900 Series Engine Development
by Mick Rainbird
In 1968(ish) Lotus decided that the latest Vauxhall 2.0 litre canted engine design was simular to their new proposed engine to suit the Lotus Excel/ Eclat. Lotus purchased from General Motors a new Vauxhall Viva G,T registration number RAH 713F
The existing 2.0 litre engine was removed (I purchased this engine from Lotus) and a prototype engine was installed, this engine had a cast iron block and a new all alloy cylinder head with 16 valves, normally aspirated with twin Webber DCOE 45s, the engine performed quite well with just a few minor problems, I believe some of these engines were raced quite successfully.
A few months later the first all aluminium engine was installed into the Viva, in the early stages the liners worked loose, with cylinder head gasket failures and after a few thousand miles the piston rings allowed too much oil to be consumed, plus a few other minor problems, however all of these development problems were sorted.
Also around 1969-1970 a further test vehicle was purchased in the form of a Bedford van, a new Lotus prototype all aluminium engine was fitted into the van, these vans were quite sluggish in standard form, I understand that the drivers of the van had quite a few motorists of the day amazed at the increased performance of this vehicle.
During 1970 the Viva was involved in a collision with a ditch and the off side wing and front of the car was damaged, due to the extent of the Damage Lotus decided to sell the viva minus the engine, as I was already in possession of the original Vauxhall engine I promptly purchased the viva, repaired the body work and installed original unit.
Shortly after this I was able to buy one of the all aluminium development engines with a few gaskets (these only fitted the development engines) I owned this car for many years and covered some 130,000 miles, performance, well in those days it was quite staggering. The only down side to the engine, it got too old and tired and as it was a development engine some new parts would not fit.
Has anyone seen this car, I sold it to a guy in the Viva GT owners club?
If you know anything more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org