It seems like every project meets some sort of random parts wall at some point. That is to say, you end up waiting for ages for parts to arrive, things are difficult to source, or you end up with the wrong parts entirely. That has been the case for the last few weeks for me. I’ll try to tackle things in order and get everyone up to speed.
So you may remember last year I bought a beefier version of the radiator I currently had in the car. This was in an effort to keep the poor 2002 a little cooler in the hot summer months. However once we started going down the rabbit hole of shaved bay, and systems deletes, that radiator became non-viable. I also purchased a Radium Expansion Tank, that is likewise useless. The part itself is great, but for my purposes needlessly complicated.
Purchased, assembled and immediate regret. Not using this wonderful piece anymore.
The solution? Capped radiator. Since I am deleting the heater, the expansion tank loop becomes a bit redundant. Some measuring and scrolling through Summit later, and I found this unit. I couldn’t tell you what car it normally lives on, but I can tell you it fits perfectly between the frame rails of a 2002.
I also ordered an M20 header flange, because we decided to make a header from scratch. Off the shelf options for M20s simply don’t clear the 2002 steering linkage. Problem one, no one in the US seems to still make this flange. Problem two, after finding an international company who makes a flange, it took ages to arrive from Bulgaria. Problem three, it was warped to hell. I don’t want to put the company on blast, but it is frustrating to wait all that time for a fairly ruined piece.
On a more positive note, my wiring harness came back from modifications. At it’s core, it’s mostly my stock E30 wiring harness, however it’s been freshened up, reloomed, and most importantly modified for my standalone. I’ll be running an ECUmasters EMU Classic, and the plugs have been swapped out to accommodate ECUmasters sensors and ECU. I also had a few areas extended to help with the tucking plans.
Now onto the physical car itself. My fabricator has been working on the radiator support. Now that he has the right radiator in, he cut a pretty sizable chunk out of the bottom of the nose to sink the radiator into the chassis. He also finished cutting the shock towers flush and welding the seams.
You may notice a bar peaking in the edge of those photos. Progress has started on the radiator support. This will put some sort of structural piece back into the nose. For my car, this will double as the radiator mount, hood mount, oil cooler mount and so on. Additionally, and perhaps needlessly complicating things, it will be removable. I will be able to unbolt this bar from the car if necessary. The fabricator bent it to fit the nose of my car, and cut out some end plates to start the process of fitting it.
Hopefully within the next week or two the radiator support will be all welded up and ready to go. We’ll be adding ducting, and some vanity panels to help hide this all as well. I’m also now looking into just painting the whole car. I realize this is another jump in project scale, but it’s going to be so close to being perfect for me after this stage, that paint would just be the icing on the cake. I’ll have to figure out how that will work exactly, but it’s something I really want to finally tackle.
I finally have real progress photos to share. First I start with more parts collecting however, as that seems to be tradition for this build thread. I picked up AKG Motorsport's shifter and DSSR. Ultimately this may seem like an unnecessary step at this stage, but we're going to be adding some captive nuts under the shifter opening so the shifter can easily be removed from the cabin of the car. As a result, I had to order it in so my fabricator could work on that part. I have to say, this is a serious piece of hardware, I'm so impressed with the quality. I also picked up a Wilwood reservoir for my clutch fluid, as the plastic bottle was faded, ugly and frankly not cutting it. Again, I needed this so we could find an appropriate place to mount it.
Now for the really fun part, cutting and welding has finally started on the 2002. This is a small example of what is going on. I've talked a lot about how this car felt rushed or just slapped together, and it's details like this that drive that point home. When they cut out the radiator support to fit the M20, they left a large piece of jagged metal in the bay. This was finally cut flush, and the seam is getting welded shut. Likewise bracket shaving began with the poorly designed AFM carrier. You can see what a world of difference it makes in the before and after below.
This is the general approach that I'm taking the the whole engine bay. Does the engine need to float in place? No, not at all. But realistically I don't want to be embarrassed to pop my hood and show the M20 off. Plus it makes it a lot safer to work on, I cut my arm pretty badly on that jagged metal once before. So win-win I suppose. This progress will continue over the next couple of weeks. He's going to keep cutting, welding, filling and so on, until it's ready to send off to paint. But just seeing this one little bit done makes me excited for the next stages.
Not a lot to say other than I got the chassis rolling recently, and this weekend sent it off to my friend's shop for some fab work. The current list includes:
Revised trans brace
Heater core delete plate
Engine bay shaving (filling unused holes/removing brackets)
I'll update as progress continues. I'll try to be over there once a week to get new photos until it's done.
After some consideration, I decided to take things even further. Originally I was going to retain my factory brake booster, the idea being that I wanted to... you know... stop. But I had a number of gripes about the setup as usual. Primarily it was horribly ugly. While technically I had no clearance issues with the ITBs, it does take up a significant amount of room in terms of accessing the steering box, and other subframe bits. Plus it really is just awful to look at. After speaking to a friend, I decided to contact Chase Bays to see what their product could do in my setup. You may remember I'm planning on running Volvo 240 front brakes, and Mk4 VW Jetta rear brakes. They said that as long as I run a bias adjuster valve and some good pads, I should have a near stock braking experience up to 80% pedal travel. So I ordered the kit.
That is very loosely mocked up in the car. You can see it saves significant space, and frankly just looks nicer. I'm leaving the whole setup reversible. If I **** manual brakes, then I can go back to the stock booster setup. I have faith this will work however.
Finally I got the rear subframe back together. I couldn't put it in myself, so I'm hoping to get that all squared away this weekend. With any luck it will be rolling again soon, so I can drop it off for more fab work. Then engine bay paint, and it all goes back together.
I can't leave well enough alone. But when the opportunity arises to get something on my bucket list, I'm not going to say no. Short background story, my friend bought an E24 last year. It sat on the back burner for a while because he was too deep in with other projects, and eventually he dropped it off at a friend's shop to just get it sorted so he could drive it. While parked there, the girlfriend of one of the techs backed a trunk into the quarter panel, and completely totaled the car.
Downside, a minty 635csi died. Upside, I scored some sweet rear seats before it went off to auction. I could really use a template to cut these, before I start guessing. My spacial estimations have let me down before, I rather not get too aggressive and ruin the seats.
For shits and giggles I through them in the car while cleaning yesterday. Keep in mind this is with 0 cutting, so they stick forward about a mile. But hey, they look pretty cool with the Car Make Corn's bucket seats up front. The tentative plan is to dye these black as well, get them cut and fitted, and enjoy.
I also had a new valve cover done up. One thing that bugs me with a lot of M20 ITB setups is the valve cover. There is a bracket built in that supports the intake manifold. When you go the the ITBs it becomes useless. I had it shaved off, which apparently isn't the easiest process. The casting is super dirty, and pinholed quite a bit when the two holes were filled. As a result, the final powder coat shows where those holes used to be. It's minor, and I may redo this again later. But for now it's better than having the bracket, in my opinion.
It's just one more side project I've added to my list, but it's whatever at this point. The car takes as long as it takes. Theoretically today I'll finally be getting the rear end back together, I'm hoping to have the chassis as a roller again this weekend. You guys will be the first to know if I succeed.
The parts I have been waiting for? They came in.
RHD M20 ITB kit. Note, the on engine pictures are absolutely the bare minimum to mock the whole thing up. I have a long way to go before they're actually on and functional, but I wanted to see how they fit in this chassis. The kit was designed for an E30, so I may have some challenges clearing the firewall. Though it fits mocked up, it's a very tight fit.
As if rewiring, replumbing and doing a full interior wasn't enough of a pain. I have other updates, but I'll catch up on those later. I'm just excited to share this bit.
