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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been wanting to do a conversion for a while but don't really have the time and I don't think my car's shell is up to scratch.

I've come across what appears to be a very good example of Corsa that's already had a C20XE conversion carried out. Just got a few questions to make sure there's nothing I've missed or anything that rings alarm bells to some of the more knowledgeable on here.

A bit about the car:

ENGINE:

It's a 1989 C20XE engine, distributor and rotor arm type.
Fairly sure the conversion was done by a garage, chassis strengthening was done.
Engine was rebuilt around 10,000 miles ago to standard spec (new pistons, bearings, cam belt etc.)
Ported and polished head and a new clutch with lightened and balanced flywheel.
Head gasket blew a few thousand miles ago, an uprated gasket was fitted when being fixed and it has driven fine since.
Fan works well so the car doesn't overheat, although apparently it's still using a standard 1.2 radiator.
The rocker cover gasket has been changed a few times but there's still a very small leak coming from the top left of it.
It's a weekend toy but 9 times out of 10 the bloke has his kids with him so it doesn't get thrashed around. As it can go a few weeks at a time between driving, on start up it can be a bit tappy, but after it's warmed up it quietens down. An additive has been added to the oil to help with this.
It idles fine at around 900rpm.

BODYWORK:

There are a couple of small rust bubbles at the top of both front wheel arches. The paint hasn't been pierced but there is obviously signs of a bit of rust developing.
The shell only has about 50,000 miles on it and it's never been welded and it's been undersealed.

It drives straight and has four new tyres that are all balanced up, the tracking was done so that it had a bit more toe out to improve the handling.

All advisories were dealt with for the latest MOT, including all gaitors and a couple of CV joints.

It has full service history including all receipts for engine work and a certificate for the installation of a Cat 1 alarm/immobiliser and the guy knows the two previous owners so knows it hasn't been treated badly.

There are other bits I won't bore you with but it has lots of other extras and goodies that indicate it's been well looked after.

Just wondering if there's anything there that sounds a bit odd or should be a cause for concern?

Thanks.
 

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The bit that i noticed straight away is the engine was fully rebuilt 10,000 miles ago, but the head gasket didn't even last that long before failing. That says to me, either it wasn't rebuilt correctly, or it was thrashed after it was rebuilt. Could have been random as well but sounds suspect to me.

Were the bearings and bolts ect replaced as well during the rebuild? A lot of the time people quote a full rebuild but it's only half a rebuild to others.

If you're in the market for another car, i'd recommend moving away from Corsa's (and Vauxhall's). So many better platforms for modding cars out there.
If you really must stay with a Corsa though, better the Devil you know....keep your own and C20NE it
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
sounds good. got any pics?
I've seen a few but don't have any I can post up. Engine bay looks tidy, almost looks like it could have come out of the factory like it. Got a nasty cone filter though, and the bloody throttle cable hasn't been relocated lol.

It's the headgasket, 1.2 rad, rocker cover leak and tapping that I'm most concerned about. Would just like some reassurance on those issues really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The bit that i noticed straight away is the engine was fully rebuilt 10,000 miles ago, but the head gasket didn't even last that long before failing. That says to me, either it wasn't rebuilt correctly, or it was thrashed after it was rebuilt. Could have been random as well but sounds suspect to me.

Were the bearings and bolts ect replaced as well during the rebuild? A lot of the time people quote a full rebuild but it's only half a rebuild to others.

If you're in the market for another car, i'd recommend moving away from Corsa's (and Vauxhall's). So many better platforms for modding cars out there.
If you really must stay with a Corsa though, better the Devil you know....keep your own and C20NE it
I don't think my shell is necessarily up for it, plus don't really have the time or space to do my own conversion.

The main and end bearings were replaced. Everything done by a garage, not just some dude in his shed, so there are proper receipts for everything.

I'm not 100% on the order of the headgasket going and the rebuild, but it does now have an uprated headgasket and it has gone a few thousand miles since with no problems. It doesn't burn oil or smoke.

