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~ How to install a Vauxhall XE ~

This is how I installed my 16v Vauxhall XE engine, step by step with part numbers, tips & Pics

Table of Contents

  1. Reasoning - Why a Vauxhall 16v
  2. Sourcing - Sourcing the engine
  3. Parts list - What to get, where and how much.
  4. The Engine - Preparation
  5. Sump - Modification
  6. Mounts - Engine Mounts
  7. Oil Filter - Alternatives
  8. Bell housing - Which one
  9. Clutch - Parts
  10. Induction - What's Available
  11. Exhaust - Options
  12. Ignition - Pro's and Con's
  13. Alternator - Workarounds
  14. Cooling - How to plumb the cooling system
  15. Other Mods - Anything not mentioned above
  16. Finally - The end bit


I have decided to change my engine as I crave more power. This all started after taking a ride in a friends Seiw with a Tuned Vauxhall engine in it and it was awesome. I know this is going to cost loads but it need to be done as I've sold my engine on e-bay so now I am committed. The XE engine produces about 155bhp in standard form (without Cat) so this is a great basis for a tuned engine. Even though this is not a light engine, it's still lighter than a Pinto and the tuning possibilities are considerable with 250 bhp plus achievable although expensive.

There are plenty of VX powered Westfield's but again, not so much info on the web on how to do it, so this intended to be a definitive guide with part numbers, tips and pictures.

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Sourcing the Engine

I sourced an engine from a local scrap yard for £250.00. This was a 75,000 mile'er and included manifolds, starter, alternator and dizzy. You can get them for much more so shop around, e-bay is always a good source but you need to be sure it is a good one so best to hear it running. Below are some simple checks.

Some Pointers

  • If the engine taps a bit from the rocker cover and then goes quiet after a few seconds, this can be annoying, as long as it's only the tappets hey can be replaced. Use this as a bargaining tool.
  • Check the Header tank and water galleries for sludge, this will indicate the possibility of a "Porous Head", not what you want.
    Earlier engines fitted with the Coscast head apparently don't suffer with this syndrome. To spot the difference, take a look at the setup section on SBD.
  • Engines with the number above 14142838 are slightly cheaper on parts but they will be the ones with the GM head.
  • Open up the Oil filler cap and look inside, if it's black and sooty, then it hasn't been looked after or they have used cr*p oil.
  • Try and get an engine WITH a manifold, if you don't use it, you can sell it on e-bay for around £70.

Parts you will need from the original engine (also see Parts List)

  • Alternator - See Alternator
  • Starter Motor
  • Distributor - If you intend to upgrade to Aftermarket Injection system, otherwise see Ignition
  • Exhaust Manifold - Only if you are on a budget, See Exhaust
  • Injectors only - You can use these with aftermarket Throttle bodies etc. See Induction. Standard Manifold can be Thrown away.
engine before1engine before2

Pics of the engine straight from the Scrap yard

Parts List

Here is a list of parts you may need, some suppliers and approx cost. Prices will obviously changer over time but you can get the general idea of which part you need from this list - Click Here

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The Engine

This engine complete with Alternator and starter weighs around 130kg (290lb) so it's no lightweight so watch yourself lifting it.

Clean off engine and check oil seals, core plugs, cam-belt etc. Basically you want to give it a good service.
If you are unsure of when the cam-belt was last changed, then change it now, the last thing you want is for it to let go at 7,000 rpm wrecking your engine.

Whilst the cam-belt is off, it's probably a good idea to change the front crankshaft oil seal as I have seen these leak, also change the water pump, they have a nasty habit of failing a few hundred miles after a cam belt change - It's called "Sod's law"  You will need an E20 Star socket to remove the crank pulley.
I had a thought about cutting off the front part of the pulley to reduce rotational weight etc, apparently, this is a dampened pulley so I was advised against it.
Another thing to check whilst your up the sharp end is the idler pulleys.  If they are the earlier metal types, check for wear/play.  If they are the plastic type then REPLACE them as the metal type are superior.

This engine likes to rev so changing the Con rod bolts to Cosworth or ARP Bolts is a good idea, this can be done whilst your changing the sump to the shallow type. Follow the instructions to the letter as these are performance items and need to be installed correctly.

Get a Workshop Manual as it's an invaluable source if only for the Torque wrench settings. The Cavalier/Calibra is the best one to get, the Astra one only has a supplement at the back.

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The Sump

You have several choices here:

  • Get an Vauxhall 8v steel sump pan, cut off the bottom rear half and get a plate welded to it. You will also need to incorporate a drain plug into it. Don't forget this will reduce your oil capacity.
  • Cut off the bottom of the alloy sump and do the same as above, a little more difficult being alloy. If your really handy, you can extend it forward a bit giving you the original oil capacity back.
  • Obtain a big wing sump from an Opel Manta.  This sometimes has it's own problems due to the wings getting in the way of the Exhaust. You can also modify this by cutting off one of the wings
  • You can Buy one! There are several companies who make shallow sumps which are already baffled and include pick up pipes so the work is done for you. These are however, expensive but an easy option.
  • Dry Sump it. Wet sumps may suffer from oil surge. If you run sticky tyres like Yokohama AO32/48's, Avon ACB10's or slicks, then a dry sump will almost certainly be required. There are plenty of kits about but I have not listed any as yet because I have not gone that route yet, maybe later.