This weekend I spent some time mapping out wiring. Below is a comparison picture of how it sat as I got the car, versus how it looked with the harness out of the bay. I think we can all agree it's a lot cleaner. After some discussion, mainly with myself, I figured I should go the extra mile and tuck the harness. The goal is to route the engine harness under the dash, and exit mid-firewall to allow it to reach all the necessary sensors. The headlight harness (you can see it spans the missing core support in the top picture, will be lengthened, run under the fender and then under the radiator. Same for the fan harness.
The engine harness is out of the car now, and ready to be sent off for modification. I'm stuck waiting on parts so I can measure and test fit a few things before I take that step though.
Also I realize that I've mentioned this a few times, but I just can't stress enough how frustrating finding things like this is. This wiring mess pictured below? I removed that from my engine bay, the two modules were screwed into the firewall and looked original to the car. It's all the original idle/choke control for the 2002! It was just left in! It took four screws and about 45 additional seconds of untangling to remove it from the car. Why leave it in?
Like I said, I'm stuck waiting on one thing right now. It has to be test fit to ensure everything else around it clears, and then I can move on. In the mean time, I can't finish putting the suspension back together until my diff flanges arrive in the mail. I also need to powder coat the sway bars. My Ireland Engineering drop center sway bars came in, and they are bright blue. While I'm not going for full restoration with powder coated perfection under the car, I can't stand to have bright blue bars sticking out my otherwise pretty mellow looking car.
To be clear, I'm not going for show car perfection here, but rather something that isn't offensive to look at. I need to be able to work on it relatively easily, and in it's current setup that simply isn't possible. My 2002 is far from perfect, it's full of character that I have learned to appreciate. It'll never be a Pebble Beach contender, but it also doesn't have to be a complete hack job.
So in trying to remove the diff from the drive shaft, I was poking around the underside of the car and discovered something fairly alarming. At some point, the nuts holding the transmission brace had rattled off, and the whole brace had fallen onto the exhaust. It wasn't that far off, not even the length of the studs extending under the car. Maybe half an inch total lower then it should be. However, I think we all know that an exhaust should not be holding your transmission in the car. Discovering this, I made a snap decision to just pull the engine.
Here's my logic... Since I purchased this car, I've been less than impressed with the plumbing and wiring. It always felt like a rush job. The previous owner told me that he brought it to a shop in his area to have them complete those two areas, and they clearly just phoned it in. While it is functional, the car did run after all, it is ugly and completely unservicable. For example, if the shift linkage failed, the exhaust would have to come out completely to reach it. In order to remove the exhaust, the subframe has to come out. This is because the exhaust is one piece front to back, a removable mid section would prevent this. Same with the wiring, the radiator fan wiring ran a full loop of the engine bay for no apparent reason, and every single wire coming off the relay was the same color. These are details that make working on the car a nightmare.
So time to redo everything.
First the hood came off. Side note, Jesus Christ the 2002 has a heavy hood. Like surprisingly so. You can see I started moving things around in the engine bay. I cut the exhaust off the car underneath, but the bolts from the header to the midsection were seized, so it's stuck together. I can't drop the exhaust out the gap, so it'll have to come out after the engine. It is free from the car entirely though.
Below are some examples of the things that drive me nuts about this swap. The wiring is zip tied to coolant hoses, relay blocks are shoved where ever they'll sit, dead systems just remain in the car for no real reason. I found quite a few wires sitting in the engine bay that just generally lead no where on either end.
These zip ties were all removed from coolant hoses. Almost all of them were tightened to the point where they were digging into the hose. In many cases wiring harness portions were also ziptied to the hose, and then the whole lot was zip tied to the chassis. Look, zip ties are useful in moderation. But this engine bay basically fell apart when I started removing zip ties.
I finished the weekend removing the intake manifold. A hateful job that was 100% designed by someone who had a grudge against people with big hands. I spent far too much time removing that manifold from the engine. I wanted to do it in the bay to give myself more room to extract the engine, but I borderline regret doing that now. It ate up hours. The cooling system was removed as well, and the wiring harness was labeled and separated from the engine as best as I could. I'm sure we'll discover how good a job I did when the engine comes out.
Once the engine is out, it's time for some clean up. I'll be cutting off any brackets that are not needed, plugging any holes that serve no purpose, and sending the car off again for some fresh engine bay paint. I won't call it a shaved bay, but... trimmed? Yeah, sure trimmed bay. I also ordered something I'm extremely excited about, this part is the crowning jewel to this car. It'll realize the dream 2002 for me. I'm being intentionally vague until they get in, so in the mean time, here's a picture of my dog.
This weekend marked very slow progress, but progress all the same. I spent some time removing bushings, which is a very smelly process. It started with finally removing the control arms from the car. I had to borrow a ball joint separator to get the tie rods off. Also, as it turns out the M20 is very much in the way of getting the driver's side control arm off. While I eventually did manage to jump on a breaker bar and get everything loose, it wasted a ton of time. Perks of owning a hot rod I suppose.
One thing I noticed, is the control arm bushings were toast on the passenger side. The car has had some wicked pull under braking, something I tried to iron out with new pads/rotors etc. But this was almost certainly the reason for it. In fact it was so bad on the bushing picture below, I could tear the bushing apart by hand. For the rest, I resorted to burning.
I installed all of the bushings on the passenger side, which I later realized I have to undo. But here's photos of that process. The first (horrible, and underlit photo) is the new radius arm bushing. For any of you attempting this job, and have to do this bushing, it is very much a pain to remove. I used the radius arm for leverage and eventually was able to pry out the stock bushing. The 2 piece poly unit went in much easier.
After I pressed in those bushings, I felt it was a little bit of a waste to have the arm looking that grimey. Eager to test out the paint I had picked up the other day, I decided to test it out on the other control arm, and rear subframe push rods. I'm using Rustoleum Rust Inhibitor, and will do a final coat in glossy enamel. However yesterday was one of the two cold, rainy days we get here in Arizona. So despite my best efforts, it was far too humid and cold to properly paint.
The photo is pretty poor, which is par for the course in my thread. They were soaking wet with paint there, but did eventually dry an even coat once I got them in the garage where it was warmer. I decided to wait to lay down the final enamel coat due to the weather, I didn't want to make things worse, even if it would all be hidden under the car. Sometime this week I'll pull the other bushings from the control arm back out, and give that a good coat too. But for a test, things went about as well as I could hope. It should prevent any future rust or harm.
I then finished the weekend out burning out the remaining trailing arm bushings. A miserable process, but necessary all the same.
This week I'm waiting for a pretty important part to arrive in the mail. Once that arrives, I can place yet another order with Ireland Engineering, and hopefully I'll be set to start putting the car back together. I miss driving it a lot, so the anxiety of having it sit in the garage all torn apart is starting to get to me.
I've fallen a bit behind in maintaining this build thread. So here's everything up until today.
So after losing one hex cap on the road a while back, I've been trying to get a matching fourth or source a new set. When you're picky, it's the biggest pain in the ass. I couldn't come up with a single V1 SpinFab small thread cap, although I'm keeping an eye out for one still. I contacted SpinFab directly, and they said they have moved on to the V2 design. If you look at the base of the hex, it has a slant to it as opposed to the flat base of the V1 cap. It looks fine, but I couldn't buy just one and have it be mismatched. So I ordered a full set in raw finish, and took it to a friend of mine to get polished. It was a pain to replace the whole set, but I guess these things happen. And it'll be nice to run waffles again, I prefer covering the lugs on RSs personally.
First and foremost, a huge thanks to my friend Nick (@nhammon) for polishing these. I've mentioned this before, but he's in the process of building a wild show Miata, and has been polishing brake lines for weeks now. So he was familiar with the process of getting the shine out of these caps. I probably would have mucked it up somehow, so it's great to have friends willing to help make sure things turn out perfect. So, definitely go give him a follow. I've tried to get him to start a build thread here, but that's been in vain.
For those of you that follow me on Instagram, I teased another car coming soon. In short, I traded one car I have in the garage (non-op), for another car that runs and drives, which will free up the garage. That means my Roundie can move into the garage, and I can put it up on jack stands for an extended amount of time and actually get some real work done. I'm getting close, and I'm really excited.
