Performance Vauxhall - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS Dan Furr PHO­TOS Ade Bran­nan

I’ve al­ways liked the idea of chuck­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle en­gine into a car,” ad­mits long-time su­per­bike fan, Si­mon Mor­ris­sey. “I’ve owned a num­ber of per­for­mance two-wheel­ers, but I’m also a Vaux­hall nut who has driven his fair share of mod­i­fied Griffins. I sup­pose you could ar­gue that my cur­rent car blends the best of both worlds!” he chuck­les.

The four-wheeler that Si­mon is re­fer­ring to is an in­cred­i­ble mi­dengined, Suzuki Hayabusa-pow­ered Corsa C. “The car came to my at­ten­tion when it was driven into my in­de­pen­dent au­to­mo­tive ser­vice and re­pair cen­tre in Stock­port,” he tells us. “At that time, I was pre­sented with a to­tally stan­dard en­try-spec Corsa with a sin­gle-litre en­gine that was giv­ing its owner a ma­jor headache by re­fus­ing to fire up when warm. Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, the costs gen­er­ated by time spent in­ves­ti­gat­ing the prob­lem proved to be pro­hib­i­tive, en­cour­ag­ing the guy to lose in­ter­est in the re­pair work. To my as­ton­ish­ment, he said that I could keep his car with­out charge, leav­ing me in pos­ses­sion of the per­fect plat­form for a project that I’d dreamed about for a very long time,” he smiles.

Am­bi­tious en­gine swaps are noth­ing new to Si­mon. In­deed, he counts the in­stal­la­tion of a Mk2 Ford Es­cort RS2000 pow­er­plant into the en­gine bay of a Viva HC among some of the more un­usual con­ver­sions that he’s un­der­taken. There’s also the Mor­ris Ital van that he equipped with the guts of a Ley­land Sherpa, a Land Rover 90 pow­ered by the beat­ing heart of a Ford Tran­sit, and a long list of petrol-todiesel trans­for­ma­tions that he has en­gi­neered on be­half of his loyal cus­tomers. None of th­ese crazy creations, how­ever, come close to match­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary

Vaux­hall that is cur­rently sit­ting in his Cheshire work­shop. So how ex­actly does one go about pop­u­lat­ing the cock­pit of a Corsa C with the nuts and bolts of what was once recog­nised as world’s fastest pro­duc­tion mo­tor­cy­cle? “I started by pur­chas­ing a com­plete Hayabusa, pri­mar­ily be­cause sec­ond-hand parts for this par­tic­u­lar model can be very ex­pen­sive. Be­sides, a com­plete bike en­sured that I had its 1.3-litre en­gine, wiring loom, ECU and the other re­quired Suzuki items that I hadn’t yet taken into con­sid­er­a­tion,” ex­plains Si­mon. “I then mea­sured the wheel­bases and sub­frames of al­most ev­ery car that passed through my work­shop un­til I was sat­is­fied that I’d iden­ti­fied suit­able donor parts to use in place of the Corsa’s rear chas­sis equip­ment,” he adds.

To the amuse­ment of Si­mon’s Vaux­hall-lov­ing col­leagues, the cars that of­fered them­selves up as suit­able donors for the project came from the Ford stable; a Sap­phire RS Cos­worth pro­vided its rear beam axle, prop­shaft and lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, while a Fo­cus ST170 con­trib­uted its front cross­mem­ber, legs, hubs, wish­bones and brakes, all of which found their way onto the Cossie beam be­fore be­ing of­fered up to the back end of the Corsa.

Cross the streams

“Send­ing power to the car’s rear wheels was more of a chal­lenge than I had an­tic­i­pated, not least of all be­cause I was con­stantly chang­ing the po­si­tion of the Blue Oval gear in or­der to get it ex­actly where I wanted it,” con­tin­ues Si­mon. “This had a direct in­flu­ence over the lo­ca­tion of the en­gine mount­ing points, and I spent over a fort­night shift­ing the beam back and forth un­til I was happy with its fi­nal rest­ing place!” he groans.

Cut­ting a large in­spec­tion hole in the Corsa’s boot floor helped him to fix the trou­ble­some Ford parts in

place (while also pro­vid­ing a handy ac­cess point for the diff!), but util­is­ing Fo­cus front sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try meant that the ST170’s wheels weren’t wide enough to fill the Vaux­hall’s rear arches. Si­mon knew that Peu­geot 406 rims would sit hap­pily on his car’s re­cently-ac­quired Ford hubs, and he soon set about dis­mem­ber­ing a com­plete set of Pug steel­ies that were col­lect­ing dust in his work­shop. Each 15 incher was cut into sev­eral pieces be­fore the re­sult­ing com­po­nents were welded to­gether in a new ar­range­ment – the out­come of which pro­duced two com­pletely be­spoke wheels, each boast­ing 9.5-inches of width! Vec­tra B steel­ies were sourced for the front of the car, and each wheel was pow­der­coated black be­fore be­ing wrapped in Dmack tar­mac rally rub­ber.


