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The Care and Feeding of Frogger


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This is the story of Frogger, my first 2002 and the reason I love automobiles. Despite my affection for the car it's never gotten the attention it's deserved - there's always been something else that has taken my time or money and thus has left Frogger with the bare minimum. Recently it's been decided that it's time for Frogger's day in the sun. I'm selling my daily driver (1991 318is) and pouring cash into a rolling restoration.


I've got two goals for this blog. First I want to chronicle Frogger's history. From all the upcoming repairs, to adventures from our first few years together, and stories from Frogger's second owners of 22 years who are good friends.  Second, I want to explicitly show what the costs of ownership are on a 40+ year old car for anyone who is on the fence about getting into the hobby. Frogger is in average to below average shape for a 2002 and should be a good example.


I've taken some baseline photos which can be seen here: http://s590.photobucket.com/user/johndmetz/frogger/Froggers%20Rolling%20Restoration%20%20Baseline%20Photos/story


I'm looking forward to getting started on this project, I hope you enjoy what's to come!





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Nice dash! Will you be doing a manual tranny swap or are you keeping it stock?

Can't wait to see how your adventure progresses, good luck and have fun!

Thanks! That dash came out of one of the crustiest parts cars I've ever seen. Real diamond in the rough.


No 5 speed swap planned. I bought the car from a high school best friends family in May of 2009 for $878. One of the conditions was that I keep it automatic until it wasn't possible (financially/lack of parts/etc). When the previous owners had bought the car in 1987 they actually passed up several cars to find one with an automatic transmission. I bought the crusty parts car for the dash and the auto trans it had in it. I've got a spare that I'll one day have rebuilt. I actually really like the automatic - it doesn't always produce race car shifts, but it also doesn't have to.

Frogger was my friends moms car primarily and I've been told that she used to autoX in it and do pretty well! It was her daily (iirc) until just before my friend was born. There's a lot of their family history in frogger that I hope to learn more about so I can piece frogger's life together.

I was first introduced to frogger my freshman year of highschool when they'd come pick my friend up from marching band. I thought it was one of the coolest cars I'd ever seen, but not much more. At that point I was more into drums and girls than automobiles. Four and a half years later I was completing my freshman year of college. I had worked in the service department of the local Mercedes-Benz dealer and my interest in cars was growing. I had bought a 1987 420SEL from a tech the summer before and I'd managed to ruin the transmission.


(Bling Bling, I know... those wheels were actually off a 2005 C class)



Having sold the Benz I had an itch for another old car and wanted something that I could learn to turn a wrench on. I remembered how cool the 2002 was and after a quick eBay search realized a rough but running example was within reach. I hadn't seen their car in two years, but dropped by to ask their opinion on things to watch out for when shopping for a 2002. A few days later they offered to sell me Frogger, it had been sitting for most of the past two years.


The price was right. I excitedly agreed. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into.

Edited by dasfrogger
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Since we're going to talk about how much the care and feeding costs on a 2002, we'd better have a starting point. I've been doing thinking on if I were to sell my car today, how much would I ask? How much do I actually have in it?


This morning i sat down with my binder of old receipts and totaled everything up.  I realized a few things from this process....mainly how little i knew what i was doing when caught this madness in 2009. After about an hour of tabulation, reminiscing, and data entry into an iphone app, I came up with the total of $4,189.14. This number includes the purchase price and all the maintenance and parts receipts I could find. This number is likely a little light and could be closer to $5,000 because college Jake didn't quite put enough importance on record keeping.


The breakdown is as follows:

2009: $1977.61 - purchase, new battery, new tires, starter(replaced twice under warranty), alternator, front brakes,

2010: $887.68 - Rust repair! (new rockers and patches on passenger rear shock tower, area above pedal box, some misc small spots),

2011: $216.40 - another starter, another battery, installed one poly bushing on front subframe

2012: $416.32 - rear brakes, installed new used muffler

2013: $691.13 - bluedevils seatbelts, fuel pump, front wheel bearings, another starter (m3 this time)

2014: $27.41 - oil change


All years also included general maintenance items, shop supplies, etc.