So the time has finally come to tear the car apart. I started the process yesterday after one last cruise. That was mostly to get as much gas out of the tank as possible, but it seemed like a fitting conclusion to chapter one of the 2002. At this point the car won't be back on the road for a few months I imagine. I started tearing apart the 2002 in my garage, and then it'll be towed over to a body shop for rust repair in the trunk. From there, it's off to my fabricator to build the tube core support, and get all the radiator upgrades taken care of. Then back to my garage for bushings, ball joints, etc. I'll also be finishing what I can of the interior at that time.
I don't have a ton of space, but it's more than I have had in the past. So I'm stoked on that.
Starting point. Dirty, rusty, not so hot.
Reminder that this shock tower is the main reason we are doing this.
I started by removing the tank. The debris there is actually mostly dirt and a foam seal under the tank. But there is a fair but of rust too.
After some creative shuffling, the 2002 now has a garage spot, and I can wrench in peace for the next few months. So far everything has gone smoothly, but I anticipate a few hiccups in the repair process. I'm actually very encouraged by my tear down. Originally I thought my differential support was toast, there was a thick layer of rust under the bubbling paint. I took a wire brush to it, and a layer of rust came off and it was solid underneath. The bottom side of the car is likewise totally clean. I will be taking everything down to bare metal this week to ensure that it is as solid as it appears, but it is very encouraging that my diff support seems to be totally ok.
On the flip side, I did find a totally rotten section underneath the fuel tank. Fortunately this is significantly easier to repair then the diff support, so in terms of trade off, I came out way ahead. I'm hoping for a speedy turn around. After this round of build, the car will still be ratty, but have a strong chassis and nice interior. Hard to complain about that. If all goes to plan, the car will be ready for some longer road trips this coming Summer.
On a Whole, This is Good
So I did a small amount of grinding to see what we were truly working with. Keep in mind this was done in about 30 minutes just on what was visually the worst areas of the trunk. I learned two things. I do not need a new diff support, and the shock tower is much, MUCH worse than I thought. On a whole, this is good news. to replace the diff support, the body shop would have had to drop the subframe, measure carefully, cut most of the trunk out. It would have be extremely expensive. I took my grinder straight to the visually worst part of the diff support, it had a very thick layer of flaking rust under the paint. What I discovered underneath was solid metal. Perhaps a little pitted, but not rotten through. Underneath the car, the beam is completely clean. I had a few people look at it, to make sure I'm not going crazy, and there simply isn't any cancer on the rear diff beam. This saves me likely thousands on the repair job.
That's a shitty photo of what was visually the worst rust in the trunk since I got the car. Underneath? Seems to be ok. Simply resealing the trunk floor seems to be the go to move here. No need to replace what is otherwise workable sheet metal. I will continue to grind every bit of paint off to make sure it's truly solid, but everything I checked so far has come up clean. Except...
The passenger side shock tower was what prompted all of this. The small grinding we did earlier revealed a hole or two. When I took my new angle grinder to it this time, I discovered some pretty catastrophic rust. This is bad, but not beyond saving. Fortunately I do have that sheet metal for this exact tower. Likewise, I seemed to have lucked out on the drivers side shock tower as well. Zero rust on everything I've brought down to metal.
This weekend I'll finish fully stripping out the trunk and getting the car ready for transport to the body shop. The tow truck comes to get it next Wednesday, and I'm hoping for a quick turn around time. From there it comes home for me to do all bushings and suspension refresh, and makes its last trip to my friend's fab shop for the core support work. We're getting into the thick of it.
I also made the impulsive decision to start stripping the interior. I want to put in that black carpet, so everything is coming out so I can pull the carpet, and when it gets back I'll be swapping that out. "While I'm in there" I'll also tackle some sort of radio solution. That'll at least put the interior in a happy place for me.
Keep in mind, this was supposed to happen after SEMA. Delays and some mistakes brought us to this point. But as of yesterday, the tow truck came to collect to the 2002 and it's at the body shop.
That's about the most low car friendly tow truck I've ever seen in my life. Love it, super easy getting the 2002 on and off. To recap, the 2002 is basically just going in for the passenger side shock tower, and some gas tank surround metal. The diff support was just fine, and frankly why over spend if the car doesn't need it? Hoping for a relatively quick turn around, though I'm not 100% sure what the timeline is. Once it comes back, it'll get a suspension and brake overhaul, and then finally off for a new radiator support and cooling system upgrades. There is light at the end of the tunnel now.
Stopped by Axis the next day, and they already had started chopping up my trunk. It's tough to see with this photo, but if you look below the fuel filler neck, that entire section of floor is cut out. It was rotted enough to warrant just making a new one. Tower was cut, rust treated and will be patched. Since the damage was limited to the one tear, it didn't make sense to completely remove everything.
This whole section will be cut and replaced. It is located under the filler neck in the trunk. Water seeps in through the seal and eventually rots out this portion of floor. Non-structural, but disgusting all the same.
Given the progress he's making, the 2002 will be back pretty soon. I have to prep the gas tank to go back in, which I've been lazy about. I'm shooting to get everything quickly reassembled, but we'll see how it all goes. Word is there is going to be another StanceWorks open house in January/February. It'd be cool to have the car back together by then and take it out for that. But that is only possible with absolutely no delays. So we'll play it by ear.
Axis sent me some photos this morning of the progress. Since I have little else to share, I thought I'd post them here. I haven't seen the car yet in person, but the photos being sent to me are promising. Given the speed they are working, I think I'll have the car back very soon.
A small but notable update, I now have black carpet in hand. So the red will finally be removed, and the interior will be one step closer to being complete. I've been complaining about the red carpet since day one, so it is kind of nice to finally know that is going away for good.
What can I say, Axis Paintworks works considerably faster than I can keep up with. Last night they sent me these photos. I've arranged for the tow truck to pick the 2002 up on Friday, so it'll be home and it'll be time for me to rip into the car. Excited to have the car back so fast, I honestly didn't think it would be back for a month or so.
You can see the difference in texture, I figured ultimately it didn't matter since the trunk is closed and I'm the only one who will see it
A recap on the damage and repair.
Alright so I guess it's full steam ahead on everything else. I've been slacking on prepping the gas tank and all that, but now I don't really have an excuse. I suppose the big objective now is to figure out about how long it will take me to finish everything I have planned. With the car back this Friday, I really want to have the whole car done in about a month. No idea if that's possible or not yet, there tend to be snags.
Well I brought the 2002 home over the weekend. Opted to use a truck and trailer instead, which proved to be a very lengthy process when getting the 2002 up on the trailer. It took nearly an hour of winching and pushing to get it up there, but eventually it did go. In my effort to save a few dollars, I killed a ton of time. Probably not worth it in retrospect, but what's done is done.
As soon as I got home, the car went up on jack stands, and the tear down process began. I'm starting in the rear of the car, taking care of all the changes I wanted to make there. So I started dropping the subframe. This is normally a fairly easy process, that was made infinitely more complicated by the center exhaust. The biggest problem being, it is one piece from the headers to the muffler tips. Rather than trying to drop the exhaust, I decided to work around it. This meant a lot of creative shuffling of parts, I disconnected the axles from the diff to shuffle around, and then eventually the entire diff from the subframe. I may have left it just suspended on the exhaust, as it is a pain in the ass to remove. It will come out later, but that's a problem for future me to solve.
So here we are. Rear end is disassembled. Not pictured, I did break down the trailing arms and subframe so they're bare, and started scraping and scrubbing all of the grime off. I'm not going for powder coated perfection, but there is no harm in giving everything a good scrub down. This isn't a show car by any means, and I try to keep that in mind to prevent myself from going over board in changing things. My instinct is to make everything brand new, but that's money poorly spent. Clean and safe is more important right now.
