Vauxhall Omega 2.2 | Shed of the Week

Plod-tastic rear-drive saloon ready for life back in the slow lane

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, November 12, 2021 / Loading comments

Temptation can be a dangerous thing. Whenever Shed goes down to the village Post Office with a large hessian bag of spare parts to mail he has to wear a blindfold and feel his way to the counter so that he won’t be distracted by the sight of the postmistress bending down to weigh up his sack.

Shed also has to be aware of the perils of temptation when selecting possible sheds for the PH Management to assess. In this week’s list there was a high-powered British thoroughbred that looked for all the world like a shedman’s, or indeed shedwoman’s, dream. Unfortunately, despite its gleaming appearance, the MOT report revealed it to be the rusty equivalent of a Jaffa cake that had been dipped in hot tea for too long. It looked great and would still be tasty but only for the brief moments you had before it crumbled away to mush.

Discretion being the better part of valour, Shed spurned that wicked temptress in favour of this less spectacular looking but also potentially less ruinous Vauxhall Omega. It’s the final B2 model from 2003, the last year of Omega production, and the mileage is low at 90,000, so if you’re in the market for an Omega to keep – and a surprisingly large number of people still are – this could be worth a shout.

Why would anyone want what looks like a supersized Cavalier, you may ask. Well, because despite its understated styling and a badge that carried little weight in the executive washroom (unlike the car itself which weighed over 1,600kg even its lightest iterations), the Omega was a comfy and commodious saloon and the 3.0 V6 models were very acceptable alternatives to the 5 Series, E-Class and A6. The British bobby very much liked the Omega for his mobile policing work, but very much like Shed he would struggle to find anywhere to put his helmet so the Vauxhalls were replaced by more practical Volvo estates.

The Omega’s 2.2 diesel was partial to a drop of oil to put it mildly, but luckily this is the Z22XE 2.2 petrol. Ignition control units could burn out and you had to watch the water pump which could seize, snapping the cambelt, but otherwise it was a pretty steady unit. You would need to check that the heater was working as the matrix is known to fail and that’s a long whirl of dash-off work to sort. Any trace of oil in the coolant header tank is bad news too as that means the transmission heat exchanger is exchanging the wrong stuff.

The numbers for the 4-speed auto look a bit sad in 2021 – 142hp at 5,800rpm, 150lb ft at 4,000rpm, 0-62 in 11.5sec, an eventual top speed of 128mph and fuel consumption figures usually beginning with a 2 irrespective how you drive it – but we are talking about a car that first saw the light of day in the mid 1980s so let’s cut it some slack.

Our Omega is a top o’ the range CD model which means it has slightly less equipment than you’d expect from a modern-day base-spec city car. Still, you did get climate control, the wonders of an on-board computer (so much more convenient than the ones you had to tow on a trailer), and heating elements in the seats to supplement the natural warmth generated by the coming together of 20th century velour and the right sort of trousers, ie corduroy.

All Omegas were rear-wheel drive and handled pretty sweetly. The vendors tell us that this car has a good service history and has had a new alternator and battery but they don’t say when. Front wishbone bushes wear out, but this far down the line you’ve got to assume that most things will be wearing out. Talking of which, in his, or indeed her, list of advisories from last January’s MOT there is a note to say that both sets of brake pads were wearing thin. Some years back Shed invented brake pads that actually wore thick by absorbing road debris, a brilliant wheeze that would have transformed our filthy roads if only the braking performance hadn’t been so awful.

The MOT tester included the cryptic news that the ‘Nearside Front Outer has tape on’. This is a new one on Shed. All suggestions on a postcard please to Matt Bird c/o PistonHeads as he is collecting kindling for his log burner.

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