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Frequently Asked Questions - Caterham
Upgrading 1.6L 8v Vauxhall in a Caterham
Will the 2.0L 16v XE/LN wet sump fit on a Z20LEH engine?
Throttle position sensors on Cosworth Caterhams
What engine upgrades can I do that will still meet Euro 5 emissions?
Engine upgrades to Caterham R500
What are the Performance/Power effects of a Caterham competition exhaust?
Upgrading 1.6L 8v Vauxhall in a Caterham
Question: I have a Vauxhall 1.6L 8 valve engine, I am looking to upgrade it as it is a bit slow. I am just weighing up the cost of either changing it to a 16 valve or completely changing the engine.

If possible can you answer the following; the current engine has about 95bhp, if I upgraded to the 16v, how much extra would that give? Also what is the cost to do this? If there is a better option to do to this engine, what would they be and the cost?

Alternatively, how much it would cost to change to a bike engine, either Hayabusa, Fireblade or Black bird?

Answer: The 1.6L engine you have fitted to your Caterham would be very difficult to tune to get any significant power increase. The engine used by Caterham was also a very strange engine, it was a 1.6L engine that GM made using the Family2 block, it is actually the 2.0L size block. The reason Caterham picked this engine was that it allowed them to use all the 2.0L XE 16v components to install it.  So the logical choice would be to buy a standard good condition 2.0L XE engine and bolt on either carburettors or throttle bodies depending on your budget.  As an approximate estimate carburettors would give you about 175bhp, fuel injection up to 210bhp from the stock engine and cost in the region of £3000 for the injection kit.

The reason I selected the 2.0L XE 16v as your best option is because it would be the simplest and cheapest option whichever route you took.  Upgrading  your current engine would simply be impossible with off the shelf components and to achieve any kind of improvement would be extremely expensive and come nowhere near the performance of a 2.0L XE engine in standard form with either carburettors or throttle bodies.

The cost of the 2.0L XE engine can vary greatly from £250 to over £1000 depending on condition and paying a higher price for a good quality engine is always worthwhile. There are many good condition engines that people have stored away in their garages that come up for sale from time to time.

Converting to the bike engine would involve a huge amount of additional components, which are likely to need to be custom made, along with significant modifications to the chassis to the car making it a very complex project with many hidden costs.  Whereas buying a 2.0L XE engine should as I have said bolt on to the majority of the existing components used by Caterham to install your current engine. Even if the 2.0L XE engine that you buy requires some overhauling, it will still be considerably cheaper than any other options.

When embarking on any project such as the one you are considering, labour will be the most expensive cost whether you are stripping down an existing engine and upgrading it or replacing the engine with something that should just drop in or with a completely different engine altogether, which would involve major changes to your chassis. 

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Will the 2.0L 16v XE/LN wet sump fit on a Z20LEH engine?
Question: Will the 2L 16V wet sump XE\LN also fit on a z20LEH engine. I’m building a Lotus Seven kitcar and will use a z20LEH and would love to have some more ground clearance.

Answer: Although we do not specialise in the z20LEH engine, this engine normally has, as far as I am aware, an extra ladder frame fixed to the underside of the block.  We have removed this from earlier models of engine using the same type with no issues.  This frame is normally added in order to help reduce vibration on the standard road engine near tickover due to emissions.  We have always run the 2.0L XE block at very high rpm, sometimes over 9000rpm with no issues.  You may be able to then get the XE sump to fit, but you will have several problems when doing so; the oil pump on the z20LEH has an oval pick up pipe, the bolt holes in the sump are 6mm diameter where on the later engine they are 8mm diameter, but the biggest problem even if you overcome all the other issues is that a wet sump engine is not ideally suited for use in a Seven type kitcar.  These type of cars are able to pull quite high G forces, particularly with modern tyre technology and the wet sump would not be suitable in its standard form.   

Provided your car is only for road use and driven conservatively, then the wet sump we produce for this type of  car has an amount of oil control (you will be still required modifications as mentioned above).  If the car is to be used for any kind of track use, we would only recommend dry sump.

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Throttle position sensors on Cosworth Caterhams
Question: I have a Caterham with a Cosworth engine, is there anything special about this calibration with respect to TPS, as it relates to voltage sweep?

Answer: For some reason, Cosworth in their wisdom decided to wire their throttle position sensors backwards. The voltage actually descends as the throttle is open instead of increasing. MBE wrote some special software to invert the input voltage. You need to add a panel called ‘Throttle Angle Increasing’. The throttle sensor would output a voltage of just under 5v when the throttle is closed and approximately 0.5v at WOT, this value then hits the input pin of the ECU and the setup in the ECU has been set up to invert it, so the voltage rises as the throttle opens. This corrected voltage, which is throttle angle increasing should always show the voltage rising as the throttle is opened.  The only time the throttle angle increasing would show the wrong value is if the direction of the throttle pot within the software is set up the wrong way round for the wiring that has been used on your particular application.

