CAR­BON RATED

Freshly painted and cov­ered in car­bon-fi­bre, Colin Mans­field’s Flame Red Corsa Sport daz­zled at this year’s Per­for­mance Vaux­hall Show…

Performance Vauxhall - - CONTENTS - WORDS Emma Wood­cock PHOTOS Dan Sher­wood

Cov­ered in car­bon-fi­bre, Colin Mans­field’s Flame Red Corsa Sport daz­zled at PVS.

Red and black. Half bright, half night. It’s a com­bi­na­tion clam­our­ing for at­ten­tion and one which just won’t let go. In the au­to­mo­tive world, the link is leg­endary. Think Bu­gatti Veyron, Dodge De­mon or any num­ber of Fer­raris. Ev­ery one of them was launched in the men­ac­ing con­trast of pi­mento and pitch.

Colin Mans­field, owner of this 1996 Corsa Sport, gets it. Once you’ve seen his car­bon-clad cruiser, you will too. He has decades of his­tory on the Vaux­hall scene, but he ad­mits he didn’t start his driv­ing life as a Grif­fin devo­tee; the teenage Colin was all about the old­school, ev­i­denced by his pur­chase of a Tri­umph Dolomite be­fore he’d ap­plied for his pro­vi­sional li­cense! The Ley­land sa­loon car­ried him through his driv­ing test and not much more be­fore it breathed its last. A Chevette was swiftly drafted in as a re­place­ment, spark­ing a chain re­ac­tion of Vaux­hall own­er­ship which con­tin­ues to this day.

Three No­vas fol­lowed the ‘Vette in close suc­ces­sion. One of them ap­peared in the dearly de­parted, Max Power mag­a­zine. Dropped, 1.6-litre engine swapped and run­ning on a set of Com­po­mo­tive MO5s, the nifty Nova in ques­tion was sim­ple and oh-so ef­fec­tive. Only a write-off in 2008 ended the fun, prompt­ing the move to a com­pletely stan­dard Corsa B Sport. Bought as a daily com­muter – a role it would ful­fil for the next six years – the nineties su­per­mini nev­er­the­less gained larger al­loys and Spax springs. The build had be­gun!

The new stance was just a warm-up act for the engine swap to fol­low. Colin switched the front brake assem­bly in an­tic­i­pa­tion of fit­ting an X20XEV, adding 256mm drilled and grooved discs, As­tra F calipers, Ferodo pads and the Goodridge braided hoses the car still wears to­day. Yes, be­fore the twolitre ECOTEC lump could reach its new home, it dis­ap­peared. “Be­lieve it or not, thieves stole the engine from out of my gar­den,” he sighs.

no re­turn

Colin’s Corsa had reached a crit­i­cal junc­ture: the day it turned from week­day trans­port to a full-time show spe­cial. “It all went wrong when I bought the bucket seats,” he smiles. “Af­ter that, I felt I had lit­tle choice but to strip the in­te­rior, fit the seats, add safety har­nesses and buy a roll cage!” Co­bra, Sa­belt and OMP were called upon to pro­vide the ma­jor parts, but not be­fore the emp­tied body was treated to a full re­paint in Flame Red.

Star­ing at his freshly refin­ished shell, Colin soon landed on a theme for the build. “Car­bon-fi­bre is ev­ery­where,” he smirks. “To see so much of it on a show car is still a rar­ity. In essence, I wanted my

Corsa to stand out from all oth­ers.” He’s suc­ceeded, yet his idea wasn’t as out­landish as it might ap­pear; Colin knows ev­ery­thing there is to know about wet lay and au­to­clave car­bon thanks to his job as a com­pos­ite fit­ter work­ing for car­bon­fi­bre spe­cial­ist, Reverie.

pick up pace

The changes came slow at first, start­ing with an engine cover made in the Reverie au­to­clave with a pre­ex­ist­ing mould. A dash­board and door cards fol­lowed, both trimmed from flat car­bon-fi­bre. Ac­cel­er­at­ing project progress by work­ing dur­ing his down­time, Colin went on to fill his Corsa’s in­te­rior with more cus­tom car­bon-fi­bre than NASA could hope to squeeze into a space shut­tle. There’s a rear flat floor, a gear lever, hand­brake cover, glove box, in­stru­ment bin­na­cle, steer­ing col­umn, in­di­ca­tor stalks, floor mats, foot rests and even sun vi­sors made out of the wicked weave! Only the Reverie car­bon-fi­bre steer­ing wheel was an ‘off the shelf’ part.

