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Thread: 1990 UK Vauxhall Nova SR20DET Space Framed Trackcar

  1. #1

    Default 1990 UK Vauxhall Nova SR20DET Space Framed Trackcar

    Not exactly a stance build but thought it might interest people all the same now that progress seems to be happening at long last!

    So the background...

    I owned this Nova 2.0 16v Turbo for around 7 years taking it from a standard SR model to what it was including the 280 bhp 340 lbft engine. It was a great fun car but time to move it on.

    A few months on from selling I was getting itchy feet and when this came up for only 80 with a blown engine I thought "why not!". It had its fair share of character dents but was very solid and I liked the round arches and saw its slamming potential. This was all before the 2dr saloons became fashionable over here.

    The work started to get it all stripped down...

    Mods were then some smoothing in the engine bay, 2ltr 16v on R1 carbs, hidden loom, relocated items to the scuttle area, tubbed rear arches and coilovers...

    The car was so close to completion with only a handfull of small jobs need doing, but I got bored and started wondering...

    Even got some new wheels!

    I then started getting abit choppy choppy

    I was going to be running a transaxle and box from a porsche 924 and even had a rear end designed...

    I then went a bit grinder crazy, put in a basic cage and ended up here...

    Then came a lot of soul searching a contemplation. That rear end alone was going to cost me 4k in materials, machine work and parts. Then there's the front end and plenty more parts inbetween! I needed a cheaper solution. I also wanted more power than the 175-200bhp the current setup would produce.

    I had also purchased and built an E46 M3 and a S14 200sx running 300bhp at the time and starting wondering about other donors...

    It would be an offense to chop up a perfectly good M3 to put into a nova but there are plenty of now rotten S14s about, so that was the root. I went out and bought another 200sx as a donor. Std 80k engine and only mod being some wheels & coilovers. Looks ok in the pics but the underside was pretty crusty!

    So then work began...
    Last edited by The Simps; 06-17-2019 at 06:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

  3. #3


    Initially a mock up was in order to see if all would fit/be feasible...

    It was going to be feasible so work commenced!

    First job was to level the car out. I used the the cage feet, sills and my horizontal tubes as a square to work with and tweaked it so it was all true. Rather than build an expensive jig I purchased some axle stands cheap and jacking all 4 corners until perfectly level I welded the stands to the horizontals and then shut so they cant move. Next I bought some 3m lengths of 50x75 box to use for my front chassis and another point of reference for the car. These were drilled for the front subframe and suspension pickups. It was nice to see that when laid on to my horizontals they were perfectly level in all directions

    I then set about making a jig that attached to the subframe mounting points for a reference point for my turrets...

    Bolted up into the car...

    Certainly going to need to run some pretty wide flares front and back! The turret tops sit proud but I'm not concerned by that at this point until I know the height the rails/engine will sit.

    On to the next task - levelling out the rails. With the rails laid on top of my horizontal tubes I squared them up and tacked it into a square. A lot of measuring & tweaking later they were perfectly centralised down the car. Next step was to determine their height and movement front to back. To aid the process and to help keep things true, I tacked in 4 uprights where the box meets the tubes so that a i lifted the rails they would keep more or less centred...

    I love that pics, make it look like I remotely know what I'm doing!

    So then in with the engine and tweak that to the height I need it to sit...

    Bonnet clearance should be ok in this position too because although the front of the cover just catches on the below straight edge, if you look at the scuttle line the bonnet will bow around it...

    The position its in now places my wheels centre of the arches based upon standard geometry. However, I'd like to get the engine another inch or two further back. With the fully adjustable suspension I will be running I'll easily be able to dial in plenty of castor to compensate. The decision was made to nudge it further back.

    I also took a lot of time head scratching and working out the height. Based upon the ground clearance I wanted for the sump I mocked it up then jacked the front wheels so that the arms were just below level. The hubs I'm running will raise the spindles 50mm leaving the geometry in tact. On top of that I wanted to lower the body another 50mm towards the engine. In doing this on the coilovers it would change the geometry. I then knew I had to raise the engine 50mm in reference to the car to compensate.

    All measurements done the engine came back out and the box rails were fettled into position and levelled on welded stands like the shell is...

    Thats where I'm up to. Next job is to build the spaceframe for the front end.
    Last edited by The Simps; 06-17-2019 at 06:32 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    my house


    looks badass, I could never imagine taking on a project like this. Props to you for having the balls and smarts to pull this off.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by skiierman View Post
    looks badass, I could never imagine taking on a project like this. Props to you for having the balls and smarts to pull this off.
    Steady on, I've not pulled it off yet!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Teesside, UK


    you are fucking crazy. i love this! good luck and please keep this updated!!
    Instagram - marcuscreek ---- facebook - /cusbum

    Static Low R50 Mini Cooper

  7. #7


    holy crap! it's a shame to see such a nice looking nissan parted out, but at the same time, your vauxhall project is basically dream car status to me. I'm loving this, can't wait to see more!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013


    I'll be watching this, looks like it's coming along quite well!

    May want to remove/crop the right side of picture #15 in your second post though.....

  9. #9


    This is awesome. Can't wait to see it come together.

  10. #10


    Thanks for the comments guys. Apologies for my brothers scrotum in pic #15. Only noticed it after someone pointed it out on Facebook

    I'm hoping to have most of the space framing done by xmas!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010


    This looks like its gonna be an epic project!! watching
    Check out my Alfa restoration here:

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Berkshire, England.


    A Fellow Mig person...

    Looking good Simps


  13. #13


    Looks cool!
    The mad Opel enthusiast from Norway
    My cars:
    1993 Opel Vectra 4x4 Turbo
    1984 Opel Senator 2.3 TurboDiesel
    1986 Opel Ascona C 1.8 GT
    x Opel Omega 2.0 16V

  14. #14


    Thanks for the comments and Hey Ginge!

    Been busy at work but hoping for a good weekend on it next weekend!

  15. #15


    You give me courage for my engine swap my friend. Well done, keep us updated

    Audi RS4PRA | VW Golf MKV GT-Y | Audi A1 SportBack

  16. #16


    Bought myself a reciprocating saw which turned up yesterday so I got to work this afternoon. Cut the rest of the bulkhead out I needed to then started on profiling some tube. Firstly the small pieces in each bottom corner...

    Followed by some bigger bits!...

    I then drilled holes straight through the box section and started tagging it into the bulkhead...

    That believe it or not took me around 5hrs! Profiling and checking is sooooo time consuming. But I'm getting there.

    Thanks for looking.
    Last edited by The Simps; 06-17-2019 at 06:33 AM.

  17. #17


    Love novas had a couple myself. Are you a member of png

  18. #18


    Not a member anymore but the project is on there.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Bend OR

  20. #20


    Cannot wait to see it done my last one was in total vauxhall. A couple of years after a sold it tho.

  21. #21


    Thanks Montgomery!

    Any pics of your old one Karl? Might know it.

  22. #22


  23. #23


    Was your username TWAG?

  24. #24


    Nar mate widearch. That might be the lad that bought it

  25. #25


    Ah ok. Looks very clean. lovely colour.

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