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Well, it's been a while, but I'm back!

Due to life getting in the way (and having lost my workshop...) I had to put Gretchen into storage for an extended period, but the good news is she's back!

I'm still sorting the new workshop (which is unfortuantley no where near as spacious as the last) and I will begin the last parts of the metal work later this week. I'm hoping I can have it all done in 4 weeks, then she'll be off to be dipped again, and rust treated, and then the next day I'll hit the underbody, interior, engine bay with POR15, give the exterior a quick prime, and then the fun begins!

Realistically, she's still going to be off the road for a long time, but I'm aiming for a rolling chassis by February 2015 and a 1st engine start by April 2015. After that there's only the other 10 million things to do, but with any luck she'll be on the road by July.

I'll start posting photos soon.

Oh, I have a lot of parts for sale, so keep your eye on eBay (aji72) if you're in Australia, and if I get offers from 2002FAQers I will consider them more seriously than random people. No stupid offers please. I've already said no to about 20 people and in case no one has noticed, I'm not exactly in a hurry...


The Build Part 1

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.

  • brute force and ignorance IMG_0787.jpg
  • Jig GOPR0452.jpg
  • side on the jig GOPR0522.jpg
  • 2002-Chassis.jpg


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.

  • front removal GOPR0624.jpg
  • front clean up GOPR0674.jpg
  • new front test fit GOPR0788.jpg


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...

  • rear and floor GOPR1068.jpg


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.

  • rust removed IMG_0932.JPG
  • floor repair panel IMG_0935.jpg
  • floor welded IMG_0939.jpg


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.

  • radiator clearance IMG_0946.jpg
  • radiator clearance finished IMG_0948.jpg
  • e36 radiator IMG_0951.jpg


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.

  • rail mod IMG_0958.jpg


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.

  • boot floor IMG_1003.jpg
  • new bum IMG_1005.jpg

  • new bum TL GOPR1536.jpg


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...

  • New Front IMG_1009.jpg

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!

  • off the jig GOPR1740.jpg



There are a few other SR20 powered '02's out there.

FAQ memeber staunch2002 has a laser cutting facility. While both of our projects are a million miles away from worrying about details such as custom badges, staunch has had a few proto's made.

The first attempt was this. Good, but much room for improvement...

  • SR2002 badge.jpg

Second attempt is much closer, but still not right.

  • Resampled_2013-03-31_21-24-40_557.jpg

So far staunch has done all the hard work on this, but, a friend of mine has a 3D printer, so, it'll be my turn soon...


Okay. So here's the very controversial photo of Gretchen with 19" Audi RS rims.

It was only ever a meant to be a quick photo shoot with whatever I had laying around to keep me motivated while I chopped all the rust out of her.

The door and the arches are gaffered on, the body was dropped onto the wheels and with the air let out of the rear tyre to squeeze into the tub and the body was given a 5 minute prime.

I thought it would look ridiculous, but I was surprised. 19's are crazy, but 17's for sure.

Before anyone decides to comment on 'destroying dynamics' and 'ruining handling' this has all been discussed at great length and with much emotion before, so, save your breath.

  • IMG_0708.JPG



Hi all,

I'm slowly transferring from the old blog system to the new one. This will take some time, so, bear with me...




After 6 years in storage I've finally re-started my project; Gretchen, an SR20 powered 2002 Touring.

This is a full ground up restoration with a bit of a difference as I am not restoring to concours, rather, to my own personal taste. I'll use BMW parts wherever I can but if another manufacturers product is more appropriate then that's what I'll use. Obviously the engine is the biggest single change, what with it being a Nissan...

Basically the sky's the limit, but I'm trying to keep it real and within a reasonably generous budget. Even so, crazy ideas are being entertained and nothing is being ruled out at the moment.

I'll try and post as much detail as I can over the next weeks, months, years.., but for the time being I'll put up some pics of where I've been and where I'm up to.

I'm happy to take comments and constructive criticism, and I'm sure I'll ruffle a few feathers, so if you don't like the project, thanks and see you later, and if you do like the project feel free to chime in with suggestions.



  • as delivered DSCN4547.jpg


Here's the pre-purchase concept. I was only ever thinking subtle body mods and period wheels with mildly tuned M10 in those days. Quite reserved compared to where I'm going now...

  • concept - left side3.jpg


Here's a pic of her delivered to the strippers and then two more of Gretchen re-born.

Seeing her stripped was an amazing sight. If you've ever had a car dipped you know what I'm talking about, but it's hard to describe. It's like she just came out of the factory.

There are 2 processes. First a caustic solution to strip off everything but steel (and oddly plastic?) and then a second dip to stop and reverse rust.

I was worried she'd come out looking like swiss cheese, but I was pleasantly surprised, sort of...

Every accident repair she'd ever had was revealed, being:

- Front clip and left front of the engine bay including the left rail (replaced!)

- left rear quarter from the b pillar to mid way through the wheel arch (replaced!)

- right rear quarter badly roughed out

- rear panel roughed out

- boot floor patched 10 million times including the fuel tank support

- passengers foot well patched, maybe only 5 million times?

And every piece of rust I may have missed if I didn't have her dipped was revealed, which was pretty much everywhere.

  • re born - rear - DSC00150.jpg
  • re-born - front - DSC00145.jpg
  • ready to strip - gretchenstrip1.JPG


While I was procrastinating I pumped out another quick concept.

Picking colours is hard. Original 02 colours or something new??? I entertained the idea of Dakkar yellow for a while (the first rendering) and then this one in the more traditional silver with the ever popular Alpina rims.

  • concept 2 - DSCN4548crop 5 wheels lowered copy.jpg


I had major confusion about colour, then I saw a modern 330 finished in BMW space grey. Nice!

  • space grey modm34.jpg


FAQ member redskinsjbs very kindly picked one of my favorite '02 Tourings and did these renderings for me. Options paralysis...

  • Red.jpg
  • Fjord.jpg
  • dakar yellow.jpg

  • Light Grey.jpg
  • Grey.jpg
  • Dark Grey.jpg

  • Lighter Grey.jpg

  • Light Grey Black Fender.jpg
  • Tundra Green Metallic.jpg
  • Boston Green Metallic.jpg
  • Techno Violet.jpg


Here's the front cut of the donor car. A PS13 180SX. I bought the whole front cut, including gearbox, to make the swap easier.

The best part about buying a front cut is the engine can be started to make sure it runs before purchase. The engine fired up 1st go, even though some of the plumbing was missing from the compressor outlet...

  • ps13 sr20det DSC00173.jpg


And here's the same engine test fitted into Gretchen.

As you can see there's loads of room, which is understandable as the SR is a 2L 4 cylinder... The very svelte SR gearbox fits nicely in the 02 tunnel too.

The SR head has the opposite inlet and exhaust configuration to the single cam M10, which is actually better for a right-hand-drive car, but would probably be an issue for LHD. I'm sure some of you have noticed that the twin cam BMW race engine of the era is actually the opposite head configuration too..?

The only notable mods needed to make it fit are; conversion to rack and pinion steering, custom engine and gearbox mounts, change the position of the front sway bar mounts, and move the gear stick hole back about 100mm.

  • sr20 test fit IMG_0150.jpg

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