Sunday, 26 April 2015

Calais Turbo..

1987 VL Holden Calais Turbo.
A model that has consistently had a huge following in Australia, for its light chassis and strong Nissan-sourced drivetrain.
The 1986-1988 (VL chassis) Holden Commodore was the mainstream large sedan, produced by what is likely Australia's most-loved manufacturer. In the late 80's, these would have been everything from family commuters, to taxi's, to police cars.. with over 150,000 produced - definitely no small amount for <3years of production in a market this small. These would have been everywhere.
The VL Holden Commodore(/Calais) was available in both sedan and wagon, in a range of trim levels (SL, Executive, Berlina, Calais..), and powered by either a 3litre naturally aspirated six, turbo six, or 5litre V8.
The car above is a top-tier Calais Turbo, with the Turbo option (which included other, stronger components) being ~$2000/7.5% on top of the regular Calais, with the 5litre V8 version sitting in-between.

I've always had one helluva soft spot for these, after years of dealing with its (poorer, but arguably better) cousin - the R31 Skyline. Its a Holden, RB-powered, has tons of potential, sounds great, and is just bloody iconic.
I can still remember going to car shows 10-15years ago, and seeing fast, restored examples.. cars with tons of engine work, and neat standard bodies (albeit with custom paint or trim).. a style of modifying that stood apart at the time, and as such has been so timeless. Actually always seemed close in style to the rotor community in Australia..

Now.. getting back to the immaculate 1987 Calais Turbo at hand..
I took these pics at the Dandenong Valley Holden Car Show a fortnight ago; where even among hundreds (likely..) of spotless cars, this stood out. Seriously.. that engine bay..

The Nissan-sourced RB30ET - a single cam, three litre version of the same straight sixes that powered Skylines and GT-R's for more than the decade following..

Now breathing with a little more enthusiasm than it once did; with an aftermarket ex. manifold, Garrett GTX42R, large front mount, and forward-facing plenum, replacing the original low-mount, non-intercooled T3.

Following the standard VL formula of perfect body/interior, built motor, and venetians - a large set of Simmons FR's. Proper 3-piece versions of an equally iconic wheel.

For incredibly convenient comparison, there is currently an original red-over-silver Calais Turbo for sale.. in my state.. for a price I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough to pay.
I try to resist browsing locally for this reason - I already have too many cars I like too much.. argh.. if only I had the space..

1987 again, original Calais, original turbo, Maranello Red over silver.. with supposed original paint to boot..

These are the original Calais-specific alloy wheels, which are still very popular to keep on these cars. These have a machined finish from the factory, but people usually choose to fully polish when restoring..

Beautifully original in here. That crossover pipe is the same one seen on non-intercooled RB's in Japan..

The only thing not original seems to be the manual swap (this particular car was built as an auto), although the Turbo's were originally offered in both manual and auto.

Calais-specific tails and garnish.. and the classic turbo badge..

I have no doubt I'll own one eventually.. as these have sat in my mind as 'the next project/restoration' for quite some time.
I just hope by the time I get to it, I'm not left to buying a rusty SL shell as a base...

Done. Love these.


  1. I keep looking at them and wondering if I should buy one whilst they are still affordable.. (??)...

    There is something that is so 80's cool about them that makes them desirable to me, until I see the standard single spot steering wheel.

    1. Dont pick on the wheel..! Seriously though, can you imagine the flex while pushing on the top of the wheel? I imagine you could bend it to the dash in an accident...
      Definitely know that feels anyway. At the very least you can keep an eye on solid SL/Executive non-turbo base cars.. they can always be restored into a Calais Turbo with not TOO much additional effort..