There are 2 types of Gasket you can use. Earlier engines used the 2 cork gaskets that fitted either side of the splash plate. Later models used a one piece rubber edged splash plate which is far superior and easier to fit. Check with your dealer, mine didn't have a clue but there is a picture in the Haynes manual so you can show him.


SBD's Quality Sump pan

Engine Mounts

The Mounts are best bought from Westfield's to be honest (not listed on website so call) unless you can make them yourself. Left side of the block need a spacer to pack one of the mounting holes out a bit which is supplied by Westfield's. They're also powder-coated so saves you the job of painting etc.
SBD Do supply them too but I can only see the R/H side listed and they're more expensive.

Mounting Rubbers are Standard items which can be bought most places like Ford's etc and fix to the chassis using a single bolt hole. The ones supplied by Westfield seem to be a bit soft so I would recommend harder ones from Rally Design, SBD etc

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Oil Filter

On some cars you can get away with just fitting a short Oil filter.
In order to do this, you will need to remove the sandwich plate (which feeds the oil cooler) and remove the long stud. Replace this with a shorter one from an 8 valve engine (See Parts).You can then replace the standard filter with a short item from Halfords.
This filter is only 74mm deep and should give enough clearance between Chassis and floor etc. QED supply both stud and filter but I believe they are a UNF thread so best get both items from them.

Remote Filter

If you think you still won't have enough room, then the "Remote" method can be used. This uses a similar sandwich plate as used on the oil cooler and connects to the oil filter usually bolted to the front of the chassis. A complete kit (less filter) can be purchased from Westfield's. SBD and QED also do some but you will need to contact them with your requirements as they are in component form. SBD have a Diagram on how to set it up.

Dry Sumping

See Sump section for more details.

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The Bellhousing is a special item. Several companies do them but Yukspeed seems to be the cheapest at the moment. I have just purchased one from him and it's great. The bolt holes to mount to the gearbox need to be drilled out as this has smaller threaded holes for fitting other ford gearboxes I presume.
The bellhousing is 28lb lighter than a standard Sierra item so there is a good weight saving here.
If you have access to a decent engineering firm, you can buy the bolts otherwise, they can be obtained from Yukspeed etc.
The Westfield Bellhouse seems to be the only one with an enclosed bottom, all the others have an open gap which may collect cr*p. Westfield's also include all gaskets and bolts for a complete kit.

You will need a fulcrum pin for the Clutch lever to pivot on so ensure you get a Bellhouse with one fitted or buy one.  Not sure if the Sierra one will fit, it may.


Fit the Bellhouse to the Gearbox and bolt up tight to the engine (with clutch fitted) before fitting into the car. The reason for this is depending on which combination of parts used, you may have problems with clearance of the lever which can be easily rectified out of the car.
Some slight modification to the lever opening may be needed or swap the flywheel for the earlier type which is both lighter and thinner. You will need the matching cover with the earlier flywheel though. Don't forget to allow for clutch wear.

For Clutch lever, See Clutch.

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There are plenty of clutches available, SBD seem to have the largest range from Standard, organic to Kevlar. Obviously, motorsport will need something a little special but the standard plate works well. It's a Sierra 2.3 Diesel plate so it should handle a 2 litre Vauxhall in mild tune.


The standard clutch cover from the original engine will suffice for mildly tuned engines but again, motorsport will require heavier duty items. Lots of variety available, again from SBD, but if your keeping prices down, keep the Vauxhall's cover. If you swap your flywheel for the earlier type, you will need the matching cover too.


This is believed to be off an old Escort RS2000 so the chances of getting one down the scrap yard is remote.
£30 seems a little steep for a simple arm but you need one. I have tried to adapt the sierra arm by cutting it but it's still too close to the cover so I couldn't get any clearance.
See Bellhouse section for clearance tip.

Spigot Bearing

You need this bearing to support the end of the Gearbox shaft just behind the flywheel. It's only small and pushes into the end of the crankshaft. Vauxhall's don't have one (or mine didn't) but at only £6, it won't break your bank.

Release Bearing

Standard Sierra type bearing will fit just fine


If you don't have a ford type fitting Cable, then one off a Capri (short type) which should fit. Not sure what mine is off but it's actually shorter than the Capri item and it fits perfectly so suck it and see.

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Standard Injection

Although it has been done (LHD car I think), it's near on impossible job to fit the standard injection system into the small confines of a Westfield engine bay. The plenum chamber will foul on the steering column and that's just for starters.  Left hand drive cars have a bit more room but it's still VERY difficult.


Twin Side draft carbs are the cheapest and easiest fitting for starters at least. On a standard engine without any other tuning mods, you can expect between 170 - 180 bhp. The have one drawback which is Fuel Consumption. Twin 40's will work fine and apparently give loads of torque but they may run out of steam at around 6000 rpm.
Twin 45's are the most popular choice although you could loose a little bottom end torque.  Twin 48's may not work well with this engine as the flow volume is too low even with small chokes fitted so stay with 45's.
With 45's fitted, a decent Engine management system and some head work, you can expect anything up to 235 bhp.

