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.