The Westie came to me around 2002, it had been built originally in 1989 and only use for a couple of years. It was in need of a major rebuild – mostly though standing. Westies are an easy thing to work on (mostly) and it didn’t take long to change all the bushes, renew the brakes and get the engine and transmission into fine fettle. It was running a 1600 Kent engine on a pair of 40 DCOE Delortos and 4 speed gearbox.
It was nippy enough, but I longed for the kind of power the rolls you foreskin back when you hit the gas…
The engine of the moment was the Vauxhall XE 2.0 from the Astra GTE, 150+ BHP running on carbs. There was an issue though. Mine was a Narrow body, lowline model and the XE engine just didn’t fit. It was then, probably over a beer, when I had one of those “how hard can it be moments”. Quickly followed by a google search – I’m sure more beer was involved – but before I knew it I’d bought one, and no ordinary engine. this was built for the vauxhall race series, mild cams, ARP rod bolts and a pair of 45 webbers.
As many will appreciate, the engine was only the start. I needed a baffled sump, bellhousing and type 9 gearbox (5 Speed) to get the most from it, exhaust manifold, bigger radiator, ignition system…. Big bucks later all the necessary parts were in the garage and the build commenced. I test ran the engine of the garage floor and all seemed good. Only the small matter of installing it where it wasn’t supposed to fit.
Out came the the Kent engine, and the fun started.
Fag paper clearances all over the place but with some jigery pokery and by some miracle the bugger finally got bolted down. I had to fabricate a special alternator bracket as the only available space was beneath the exhaust manifold, but that was just an inconvenience. The only matter I couldn’t address easily was the height of the XE block. I could have dry sumped the engine and dropped it down the inch or so I needed, but I didn’t have the funds for that. So, I pushed on regardless and worked on the basis that I’d sort it out in the end, after all, how hard could it be?
Once filly installed, I added the carbs, exhaust and new, bigger, radiator. My daughter was contributing by now and she made some cardboard parts to mount various bits on which I then fabricated in aluminium. A true family affair.
All was well and circa 150 BHP was mine, but what to they say about absolute power? well I did find myself corrupted… For a few more thousands I could have 210BHP with a DTA throttlebody set up… Time to dig deep
OMFG did that make it fly, and then some… The last picture shows that engine being a little taller than the nosecone and needed addressing, but I had other fish to fry. I wanted a cleaner look for the car, the windscreen and swept wings dated the car and a new look was required. so, parts were sourced, fitted and the elephant in the room (engine taller than the bodywork) was temporarily addressed. Oh and I added some sticky rubber to keep it on the black stuff and an RAC roll bar in case I didn’t…
The westie carried on this way for many years until the Ferrari came along, but that’s, as they say, another story…..
The Westie finally left me in 2014… She’d spent a few years in the garage, not being used and it was time to find a new home. A nice chap from Belgium eventually bough her, as the Westie was approaching 25 years old (the age at which she can go on the road under the countries “old timer” rules apparently) he made an offer. I have a funny logic to such transactions, I’d had my fun and there was a part of me in that car so the new owner was more important than the price. I’m sure she’ll be loved and he got a cheap car, everyone’s a winner….