The goal over New Years is to break down the front end, and start prepping the rear subframe to go back together. I'm waiting on a new diff gasket to arrive in the mail, and will need to order sway bars for the car this week. So that, unfortunately, will be the source of some delay. Otherwise I'd be ready to put the car back together today.
So first thing is first. I mounted the other seat in the car. I'm about 75% happy with them currently because of the mounting situation. The Corn's seats themselves are fantastic, but I sit too close to the steering wheel still, and the generic Sparco brackets don't fit great in the cabin. It works for now, but I'm looking into revising this ASAP.
I feel like 90% of this thread has been seat updates, but I guess it is what it is. I'm looking into seat belt solutions right now, as the stock ones don't play so nice with these seats. You guys were right, and I've decided no roll bar is the way to go. But I'll likely still need to go with some kind of harness bar, if I can't make a normal seatbelt system work. So I'm trying to find a solution that is reversible for that. As always, I need to complain about the carpet color. I'm going to source some new black carpet. I test dyed a scrap piece of carpet I cut, and it did not work well at all. It comes out crusty, and nasty looking. Perhaps a dye solution where I submerged the carpet would be fine, but spray on does not work well at all. I think at this stage I'm just going to bite the bullet and buy a new carpet kit.
I also keep getting this reoccuring vacuum leak. This hose keeps popping off, no matter how I clamp it down. I had a similar issue on my E30 back in the day, but replacing the clamp solved the issue. Not so much here. Maybe I just need to tighten it down like a man
Last but not least, a bit of shameless self-promotion. Another reason the 2002 hasn't gotten as much attention as I would like, is I've been in the process of launching a new business. I wouldn't mention it if it wasn't relevant to my car. We're selling Christmas ornaments, key chains, shirts and so on. But it's all based on the cars we are passionate about. This is the only mention I'll make of it here, because my build thread isn't going to become an advert for my products, but we worked hard and I wanted to share the final results with you all.
It goes without saying the 2002 is my favorite of the bunch. We're starting with these 5 cars, and have plans to expand next year. If it does well, I'll have that much more in the budget for the Roundie . You can find this stuff and more at Speed Limitless.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. I'm waiting for Black Friday to order in all my bushings. Restoration Design is still making my new differential cross member, so I haven't been able to take the car to the body shop yet. And my fabricator is still finishing other projects and hasn't been able to make my new core support yet. So there has been a whole lot of waiting going on. I may attempt the brakes again this weekend, as I finally have all the parts on the shelf for those. I hope.
So excuse the shitty pictures. I'd do better, but I'm spread thin between school, work and a new business I'm starting. So shitty photos off of my phone will just have to do. But! I did install the back seat. In the photo below you'll notice it's not quite sitting right. I've since fixed that. Regardless, I'm really pleased with how the black turned out. The green and brown eyesore is gone, for considerably less money than it would have cost to reupholster. Now I just need a black carpet and black door cards.
I also installed the driver's side bucket seat. Further adjustment is needed, as I'm still a little close to the pedals. I have rather long legs, so I'm cramped in. I have the seat set as far back as these fixed rails will allow with the stock mounting location, which means I'll be needing to drill a few holes and rethink the fastener situation. If I can move the seat back about 2 inches, I think it'll be perfect.
You have to admit the interior is starting to look 100x better then it did when I purchased the car. I'm hoping the other bucket seat will arrive in the next week or so, I'm still working out shipping detailed with CMC, but once that gets in I'll order the brackets and get that mounted as well. This does make the back seat functionally useless, but I'm alright with that. I'm already too low for more than one passenger, and rear leg room is non-existent anyways.
I am rather rapidly heading down the "race car" route. Something I've been vocal against, but starting to come back around on. I'm looking at roll bar options right now, and I'd very much like to do a track day with the car when everything is sorted. Up until installing this bucket seat, I've kind of struggled with how the car handled. Even with the Recaros I would kind of flop around, in this bucket I could feel the chassis and how it was working considerably better. The biggest weakness right now is the steering, I can feel the steering box has a lot of slop in it, and the bushings are completely spent. I think tightening these up will go a long way to making it a great canyon rat. That coupled with the big brakes I have on the shelf should make for an enjoyable weekend toy.
I guess if I ever get sick of the car being too race car, I can always go back to the Recaro seats and soften the car up a little bit. Nothing is decided, but it's a line of thought I'm having a hard time shaking. Plus it gives me an excuse to buy a classic Mini for a comfortable street car, something I've always wanted anyway. We'll see, hopefully more updates soon!
I realize that it has been quiet lately. Progress has been pretty slow on the car, mainly because I've been swamped with school. I have also been waiting for my fabricator to clear some space in his garage to tackle the projects I have coming up. However parts have been steadily trickling in, and I'm hoping to get cracking in the next few weeks. As always, maybe the next post will be more eventful, but here's what I have for you now.
I purchased a right rear shock tower from Restoration Design. After some probing, it looks like this is the only full piece that needs to be replaced in the rear. The rest can be safely patched. At least that's the hope, as with any rust there is always more than you think. So I may be ordering even more sheet metal here shortly if things go wrong. But regardless, this is in and will be grafted into the car soon.
I also noted that I have been having cooling issues. Well, this should solve that. I purchased a Scirocco style radiator from JEGS that has a considerably thicker core. It has about the same dimensions as the current radiator otherwise, but there will be some minor duct work, a considerably larger/more powerful fan, and obviously the added... girth. I also picked up a Mishimoto oil cooler, as well as the stock E30 325is oil filter housing/cooler lines. This is more of an insurance policy, but I figure this car needs all the help it can get. After speaking to @tonytony002, he gave me some valuable advice on how to properly cool the M20 down. I'll be running a 13 inch pusher fan, a lower temperature thermostat, and the fan will be triggered at the thermostat housing. That should do the trick.
This will all be tied into a new tube front end. 2002s require bracing up front when they are cut for M20 swaps. This was never done, so the car lacks some structural rigidity. The new tube front end will add the rigidity back in, as well as give cleaner mounting points for the radiator and oil cooler.
Finally, some damage report. I had an RS hex cap fly off on the freeway the other day. Somehow, beyond all human understanding, the waffle stuck on the wheel for 30 miles. I also had the passenger side knee trim fall off. I still have the trim, but it looks like the clips are just old and failed. So I have to order some new clips to get that on now. Neither of these are huge deals, but it's a bummer to have the car suddenly look so shabby. The above is the last known photo of that hex cap, before it peaced out.
There has been some interior progress as well. Keep in mind, things get worse before they get better... I think. So far mostly everyone has not liked this choice at all. I'm certainly not expecting anyone here to like this decision either, but bare with me. I do have my reasons. I dyed my rear seats over the weekend. You may remember that they were this very odd green/brown combination. Let me start by stressing, this was not factory. Someone redid these seats at some point during the car's lifetime. They also never intended to rock the green vinyl, I'm not 100% sure what the story was but there are obvious signs that they used the green vinyl to reupholster the seat and then dyed it a matching saddle brown. Areas that did not get direct sunlight still had some of the brown dye showing.
Highlighted there you can see traces of brown dye, faded out over the years.
A lot of people moaned that this was "very 70s" and I should have kept it. It is also "very ugly".
In order to dye the rear bench, I did some research and discovered SEM marine vinyl dye would do the trick. I have found other 2002 owners who have done this with great results, and I figured if it's good enough to restore seats on a boat, it's good enough for a non-functional rear seat in a 2002. This is not spray paint, but specific product for this purpose. I do have to stress that the back seat in my 2002 will never have passengers. It's purely for aesthetics at this point, I have the seat belts tucked under the seat and any weight over the rear like that would likely cause the car to rub. There is also a chance the back seat will be removed entirely in the future, but more on that later.
Bad picture, but the vinyl prep was key in all this as well. Cleaned and softened the vinyl for dye.