Also has 4 brand new tyres for the recent MOT.

Has a printout when it had a standard exhaust for around 156bhp but has since had a full powerflow system with decat added (something I'd probably change as you know I'm not a fan of loud exhausts).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tapping top end 10,000 miles after a full rebuild doesn't sound reassuring to me
He said if he hasn't driven it for a few weeks, when he first starts it it is a little tappy. he normally goes inside for a bit to let it warm up properly and the tapping then goes. Sounds to me as though after a while of sitting there the hydraulic tappets just need the oil circulating around them.
 

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Every xe has apparently been rebuilt. Every xe apparently stops tapping.just bare that in mind
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Every xe has apparently been rebuilt. Every xe apparently stops tapping.just bare that in mind
He does have receipts for all garage work and everything carried out on the car.

He was honest and told me about things he didn't have to, such as the headgasket blowing a year or two ago.

He did seem very genuine, but obviously that's not exactly proof lol.

It's all properly declared with the DVLA as well, which says a lot nowadays too.
 

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ENGINE:

It's a 1989 C20XE engine, distributor and rotor arm type.
Also has 4 brand new tyres for the recent MOT.

Has a printout when it had a standard exhaust for around 156bhp but has since had a full powerflow system with decat added (something I'd probably change as you know I'm not a fan of loud exhausts).
Just noticed as well. Isn't the 2 litre with the Distributor and rotor arm, a 20XE anyway, and doesn't use a cat?
If not, i'd be asking if the decat was done before the MOT and if it was then how did it pass (if they overlooked emissions to be friendly, what else was overlooked?)

If it's right and it's a 20XE engine which doesn't need a cat, then make sure you have a friendly MOT station nearby, or else proof of the car the engine came from. Some garages will still run a cat test on cars converted with non cat engines if they can't prove the age of the engine
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just noticed as well. Isn't the 2 litre with the Distributor and rotor arm, a 20XE anyway, and doesn't use a cat?
If not, i'd be asking if the decat was done before the MOT and if it was then how did it pass (if they overlooked emissions to be friendly, what else was overlooked?)

If it's right and it's a 20XE engine which doesn't need a cat, then make sure you have a friendly MOT station nearby, or else proof of the car the engine came from. Some garages will still run a cat test on cars converted with non cat engines if they can't prove the age of the engine
The C20XE was introduced in 1988 I think? You're right that the 20XE didn't have a cat but the C20XE did. And it was the later C20XEs that had distibutorless ignition system so I do think there was a C20XE with a cat that will have had a dizzy cap and rotor arm setup. I'm sure someone else like Rob can confirm that.

He said that as it's a 1989 engine it didn't need a cat for the MOT. The friend he bought the car off does still have the cat from before the powerflow system was put on that the seller will try and get hold of for the sale if wanted.
 

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If the engine was from a car that had a cat as standard, then the engine needs a cat for the MOT.

If the engine was from a car that never had a cat as standard, and you put it into one that has, then you need to bring proof of the engine's age when going for an MOT to bypass the cat emissions test.

I done some reading on the engines there and you're right. I always thought the 2 litres with the dizzy were all 20XE's but seems a lot of early C20XE's had this as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If the engine was from a car that had a cat as standard, then the engine needs a cat for the MOT.

If the engine was from a car that never had a cat as standard, and you put it into one that has, then you need to bring proof of the engine's age when going for an MOT to bypass the cat emissions test.

I done some reading on the engines there and you're right. I always thought the 2 litres with the dizzy were all 20XE's but seems a lot of early C20XE's had this as well.
Well some garages are more strict than others. But as I said, I'd want the cat and quieter exhaust put back on anyway. The bloke read me the list of advisories it got at the MOT at the end of Feb, and everything was addressed apart from the headlight aim being slightly out.

He also admitted that he's not a huge fan of the exhaust but it was put on by his mate before he bought it a couple of years ago. As it's just a weekend runabout he never bothered swapping it back but he has asked for the standard cat back from his mate.
 

