Project Car SOTU 2016: Now it's your turn

We’ve spilled the beans on nearly all of our project vehicles. Now we want to hear about your hunks of shit precious projects. Sound off in the comments below and share your current project car woes, highlights, fails, wins, and everything else. We want pictures and we want details.
If we see some great stories, we may ask you to tell us more over email and we’ll run your personal project car SOTU down the road. Show us what you’ve got, Hooniverse readers.

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  1. 1slowvw Avatar

    Well the car in my sig is my 10 year ongoing project.It has gone from 1.6td to 1.9TD to 2.0L turbo (gas). It just ate what must be the 5th clutch…which doesn’t sound bad until you think that it’s only been on the road for 5 of those ten years. It will be getting 8 more valves and a larger turbo soon, and a clutch I guess. While I’m in there I’ll probably swap it to cable shift and a stronger trans. May also receive an air to water intercooler set up this winter as well. It will likely be sticking around.
    My 81 rabbit is being parted out and the standalone and turbo gear sold.I’m pretty set on building a turbo LS next and putting it in something cheap and odd. Ideally an old wagon, but I have a feeling that I’ll end up going S10 or something to keep the weight down.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Aren’t there any bigger clutches in VW land?

      1. 1slowvw Avatar

        Yes, but I wasn’t sure how long the motor set up was going to be in the car this time. So I cheaped out and installed a used 6 puck set up I had laying around for the last few years. There are many options once I upgrade the gearbox to an O2A unit (out of a passat).
        I think this latest clutch is simply worn out. In the past the torque of the diesel with 20+psi out of a T3 was what killed them.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          I broke the truck like clutch of a Volvo 240 once, totally overestimating its pulling power on a steep hill while having a cold – and not being able to smell the warnings. Clutches are feeble things, really.

  2. Car_Door Avatar

    I have been replacing parts,fixing things, doing bodywork, getting ready to paint my 1994 accord coupe. It has 134,000 miles on it, and it’s a 5 speed. It is also a big pile of crap, but I got it in a trade for my pile of crap 1991 caprice classic. The end goal is to get it running well, and turn it into a psuedo rally car with an art car paint job.

    1. Car_Door Avatar

      Here’s a photo

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        this gen Accord gets little love, but it deserves it. it’s really the quintessential 90s Honda – understated, yet hugely competent, and available in every configuration one could want.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          And cheap enough now to collect the set?

  3. Sean McMillan Avatar
    Sean McMillan

    Brutal heat, lack of funds and general laziness have taken hold here, and I haven’t really accomplished anything on Molly aside from driving her around every couple of weeks to keep the fluids circulated. I drive my my work truck daily so she doesn’t see much use these days. I did wash her last weekend and put on some new seatcovers but that doesn’t really count. I am currently working on adapting an old RCA slide-o-matic 45 player to run off 12v to mount under the dash with a modern stereo cartridge and phono preamp so that’s something positive. But I NEED to get to work on the floorpans but that will probably wait til fall.

  4. salguod Avatar

    I’ve told most of the adventures of my 1996 318ti project / daily. Since acquisition last fall I’ve:
    – Replaced both mirrors
    – New motor mounts
    – New trans mounts
    – New diff mount & cover
    – New oil filter housing gasket, o-rings and bushing
    – New lower control arms
    – Repair non-operational sunroof
    – New JVC head unit
    – New tire (picked up a nail or something)
    I’ve also driven it some 13K miles (just turned 252K yesterday).
    On the list:
    – Diagnose & repair non-functional cooling fan
    – Repair or replace crumbling door panels
    – Re-cover the headliner
    – Repair broken / rusted stabilizer mount
    Pics of it, including some project pics, at Flickr:
    Oddly, my real toy car (1960 Thunderbird) has gotten little love over the last couple of years, but it runs & drives fairly well, so I’ve just been enjoying it. It has gotten hard to start and a fresh battery this spring didn’t cure it, so I’m thinking a new starter is on the horizon. Otherwise, I’d love to fix a few of the numerous leaks, get the alignment done properly to it perhaps will handle at least without drama, flush the block so it’ll run a bit cooler and then maybe put the new top on or get the seats repaired.
    The 2005 Mazda3 (not really a project car) has gotten new struts, brakes and lower control arms in he last couple of years, plus a bit of ghetto bodywork (new headlights and pounding things back into roughly the right shape) after my daughter had an unfortunate incident with an SUV.
    (BTW – If you want a write up on patching your teenage daughter’s cars back together after an accident, I can help you out there. I’ve put the Escort back together twice, the Protege once (the second time killed it) and now the Mazda3.)
    The Escort hasn’t been too needy, but it recently broke a rear strut mount, so that’ll need fixed soon.
    The wife’s Prius just keeps running and sipping fuel.

