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