TECH ASTRA COUPE 888
When Vauxhall decided to celebrate success in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), the result was something remarkable. Rather than the regular practice of placing adverts in tabloids and tossing trophies into cabinets, Vauxhall opted to use its 2001 BTCC crown as an excuse to build a proper motorsport inspired road car – complete with competition-bred parts fitted by genuine race mechanics. It was called the Astra Coupe 888.
Developed during 2001 by Vauxhall alongside its works BTCC team Triple Eight Race Engineering, the Astra Coupe 888 was a very limited edition based on the existing Coupe Turbo.
An outline brief – including allowable mechanical modifications and price tag – was planned by Vauxhall, and drawings were penned by French artist Stefan Valdant. The Triple Eight crew were then told to turn the paperwork into metal.
A prototype was put together for 5,000 miles of testing components on
PERFORMANCE VAUXHALL road and track –where racing driver Mark Ticehurst tweaked the settings. Triple Eight engineered a scaled-down version of the BTCC bodykit (including front splitter, wheelarches, skirts and wing), wind tunnel-checked for aerodynamics – achieving a 0.09 reduction in rear lift and front-end drop to zero. Meanwhile, a specification was devised, incorporating quality kit from brands found on real BTCC machines.
Under the wheelarches sat a set of anthracite 8x17in OZ alloys running 35 mm offset, wrapped in specially selected 235/40x17 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres. They were suspended from Triple Eight dampers and Eibach lowering springs. Between the standard Turbo brake calipers were special Ferodo pads wearing 888 logos. Under the Coupe 888’s bonnet was a standard Z20LET, pushing out 189bhp that peaked at 152mph and was capable of 60 mph in seven seconds. There was a Ramair panel filter inside a derestricted airbox and Milltek exhaust back box with an 888 tailpipe. However, the major modifications thought up by Triple Eight were rejected by Vauxhall. The need for type approval and a three year factory warranty meant a power hike was impractical. The sturdy, regular F23 five-speed transmission remained in place, improved with a quick-shift mechanism.
Inside the Astra Coupe 888 was almost as dramatic as its exterior, boasting racy Sparco front seats in blue and black Alcantara, 888 steering wheel and pedals, blue centre console and 888 gearknob. In January 2002 the first Coupe 888s hit the showrooms, priced at a premium above the Coupe Turbo. Production continued for several months at Triple Eight’s Silverstone premises alongside the BTCC machines.
All 888s were built from complete, factory-fresh Coupe Turbos shipped there from Bertone. All were painted Europa Blue – a mainstream Vauxhall shade chosen over the in-your-face red that was originally planned. A total of 100 Coupe 888s were made, although