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      The 13x5.5 alloy "Turbine" wheels from an E21 are an easy upgrade to the stock steel 13x5 wheels.

      However, the offset is ET18 and places the wheels further outboard. They will "work fine" however this does affect the scrub radius, adds steering effort, increases wheel bearing stress and possible fender rubbing when lowered or trying to fit wide sticky rubber (basically only one or two non-street options). The other issue is the decreasing availability of good R13" tires.  Surely buying brand new 14" or 15"wheels and tires at a cost of $700 - $1300 depending on quality. Um, not this guy...


      20160616_154053.jpgA budget friendly upgrade is to get E30 BMW stock wheels with their better ET30 offset, wider 6 or 6.5" width and larger 14" diameter which opens up a lot more high performance tire options. There are some other budget options such as VW, Miata, or other used wheels you may find within a spacer's width of correct offset but you need to know exactly what you're getting.


      I kept it simple and looked for the ubiquitous "E30 BBS Basketweave" wheels. 14x6.5 ET30 is a great fit. I wanted a set that had tires I could use for a little while as well. The hunt was on.




      I stumbled across and ad for basketweaves with a tiny photo and poor description on Craigslist. Yes, this is a gamble as typically the ads are "poor on purpose" to hide something. Time to roll the dice.

      After a long drive I showed up to find... sad looking chrome basketweaves. Ugh! Only offered on the convertible (I think). Also, they showed corrosion and peeling of the chrome, some rash (expected), one with a slightly bent lip, and mismatch tires brand and sizes... I was willing to walk away but he really just wanted them gone so for around $20 each I brought them home. The photo really does make them look 100 times better than they were!


      I considered just flipping them and trying to get $50 extra but I chose to see just how far elbow grease could get me before throwing in the chips.

      So yet another project begins.







      Project "Zapatos Negros" - Goal: budget beater wheels



      Tires - I actually had two good 205-50 tires that could go on the rear of the 2002. The others were 185-65 and 195-70 with the latter not holding air. I'd keep the ideal 185-65 on the front and buy one matching 185 tire to replace the 195.



      Rims - I couldn't just leave them chrome as they were too bad. I'd have to strip as much of the flaking chrome off as possible, sand off any oxidation and paint them to at least seal them from the elements and slow the oxidation. I decided on black paint as it would hide imperfections better than trying to make them light silver or darker grey. That's still more "boy racer" than many 2002 owners are comfortable with but it fits my style.



      I stripped the oxidation with brass rotary brushes and used 80 grit sanding cones to rough up as much as I could of the chrome. It wasn't perfect but I did as much as I could within reason. I couldn't see spending another few hours to get them perfectly cleaned up as they are still beater rims with blemishes.


      Etching primer seems to be the ticket to bite into the scuffed up chrome (very hard) surface. It stuck well to the surface.


      I degreased and then used black gloss engine enamel. I could not find gloss wheel paint and engine enamel works just fine and at $5 a can it was budget friendly.


      I didn't want to add a clear coat so that any chips or flaking can easily be hit with sandpaper and touched up with a few sprays. In the future I can still take them to get repaired, chrome removed, or media blasted.


      Not too bad of a resurrection. Cheap, larger, wider wheels. At $170 invested I could have done worse!




      unnamed%2B%252814%2529.jpgI painted the centercaps black also but I think I may settle on this alternate centercap: E21 Turbine or E30 Bottlecap wheel centercap can be fitted (and silicon-ed in place. I think it actually gives a period correct feel. 



    2. uber wagon
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      Waiting for some spacers to be made to finish the rear end so started working on the fender flares.  They are replica Schnitzer flares from Korman and add about 4" in width to each side.  That will work nicely with my 8" wide wheels and extra track width from the E30 rear end.  The Korman flares are really designed for a race car and don't have the finish or thickness you would want on a street car, so we will be re-enforcing them as well as a quite a bit of finish work.  On the fronts we decided to integrate the flare into the original fender so we can use the steel fender for its original mounting points and turn signal receptacle.




      Here is the back side of the front fender showing how we bent the steel fender around it to give more surface area for mounting.  Should be plenty stiff and strong when we are done!



      Here is a picture with the front air dam mocked up in place.  I am thinking I want to make this removable, so will probably use something like Nutserts or Dzus fasteners to hold it in place.



      Also started working on the rear flares as well.  Going to weld a piece of sheet metal along the larger opening to make a full tub and seal the area so rocks and sand can't collect inside the flares.





    3. Since the past entry I have slowly been replacing parts as needed. I all four new floors from wallonthnesch shipped to me in three days for 260 which I found amazing.

      As of now all but one of the new floor panels has been replaced.


      They all fit very tightly and look exactly like the original; At least I think they do considering I couldn't even see the pattern of the drainage passages in the back. I also took out the petal box to fix the rust hole that it had and replace the bushings. The passenger floor was entirely replaced some time around 1990 and was just a bolted and welded on piece of galvanized metal that was a pain to get off. There was a continuous weld on the bottom to the subframe and some weird layer upon layer to raise the floor or something.


      The only other major rust problem now is the rust that is on the nose of the car; but considering that the car can still be driven with that rust and there is no rust anywhere else, the repairing will have to wait till the car is painted. 

                  The engine also finally went in and it looks much better than the oil splattered engine that was there before.IMG_0762.JPG

      The turbo is on the car and unlike most turbo builds that I have seen, the turbo on this motor is below the exhaust manifold which ended up being a tight squeeze trying avoid hitting the heat shield and subframe.

      The overdrive 5-speed I sourced went in with the engine and now all the "extra" bits are being put together including turbo piping, oil lines, megasquirt wiring, coolant lines, shortening the driveshaft and installing the lsd differential. 

                    Looking into the wiring of the car has been interesting. One or both of the previous of the 2 previous owners of the car did some modifications to the electrical system that is very complicated and not the best quality work, but obviously took a long time to put together. There is only some wires added to the engine bay that go to the square hella fog lights, and some other wires that splice into random places on the wiring harness and do something, I have no idea what. Inside the car I have found tons of buttons, plugs and switches with wiring under the dashboard covered with rubber tubing that makes me think that the first owner of this car may have been James Bond. I will not be getting rid of any of the switches, but will be finding new purposes for them as they do not look super ridiculous and are kind of interesting.

               Here is all the switches on the top of the center consoles with the lights,


                and here is the wiring under the center console and yes, that is windshield washer tubing covering electrical connections



               Then there is this plug under the steering wheel which I do not believe is original considering it has crimped on connections on the back


           Then there is the other random wires under the steering wheel which attach to random connections that have been made.

       These particular wires go to the frontfoglamp button which looks like the letters have been changed? Notice the "A" and "M" are slightly filled in


          Also if you look you will notice the little red light with a identical one on the other side of the gauge cluster that attaches to the switches, I believe..

      I also found a switch while following the wiring that was hidden in the glove box.


       Oh, and there is one wire that goes to the back of the car and down out by the exhaust for some reason; Possibly a tow hitch?


      And then the final wires seem to be for speakers or something but are super long and go from the dashboard to under the back seat and attach to nothing, that is how the wires where found


       Unfortunately it does not seem as if there is any missile launchers or ejectors seats in the car but hopefully I can sort through the wiring and start getting the engine management hooked up to see if I can finally start the engine having acquired it come years ago, rebuilding it for some time, and then searching for the right 2002 to put it in. The progress will continue with most all of the work hopefully done before summer is over.