Performance Vauxhall - - PVS SHOW GUIDE -

As if two an­niver­sary stands at this year’s Per­for­mance Vauxhall Show isn’t enough, we’ve only gone and pulled a third to­gether! This time, we’re cel­e­brat­ing two decades of Vec­tra GSi. That’s right – twenty years. Time flies as fast as a Vauxhall pow­ered by an MSD-fet­tled V6.

As the suc­ces­sor to the Mk3 Cava­lier, the Vec­tra B had a lot to live up to. It’s worth not­ing that in keep­ing with time hon­oured tra­di­tion, Vauxhall didn’t care much for Opel’s choice of des­ig­na­tion for the Vec­tra A; in­stead of tow­ing GM’s party line, the big wigs in Lu­ton chose to stick with the Cava­lier name un­til 1995, at which point the newer car ar­rived in Bri­tish main dealer show­rooms wear­ing the Vec­tra badge. As had been sug­gested by in­tro­duc­tion of the Opel-orig­i­nated Corsa mar­que to UK deal­ers two years ear­lier, the en­forced use of the Vec­tra moniker sig­nalled GM’s in­tent to stan­dard­ise the names of many mod­els it was try­ing to sell across mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­ries.

The Cava­lier didn’t go out qui­etly, though. At the hands of works

mo­tor­sport leg­end, John Cle­land, the still-revered Vauxhall won the 1995 Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship af­ter be­ing phased out of pro­duc­tion! Buy­ers head­ing to main deal­ers in the hope of bag­ging a road­go­ing ex­am­ple of the Grif­fin they’d just watched scream to vic­tory were out of luck, although a com­pre­hen­sively de­vel­oped, car­bon-fi­bre filled ver­sion of the Vec­tra B they were be­ing of­fered by show­room sales­men would go on to com­pete in the BTCC a few months later.

Sporty street ver­sions of the Vec­tra B in­spired by the BTCC in­clude the GSi. De­vel­oped in Mil­ton Keynes by MSD and wear­ing a dis­tinc­tive body kit fea­tur­ing a rear wing, chunky side skirts and prom­i­nent grilles on each side of the lower bumper, the model was equipped with a breathed-on ver­sion of GM’s torquey 2.5-litre 54° V6 en­gine and a host of other up­grades, in­clud­ing spe­cial Re­caros and tidy al­loys.

It’s thought that fewer than 3,900 GSis were built first time around. Pri­mar­ily a mix of hatch­back and sa­loons, the num­ber was also made up of a smidge over 300 tour­ers. Find­ing any sur­viv­ing Vec­tra B GSi in good or­der to­day is dif­fi­cult enough, but the GSi-kit­ted won­der wagon is recog­nised for be­ing one of the rarest Vaux­halls ever man­u­fac­tured.

GM re­placed the 2.5-litre sixshooter with a 2.6-litre pow­er­plant for the 2001 model year. The GSi – by now ben­e­fit­ting from a facelift – was of­fered with ex­tra stop­ping power to com­ple­ment in­creased dis­place­ment. Mean­while, de­vel­op­ment work for the Vec­tra C was well un­der­way, which meant a low num­ber of the 2.6 GSi was built (pro­duc­tion vol­ume is not thought to have ex­ceeded 500 units) be­fore the Vec­tra B made way for its suc­ces­sor in 2002.

Be­hind the scenes, work was tak­ing place in readi­ness for the launch of the VXR brand, which meant cars in Vauxhall’s GSi range were con­sid­er­ably toned down. The Vec­tra C GSi, for ex­am­ple, ex­hib­ited un­der­stated looks not at all in keep­ing with the rowdy body kits of yore (an­gry styling was be­ing re­served for the 2.8-litre tur­bocharged Vec­tra VXR).

On the plus side, the new GSi fea­tured a 3.2-litre beat­ing heart (the largest of the 54° V6s) de­liv­er­ing close to 210bhp. If you were look­ing for an en­joy­able driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – trust us when we say these old­school V6s are ter­rific en­gines – in an un­der­stated pack­age, then the Vec­tra C GSi was the car for you.

We’ve pulled to­gether a fan­tas­tic se­lec­tion of Vec­tra GSis for your en­joy­ment at PVS. Gavin Shilton’s Merc-rimmed, Audi-leathered, TVRan­chored Petrol Blue beast, Mick John­son’s im­mac­u­late black beauty, Philip Pratt’s as­ton­ish­ingly clean Moon­land Grey 2.6-litre es­tate (widely thought to be the only one of its kind) and Jeff Back­land’s Ro­ti­form­rid­ing, Irm­scher-kit­ted 3.2 are just some of the high­lights. We’ve also in­vited James Ab­bott and his 245bhp MWP-as­sem­bled GSi trib­ute as our ‘wild card’ en­try. Be sure to check it out on this spe­cial stand, lo­cated close to the Per­for­mance Vauxhall dis­play at the heart of the show.

Gavin Shilton’s Merc-rimmed saloon starred in our last is­sue

James Abott’s MWP-built 245bhp GSi replica is the stand’s ‘wild card’ en­try

The MSD-tuned V6 pow­er­ing Mick John­son’s stealth-like stun­ner

Two decades on, the GSi re­mains pop­u­lar

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