Home-de­signed elec­tronic up­grades com­pleted the chain. To that end, a translu­cent fuse box dom­i­nates the dash, sand­wiched be­tween a row of sup­ple­men­tary gauges (mea­sur­ing wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, oil pres­sure and bat­tery voltage), a trio of flip-up switches and an elec­tri­cal sys­tem cut-off tog­gle. As you’d ex­pect, each item is mounted on one-of-a-kind car­bon. To fa­cil­i­tate the re­designed cen­tre con­sole, the af­ter­mar­ket head unit has been re­lo­cated to the glove box, while its re­mote con­trol is housed in a re­cess in the cus­tom car­bon-fi­bre trans­mis­sion tun­nel cover. There’s a smart­phone charg­ing point and a dash-mounted satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem too. Some­where be­tween posh and per­for­mance, this in­te­rior

knows how to get no­ticed! The engine bay con­tin­ues the car­bon theme. A car­bon-fi­bre air­box, engine cover and strut brace dom­i­nate, con­trasted by fiery flashes of Roose Mo­tor­sport and JS Per­for­mance red sil­i­cone hoses linked by ASH an­odised red pipework con­nec­tors. It’s not all un­der-bon­net aes­thet­ics, though. A dBi­las in­let man­i­fold and Ra­mair in­take im­prove breath­ing, home­brew tweaks to the fuel pres­sure reg­u­la­tor pour in more petrol and the com­bi­na­tion of a ProTec four-two-one ex­haust man­i­fold linked to a Mag­nex straight-through stain­less ex­haust get gases mov­ing sharpish. The es­ti­mated re­sult is 105bhp and 100lb/ft torque, but as Colin rightly points out, his car hasn’t been as­sem­bled for smash­ing land speed records. “It’s a show car. As long as it can get me to au­to­mo­tive events and home again with­out er­ror, I’m happy!” he chuck­les.

That’s not to say you can’t have fun with cars loaded with low out­put en­gines. He’s fit­ted a 4H-Tech short shifter to give the gear lever some bite, he’s added Bil­stein B8 shock ab­sorbers, Eibach low­er­ing springs and Pow­er­flex poly­bushes to sharpen the stance and im­prove over­all han­dling. To take ad­van­tage of the newly hun­kered arches, he’s bought a set of six­teen-inch MO5s. Fin­ished in black and dec­o­rated with cus­tom car­bon cen­tre caps, they hit hard against the bright red body­work.

out­side world

The wheels were the first step in the ex­te­rior’s trans­for­ma­tion. An Irm­scher front lip and side skirts have been joined by even more car­bon-fi­bre, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from strik­ing Morette quad-lamp cases to wheel arch ex­ten­sions, door mir­ror cov­ers and han­dle sur­rounds. The lat­ter proved to be a chal­lenge, even for some­one ex­pe­ri­enced in deal­ing with com­pos­ites. “I knew they’d look good, but they were dif­fi­cult to put to­gether. It took me three at­tempts to get them to a stan­dard I was sat­is­fied with. Tough work!”

Sweet as the over­all style looks, the real showstoppers are the found front and rear. Squat­ting high on the bon­net, just above a pair of cus­tom grilles, the car­bon-coated bon­net scoop comes courtesy of a Mini Cooper S and shouts se­ri­ous rally ready vibes, a char­ac­ter­is­tic re­in­forced by a car­bon-cov­ered Corsa B S1600 rear spoiler. Ar­guably the best bit of all, though, is slung deep be­low the back bumper.

“A col­league was fit­ting an af­ter­mar­ket dif­fuser to his Lo­tus Ex­ige S2,” ex­plains Colin. “He left the stan­dard car­bon-fi­bre part be­hind. I held it up against my Corsa and was im­pressed by how good it looked,” he grins.

“i just wanted to turn my stock-spec corsa sport into some­thing more ex­cit­ing”

Spy how much ag­gres­sion the part adds and you’ll agree. Flick­ing for­wards through the calendar, there’s not much more planned for Colin’s car­bon-trimmed Corsa. Some of the pieces he’s added will be re­worked and re­fined, and the engine is about to ben­e­fit from throt­tle bod­ies, but he’s in­sis­tent these changes will mark the end of the evo­lu­tion of his su­per Sport from stan­dard spec­i­men to im­pres­sively mod­i­fied show­stop­per.

“I’ve got to stop!” he cries. “I’m des­per­ate to get started on my new Nova project. The older car is cur­rently in stor­age, but I’ve got plenty of ideas I hope will lead to it be­ing cov­ered in car­bon and turned into a show car.” Thank­fully, one build won’t push the other. “The Corsa is stay­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture!” he laughs.

If you ob­served re­ac­tion from stunned show­go­ers at this year’s PVS (where the car took up res­i­dence on the Per­for­mance Vaux­hall mag­a­zine dis­play), you’ll un­der­stand why he’s keen to keep this cool car­bon Corsa for the long term. “Ev­ery­one who sees the car is amazed. There are al­ways loads of photos taken.” The mod­i­fied Grif­fin has also fur­nished his tro­phy cabi­net with stacks of sil­ver­ware earned at show and shine events. “To be hon­est, I just wanted to turn my stock-spec Corsa Sport into some­thing a bit more ex­cit­ing. I never ex­pected it to be so well re­garded by my fel­low Vaux­hall fans, al­though ob­vi­ously I’m thrilled with how much pos­i­tive feed­back the build has gen­er­ated,” he says.

With clear-lac­quered car­bon-fi­bre sparkling against scar­let here, there and ev­ery­where, we’re not sur­prised his com­pact Vaux­hall has proved so pop­u­lar. Bring on the weave-span­gled Nova!

Who doesn’t like comps and car­bon?!

Are you sure there’s enough car­bon-fi­bre in here, Colin?

This is where the weekly shop goes, then?! Twin-tone red and black is a time­less com­bi­na­tion and takes years off an older per­for­mance Vaux­hall

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