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darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
9/25/22 2:07 a.m.

I just (re-)started this project a few days ago, and since I've gotta include the build story for the Challenge documentation, I figured I'd just do it here.

In the beginning... 5 years ago (late January 2017 technically), I came upon a local Craigslist ad featuring some ridiculously bad pictures of a couple abandoned XR4TIs at an outdoor storage lot. (The first sign of destiny!)  Story was they had been abandoned there for several years at that point already, and had been dragged into an unkept wooded area when the previous owner had stopped paying his storage fees. Being an XR owner already and knowing how relatively rare they are, I had to go take a look.  Turned out they were literally just 3 miles from my home. (The second sign!)  They were rough, having been damaged by falling tree branches and invaded by ants; one complete car with a broken sunroof leaving it open to the elements, the other a rolling shell with a broken windshield and shattered spoilers. But I could see someone had put some parts and love into these cars; I spied upgraded engine, suspension, and interior parts and found a pair of rather valuable Compomotive MO wheels in one of them, still wrapped from being shipped from overseas. (The third sign!)  I was also shown a trailer with a bunch of parts (and other random stuff) that were included in the sale. The kicker was there was a clean title for the more complete car. I wasn't looking for a deal like this, but I couldn't not buy them given the ludicrous $350 asking price. (The final sign!) So I enlisted the help of some friends, thrashed to make room at the house, and home they came.

Craigslist adBlack XR first lookburgandy XR first lookXRs at home

XR parts stash

And yes, that's a dj setup that was in the stash of parts.  There was actually quite a bit of dj/audio wiring and power supplies and such in that trailer of parts.  All included in the deal, which turned out to be a very fortunate thing...

 

Box4VIR
Box4VIR GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/25/22 7:54 a.m.

I love these things!  Following

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/25/22 7:58 a.m.

Cool!

TurboFource
TurboFource Reader
9/25/22 8:10 a.m.

I have the drivetrain out of one in my garage! Love 2.3 Turbo cars!

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/25/22 8:20 a.m.

Sweet! You can recoup down to $175 buy in pretty easily, I think.

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
9/25/22 1:39 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

Oh, I was able to do better than that...

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
9/25/22 1:40 p.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) said:

Sweet! You can recoup down to $175 buy in pretty easily, I think.

Oh, I was able to do better than that...

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/11/22 12:20 a.m.

It's 11 days from the Challenge, and I'm WAY behind, of course.  But I'm taking a break to add to the backgroud of this build story...

Surveying the cars, I found some upgrades on the black XR that came with a title: Cossie 4 piston front disc brakes and front sway bar, aluminum radiator with dual fans, LA series Turbocoupe ECU & VAM, Merkmeter, Cossie steering wheel, upgraded diff and trans mounts, and lowering springs and Koni yellows.  The parts haul was a mixed bunch of stuff, including a lot of interior and exterior trim parts, some mechanical parts and hardware, a bunch of wiring, a Cossie rear sway bar, and of course that pair of Cossie spec 16x8 Compomotive MO5 wheels. Curious and having the previous owner’s name, I was able to track him down (he was local again after having moved away for a long while) and make contact. He had no hard feelings about having lost the cars or that I was able to get them so cheaply; his loss, my gain. He relayed details about the cars, and said the black car had been his daily and that the front springs were a special set of Ledas with Eibachs in the rear, and that the automatic trans had lost reverse and wasn't shifting right, which is when he parked it with the intent to build the red shell into a Cossie clone using parts he imported from his native Spain. But as life often goes, circumstances prompted him to bail on them and leave the area. I was heartbroken when I realized the storage lot had sold many of the parts he imported, like Cossie hoods, intakes, heads, manifolds, turbos, etc., just for scrap.  I was also seriously bummed to find out the matching pair of Compomotive MO wheels had gone MIA while being stored with a friend of his many years previous. But the good news was that he had a title for the red shell and keys for both cars, and he was interested in getting whatever dj gear I had, so we made a deal.  I ended up with the title, keys, a 75mm throttlebody, and some cash, all for the dj gear I didn't even know I was getting when I bought the cars, successfully recouping $250 of my $350 purchase price along with scoring some valuable extras too.

