Rich’s 408bhp Vectra

Cars Vauxhall

408bhp Vectra you say? That’s right, a Vauxhall Vectra with over 400 horses under the bonnet. That might sound crazy to some people who see these as nothing more than a taxi or a rep mobile. However for anyone who knows Vauxhalls, they may have heard of the Vectra VXR. I say may as they only made 1001 manual versions in the UK and 21 automatics. This makes them a very rare beast indeed!

The VXR came with either 255ps or 280ps as standard from the silky smooth 2.8 V6 turbo motor under the bonnet. These are respectable figures to begin with, however I thought I needed that bit more. Which is how it started, until it kept snowballing into a 408bhp Vectra VXR.

There aren’t many cars for this price point that are so practical and so large, whilst being so quick! I think that’s why I just keep pushing it that bit further!

The Journey to create a 408bhp Vectra

I bought her back in Oct 2017 completely standard. An unmolested, low mileage 280 Vectra VXR… That didn’t last long haha. The way I see it, its progress. It’s taking something great and making it greater.

It all started off with the usual things. I went to my local flash tuner and got an off the shelf remap. This probably wasn’t my wisest decision in life but no major harm came from it and it did me well for around 18 month. It did however find the weak spots in the form of my clutch, spark plugs and coil packs.

I went for colder plugs and genuine coils and all was good again except for the clutch slip. This seemed like a good excuse for an upgrade! In came my Lightweight billet flywheel weighing around 40% of the original. This dramatically improved response. I wasn’t expecting to end up with a 408bhp Vectra VXR so unfortunately I chose a standard luk clutch. On these mods alone and a simple drop in panel filter I achieved a respectable 14.4 @ 100.3mph at Santapod. I think that’s where it really all started! The pursuit for the 13s began.

First thing first I swapped out the suspension for Bilstein b8 and h&r springs. This along with the brakes overhauled along with new braided lines and track fluid did help the feel and fave more confidence when pushing along.

To begin with I was very dubious about pushing the engine more in case of bending rods etc, as the pursuit of 400bhp has done that to a few. So I decided to reduce rolling mass further by buying some Novus 0.1 lightweight wheels. These saved a huge 3.5kg a corner. This doesnt sound a lot but being unsprung it means more than taking it off a panel. The inertia required to move the car now with the wheels and flywheel is far lower! It does rev a little too freely if I’m honest so better tyres are deffinately needed!

Not being satisfied for long, in came the big front mount cooler. Whilst these are proven to gain just under 10bhp, it wasnt really noticable.

I finally gave in and bought a 2nd hand insignia vxr turbo. After collecting all the pieces to the puzzle I hit 338bhp. Further exhaust and actuator mods saw me hit 362bhp. Not before having to upgrade the clutch though! After only 3k on the standard one.

I ran it for 6 month like this but always felt it was far too rich. Unfortunately this did indeed lead to eventual failure of the engine. So the only option? Go big or go home!

To rule the turbo out I had a bigger hybrid made and went this time to Aura Tuning, a specialist of these engines. Many may know him as Sabre tuning or Circuit motorsport at Castle Combe. If anyone was going to make a 408bhp Vectra, its him!

I’m now on my 3rd clutch, 2nd engine, 4th set of plugs and 4th remap but I finally feel happy with where the car is at. I feel confident in its performance but also its reliability. Its been a long journey so far, but definitely one worth taking!

The fact that my 408bhp Vectra is 1 of only 2 in the UK with over 400bhp in the UK is also a bonus!

Visually I haven’t done a massive amount as for me it’s all about making a car perform past its limits safely. Whilst this car may not be your typical track car, it has seen several. People do get surprised by a 408bhp car that they suspect is is probably a 1.9 diesel. That feeling is so satisfying!

Standing start hasn’t improved as much as I’d like due traction issues. The 60-100 is massively different though. It really is night and day.

Santapod revisited

After all the work I’ve had done I’ve now finally managed to get back to pod! (10/10/20).

Terrible conditions meant every one with us were pulling consistently slower times than usual. It was so bad we only managed a measly 2 runs all day!

On top of the rain, cold weather and long delays, there was also a heavy head wind.

Unfortunately I only managed a ridiculous 2.5 to 60ft in these conditions instead of the usual 2.2 resulting in a 13.97 @ 107.18mph. Whilst I’m fairly happy with the speed, the time was away off.

I’m 100% sure this car should hit low 13s. The 107 was about what I expected but now I know it can do more without that headwind so maybe the helmet barrier is actually breakable! (110mph)

Full specifications on the next page.

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