I can't believe i put so many starters and batteries in this thing. What was i thinking? And did i get away with only changing the oil in 2014?! I even drove it nearly 4,500 miles last year, more than any all the other years combined. That said, over 6 years of ownership I've barley clocked 10k miles.


So, I've got about 4k in it. I feel like with the recent jump in prices I could get 4k for it. If it's ok with all of you, I'll use 4,189.14 as the place where this rabbit hole starts.

Edited by dasfrogger
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Had a buddy come in today and help me hammer thru a lot of Frogger's to do list. Big thanks to Ben for making the trip down to help. I've been noticing that Frogger had been running hot, especially in stop and go traffic. Cooling system refresh was long over due. I've been wanting a weber 38/38 and it made sense to replace it with the cooling system instead of replacing hoses for the water choke 32/26.




Off with the manifold:




My valves have seen better days. I picked up some seafoam intake treatment to help with the carbon build up. Will apply this weekend.




I didn't get a picture of it, but Frogger was equipped with AC. It never worked and has been on the list to remove. With the radiator removed it was a good time to pull the condenser. Good thing we wanted to remove the AC components because the Compressor bracket obstructed the removal of the water pump.



Speaking of water pump. Everything was pretty rusty, could have been from age. We found a RUSTY spring lodged in the lower radiator hose to keep it from collapsing. The PO had installed an e21 radiator and the side exit left the hose kinked. i'm guessing they installed the spring to help the hose keep its shape, but didn't realize it wasn't stainless steel. Lucky for me I have a Kurt Ingram re-cored radiator in the parts bin so i can use stock shaped hoses.



New pump installed:



Manifold cleaned up and reinstalled. The 32/36 had a big rubber spacer to clear the stock manifold. It was still in good shape and in the interest of time we hogged it out instead of hogging the manifold itself. One day i'll track down a spare manifold and hog it out properly for install when i rebuild the motor.



Shiny new hardware.




After a lot of cranking the car finally came back to life. got it going and ran it around the block, it really wants to move. I can tell a difference with the lighter front end, and the carb has a lot of pep.


Unfortunately, I can't drive it right now. I had to keep the stock linkage to keep the automatic kickdown, and the linkage broke. I need to see if i can repair the linkage, or figure out how to install the kickdown linkage on the Ireland Engineering linkage i bought. Luckily i had the e30 at the shop so i was still able to get home, but this would have been a bummer if I only had one car.


So to wrap up it took the two of us about seven hours to get this all done. If it was just me it would have taken at least ten. The project cost $746.07 between new parts, shop supplies and fluids, and some money for my buddy's time.

List of parts installed/supplies used : weber 38/38 kit, Ireland Engineering silicon hose kit, new hose clamps, Graf Water pump, Vernet 75 degree thermostat, BMW radiator cap, Antifreeze, prestone radiator flush, 3 gallons distilled water, waterpump gasket sealer, Kurt Ingrham recored stock radiator.


Total Investment: $4,962.72.

Edited by dasfrogger
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Figured out my issue with the throttle linkage. On the 32/36 there was a 2nd nut which forced the long nut with the ball toward the driver and kept it from slipping out of the cup. We didn't install the nut because the 38/38 doesn't have enough threads for both. I added a thick washer as a spacer and reinstalled. No issues so far. Sometimes the simple fixes feel the best.


With a win under my belt I go to test drive the car. My goals for today were to confirm the throttle linkage fix, replace the coolant flush solution with actual coolant/water, and change the oil. Unfortunately the car just cranks and won't fire over. I finally get it to turn, but it won't hold an idle. I was completely puzzled, as we'd gotten it running pretty well last weekend. I monkey'd with the choke with no success. As an added bonus the carb was dumping fuel every time I'd struggle to get it started and I was fuel fouling the plugs. My afternoon became a pattern of: adjust choke, attempt to start car, fail, change plugs...rinse and repeat. Luckily i had a fresh-ish set of plugs in the 1600-2's old motor that i was able to put in while Frogger's were drying. After enough frustration I retreated for a dinner break and trip to the parts store for some new plugs.