I love the results. It actually needs another coat, but I ran out of dye before I could finish. It should be in today, so I'll be giving the whole rear bench another coat and that will finish off any light spots. The black doesn't rub off when you touch it, and shows very nicely.
You can see some light spots that need touch up here.
I hate preemptively defending my decision on this, but I have gotten a lot of shit for doing this. For some reason, a lot of people loved the green and brown. I really felt like I was sitting in a circus tent, and it was by far my least favorite part of the interior. Sahara Beige has grown on me quite a bit, but no amount of time would help me come to terms with the baby poop green rear seat. The next big step will be to replace the red carpet (which is actually much grosser then it looks) with a black carpet. I like black interiors, and that will drastically help my level of happiness when driving the car. Sounds stupid, but it is what it is. The black and red coco mats can stay though.
This leads me into part two of where I will likely catch more shit. Bare with me, I promise I'm not going crazy, there is a method to my madness. I purchased another driver's seat. I love the period correct look and feel of the Recaros I have, and I intend to have them reupholstered. Both of them. However I also need to refoam, and repair the drivers seat. In the meantime, I wanted to try a more canyon carving friendly approach.
I purchased a Car Make Corn's bucket seat, something normally intended for a Miata, and I intend to put it in the driver's position. I chose this particular seat for a few reasons. I love the Car Make Corn's shop in Japan, it's such a cool place in general, and they put out some quality products. I contacted Kadin from CMC USA and he helped me source this seat. I actually picked it up at this year's JCCS, pulling it from a car he sponsors. I also find the seat to be incredibly comfortable. I have a really bad lower back, and for whatever reason the CMC seat just fits me right.
This is just something I am experimenting with, the Recaros will make another appearance in the future when they are all reupholstered and ready to go in.
The seat in the Miata I removed it from at JCCS. Nothing like driving from Phoenix to Long Beach and back to Phoenix in the same day, just to buy a seat!
This gives you a very vague idea of how it might look in my 2002. Obviously pre-bench dye.
So there it is. A bucket seat so I don't flop around in the car, and a black rear bench. I'm looking at carpeting options right now, but I'll be pulling and trashing the red carpet soon. I'll be talking to another shop about the trunk rust repair this week, and hopefully getting the ball rolling on that soon. After that, suspension refresh, cooling system refresh and so on. Bare with me, because I know not all of these are popular decisions, buuuuut I promise I haven't lost sight of the end goal. Dying the rear seat and the CMC bucket are stop gaps, things to make me more comfortable and happy in the short term, while the long term plans flesh out. This is a bit of a low point after that video, but it'll all come together.
An old friend of mine contacted me over the weekend to film the 2002, as well as my friend's 912. They had just finished setting up a new camera rig, and wanted something to test shoot with. Thought I'd share the results, my ratty 2002 has never looked so good. I'll have more updates for the build blog later, but this should hold you over in the mean time.
You know how project cars go, you start building some momentum and something comes along to set back your big plans for the year. Sometimes it's engine failure, sometimes it's odd gremlins from owners past, and sometimes it's rust. But more on that at the end. In the mean time, let me catch you up to yesterday. I've been talking about the brakes for a while now, but finally committed to the big brake swap before Big Euro. After further inspection, it was pretty obvious my driver's side caliper was sticking and destroying the pads. I could order another stock caliper, but what good would that do when I'd just swap it out shortly after?
First let's just appreciate how good these brake calipers look after a rebuild. The shaved Mk4 calipers look OEM, and a healthy dose of BMW Silver powder coat really brought these back to life. For those frankensteining their own brake kits from junkyard parts, I really suggest taking the time to blow apart your calipers and send them off to be refinished.
Before and after.
Note, even the Mk3 Jetta caliper carrier brackets were powder coated.
For those wondering, it is not just a flat silver, but actually has some flake in it
Again, massive credit to Dauerhaft Fab for his help on shaving and reassembled the Mk4 calipers. Wrenching is not my strong suit, but I do my best to muddle along. Pretty frequently I'll find myself over my head in these projects, and this was certainly one of them. Mk4 calipers have so many little seals and c clips down in the barrel behind the piston, and I just didn't have the tools to get the job done. So he was able to sand them, drop them off for powder, and reassemble them for me. He does top notch work, and will also be doing some massive fabrication work on the car here shortly. But more on that later.
In preparation for my big road trip, I started really examining all the possible fail points. I noticed a breather hose cracking, and replaced that quickly. The photo is just to show how it runs under the intake. It was a pain, but one less thing to worry about, preventative maintenance is probably the key here.
Now for the meat of my pre-Big Euro projects. Like I said before, who really wants to buy a new caliper that you're just going to replace in short order. While I wasn't really planning to redo all of my brakes before the road trip, I had no choice when I realized my driver's side caliper was just done for. I borrowed a friend's garage space (as his Miata is off for a full color change), and started the project.
I'm so used to working in my shitty driveway, that a garage like this is a complete dream.
For the front brakes, I'm running E21 hubs, with E21 vented rotors and Volvo 240 calipers. These are substantial upgrades over stock, and should provide more than enough stopping power for a street 2002. I have no intentions of tracking the car for now, so I opted to go with a pretty mild pad. But this also leaves me room to improve if I'm still not satisfied with the overall results.
E21 hub on. I put in brand new wheel bearings, and fresh studs (again...)
Some of you may remember that I tried putting on braided brake lines before, but gave up when a nut started stripping out on me. I had attempted to locate some pre-made lines, but really only one company offers a kit, and they refused to reply to my e-mails asking me if they'd sell just the caliper lines. I don't blame them, but I get salty easily. Again, my friends come to the rescue. My buddy (who is in the process of building one of the best Miata's ever) recently purchased a flaring tool, so he could make new lines for his shaved bay. I got to be the guinea pig for his line making skills, and we created one new brake line for my caliper.
Here's the damaged line. Even vice grips were slipping off, it was completely toast.
Replicated line. We ended up making a second as this one had some strut clearance issues, but it gave us a chance to practice more.
Here's a full side mocked up.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the project this weekend as I'm a little slow. I forgot to order the hardware to hold the pads in the calipers, so the car sits in his garage awaiting that. The rear will come shortly after, and is a little more involved. I'm once again struggling to get the axle nuts off. But, I'm thrilled with how it's turning out so far.
Finally, some bad news. You may remember that I was complaining about a horrible noise coming from the true rear coilovers. It sounded like metal on metal rubbing, and I assumed that it was the high pre-load or the springs rubbing on the bolted in strut brace. Unfortunately, CAtuned was right in saying it was rust. While working on a separate project for the trunk, I noticed a hairline crack in the paint that I hadn't given much thought to before. And exploratory poke confirmed there was rust under there, so we took the flap disc to it to see how bad the damage was.
The extent of the damage on this side.
I hate rust. I knew that the floor of the trunk was shot, but when I inspected the car the towers seemed clean. Certainly, there are worse 2002s out there, and this is not beyond saving, but it's one of those things that spoils your day. I've already made arrangements to have the car repaired with Dauerhaft, so there will be a series of posts on that in the future, I'm sure. In the mean time, the general consensus is, that I'm alright to drive to and from San Diego for Big Euro. New shock towers, some reinforcements and other changes will be made after that. Most other cars I'd just give up on at this point, but this 2002 is absolutely worth saving. Just throws a wrench in some plans I had for this year unfortunately.
To cheer myself up, I test fitted my friend's new uber-rare 4x100 StarSharks. I'm actually not sure it cheered me up, because now I find myself wanting a set. I love my RSs, I just did not expect the StarSharks to look that good on the 2002. But hey, let's end on a high note for this update. This week I'll be tackling the rear disc conversion and some other odds and ends. Then it's just some more prep before Big Euro, and a very careful 800 mile road trip. I'm confident it'll be fine, and feel better knowing that in short order I'll be making the chassis strong again. It's a 45 year old car, these things happen.
