Caterham, 1.6L Vauxhall
Letter received from Andy S at end of 1999 season:
My brother was the first to start competing in cars in our family, he started with an 8 valve Astra GTE and progressed onto 16 valve 2 litre engines. To get a bit more poke from these he used kits supplied by SBD and had quite a bit of success but he stopped racing quite a few years ago to start a family. I then decided it was my turn and bought a 1.6K series Rover powered Caterham and did a year of learning the ropes and hillclimbing with my girlfriend Jenny.
After a year of many top 3 places but no class wins (Jenny won the ladies Harewood championship) I was thinking about having a bit more power and did some research into who could do what with the K series Rover, and nobody could give me any firm figures or prices so I was getting despondent.
Then I saw a Caterham with a 1.6 16valve Vauxhall engine in Car and Car Conversions magazine and rung up SBD whose details were printed with the article, and they gave me a price list with performance figures for each kit, just what I was looking for.
A kit was ordered for the conversion to Vauxhall with SBD providing almost everything except the donor engine and clutch, although they can provide absolutely everything if required. We did the build ourselves and got it up and running and then took it down to SBD for the final check and rolling road mapping. We found we'd made an error in setting the valve gaps and the lads at SBD worked from 9:30am until way pay midnight putting it right so I could take it back up north, this was above and beyond the call of duty and much appreciated.
The 1999 season started with frustration as I found that the tires I was using just couldn't take the extra power (220+bhp), but this was soon sorted and the year went very well.
I had many class wins and came first in class and 6th overall out of 70+ championship contenders in the Autotrader Harewood hillclimb championship. Jenny won the ladies championship by a huge margin for the second year running.
During the last run of the last meeting of the year, the differential bolts sheared and the casing shattered which was a stroke of luck happening when it did, and I believe a testament to the power that the engine puts out. For our second year of competition I don't think we could have asked for any more. Overall we're very happy with the engine which suits the Caterham very well, and are looking forward to many years of trouble free competition.