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exST165
exST165 New Reader
12/30/17 9:14 p.m.

After a ten year hiatus Team Frozen Nuts Racing is planning a slightly more triumphant return than their last appearance at the $2008 Challenge.  All trembled before us in 2008, and by all I mean places 48 through 51 as we clinched 47th place with a best quarter-mile pass of 20.473 seconds (from memory I also had a 24 and 26 second pass), an autocross time 42.4 seconds off the leader's pace and a rather generous 18.75 points in the concourse.  The mighty Lightning McQueen themed Toyota Celica Alltrac (spun rod bearing and all) was sold on our return to an ice racer and other than seeing a few pictures of it in snow and ice covered battle a couple of years after being sold, hasn't been heard from since.  Actually if it had fallen off the trailer on our 23 hour drive back from Gainsville I think I would have kept driving.

 

The last nine years has seen two different project cars both of which failed for different reasons.  An XR4Ti that couldn't be made to rev past 3,000 rpm for the love of time or sweat before frustration led to it being scrapped and then a very rusty Miata that my family fell in love with and so it received some professional body work to make it look respectable.  It has been a lot of fun autocrossing over the last two summers but the Challenge is an itch that needs to be scratched.  There are some things that once seen cannot be unseen, and a few in a good way.  For me this is very high on that list:

 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/oversized-go-kart-at-autocross/104460/page1/

 

 

 

I have no idea who built this or why, but they have my respect.  There are only two problems that I see with that build:

- all the CRX's in this neck of the woods are either rust heaps or way over Challenge price

- the comments about probably not passing an identifiable test to run competitive D-Mod.  I want this project to be for more than just the Challenge, going to the Solo Nationals is a bucket list thing and as much fun as I have autocrossing I want to get back to some lapping days.

 

But there are two great things about that car from my perspective:

- light weight.  You pay by the pound when you start towing and that thing has to be light.  And being FWD a tow dolly is a slam dunk.

- headroom is no issue.  I've had a lot of problem with headroom and putting on a helmet under my Miata's hardtop for the one lapping day I did in it wasn't a lot of fun.

 

I took a look for FWD platforms that could be suitable and didn't see a whole lot that did anything for me.  A Neon SRT4 has lots of potential but they are rare enough that I didn't see any going for Challenge money.  Looking at RWD platforms I resisted "the answer" with all my might.  Yes a ghettocet could be a lot of fun but getting a reasonable donor could be tough and high speed at a lapping day could be quite ... interesting.  Actually if the Fiero falls through a miata-ghettocet could happen as looking at this picture has me wondering about why I didn't look harder for another Miata.

 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/200x-classifieds/be-the-envy-of-your-friends-for-200/71428/page1/

 

 

So that brings to me to my $2018 Challenge contender.  I picked up a silver 1985 Pontiac Fiero with a Quad 4 swap and a blown head gasket for the princely sum of C$500.  And completely seized parking brakes as we found out when the CAA came to tow my new possession home.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/30/17 9:22 p.m.

I smell VICTORY!!!! Bring IT!!!!

exST165
exST165 New Reader
12/30/17 9:35 p.m.

I need to give one important shout-out to that Alltrac at the $2008 Challenge - it helped me get my current  job.  The second last or last line on my resume under hobbies was something like "working on my project car and participating in the $2008 GrassrootsMotorsports Challenge".  Anyway I'm interviewing for this job in 2011 and the CFO sits down and the first words out of his mouth were "We have a lot of things to cover, but I want to make sure to leave enough time at the end as I want to hear about your car".  The CFO races a tube-frame Camaro in GT1 regional racing at Mosport.  Needless to say we hit it off really well and while we don't work together anymore we keep still keep in touch.

 

So here's the life lesson: that three minute pitch you have to make at the concourse to "sell" your project to the judges, approach it like an job interview.  Or approach a job interview as a whole series of those three minute concourse pitches: tell me about a time you have worked on a team to achieve a difficult goal, tell me about things that you have done with this tool or that software package, .... 

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair UltimaDork
12/30/17 9:41 p.m.

Outstanding!  Welcome back!

exST165
exST165 New Reader
12/30/17 10:18 p.m.

Buying the Fiero as a bit of an adventure.  I forget how I came across the "Greater Toronto Fiero Forum" gtfieros.com but they have a for sale section and there was a 1984 2M4 with a Quad 4 swap for sale for $775 obo.  Had an email address so I didn't need to be a board member!  I emailed the guy and he has owned the car for something like 25 years, did the swap back in the early 1990s and had a blast with it.  He blew the head gasket last year and doesn't have the stomach to pull the motor and do all that work on it, he just retired and wants to simplify his life.  But it has been his baby for so many years.  So I go back and forth with him over a dozen emails while he is interviewing me that I am worthy of owning his baby and that I will take care of it and fix and I won't part it out and crush it.