Returned two hours later, pulled the plugs and reinstalled Frogger's original plugs. A friend had suggested adding a little more to the idle screw and with about another half turn it kicked right over and idled at about 600rpm. WA-LA! Based on the reading i've done, i shouldn't need more than 1/2 turn in on the idle screw, so i think this means my jetting is too rich. I'm going to order a jet kit and probably a manual choke conversion kit in the next few days. I never installed the fresh bosch copper plugs i picked up tonight, those will go in once I've gotten everything sorted out properly.


After a victory lap I came back and quickly completed the oil change and coolant drain/refill. I drained the coolant from both the drain plug on the radiator as well as block. I actually drained the bulk of the coolant from the block, I thought it would have been the other way around. I did notice a bit of a coolant drip from the bottom of the radiator. I believe the drain plug was a little loose and is the culprit, but I'll have to keep my eye on it to make sure it's not something more serious.


I'm really impressed with how the car drives. I can notice the lack of weight from the AC, and the 38 pulls really well. It'll be even better once i get it fully dialed in. I can't believe i didn't do a cooling system refresh sooner. It made a huge improvement, my car used to sit at about 3/4 on the temp gauge at idle. Now it's about 1/4th.


Now for some totals: Oil cost about 31 bucks and plugs were about 11. Total spent is now 5,005.02.


As of last night we've moved up the timeline for some repairs. We booked a room and Frogger will be in attendance at the Mid America 02 fest this year. After mid america my wife and i will drive to visit family near mobile, AL for a few days. This will be a round trip of 2,000 miles (30hrs seat time) in the car...not counting any back roads driven at the mid america meet. I've got a lot to do....

Edited by dasfrogger
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Didn't get a chance to upload the 'baseline' videos to youtube the other day so posting them now. Any excuse to break out the GoPro right?

Walk arounds:









I've still got to do some fine tuning to the 38/38, but it's running pretty nice. It actually started up 2nd try in 20 degree weather and idled. Didn't idle well, but it idled and my ill adjusted 32/36 never would have even tried. I think the choke may have been part of the issue as it opened fully after about 60 seconds. I need to look into adjusting it, but will probably just end up buying a manual choke conversion kit.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Between the snow and family obligations i haven't had much time to work on or even drive Frogger. I've been looking forward to today all week and it was nice to get a lot of smaller jobs done.




I had ordered point, cap and rotor from Bav auto last fall and never installed them. Decided it was about time to get the new parts installed. Unfortunately only the rotor fit my distributor. The cap and points are wrong. I'm not sure if they sent the wrong parts or if they are correct for a 73 and my car just has a different distributor. I'm going to get the numbers off my distributor and send them an email, hopefully they'll still let me swap everything out.




My trunk boards were in pretty sorry shape so i figured I'd clean them up and paint them. I'd had good success a few months back on another set for the 1600-2 and had about half a can of dye left over. I used simple green and a plastic bristle brush to loosen some of the grime before painting. I barley had enough dye to finish both boards, but luckily they both came out nicely. The project only took about 30 minutes total and made a huge difference. 









I hadn't been too happy with the electric choke on the new weber 38/38 so I ordered a manual choke conversion and choke cable from webercarbsdirect.com. Totally worth the 25 bucks, much easier to start the car now that i can control the choke. I'm pretty disappointed in the choke cable though, if it's not just so it likes to bind and won't let you operate the choke. We cut a 6" section off to eliminate some of the bends, but still no luck. applying some pb blaster lube to the length of the cable seems to have helped, but i'm worried that'll only be a temporary fix. I plan to start looking around for a better quality choke cable, but this one should do for now.