So much want.
I mostly wait to post with big updates. Which is fine, but means I don't have much to say for long periods of time. I'm never in a hurry, I like to take my time with this car and really think before I do things. But it's also frustrating to make so little progress in such a long period of time too. I've been fighting sourcing parts, breaking things and the Arizona heat lately. I thought I'd share a recent hiccup, a part I'm very excited about picking up, and the start of the brake rebuild. This probably isn't the most interesting update in the world, but it's all part of the process.
The other evening, I was driving the 2002 home, went to turn into my neighborhood and heard a massive thunk before losing all connection to the rear wheels. I coasted to the side of the road, and just knew that I ruined my diff. Fortunately I was wrong, and had just broken the axle to diff bolts clean off. A friend came to my rescue, and we were able to thread back in a couple bolts and I could limp it 300 yards back to my house.
Only photo I have from that evening.
Sure enough, I snapped some bolts. The rest backed out, stressing the remaining two that snapped.
These were an absolute bitch to get out.
As it turns out, these bolts have previously been replaced, and were far too short for the output flange. There was also 0 sign of loctite, so they just backed out over time. The chunks I removed from the diff shows you all of the thread that could go in, with nearly twice that much room available. I put in new, longer bolts, and it seems to be fine now. But I have to go in and replace the other side this weekend, just to make sure this doesn't happen again. I also threw some blue loctite in there for good measure.
I also picked up a part that I honestly never thought I'd be able to source for the car. I purchased a set of original Auto-Plas louvers on Instagram of all places. They arrived safe and sound, but had no mounting hardware, and were obviously very orange. Yes, I am going to restore them and paint them black. What you see below are just some mock ups. It's a hideous color, but you can't be picky when trying to buy out of production, obscure parts.
Yes I'm going to paint them black.
I promise they won't stay orange, this is only a mock up.
I also happened to find a company that is reproducing the Auto-Plas mounting hardware, so I put in an order. It should be here by the end of the month, so I'll get cracking on repainting the louvers black. I realize the look isn't to everyone's taste, but it's something I have had in mind since I bought the car. So I'm pretty excited to have these in. And I'll be more excited when they aren't orange anymore.
Finally, I started preparing for the big brake swap. You'll note in a previous post that I wasn't about to put crusty junkyard parts on my car. The Volvo calipers were disgusting, and the Mk4 calipers weren't far behind. So I sourced some rebuild kits, blew everything apart and sent it all off for powder coat. For the Mk4 calipers, I took them to a friend to have them shaved down. If you are running 14 inch wheels on a 2002, you may run into clearance issues in the rear. Even though I currently have 15s, I have tentative plans to swap to 14s, if I can find a very specific set of wheels I've been dreaming about lately. So I took them to a friend's shop and had him sand down the rear section. Is it over kill? Yes absolutely. Will it look great? I'm sure, if you could really see them behind the RSs, it'd be fire. But I rather have fresh, new parts on the car. Might as well do things right.
Start of the Volvo tear down. Seals were blown, caliper puked water out everywhere.
Photo credit: @dauerhaftfab
Photo credit: @dauerhaftfab
It isn't much, but should be just enough to clear future 14 inch wheels. Side note, if you are a 2002 owner and looking to put together your own rear disc brake conversion, you'll likely end up getting Mk4 rear calipers. They're aluminum, easy to source, and bolt up to the Mk3 caliper carrier brackets that you need for the conversion plates. All the VW forums will swear up and down that you cannot get them powder coated because they are not rebuildable. This made no sense to me, reman units exist so obviously they have to rebuild them somehow. So I started digging into the issue and found the solution below.
Most rebuild kits for Mk4 VW Jetta rear calipers are listed as only including the piston seals, and dust boots. However Centric makes a full rebuild kit, which includes all the rear seals and clips. It is PN: 143.33037. You can find it on eBay, I'd advise not buying it from ECS as they're horrific to deal with. Then just follow this write up. It's a pain in the ass for sure, and if you don't really want to go to the effort of powder coating your calipers, you are far better off just purchasing a reman unit and slapping it on. However I wanted everything to match front and back, so this is where I find myself. I'm surprised this information isn't easier to find honestly.
So now I'm waiting for my stuff to come back from powdercoating. This weekend I'll be addressing a few more small issues on the car, cleaning some hardware, and start prepping for my big road trip to Big SoCal Euro. If anyone else is planning on being there, I'd love to meet up at the show!
It's been a while since I've updated, as I tend to maintain my StanceWorks build thread a little more diligently. But I wanted to bring my '02 FAQ blog up to speed as well. Since I last posted, I've made some more changes to the car. A couple months back, I took the Roundie to a local show at FourTillFour. The day before, we gave it a very light buff. The results were pretty impressive, given how shot the paint is.
You can see the before and after here.
After that, the temperatures here in AZ started creeping up pretty rapidly, and I pretty much stopped driving the car. I started looking towards my 4 lug swap so I could run my BBS RSs, and decided a brake upgrade was in order while I was in there. I did some digging, and settled on piecing together my own budget BBK, using Volvo 240 front calipers, VW Mk4 rear calipers and a mix of E21 and Mk1 Golf pieces elsewhere. I ordered what I couldn't source, and pieced together the whole kit. I had the stock rear hubs machined down, so they fit in the rotor top hats, and pressed new studs in.
Note how the stock hub does not fit in the rear rotor.
Post machining. Took quite a bit of material out of the hub.
Excuse the bag, but the hub now fits.
So I did all this work, and was set to do the big brake swap and go back to four lug. But after spending a good 15 minutes trying to scrub the grit out of the 240 calipers, I decided to do things right. Instead of throwing grimey parts on my 2002, I'm going to be getting the calipers all powder coated, and rebuild them so they're nice and fresh. In the mean time, I've just left stock equipment on the car, as fortunately I had a back up set of stock front hubs, new stock rotors and pads.
I then tackled (finally) finishing the BBS RS rebuild. I had some hiccups with the wheel bolts, my torque wrench had fallen way out of spec. As a result I had over torqued everything, and only realized this when one bolt snapped. In retrospect, I did think it felt like it was taking too much force, but didn't bother to try another torque wrench. So all 120 bolts came back out, and I ordered new hardware. I borrowed a Snap On torque wrench and had them all back together in one evening. I ordered some Hankook RS4s and got them mounted up. The car came with a similarly size (195/50r15) Kumho A/S when I bought it. The M20 pretty easily over powered those tires, and frankly they never were confidence inspiring. The RS4 might be overkill for a street tire, but I like the tread pattern and the additional grip is welcome.
Yes, I went overboard with the silicone. I trimmed the excess off later.
Upside of daily driving a Fiesta ST, I can haul wheels easily.
Then, out of impatience, I started tearing apart the hubs one evening to test fit the wheel. My initial test fit revealed that the stock studs were far too short for my redrilled RSs. I also discovered the the passenger side, rear hub was completely frozen on. It wasn't an ideal situation to be working, Monsoons kept hitting here in Arizona and I work outside.
If you look closely, you'll see the nuts barely thread on. It also revealed the rear suspension was far too high.
I then struggled with the whole wheel stud situation for a day or two. I knew a needed longer studs, but not too long. Otherwise it would interfere with the BBS waffle. I tried a couple different options, but finally settled on the most ridiculous option. I ordered Ireland Engineering's 70mm studs, and then cut them down to the length I needed. Is this the most efficient way to do things? No, not at all. But it did work, and now the wheels can safely be bolted to the car.
Stock vs. IE 70mm studs.
Now I have the opposite issue, these are too long for the waffle to fit.
Shitty photo, but you can see that they were cut down to spec.
