I was just a nipper when the Opel Calibra came out. I remember visiting the local Opel dealer with my mum and dad in the early nineties to look at a new Astra and seeing the Calibra in the showroom, all sleek and low slung.
I suppose it was the antithesis of the family hatchback my parents were looking for and it had such amazing presence parked up amidst all the Corsas, Astras, Vectras and Omegas. It was a car for grown-ups and I suppose it was a halo car of its time – the only car in the Opel range for sports car enthusiasts!
It’s twenty five years since the Calibra made its debut at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show. Back then the two door coupé was big news with heavy hitters like the VW Corrado, Ford Probe, Toyota MR2, Nissan 200SX and Honda Prelude leading the way.
The Calibra shared its technical base with the somewhat unglamourous Vectra but with an independent rear suspension, sleek, aerodynamic body, and choice of powerful 2.0 litre four cylinder and V6 engines it was much more sporting! The svelte body still managed to accomodate generous rear passenger space and a big boot, making it more practical than rivals.
The 2.0-litre 115bhp engine had a top speed of 203 km/h and returned 36mpg which wasn’t all that bad at the time. Power steering, a five-speed gearbox, a six-speaker audio system and tinted windows came as standard but air conditioning, a four-speed automatic transmission and an electric tilt/slide sunroof could be added as options!
The 150bhp version of the 2.0 litre petrol engine went on to 223 km/h but real power arrived in 1992 with the 204bhp Calibra Turbo with six speed box and all wheel drive. Then to celebrate its works debut in the German Touring Car Masters in the 1993/94 season, Opel introduced a 170bhp 2.5 V6 Calibra.
The Calibra’s biggest markets were Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and France. It was a car of its time and there was no natural successor when production ended in 1997.
The Opel Cascada is the closest thing Opel have in the current range but the Cascada is more cruising than sporting! The Monza Concept is probably closer to what a Calibra successor could look like.
As the Paris Motor Show approaches, we can only hope that Opel might have a surprise up their sleeve for us with a modern day sports coupe to take off where the Calibra left off?