What makes a Modern Classic??

These days when it comes down to an age of a vehicle, a car can be one of three things. It can be a ‘Modern’ which as the name suggests is a car built fairly recently or within a certain amount of years, a ‘Retro’ which is generally over 20 years old but isn’t exactly old enough to be a full on classic and then of course you have a full on ‘Classic’. These are classed as being well over 25 years old and are pretty much sought after for petrol-heads. Thing is though, what if I was to tell you that there is an age bracket which separates ‘Moderns’ from ‘Retros’. These are known as Modern Classics and generally sit between 15-25 years old.

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Now these might not be nothing new, even though no one hardly talks about them, modern classics are accepted in communities. With this article however, I want to ask a general question and that is this: What exactly makes a Modern Classic and what does it take for a car become one. It’s no lie that I love both Classic & Retro cars, in fact I wrote this article on it a few weeks ago explaining as to why but with some lovely new machinery coming out recently from a plethora of manufacturers, Its safe to say that I like modern cars as well.

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Now Modern Classics for me personally are cars which were new when I was young, these can be anything from the original Ford Focus RS all the way up to the Pagani Zonda C12 for example. The reason why I’d consider these modern classics is because they are both at that age where they are kind of forgotten about compared to both newer stuff and also older stuff. Add in the popularity these cars once had, and it’s no surprise that these are becoming modern classics.

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The thing is though, not every car can be a modern classic as I’ll prove. Take for example my C70 MK1 and my stepdads Seat Leon 1M, both of these cars were made around about the same time, both of them were relatively well loved which shown both in sales & reviews and they both were replaced by their newer incarnations at around the same time however, for me personally, the Leon doesn’t come across as a modern classic. For a start it’s only a 1.4 so it’s nothing really special. Would I feel different if it was a Cupra or a Cupra R? More than likely but as it’s an everyday model it doesn’t come across as anything special, never mind a modern classic. This moves me onto my C70, while it’s not a T5 which is the one which will more than likely become a modern classic before the rest of them do, MK1 C70’s as a whole are quite rare cars and have a very strange but special upbringing. For a start, all C70’s were engineered by TWR which made them drive rather well for a big Volvo, add in the rivals and the fact that it was at the time Volvo’s 4th ever coupe.

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For those reasons you can kind of understand why I have it in my mind why the C70 will be a modern classic and why the Seat unfortunately can’t be. Trying to judge what makes a modern classic isn’t easy, in fact these days a lot of cars you’d never think of being modern classics are starting to become collectible by both collectors & buyers everywhere. Take the humble 5th generation Toyota Celica for example, not everyone is a fan of them and that is understandable but it seems that the years have been kind as they’re starting to raise in value to people in the know.

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The thing is, modern classics are different to everyone, take for example a Fiesta RS Turbo from the early nineties. For anyone who was born around that time they might consider that a modern classic whereas I’d classify it as retro instead which can make things confusing and awkward.

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You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about the RX’s situation in this debate, well for me, even though the Lexus has what it takes to be a truly special car in years to come. For me personally, it’s not quite old enough yet to be classified as a modern classic. With hybrids still in 2019 being quite a taboo subject, I feel like it’s going to be quite a bit of time before we see our Lexus as a modern day classic.

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Some of you may have read my Calibra article a few weeks ago and gasped at the fact that it is turning 30 years old this year, I certainly know I did. The thing is, when I was young and living in London, I used to see these nearly everywhere to the point they were fairly common so to find out that they were going to be celebrating such a milestone it certainly shocked me. They’d been under the radar for so long that even I forgot they were as old as they were and that right there is the typical story of a modern classic.

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So what exactly makes a modern classic? Age is of course a major factor, now I’d personally say anything from 15 to 20 years old is a modern classic but other people may have more stringent rules on the matter. For me, the car has to be something rather special, whether it’s a small city car or a high end super car, if it is something which is well loved then that’s another sure fire way of spotting a modern classic. Last but not least, for me, they need to be relatively rare. There is no point in trying to consider a relatively modern Fiesta as a modern classic because they are nearly every where these days which kind of defeats the point. Now of course, rarity isn’t everything when it comes to a modern classic however it does help.

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So going by that what would you guys consider a modern classic? For me there’s lots of cars which fit that bill, from Ford Mondeo ST220’s all the way to Vauxhall Monaro VXR’s even down to the humble Rover 75 V6, these cars all share something good about them which all make them perfect candidates for being modern classics. Is there anything else which can go on that list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll share my thoughts.

 

Hope you Enjoy!

By Alex Jebson

Happy 30th Birthday to the Vauxhall Calibra!