The wind noise on the car has been pretty terrible so frogger got a new set of door seals that had been slated for the 1600-2. They're uro brand and installed pretty well, but I don't have any frame of reference otherwise. I would buy them again. You really have to slam the door now, but I'm sure over time they'll break in. Great results, the cabin is much quieter with the windows up.


My recaros have been pretty raggedy for a long time and with the trip coming up i finally broke down and bought new seat straps from Aardvark. I have no idea why I waited so long to do this, 40 bucks well spent. Night and day difference in comfort. I knew my seats were bad, but i had no idea my seats were so bad.









Now for some of the bad news...While I had the trunk boards out I decided to take care of some of the rust spots I'd noticed when I took the baseline photos. The spots on the spare tire pan were no big deal, just a little surface rust that a little POR 15 and their "prep and ready" solution would neutralize. I saw a couple bubbles on the shock towers and broke out the screwdriver to investigate. Not the end of the world, but not great either...


Big hole on the drivers shock tower - doesn't go all the way thru to the wheel well.




2-3 inch long hole at bottom of drivers shock tower. This goes all the way thru - you can see the tire depending on your angle.




Identical hole on the bottom of the passenger shock tower




I'm pretty amazed that these are so bad since I had the shock towers poked around at repaired by a body shop a few years back. These spots weren't there then (or weren't bad enough to be seen then). I'll have to take the car over to the shop that painted the 1600-2 to see if they can get it fixed quickly. In the meantime i treated everything with prep and ready then painted with por15 to stall further rust.










If it's not one thing it's another. Still on the docket is rebuilding the driveshaft and reinstalling, changing the transmission fluid, rebuilding the front and rear suspension, having the speedometer fixed, etc etc etc. The list is getting shorter, but i have a feeling that as soon as I get all that done, a whole new list will pop up.


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you were ripping along on so many projects in your last post i half expected you were going to fix all those rust holes in the same day!!  :D


If I had a welder and knew how to use it I might have tried! I have a feeling mid America is going to sneak up on me pretty quickly

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Hey Jake borrow my Gummi Pfledge next time we're together and put it on your seals.  It softens them.  There's a place in Cali that I bought it from - less than $10.  Blunt recommended it for my vent window seals.  If you keep applying it, it softens the rubber.  


It probably won't fix it, but it might help somewhat.



02ing since '87

'72 tii Euro  //  '21 330i x //  '14 BMW X5  //  '12 VW Jetta GLI

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Hey Jake borrow my Gummi Pfledge next time we're together and put it on your seals.  It softens them.  There's a place in Cali that I bought it from - less than $10.  Blunt recommended it for my vent window seals.  If you keep applying it, it softens the rubber.  


It probably won't fix it, but it might help somewhat.



Thanks for the recommendation! Hopefully I'll be up your way soon. I need a good shakedown trip once i replace the suspension and drive shaft.


Until then, do you think these will work as a substitute?




(Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Edited by dasfrogger
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  • 2 weeks later...

Suspension rehab has been long overdue. Just like anything else, it's quickly grown.


The plan:

New rubber bushings front and rear (blunttech suspension rebuild)

New Front and rear IE swaybars

New Bilstein HD's front and rear

New Motor Mounts

New Driveshaft (rebuilt and balanced with new u-joints and center support bearing)

New Guibo

New Transmission mount

New Ebrake cables (probably, may wait for another day)

New rear wheel cylinders






I'm especially pleased with the job Portland driveshafts did with the rebuilt driveshaft. Rebalanced and painted, new u-joints and center support bearing. $400 bucks later (including shipping both ways!!!) and it was as good as new.








Started tearing down and we got stuck with freeing the hard brake lines to remove the trailing arms. ended up having to use some needle nose vicegrips to get the nut to turn.


Ended up only getting the the passenger trailing arm off along with a few other parts. Got the trailing arm bushings replaced and the trailing arm installed on the new subframe. Also pulled sway bar and shocks out. Didn't have time for much more, but I'll be taking a half day tomorrow and hopefully we can get a lot more finished up.














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