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3 phases of xe:

20xe, the early astra gte one, odd loom no cat or lambda.

c20xe, runs a dizzy, but has lambda and cat. i have this one.

c20xeln, the dispak, lots of minor differences.

the tapping is normal on xes left for a few weeks. new lifters are a bit of a gamble. the ebay ones are chinese and crap. rebuilding them is possible.

head gasket is a bit odd. improper skimming or a porous head misdiagnosed?
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
3 phases of xe:

20xe, the early astra gte one, odd loom no cat or lambda.

c20xe, runs a dizzy, but has lambda and cat. i have this one.

c20xeln, the dispak, lots of minor differences.

the tapping is normal on xes left for a few weeks. new lifters are a bit of a gamble. the ebay ones are chinese and crap. rebuilding them is possible.

head gasket is a bit odd. improper skimming or a porous head misdiagnosed?
If the tapping is normal for being left a few weeks surely there's no need to consider new lifters?

Who knows about the hg, it went in august 2011 and has had no problems since being fixed (~5000 miles).
 

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The C20XE was introduced in 1988 I think? You're right that the 20XE didn't have a cat but the C20XE did. And it was the later C20XEs that had distibutorless ignition system so I do think there was a C20XE with a cat that will have had a dizzy cap and rotor arm setup. I'm sure someone else like Rob can confirm that.

He said that as it's a 1989 engine it didn't need a cat for the MOT. The friend he bought the car off does still have the cat from before the powerflow system was put on that the seller will try and get hold of for the sale if wanted.
The earlier C20XE did have the dizzy type ignition and used a catalytic converter, so if it is a C20XE it will need a cat if the MOT tester follows the letter of the law. The change in the ignition system came in 1993.

HG - if it's run OK for a few thousand and seems OK now then it's not a big issue. They can and do go on them so it's just a case of being sensible.

The tapping after being left for a while - not an issue - a lot of them did it. So long as it quietens down within a few seconds. If it taps for longer then be wary.

Edit - Ah - didn't see above posts whilst I was making a brew.
 

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just to clarify something re: cats:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/repository/Emissions 17th Edition.pdf

page 3.

also if the engines been changed, i.e a 1989 engine in a 1999 car, the test is done on whats older. the issue is proving that the c20xe is before aug 1992. in theory, any april 1992 on xe is a dispak..... but there have been exceptions... mine is from a aug 1992 calibra and its distributor.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The earlier C20XE did have the dizzy type ignition and used a catalytic converter, so if it is a C20XE it will need a cat if the MOT tester follows the letter of the law. The change in the ignition system came in 1993.

HG - if it's run OK for a few thousand and seems OK now then it's not a big issue. They can and do go on them so it's just a case of being sensible.

The tapping after being left for a while - not an issue - a lot of them did it. So long as it quietens down within a few seconds. If it taps for longer then be wary.

Edit - Ah - didn't see above posts whilst I was making a brew.
That was my thought on the hg. If it's driven that many miles since, it was obviously sorted properly. And by being sensible I take it you mean making sure the coolant is the correct grade and renewed on schedule, and waiting for the engine to warm up properly before driving?

The owner did say he doesn't often drive it to it's full potential shall we say, but when he has done he always left it to warm up first. His friend, the previous owner drove it a bit harder and a bit too fast for PC Plod to be happy but apparently always treated the car properly as well.

With the tapping do you literally mean seconds, or just a minute or so? Do these engines just take regular semi-synthetic 10w40 or is 5w30 better for them?
 

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Just to add in to what i said earlier, i was wrong about the cat.
Just done some reading on the MOT forums and Rob's right. If it's a pre 92 engine, it doesn't go through a cat test.

The bit i was getting confused with, is you didn't used to need a cat as long as you passed emissions. This year it's changed to, if it has a cat as standard it cannot be removed but i never knew the latter part (new rule) still was only for petrol engines after 92
 
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