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Build Project: The Suxhall Vitalier!

A friend of mine has a Suzuki Vitara. It's cheap. It's fun for off-roading. It has a 1.6 litre petrol engine, making 90 horsepower.

However, it's missing something. About 80 horsepower, to be precise. So, where do you get a 170 horsepower relatively compact engine? From an old Vauxhall Cavalier - the C25XE, 2.5  litre V6.

So, what do you call a Suzuki Vitara with a Vauxhall Cavalier engine? THE SUXHALL VITALIER!

The plan: Take engine out of Cavalier. Put new gearbox on. Get it running outside Cavalier. Take Vitara engine out. Present V6 engine. Figure out engine mounts. Get mounts made. Mount engine. Fix what we broke. Drive it. Laugh.

The maths says that the red line in top gear, the Suxhall should be doing about 54 mph.

Day 1:
We want the engine and ECU out. Consult the workshop manual. To remove the engine, we need to remove the radiator. Consult manual to remove radiator. Undo stuff. Twiddle bits. remove hoses. Lift radiator as described. The radiator will not fit through that gap. Not even close. Take angle grinder to front of Cavalier. Radiator will fit through that gap...

Meanwhile, I'm trying to find that ECU. Does the workshop manual say where the ECU is? No. It's probably behind the dash, on the driver's side. Consult workshop manual to find out how to remove dashboard. It says, remove steering wheel. First step.. "using a flat bladed screwdriver, gently pry the centre of the steering wheel out".

After 45 minutes, I gently pried out the centre of the steering wheel, having cut it out with a stanley knife. Now I begin on the dashboard...

Day 2:
I continue working on the dashboard. Take up a chunk of the dashboard and find.. a box! With lots of wires! It might be the ECU! It's... a bit small, really. I'm guessing probably not.

I continue taking apart the dash. There's a metal box! With lots of wires! This actually might be an ECU! But.. why is it next to the front passenger seat? We'll come back to that...

I continue taking apart the dash. Another metal box! With even more wires! It's behind the dashboard, on the passenger side...

I continue taking apart the dashboard. Another metal box! With a one way connector on it and even more wires! On the driver side!

We check part numbers on google. The last two boxes found are the ECU (driver's side) and the gearbox ECU for the auto box. Other boxes were control units for other things, like central locking, etc.

So, we found it.

Day 3:
We finish tracing the loom from the ECU to the engine, and all associated sensors. Uniquely on this car, it actually seems to be well done - just a couple sets of wires, not hard to trace.

We take off the lower A arms on the front suspension, the drive shafts out, and hook up the engine crane and take the weight of the engine. Undo the engine and gearbox mounts, and crank...


This is the first time I've ever seen an engine being removed from a car. Coincidentally, the first time Stuart has as well, and we did it.

Other things accomplished - the interior is out. The exhaust has been undone form the car, but is caught on something - need to remove that when it's light out.

Now... where's my swarfega shower?

Photos to follow in the next couple of days...

Sounds very amusing indeed, looking forward to more updates.....

Moved to projects forum

Good write up - your humour is coming through. Keep smiling.

And have a box ready for all those left over nuts and bolts!


Oh, we have buckets of nuts and bolts.

Last weekend we stripped the rest of the stuff we wanted to keep out of the Cavalier, and then spent the rest of the weekend fitting a new kitchen. In order to get more people to show up, I had to make a cake.

I'm multi-talented, me.

The project may be a little on hold, but we'll see...

PICTURES !!!!!!!!!!!!

rik wrote:
Oh, we have buckets of nuts and bolts.

Last weekend we stripped the rest of the stuff we wanted to keep out of the Cavalier, and then spent the rest of the weekend fitting a new kitchen.

Why did you want to put a kitchen in a Cavalier?    

OK, OK, I'll get me coat!  




It's roughly when I got to here that I started looked for boxes that could be the ECU, and found four...

Next step, removing the lower A arms, so that we can get the drive shafts out:

As it turns out, we only actually got one drive shaft out. The other one's still a little stuck in place:

Here's the size of the engine. Reckon it's going to fit?

Current thinking is that it's going to end up with a similar style of bonnet to the BMW M3 E46. Bulge.. bulge.. bulge. We'll see...

Checking that the engine is clear before we lift:


It's out!

More... when we achieve more.

The kitchen is being fitted to the house he's renting out, but that needs to be complete before a certain date, so that's a bigger issue recently...

Right, it's been a while, so here's the update...

The project has progressed slowly, due to other things taking Stuart's time. Since he owns the bits and I'm the helping hand, the projec thas been on hold.

However, since I last posted we have actually achieved stuff.

In that house, Stuart now has a new kitchen and a new bathroom, which we've built ourselves, ready to rent out the house. Today and yesterday we've moved him into his new house.

What this means is that in a month or so's time, when everything is where it should be in the new house, there is more space and will the the time to work on the car some more!

Today, however, I carried the new gearbox. Ow.


The project had taken a bit of a back seat, waiting on other things. Between the last update and this, both of us have moved house and done a LOT of DIY. My friend's just taken a week off work, and I have some time too, so we've done some work, and I took my camera.

First things first, jack the thing up. Put the rocket jack under a jacking point and start jacking. And jacking. And jacking. And jacking. And.. oh. it's at the top, and the wheels are still on the floor. High lift, then...

We'd got the wheels up. We'd got it on a couple of axle stands, and then one fell over, and the Vitara nearly dropped onto the turbohedge. Fastest I've ever started and moved the car, I'll tell you. Learned that lesson - not parking near that again.

So, the Vitara's up on axle stands:

We disconnect everything we can find, for a few hours, and then place the high lift jack under the gearbox to take its weight and allow us to roll it all forwards when the time came.

See the jack under the gearbox? THis allows us to take the weight while we remove a chunk of subframe. Once that's out, then remove the gear levers, hook up the engine crane, and then remove the engine mount bolts. It's all supported! Slightly unbalanced, but that's okay, we need to tilt it all to get it out.

And then we go forwards and up, carefully, until...

Excellent. Now we have somewhere to put the new gearbox, transfer box and the V6. Unfortunately, then the rain started, so we tidied up, waterproofed the old engine so it can be sold to someone else, and had to stop.

More.. sometime. Hopefully soon...

Are you still wanting to keep it four wheel drive ? i take it if you are you are going to have to make a custom conversion plate between the engine and gearbox ?

Awesome project thats, its going to shift a bit afterwards

Indeed. That's a Complicated Part. We're currently hoping that since we're using 2 GM geaboxes, it might mate up. If not, we'll come up with a plan...

Oh, and since we're gearing low, it'll be slow, but torquey. Forum Index -> Projects and Builds
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