- 20XE engine Vauxhall/Opel/GM aka "RED TOP", because of the red spark plug cover / Photo from Wikipedia / by Nibi

A future classic engine?

An engine so good that the car doesn't matter

43w ago
7.1K

In order for a car to be considered as a future classic it would need to be interesting, relatively rare and I would argue that it needs to have some motorsport pedigree, but not in all cases. Not with a Rolls Royce. Possible examples of future classics are the Peugeot 106 Rallye or the Golf Mk2 GTI, yes it's not the Mk1, but this one is better! One particular favourite of mine is the VW Jetta, both Mk1 and Mk2, but it has to be the two door version, the bigger the engine, the better.

It was, because of my late night web search the other night, while looking at these cars that a thought stumbled in to my head. What about the Vectra A GSI I though, or the Astra F GSI. Then I realised it's not these cars that are at the heart of their future classic status. I mean, yes the Vectra has a great chassis, and has motorsport pedigree in the BTCC. Any fan of that series knows about John Cleland and his Vauxhall Cavalier /an Opel Vectra A in British/. But the Astra, Calibra, Kadett and possibly some other cars have that 20XE engine /C20XE with catalyst/.

John Cleland's BTCC Vauxhall Cavalier / Picture from Flickr / by Matt Buck

John Cleland's BTCC Vauxhall Cavalier / Picture from Flickr / by Matt Buck

Granted the Kadett GSI is nowadays a classic already, but the rest of the cars with the 20XE will follow in its footsteps. I can promise that. This I think is because of the engine. It is a unit which was designed by Cosworth. The same company that gave F1 the DFV engine, first used in the 60s in the Lotus 49 and winning its last championship in 1992 in F3000.

Kadett GSI / Picture from Wikipedia / by Sherwin

Kadett GSI / Picture from Wikipedia / by Sherwin

But let's get back to the 20XE, which was initially designed for racing. No wonder then that it made its way in to F3 cars and WTCC cars. In WTCC it was used by Chevrolet which is a GM brand so no issues there, but what really got me was the other manufacturer that put it in to their WTCC cars - LADA. Honestly. I knew they had a WTCC racer, but I thought the engine in it would have been made from granite or something. Never did I ever imagine it would have been a 20XE. Albeit heavily redesigned one. Maybe they gave it wooden pistons or something.

Great little engine then. So what if someone glued a turbo to it. Or in engineering - what if someone did some engineering to the engine in order to stick a turbo to it? Glad you asked. In that case, you get the C20LET. Whereas the 20XE developed around 150 bhp in a normal car, the turbo'd version put out 200 bhp. But, you could, if you wanted to, hypothetically, reach over to that boost knob and do nice things to it. The result,250, 300, 350 or more horsepower. Basically your imagination is the limit.

C20LET / Photo from Wikipedia / by Rinor_Kryeziu

C20LET / Photo from Wikipedia / by Rinor_Kryeziu

The reason I think that the engine is the star of the show is because having such a good engine you would do your absolute best to put it in a car worthy of it. So Vauxhall/Opel/Chevrolet any any other name they may have made sure the GSI versions of Astras/Vestras/Kadetts/ Calibras were nice to drive. They had great chassis, great handling, great feel and I want a Vectra GSI badly. Not only was that one fast, but it was also refined. Possibly the most refined car of that type at the time.

Astra GSI / Photo from Wikipedia / by Pl65

Astra GSI / Photo from Wikipedia / by Pl65

Nowadays any car with this engine in its N/A or Turbo form is becoming rarer to find than the last day. That is, because they either get bought in order to be turned in to a race car, someone wants the engine, they get crashed, or like any old Opel they have turned to a pile of rust.

So I can only hope to get my hands on a good example of a car with such an engine and then keep it warm an dry, because the time will come when anything with a 20XE, C20XE or C20LET will be a hugely expensive classic. That engine is an interesting beast with a lot of motorsport pedigree and cars with it are becoming rearer by the minute. All boxes ticked then. Time to buy one on the cheap, before they prices start going up.

What do you think? How far will the price for a C20XE or C20LET engined car climb? Let me know in the comments.

An Opel after a light drizzle / Photo from Piqsels

An Opel after a light drizzle / Photo from Piqsels

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Comments (14)

  • I think the XE is already a classic! They are much loved on the classic car world, be it on Opels, Vauxhalls or even Fords! The Ford guys actually don't think it's that much of a sacrilege because....well, Cossie! Anyhow, the best ones seem to be the ones where the cylinder head was actually made by Cosworth (they have "CosCast" cast on the back of the head) instead of the other heads made by Kolbenschmidt ( with KS cast instead). But still, highly tuneable engines!! Loads of aftermarket tuning parts available and a real cult following! So, yes! It's already a classic engine in my book!

      9 months ago
    • I have even seen one in a VW of all places 😂

        9 months ago
    • "Zey speek ze" same language, at least! 😂 But yes, they seem to be pretty strong units! ....but my heart goes to the YB! 😁

        9 months ago
  • Definitely a classic

      9 months ago
  • I can't believe that they are still using this engine in most of the BTCC cars on the grid, apart from the factory teams like Honda, BMW and technically motorbase ford team. The Vauxhall power maxed factory team might have to change the engine for a Peugeot engine at some point as the GM built Vauxhall engine might be frowned upon by Peugeot.

      9 months ago
    • Are they still using it in the BTCC? WOW I mean the 2.0 T is a great engine but I would have thought that something new would have come up by 2020

        9 months ago
    • Yeah the privateer teams without manufacturers backing use this engine as it's cheaper to run. Even the Toyota Corolla team have to use it as Toyota haven't yet made 2.0 litre engine for the Corolla yet (that will possibly change next year).

        9 months ago
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