OK, so I thought that it would be useful to share my VX experiences, so that others can benefit from my mistakes...
A bit of background - I used to own an absolutely mint Elise S1 Sport 135, which was brilliant. Downsides were that it was mint, so I was always worried about damaging it and it was fitted with a K series, so I always thought it was on the verge of turning into a kettle. There is much more fun to be had from improving a car than from trying to keep it mint. I decided to buy a slightly ratty VX, tidy it up and then supercharge it. On paper, that's a fairly cheap way to get to impressive performance and handling.
I bought a low mileage 03 NA that had been stored in a warehouse and was cosmetically tatty and in need of TLC. Checks say that it hasn't been written off at any stage and MOTs confirm mileage. I replaced shocks (Nitron Streets), wheels (TDs), rebuilt brakes and replaced engine mounts, all of which were worth doing.
I bought imported new SC, manifold, TB, support bracket, dual pass mod etc from a guy on this site and I researched all of the build guides. I then teamed up with a local garage owner, who runs a Radical in a race series and has a motorsport business on the side. We agreed to work on the project together. Plan of action was for the car to be dropped at a local paintshop for clam removal and primer, so that we could work on the naked car.So far so good. I ordered a new 2.5" Tullett and all the Pro Alloy kit, plus a new water radiator, which are all beautiful.
Here is where it started to go wrong. I was paying a guy, but he was doing the job on the side. Yes, the rates were low, but he really regarded it as something that he could do at weekends and in his spare time. As a result, it took forever. The car was in his workshop and I could only work on it when he was there, so I couldn't speed up the process. It took months to complete, but once done, we returned the car to the paint shop for respray and reassembly. Because the car had been gone so long, the paint shop hadn't planned it into their schedule, so there it sat for two more months.
I finally got the car back and it was great. Paintwork good, engine supercharged. However, it was idling badly and I posted a few questions about the tech issues on the forums. I had the car booked in at Courtenays for mapping, so, after discussing the issues with them, I kept the appointment. On the way to Courtenay, I got hit by an Italian driver, who swerved the wrong way when he heard me coming. Damage to the N/S sill. Up to Courtenay, with brand new paintwork taped up with gaffer tape. On investigation, they could see that the engine was running lean, so embarked on a process of looking for leaks, checking fuel pressure etc. No progress, so no mapping and, £350 later, I hit the motorway home. That was pretty much it for last summer.
Early this year (April) I dropped the car back at the paintshop for rear clam off, damage repair and delivery to local mechanic for further diagnostics and fit wide band Lambda. He focused on the idle as the primary issue, as had Courtenay. All tests showed everything OK. Time passed and we discussed other possible causes. It was suggested that the timing chain could have jumped a tooth, so I had the chain kits replaced. No change.
My friendly mechanic then presented me with a huge bill for diagnostics work. Apparently, because the build wasn't a standard service event, he didn't feel that it was appropriate to sort out issues with the installation under warranty. To a degree, I agree with him on this point and it is important for anyone jumping into this kind of venture. Once you start, you are on your own. Nobody will take any responsibility for the outcome. I received a big bill for diagnostics and received no diagnosis. I shipped the car to a reputable tuning company and they eventually diagnosed an issue with the TB as the cause of the idle issue. It is an unused item - brand new -but of course, there is no warranty on it. So, with my original TB fitted,I paid a second huge bill for diagnostics, picked the car up on a trailer and took it back to the paint shop.
Note that the car is still running lean - so why was that? Well, the kit that I bought included a 3.1" pulley. I had told Courtenay about it, but that was overlooked, due to the distraction caused by the poor idle. The pulley size will be fine - I will just have a restricted rev limit to avoid engine damage by going over 250bhp, but will benefit from more torque at lower engine speeds. All good.
When I delivered the car back to the paint shop, I also booked it back in with Courtenay for mapping. There is a 3-4 week lead time, so I figured that it was best to get the date in the diary. The repairs to the bodywork are being carried out at my cost. Why? Because if I had claimed on insurance (mine or the other driver's - it doesn't matter), the car would have been written off. There is another real lesson here for people who drive VXs. Most repairs are non viable, so although you pay for fully comp, you actually get third party only. And even if the accident is the other guy's fault, you will still lose your car, along with all the expensive pretty stuff that you have fitted to it.
Once again, because the car had disappeared from the paint shop for so long, they weren't able to fit it in for respray and reassembly. Six weeks on, it is still there and the date with Courtenay is long gone. Next appointment is in mid September.
One thing that has genuinely annoyed me through all of this is that the paint shop and my local mechanic have dealt with me as though they were doing me a favour. Lousy comms, calls not returned, brusque, rude. I've spent a fortune on all of this, which has undoubtedly boosted their revenues, but I have been really badly treated. Another lesson. Deal with people who rely on working on VXs for their living and who need to do a good job for you. It is a massive safety net. Courtenay have been great all the way through. Not just because they're nice people, but also because they know that there is a community here who will share their experiences.
I've fallen out of love with the VX for now. I bought it as a treat, something to enjoy. I've driven it about 1000 miles in the last two years and spent more money on it than I dare to think about. And I haven't enjoyed it. No doubt, once I finally get it back, I will drive it a few times and realize that it was worth the effort.
But before you start on something like this, understand what the downside might be, consider getting it done by the pros (yes, it is expensive, but...) and maybe do it in smaller chunks than I did. Hope this helps....