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April 2006
Track & Race Cars April 2006
Instant Expert
Vauxhall X14XE, C16XE & X16XE engine
Words: Peter Knivett
Five Mistakes before you make them
1.Watch for salvage motors.
If you buy a motor from an accident-damaged car then ensure that the belt covers and pulleys are intact. If not it'll need a new crank pulley, or at worst, it could have bent the crankshaft.
2.Oil burning can be costly.
Check for oil burning, as this can be a problem, caused not by worn pistons rings but by glazed bores. Plateau honing is the only cure.
3.Guide problems can cause the valves to stick.
Some early engines suffered sticking valve guides, due to carbon deposits on the valve stems. Can be cured with a stronger valve spring and cap, or pistons contact will bend all 16 valves.
4.The cam tensioner is made from chocolate.
The standard cam tensioner pulley is plastic and can be breakdown in time, throwing the cambelt. You must replace with an uprated alloy version to be safe.
5.Pistons and rods are weak at high outputs.
If you're building an engine with race pistons, you must replace the con-rods, otherwise they'll break. Rods and pistons can be a weak point.
Uprated oil pump gear and relief valve
Stock inner oil pump gears are sintered steel and can shatter at high revs and loadings. Combine that with a steel relief valve that can jam and it's a no-brainer to bin both items for uprated versions. SB Developments supplies a steel inner pump gear and a nylon oil relief valve, which cures any potential nasty episodes.

Uprated cam belt idlers
THE vital starting point, even on a standard motor, as it gives total peace of mind at high revs on older engines. Why take the risk of throwing a cambelt and wreaking the engine when a fix is so cheap?

The standard automatic cambelt tensioner can be overwhelmed when the motor is revved hard. Happily, SBD supplies a fixed item, but then the cambelt tension is adjusted via the water pump.

MBE967 ECU now MBE9A4
SB Developments recommends the MBE 967 ECU as it's easy to remap and they have lots of base programs to work from. Customers are supplied with software to allow them to remap the engine themselves for optimize performance. The price includes £431.22 for a bespoke wiring harness (it's expensive because it uses built in relays).

Price: contact DTA
DTA's popular ECU's are also a good bet with the 1400 and 1600 XE engine. Affordable and with a good user interface, they shouldn't be overlooked.

Track & Race Cars April 2006
Uprated valve springs, caps and platforms
As the standard valve gear is overwhelmed at higher valve lifts, it must be beefed up to accommodate more performance orientated camshafts. Uprated valve springs, caps and platforms are a well-proven, reliable cure.

Best cylinder head
Price: Haggle
Where: Breaker's yard
Vauxhall has tweaked the cylinder head design several times over the past 13 years. The early C16XE head (casting number: 90472726) is a cracker as it uses much larger ports, whereas the later X14XE and X16XE use smaller and different shaped ports that peg the power back. The very latest head casting (number: 90400187) uses triangular inlet ports, which work a lot better, gaining up to 12bp.

Gas-flowed cylinder head
The standard cylinder head is very efficient and will flow up to 180bhp on 1600 and 150bhp on a 1400 before headwork is required. Beyond the point SB Developments can supply a flowed item with heavily modified exhaust ports (they weld them up then re-machine them to alter the shape), new valves and guides to gain up to 20bhp.

45mm Parallel throttle bodies
A better route if you can afford it, as they offer real driveability and performance gains over carburettors. These parallel 45mm versions include the fuel rail and inlet manifold, so all you need then is the ECU and wiring loom.

45mm Taper throttle bodies
The Taper throttle bodies provide both a 10 bhp performance bonus and a packaging advantage over the parallels, so they're perfect for use on Corsas where space is restricted due to bulkhead and servo clearance problems. The price of £932.84 includes the fuel rail and inlet manifold. Expect a smooth, torquey 164bhp.