Getting older is not easy, especially for cars. So when it comes time to celebrate a specific cars birthday you’ll always find it’s a big thing. So with that in mind, I’d like you to raise a glass and celebrate the 30th birthday of the Vauxhall Calibra.

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So, what is the Vauxhall Calibra and why is it so special to us european petrol heads? Well, the calibra was Vauxhall/Opel’s replacement for the outgoing manta B2. It was based on the then new MK3 Cavalier/Vectra A, however, unlike the cavalier, the calibra was a whole lot more aerodynamic. For the time, it was the sleekest car available which was huge back in 1989. The looks stayed relatively the same with a few minor changes midway through the production run up until 1997 when production ceased. Externally these included an updated front grille, slightly different headlamps as well as slightly altered front & rear bumpers while internally there was a newer steering wheel & slightly altered dash with airbags fitted.

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Engines were plentiful in the calibra range. Sizes ranged from a plethora of 2.0 litres all the way up to the 168bhp 2.5 V6, the 2.0’s could be had in either 8 valve or 16 valve configurations with the early 16v ‘Red Top’ lumps being engineered by Cosworth however these never really had the dynamics to match the calibra’s beautiful sleek bodywork. That was until 1992 when a truly spectacular variant of the calibra was unveiled.

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I’m of course talking about the 4×4 Turbo. These are known by owners and Vauxhall people alike as the holy grail of the calibra range and for good reasons. Engine wise, it had the C20LET which was a turbocharged version of the already existing C20XE, however, the changes didn’t stop there. The 4×4 turbo also had a six speed Getrag gearbox fitted to help get the most of the turbo 4 pot, these two helped the calibra tons but vauxhall weren’t finished just yet. Normally, the calibra was a three door FWD coupé which was fine until you started converting it to run a AWD layout. With most of the lineup consisting of mainly FWD cars, vauxhall took the independent rear suspension setup from the already existing omega and fabricated it to fit the Calibra chassis, this made the car perform leaps and bounds compared to the FWD variants. Power output for the 4×4’s stood at 204bhp and with a top speed of over 150mph, these were quick for a mid-nineties vauxhall.

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The 2.5 V6 C25XE engine arrived for the calibra in 1993 and while it was down on power compared to the 4×4 Turbo at only 168bhp, It was credited for being the better one to both own & drive due to its linear power delivery. This engine was used as the base for the 4×4 DTM race car which had success in the German Touring Car Championship.

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While on the subject of the DTM championship, after the success, Vauxhall came up with the DTM limited edition to celebrate. These were only available in white to mimic the race car. Limited to only 22 cars, trying to find one now is not easy as these are becoming future classics & owners aren’t wanting to get rid any time soon.

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The calibra was able to fend off competition from a lot of coupé’s for quite a good amount of years and with race success under its belt, it sold relatively well for a european GM product. It could never out sell the likes of a Mercedes-Benz or BMW as these were the darlings of the coupé market in the nineties but it wasn’t a complete flop. With its sister car the cavalier taking numerous BTCC championships with thanks to the legend that is John Cleland, both the cavalier & calibra were loved, especially in the UK.

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With everyone in the nineties wanting to be seen, the calibra was a very good credible car to buy. It had racing success under its belt as did the cavalier it shared a lot of components with. It looked fantastic as well with its gorgeous bodywork and with the C20LET model in the 4×4 turbo, it made for a decent performance car and if you couldn’t quite stretch to the turbo, the normal variants were just as good.

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Unfortunately, in 1995 GM decided to pull the plug on the cavalier for the upcoming Vectra B and due to poor sales in its later life, the calibra ceased production two years later. It lasted for 8 years and with that came many a good variant and a car for everyone. In the UK it crafted the way for many a performance Vauxhall throughout the 90’s and put them on the map for making really good performance cars which weren’t too expensive to buy or run and that statement still stands true 30 years after the calibra’s launch. Even today, vauxhall have never made a replacement as of yet which is a shame.

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To celebrate the 30th birthday of the car, there is due to be a static display ran by CalibraClub.net, Performance Vauxhall Show & Performance Vauxhall at this years PVS at Bruntingthorpe Airfield, there is tons of calibra owners wanting to join but slots are only for ten cars. Expect to see anything from early models to the limited edition cars and anything in between. The PVS or ‘Performance Vauxhall Show’ as it’s fully known is a huge UK-based vauxhall show so this’ll be the best place to celebrate the cars birthday in style.

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So, raise your glasses to the Calibra, a brilliant car often overlooked by people. If you ever find a 4×4 Turbo or a limited edition Calibra for sale, go out and buy one as soon as possible, you won’t regret it.

 

Hope You Enjoy!

By Alex Jebson