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Car tuning
Knew it Tongue I still say air flow meter, my 325 did something similar and was cured by swapping it out.
On the single point injection vauxhalls a faulty MAF (mass air flow meter) will result in it not being able to rev above 4000rpm.  It should not show the issues you are having.  It would have a greater effect on multi point injection such as described by Treehugger's BMW.  

A very common problem with the vauxhall petrol engines from 1991 onwards is the Idle Control Valve.  The ICV opens and closes to allow extra air into the inlet manifold.  it effectively increases the length of the inlet manifold. These get clogged with oil which gets into the inlet from the crankcase breather system.  They are fairly simple to take off and clean out but once they start to exhibit this behaviour expect to be cleaning it out at least once a year.  Also check the cranck case breather pipes arent blocked with crud.
I was forever doing these on the vectras I owned and on mates astras.  When sticking they give exactly the issues you are describing.

Here is a description pinched from the interweb

Symptom: Low Idle Speed, High Idle Speed or Stalling at Junctions

The culprit will probably be the Idle Control Valve (ICV) which is located on the top of the inlet manifold. The ICV acts as a gate allowing varying amounts of air into the engine. However they are known to stick. Then they either let too much air into the engine, possibly causing high revs, or not enough starving it of air and causing the engine to almost or actually cut out.


Remove the wiring connector and three bolts that hold the ICV in place. Liberally spray it with carb cleaner using a small brush to remove any deposits. A new O-ring will be required for reinstallation.

Hope this helps.

When I had similar problems, it turned out not to be the ICV or the MAF but the water temperature sensor, a relatively cheap fix so perhaps look at this if cleaning up the ICV doesn't work.
Thanks guys...I've done some googling and both Jon's and Mikes suggestions are high on the probable causes list. Incidentally the temp gauge does take a long time to record a temperature but does in the end. Currently it's booked into Lordswood motorist centre for a date with their diagnostic machine....not the weather to be crawling about under bonnets without a garage  Sad I'll post up there findings. Again thanks for all your help  ;D

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