The VXR can see clearly, the BTCC Cavalier receives open heart surgery.
My ex-works BTCC Super Touring Cavalier GSi (chassis DCRS016) was missing its original engine and gearbox when I finally managed to get hold of the car after the best part of a decade pestering the previous owner to sell up. The Swindon-engineered C 20 X Ea nd six-speed sequential transmission fitted in period are long gone, liberated from the historic Vauxhall when it was little more than an obsolete race car. I’m told the parts were fitted to a now-dead rallycross machine. Pity.
In place of the race-ready Red Top was a semi-rebuilt C20LET and an accompanying F23 five-speed manual gearbox. In fact, in addition to parts kept with the car from its lengthy career racing in the BTCC and other high-profile motorsport competitions, the tidy Tango machine came with a raft of extras, some of them great, some of them not so great. My plan is to strip the car back to a bare shell, rid it of Ford Electric Orange paintwork, restore all chassis componentry and reintroduce works livery, but before any of this work can take place, I needed to remove the car’s temporarily mounted engine and transmission.
The engine itself in good condition, insofar as it will make a good base for a complete stripdown and rebuild with fully forged internals, an uprated valvetrain, new cams and a stack of top-notch tuning equipment, including my Peter G tubular exhaust manifold and the Garrett turbocharger I commissioned Turbo Dynamics to rebuild with BorgWarner EFR internals (as featured in Performance Vauxhall when the parts were destined for one of my Cavalier Turbos).
I’ve ditched the F23 in favour of a six-speed F28. I might not have the original engine and gearbox to play with, but at least a fettled Red Top mated to a six-speed transmission is more or less in the spirit of what was fitted to my car when it raced in the BTCC. Moreover, using an engine based on the same basic block design means there are no changes required to the chassis in order to accept the force-fed powerplant, which I took great pleasure in removing before loading into the back of my trusty SAAB workhorse alongside one of my spare F28s.
Removing the Cavalier’s engine allowed me to take a good look at the motorsport-spec suspension equipment tucked into each corner.
All of it will be removed and restored in due course, but to get the ball rolling with project progress in the here and now, I delivered the engine and gearbox to London-based performance Vauxhall and supercar specialist, GCAP Performance, where the parts will be dismantled and reassembled to custom specification with a wealth of new componentry, including a Quaife ATB limited-slip differential, which arrived on my doorstep just as we were about to send this issue of the mag to print.
Unlike a conventional plate-type differential, Quaife’s ‘fit and forget’ design relies on gears rather than clutch plates, ensuring smoother operation and the elimination of harsh locking. There are huge benefits to using a Quaife ATB limited-slipper (proven time after time in drag racing, rallying, circuit and fast-road driving environments) when compared to a standard open differential, all of which we’ll cover in a forthcoming issue of Performance
Vauxhall. In fact, so effective are Quaife limited-slip differentials at positively transforming the way a car handles, the company’s parts are now used by major manufacturers as OEM equipment for high output factory models.
As you can probably imagine, I’ve got a huge shopping list of parts and a long list of tasks to contend with. I guess I’d better get cracking then?! Onwards and upwards!
And so it begins... Everyone knows orange is the fastest colour, yeah?!
Shocks will be sent to Bilstein for a rebuild Eat your heart out, twin-engined Corsa! F28 will be stripped and rebuilt with new bearings and a Quaife diff This’ll make a big difference