Daniel Betts' Locust

I bought this car in February 2007 and it was a bit tatty. It was running on a 1.6 8v cavalier engine and was very unreliable to say the least. I decided to up the power a bit and put in an engine that would a) give more power and b) be more reliable.

I looked around and saw some Caterhams had used the Vauxhall redtop engine before and thought it must be straight forward, so without looking into it at all or any hesitation I went out and found myself a Vauxhall Cavalier GSI2000. It was hard finding one in good running order and I ended up traveling to South London to get one which was fit for the task. I had a friend look at it for me and after some time looking at it along with some of his mechanic friends, they advised me that it could not be done, and if it could it would be more hassle than its worth.

I then decided to sell the cavalier and was about to list it on ebay when I was speaking to a guy at Aeon Sportscars. He recommended this guy to me who converts the Vauxhall Corsas and puts the 2.0 redtops in them. Worth a go I thought and called him, he came to my house and looked at it, a few minutes of discussing it with his mates he tells me that he can do it and it will take a about a week. I got both cars to him and left him to it.

I got a phone call and had to go to his garage the engine was in place it looked great but there was a problem, it couldn't run off of fuel injection as it wouldn't fit in the engine bay. The only solution was to run it off carbs, which I was told would be about £700.00, I had to think about it and said I would let him know. Half way home after thinking about seeing the engine in place I made up my mind that I would get the carbs.

I searched for ages and found two 45 Webers complete with throttle linkage etc that had been jetted for a 2.0 16 Vauxhall engine kicking out 170bhp. A steal at £350.00 I traveled to Norfolk to get them the same evening.

Two weeks and a I had to source a new clutch to fit a Opel Manta gearbox and the Vauxhall engine, luckily the guy who was fitting the engine found me one and all was complete. Well, except for no manifold and exhaust, no sump and needing new spark plug leads. So I had green flag trailer me home.

I found a company called Hayward & Scott who make the exhausts for the british touring cars and they were based a few miles from my home. I called once again on green flag and they trailered me to their workshop, I got quoted £500 for a manifold and was going to bolt my old black drainpipe looking exhaust back on but after seeing what others they were doing in there I asked for the whole lot, a grand total of £1083.00. I went abroad and left it with them for 2 weeks.

When I came back it was ready and I picked it up, I was more excited about getting back to see my car than my dog, my fiancé couldn't understand this but nevertheless I was beaming with joy. It was perfect!!

I sourced a sump from a guy in Norfolk again - Yukspeed for £145.00 . It was called a shallow big wing sump and was supposed to hold the same amount of oil but be much shallower and wider. When I got it I was bemused to find that it was identical o the sump that was on the engine originally. The guy didn't seem to understand me and after much arguing he agreed to alter it for me. I paid £20 to send it back to him and awaited it back. When I got it back it had a receipt in there for £40.00, the cheeky bugger had used my same card details from before and billed me another £40.00. It still didn't fit and was bowed and uneven across the top lip. Luckily my dad is a welder and he straightened out the top and cut one side of the sump to allow it to fit, it still held the full 4 litres of oil needed.

Once this was done I gave it to Redline Tuning in Basildon, Essex. They tuned it for me and sorted the final adjustments out, it needed a carb repair kit as one of the valves had gone it one of my carbs, then it needed a new fuel pump as the one that was on there was kicking out 80psi when I only needed 5psi. I got a fuel regulator from SBD developments and redline fitted that for me and then they dyno tuned it. All this cost just over £450.00 and they had it for about three weeks - not bad.

I picked it up at the end of July and it was running like a dream, I needed a new battery as the one I had was knackered and it kept stalling at lights but the speed was phenomenal and the sound was great. I bought a Dax Rush body kit in Focus ST orange and put it in to London Road Coachworks in grays, they were giving me a full respray and fitting my kit for me. The nose cone wouldn't fit so they had to repair and spray the old one, but they did a great job in whole and even fitted my lights and light housings which I bought from SVC. I bought myself some 17" alloys and tried to put them on but the front cycle wing brackets would not fit with these size wheels. I went back to Dax and they told me that they used to make their Rush with a Cortina upright the same as mine and that for £50.00 they would make me up two of the old brackets and powder coat them for me, again another bargain I thought. The front cycle wing brackets had to be altered a bit but the fitted and added to the finish, I stuck the front wings on with Wurth adhesive and that was that.

I have noticed that the rear arches are on back to front and seem wider at the front than the back but it is booked in for this Monday 22nd October to get it sorted.


Daniel Betts

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