I ended up sending him links to the $2017 Challenge threads and I straight up promised him that while I would probably gut the interior and I might take a sawzall to other parts of it, I would give his baby one last shot at glory.  He accepted it.

Unfortunately actually purchasing the car turned out to be a bit more of an adventure.  The seller was very concerned as I had no intention of ever registering it for the street that I might not transfer the ownership to my name and that if I abandoned it at some race track he could get a call and would be responsible for towing it away.  Okay, I think we can work around this, we'll meet at the local Service Ontario branch and transfer the ownership right there as we do the deal.  I rent a tow dolly, drive out to a branch near his house on a Saturday afternoon and meet him waiting in line.  Actually I got there first but you get the idea.  As we are about to hand over keys and money, the clerk asks us the year of the car.  1985.  She looks at us and asks us if we have an official appraisal of the car's value.  Uhmm No we don't.  Why would we get an appraisal for a car I'm buying for $700 and not going to insure or get plated for road use?  Because to transfer ownership of a car over 25 years old you need to get it appraised so the government knows it is getting its "fair" share of taxes on it that's why.

So we walk away dejected.  I drive home and return the tow dolly to U-Haul and the seller makes a few calls over the next few days.  For $200 he gets the Fiero appraised: at $500.  Brilliant.  We agree that I'll pay him $700: $200 to reimburse him for the appraisal fee and $500 for the appraised value of the car.  Outstanding.  Next weekend we go and do the same dance at Service Ontario but without the tow dollies.  I don't have enough time between kids activities in the morning while Service Ontario is open.  I drive back later that evening and call a tow service.  It is late and dark and cold and raining.  I'll outsourcing this one to the professionals.  Turns out to be a good call as the parking brakes are seized and we have a devil of a time dragging it out onto the road for the tow truck driver to hook it up.  If we had been trying to drag the rear wheels up onto a dolly with just a ratchet strap it probably would have ended badly.

exST165
exST165 New Reader
12/30/17 10:35 p.m.

So now I have this thing in my garage and my dreams of getting the engine pulled over the holidays were crushed by two events: one was that work is being a peach and while I worked from home I've had to work at least two days so far in what I thought would be my vacation and two it has been freaking cold.  Like minus 20 degrees C cold.  Today it warmed up to a balmy minus 6 so I made some good progress on getting the ECU wiring harness disconnected and pulled through to the engine bay.  

 

At this point it is really easy to go off in 20 different directions: turbo charging (I have turbo from my old WRX that never sold for C$60) or nitros (I have most of a nitros kit that I bought years ago for C$200 and never used) or stripping it right down to an exo-car like that Miata ghettocet, or ... or ... or  ...  I don't want to make the same mistake I made with the XR4Ti and loose focus before the car is able to do anything.

 

Step one is going to pull the motor, and inspect the head.  There is a lot that could be wrong with that motor when it blew the head gasket and the cause has never been established, the owner assumed it was age and the gasket just let go.  There could be overheating so a dead water pump or a crushed water pipe so until we get it apart we won't know if the Challenge budget hit will just be a new head gasket or if it will be a lot more than that.

Step two will be to get the motor back in and get the car running under its own power.  The I will look at gutting interiors and cutting roofs and fabricating roll bars and .. and ... and ...

 

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
12/31/17 8:50 a.m.

In reply to exST165 :

You are just about local to me! And yeah...about the need to appraise old cars, it is a rip-off, hence why a keep a tame appraiser on beer-tainer. Rather than look for the guys who do the classic cars, be aware that anyone with a dealer's license can do the job. Going rate is like $50 cash. Since I tend to give away our cars to family or friends when I buy a new one, as part of the transaction, I always have the dealer give me a value of $200 on the old one. Without this, the Gov would set the sale price based on their own optimistically based book-value. 

 

 

Pete

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
12/31/17 9:21 a.m.

 

This Is Good News,  I am resurrecting the 2015 PLB  It's an 84 W/ 3.4 and Turbo, 

I am a noob at the challenge only going this Past year as a Spectator/Helper for the First Time. 

Mine also needed a Head Gasket , the work Is done but too cold to go outside and go through the Motions of Starting a Car  That Has Been Sitting a Couple years.

Best of luck, if you need parts or info let me know Here or at Gafiero.org  it's the Georgia Fiero Club Web site.  and Pennocks of course.

exST165
exST165 New Reader
1/2/18 8:08 p.m.

So a question to the hive mind: what are some light, wide 5x100 bolt pattern wheels?  Given that one set of tires is "free" on the Challenge budget I want to go as wide and sticky as cheap wheels will allow but I haven't seen any budget / junk yard solutions yet.  My Fiero came with what appear to be stock 16" wheels with "Fiero GT" centre caps (not that I can find an image of them with google so they might be aftermarket) and 205/55/16 and 225/50/16 tires on wheels appear to be the same width front and back.  Not sure if I should just stick with these wheels and get really sticky rubber or if there is a wider solution out there for Challenge money.

