1 day ago in Articles
Christina Lam went from the sidelines to full-on track enthusiast in 8 simple steps.
Welcome back to Wheeler Dealers USA where we pick up tired old classics and fix them up before turning them loose for a new lease on life. As a recap for you, the past episodes can be found here:
We broke the news a little early about this one: I bought another car
The back story on this motor is a kid owned it as a stock Protege DX and dreamed of the JDM Familia GTR version, so he actually bought a real BPT from somewhere and installed it. Before he could get it running, his folks found out how much cash he blew and took the car. Somehow kid figures out he's never getting the car back let alone getting it to run, so he sold it to some distant relative who actually got it to drive. That guy figured out the head gasket was blown and sold it to his coworker, who actually had the head rebuilt at a proper shop and got the motor back together. This was about 2 years ago, when I come into the picture. I know the owner and have asked about the car many times thinking it would be a cool project/rallycross/chump car. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago and he booms the motor hard on his DD (a wicked turbocharged and built Scion tC), so now he's hard up for cash. I walk in and get her for $300 squids. I finally took delivery on Friday after buying and installing a battery, a clutch master cylinder, wiper blades, and an air filter.
Here is our starting point after getting the old girl back to the workshop:
The old girl had sat in a field for a few years, so this time I opted to wash her off and take care of some detailing first. The rusty wiper arms just needed a lick of semi-gloss paint.
The wheels were especially shabby, with flaking chrome, curbing, and scratches everywhere. Rather than try to polish them up, we decided some high-gloss black would do better.
Notice our custom-made wheel painting template to save on masking time and tape. That leaves more to do some of the more glaring trim pieces, this time in low-gloss to match the condition of the rest.
Then came the hard work, under the bonnet. This old girl may have the roaring heart of a proper rally special, but she was sick with a refusal to start without fluid, sputtering, backfires, and no boost. Try to stay with me on the number of faults fixed, ready? Disconnected the power booster vacuum from the blow-off valve and put to the intake, connected the wastegate vacuum properly, connected 3 other vacuum lines left loose, bolted the radiator to the mounts, tied the wiring loom off of the turbo, installed the coolant overflow bottle found in the trunk, removed 4 extraneous hoses and 3 extraneous wires to/from nowhere in the engine bay, tightened every hose clamp, tightened the engine ground, and, I E36 M3 you not, tighten the loose distributor hold-down bolt after resetting the timing. Yes, literally the exact same issue as the SAAB from Episode 1. No, the same mechanic did not touch both cars. Crazy, isn't it?
After a quick test-spin, we realized that although she ran much better, there was a massive James-Bond smoke screen behind us, indicative of oil being sucked through the turbocharger. See that L-shaped hose? That's the oil return line. It's kinked. Ergo, oil backs up, and seeps through the seals. I need to replace that, and the missing downpipe bolt and tighten the other 3, as well as the spark plugs because, again I E36 M3 you not, there are FOUR different spark plugs in this motor! Now, I've found 2 different plugs a number of times on finicky motors, such as the back 2 on an LT1 V8, or the back 3 on a SHO V6, but never have I ever found different plugs in a FWD Inline-4, let alone four of them. As a kicker, it's an Iridium, a Platinum, a V-Power, and a standard copper all in NGK so it's like having a straight flush in plug poker I guess. The leads are also knackered and will need to be replaced. Stay tuned!
People are strange. It's so easy to change spark plugs. I suppose if you are dirt berkeleying poor this is a solution, but it's really odd.
Wow. That car is lucky you found it.
I don't understand why people still put platinums in turbo cars, they just don't work well as any sort of knock destroys the platinum electrode and your $5 plug is worthless.
You get loose distributors, I get cars with no air filters. Seriously, every car I buy from California has 1) a hacked-in alarm and 2) no air filter.
This is going to be an interesting project.
I want this one even more than I wanted that clean C900 you did.
You may need to keep this one opposed to flipping it. Sounds like a great challenge starting point, and then would transition into something with epic rallycross potential.
You forgot my (slow) episode: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/wheeler-dealers-saab-saga/105785/page1/
This one looks like fun, nice score.
Nice! Can't wait to see how this turns out
Very cool, I'll be watching this. I've always wanted to find an old Protege/323 and do a BP or KLZE swap =)
I want to kl swap my protege5. But it's my daily. I don't Berkley with the daily.
I'll probably be quiet, but watching this.
In reply to petegans:
Proof of the spark plug insanity. I dropped four new NGK V-Power's in that are correct for a 323 GTX's BPT. I also swapped out the OE wires for a new set of Federal's.
I also installed a new 323 GTX PCV valve, tightened all the downpipe nuts, fixed the kinked return line, tightened the oil feed line, and degreased everything in the engine bay. It's still a little slow to start, but now it actually idles and runs through the rev range okay.
I have the cutest assistant in the world, and she is actually useful!
Not great, but a lot better. It doesn't smell or leak, so there is that.
Here's the semi-finished car. We also cleaned the doorjambs and trunk jamb, shined up the tires, checked and topped off all of the fluids and air pressure, and did a ton of wiping down. I also bought some super-special hardware to bolt the center caps on.
Unfortunately, the oil seals in the turbocharger might be cooked. Any time you get on boost, it billows white smoke like crazy. There's also oil surging from the center section area because now my clean engine bay is oily again. I'm considering kicking the can down the road on this one. It's a little too scruffy to ever be a nice street car like the SAAB was, and it would make a killer LeMons/Chump/Challenge/Rally-X project. I'm going to try and flip it to somebody that will turn it into a race car before I do anything else to it. No smoke at idle and everything else seems to be a-okay with it.
Shoot me a message if you are interested - $800 takes it.
I'm glad that you're on the other side of the country seeing that I just see an excuse to upgrade the turbo...
also, I think I might have a driver's door molding if you'd like a replacement. It'll be used so it'd need the 3M double sided tape treatment to install.
In reply to captdownshift:
I'd be interested in that! How much shipped to 98626?
I'll make sure that my parts car still has it, but I'm 90% sure that it does. It'll just be shipping cost, shouldn't be more than a few bucks.
ohh.... Do want.
I am now 100% sure that the only thing wrong with this pig is blown oil seals in the turbo.
Challenge 2016 is 51 weeks away people...
BEGI Chinese 16Gs are cheap, as are billet 16G wheels and flange adapters.
In reply to captdownshift:
It's an IHI RHB5 VJ20. Anything decent and cheap that can bolt in?
I might have another one of those in my garage. What is your turbo budget?
VJ23 is the bolt on upgrade, but they aren't all that common and prices reflect that. I normally loathe flange adapters, but in this instance to stay challenge friendly that and a cheap 16G is the answer for 200hp. (One could go beyond with injectors and megasquirt, but the G series gearbox wouldn't be too happy much past 200-220)
Woo another Wheel Dealers episode. Come on, replace the turbo seals. I wanna see a turbo get rebuilt in this episode. Where's my popcorn?
JamesMcD wrote: I might have another one of those in my garage. What is your turbo budget?
I have less than $400 in the car so far, so not much! I could probably swing $100 plus shipping...
Turns out what I have is a VJ5 ('86-'87 626 turbo). It is hard to find specs on the internet, but its apparently almost identical in size to a VJ11 (GD 626/MX-6 turbo), which itself is a bit larger than a VJ20.
The VJ5 has a 4-stud exhaust side flange pattern so it's not a bolt in affair with your downpipe. There are pics of a VJ5 in this thread (post #5 of 8):
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