  5. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    I’ve wound up selling my ’77 MGB about a month ago, realizing I was a bit over my head with that project. As far as my ’85 Renault Encore, it’s still chugging along. I’ve tried with no success to get it to idle lower, replaced a cracked and collapsed vent line, and the short in the driver’s front parking light managed to fix itself, so I no longer have to listen to the burnt bulb warning buzzer when I drive at night.
    The next big project for it is once again fixing the broken windows regulators. It feels like I may have stripped the gears on the driver’s side and I think the cable for the passenger side may have come undone. I plan on looking into that this weekend.

  6. I_Borgward Avatar

    This is 45, my art car. To the keen of eye, a 1982 Volvo DL. Why did they call it that? Everyone knows it’s a 240.
    45’s origin, design, artwork and life on the road is too much to go into for this thread, so I’ll stick to its nature as a project car. I bought it specifically to do a roof-ectomy and create a homebrew convertible. I made an all-weather top out of boat cover material, with snaps to hold it in place and magnetic strips along the perimeter to seal it. The stock back window can be removed, and is held in place with three nylon straps. This is all much less hinky than it sounds, and keeps the inside dry even in the Pacific NW.
    The body has well over 300K miles on it and its original drivetrain had nearly that much. But through a stroke of Craigslist luck, I found a freshly wrecked 1982 240 donor car with all of 83K on the clock, so clean you could eat off it, clearly someone’s garaged baby until it was stuffed into a ditch. I brought it home and gutted it like a Thanksgiving turkey, swapping the entire drivetrain into my artcar. Engine, transmission, complete rear end, even the speedo cable and gauge cluster. I also put in a new IPD turbo exhaust system and cat.
    I’ve done more electrical modifications to 45 than I can recall, with particular focus on the (damn) fuel pump wiring and relays, ignition switch and charging system. I pity the poor fool who expects a wiring diagram to guide them.
    I overhauled the entire front suspension in June – new ball joints, bushings, tie rod ends, urethane sway bar mounts. New rubber window seals are halfway done (rather labor intensive). And, I just installed a used but very clean-looking Nissen plastic/aluminum radiator to replace 45’s stock brass radiator, and now the stupid thing leaks below the lower hose fitting, possibly cracked. It’s always something.
    Bits of other cars live on in 45. That’s a Mercedes grille, not sure from what model, and the chrome rings in front of the headlights are from a ’63 Riviera. The cowl light on the front is from a 1927 Cadillac (or so I’ve been informed). I also installed the factory four-horn set up from my old ’69 Electra, far too much fun to blast it tunnels, it sounds like a freight train bearing down on you.
    45 has been to artcar shows up and down the West Coast for over 10 years now. It’ll be at Artcarfest in the Bay Area in October, along with dozens of other cars from around the country. Check this show out if you can!

    1. Ayreonaut Avatar


    2. Fresh-Outta-Nissans Avatar

      That looks like some fancy upholstery?

      1. I_Borgward Avatar

        I think you’re seeing the dashboard in the photo, though I’m in the process of re-upholstering the seats as I write this!

  7. MattC Avatar

    My 1973 Super Beetle hasn’t left the cramped garage since I placed it there. Crankshaft play is non existent so I think the engine should be fine (I turn the crank manually weekly to keep things moving). I will eventually get a battery/ relocate the fuel filter, change the oil, remove the spark plugs and squirt some more Marvels Mystery Oil in the cylinders to keep the pistons from becoming too acquainted to the cylinder bores.

