Vauxhall Cavalier GSI RestoMod Track Car

Vauxhall Cavalier GSI RestoMod Track Car

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Cocknose

Original Poster:

458 posts

35 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
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I'd been toying with the idea of a track toy, and/or a project for a while. But couldn't really decide what I wanted. I've had MX5's, a Clio 172 Cup, Impreza, Abarth 500 etc and didn't really want to revisit any of those, albeit all would be good options for a track car.

Having always been a fan of the 90's era of BTCC, I couldn't help but get excited when a Cavalier GSI (in motorsport white) was listed on ebay. With a quiet nightshift ahead (too much time on my hands) and some money burning a hole in my pocket, I exchanged a few emails with the owner. It was listed as a project, and hadn't been on the road for 10+ years. I knew some of my excitement was due to rose tinted specs - my late Dad owned a Cavalier mk3 - but I thought it might be something different to take on track, and they did well in the BTCC, right? It would also kill two birds with one stone, it'd be a track car, and a project. Bonus!

One slight problem, I wasn't on dry land to go and view it. A brave (or stupid) decision was made, to part company with some of my hard earned and arranged for the thing to be delivered for when I was due to return home.

The ebay pictures;






The seller was honest about the condition of it, it was rusty in the usual places, needed a mechanical recommission and was missing a passenger seat - no problem for me as the interior would be getting stripped.

It arrived, and rather sheepishly I had to go and ask the wife to give me a hand as my new toy wouldn't start!


I immediately got started on stripping out the interior and some tinkering and located the source of the running problem. The donut valve was knackered. A new one was duly ordered, and once fitted she ran rather nicely. Although there was a bit of hesitation on anything over half throttle.




Removed some excess wiring. No going back now!


I gave her a quick wash and reflected that it could be a lot worse, even if those period alloys were not to my taste.





I got hold of a set of 'slabs' for not very many pennies, and gave them a quick paint. I also ordered some Team Dynamics 5 spokes which would be the track wheels. The brakes I had in mind wouldn't fit under the 15's.



BTCC style single wiper fitted cool


Managed to get a new old stock boot lid (from NL), as mine had seen better days.


And a NOS boot panel (from Germany) with NOS badges. Catchiest model name ever!


White dial kit, and coloured the needles red too. Because I'm cool.



On to the elephant in the room - rust! It's a 90's Vauxhall, so it wasn't pretty.





It was entrusted to the nearest place to me that were willing to do the repairs, and dropped off for two new sills and two near rear arches. These lads ordinarily work on a variety of more expensive and desirable cars, including vintage Ferraris and Porsches, so I was confident it'd be looked after. I've never felt more of a chav though, dropping off a Cavalier in a workshop full of exotica.



And back she comes! Nicely repaired and on her new (refurbished) wheels, it kind of looked like it was coming together. That'll be my cue to rip her apart then.


Front end dismantled for overhaul;




The shocks were sent off to GAZ to be rebuilt into Gold Coilovers, subframe sent off for powdercoating, the driveshafts were stripped and painted with new CV joints and boots, and the standard brakes were chucked in the bin.

Subframe back;



Driveshafts painted and reassembled;



Powerflex bushes pressed in;


Subframe ready to be put back on;


A box of excitement arrives!


Attached the new Wilwood 4 pots, bells and discs to the newly refurbished strut, looking good!


Stuck some Compbrake solid top mounts in


And lobbed it all back together



New wheels on


I decided at this point, it would be a good time to get it off to have the roll cage welded on. A clubman 6 point cage was decided on.


The welder had asked me to remove the fuel tank, which I duly did. On removing it, I found it full of rust and ste. Which goes a long way to explaining the poor running I had been experiencing.


Fuel sender unit was fked, for want of a better expression.



Off she went to have her roll cage installed. Big thanks to ADT Motorsport in Skipton for fitting the cage.


I got the Cavalier back and shortly after moved house, to one with no drive. Boooo.

Not much happened until the winter had gone away and the weather had warmed up again. Once it had, I set about painting the interior and cage. Considering it was done on the drive, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.





Popped one of the seats and a harness in, and realised just how long this project is taking me!


Rear subframe was next up for overhaul



While I that was off the car, I stripped the whole underside back to bare metal and gave it a thorough coating of POR15. What an utterly, utterly soul destroying job that was. Looks good for it though and the POR15 dried rock hard.




Rear subframe and trailing arms after powdercoating, polybushing, reassembly and ready to be put back on


Et voila, it's a rolling chassis again




And for unknown reasons, I've cleaned, stickered and lacquered the rear hub nut covers. Attention to detail, procrastination, or something else?!


Fuel tank cleaned out, scrubbed, roughed up, and painted with stone chip shield



'Curing' by the radiator


I've also overhauled the gearbox. Stripped it, cleaned it out, rebuilt it, painted it, and reassembled the linkage with NOS Vauxhall parts and a short shifter





And that's pretty much where I'm at with it. Handily, I've just moved house again. Although, this time I've got a double garage! woohoo

The car's not far off being done now. The engine is out and on a stand, partially stripped down, I hope to get it in for honing in the next few weeks. I plan to rebuild it with a set of ITB's, some uprated cams, forged internals and a gasflowed COSCAST head that I've got spare.

