THIRD TIME LUCKY

This SAAB-pow­ered, award-win­ning, wide-arched 430bhp hot hatch was built af­ter its owner crashed his two pre­vi­ous Corsa Bs…

Performance Vauxhall - - CONTENTS -

This 430bhp SAAB-pow­ered Corsa B won the 2018 PVS Show and Shine award.

Many of you are Vauxhall brand loy­al­ists, stick­ing to the out­put of our favourite man­u­fac­turer time af­ter time. There are also those of you who’ve ven­tured away from the Grif­fin scene, only to be drawn back into the fold af­ter the Volk­swa­gen, BMW, Audi or what­ever else you’ve flirted with hasn’t lived up to ex­pec­ta­tion. In a mi­nor­ity, how­ever, are those of you like me­chanic, Kieran Johns, who has not only stuck with Vaux­halls for the en­tire time he’s been able to drive, but he’s only ever owned Corsa Bs.

“They’re great cars!” he smiles. The petrol­head from Devon has owned three dif­fer­ent Corsa Bs to date, but it’s fair to say the first two weren’t treated as well as the jaw­drop­pingly good Sport he’s re­cently fin­ished build­ing. “I wrote them off!” he cringes. “The first ran into a ditch, the sec­ond smashed into the side of a lorry.” For­tu­nately, pro­pel­ling his cur­rent ride to SAAB-pro­pelled su­per­star­dom has more than made up for the sin of killing two per­fectly good Griffins! FIRST STEPS “I be­lieve it to have been the first road-le­gal Corsa B run­ning a B204 en­gine af­ter I first car­ried out the switch to SAAB power a few years ago,” he says. “I’d fit­ted a com­pletely stan­dard pow­er­plant, but de­ter­mined to drive like a loon, I ramped the boost up to the point the tur­bocharger cooked it­self!” Un­der­stand­ably, the car came off the road, al­low­ing Kieran time to fit a re­place­ment turbo, an F28 six-speed gear­box and a Quaife lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial. “My Corsa was mak­ing use of an F20 five-speed, but I rea­soned the F28 was bet­ter suited to the power be­ing kicked out by the SAAB en­gine un­der load.”

While scur­ry­ing around be­neath the car, he took time out to strip its un­der­side (“it’s in pris­tine con­di­tion and has never seen weld­ing equip­ment”) to bare metal be­fore ap­ply­ing a gen­er­ous coat­ing of primer and lash­ings of Line-X pro­tec­tive fluid, which dries to form a hard plas­tic-like fin­ish. It’s a heavy duty ma­te­rial used as a liner for truck beds, in­di­cat­ing Kieran’s de­sire to en­sure his third Corsa ben­e­fits from re­sis­tance to cor­ro­sion. In con­trast to the fate of his first two Vaux­halls, he wants this one to stick around for the long term. Look­ing at the pho­to­graphs on these pages, it’s easy to see why.

Body­work al­ter­ations soon ex­tended (lit­er­ally) to each cor­ner of the car thanks to the pur­chase of fi­bre­glass wide wheel arches and Corsa C side skirts. “To my sur­prise, the wheel arches de­manded only mi­nor al­ter­ation to the car’s met­al­work, whereas the skirts weren’t any­where near as straight­for­ward. I spot­ted them in my lo­cal scrap yard, but af­ter bring­ing the parts home, I re­alised I’d have to fit the off­side skirt to my Corsa’s near­side sill and the near­side skirt to my car’s off­side sill. In other words, both skirts are on back to front!” he howls.

To his credit, he’d done a great job of ap­ply­ing the ex­ter­nal mod­i­fi­ca­tions, but by his own ad­mis­sion, he finds up­dat­ing body­work a te­dious task. Be­sides, he’s wise enough to know if you want a per­fect fin­ish, you need to en­list the help of tal­ented pro­fes­sion­als. En­ter Josh Day at JD Au­tos.

“I pre­pared the car for paint as best I could be­fore Josh took con­trol of the job. He fin­ished what I’d started and cov­ered each panel in a deep coat of gloss black,” re­calls Kieran. “The fin­ish he achieved was amaz­ing. I re­turned the re­born car to the road and en­joyed driv­ing it for close to twelve months, but fun

sud­denly stopped when I was ham­mer­ing along a dual car­riage­way and the oil level warn­ing light un­ex­pect­edly il­lu­mi­nated. Within sec­onds there was a loud bang, smoke ev­ery­where and bits of the en­gine bounc­ing down the road be­hind me. I could see them in the rear-view mir­ror!”

sec­onds out

A con­nect­ing rod had de­cided to call it a day, bend­ing valves, smashing a pis­ton and ru­in­ing the crankshaft as it bid farewell. De­ter­mined to rein­tro­duce SAAB power to the pro­ceed­ings, Kieran started the build of a new en­gine, raid­ing the knack­ered two-litre for its an­cil­lar­ies be­fore adding them to a parts pile des­tined for a B206 block. “The B206 is a later ver­sion of the B204, but it’s more than twenty-four kilo­grams lighter due to the ab­sence of dou­ble bal­ance shafts,” he con­tin­ues. “It’s a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine from the early NG900. Cru­cially, the block is skin­nier than that of the B204, which means I had more space to play with in the en­gine bay, en­abling me to fit a larger tur­bocharger when con­vert­ing the new lump to forced in­duc­tion.”

Stripped bare, the block was decked and loaded with a com­bi­na­tion of com­po­nents from the SAAB parts bin. “I added a mix of items re­moved from 2.3-litre B234 and B235 en­gines, such as un­der­pis­ton oil squirters, the crankshaft and rods. Some of the B204 parts I fit­ted in­clude the camshafts and in­let man­i­fold, al­though the lat­ter was mod­i­fied with a B235 flange and in­jec­tor ports,” con­firms Kieran, be­fore go­ing on to re­cite a long list of af­ter­mar­ket parts used dur­ing the build; a Mamba GTX2871R tur­bocharger, a Toyosport in­ter­cooler, a Cos­worth al­loy ra­di­a­tor, a Trust tubu­lar ex­haust man­i­fold, 875cc fuel in­jec­tors, an HKS blow-off valve and ARP fas­ten­ers joined a cus­tom map ap­plied to a SAAB T5 ECU equipped with a T7 APC up­date. The re­sult? An es­ti­mated 430bhp, but that’s only part of the story.

Be­fore the re­built en­gine was in­stalled, Kieran set about ex­e­cut­ing a com­pre­hen­sive wire tuck. He also spoke to Josh about up­dat­ing the car’s paint­work af­ter see­ing a Ford Ranger pick-up truck ex­hibit­ing a glit­ter ef­fect over gloss black. The paint proved dif­fi­cult to iden­tify and source (“we had to im­port it from Amer­ica”), but af­ter pre­par­ing the en­gine bay, paint­ing it OEM Glacier White and then smooth­ing pretty much ev­ery ex­te­rior sur­face which could be smoothed, the

“there was a loud bang, smoke ev­ery­where and bits of the en­gine bounc­ing down the road be­hind me”

Black glit­ter cov­ers many of the car’s en­gine and chas­sis com­po­nents

Ex­ten­sively smoothed body­work ex­hibits a deep gloss fin­ish thanks to in­tense de­tail­ing

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