  8. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    So let’s see how Swedish Car Hell is doing.
    My 1997 SAAB 900S 5dr, Garrus, is still in pieces in my parent’s garage, full of my SAAB parts:

    View post on

    For now, he’s gonna be a parts donor. But the other night I had a dream about this car with a 4×4 swap from an Opel, a full roll cage, and a 2.3L turbo, so we’ll see how that pans out.
    My 1993 Volvo 240 wagon, Blanche, got sold to new owners a couple of months ago. I’m already looking at new bricks… Really miss not worrying about potholes.
    My 1999 SAAB 9-5 wagon, Alice, just got a new timing chain and so on after months of flailing, and almost a thousand miles later, I’ve lost second gear. Hopefully it’s just a misaligned shift rod; otherwise, this car’s gonna get dragged out back and shot. 😐
    My 1997 SAAB 900S ‘vert, Markus, just got taken off of the road. Insurance on convertibles is too much for me to handle right now. Luckily, the SAABING plates are still in my hands, on Alice. I put those plates on Alice the day before second gear disappeared. Coincidence?
    And finally, my 1997 SAAB 900SE 3dr… is still sitting in my girlfriend’s parent’s driveway. And I want to get to Swedish car day on August 28th? Yeesh.
    And happy 23rd birthday to me!

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Happy birthday, may there be many more!
      How do you come across the names, and why is the 97 (as in 1997) nameless?

      1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
        Frank T. Cat

        The names come from the cars’ “personalities”. That’s why the new car isn’t named yet; can’t know its personality if I’ve only driven the car a quarter mile total…

    2. caltemus Avatar

      As a two time volvo owner, I’m pumped to discover Swedish car day! Not too far away in boston too! Thanks for mentioning it

  9. outback_ute Avatar

    Three from three non mobile currently, haven’t made time to work on them in a while but hoping to sort out the ute tomorrow. Step one, fresh fuel and charged battery plus jump start pack. Last time it would barely turn the engine.
    On the other hand I pulled some parts last weekend for a friend to help his restoration.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Well, no joy. Perhaps if I had siphoned out the old stale fuel it may have helped, but some of the spark plugs were wet (and all were quite carboned up) so I will check for spark at each plug, I guess the injectors may be dodgy too, there are signs of gumming up in the fuel system (the pumps are not noisy!).
      In any case that is secondary to the observation that the rust is worse than I had thought, and I think that the sensible thing is to get rid of it. I read a pretty sensible piece of advice on deciding when it is “time”; you have to assess it as if it was a potential purchase, and if you would not buy the car in the condition it is in (particularly as a project), then it is time to bite the bullet. Suffice to say that is the case here. It would take far too much money to get the rust fixed, and I’d be kidding myself if I thought I would do it myself; as it is I have more than enough other cars to work on.
      This makes me sad, I’ve had it 14 years and about 75k miles, and while I have not driven it much in the last 10 years there are still the pretty great trips I did from trackdays, autocrossing, mountains to desert 4×4 tracks, drag racing, towing cars. It is also a pretty rare thing, only about 600 made so I feel a bit guilty about scrapping it but I can’t see years in storage helping things either! Ironic this happens at basically the same time as the last Falcon ute was built (although the XH was the last “proper” Falcon ute).

  10. nanoop Avatar

    I’m continuously abusing the Friday news to post highlights of my endeavour to wind up the maintenance backlog of a 1983 P’ 944. More details are on wheelwell, which works ok as a service log.
    I might write up something sometime, but I suck with photo/video. I also have no idea what others would deem as interesting.

    1. I_Borgward Avatar

      We’re car nerds here. If it’s attached to or associated with cars, someone will find it interesting.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        So let me expand the topic of eigen-frequencies for tensioning timing belts…
        (Long story short: Porsche workshop manual prescribes an expensive, NLA tool to measure belt tension in a.u.(arbitrary, not astronomic) – today’s tensioning routines work rather crudely (elongate tensioning roller until here) and do indeed suffice. An Industry standard today is strumming the belt and make an FT, the lowest reasonable peak’s frequency and the mass-length value let you estimate the tension, in SI or imperial, so truly arbitrary. Continental is providing an app for measuring the frequency, btw., no NLA mechanical gauges required.)

