Speedscene, October/November 2009
A visit to.... SBD developments
Chris Bennett takes a closer look
The name SBD Motorsport has become synonymous with the racing Vauxhall engine in speed events. More recently, it has appeared on a number of potent Duratec and Hayabusa powered vehicles and as title sponsor of the British Sprint & BARC Speed Championship as well as sponsoring classes in the HSA Speed Championship and the Westfield Speed Series. But, who are SBD and what are their unique skills? Speedscene went along to Surbiton, Surrey to find out.
SBD is Steve Broughton, who began his working life as an engineering apprentice at British Aerospace at Kingston, but quickly moved into the motor trade, picking up a number of skills along the way. A spell in upholstery and trimming, led to electronic sunroofs and security systems and the legacy of this interest in the electrical side of things is still evident today.
In the late eighties, Steve had been helping out with a friend's rally car and when he retired it was time for him to have a go himself. He acquired a Vauxhall Chevette and fitted it with a Lotus 2.2 litre engine, which has been built for him from parts. Unfortunately, it only lasted one event and so, with little spare cash with which to have it rebuilt, Steve decided to do it himself and found it went really well. A 2.3 litre engine followed and now many of the people who helped Steve build his early engine, are customers for parts, which SBD supplies.
After writing off the Chevette and a brief retirement from the sport, another Chevette was built and a development programme of Vauxhall's 2.0 litre engines began. A chance meeting led to feature on the car appearing in a magazine and encouraged by this, Steve decided to set up business from home, tuning road cars, specialising in Vauxhall and selling Omega pistons, Kent cams and so on.
SBD Developments was officially formed in March 1992, around the time Steve's son was borne and deciding that a family, rally driving and SBD was too much, the rally career came to an end.
One of the things that really motivates Steve is the desire to come up with something that other people haven't thought of. Working on road cars wasn't really satisfying this need so when, in 1993, he was approached by Roger Baird to build a hillclimb engine, a 2.0 litre Vauxhall with 240bhp on carbs, the course was set. Roger was a good friend of Roy Lane and word soon got around when Roger went from midfield to a being a front runner. Similarly, an engine for a Welsh rally competitor who began beating the works cars also led to more exposure, so that by the end of 1993, SBD were able to move into their own dedicated premises.
In the early nineties, when programmable ECUs and throttle bodies were still very new, Steve saw an opportunity to provide something unique and affordable to the club motorsport market. SBD has already been selling MBE's pre programmed systems, but decided to branch out and have an ECU programmed to control fuelling electronically. Working with Jenvey to produce taper throttle bodies for the Vauxhall XE and Ecotec engines and putting a kit together, SBD rapidly began to make a name for themselves.
Steve has some interesting comments to make on the subject of throttle bodies and the choice between slides, butterflies and roller barrels, which also sheds some light onto SBD's philosophy. They have found that some engines like Vauxhall, prefer butterflies; whilst others, such as the Cosworth YB, prefer slides - probably due to the way air breaks around the edges. Roller barrels have been found to be prone to sticking when sleeve clearances are too great. Generally, it has been found that roller barrels may give a few more bhp, but are not so easy to use and develop, or as driveable.
Steve believes that there are so many factors and variables at play when building a competition engine, that the theory doesn't really help. The SBD approach is to try and control these variables through the continual refinement and testing of a package of parts, which are proven to work in a specified way on a particular engine. The results of all this is that they are able to supply a kit including proprietary ECU, pistons, con-rods, throttle bodies, cams, inlet manifolds, valve guides, dry sumps and even wiring looms that are all unique to SBD.
By 2005, SBD had largely stopped building engines themselves in order to concentrate fully on R & D and supplying kits and parts. With the growth of the Internet, sales to overseas engine builders and competitors have taken off with Ireland and Greece being regular customers. The knowledge and expertise that has been built up is put to good use by undertaking projects for manufacturers and race series, such as Sports 2000 and Caterham Graduates, and even training lecturers at colleges who run motorsport engineering courses.
With the Vauxhall engine near the limit of its development and always looking to do something new and untried, SBD have recently begun working with the Duratec and Hayabusa engines. Steve is a big fan of the shorter stroke Duratec engine; a longer stroke having limited potential unless you increase valve size to get more air in, which can produce similar power outputs to the Vauxhall, while retaining standard valves, although this market is proving slow to take off.
While campaigning his Westfield Vauxhall in 2003, Steve was surprised by the performance of a Dax Rush fitted with a Hayabusa motor. At the time, a move to a single seater was being considered and when he was approached to program an injected - most were still on carbs, Hayabusa motor, another chapter of SBD 's history was opened. At the time, the commonly held view was that supercharging a bike engine wasn't going to work, so you can guess what happened next.
New for 2009 has been the blown 1300cc SBD Hayabusa which takes a standard motor, apart from uprated clutch springs, and add an SBD kit, including rotrex supercharger, SBD electronics, bracketry and induction, to produce 318bhp! This engine has seen immediate success in Steve's own OMS sprint car and on the hills in Jason Mourant's similar vehicle and is already turning out to be a fantastic engine. It has been found to rev so quickly that there is barely enough time to operate the paddle gear change and a fully automatic shift, developed by SBD a few years ago, may be re-introduced. Two other applications of the SBD Hayabusa are currently being built and should be seen on the tracks next year.
Looking ahead, Steve is always searching for something new to try and the introduction of fly by wire electronic controls may not be too far away. Whatever the future holds from SBD you can be sure that it will be new, different and quick!