. It could maintain very high road speeds over a very mixed selection of surfaces; always right on the money for balance and poise. With more power, it could have been a true classic, but alas, exploiting that wonderful chassis exposed a need for more grunt. If you drove it like it wanted to be driven, it was sublime, just not very long lasting.
I would have rebuilt it and created a turbo classic, but instead I decided to work the Datto 1600, but that's another story.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th March, 2011