Vauxhall’s un­der­rated Z22SE en­gine has the po­ten­tial to de­liver plenty of smiles to mile, es­pe­cially when su­per­charged...

Performance Vauxhall - - CONTENTS - WORDS Dan Furr PHO­TOS Ade Bran­nan

2.2-litre en­gines and a su­per­charger make for a fan­tas­tic duo of Corsa Cs!

tell Dave Green what­ever mod­i­fi­ca­tion he has in mind isn’t pos­si­ble, and he’s go­ing to prove you wrong. “Friends told me I’d never be able to tune my Corsa B’s nat­u­rally as­pi­rated X20XEV en­gine past 170bhp,” he re­calls. “I was de­ter­mined to suc­ceed, which I did with a fi­nal power fig­ure of 226bhp!” Like­wise, when ev­ery­one he spoke to told him he’d be un­able to fit a 2.2-litre en­gine and su­per­charger be­neath the bon­net of his ra­di­ant red Corsa C, he did ex­actly that, re­sult­ing in the force-fed SRi we’ve come to check out near his home in green and pleas­ant Ox­ford­shire. Dave is no stranger to Per­for­mance

Vauxhall. Sea­soned sub­scribers may re­call the Corsa B he’s just men­tioned from its star­ring role in the mag­a­zine in 2005. Back then, C20XE ‘Red Top’ con­ver­sions formed the ba­sis of typ­i­cal two-litre en­gine swaps, but hell-bent on go­ing his own way, the agri­cul­tural en­gi­neer slapped a set of throt­tle bod­ies on an XEV, shoe­horned the lot into his killer B’s en­gine bay and promptly raced into our pages. Hav­ing con­tra­dicted the naysay­ers, he started to think about what his next project would look like.

“I owned a 2.2-litre Vectra B,” he ex­plains. “I’d thor­oughly re­built the en­gine, but the car’s body­work was start­ing to show its age. I didn’t want to part with a per­fectly good

pow­er­plant, a train of thought which led me to con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of fit­ting it into a dif­fer­ent Vauxhall.” Around the same time, Steve Crook (head hon­cho at independent Grif­fin parts re­tailer, LMF), was on the hunt for a clas­sic car restora­tion project. “I owned a Tri­umph Her­ald in need of a lot of work,” con­tin­ues Dave. “Steve had re­tired his Corsa C SRi Z20LET project from the road af­ter it had fea­tured in Per­for­mance Vauxhall and been re­lieved of its tur­bocharged en­gine. Need­less to say, it didn’t take long for us to come to an ar­range­ment which saw him take the Her­ald and me be­come the new owner of his Corsa!”

Within weeks, the Vectra was scrapped and the Corsa was fit­ted with the re­built Z22SE. “I bought a Corsa D SXi to run as a daily while I worked out what was needed to get the Vectra’s en­gine to power up in­side my newly ac­quired Corsa C,” re­mem­bers Dave. “I had a lot of help from the chaps at my lo­cal Vauxhall main dealer, who pro­vided wiring di­a­grams and ad­vice en­abling me to con­fig­ure elec­tri­cal sys­tems and bolt the en­gine into place on my drive­way.” He also in­vested in Bil­stein B14 coilovers, a set of Irm­scher Soft Star al­loy wheels and var­i­ous body­work adorn­ments in time for the car’s ap­pear­ance at the Per­for­mance Vauxhall Show in 2012.

body of work

His ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing with throt­tle bod­ies en­cour­aged the pur­chase of brand new Jenvey 45s and an ECU which has re­mained in its box since ar­riv­ing at the Green res­i­dence! “I’d be­come aware of the avail­abil­ity of equip­ment to per­form what I saw as a straight­for­ward Z22SE su­per­charger con­ver­sion. The fo­rum fea­tures many project threads au­thored by own­ers of As­tras and Vec­tras who have car­ried out the work them­selves. I loved the idea of do­ing the same to my Corsa, even though I’d just spent more than two grand on a throt­tle body kit!” laughs Dave. In keep­ing with tra­di­tion, he was told suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the project couldn’t be achieved when work­ing with a Corsa C due to the width of the Ea­ton M62

“i’d just spent two grand on a throt­tle body kit”

su­per­charger ex­ceed­ing the avail­able space in his car’s en­gine bay, but all this did was con­vince him he needed to suc­ceed in the face of ad­ver­sity. Bravo!

The Ea­ton blower and its sup­port­ing hard­ware is fit­ted as stan­dard equip­ment to the Chevro­let Cobalt SS in the USA. It’s a car re­sem­bling a less ag­gres­sive Astra G Coupe and fea­tures a two-litre en­gine fol­low­ing the same ba­sic de­sign as the Z22SE, which in turn, is very sim­i­lar to the SAAB B207 two-litre unit. SAAB parts spe­cial­ist, Neo Brothers, was sell­ing brand new B207s for lit­tle more than £700 a pop at the time Dave was con­sid­er­ing im­port­ing a Cobalt su­per­charger pack­age. Never one to pass up the op­por­tu­nity of a bargain, he bought him­self one of the fac­tory fresh B207s, which is now used as the beat­ing heart of his cool Corsa, nick­named Ruby.

states of play

Be­fore the Swedish nuts and bolts were in­stalled, an im­ported Cobalt su­per­charger kit was fit­ted to the Vectra’s 2.2-litre lump, squeezed into the Corsa’s en­gine bay and taken for map­ping at Nor­folk-based Vauxhall tun­ing out­fit, Courte­nay Sport. “I was hop­ing for 250bhp, but the en­gine man­aged close to 280bhp and was still climb­ing!” gasps Dave. “Sen­si­bly, the guys at Courte­nay told me I needed to think about forged

in­ter­nals if I wanted to run the car re­li­ably at that level of power, which is why they re­stricted the map to 261bhp and 215lb/ft torque.”

