It's only taken me several years, but suppose I should really start a project thread...
I bought this way back in 2001 when I were merely a lad of 19. Back then it was pretty standard, 98,000 mile 1993 (K) Spectral Blue Turbo aside for a suspension kit and a stainless exhaust. At first I pretty much drove it daily and was happy with the new found power and kudos. Back then I was rather nieve about all things Turbo'd so just made sure it wasn't rotten, drove straight and handed over the money. That said, i still believe it was fate... months before I saw a blue Cavalier Turbo in Alford (up Norf) and although I had the GSi2000, that was a turning point. When the GSi was written off, I bought the Autotrader (yeah, a paper version!) opened it halfway and said Cavalier Turbo was staring abck at me.
Granted, the time it got back from Aberdeen it was less than pretty.
A matter of weeks later, the standard tansfer box died in spectacular fashion and as this was still back in the dark ages when transfer box knowledge was limited and internet forums were pretty new, I was faced with the choice between converting it to 2wd or making a round trip to Derby to VTS. £1,300 and 600 miles later saw it with one of the first locked boxes to be fitted to a Cavalier in Europe. Apparantly. Immediately it became clear it was £1,300 well spent as it transformed the car and amazingly... today, still works despite covering 80,000 miles and never having had the oil changed or checked.
Once the box was fitted and the car was on the road again, I fitted a Vivaro front intercooler. Again, pikey spec came into play so I mocked up intercooler pipes with pipes of old hose and B&Q plastic tubing. I never did get round to getting them made up in stainless yet somehow a combination of Araldite and luck saw it covering 15,000 miles until I finally had metal pipes made up. The intercooler is still on the car today though it will be replaced in due course.
Cable ties... FTW!
Next was a trip up to see Gavin Wallace and Russ Paton at Wallace Performance in Aberdeen where Evo 2 was fitted and transformed the car. Again, 10 years on the car still runs this setup and so far, I've never had any cause for concerns. At this stage the carw as running approximately 250bhp and 260bhp thanks to the chips, intercooler and the stainless Scorpion exhaust (another part that is still on the car... can't argue with that for build quality!)
From there, little changed and it racked up a good few miles a year with very little cause for concern. Soon after the transfer box was replaced, the head gasket failed en route back from Bristol and also took out the cylinder head. Being a skint pikey, I fitted the porous head from my ill-fated GSi and then proceeded to rack up more miles without concerns until one fateful day whilst chasing an Evo piloted by Mr Dempsey around the borders, it finally decided enough was enough and expired. Another trip home on an AA wagon.
I'd never tackled any sort of engine work before but with limited funds, i had no choice but to get stuck in. I sourced a second hand cylinder head and then removed the valves and reground them before fitting new valve stem oil seals. Using a new GM gasket kit, I built the engine bay up over the course of a weekend replacing several coolant hoses and the radiator at the same time.
All was well once again and ther car was back on the road racking up more miles including numerous runs down to the likes of Billing, PVS and Trax and also one random "Why not..." session from Fife to Lands End to John O Groats and back to Fife. Just becuase we were bored and figured there was nothing better to do.
Obviously being a Cavalier Turbo, it promptly decided that it wasn't content with actually working and promptly threw the towel in. Granted, it was somewhat coincidental that it happened soon after an FSE regulator was fitted but never mind... two melted pistons later and yet another shot on an AA flatbed.
Aided by a mate, we removed the cylinder head to check the extent of the damage. I decided it was terminal and lost all heart in the car and as a result it sat for months unloved and slowly rusting in our fine Scottish weather. I meanwhile kept my age old tradition up and bought more random cars to run around in, more out of necessity than need. At this stage I'd decided I'd had enough with it and considered selling it as it stood.
By this stage I'd joined the Cavalier Turbo Owners Register and already been to their first meeting at the Heritage Centre in Luton. I was there I met Kev Hodges and his good lady and that proved to be a good thing! Kev stepped up to the mark and offered to put things right. All that lay between me and a working car was the small matter of several hundred miles. Roadtrip... again. So, armed with one of Fords finest a mission was launched to Staffordshire with one dead Cavalier and van full of bits.