Note to self: review autocross and NHRA drag rules to see if I can go with slicks like Hoosier A7.

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
1/2/18 9:00 p.m.

A7's are legal.    This was just covered on gafiero.org about tire sizes that came stock and read through Pennocks for wheel sizes that fit and the correct Off set's. This car I have has Subie wheels on it but I am doing a corvette Brake swap and have some other choices in width and diameter because the brake swap will change the bolt pattern.

tattooedwelder2018
tattooedwelder2018 New Reader
1/16/18 5:46 a.m.

If you have 16s on the car your ahead of the game. Car came stock with 13s and 14" rims. When I ran mine I used grand am rims. I think they were 16x6 or 7. Dumpster tires from a Porsche race car. And I think you can figure out where they came from. 

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/16/18 11:29 p.m.

Yeah tattooedwelder2018, I think I know the race shop!  Luckily the 2018 rules allow one set of tires free of budget impact so I plan to go all in.  Wheels that came with the care are 16x8” which is wide, but going to 13 or 14x10” would be awesome to get another inch drop and even more contact patch.  But I’m not going to blow the Challenge budget to get wheels with the correct bolt pattern to do that.  Long term there are some interesting brackets to eliminate bump steer that look like they need a bigger wheel like 16”.

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/17/18 8:09 a.m.

So progress in dropping the motor has been slow.  Pictures will follow once I figure out hosting.

i found this awesome set of instructions here:

http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum9/HTML/000024.html

or here on the way back machine to get embedded pictures:

https://web.archive.org/web/20160404025251/http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum9/HTML/000024.html

Or PDF version :

http://www.nathanbittinger.com/fiero/docs/Removing%20a%20V6%20Engine%20by%20the%20Numbers%20-%20by%20Toddster.pdf

 

 

 

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/18/18 2:46 p.m.

So here is a photo of the Fiero fresh in my garage:  

 

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/18/18 2:48 p.m.

As she sits today.  More or less

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/18/18 2:52 p.m.

Okay so remember that stuck parking brake and we tried rocking the car hoping it was just some rust on the rotors?  The driver’s side parking brake cable is seized and this doesn’t look right either

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/18/18 2:58 p.m.

So some posts had claims of being able to drop a motor in 2-3 hours.  I’ve got that amount of time in the two rear cradle bolts.  I broke out my impact gun and found I didn’t have a 15 mm impact socket so I decided to use a chrome socket.  For a brief moment I thought I had success,  alas I was just rounding off the bolt

exST165
exST165 New Reader
3/18/18 3:00 p.m.

A 4’ length of pipe on my breaker bar freed the second bolt,  but for the first one I think I need to grind it down a bit and pound on a 14 mm socket and have at it with the breaker bar.

tattooedwelder2018
tattooedwelder2018 New Reader
3/18/18 3:46 p.m.

At least you are making progress? It may be slow an tedious, but will be much faster once the teardown is done.  

My first go at dropping the motor in mine to me a solid day of work. Once I had it all figured out I could drop the motor,replace headgasket piston and rings and have it back running in 4 hours. I still have a sore spot for all the work I did on that car to have it piss oil on the staggering line for the drags. 

 

exST165
exST165 Reader
3/18/18 4:55 p.m.

Pulling back the plastic inner fender things reveals some rust.  The trunk is shot but the frame rails look solid.  From the driver’s side: 

 

exST165
exST165 Reader
3/18/18 4:57 p.m.

So I know I’m dealing with a swap so not everything is where manuals say they should be, but what is this metal puck thing on the engine cradle?

 

tattooedwelder2018
tattooedwelder2018 New Reader
3/19/18 5:37 a.m.

Just think of it as the starting point for your scrap pile. 

 

kevlarcorolla
kevlarcorolla Dork
3/19/18 7:30 a.m.

I actually owned the lightening Mcqueen celica briefly before reselling it to another ice racer after I drove it a total of about 30'.

 Its still around but hasn't been out much.

GTXVette
GTXVette SuperDork
3/19/18 8:02 a.m.

 The car I've bought was as Rusted and though It's Been Mostly Cut Away you can tell it was there. as far as the weight goes I have yet to under stand why. I've seen them Hanging on Exhaust pipes Transmissions to Dampen Vibrations But DUH ! ? Why one would be Put on a Frame rail Escapes Me

exST165
exST165 Reader
3/19/18 11:46 p.m.

KevlarCorolla,

I'm honoured that you owned McQueen, if only briefly, you've built some inspiring race cars!  I think it was your gold Corolla I saw trailered in at one of my first autocross events around 1997 at the Bronte GO Station.  (full disclosure: life got in the way and it took me almost 20 years to get to another autocross). 

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