1988 Red Hot 16V


The Red Hot was a limited edition brought out in 1988, at the same time as the Jet Black. Originally costing £4382.00 a total of 3708 were produced, of these 1051 were sold in the UK (all manual gearchange) and 2657 were exported to France, Japan and Germany, of these 60 were automatics.

My Car

Red Hot as boughtMy car was first registered in October of 1988 and I'm the third owner, I bought it in 1991. It had been highly modified from new, and according to some sources all the mods had been done in the first month and cost somewhere in the region of £3000! As it was modified from new you can see that originality means nothing much to me.

In the Beginning

When bought power was courtesy of a highly tuned 998 motor putting out an alleged 75bhp. I was told it was a 1300 and had no reason to doubt this until the head gasket went and the garage found out it was a thou'! How green was I in those days! Eventually the dealer warranty expired and after a hard life the engine started making rattly type noises from underneath, it was obvious that the gearbox was getting tired. So the next question was what to replace it with, the chosen option being the 1380 motor from my first mini, it was nothing special at all, just a nice torquey motor putting out 65Bhp at the wheels. This engine did for a while, in the meantime I decided I wanted more power and the best way at that time seemed to be by doing a turbo conversion.

The Turbo

So after much research an engine kit was bought from V-Max Racing who were the people at the time who were pushing the turbo market. The engine used an A+ block bored to 1330 cc and fitted with very low compression pistons. The cam was a V-Max special and the head was a Vmax stage 3 special . Underneath I fitted a straight cut Clubman gearkit from Minispares to the gearbox and a twin pin diff bought at one of the big Mini shows. This was very much a 'kitchen table special'! (just look at the picture!)

turbo engine Engine bay Red Hot at Doune

This engine made 130bhp (flywheel) but it suffered from a lot of turbo lag. The final drive ratio was 3.1 and combined with a long first gear made hill starts virtually impossible and general town driving involved a lot of clutch slipping! Really the FD should have been 3.44. After blowing head gaskets at regular intervals I had a group A head gasket fitted, this involved machining the block to accept a gasket with larger flame rings in it. After about a year of hard use the engine started to blow out a fair bit of oil, it was time for a rebuild. While it was out I decided to price up how much it would cost to further upgrade the engine to get more power, around the 160bhp mark. It was about this time I saw Andy Majors (AMT's) advert for the Vauxhall frame conversion. By using the 2 Litre 16V engine from the Astra/Cavalier/Calibra, a power figure of 200bhp and above was available.

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