RE: Shed of the Week: Vauxhall Omega Elite

RE: Shed of the Week: Vauxhall Omega Elite

Friday 14th December 2018

Shed of the Week: Vauxhall Omega Elite

Will you be the one to join the Shed Elite with a flagship Vauxhall?



Not a lot of people know this, perhaps, but Vauxhall made the world's first sports car. The 25hp 4.0-litre Prince Henry of 1913 was designed by the legendary motor engineer Laurence Pomeroy. It was the McLaren P1 of its day.

A torpedo-bodied Prince Henry was auctioned in 2015, after it had been owned not only by Pomeroy's son, also called Laurence, but by Midlands motor enthusiast and major Dunlop Tyres stockholder T W Badgery as well. Badgery also owned the Worcester leather company, and reputedly ran his Prince Henry on "castor oil, second pressings" from his factory.

Few right-thinking Shedmen with a penchant for funny names would turn down the chance to own a car called the Prince Henry, especially one that had been designed and owned by men called Pomeroy and Badgery. These days, they would need something in excess of Β£500,000 to indulge that whim, but if they wanted a big-engined Vauxhall for considerably less money, they could buy this Omega for Β£1,500, or less after haggling.


Discounting the Prince Henry, its descendant - the even more sporty 30-98 of the 1920s - the Lotus Carlton, sundry Irmscher overbores and the Aussie V8s,Β the 3.2 V6 engine under our Omega's bonnet must er surely qualify this as the biggest-engined Vauxhall-badged car ever (did you ever wish you hadn't started something?).That means speed with your space, a combo that greatly endeared this tough old bruiser to British police forces up and down merrie olde Englande in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And as our Shed is the Elite model, it's got the luxe to boot.

By the time the B2 came around, the German-assembled Omega had gathered a good reputation for strength and reliability. The main difference between this last B2 model and the pre-1999 version was that the B2 had ESP, a handy addition for a car with rear-wheel drive and 215hp.

A common cry among Omega fans is that they like their cars but wish they had gone for one of the 3.0-litre-plus six-potters instead of the smaller V6 or straight four they settled for. The 3.2 in our Shed is generally considered to be the best option. It had the highest horsepower and torque of any Omega and would usually return the same sort of mpg as the smaller V6s, but with more performance. Be aware though that this robust old-school Omega is no lightweight, tipping the scales at up to 1.8 tonnes. As a result, mpg figures for cars like this inevitably look a bit horrific by modern standards. Mid to high 20s is a decent expectation, with low 30s on a run and low 20s in town.


In exchange, you do get authoritative rather than urgent acceleration - and lots of comfy lozzing space. If you fancy a spot of freelance Deadpool-style vigilantism, the cabin is big enough to transport four hefty blaggers, or three if you would prefer a fellow lawgiver in the front seat rather than Big Vern. The boot will accommodate several bags of swag plus the odd moderately sized candelabra, the lighting fixture traditionally (and surprisingly, given its awkward shape) identified as a prime target for burglars.

This Elite has had a lot spent on it, but it's no show queen. A non-excessive oil leak and worn front brake disc were advised on the October test, and the alloys are somewhat nibbled. The curling bottom edge of the bootlid will need some attention eventually, if only because it shows up the rest of the car. These items apart, our Shed looks fit for plenty more active duty. The interior seems to be holding up well and it's only had four owners in its 15-year life.

Problems Omega owners may encounter include faulty central locking solenoids, faulty clips on the window regulators, leaky heater valves, and engine management warning lights coming on, usually as a result of a busted air flow meter. If the MOT-spotted oil leak is around the block, it's most likely the 'double washer' seal that needs replacing, although the cam covers are another known weak spot. The suspension comes under a lot of pressure so you should budget for new wishbones every 100k or so.


The Cat C thing mentioned in the ad needn't be a worry. On older cars, Cat C status is usually an uncontroversial consequence of quite small accident repair costs outweighing the value of the vehicle. 2003 -Β or 2002 if you believe the UK Government -Β was the last year of Omega registrations. Shed discovered this date anomaly after a lengthy traipse through the website that tells you what your road tax (or whatever it's called now) will be on any given vehicle. Shed has carried out this exercise on this Omega so you don't have to. Assuming he's done it right, which is a big assumption given the state of his eyesight, buying the invisible tax disc for it will cost you Β£315 a year, or Β£27 on the monthly drip.