And then it'll be time for paint. I'm undecided about what to do with the paint. I might just do it white, but I'm currently swaying towards white with some Yellow/Grey/Black stripes, something in between these two.



That's probably enough rambling for now, I'll keep the thread updated if anyone's interested.

Scrump

18,263 posts

136 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
quotequote all
Thanks for posting, your one post covers a lot of ground.
I enjoyed reading that.
The BTCC from that era was great, it had some really memorable cars and the Vauxhall is right up up amongst the best. thumbup

matt2911

81 posts

30 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
quotequote all
Scrump said:
Thanks for posting, your one post covers a lot of ground.
I enjoyed reading that.
The BTCC from that era was great, it had some really memorable cars and the Vauxhall is right up up amongst the best. thumbup
Couldn’t agree more, love the older BTCC cars so great to see this! It’s gonna look great with the paint too.

Willse46

6 posts

30 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
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Looking forward to this! Great progress!

B'stard Child

24,196 posts

224 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
quotequote all
Well I’m glad you shared that - nice work and don’t worry about the time it’s taking - project overrun due to life is normal

s m

22,144 posts

181 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
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Excellent cool

Great project

Killboy

3,456 posts

180 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
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Fantastic! Really looking forward to seeing the end result!

Jonesy1972

157 posts

57 months

Wednesday 25th December 2019
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Ah, found memories of John Clelland hooning around Whilst competing in the BTCC. Inspired my Dad to later buy the Super Touring Vectra, which was also quite tasty. Loving where you’re going with this and big respect for the time, money and personal effort you’ve put in so far. Top work, OP!

Jonesy

Tommie38

618 posts

172 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Good effort!

I’ve often wondered: what was the difference between the GSI 2000 and the SRI 16v of the same shape?

swampy442

1,262 posts

189 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Great project, and nice work. I cant help thinking a better base car car would have cut your workload a lot, spend more initially to spend less

tvrfan007

260 posts

152 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Enjoyable read that. Was around cavaliers a lot when younger, then Vauxhall made the vectra abomination and I was put off them for life. Lol.

Will read on with interest. What direction will you go engine wise ultimately? Just the itbs? Z20?

Edited by tvrfan007 on Thursday 26th December 09:38

LaurasOtherHalf

21,429 posts

174 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Excellent work! Looking forward to future updates.

rickygolf83

247 posts

139 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Love it and look forward to more progress updates!

helix402

6,934 posts

160 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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I don’t like most Vauxhall’s. But I like your work on this.

Edited by helix402 on Thursday 26th December 14:50

650spider

1,476 posts

149 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Outstanding Christmas Day post!

This is what pistonheads is about.

Loved the white GSi 16v cavaliers...they were from around the time i first started driving in late 1989 ( sure it was very early 1990 'G' plate that these hit the road though ) and inspired my 2nd car as an 18yr old...a white mk1 astra gte...which i still have the best memories of...until i bent it slightly and met my future and current in-laws in hospital....whistle

Looking forward to updates.thumbup


Crafty_

12,987 posts

178 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Tommie38 said:
Good effort!

I’ve often wondered: what was the difference between the GSI 2000 and the SRI 16v of the same shape?
Sri was 2.0 8v (130hp) and rear suspension had a beam.
Gsi was 2.0 16v (150hp) and had IRS. Was available in 4x4 form.
Both used F20 gearbox, possibility of different ratios though (can't remember now)
Bodykits/wheels were different
Interior trims were different.
Sri available in hatchback, Gsi were all saloon.

There was a refresh for 1993, which is most easily identified by the headlight having an angle in the glass (original: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/KDAAAOSws5Fdvswi/s-... facelift: http://www.mediajustice.co.uk/images/cavalierturbo... , rather than a constant arc. At this point the 2.0 16v disappeared and the Gsi with it, After this the Sri had the 136hp ecotec engine with siemens management, hardware good, management was crap. Halo model was now the Turbo, based on the 2.0 16v with lower compression it made 204hp and all turbo cars were 4x4 with the 6 speed F28 transmission, again saloon only. During the switch over there were some Sris that ended up with the 2.0 16v 150hp engine from the Gsi, I guess using the engines up.

At the end of the Cavalier's tenure, the turbo was outsted for the 2.5 V6, which was disappointing. All V6 cars were fwd with beam rear.


Fermit and Sexy Sarah

10,270 posts

78 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Please tell me you're taking your little girls racing with you. That would be such a cool way to get them in to cars, Before it inevitably all goes electric.

AceKid

261 posts

33 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
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Awesome project and will be following closely,
I never managed to get a GSI back in the day, the one time i was close, the only one i looked at had a knackered head gasket...ended up with a SRI 16v, didnt look as good but was great fun!

Cocknose

Original Poster:

458 posts

35 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
quotequote all
Scrump said:
Thanks for posting, your one post covers a lot of ground.
I enjoyed reading that.
The BTCC from that era was great, it had some really memorable cars and the Vauxhall is right up up amongst the best. thumbup
Thank you. As well as covering a lot of work, it also spans a few years, in which I've bought, renovated and sold a house, moved twice, and had a little girl, who's now nearly 3!