The car was left with Kev for a few months and in that time the engine was rebuilt although being skint (and Scottish) I opted for second hand pistons and rods, a decision that would haunt me but more on that later. A reconditioned turbo was sourced and fitted, the suspension was sorted, the brakes were done... in fact the whole car was pretty much brought back up to scratch, Mot'd and even washed. Hero! I collected the car en route to Billing and then decided the 400 mile drive home wasn't enough to run it in, so...
...went to Trax via the Nurburgring.
With new found enthusiam and a car that actually worked, needless to say my joy was short lived and one day, whilst at work an oil drum decided to faint and dented the o/s/r arch. I got a quote to have it removed... and then the panel painted... and then the doors... and the wing... bonnet... roof... and before long the inevitable happened.
48hrs later it was back from paint (I don't do "Aye, it'll take 4 months mate...") and having sourced numerous new parts, it was back looking all spanky and new again.
The car never missed a beat until a few months later when at a rolling road event in Aberdeen, it developed a little rattle which I assumed was a noisey lifter. That rattle progressed into a knock and soon enough I had to accept the bottom end wasn't happy. It turned out to be a little end issue (what was I saying about second hand rods/pistons?) and so again, off the road it went until a solution was found. I bought yet another random car to run around in... a Volvo S70R. As you do.
Kev immediately stepped in once again and offered to sort it out again it was back on the trailer bound for Staffordshire where again it sat for a while. Money was tight (see the theme here) and faced with a decision to spend lots or cut my losses, I opted to cut my losses and collected the car and brought it back to Scotland.
Now, as most are aware I'm mates with a certain Dave Dempsey and Dave Dempsey really doesn't do logical thought process but he does do "...stop being a tit and get on with it..." The car had a reprieve, was pushed into his garage and we started to see if we could make it so. Between us we had enough parts to cobble together an engine of some description: an XE head was sourced along with a couple of pistons from an ill-fated Calibra turbo, Benny Mac supplied a replacement block and Kev supplied a crank then the bottom end was put together by an engine building mate locally.
Several late nights saw the engien back together, turbo fitted and it back in place and running sweet as a nut. Just to make sure our work was up to scratch, I took it on the obligitory test drive... just to ensure all was well. It was and numerous miles followed without so much as a complaint, protest or huge fireball including numerous random roadtrips around Scotland, trips to the usual big shows and it was also used daily as my commuting car.
It did try and get me back for the years of abuse and whilst skirting Fort William at speed, it tried to kill me by shearing the n/s/f lower suspension arm. A word of warning to those considering fitted poly bushes front and rear in a Cavalier wishbones. Still, we didn't die and the nice man from the AA came out (again) and put things right whilst we sat in the pub...
Back on the road once more a slightly more challenging test drive was needed so back to the workshop it went for a quick bit TLC and a check over, back brakes sorted, yet another oil change, ABS pump replaced and a final check to make sure the Scooter album was present and correct...
And off we went to Billing though we kinda missed and somehow ended up on a North Sea ferry to Amsterdam... again
Bit of this...
Then back to good old Blighty. Winter came and went (we're in about 2009 by now... I think) and the car was used and abused throughout. The paintwork by this stage was looking poor again around the edges. Whilstt he finish was perfect the finishing touches were a bit lacking so it began to discolour around the arch lips within a year. I gave up on the polishing and instead opted for the driving.
Unfortunately, at the stage Dougie (TV mag) rang and asked if I could pop down to Combe for a feature along with the new Insignia SRi. Slightly inconvenient given the car was looking a bit neglected by this stage so enter stage right a task force and a weekend and a mission to get it sorted and to Combe three days later.
Feature done it was back home to Scotland and at that stage I decided enough was enough. If I was going to keep the car long term then I'd have to stop glossing over the cracks, get it off the road and start a complete rebuild. Whilst the car had racked up numerous miles in the past few years, it always felt like it was a mad rush to sort out any issues and get it back on the road. We sat down, had a chippie and decided that if the car stood any chance of long term survival I'd need to get a unit, take it off the road and start from the bottom up. And so it began....
And that's part 2...