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Engine upgrades which still meet Euro 5 emissions
Question: I own a Caterham 7 Roadsport 175 with a 2L (EU5) Duratec engine. I would like to have some Information about what could I do to the engine (cams, throttle body, software, injectors, exhaust,...) and still meet the Euro 5 emissions.

Answer: We regularly get asked about upgrading of engines which have been originally built and passed Euro 5 emissions. There is quite often a misunderstanding as to what Euro5 emissions and in fact any Euro emissions test involves, so before going into what could be upgraded on your engine, I will give a brief explanation of what the Euro emissions test are.

When a vehicle is produced to be sold within markets throughout the world or Europe, different emission tests have to be met before the vehicle can be sold. The current Euro5 test is the test that involves the complete vehicle as a finished item, which has to take and pass the test, this is quite a complex and expensive test and the build up to the test involves many months of work with teams of mechanical and electronic engineers that work on each specific vehicle model in preparation for the test. To give a very approximate cost I would expect this kind of work including the test to be in the region of £50,000 - £500,000 depending on vehicle design. The actual final test is in the region of £25,000.

Once the vehicle has passed this test, the manufacturer is then able to sell the car within a specific market. If the manufacturer wishes to make any changes to the vehicle such as a different exhaust system, camshaft or any components associated with the vehicle, before it can sell the upgraded model a lot of the preparation work will have to be carried out again and the same final tests retaken and passed.

But you as the new owner of the vehicle are normally only expected to take and pass an annual inspection for vehicle safety and emissions, the level of this test varies throughout Europe and the World but effectively the tests are much simpler and easier to pass, so when you as the owner wish to upgrade your vehicle provided it is able to pass your emissions tests, either annual or if the vehicle is checked on a spot random test, this will be sufficient. Unfortunately as the tests and emissions become ever tighter, this becomes harder to achieve, which means any components that are changed on your vehicle that enable you to release performance become ever more complex and harder to fit e.g. the more power you want the less likely the vehicle is to pass the emissions and the more complex the component combination would need to be fitted to produce performance and yet maintain emissions.

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Engine upgrades to Caterham R500
Question: I want to do some modifications to my Caterham R500 during the winter. Can you give me some advise about your power upgrade kit? Are they suitable for the r500 Duratec? It will be 90% for track use (only track day no competition) and 10% road use.

Answer: Before I could quote you, I would need to know the following;
1.  The amount of time between engine rebuilds e.g. the amount of track use, hours on track, kilometres/miles in use.
2.  Do you want to upgrade your own engine or will you be sending it to the UK to be built.  It is possible to build your own engine no matter what the specification but the higher the level, the greater skills you will need.
3.  Potential performance you are looking for.
4.  Budget.

The higher the specification of the engine, the greater the cost will be, effectively the price rises exponentially due to the grade of the components and the time required to build the engines.  Also the higher the specification normally the time between rebuilds becomes closer, for example a 270bhp engine has far more affordable components than a 290bhp spec engine, the 290bhp spec engine requires more work and therefore the price of the components increases.  The 307bhp spec engine has significantly increased stress due to much higher lift and rpm being used, so therefore the quality of the component has to be of an even higher quality.  This also induces the potential for increased maintenance of the engine due to the increase in revs and load on associated components, therefore rebuilds need to be more regular.

What some of our customers chose to do is to have some of the components from the highest specification engine kit, which are there for increased reliability fitted to the lower grade kits.  This helps to give further increased reliability and in some cases as increased performance, so this is an option for you.

The final part of the information I will give you is that the associated external components such as exhaust system and throttle bodies are also crucial to increases in performance, over the past year many customers using similar cars to yours have gone for full or partial upgrades and if they do not upgrade and replace the original throttle bodies and exhaust at the same time, this has a negative overall effect and will reduce the potential maximum performance.

Replacing the induction system would be relatively easy, whereas replacing the exhaust would be much harder due to the fact that these normally have to be custom built for the car.  We would provide exhaust dimensions on ordering a kit or engine, you could then either have it made locally or it may be necessary for the car to be shipped to the UK so all these things must be considered prior to ordering.

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Performance/Power effects of a Caterham competition exhaust
Question: Could you tell me what effect on performance/power the use of a Caterham competition 4:1 exhaust system would have on either your carb or injection kits? I am looking to buy a second hand HPC (2.0L XE) & modify should the need arise.

Answer: The standard exhaust systems fitted to the Caterhams are fairly restrictive. Their 4:1 competition manifold is a significant improvement, in our opinion it is not as good as using one of our 4:2:1 manifolds, which will increase the top end rev range as well as increasing the mid range. Whereas a 4:1 only improves the top end & sacrifices the mid range.

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Please check our customer cars section which may help answer your questions
2.0L Vauxhall Components | 1.4L & 1.6L Vauxhall Components | Duratec Components | Hayabusa Components

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