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Cielo Ensemble

It gets driven on the road, competes in car shows and sound-offs - plus it pushes out 89% more power than stock. It's a super Cielo!

Words by Michael Knowling, Photos by Julian Edgar

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Andrew Gevert is arguably one of the most "normal" feature car owners we've ever come across. He's a levelheaded guy that's not into sinking wads of cash into over-the-top cars and making them a bastard to drive on the street - he simply gets a buzz from personalising his Daewoo Cielo. "The whole thing is being sensible about it," Andrew shared with us.

It all started when he bought a brand-spankers Daewoo back in 1996. The reason behind buying a Cielo was to use it as an everyday run-around - like the majority of Cielos (Cieli?). But after the satisfaction of owning a new car dulled, Andrew was left wishing it had more appeal, a bigger stereo and - above all else - some more poke.

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In the first wave of upgrades, Andrew had a 2¼ inch exhaust hung underneath, but soon realised it was going to take more than just some fancy tube work to get the car's performance up to expectations. He then took the car to local Adelaide hi-po workshop - RPM Performance Centre - and asked them what could be done to improve matters. It was initially thought that a chip would be the go, but after it was discovered none were available to suit the Cielo, Andrew says "thing just escalated".

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There was one guaranteed sure-fire way to get a heap more power without pulling the motor down - a low-boost turbocharger installation. A job coordinated by RPM, a custom tubular exhaust manifold was constructed by D&T Performance which enabled a new Garrett T25 roller bearing turbo to be fed by the ex-Opel engine. It's a turbo that - combined with the high factory static compression ratio - we found to be perfectly matched to the motor. The car has its factory level of throttle responsiveness, but builds up torque so smoothly that you can hardly pick the transition onto boost. It's only when the car begins to dance a little with torque steer that you realise you're going much quicker than the average Cielo could manage!

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Mandrel-bent plumbing teamed with high quality silicone hoses take the compressed intake air through a bar-and-plate type air-to-air intercooler that RPM have recently had much success with. Tim Possingham (owner/manager of RPM) comments on how well these particular cores work, with near ambient intake temps maintained at all times. For Andrew, one of the main attractions of going for a turbo installation was the ability to fit a blow-off valve - you just can't beat that wonderful sound can ya?

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The product of choice was a Blitz Super Sound blow-off valve - which we assure you does sound wicked bouncing back off other cars! The previous 2¼ inch system was also replaced by a more capable 2½ inch arrangement with a standard cat converter, flex joint, turbo resonator and a DTM back box.

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As mentioned earlier, not much could be done with the factory engine management side of things, so RPM started afresh and wired-in a Microtech MT8 programmable fuel and ignition computer. This meant they could spend all the time they wanted mapping the ECU on their in-house chassis dyno, plus the stock airflow meter was flogged off and replaced by a MAP sensor. The engine's increased thirst for fuel is now satisfied by a set of four Holden Commodore V8 injectors - which flow only premium unleaded fuel to help ensure detonation isn't present.

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So just how effective can a low-boost turbo fitment be on a stock motor? In a word - plenty! Andrew is pleased to say that the base power level has spiked from around 38kW to a much improved 72 thousand watts (on 8 psi boost). That's a power hike of nearly 90% - giving enough on-road performance to put the wind up most other hot hatches! And with 58,000 kilometers now on the clock, everything's still going strong - even the stock clutch.

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Making sure this immaculate Cielo stands out from the flock is a handful of contemporary visual mods. Most obvious are those hot lookin' 17x7 Speedy alloys that are surrounded by 205/40 Silverstone FTZ Sport rubber. But squeezing so much wheelage under a Cielo does create some clearance headaches. Subtle to the eye, the rear wheel arches have been flared out and lipped (which also meant the back of the car needed a respray!), and the insides of the front guards have also been massaged on the inside.

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On top of that, colour coding has been applied to some rear trim bits 'n' pieces, the rear bumper was cut to fit those menacing upswept DTM tips, and the factory blanking panels in the front bumper have been removed to show off those polished intercooler pipes. Silver mesh is spread across the grille opening to give it a mean look and there're also tricky blue halogen bulbs inside the headlights.

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Around three inches have been slashed from the showroom ride height through the fitting of a set of Lovells variable ratio coils, combined with adjustable Konis under each foot. "The front rode about as high as a four wheel drive," recalls Andrew. It sure doesn't now! While D&T Performance were putting in the suspension, they also beefed up the brakes by bolting on drilled and slotted DBA discs and a set of racing pads to bite them good and proper.

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Not only can this Cielo spin a few heads zipping through traffic, it also caused admiration at a recent Adelaide sound-off competition. Judged best in the hotly contested 301-600W category, the Complete Audio designed and installed system pumps with an Alpine remote control single CD, two separate amps, MB Quart front splits and dual 10 inch Orion subs. A power capacitor has also been installed for easy viewing behind a Lexan window in the rear luggage compartment, right next to the twin amps.

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Bursting with those trophy winning sounds, the interior is also plump with a Momo wheel and knob, A'PEXi rev/speed meter and boost gauge as well as a Blitz turbo timer. A pair of Cobra seats and some aluminium checker plating is on the list of mods for the near future.

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At the end of the day, Andrew has spent a total of around A$15k transforming his Cielo to its current guise - which we think is money well spent. What other cars can you spend that much money on and end up with nearly double the power, a trophy-winning audio system and a big dose of visual appeal? This is one very intelligent package. Unfortunately for Andrew though, it's getting time to sell. So if you're keen on buying, give him a ring on 0408 087 316 or email

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If it doesn't end up going to a new home, the little Cielo will probably enter the next planned phase of development - forged pistons, rods, custom clutch and everything else that'll required to cop 15 psi. U-oh.


RPM Performance Centre
+61 8 8277 2266

D&T Performance Centre
+61 8 8212 4100

Complete Audio
+61 8 8263 1111

ME Dale Crash
+61 8 8357 4777

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