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Opinions on turbo

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  • Opinions on turbo

    I've been playing with the idea of adding a turbocharger to my Caterham. Many of you know my history with this engine, upgrading and rebuilding it last year at a large cost! It is a 2.0 L ZX1 Zetec, with forged internals, moderate cam, stock compression, Jenvey's, Emerald ECU. Dyno'd just after the build at 163 HP.

    I would love to have a Cosworth Duratec, but the cost for a full conversion just seems a little too much for me at this point. Especially since I've got all the goodies on a newly built race spec motor. I've been discussing a turbo build with a shop here in town that is very experienced with race applications, and it seems like a reasonable option. I've found a few UK Caterhams that have done it with good results, and the Zetec seems to be a decent engine for forced induction according to what I've read on the focus forums. A stock engine should be able to make 250 HP reliably if safely tuned, and with forged pistons/rods should be much higher. I'm just looking for about 220 RWHP. The cost would be anywhere from $4000 to $8000, depending on the quality of the build. Part of this would be upgrading the fuel system, which I would have to do anyway with a Duratec. I've considered a number of designs, and have come up with one that should be safe, light, and cool running.


    moderate cost
    gobs of torque
    keeping my current wiring harness, headers, etc.
    Can even keep the Jenvey's, using an intake plenum they are now offering for turbo applications.


    a little added weight (estimated at about 20 - 30 lbs)
    putting more money into an older engine design
    cutting another hole in my bonnet

    If I could do it all over again, I'd go with a Duratec. But with what I've got, this seems to be a reasonable option. Anyone think I'm crazy? I may just save my money for a few years for a Duratec, but I have to admit I'm a bit of a HP junkie. I don't like working so hard to pass in the turns just to be passed again on the straights!

    I welcome any opinions,



  • #2
    Don't want to get into the contentious discussion of the merits of a turbo solution for a Seven....

    but I would be cautious using your ZX1 for it. The opinion of the Focus guys may or may not be valid, considering certain differences in the engine build (mainly the solid vs. hydraulic lifters, head casting, water and oil pump). I have no idea if any of that is relevant for the turbo upgrade.

    Biggest issue would be for me the nowadays limited availability of some spare parts. Breaking and wearing the engine is more likely with the turbo and some parts like the funny main bearing bolts are nowhere to find. Not with Ford and not on the Internet. For a good quality OEM head gasket and my reverse running water pump I had to order in Germany. Junk yard engines are rare and mostly pretty old.

    On the plus side, the bottom end of the ZX1 is said to be stronger than the ZX3...



    • #3
      I'd give Cosworth in Torrance a call and ask them what they want for a complete CSR 260 engine. At $8K you are getting closed to what I paid in parts for my engine. And Turbo or non-turbo, I'd go with the Duratec over Zetec any day in the week.

      I'll let you drive my car next time we see each other (Sunday?)

      /Magnus F.


      • #4
        Thanks for the offer Magnus! I won't be driving this weekend, but soon! I do want to pick your brain about the total cost of building and swapping a duratec. It may be something I can do gradually while I try to wear out this engine!

        Thanks for the thoughts - any more would be welcome!


        • #5

          Did you get a quote from Cosworth on a 260hp 2.3 Duratech before taking the plunge on the R500?

          I'm also curious how you decided on a new car rather than upgrading what you had -- if this isn't something you want to get into in public just say so. (Or if you already did please point me to the thread!)




          • #6

            I did get a quote from Cosworth, and it was about $25,000, which didn't include an exhaust or of course any installation/tuning costs. I looked into the turbo too, but to do it right with proper cooling and fuel management would have been another $15,000, and would have added a lot of weight to the car. Although I've done a little engine work a long time ago, I didn't want to take the time or pay for any labor, and when I heard that Caterham USA was building an R500 I just couldn't resist it.

            I may not be the best to give advice on this because I have very little self control when it comes to spending money on, and tinkering with my cars, but I have to say that my last Caterham was just slightly slower around the track than the R500. Part of this was the suspension setup I'd done, but a lot of it is the ability of these cars in braking and holding speed through corners. It is nice in the current world of high horsepower cars to be able to keep up with them on the straights, but a stock superlight is no slouch!

            On a side note, my stupid labs just flushed out a skunk and both got sprayed. I'm not in the mood to give them a bath at this time of night (I'm sure they are not either), but I guess I'm going to have to!



            • #7
              Wow, Cosworth wanted $25K for the 260hp Duratec? (I thought I saw Magnus say somewhere that $8K in parts was "nearly" what he had in his Duratec build which used a lot of Cosworth parts.)

              The 220hp for $10K (NA Zetec) quote I got is starting to look better.




              • #8
                If you are still thinking of the Zetec option you might want to check out Roush - Yates Engines as a potential source (go to the engine programs page):


                They have new stock Zetec crate engines for $1150:

                This engine is a Complete New Engine, not remanufactured. The 2.0L (121 cu. in.) 4 cylinder DOHC makes 130 HP @ 5,750 RPM
                and 127 ft./lbs. of torque @ 4,250 RPM. Fits 2003 Focus ZX3 and ZX5. May fit other applications with minor modification.
                Complete engine assembly throttle body to oil pan including exhaust manifold, flywheel, and engine injector harness. Does not include computer or other wiring.

                2.0L (121 cu. in.) 4 cylinder DOHC
                130 HP @ 5,750 RPM
                127 ft./lbs. of torque @ 4,250 RPM
                9.6:1 compression ratio
                Fits 2003 Focus ZX3 and ZX5. May fit other applications with minor modification.
                Complete engine assembly throttle body to oil pan including exhaust manifold, flywheel, and engine injector harness
                Does not include computer or other wiring
                Shipping weight approximately 370 lbs.
                Package Dimensions: 41.50H x 33.50W x 32.00D
                Weight: 398.00#
                Catalog Page: 198
                Country Of Origin: United States
                Instruction Sheet: N/A
                Warranty Available: No

                and new Focus Midget 2.0L engines for $8995.00:

                The Focus Midget 2.0L Engine is a sealed crate engine from Ford and was created for use in the USAC Ford Focus Midget series.

                Important Note: For active USAC members please call us for special offer.

                2.0L Zetec race-ready engine
                Supplied with engine dress for power steering applications
                Available from Roush Yates Engines

                '62 Lotus Seven
                '84 Turbo Esprit (x2)
                '14 Evora
                '77 Esprit S1 (RIP) :(

                "A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom." -Michel De Montaigne 1588