Since I was a teen, if it had four wheels, an engine, and was written about in a car magazine, I was usually interested in it. Fast or slow; ugly or beautiful; new or old; expensive or cheap; luxury or standard issue; rare or common; all cars are fascinating in their own way and have something distinctive about them. And I’ve been selectively sponging in all that uniqueness and individuality.
Autos that I find particularly interesting are those that are unfamiliar to me, strange, obscure, or unheard of. One certain car that has been stuck in this category for quite some time now is Opel Calibra. If you haven’t heard of the Opel, it’s one of GM’s European divisions. And, up until recently, Calibra felt distant, unfamiliar, and unknown – even with a model of it in my shoe box collection of Hot Wheels.
There is something attractive about this car, something that keeps my curiosity alive. It can be my daily runner, but it can also do nicely on the track should I go racing on weekends. More importantly, though, the car is what I consider good-looking, so I’d absolutely show it off. I guess it’s about beating the competition and looking good while doing it.
Recently, while looking for ideas for my story, I decided to do some actual research on the car. As expected of a typical Gen Y specimen that I am, the starting point was on the internet. After excruciating seconds of Googling and torturous hours of reading and jolting down notes to supplement what I already knew from printed press, I felt confident I could cram decades of Calibra’s history into a nutshell which would then be expended upon and turned into a story. What I found out in short: Calibra was a German midsize coupe produced from 1989 to 1997. Calibra became quite famous for its participation in DTM racing and become rather popular in car tuning world.
The find: inside and out
On a technical side, Calibra’s design afforded it a drag coefficient of .26, a record for mass production cars at that time. Engines ranged from 2.0-liter V4 to 2.0-liter turbo to 2.5L V6. Depending on a model, Calibra managed 0-62 mph in 6.4-8.1 seconds and top speed of 133-152 mph. All pretty nice stats for a sport coupe; by comparison, one of its contemporaries, the famous Lamborghini Diablo, managed 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds and had a top speed of about 202 mph.
On the outside, the car had an unmistakable and easily recognizable style. Particularly, thin stripe-shaped headlights, wedge-shaped body and taillights that for some reason evoke the taillight of the BMW 850. Browsing the abundance of picture of the tuner versions of Calibra, those pictures look pretty good, Calibra wears the custom-tailored outfits no worse than the sheet metal it rolled off assembly line in.
The reception of the artifact
Any famous car, weather on- or off-track, is almost expected to show up in popular culture. The stock Calibra and its DTM version appeared in video games and movies. Among them, “Gran Turismo 2” and “Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec” video games and movies like “District 13” (2004), “Veronica Guerin” (2003) and “7 Seconds” (2005).
As expected, a car as successful as Calibra will be at least considered for a remake. Last year, an auto blog reported that an Insignia-based coupe is possible. Maybe it won’t be the Calibra, but who knows. If this is confirmed by GM to be a Calibra, I’d imagine there will a mixed reaction. Sequels aren’t always great, you know, so why ruin a good thing. But at the same time, I can’t help but be curious just what the brought back Calibra could be like.