In other old Vauxhall news, you probably knew that the company got its name from its founding location in that south London suburb in 1897. But did you know that Vauxhall (the place) got its name from a likely lad called Falkes de BreautΓ©, who had a hall there in the early 13th century? Falkes' Hall later became Foxhall, which became Vauxhall.

What did de BreautΓ© do for a living? He ran King John's mercenary force. Which brings us back to the Omega copper connection, sort of. You get all this stuff for free you know.


Here's the ad.

Author
Discussion

Turbobanana

Original Poster:

1,465 posts

146 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Quite a handsome old brute (car that is - can't speak for Shed) and probably as quick as any of ze Germans for the same money.

Don't really want it, mind.

Cold

7,314 posts

35 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
My (now ex) brother in law used to own a slightly earlier one of these back in the mists of time. Coming off a mini-roundabout I managed possibly the biggest wheelspin I've ever achieved.

Camelot1971

1,356 posts

111 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I loved my 3.0 Elite Omega when I had it. Great comfort and performance given the size of the thing. Not very reliable though.

SidewaysSi

5,599 posts

179 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I think the original pre facelift Carbis quite a handsome thing to be honest.

Remember when it was launched Autocar saying it was a better drive than the 5 Series and really rated it.

Limpet

3,421 posts

106 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Handsome car, that has aged really well IMO. We had one on a company fleet back in the day (pre CO2 based BIK), and I drove it a couple of times. It went well, felt really solidly put together, and had a lovely wafty quality to it. Unfortunately, it was also a complete dog reliability-wise. Persistent electrical issues, including a nasty habit of locking people out, random misfires that several dealers had a go at, and couldn't fix, and a number of outright breakdowns. They ended up moving it on at 18 months old, as the guy who had it simply couldn't trust it.

The thought of all that with 15 years of wiring degradation, and wear and tear on top doesn't appeal, personally. It does look good though.

alorotom

6,710 posts

132 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I don’t think these have aged very well at all -the design looks every bit as old as it is, if not older.

I did like these in the 90s but wouldn’t have one now - aesthetically it just doesn’t cut it for me

2smoke

76 posts

56 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
This makes me think of my old I6 Carlton shed. Driving that was all about the engine and this would be the same. If I was still in the market for a shed I would seriously consider an Omega.

Dannbodge

1,644 posts

66 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
My dad had the pre-face 2.5 V6 CDX and was going to get the facelift MV6.
I remember going to look at it and it was a great car, sounded really good and was pretty fast for the time.

He ended up getting a 530D instead

I've always liked the omega. They are comfy, well specced and look pretty good.

Wildcat45

7,126 posts

134 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I missed out on a low miles one owner example exactly like this.

And I could have had it for free.

My elderly neighbour who i had known since childhood was a serial VX owner getting a new one every August 1. As he got older - retiring in his 80s - he changed less frequently.

He died a few years ago. I did wonder about the Omega locked in his heated garage but felt it would be insensitive to ask his widow. A year or two later I was chatting to her and asked about the Omega.

She'd had a garage take it away for a few hundred pounds because it was "obsolete" as she called it. I told her if I'd known I would have bought it for a fair price. "Nonsense" was her reply. 'Id have given it to you. Alan (her late husband) would have loved you to have it, but you didn't ask so I assumed you weren't interested."

The last time I washed it for him, not long before he died, I noted it had covered just 6000 miles.

Oh well.

tonker

56,015 posts

193 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
So a leaky, rusty, write off.

Surely you'd all prefer a cheese cutter senator 24v in white with stripes?

CanAm

4,630 posts

217 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I had the poverty spec 2.5 V6 Elite automatic and it was a fine car. At the time I was doing a 550 mile round trip every other weekend and it was an excellent mile muncher - comfortable, relaxing, roomy, speedy enough and surprisingly economical.