You're not wrong though, the early 90's was the golden era of BTCC for me.

matt2911 said:
Couldn’t agree more, love the older BTCC cars so great to see this! It’s gonna look great with the paint too.
Thanks chap, fingers crossed!

Willse46 said:
Looking forward to this! Great progress!
Thank you! As said, progress up to now has been glacially slow. But now I've got a garage to work in, I'm hoping to get it done this year (2020).

B'stard Child said:
Well I’m glad you shared that - nice work and don’t worry about the time it’s taking - project overrun due to life is normal
Thanks for that, glad you enjoyed it. Life, work and scope creep have all played a part in delaying this thing!

s m said:
Excellent cool

Great project
Thankyou, I think so too. thumbup

Killboy said:
Fantastic! Really looking forward to seeing the end result!
Thanks bud, 2020 will be the year... I hope!

Jonesy1972 said:
Ah, found memories of John Clelland hooning around Whilst competing in the BTCC. Inspired my Dad to later buy the Super Touring Vectra, which was also quite tasty. Loving where you’re going with this and big respect for the time, money and personal effort you’ve put in so far. Top work, OP!

Jonesy
If you've got time, there's a whole host of races on youtube that cover the 90, 91 and 92 BTCC seasons. Those Super Touring Vectra's are pretty rare, didn't Carl Fogarty buy one?!

Thank you for the kind words, I've always liked a saloon and I'm quite fond of this thing now.

Tommie38 said:
Good effort!

I’ve often wondered: what was the difference between the GSI 2000 and the SRI 16v of the same shape?
Thanks mate.

It was mainly the rear axle and engine options. The SRI had a beam and the GSI had independent rear suspension, SRI was an 8v (early ones) and the GSI was a 16v.

swampy442 said:
Great project, and nice work. I cant help thinking a better base car car would have cut your workload a lot, spend more initially to spend less
Thanks mate.

It absolutely would have, but GSI's are getting rare now and project ones all need sills and arches. I got this for less than a grand though, and the rest of the work has been because I can't leave things alone!

tvrfan007 said:
Enjoyable read that. Was around cavaliers a lot when younger, then Vauxhall made the vectra abomination and I was put off them for life. Lol.

Will read on with interest. What direction will you go engine wise ultimately? Just the itbs? Z20?

Edited by tvrfan007 on Thursday 26th December 09:38
Thank you.

The engine I've got (C20XE) will get forged internals, cams, ITB's etc and I've got a BTB exhaust manifold too. After reading the thread on that loonie VX220 with the Z20LET in, I did fancy going in that direction and may well in the future. For now though I'll just build it with NA and see how I get on. ITB's make an addictive noise too.

LaurasOtherHalf said:
Excellent work! Looking forward to future updates.
Thank you!

rickygolf83 said:
Love it and look forward to more progress updates!
Thank you too!

helix402 said:
I don’t like most Vauxhall’s. But I like your work in this this.
Thank you, I know what you mean. I'm no fan boy for any particular make, but the Cavalier has been good fun to mess about with.

650spider said:
Outstanding Christmas Day post!

This is what pistonheads is about.

Loved the white GSi 16v cavaliers...they were from around the time i first started driving in late 1989 ( sure it was very early 1990 'G' plate that these hit the road though ) and inspired my 2nd car as an 18yr old...a white mk1 astra gte...which i still have the best memories of...until i bent it slightly and met my future and current in-laws in hospital....whistle

Looking forward to updates.thumbup
Ha ha, to be fair, I'm at work at the minute so it's not a traditional Christmas.

You're memory is right, they came out in 89 and were in the BTCC for the following year. Love those old Astra GTE's, glad you survived the crash!

Crafty_ said:
Snipped
That is some impressive knowledge, thanks!

Fermit and Sexy Sarah said:
Please tell me you're taking your little girls racing with you. That would be such a cool way to get them in to cars, Before it inevitably all goes electric.
If I can work out car seats etc, then fk yeah they'll be out in it with me!

For now, she's happy tinkering.



AceKid said:
Awesome project and will be following closely,
I never managed to get a GSI back in the day, the one time i was close, the only one i looked at had a knackered head gasket...ended up with a SRI 16v, didnt look as good but was great fun!
Snap! I always wanted one when I was younger too, but never managed to scratch the itch. I did have a Nova GTE at one point though.

Cocknose

Original Poster:

458 posts

35 months

Thursday 26th December 2019
quotequote all
As I mentioned before, I've just bought a house with a double garage, this one in fact;



On moving day, it looked like this inside.



Some epoxy resin floor paint delivered! (Resincoat, mid grey).



All finished. Annoyingly, you can see the float marks from when the floor was laid. A minor irritation though, I'm over the moon to have a place to work in.



I live my life in three week chunks, after moving house and getting the garage floor painted, I got the car moved and got the top half of the garage walls painted (first coat). As I went back onboard, this is how it was looking. All the stuff was dumped in the middle of the garage so I could get to the walls, and the poor Cav was piled high with stuff.