Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Black Smoke Maker

Text by: Ben Photos by: Ben

The term workhorse tends to give an image of an old, beat up vehicle used to haul random stuff from one place to the next. We see so many dirty lorries and old pick-ups being used as workhorses around the island that we tend to forget that utility vehicles don’t all have to be boring. When Kelvin had to let go of his 250bhp Lancer in favour of a utility vehicle, he was convinced he could build a very fun one. And he did.

When he started looking around for an oiler, Kelvin had already made a list of what he wanted, with the highlights being that it had to be unique, easy to modify, reliable with ample boot space, and turbocharged.

His wish list let him to buy a black ’00 Caddy Mk2, and he instantly set out to work on it. Kelvin likes clean cars, and as such, he left the exterior almost unmolested, with the exception of a Seat Leon Cupra R front lip, a detail which clearly sets his Caddy apart from any other here in Singapore. 

To get the all important stance right, he opted to drop his V-Dub on BC coilovers at the front and flipped the axle on the rear. The clean, picture-perfect looks of the Caddy is completed by a set of replicas TE37V, sized 15x7 +30 at the front and 15x7.5 +12 at the rear, shod in Yokohama AD08 rubber. He then had to flare the rear fenders to make space for the nicely offset wheels.

With this done, Kelvin deemed the exterior to be completed, and indeed, nothing seems to be missing! As I looked at it through my lens, the sheer simplicity of this job well done, with a well maintained paint and a locally rare wheel design left no room for critic. 

Inside, Kelvin kept to his clean and simple style, keeping the best of the original design and adding subtle improvements where needed. He started off by dumping the factory seats in favour of SSCUS Euro, which hold him comfortably in place in front of his replica OMP steering wheel.

He then enhanced the shifter with a short-throw kit and a MOMO knob.

To keep an eye on his engine’s vitals, he removed the sunshade in favour of a series of Défi gauges reading the water, oil and exhaust temps and boost. 

Music is any driver’s best friend, and Kelvin got rid of the original stereo and installed a Pioneer P80RS2 head unit. He hooked it up to a TruTech Billet B475 and a JBL GTO500 amps. He then added a DB Drive woofer and had custom A-pillars and door panels made to house his set of orange Hertz ESK163L 3-Ways speakers. To enjoy the best sound quality, he then took on the long manual task of soundproofing every panel of the van in his free time, a job that took him a few months to do. 

To complete the black with red stitching theme of his interior, Kelvin had his dash re-wrapped in a memorable job that had him drive for a week without a dashboard. 

The Caddy looks good, but after his power-hungry Lancer, Kelvin needed to add some push to his diesel workhorse. The work done under the hood is heralded loud and clear by the Jasma front mounted intercooler that stares through the bumper. 

The ALH engine of the Caddy was getting tired as it had already been through a few owners before. Kelvin thus decided to start afresh and turned to the guys at Perfect Power Pte Ltd to rebuild the engine. This was, in Kelvin’s opinion, the best thing he ever did to his van. “It gave me even more low-end torque, and now pulls strongly all the way to 5000RPM at 2 bars of boost. It has really awaken the van, and made driving much more fun.” 

The secret behind this newfound power comes in the form of ASV piston and rods, Colt Stage 2 Cams, a BEW gasket, and a refreshed, ported and polished head firmly held by ARP studs. The block was complemented by a PD150 intake manifold, and the turbo too was refreshed with its internals were rebuilt, giving it a new youth. To complement the turbo’s new life and measure its boost more reliably, Kelvin installed a 3-Bar MAP sensor. 

Fuel delivery is handled by an 11mm Bosch pump feeding HFLO-X .260 nozzles. The injectors were balanced and a fuel cooler was installed for a better response and more power. To help his engine breathe more freely Kelvin opted for an Apex'i open pod and removed the Anti-Shudder Valve (ASV) to have a less restricted intake, especially at high boost. 

To transfer the estimated 230bhp and 480Nm of torque to the front wheels reliably, Kelvin added the final touch with a Sachs G60 clutch. 

His black smoke-sputtering now has enough torque and power to get Kelvin zipping through traffic, and he regularly enjoys leaving bewildered drivers in a dark cloud. “After all the things I have done to it, it still costs less than a 2nd hand family sedan, is cheaper to run, and runs faster!” he claims with a smile. 

When asked about future mods, Kelvin simply stated that he was going to go for comfort and safety, with better soundproofing and better brakes. And an engine tune. And a methanol injection kit. Well, you get the picture, just like many of us, he’s almost done. 


2000 Caddy Mk2
1.9L Diesel TDI ALH
Drive Layout
Max Power
230bhp/480Nm (Estimated)


Seat Leon Cupra R front lip
Flared rear fenders

Steering Wheel
Replica OMP
Gear Knob
Défi Gauges: Water, Oil and Exhaust Temps, Boost
Black PVC with red stitching
Carpeted interior, custom A-pillar and door panels

Head Unit
Pioneer P80RS2
TruTech Billet B475, JBL GTO500
DB Drive
Hertz ESK163L 3-Ways

Apex'i open pod, ASV delete
ASV piston and rods, Colt Stage 2 Cams, BEW gasket, Ported and Polished head, ARP studs, PD150 intake manifold
Cooling Systems
Jasma front mounted intercooler
Stock turbo with rebuilt internals
3 bar MAP sensor

HFLO-X .260 nozzles, Balanced injectors, 11mm Bosch pump, Fuel cooler
Drive line
G60 clutch, Short Shifter

Front: BC Coilovers, Rear: Flipped Axle
Replica TE37Vs, front 15x7 +30, rear 15x7.5 +12
Yokohama Advan AD08 195/50/15
Custom strut bar

Special Thanks:

“I would like to thank my mechanics at Perfect Power Pte Ltd, who, on top of the existing problems on my van they already had to solve, always helped me with the miniature disasters I created while attempting to work on the Caddy on my own. Another big thanks to my friends who helped me along the way to make the van what it is today!”


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