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Total Vauxhall
April 2005
Total Vauxhall April 2005
Quarter Black
Here's one deceptive black cat - more wild than mild and one to watch out for along the quarter mile.
Words: Jason Simms, Photography: Max Earey
1.6 Tigra
Quarter-miling is attracting more and more interest, and a powerful sub-section is being created on the scene, thanks to events like Run Wot You Brung. For these boys, body beautiful is nothing compared to the muscle that lies beneath , and shaving off fractions of a second has taken over from smoothing over metalwork. Our man Dan Pisit definitely falls into this category.

Now working and studying in the UK, Dan comes originally from Thailand where he was involved in the whole drag strip racing scene. "When I was in Thailand, I used to go mile racing a lot," he says. "I was pretty good but blew up quite a lot of engines." Sound expensive, but Dan reckons not. "Parts are cheap, you can buy complete tuned engines from Japan for £400 and of course, labour is nothing," he reveals. "You can do whatever you want over there and not worry too much about it," he continues. "They are quite good at mechanics and repair a lot of parts rather than buy new ones. Over here you have to pass an MoT - it's not the same in Thailand."

Total Vauxhall April 2005 But Dan's experience goes beyond his native shores and Blights, having spent four years in Australia. Down under, the emphasis is very much on big cc with V8s ruling the roost, and while there is a healthy import and extremely healthy Holder scene, costs were much higher than he was used to. Being a student and not finding well-paid jobs easy to come by, Dan inevitably lost touch with his favourite pastime. That is, until he came over here. "I bought this about two years ago, as soon as I came here," he says, indicating his Tigra. "It used to belong to a friend who's also into speed, but he hadn't done too much with it. All my friends do tuning rather than styling, but a lot of them have more money than I do at the moment and have Skylines and Subarus. I bought the Tigra because, when my friend showed it to me, it was small and tidy and I knew I could do plenty to it.

There's no doubting that he has done just that, as a quick glance at the engine section of the the tech spec reveals, but this is just the latest in a long line of options he's tried, few of them successfully. The first step was the most obvious - wanting big power, the original 1.4-litre Tigra lump was never going to cut it, so it was ditched in favour of the 1.6-litre Tigra engine. While a lot of us would automatically think turbo, Dan was not convinced, not least because he prefers naturally-aspirated engines. "This is not a good engine for the turbo anyway, because it gets too hot," Dan reckons.

So he came up with a plan to up the air and fuel massively with a big valve-and-throttle-body combination. "I never got to drive it," says Dan. "It blew up, so the garage put in an XE engine and started work on that. The pistons and internals took them two or three months, and then the throttle bodies and ECU took another two months." It was taking quite a lot of time and Dan wasn't too chuffed with the end result. "I used it for one or two months, but found there was a problem with oil leaking from the gearbox and it was smoking quite badly from the exhaust," he says. Not good at all. To get to the bottom of it all, Dan finally took it in to another garage. "The news wasn't good," says Dan. The problems was quickly apparent - a cracked cylinder head, which had clearly been on the engine since before it was transplanted. Out comes the credit card again.

By now funds were getting tight. The engine and gearbox rebuild didn't help matters, but Dan still managed to find a way to work through it and come out the other side smiling. "Friends helped me out quite a bit and I got in touch with SBD about tuning parts. They were great, I just told them what I wanted from the engine and they provided the bits," he reveals. Even though London's well-respected Vauxhall tuners didn't do the fitting work, the knowledge and advice passed on proved valuable.

Total Vauxhall April 2005
What Dan ended up with was a pretty extreme set of kit, which was capable of pushing out over 200 bhp. Essentially, Dan had a throttle body set-up but with Omega Racing pistons and some pretty wild SBD cams, meaning that a load more fuelling and governing as needed.

Bigger 480cc injectors were called in, to be controlled by the new ECU which the bodies necessitated anyway, and this was supplemented by the obligatory adjustable fuel pressure regulator. Just to add a little more complication to the operation the head had to be modified to fit the cam on the exhaust ports.

Now, with an SBD air filter there was going to be plenty of explosive potential in the cylinders, which would require some robust back-up. It meant extra oil cooling, using the extremely trick Mocal system and beefing up the mechanicals to handle the extra grunt. So in went steel con rods and uprated valve caps to cope with the strain.

Capable of revving all the way up to 7750rpm, Dan just had to tweak the brakes and suspension to have a chance of keeping it on the road. He's gone for the ultra-stiff set-up, even though he uses the car almost daily. But then, that's a measure of the kind of driving Dan enjoys - as fast and furious as possible, as often as possible. And he's made sure his Tigra is up to the job.

Total Vauxhall April 2005
1.6 XE, new Omega Racing pistons, steel con rods, uprated valve caps, SBD tapered throttle body with new ECU, Vernier pulley, Mocal oil control system, oil catcher throttle body, bigger 480cc injectors, modified head, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, oil cooler, cool running thermostat, SBD air filter, exhaust janspeed full system, SBD hydraulic cam profiles (284 degrees inlet, 278 degrees exhaust), SBD exhaust manifold, 185 bhp.
Standard five-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive.
Koni adjustable all round.
Regal 285mm discs front, stand rear drums.
7x17 inch Mille Miglia wheel, Avon 205/40 tyres.
Water temperature, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, rev counter.
Kenwood MD head, Pioneer sub, amp and tweeters.
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