Dblas plenum chamber or Mantzel Powerbox
Where: Regal Autosport/Courtenay Sport
Both the 1400 and 1600cc XE motors are deliberately restricted by one of the most torturous inlet manifolds ever designed, so this is THE starting point for any power upgrades. Happily, less restrictive versions are available from specialist Vauxhall tuners, adding a reliable 15-20bhp. Nice.

High performance inlet manifold for carbs and throttle bodies
Does what it says on the tin. Allows fitment of either old-school carburettors or more driveable throttle bodies, which are the key to unlocking the latent power stored within this remarkable little lump.

Omega forged alloy pistons
The standard piston will tolerate being pocketed to take higher valve lifts but at higher power outputs (up to 220bhp on the 1600) switching to forged pistons is a good idea for peace of mid. Omega's forged alloy items were developed in conjunction with SB Developments and include rings pins and circlips.

Forged steel H-section con-rods
These go hand in hand with the forged pistons and the combination makes for an unbreakable setup. How tough? Well, try over 240bhp at 10,000rpm on SB Developments' top sprint motor…..

FWD exhaust manifold
This is a high-specification 2.5-inch diameter tubular exhaust manifold that requires a decent high-flow system to extract the best from it. Designed for Corsa/Nova applications, don't overlook it if you want to optimize your performance. Discontinued August 2012

Track & Race Cars April 2006
Gated wet sump
Front-wheel drive users subjecting the car to high G loading are recommended to fit a steel wet sump, which runs gates and baffles to eliminate surge issues. In addition SBD recommends fitting a re-circulating catch tank with a drain that returns any breathed oil back into the sump - a drawing is supplied by SBD, as it's a straightforward fabrication job.

Dry sump system
For serious users it's recommended to fit a dry sump system in front-wheel drive applications. The basic systems cost £846.00 and it's also advisable if the engine is being fitted longitudinally into Caterham or Westfield application.

284/278 degree hi-lift cams
These cams are ground from blanks and are good all-rounders, which can be used with either carbs or throttle bodies. With over 11mm of valve lift, the standard pistons will require pocketing (£150.40 per set) to avoid any potential contact, while the valve gear will require uprating to suit.

Billet steel crankshaft
Thankfully the stock crank is bomb-proof, coping with 220bhp on a 1600. As a good, cast steel unit it'll cope with 9000rpm for rallying and 9500rpm for sprints and hill climbs and is so well balanced it's often left untouched. The ultimate is a billet steel crank with smaller counterweights, that'll tolerate stratospheric rev (10,000 rpm plus) with no problems, but you'll need deep pockets!

Allows for longitudinal fitments of the motor in Caterham/Westfield-style cars, mated to the popular Ford Sierra Type Nine five-speed gearbox.

Rear-wheel drive special clutch plate
Rear-wheel drive applications can utilise the original flywheel and clutch cover, but a revised drive plate is vital to mate up to the Type Nine Gearbox.

Smaller, lightweight alternator
Saves over two kilos compared to the stock generator and is smaller and easier to package as well.

Lightweight slotted steel flywheel
The standard flywheel weighs in at eight kilos, whereas this slotted lightweight flywheel for rear-wheel drive applications weighs just 3.8 kilos, including the ring gear, which will greatly improve throttle response.

Nova GTE
Ideal recipient for a small block XE upgrade! Check out eBay or Autotrader for a suitable donor car. 1400 XE-engined Novas are currently pace-setting in a number of rally championships.

TP150 1st upgrade

Produces a solid 150bhp and 101lb/ft of torque, revving to 8000rpm, using taper throttle bodies with uprated cams and valve gear.
1.6-litre XE
Taper throttle basic kit
Using the early Corsa GSi cylinder hear motor, this bolt -on package produces an astonishing 164bhp and 124lb/ft of torque with a great, smooth power curve.
1.6-litre XE

Top of the range package
How does 241bhp and 148lb/ft grab you? The specification of this motor is long, including an MBE9A4 ECU, dry sump, steel crank and eight injectors.

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