Bangernomics Fleet Update: Vauxhall Omega 3.0 Elite

A new model has been added to the Front Seat Driver fleet to act as the sensible family car. Believing in bangernomics, and being huge fans of barges, we eschewed the obvious three year old Astra / Focus choice and went with a 1994 Vauxhall Omega.

This three litre Elite spec model promised one careful owner from new, low miles and wafty luxury. Up for £500, but with a very short MOT and little tax, some negotiating was needed, especially as the seller now claimed an unknown warning light had just appeared. A figure of £300 was agreed on and the car was bought, as is often the way in the world of bangernomics, unseen.

It’s always fun to find out exactly what you’ve spent your money on, and the Omega turned out to be something of a surprise. The exterior had seen better days, with the odd small dent and scratch, and a rear bumper that was slightly dislocated, but it was fundamentally sound. Tyres were past their prime, with heavy cracking round the sidewalls but lots of tread, which backed up the sellers story that it covered around 800 miles a year for the last few years. The interior was almost spotless, with just the usual Vauxhall trait of a wonky LCD display.

All the electrics worked, and there’s a lot of them; being the Elite spec, the car comes with dual zone air conditioning, electric heated leather seats front AND rear, electric heated mirrors, electric rear sun blind, cruise control and so on. There were literally no options you could add to the car when new.

So what of the mysterious warning light? It was a generic ‘check’ light, but pointed to nothing specific. A quick test drive was required, and it soon became apparent what was wrong; the cruise control refused to turn off when braking, and the brake lights didn’t work. Diagnosis? Probably just that the switch above the brake pedal had failed.

After a fraught journey home (there’s no brake lights, remember) we replaced the switch. This cleared the warning and restored the brake lights and cruise control to their former working glory. Apart from the cracked tyres and a creak from the front left, we felt it would pass its MOT, so put it through.

It failed. The creak was excessive play on one suspension joint, so a few parts and a retest later and it’s road legal for 12 months.

So far, so good. The battery doesn’t seem to hold much charge, but enough to start the car. Usually. The less said about the incident on the ferry across the channel, the better. We’ve also found the aerial needs replacing, but are surviving on CDs for now. Radio 2 can wait.

Vauxhall Omega 3.0 Elite £300
Brake switch £0
Suspension repairs £70
Total Spend £370

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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