You can check Dave Andrews Jetting program and Carburettor selection guide on his website for some ideas of what's best to use.

Aftermarket Injection

The next stage up is Throttle bodies with standard injectors. VERY expensive so start saving (region of £1500) but they are the way to go. You may be able to achieve figures up to 250 bhp with these and still get reasonable fuel consumption as opposed to carbs.
QED do several options here including Direct to head throttle bodies, very nice indeed.

xe carbs XE Inj

(Far left), XE with Twin 45's are Nice,
(left) an Xe with Jenvey Throttle bodies (Nicer).


The best system on the market in my Opinion is the SBD system, an absolute beast and the one to go for but at £500 plus vat, it's slightly out of my reach at the moment.

Westfield's system is said to be a bit restrictive around the collector area although I have been in a car fitted with this setup and it wasn't any couch potato believe me.


Another alternative, is to use the 4 branch that usually comes with this type of engine, cut and weld it around the other way and hey presto, an exhaust manifold. This is not a large bore pipe so it will be restrictive but at least it will suffice until more funds can be raised.


The Ignition system (or Engine Management) can be expensive so a cheap alternative whilst your bank is recovering is to replace the Dizzy and coil from one off a Mk2 Cavalier (ideally) or an early Astra.
The Cavalier one has 2 slotted bolt holes which fixes easier and neater than the Astra's clamp setup (see pic) but both work.  Check the drive pin in the dizzy is the same as there were some differences.

The coil has a module fitted to the back plate and this should have a 7 pin plug. If you manage to cut out all the wiring in one piece, then it's a simple matter of wiring:
Black to ignition live
Brown to Earth.

If you don't get the luxury of the wiring loom, here are the connections:

Pin No.ColourConnects to
Dizzy 15BlackIgnition Live
Dizzy 1GreenNo. 1 on Module
Module 1GreenNo. 15 on Dizzy
Module 2BrownEarth
Module 3Brown/WhiteDizzy Neg (-)
Module 4BlackIgnition Live
Module 5Black/YellowDizzy Pos (+)
Module 6Blue/GreenDizzy Signal
Module 7Not Usedn/a


dizzy1 dizzy2

(Left)The Astra Coil and Dizzy
(Right) The Cavalier Dizzy fitted.

Engine Management

One of the drawbacks to this system is it's not mapable and unless you change the bob weights, the advance will not be spot on so, at a later stage, you may want to upgrade to an ECU system like the ones from DTA, Emerald, MBE, Omex, Megasquirts or Weber Alpha.
Also known as 3D ignition, electronically controlled systems are variable throughout the rev range and can provide a non-linear advance progression which the XE is more suited to.

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The standard Alternator is know to be a tight squeeze in a Westfield. Options are to fit the alternator to the other side of the engine or purchase a Daihatsu Charade unit.
If you have a Multi-V pulley on your engine, the later Daihatsu 1.3 will suit better, otherwise get the 1.0L Alternator with the single "V" belt pulley.
To mount the Alternator on the opposite side, will need to purchase a bracket or make one up.
SBD can supply small Alternator kits with the Multi-V pulleys to fit on the right side.
This is How to wire up the Carade Alternator.

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It's important not to let this engine overheat as it has an Alloy head and may warp so take care with your plumbing. As I have not yet done this, I'm relying on others experience.
SBD can provide you with a clear Diagram of how to plumb in your VX. 
One of the know weaknesses is the Water pump, ensure you check this is ok and if any doubt, REPLACE IT!

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Other Mods

  • Apparently (I haven't found out for myself yet) due to the engine being fitted lengthways, under hard acceleration, oil will blow out of the 2 breather pipes in the cam cover. Here is a Diagram fix which can also be found on the SBD website in the "Setup" section.  Basically, you remove all but a small section of the baffle plate within the cam cover taking great care to clean out all the silicone deposits.
  • You can fit mild cams into this engine but anything with a high lift will require a piston change. QED do a set (Q42H) which they claim will boost your bhp to around 190bhp with carbs, suitable ECU and no piston mods.
  • The Pressure relief valve on the oil pump has been known to stick open or closed. As you can imagine, this can have disastrous results.
    SBD do a nice Nylon replacement, see Diagram, which fixes this problem completely.

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..and Finally

If all goes well, you should have a very torque'y engine with loads of power. If your anything like the rest of us however, you won't be happy and you'll be upgrading sooner than you think so start saving. Lots of bits are available so check out the site spattered about this page for more goodies.

As I find more info, I will update this page as I go along. I have all the info I need to finish off my installation, just need a little more time and money.
If you have any tips/Tricks or advice, please let me know as this is for the benefit of other Westfield/Kitcar owners OR if you think anything is wrong, again, please let me know.

Enjoy your motoring


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Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you decide to follow any of the above advise, this is purely a guide. I would recommend checking with other sources and Dealers before undertaking any work on your engine beforehand.