Tuning the Vauxhall Calibra

"Super Calibra Fabulistic Power is Precotious."

 Released back in the 1990 the Calibra  was a revolutionary shape, and quelled the rumors that Ford were going to relaunch the Capri.

It had one of the lowest drag coefficients in its class and even the slowest model got to 60 miles per hour in 9.7 seconds.

Engine choices were the 2 litre a 16 valve version of the 2 litre engine or 2.5 litre V6 engine and the superpower full 2 litre turbo.

The turbo had a 6 speed gearbox mated to a 4x4 drivetrain as did one of the 2 litre 16 valve variants.

The two most popular engine choices for the tuner are the 2.5 V6 and a 2 litre turbo as both can be heavily modified and produce satisfyingly large power gains. As with many cars in the Vauxhall range, the engines are relatively straightforward to swap. We have TorqueCars members replacing the 2 litre engine with a 2.5 V6 or using the 2 litre turbo engine is a transplant.

A fun coupe with plenty of scope for tuning including engine swaps.

Tuning modifications.

Typically these tuning mods are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you start.

Getting the correct grade of tuning parts for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 competition upgrades just don't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Stage 1 mods: Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Panel air filter, Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Remap.

Stage 2 mods: Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head.

Stage 3 mods: Sports gearbox, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam.

You should keep as much low end power as possible and aim for a long power band rather than a narrow top end power hike.

The aim of our tips is to give a starting base of customizing performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your tuning project, the best sport mods and all aspects of modding cars.A fast road cam will be one of the best NASP power mods you can do mechanically to your engine.

The intake and exhaust durations play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully realise your gains.Don't forget to look at the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Most power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after sports upgrades are done can usually be traced to fuelling or timing issues.To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Calibras uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can get this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Head porting and polishing the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools When you start tuning your Calibra you will find that the standard clutch starts to slip so get an uprated clutch.

NASP engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give impressive power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

Adding forced induction will see big power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Superchargers are usually easier to add than a turbo. It is more challenging to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed.

Superchargers will give a boost which is correlating to engine speed so is simpler. Adding forced induction will nearly always require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Some owners who want to keep the NASP engine's low down torque characteristics and would be best advised to go for a set of Twin 48 Webber Carbs, Uprated Pistons, Rods and bolts from Courteney Sport.

Saab Red Injectors, Uprated fuel pump and a higher bar Fuel Pressure Regulator. Then maybe a nice F28 6 speed box with uprated linkages from a Calibra or Cavalier Turbo, Uprated Clutch and a nice billet steel flywheel to suit. And to top it all off get a nice stand alone management system. This should see you around the 190-200bhp mark, which isn't bad for a NASP engine.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Red top or Ecotech? The Red Top Turbo is probably the best proposition at the moment.

There are hardly any that haven't been rebuilt. So the majority of Red Top Turbo engines have probably done less miles than most of the Eco Tec Turbo's (of course unless you are lucky enough to get hold of a 2 year old engine.)

And as far as the price of an engine goes, it would be easier to try and get hold of a full car. You will pay slightly less or the same and you can sell the parts you don't need and make your engine very cheap indeed. Plus should you need any other parts you have a donor on hand.

The Red Top Turbo goes into pretty much most Vauxhalls with ease but if you want to put a Z20LET (Eco Tec Turbo) into anything other than turbo'd car, you will most likely need a stand alone management system which could set you back another £1500-2000 easy.

I have no idea why this is, but most of the TorqueCars members I speak with who have done the Eco-Tec conversion have nearly all had to have a stand alone engine management fitted.

The gear box will also need to be a rated had to cope with the extra power and one of the best boxes is the F23 uprated gearbox from a Vectra 2.6 GSi which should be good for over 300+bhp.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brake cooling and are usually less heavy than the steel ones. The drawback to large rims on your Calibra is that you're altering your effective final drive ratio so this will have a negative effect on acceleration and performance.

Although some people have fitted larger wheels without issues we would restrict ourselves to an 18 inch rim size as the maximum.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Calibra options in more detail with our Calibra owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Vauxhall tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below. We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually updated.

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