Now I was ready to retackle the whole hub swap. The drivers rear, and both the fronts went very smoothly. I was done in no time at all. That frozen rear axle nut remained an issue however. I broke two breaker bars, one ratchet, a pair of vice grips and went through a full tank of MAPP gas, a can and a half of PB Blaster, a half can of Aero Kroil, and bent a metal extension pipe. I was starting to lose faith that I could get that nut off and would have to cut it. After struggling in my driveway for a full day and a half, a friend dropped by with a monster of an impact gun, and zipped it right off. I definitely loosened it for him... There were not photos from this process, because it was largely uninteresting. But afterwards, I took the 2002 for it's first spin on new wheels and took a few photos to celebrate the occasion.
Note that I finally attached the missing knee-line trim piece. It's the little things that make a difference. The car drives a million times better. I took some of the pre-load out of the rear suspension, and suddenly it didn't ride like it had 100k springs in it anymore. There is no more wicked wobble in the front end, and the car legitimately has some serious grip with these RS4s. Before the car would roast tires on command, now it just hooks up and scoots. It's not like the M20 is pushing any serious power, but more the all-seasons on it before were just garbage.
Up next, I really need to refocus my efforts on the cooling system. I think a bigger radiator, fan and lower temp switch are all in order. I also want to tackle more chassis issues, like the lack of front sway bar, bushings and just basic items like tie-rods and such. The car is so much sharper than it was when I got it, with just a few basic tweaks. I think it has potential to be a really fun canyon car, but I have to make sure it's safely up for the task. For now, I'm just going to enjoy how good this car looks on some shiny BBS RSs.
Another small update, but progress is progress so I'll take it. Wish I took more photos of the brackets specifically, but I suppose they aren't much to look at. I started off by restrapping the drivers side seat. Mk2 VW Recaros use a sling style support under the cushion to hold you up. My drivers seat sling had fallen apart, and was poorly repaired. I converted it over to this sling style support using the stock hardware. Let me be the first to say, holy shit this sucks to do. The actual metal bars it sits on are pretty flimsy, and these are obviously very strong elastic, so it kept bending the metal supports. Eventually I figured out that if you start at the bottom and slowly work your way up the hooks, it is a little bit more manageable. I only did this on the drivers side, because the passenger seat was in tact, and I really didn't feel like struggling with it again.
Nice and firm, but a pain to install
So the interior is actually due for a lot of work. The previous owner had started converting over to a red/black color scheme. I think it would have looked pretty good finished, but it wasn't for me. I'm not sure who chose to do the rear and passenger seats in Brown/Green, but I think it looks horrible. The drivers seat is mismatched, and with the red carpet the whole setup is an eyesore.
So many colors, so little coordination
The actual installation of the Recaros wasn't difficult (once I figured out what I was doing). I used the Aardvarc Racing Recaro seat adapters. For any other 2002 owners out there, most Recaro seats from this era use the same 16" base. Just measure the distance between the hardware that holds the OEM seat rails on, and you'll know for sure. Because of this, I was just able to use an adapter that is typically used to mount E21 320is seats in.
Also, it's worth noting that if you buy the Aardvarc kit, you'll need to buy new shorter hardware to bolt the adapters on. The stock bolts are too long, as they compensate for the bulky stock rails. You'll need 6 M8x1.25 bolts, ~20-25mm in length.
Driver's side in, looks better but not great
So far, from my brief test drives with the seats, I love them. They sit a little bit higher then I want, however I find that the added bolstering and real support has transformed the car for me. Eventually I plan to get these reupholstered. So while they aren't the prettiest for now, they do serve a functional purpose. In my head, this also kind of fits the narrative of the Neue Klasse cars. BMW had wanted to make a family sedan that you could take to the racetrack on the weekends. Well, if you need bucket seats but don't want to upset your significant other too much, what better way to do that then some plush Recaros? So I'd call this a great success.
Side note, I had started to install the braided brake lines this weekend but ran into disaster. Turns out 45 year old hard line is typically seized and very soft. Ended up rounding off a couple nuts, so I'm scrambling to get new lines in. I was able to get the car back together and limp it home, but it's not ideal.
Things have been slow with the 2002, it's taken a lot longer to get in parts then I had anticipated. Not many big updates in this post, mostly just parts collecting.
The first guy I had arranged to trade hubs with flaked out, and it took a few weeks to find someone willing to sell me a set. Fortunately they have arrived. I also have all new wheel bearings ready to go when it's time to do the swap. I've also ordered all new brake components, including braided hoses. Figured I might as well upgrade while I'm in there.
My RS faces came back from powder coating. Although nearly identical to the OZ Vega faces, these are finished in Prismatic's Spanish Gold. It's just slightly lighter, but works well with the Sahara beige on the car.
Frankly, it's impossible to tell the difference in photos.
How I got them, to where they are now.
I also (finally) got my 1 inch lips back from polishing. It took well over a month, but the wait was worth it.The two inch lips are for sale, if anyone is interested. I had debated running the two inch lips in the rear, but I'd rather have a square setup.
The last bit of parts hunting came in the form of some VW Mk2 GLI Recaro seats. I actually used to own a GLI with identical seats, and they were easily my favorite part of the car. A pristine set happened to pop up on Craigslist a couple hours away, so I went to grab them before I could convince myself I didn't need them. I actually ended up getting two sets of Mk2 Recaros while I was down there, the second set was free, but absolutely destroyed. The plan is to eventually reupholster these seats in the factory tobacco brown when I redo the interior, however in the mean time they'll just go in as is. It's not the prettiest solution, but I'll get there eventually. Right now Function>Form.
I also got a Jetta rear bench and a second set of destroyed Mk2 Recaros while I was there.
In terms of actual wrenching, all I have done is fuss with the rear coilovers. The right rear spring has been making some horrific noise lately. I got the car up in the air and disassembled everything on that side. A quick look shows the the CAtuned spring is a little picky about how it sits. If it isn't clocked just so, it rubs on the body.
I realigned everything and it is definitely better, but still not perfect. There are a few other things I want to tackle (mainly having my rear strut brace welded in, vs. bolted in), but if the noise persists then I need to rethink suspension in the rear. The goal is ultimately handling focused, so I know I can still get the car on rails with a divorced spring and shock setup.
Right, so not much else going on so far. Tentative plan is to have the car four lug swapped and on RSs before the end of May. I've been slacking on reassembling my wheels, but I'll take care of that shortly. I also will have a garage space for the 2002 soon, which will make things a little easier over the summer. The goal is to have the car "done" by September for Big SoCal Euro. I'd like to drive it from Phoenix to San Diego for the show. That will include a total suspension refresh (bushings, ball joints, tie rods, track rod, etc.), some interior bits, cooling system overhaul and hopefully some sort of sound system. Next post should have real, tangible progress on the car itself.
So this is a pretty small update, but there's a change in plans with my wheel selection. Originally I was planning on building up the OZ Vega faces that I had sitting around. Given the 2002 was already converted to 5x120, I figured this would work out great. While I was told that 30-hole RS parts will bolt up to these faces, I have some concerns about the "how".
After breaking down my RSs to steal the barrels, I realized that the back of the Vega face doesn't have a machined lip for the barrel to sit on. My worry is, this would put a lot more stress on the bolts, as there isn't a surface distributing the weight evenly. There isn't a lot of information on this, so maybe someone can speak to the safety aspect of it, but it didn't sit well with me.
Note the lip on the back of the face. The RS barrel sits snugly on this.
The Vega lacks this lip.
If anyone has more experience with this, let me know. I'm still fairly new to wheel building, but I didn't want to risk this and have the wheel bolts snap on me. In any event, I've decided to put the Vega faces back on the shelf, and instead swap the 2002 back to four lug and run my RSs. With a one inch lip, they're the perfect spec for a 2002. I already have a line on four lug hubs, so I'll be trading for those to run my RSs.
I originally picked up these RSs in horrific condition. I blew them apart, put a two inch lip on them, refinished everything and threw them on my E30. I then sold the E30 about a month later, so they saw 0 road time.