There was no way Dave was go­ing to let that be the end of his su­per­charged ad­ven­ture! The un­used B207 was quickly stripped and fit­ted with a 2.2-litre knife-edged crankshaft, Ea­gle rods, Wiseco pis­tons, Comp Cams Stage 2 camshafts, Schrick dou­ble valve springs, Pro Al­loy cool­ing equip­ment, Z20LEH fuel in­jec­tors and a mass of high out­put air­flow gear, in­clud­ing a dBi­las ex­haust man­i­fold, a Lex­maul ex­haust and a sports cat­alytic con­ver­tor. A re­turn trip to Courte­nay’s North Wal­sham base with the shiny new SAAB en­gine in place re­sulted in 277bhp and 241lb/ft torque. “There’s loads of head­room for power be­yond 300bhp, es­pe­cially if I splash out on a big­ger ex­haust, but I’m keen to en­sure the car runs its power safely with the cur­rent setup,” rea­sons Dave, sat­is­fied with a job well done.

The en­gine is mated to a Z22SE trans­mis­sion case filled with a Corsa C 1.7 CDTi’s F23 tall gear set and a Quaife lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial. Other chas­sis up­grades in­clude Bil­stein B8 dam­pers and Eibach low­er­ing springs (re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ously in­stalled coilovers), ad­justable anti-roll bars, Team Dy­nam­ics Pro Race 3 wheels and Corsa D VXR Nür­bur­gring Edi­tion four-pis­ton front brakes.


Ex­ter­nally, the car fea­tures a Seat Leon Cupra R split­ter, colour-coded Irm­scher trim and Holden Ba­rina badges, while the in­te­rior pops thanks to hy­dro-dipped plas­tics and unique VXR-stitched Re­caros thought to have been pro­duced by Vauxhall as a styling ex­er­cise for the Corsa C VXR con­cept in ad­vance of the launch of the Astra H VXR in 2005.

Dave is a big fan of in-car entertainment, which is why he’s filled his red road riot with

“the guys at courte­nay told me i needed to think about forged in­ter­nals”

a stack of au­dio equip­ment and cov­ered ev­ery in­side body panel with sound dead­en­ing ma­te­rial, but that’s noth­ing com­pared to what he has planned for Betty, his blue Corsa C SXi. “I’ve just spent five grand on ICE!” he beams, be­fore telling us his orig­i­nal plan of ac­tion was to keep Ruby as a show car and use Betty as a track slag. “I bought the blue car cheap, fit­ted the 2.2-litre Vectra en­gine re­moved from Ruby and planned to fi­nally make use of the Jen­veys I bought,” he ad­mits. “Things changed when I joined a car club with a high num­ber of mem­ber ve­hi­cles pack­ing mas­sive au­dio builds, rekin­dling my love of sound­offs,” he sighs.


De­spite not yet be­ing on the re­ceiv­ing end of the trick throt­tle bod­ies, Betty ben­e­fits from a gas­flowed head, Schrick cams, dBi­las valve springs, a Piper­cross Viper in­duc­tion kit, a 2.5-inch ex­haust and a Courte­nay Sport map pro­duc­ing 176bhp. There’s a mir­ror of Ruby’s sus­pen­sion and trans­mis­sion, yet dif­fer­ences in chas­sis con­fig­u­ra­tion ex­ist, pri­mar­ily thanks to the bril­liant blue Corsa’s use of Meriva calipers and 280mm discs sit­ting be­hind SXi cost-op­tion al­loys. Con­trast­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion be­tween cars is also ap­par­ent when look­ing in Betty’s cock­pit, which is pop­u­lated by Co­bra Day­tona cloth seats and Irm­scher pol­ished ped­als.

De­spite se­ri­ous toil, Dave has only just been able to en­joy the fruits of his labour. “I suf­fered a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent at work,” he re­veals. “I broke both legs, mean­ing I needed to rely on the good­will of my friends, Craig and Edd, who fer­ried me around and drove my cars to the sum­mer shows while I was in a wheel­chair.” He oc­cu­pied the time he was un­able to walk by writ­ing a guide to fit­ting the Z22SE en­gine and Cobalt su­per­charger to a Vauxhall. “Com­plete with all re­quired part num­bers, the ar­ti­cle is avail­able to view at,” he smiles, hop­ing his work will be of as­sis­tance to those of you con­sid­er­ing the switch of your nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2.2-litre Grif­fin to forced in­duc­tion.

Both Cor­sas ap­peared at this year’s Per­for­mance Vauxhall Show as part of our cel­e­bra­tion stand com­mem­o­rat­ing twenty-five years of the model, yet with the moun­tain of ICE he’s pur­chased, not to men­tion plans for another Corsa C build, don’t think Dave will be done play­ing with Vaux­halls any time soon.

“I want to im­port a Corsa C pickup truck from South Africa be­fore swap­ping the model’s stan­dard 1.8litre en­gine for a Z22SE!” he roars, be­fore let­ting slip he’s bought another com­plete Cobalt su­per­charger kit. A blown Corsa pickup? Tell him it can’t be done. Go on, we dare you!

Su­per­charger kit is stan­dard equip­ment from a Chevro­let Cobalt SS Vauxhall wear­ing Team Dy­nam­ics wheels in ‘not Pro Race 1.2’ shocker

Seats are thought to be from the Corsa C VXR de­sign study

In­tended to be a track ter­ror, now des­tined to pump up the vol­ume

Co­bra Day­tona seats are a mod­ern clas­sic

2.2-litre en­gine was orig­i­nally fit­ted to Dave’s long-gone Vectra B

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