Sunday, March 30, 2014

Project Kazumi Part 1

It is said that humans are insatiable by nature, whether it is for knowledge, truth, power, possessions, love, hunger and whatever else. History has proven this to us time and again. But before I stray too far off topic, what I am deeming insatiable to me right now (apart from other things.) is my passion for cars and pretty much anything to do with them. Which leads me to another subtopic that will serve as a short introduction into my main topic, bear with me. On May 1, 2013, I bought myself my first car, a 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer EX GLX (1.6L),
it was a big moment for me having accomplished something like that early in my life (I was 25 at the time.), I got all excited about what I wanted to do to it, what modifications I wanted to put in and all that. I got as far as installing a rubber lip to protect the front fender (after unfortunately scraping part of it on a steep incline due to miscalculation.) and installing a front upper strut bar. But being a passionate enthusiast, I wanted more, therein lay the conflict. I wanted to maintain the warranty of the car but at the same time, I wanted to modify the car to my liking. At one point, I decided to say "Screw the warranty. I'm going to do what I want!" and I was able to save up enough money to buy a new set of wheels, I inquired and was told that what I wanted was available but for some reason, the voice inside my head reminded me that I wasn't going to just stop at wheels. So I cancelled my order and searched online to see if I could find a project car without having to dip into my savings and investments, just for the heck of it, I didn't think I was going to find anything. But lo and behold, I found a bunch of cars that costed the same or less than the money I had set aside for new wheels. I did my research, made a number of phone calls, asked a number of people and then finally decided on one. A 1980 Toyota Corona Liftback. I called the owner, set a date (January 19, 2014) to view the car, found a mechanic that could come and view the car with me, invited a few buddies to come along and that was that. Test drove and inspected the car, negotiations were made, papers were signed and that was it, I had a project car. And this is where it all begins.

To be honest, the Corona a.k.a. "Kazumi" was in fairly decent overall shape when I got it. The 3T, 1.8L engine ran well except for a minor hiccup (We hit a dip and the throttle cable came loose causing the engine to die and not start up again.) which led to adjusting the idling and shortening the slack on the throttle cable. Now to get to the "fairly decent" parts a.k.a "Aspects In Need Of Improvement" of the car, first up is the suspension. The previous owner took the cheap and lazy way to lowering the car, he cut coils off the damn springs. Now riding, let alone driving the car (there is hardly any ground clearance, I can barely stick my whole foot under the car!) is like being one of those bobble head toys on a dashboard, in short it's a really rough ride. That’s pretty much the biggest issue with the car. The body is solid except for some rust issues and aesthetic issues. The interior needs to be reupholstered, the dashboard and other interior trims need to be fixed or replaced as well. The entire gauge cluster (except some indicators) is not functioning but it might be an electronics issue, the horn doesn't work either. There’s also a manual steering to power steering conversion that needs to be done as well. That’s pretty much it In terms of issues but I know, more are bound to pop up at one time or another, but I’ll cross those bridges when I get them.


(Kazumi's current 3T Heart.)

I know it might be too early in the project but I do have a vision and a set of goals that I want to achieve in this RestoMod. Of course, I understand that if you break down those word RestoMod, the word Resto(ration) comes before Mod(ification) and rightly so but I believe that vision and direction is important when doing something like this, this will also serve as a reminder of the path I’m supposed to be on should I begin to deviate.
So here’s what I have planned:

The Exterior:
First off, I’m going to have to repaint the whole car, it’s currently flat brown of sorts, I plan to bring it back to blue (which was the color it was registered in.) but a flat shade of midnight blue. I also plan to put some fender flares on all four sides to give the car wider and aggressive look or perhaps have the fenders rolled to keep it clean looking. I intend to keep the fender mirrors to retain the classic look. For the wheels, I will most likely be going with gold BBS RS’ with a polished silver lip; they just seem to suit the car when I picture it in my head. But this is still a very changeable 

The Interior:
For the interior, I’m planning to with a pair of bucket seats up front and then probably reupholstering the rear seats in some leather.  I also need to get the rear seatbelts to become functional. But the front buckets will most likely be using harnesses. For the dashboard, I plan on putting together a custom gauge cluster instead of restoring and maintaining the old one. I also plan on having a custom fabricated gated shifter just to give it that touch of class with a mix of function. I’m still debating if I’m going to put a stereo back into the car or not, I’ll also most likely have to have a custom console made for the air conditioning controls. For the steering wheel, I’m looking to go with something from Nardi, haven’t decided which one yet. I’ll also be incorporating central locking and power windows for that functional modern touch. That’s all I have in mind for now when it comes to the interior.

I initially tried to look for replacement suspension parts but for a car this old, it’s pretty difficult. I reached out to a shop (Sushi Factory: that can do a custom suspension job (Among other amazing things they can do!) on it so there’s that. Though I’m willing to explore the possibilities of going with a full coilover setup for the front and rear though it might involve some metal fabrication work.

The Engine and Transmission:
Now for the fun and probably the most costly and challenging part, the engine. I am planning to go with a 1UZ-FE (Either from a Toyota or a Lexus, doesn't matter to me as long as the price is right. Haha!) engine and I plan to use a W58 five-speed transmission which seems to be the best transmission of choice when it comes to the 1UZ-FE based on what I’ve read and the people I’ve spoken to. Though I did have a passing thought of trying to get a sequential gearbox in there somehow, unless the price kills me first of course. I also plan to run it with individual throttle bodies with velocity stacks for each throttle body. I haven’t really put thought into the exhaust system yet though.

(Spark Plug #4.)
Now onto the present time, I mentioned earlier that the issue with the engine was the throttle cable but after getting the car to a warehouse (my best friend was kind enough to offer it to store Kazumi. They house, service and repair their delivery trucks there meaning it’s pretty much like a workshop, thankfully!) I decided to give the spark plugs a check and it turns out the real issue didn't lie solely with the throttle cable. Plug number 4 was pretty much blown
(Out with the old, in with the new.)
and the spark plug wires were also pretty shot. So I got my hands on a brand new set of spark plugs (4-pieces Bosch IR Fusion Iridium Spark Plugs to be exact.) and a set of NGK high tension wires plus an ignition coil wire. Swapped the old ones out and put the new ones in, cranked the engine and nothing, cranked it again then smoke started to emanate from the battery terminals, I took a closer look and the insulation was in pretty bad shape, so one of the warehouse mechanics and I took the terminals off and adjusted the clamps that house the wiring to make them tighter, reclamped the wires and re-insulated it by wrapping it with electrical tape. The car needed a little jump start but after, she ran so much smoother and without any more idling issues. The next step would be to clean the carb to make it even smoother. So that’s one issue down but onto another one, apart from the present issues I've mentioned and listed. I bought a set of 16x8 (front) and 16x9 (rear) BBS RS’ (Gold center, silver polished lip.)
(BBS RS + Attached Human.)
with a PCD of 114.3mm, I was really excited to try them on but unfortunately, they don’t fit. For some reason, the bolt spacing on the rear of the Corona measures 127mm which is really strange because prior research and inquiries say that the PCD of the Corona is 114mm, diagonally though, the bolt spacing matches up at 88.9mm for both the BBS’ and the Corona. So it’s both frustrating and confusing. Now I’m in search of wheel adapters that will help get the wheels to fit properly. I suppose it really does happen when doing projects, solve one problem only to discover a new one. 

Stay tuned for my next article on this awesome journey that I'm on!

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