Since I don't have a puller yet to finish getting the rear hubs apart I decided to turn my attention to another inevitable task, taking apart the front suspension. My newly acquired cordless impact really started paying for itself here. Do yourself a favor, if you don't own an impact and will be tackling some of this stuff, get one. I cant believe how much less I was swearing in the garage. It was almost unnatural. The only mishap I had throughout the entire process was breaking off one of the bolts that run into the bottom of the strut housing. So that will be another project for another day.
If you have not noticed, I take lots of pictures, mostly for my own reference, but since i have them I figured I would share as there may be some other poor soul out there that has not worked on one of these and likes visual reference.
All the bushings on the car were toast, ball joints were burnt toast. I planned on replacing them all anyway, so no big deal. Going to go urethane. I also plan on the IE sway bar kit once the front sway bars become available again. I dont plan on lowering much, probably just 1 -1.5 inches and going with the Bilstein HD shocks/struts. This will be mostly a street car that might see occasional back road corner carving or autocross. It has to be comfortable enough for the wife to drive but fun enough for me as well, ugh.......compromise. That being said, it is a relatively unmolested Tii so I dont want to go crazy anyway. I dont want to make any changes that would difficult to reverse (so no fender rolling or sheet metal mods). I did find though that when I took the struts out the springs had been cut at some point. The mystery is how much and are they factory springs. It may end up taller after getting new springs and struts/shocks in it.
Another odd item I thought was the bottom portion of both sway bar ends links was bent. This car had clearly been bottomed out at least once in its life and the bottom end links got a piece of the action. I was able to get the nuts off the bottom and then just cut them to get them out. Again, these were pieces i intended to replace, so no loss really.
Enjoy the pics
I started with just doing a really good once over of the vehicle to determine what needed the most help, it was by far the brakes and suspension. I knew the rear brakes were seized up since we had to drag it onto the trailer with a come-a-long. It was a miserable hot day in California then too (at least for my MN acclimated body anyway) so I was sweating like a whore in church. So I started jacking it up to get it up on jack stands and quickly realized how rigid the structure is. This thing did not flex at all and it made getting it fairly level on 4 jack stands (on a non level floor) a bit of a challenge. I would lift a corner and the entire side of the car would lift.
Once it was finally in the air I got the wheels off and started to plan my attack on the brakes. The front was pretty straight forward, just one more brake line per side than I was used to. =) The rear was a small battle. There rear shoes had worn into drum enough to create a pretty significant lip, enough so that the drums would not slide off like they should. Since everything inside was so seized up, there was no adjusting things to draw the shoes inward. So naturally the answer was to beat the ever loving piss out of it with the biggest hammer I had........problem solved. This revealed my next issue, the nut on the end of the hub assembly. Any of you that have dealt with these know the amount of torque that these things are put on with (somewhere around 270 ft lbs I believe). To compound the issue, the car was already in the air, all wheels off and the E-brake doesn't work. So there was no way to hold things in place to spin it off, especially with one person and simple hand tools. This finally gave me justification to buy a kick ass cordless impact along with an axle nut socket set. Once again.........problem solved. I didn't even have to hold the rear hub, just put the impact on it and let it hammer on it a few times and she was loose. Then I realized I needed a puller to get the drive flange off, damn. OK I guess I will work on something else.
I turned my attention to the fuel tank. There was putrid gas in it and it had to come out. Its a pretty straight forward removal. That along with the exhaust was an easy process. The Exhaust is likely going to be replaced with the IE stainless unit and the gas tank is going to get sent out to be cleaned out and treated. There was a tag on the tank from a radiator shop which tells me it has been cleaned out once before.
There are obvious signs of work that have been done to this vehicle before. A junkyard OE strut with the yellow paint marker description on it. Abysmal attempts at recreating the safety wiring on the suspension components, silicone boogers on the air intake tube to plug holes, and the list goes on. Apparently the previous owner liked to do things on the cheap despite having the financial ability to have someone do it right. So Im not fixing rust, but instead Im fixing some other persons crappy work. At least its not both.
I came upon this car one day during a visit out to California with my wife. We were out to see her moms God Mother while we were in Vegas. So we road tripped up for an overnight stay to see her. She is an elderly woman in her 90's with failing health. She and her partner have lived together for decades and while there mentioned some issues with their 1st generation Chrysler minivan not starting. I volunteered to take a look and deduced that it was likely a dead battery. Amazingly they actually owned a battery charger that was located somewhere in the garage. I opened the garage door and saw the rear end of a car I did not recognize. Being a BMW though it piqued my interest.
I gave it a good walk around as much as I could and realized it was actually in quite good condition. The interior had no rips or tears and there was no rust to be found. When I went back inside I asked her about the car. She told me that she had purchased it new and had driven it regularly up until she parked it right there in the garage in the 90's (about 1994 I believe). That spot had been its home ever since, garaged and out of the sun in a perfect climate for the better part of 20 years. I was amazed at the age of the vehicle and the condition it survived in. Here in MN, most cars that age that have been sitting for that long are complete basket cases with severe rust issues. In terms of work required, this was a singing dancing unicorn that could grant me 3 wishes in my world. I was getting ahead of myself though. I asked her is she ever thought of getting rid of it and if so to please let me know. She didn't say much and did not seem too interested in selling it. We went on our way back to Vegas for the remainder of our vacation and then eventually back home to MN.
About a year and a half later we made our way out there again. I once again expressed my interest in the car, but this time I had done alot of research about the cars and what they were worth. As it sat I estimated the car was probably a fair value at around $10k and let her know that. I didn't want her to think I wanted to steal it from her (although money was not an issue for her). Again, no real conversation on the topic and we eventually made our way home.
Then things got interesting. She and her partner owned three house on two adjoining lots. They decided to sell one of the lots with the big house and 2nd guest house out back. The Tii resided in the garage for the big house and they needed it gone. We spoke about it a couple times and I could never get an answer about what they wanted for it. Then they finally said that they just wanted me to come get it.
Me: Ok, great.........but for how much?
Owner: Just come get it, you just pay for the title transfer.
So after picking my jaw up off the floor and realizing what had just been gifted to us I called my stepdad to organize a road trip out to California. We drove out with his 3/4 ton Dodge diesel and a car trailer. We made it a 4 day trip and came home with the little beauty.
Before the trip I also found a local trucking company that offered indoor heated storage at a rate of a $1 a day..............score. I didn't have room in the garage at the time so this was the next best thing. It sat there through the winter of 2015/2016 and I finally brought it home last summer. I have been slowly researching and ordering bits and pieces here and there. The work is finally starting though and the hope is that this summer she will be back on the road. Not full blown restored yet, but safe and drivable.
You guys will be hearing from me. =)