How I first got them.
So I once again tore them down, I'll send the faces off to get powder coated (again) this week, and reassemble them with the original 1" lips (which are already off getting polished). This will put them back at 15x7 +25. With a 195/50 tire square, the car will be sitting perfect. If anyone is interested in buying some OZ Vega faces, let me know
Irrelevant to the above, my new license plate came in. The default Arizona license plate looked horribly out of place on my car, so I went with a copper historic. It's the little details that make a world of difference. The car is due for a photo shoot here soon, just posting photos of the car in my driveway is getting a little boring.
I always forget to clean up these damn newspapers.
I'm going to Stance Wars Las Vegas this weekend, which will slow progress on the 2002. I have some parts coming in this week, but likely won't have a chance to install them until the following weekend. So that's all I'll have for a while.
So since I got this car, everyone keeps telling me that my tail lights are "the worst they've ever seen". Admittedly, the light output was miserable, so I decided to go with an LED kit from Blunt Tech. I rather not get rear ended because I wasn't visible at night. The parts came in this afternoon, I had them in an hour later.
Before. Yes the lights are on, no I'm not kidding.
I used hot glue to hold everything in place. Just a few dabs in the corners and a little on the back.
I did add some more glue after this photo, but this is sufficient.
Here is a side by side comparison. It should be pretty obvious which one is which. Even though this is shot during the day, they were pretty much invisible at night as well. I'm not sure if it had the wrong bulbs, or the lens is too hazy, but it's completely unsafe.
Unsafe / Safe
And the final product. I'm very please with the final results. For an hours worth of work, the peace of mind is huge. Anyone who has followed me in this car immediately comments on how bad they were. So this was definitely a needed upgrade.
Finally, my Renown Monaco came in earlier this week. I swapped the 100 out, and this fit much better. Now the turn signals aren't 50 feet away, and I'm more comfortable. The wheel looks great in the interior as well. I need to get some black hardware as Ireland Engineering doesn't have any, and the thread pitch of their steering hub doesn't match up to the included Renown hardware. Weird, but an easy fix. I also removed the remaining center console. I had debated sourcing a replacement console, but I'm rather liking the very spartan look. I'll tuck the wires up under the dash and try running the car like this for a while.
While I was working on the lights today, I noticed the tail light gaskets were completely shot, and I'm missing one knob that holds it in place. I ordered some license plate lights, so I'll be replacing the busted set shortly. I also spent a good deal of time poking around the cooling system. I've noticed that this car does not like sitting still. It appears the fan is kicking on, but is completely insufficient to keep things cool. It's a cheap, Chinese fan, so I'm going to order a stronger Spal pusher, and possibly a lower temp. thermostat. If that doesn't work, I'll be putting a bigger radiator in. Summer is around the corner, so if it can't take the 80 degree weather we've been having, 120 certainly isn't going to help anything.
This weekend I spent some time working on the new set of wheels for the Roundie. I had originally built a set of BBS RSs for my E30, I ended up making them 15x8, which would have been too wide for this car. But if I put the stock lips back on it would have been perfect. However it's all a wash, because my 2002 has been swapped to 5x120, and my BBS RSs are 4x100. So I put the RSs back in storage. I figured it wasn't really worth the hassle going back to four lug, and I happened to have a set of wheel faces sitting on my shelf that I hadn't figured out a use for.
In come my OZ Vega faces. A few years ago I bought a set of faces for $40. I had no use for them, but for the price I figured I could hang them up on the wall. When I bought the Roundie, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to do something with them. They're the right bolt pattern, and Vegas use 30-hole BBS parts. I just so happened to have a set of 1 inch lips sitting around from my RS rebuild.
I sent the faces off to get powder coated. I had them redone in a very similar gold. It's tough to capture the color right, in the shade it looks much darker than it really is. But next to the Sahara Beige, it looks fantastic.
Before sending off the lips for polishing, and ordering barrels, I wanted to take a few minutes to test fit everything and make sure I knew what I need. I need 15x5.5 30 hole barrels for sure, so if anyone is selling a set, please let me know. These will ultimately sit at 15x7, and I'll be putting 195/50 tires on them. I may need a small spacer in the rear, but that is to be determined.
This week I drop off the center waffles to get color matched, and the lips to get polished. I'm still on the hunt for some good, used barrels (as new barrels are well over double the cost). I'll get some new hardware, and slap them together soon! I've ordered a few more odds and ends as well, hopefully those parts arrive this week. I had wanted to take the car to Stance Wars Las Vegas this year, but I rather not rush the build to make it there. I'm shooting for Big SoCal Euro as the Roundie's first big road trip. Lots of stuff to sort out between now and then (mainly the cooling system), but definitely doable.
After test driving the car in California, I knew there was a few things that I would have to take care of right away when the car arrived home. Primarily with the throttle pedal. The car has an E30 G260 5 speed, which required the transmission tunnel to be widened. The result was a stock throttle pedal that absolutely did not fit anymore. I struggled to press it, and broke it clean off not 30 seconds after the car had arrived home.
I ordered an Ireland Engineering aluminum throttle pedal, a kit they sell to address these issues. I simply cut out the stock pedal bracket, and bolted this pedal in. The pedal pushes against a roller bearing on the throttle rod, and engages incredibly smoothly. 10/10, best modification I’ll ever do to this car. Mainly because I can actually drive it properly now.
I also ordered a steering hub adapter from IE, as I had a Renown 100 sitting around from my E30. The stock wheel was in decent shape, but a little too big for my taste. Unfortunately the 100 sticks out way too far on this hub, so I’ll likely need to swap to a Monaco. Otherwise it looks fantastic.
Before the car was shipped to me, the previous owner spun up the coilovers so nothing was damaged getting on and off the truck. So I took some time to spin everything back down. I discovered the car is sitting on true-rear coilovers, but has no reinforcement on the rear shock towers. So I’ll be tackling that pretty quickly as well.
I’ve only had the car for about a week now, so there wasn't a lot to report right off the bat. Fortunately I can say there will be future updates on this car, I have parts coming in and some goals to hit this year.
This all starts with my old E30. I had owned that car for a few years, and had decided to take the time to restore the whole car to its former glory. However with work and the real world getting in the way, I never had the time to finish the swap, the body work and so on. While I wanted to restore the car to what I had always pictured, it just wasn’t in the cards for now. Unfortunately I decided to part ways with the car, and find something a little more complete that I could enjoy while I made small changes.
In comes my 1973 2002. I’ve had an itch for a 2002 for quite a long time now. A friend of mine has had a number of them and I’ve always loved the little cars. I started the hunt a while back, but had little to no luck finding something that was both in budget, and not a complete basket case. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a Roundie in my budget, but this diamond in the rough popped up.
I actually found this car by accident, just browsing Instagram one night. I shot the owner a DM, and next thing I knew I was flying to Stockton, CA to buy this car and arrange shipping home. The previous owner was incredibly nice, and helped me out quite a bit in getting the car ready to send home. He had had the car for a long time, and had seen a lot of the details of the build through properly.
Here’s a basic run down on the car. It’s already M20b25/G260 swapped (with a refreshed M20), sitting on CAtuned coilovers, with a Kooglewerks front air dam, and a number of other little changes. The previous owner 5 lug swapped the car by modifying the hubs, and it now has a 5x120 bolt pattern. The car isn’t without it’s problems, there’s some rust here and there (most notably in the pedal box), but is largely structurally sound. There isn’t any deep cancer in the areas these cars get hit the most.
The plans are pretty simple. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up with the swap, so I’ll be tackling those first. The interior is a mix of so many colors that I want to redo it entirely. Exterior wise, I’m in the process of building another set of wheels for this car (as my RSs will not fit it), but otherwise can remain as is for the most part. So the changes will be subtle, but worth while. Long term, I'd love to get it body worked and repainted a fresh coat of Sahara Beige, but that's only if time permits.