        1. I_Borgward Avatar

          “What… is the resonant frequency of a Porsche timing belt?”
          “SI or Imperial?”
          “Huh? I… I don’t know that. AAAAAAAAAGGHHH”

  11. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    last weekend i found the sloppy-ass bushing that’s been dogging me for months on my three-pedal ’99 V70 T5. seeing the end of this nightmare in sight, i have decided that now is the time to throw money by the truckload into said automobile. so today i chucked in four fresh Konis, and when the parts arrive in the mail next week i will be installing the factory-upgrade 302mm big brakes. thereafter will i get the exhaust fixed and then start figuring out how to tackle the leaky valve stem seals / cam seal / turbo seal / anything-that-holds-oil-ever seals, all of which leak despite a fresh PCV system.
    ahh, tribulations. but the rollercoaster is currently climbing. i know the pendulum will swing the other way sooner or later, but i’m enjoying it while it’s good. this is why i own the car.

  12. jeepjeff Avatar

    The stable as of July 2016 (I only own vehicles that I think of as project vehicles):
    The Jeep: runs good. It’s still my workhorse. It just crossed the 170,000 mile mark, of which 30,000 were me at the wheel. I’ve owned it for 5 and a half years now. I love it just as much as ever. It just got new brake pads and rotors a month ago, and other than that and the normal oil, spark plugs and air filters I haven’t done much to it. I have some dreams of selectable lockers and at 4.7L engine, but it’s doing pretty good on the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix plan for right now. It’s time to check the diff fluid and I suspect the front driveshaft could do with a rebuild, but it isn’t actively causing problems or making noise.
    I’ve got Cooper Discoverer A/T3s on there that are around 2 years old right now, and they’ve been great.
    The TDub: I’ve got about 1700 miles on it, and I bought it new just over a year ago. I didn’t ride it much during the winter due to tuning issues, but it’s doing great. Big plans for the TDub: I’m going to give it a vinyl wrap make-over for the inaugural Hell On Wheels rally. It’s also getting a rear rack and a couple 1 gallon rotopax fuel cans. It’s going to get an oil change and a couple adjustments ahead of the rally, but, mechanically, it’s mostly ready. I’m really looking forward to the rally.
    The FZ-07: It’s at 7400 miles. I bought it on bill-of-sale with a salvage cert last October, got it back up to spec with new lights and a brake bleed and then got it registered. The major modification I’ve done to it so far is that bucket headlamp. Which really. It fixes the styling on that bike all on its own. It’s still pretty beaten up and street-fightery, but it runs hard and I’ve put 2000 miles on it. Major plans for the FZ-07: I want to get rid of the rest of the fairings, put a custom tank on it, cut 3in off the tail, redo the rear lights and build a rear cowl for behind the seat. It also needs a guard for the radiator and some tank canards to act as covers for some electronics mounted up front. I’m going to keep the white & black color scheme.
    The picture is all three in their new driveway. I’ve got plenty of work space at the new place and I’m hoping to make some significant headway on the FZ-07 after the rally. My goal is to have it done-ish for the next Any Two Wheels.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      Ok, addendum: the Tdub is almost in emaculant condition. I went out for some rides today, and it’s still being fussy about starting and idling. It did sit quite a bit over the winter, and the problems feel like dirty carburetor problems. I don’t think it’s quite at the “pull carb, clean thoroughly” level, and I had some Seafoam sitting around in the garage (as you do), so I dumped a splash in the tank today (somewhere around 1/6th of a bottle, which is a relatively high concentration). I’m going to add some more through the week and keep riding it a bunch, and see how it’s doing next weekend. Maybe I’ll end up pulling it, cleaning and rebuilding the carb, but maybe not. It was feeling much better after 30 miles of Seafoam. Either that, or I was just getting used to the bike again. Stay tuned for an update in The News on Friday.