Mean­while, the Hayabusa en­gine was turned 90 de­grees and mounted in the rear of the Corsa’s stripped cabin. The 16-valver con­tin­ues to run stock Suzuki in­ter­nals, but it’s now equipped with stain­less wa­ter pipes, a 13-row Mo­cal oil cooler and a cus­tom bil­let-ma­chined sump with a swing­ing pick-up pipe that has been in­tro­duced to en­sure the avoid­ance of oil star­va­tion. A Simtec fuel sys­tem (in­clud­ing an up­rated fuel pump, a per­for­mance fil­ter, an ad­justable fuel pres­sure reg­u­la­tor and stain­less fuel pipes) joins a 25-litre front-mounted al­loy fuel tank, and the car’s air­flow re­quire­ments are man­aged by throt­tle bod­ies mated to equal length trum­pets, an in­take that pulls air through a duct in the off­side rear win­dow, a K&N fil­ter kit and a cus­tom ex­haust sys­tem in­cor­po­rat­ing the Suzuki’s orig­i­nal four-into-one ex­haust man­i­fold, its si­lencers and a Re­mus back­box.

The 194mph su­per­bike’s en­gine fea­tures an in­te­grated six-speed se­quen­tial gear­box. Si­mon has equipped the trans­mis­sion with an up­rated clutch bas­ket and per­for­mance springs. He’s also mod­i­fied the Corsa’s stan­dard pedal box so that it op­er­ates the pre­vi­ously men­tioned throt­tle bod­ies by way of a 10-foot ac­cel­er­a­tor ca­ble that snakes its way around the car’s cabin. Toasty in-car tem­per­a­tures gen­er­ated by the DOHC in­line-four es­cape through an lou­vered alu­minium en­gine en­clo­sure and a nearby vented Lexan Mar­gard poly­car­bon­ate rear win­dow – the lat­ter con­tribut­ing to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the car’s over­all weight.

This cool Corsa’s ex­te­rior up­dates are few and far be­tween, al­though you might have no­ticed that its ride height has been dropped by 40mm as a con­se­quence of the ap­point­ment of FK coilovers. Painted calipers (1.8-litre Corsa SXi stop­pers at the front and the ST170’s an­chors at the rear) in­ject a splash of red to the pro­ceed­ings, but oth­er­wise it’s busi­ness as usual for the Star Sil­ver stun­ner. That is, of course, un­til you hop in­side; Subaru WRX STi bucket seats, the Hayabusa’s dash clocks, an in-car fire ex­tin­guisher and an ex­posed fuse board sug­gest that we’re sit­ting in a car that is far re­moved from the 57bhp shop­ping trol­ley that rolled off of the Gen­eral Mo­tors pro­duc­tion line al­most fif­teen years ago. And that’s be­fore you turn around, to be greeted by one of the most pow­er­ful su­per­bike en­gines ever pro­duced!

“I spent over a fort­night shift­ing the beam un­til I

was happy with it”

“The Suzuki Hayabusa mo­tor is still be­ing man­aged by its fac­tory ECU,” con­firms Si­mon. “Plumb­ing the wiring into the Corsa was just one of the many chal­lenges that I faced as the project pro­gressed, and I found my­self chop­ping out sec­tions of loom and re­mov­ing all the crea­ture com­forts in an at­tempt to keep noth­ing but the bare es­sen­tials,” he says. The car’s heater and stan­dard light­ing ap­pa­ra­tus have been ditched ac­cord­ingly (the lat­ter be­ing re­placed by a se­lec­tion of LEDs), but don’t be

per­for­mance VaUX­HaLL fooled into think­ing that this 185bhp su­per­mini is any­thing other than its proud owner’s daily driver. “I’m def­i­nitelty look­ing for­ward to test­ing its abil­i­ties along the quar­ter-mile strip at the forth­com­ing Per­for­mance Vaux­hall

Show at Santa Pod, but I haven’t really built the car with the in­ten­tion of par­tic­i­pat­ing in com­pet­i­tive mo­tor­sport,” he says, be­fore point­ing out that this amaz­ingly hot hatch is road le­gal, and that he’s left enough room in its boot area to house the weekly shop!

If he did wish to flex his mo­tor­ing mus­cles at the rac­ing cir­cuit, a num­ber of dif­fer­ent forced in­duc­tion pack­ages (in­clud­ing an SBD Mo­tor­sport su­per­charger kit) for cars pro­pelled by the Hayabusa en­gine are avail­able to buy as off-the-shelf so­lu­tions, and power fig­ures of well over 300bhp can be achieved with­out hav­ing to re­place any of the Suzuki lump’s com­po­nent parts. “Thanks for the in­for­ma­tion, but my car is quick enough as it is!” laughs Si­mon. Or to put it an­other way, “on yer bike!”

Purists look away – nu­mer­ous Ford parts were uti­lized to make the build work

Lexan win­dow aids cool­ing, and re­duced weight – a win win! U-turns are ‘fun’

Suzuki Hayabusa en­gine Six-speed se­quen­tial gear­box Sap­phire rS cos­worth rear beam and LSD fK coilovers Subaru WrX STi seats FASTFACTS

Win­dows and stick­ers give the game away a lit­tle – but it’s still quite the sleeper In­te­rior has been stripped of all its lux­u­ries, so all that’s left is a steer­ing wheel and a load of pur­pose!

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