It was surprisingly good in the snow (the auto box had Sport and Snow settings) compared with the FWD which replaced it).
Reliable too, though it did finally suffer from the common leaky cam cover - no big deal.

As SidewaysSi said, Autocar rated it up there with the 5 series and E series, and way above the Ford and Rover. Not for nothing was it the car of choice of many police forces.

I regret being talked into replacing it.

hammo19

2,017 posts

141 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I ran the Australian equivalent to this a Holden Commodore with 3.6 V6. What a wonderful whafty barge, those sumptuous velour seats and efficient suspension made for a comfortable ride whether dashing down the motorway or scurrying across country.

I love these old Omegas and along with the Carlton and Senator, one upon a time Vauxhall knew how to make luxury motors for the masses.

ambuletz

7,905 posts

126 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
quite alot of car for the money. Makes me wish more of the normal manufacturers would make wafty flagship models like this, they'd turn into bargains 10years down the line.

Honda, get the legend back over here.
toyota, lets get the crown
ford, bring back the scorpio/granada

DamianQS

71 posts

85 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all

My dad had the 2.5 v6 as a company car some years back .Luckily I was 18 and the Company insured me on it .

Terrible interior but to my 18 year old mind a decent engine and fast .........

It was actually a long time before I was insured to drive anything that powerful

IanCress

4,409 posts

111 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Cat C, 143k miles, faults and rust. You've really got to like that engine to pay £1.5k for this.

I like the Omega, especially the estate, but I wouldn't be going for this one.

Richard-390a0

702 posts

36 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
tonker said:
So a leaky, rusty, write off.

Surely you'd all prefer a cheese cutter senator 24v in white with stripes?
+1 to all points!

sgtBerbatov

1,610 posts

26 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
IanCress said:
Cat C, 143k miles, faults and rust. You've really got to like that engine to pay £1.5k for this.

I like the Omega, especially the estate, but I wouldn't be going for this one.
I drove a Buick LaCrosse in America in September, and absolutely loved the engine. I'd probably buy this whip if the engine was similar to that Buick.

But then it's a Vauxhall, and badge snobbery prevents me from being seen behind the wheel of one.

W00DY

11,614 posts

171 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
IanCress said:
Cat C, 143k miles, faults and rust. You've really got to like that engine to pay £1.5k for this.

I like the Omega, especially the estate, but I wouldn't be going for this one.
Massively over-priced. That boot-lid is a mess.


The manuals are fairly popular for drifting, but an auto needs to be far better for that sort of money. Silver isn't a great colour and I prefer the pre-facelift cars too.

Jex

534 posts

73 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I never thought they had the same presence as the Senator (saw an immaculate one of those a few weeks ago - amazing how narrow they look now).
A colleague had an Omega and they were comfortable to be a passenger in - he aspired to an Elite, but his next car was a 5 series BMW (also comfortable to be a passenger in).

cluckcluck

732 posts

130 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I brought one of these as a stop gap in 2011, mint example with 100K for £1100. i ended up keeping it for longer than i needed because it exceeded my expectations. the quality feel was high, the engine smooth and it sounded nice. the chassis was excellent, and it was obvious a lot of energy had been spent designing this car.

Saying that, I only did 5k miles/yr and it was perfect for that purpose of very short commutes and weekend use. Once I needed to do 12-15k miles/yr I got shot in one month. Why? the car felt like a dinosaur in the 'real world'.

A busy and long daily commute did not suit this car at all. too slow to keep up with even mediocre diesels and their torque, too big and sluggish to nip in and out of traffic, it had to be thrashed all the time just to 'keep up', and the suspension just ran out of answers many times. Knowing these other cars achieved at least 10-20mg more was the final nail. I suspect therefore the 5-series does so well, because it doesn’t have these issues, with a tighter suspension, handling and meatier performance band, it feels capable. I got offered £200 trade in, which I happily took.

Whilst nice if used for the occasion use and potting around, they just have far too little torque and far too high mpg for a performance vs economy ratio vs status ratio. This example at that price is a big fat no!