  13. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
    Simon BiTurbo

    Well, a couple of days ago market the occasion that my unibody Triumph Spitfire 6 project actually finally became a unibody! What you can see in the pic is the first of probably dozens of patches linking the bodyshell of my ’74 Spitfire with its chassis 🙂
    As a bit of context, my little Spitfire is a classic example of massive scope creep. What started as a bit of a rolling resto with some daydreaming of a GT6 engine swap in the future very quickly turned into a full body-off restoration with a 2.5l injected ported Triumph inline 6, custom rear suspension, a home-made roll hoop, a welded on reinforced hardtop to make a FHC bodyshell welded onto the chassis to make a sort-of-unibody with a host of lightweighting and weight redistribution to get it back to the stock 4-cyl Spitfire weight and distribution all with a modest budget.
    Yeah. Scope creep.
    Current progress is engine has been rebuilt, rust has been exorcised, chassis has been mostly painted, LSD has been fitted to diff, rear suspension has been fabricated, hardtop is half welded on pending some last bits of rust removal and nearly all of the financials have been sorted (~£1500 left).
    Steps over the next few weeks will be to finish the welding I can do from the top on the unibody aspect, then make a new rotisserie bracket for the front end of the chassis so I can flip it back upside down and start boxing in the underside.
    Oh, and drive up to Sheffield to grab a fibreglass bonnet for my other Spitfire project (an 1850 slant-4 convertible Spit), swinging by Cambridgeshire to pick up a rusted GT6 shell that I can cut the roof off of and graft onto my other other Spitfire project (Sprint 16v engined liftback GT6).

    1. gerberbaby Avatar

      Wow, and I’m happy with myself when I finished the fuel pump on the v70.

      1. Simon BiTurbo Avatar
        Simon BiTurbo

        Some fuel pumps can be a bastard fiddly job, and it’s taken me nearly 3 years to get this far, inbetween other projects :S

  14. ninjabortion Avatar

    My motorcycles are alive and well, 86/96 VFR’s respectively that i got from my uncle’s estate last July. The 96 was more recently running, new fork seals and a thorough brake cleaning and it is good to go. I sourced some old corbin beetle bags to feel like a super cool guy tourer and have been loving it. Minor things here and there like a non bent front subframe, tank grips, and other comfort stuff and i don’t know how i could be happier with it.
    86 got a full resto starting about fall and ending a few months ago. It sat outside for about a decade so everything rubber/fluid related was replaced just about. After working on shitty cars for so many years messing with bikes seems like cake. Hell i can squeeze the brake lever and touch the caliper bleeders at the same time? Pshhhh
    84 Supra is still alive and well, just wish I was in to bikes before I had started hoarding hop up parts for it. All of a sudden i’m in no rush to make it faster since it will only be barely faster than my slow bike after a stand alone and turbo are installed and sorted. Bought a 2nd supra that had a ton of parts i wanted, mainly full wilwood brakes front and rear, and a few other things. Have a set of wheels i need to refinish and mount to better show off the blingy brakes as well.
    As for the rest of the stable… 97 expedition is about due for pads and rotors and sounds like a wheel bearing is about ready to die, otherwise it has been a faithful hauler. 95 gmc pickup and 85 rx-7 need to be sold but i’m sentimental and not hurting for space. Old datsun 521 pickup awaits welding practice but it is hot as hell and i need to gut and sell the extra supra to make some space for it, or sell something else of course.

    1. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

      You’ll appreciate this. It’s our ’91 ST1100 Iron Butt bike.
      Man, I miss that bike! I built it up for just us, so we could effectively live on it for days at a time.
      And, yes, that aluminium “pizza box” under the Givi is an extra fuel tank. Carried 10.49 gallons, total. 10.5 was the limit, and I measured it out to the hundredth of a gallon, just to be safe.
      Even that amount of fuel was good for only about 225 miles when in places like Nevada, though.
      Not a lot of ST1100s around with a 600F2 front wheel and not one, but two sets of PIAA lights.

      1. ninjabortion Avatar

        Nice bike, also not sure when the last time i’ve seen a clean Intrepid…

  15. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    1982 Honda MB-5 for the win!!!!
    My stepson had one of these in the 90s after I helped him shop for #twowheelsgood.
    I actually had to paddle my then 185 lb. self with my feet for the first several feet in first gear, but after that, all was fine.
    I think I may have weighed more than the bike.