HAYABUSA POWER ‘C’!
RWD BIKE-ENGINED NUTTER
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!