I suspected Gretchen was bent from the clearly very big accident she had been in early in her life, so I thought it best to build an alignment jig to check the diags.
I was amazed to find the alignment data for the chassis from a google search!
It turned out I was right. The left rail was 10mm out of alignment. Nothing a bit of brute force cant fix.
After the alignment was sorted I welded in a heap of bracing and started to cut the front clip off.
The original front (which was actually a replacement from a previous accident) was in horrible shape, so, it had to go.
I prefer the look of the later front when using the turbo kit, so I used a very straight one from a scrapped '74 sedan.
The new clip fitted straight on with the 1st test fit! It still needs to be trimmed for the e36 radiator.
The boot floor was totally rusted out and the rear panel had been dinged so many times it was just easier to replace it, so, they had to go...
Front foot wells on both sides are swiss cheese...
The front floor wells are not so great, especially the passenger side.
No option but to cut and replace. It took a lot of time to fabricate the repair panel to make it nicely fit, but I'm happy with the end result. It still needs a bit of work with the TIG and some flapping, but 90% done.
Does an E36 M3 radiator fit in an 02? Yes!
You have to chop the plastic tabs off the bottom of the end tanks and then do a little metal fabrication (which drops the radiator about 25mm), and cut extra metal out for air flow, but it fits, and it'll fit with the e36 condenser too.
It's actually a radiator for any e36 6 cylinder, including M and Z models (and in this case it has the extended end tank for an automatic), but it'll work just fine for the SR20 and there are heaps of them about.
I'm getting ready to re-attach the front clip, but there are a few mods I want to make first.
I was a bit concerned about not having a front bumper when the turbo spoiler goes on. Not so much for safety, but more for minor parking incidents.
I decided to close the front of the rails in and at the same time drop in captive nuts for easy attachment of some kind of bumper that can sit behind the spoiler.
The deadline to get the body off the jig is now only 8 days away, so you'll see a lot of posts from me over the coming week as everything goes back on.
It's Australia Day today.., true. 26th of January, every year! There's some trivia for you all.
Anyway, we get a long weekend and I get a long car weekend, which is good, because there are only 2 days left to get Gretchen off the jig.
The boot floor and rear panel went back on today. I had to cut the lower left guard for access, but they went on reasonably easily, sort of...
The floor, after much massaging, went in quite well, and a lot of the welds were easily accessible with the spot welder. Nice!
The rear panel was a bit more of a pain...
The brand new BMW rear panel is actually one of the only truly straight panels on the car, however both rear quarter panels have been smashed and then dinged back to a pretty rough state a few times by the looks of things, so, nothing fits as well as it should. Still, nothing a hammer and a welder can't fix.
The boot lid needs serious adjustment, but for a first fit I'm pretty happy. I'll tweak it a bit and weld it out tomorrow.
Today the later model front clip went on. I'd done all the prep a week or two ago, so it was all quite painless, but here's a funny thing, the car is now 12mm shorter..?
It's odd because everything lined up perfectly, but when I checked the guards they were both 12mm too long? Maybe the later model clip is shorter than the original, but I was under the impression that it was only the centre panel that was changed? There could be a difference between touring and sedan, but all the data I have says that they are identical in that area. Anyone out there have any ideas?
Anyway, it doesn't matter, the guards are having 12mm chopped out of the middle of them. I'll make them fit whether they like it or not.
Funny, I originally wanted a 'wheels forward' look, but it all seemed too hard. Now, with the new clip and shorter guards, it's going to happen anyway...
Front Clip Investigations
I've had a bit of an investigate and found the following things that probably explain the size difference.
Looking at the photos from when I purchased the car, the bonnet lip is flush with the clip and there is a larger than normal gap where the bonnet meets the windscreen steel. There was also about 3mm of bog on the top/front edge of the quarter panels. Someone had set the clip too far forward during an old accident repair (Gretchen had the clip and left front replaced early in her life, they were brazed on!).
Still, to make the quarter panels fit perfectly I have to trim them by 5mm or so.
Gretchen finally came off the jig today. Better late than never...
An odd thing started to happen a few days ago. Every day I'd come in and the rear door would be a little more out of alignment (a mil a day). Eventually the left side started to catch the left rear edge of the guard. Welding always bends things, but usually it's bent within the first 5 minutes after the weld. It was weird, but I was hoping it was just the weather as it has been raining torrentially in Sydney for the last week and the workshop is situated in a 150 year old wharf entirely made of wood.
I unbolted her and all of a sudden the rear door alignment is good again, thank f*%k!
There's still a lot of stuff to do before she goes off to the stripper (again) and then paint, but the deadline has been set for 9 weeks from today... Gulp!