September 2017... while I'd always wanted to participate in the GRM $2xxx Challenge since it'd started, I'd always found it was a bit beyond me for whatever reason (real and imaginary).  But having a properly cheap starter package with some potential finally made the Challenge seem like a reasonable thing to attempt. I started planning and recruited help from my buddy Nick to make it happen. We started by stripping the weather-ruined interior and successfully got it running for the first time in 5+ years. It sounded off, like the head gasket had failed between cylinders (as these engines do), so that got replaced.  Then there was a hurricane with a bit of house damage. And then an unrelated kitchen flood. And then we thrashed for like a week installing an intercooler and Jetta bumper before finding the replacement trans I'd secured wasn't the correct C3, but a C4.  And as much as we fancied ourselves "Roadkill" enough to pull it off, without the right stuff to make it happen and one too many snags in the mix, we just had to bail on taking the XR.  But that didn't stop us from going anyway, except in a completely untested '98 Saab 9000 CSE "Aero-spec" I bought 3 days before the event. We went, we auto-x'd, we scattered the trans across the dragway, and we got it towed 150 miles home (thanks AAA). But that's a story for another time.

We did make a half-hearted attempt to take the XR again to the 2018 Challenge, which of course started with unearthing the cars, building a fence to hide the shell from code enforcement.  But then we started a T5 swap, even getting as far as installing the flywheel and clutch.  Alas, distractions and other responsibilities undermined our ability to commit the necessary time to get it done.  And that was that. We pushed it outside and left to sit again, until just a few weeks ago.



 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/11/22 6:59 a.m.

Following this, I've always liked these and the history is great. 

therealpinto
therealpinto GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/11/22 8:47 a.m.

I like the story too. Bummer about the rare parts going missing in storage but I see how that could happen...

I would love to fly in to the US for a parking lot build for the Challenge some year. One of these would be "simple" for me having had a couple of Sierras but I guess finds like these don't come along very often.

Gustaf

hobiercr
hobiercr GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/11/22 1:05 p.m.

Really hoping to see the XR at the challenge this year!

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/11/22 11:51 p.m.
hobiercr said:

Really hoping to see the XR at the challenge this year!

Me too!

FJ40Jim
FJ40Jim New Reader
10/12/22 11:02 a.m.

I've been road racing a Merkur XR8 this year. It's been ... challenging. Looking forward to learning how you can make these cars fast & reliable.

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/12/22 9:07 p.m.

In reply to FJ40Jim :

I'm still trying to figure that out, while remaining relatively modest in my spending and approach.  It's a 32+ year old car, so a lot of it is definitely just about getting the car "right" as a base to work from.  That's what I'm working towards right now. After that, we'll see...

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/12/22 9:33 p.m.

Pulling for ya!  Cool story on the acquisition!

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/17/22 11:05 p.m.

Well, just a few days to go and it isn't going well.  Taking a break, so I thought I'd add to this build story.  Let's see...

 

So in August, I was thinking about my birthday (October 24).  I'm no kid anymore, but I like to pretend, so I decided to register for the Challenge as a way to get motivated to work on this car again, and as a way to celebrate passing a big round number.  Of course, this meant it'd have to be moved from its resting place outside to inside the garage, which in turn meant I needed to unearth and do some wrenching on my white XR to get it running/driving/weather-tight enough to leave the garage.  It also meant that it was time to sadly finally let go of my hand-me-down F-150 project and have it hauled away.  After several weeks of procrastination, wrenching, and cleaning and organizing the garage, it was time to bring the black XR in again and get to work.

 

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/17/22 11:06 p.m.

Looking forwad to seeing you Friday!

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/17/22 11:46 p.m.
Stampie said:

Looking forwad to seeing you Friday!

Your optimism is much appreciated... it's definitely going to the down to the wire if the car makes it.

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/18/22 11:51 p.m.

Still not going well... just can't seem to catch a break, well, unless you count a broken toe when I dropped a 10 lbs piece of flat stock on my foot today.  Also sprained both of my wrists, first the right when the drill bit caught going in and twisted the drill, and then the left wrist when it caught again coming out.  It's been that kind of run with prep'ing this car.  Anyway, some small progress has been made, and honestly, it's still totally possible I'll pull it off, if the car cooperates a bit better.  And that's a big "if".

84FSP
84FSP UberDork
10/19/22 8:29 a.m.

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/20/22 9:40 a.m.

Messed with it for hours and hours yesterday trying to get it started and finally went to bed dejected.... woke up this morning, changed the timing a bit (for the thousandth time) and IT berkeleyING RUNS!!!  This thing might make it yet.

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing SuperDork
10/20/22 10:35 a.m.

Good luck!

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/20/22 11:48 a.m.

Yessss!!

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/22 2:02 p.m.

outstanding!

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
10/21/22 12:49 a.m.

Just about 12 hours before we're supposed to leave and this car hasn't been off the lift since I started this process.  Never driven under its own power, never used the brakes, and there's still plenty left to be done, including getting tires, but I'm bring it anyway.

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