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AMiataCalledSteve None
1/2/22 2:41 p.m.

Have you ever driven past a dilapidated car that immediately captured your imagination until you couldn't stop thinking about it? Of course you have, this is GRM, we all suffer from the same breed of opportunistic thinking (or insanity, your preference). For me, that car was this:


I had driven past this car several times while visiting the plant it was stored at for work reasons. It had been a show car for an event (can you guess which) at a local venue in 2018 and had subsequently been parked offsite outside of a local manufacturing facility for the next two and a half years. One week of service and then shelved indefinitely. This poor car occupied my mind for a year and a half before I finally decided I had the space, money, and gumption to ask to buy it.

It took a few months of persistently bothering the right people, but eventually they came back to me essentially saying, "We'd be interested in selling the car, but we have no idea what it's worth. Make us an offer you think is fair." I replied with what seemed an impossibly low sum, and much to my surprise and happiness they accepted. The next week I came with my grandpa's truck and a rented trailer and towed my new prize home.


AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 2:50 p.m.

Now that the car was mine, it was time to take stock of what I'd bought. As I've mentioned, the car had sat outside for a few years, so the first order of business was to clean as much gunk out of it as possible.


Fortunately, the car was pretty much complete, aside from the steering wheel, harnesses, and a few miscellaneous bits of hardware.

I knew it ran when it was parked, so I was pretty sure I could get it running again with some effort. We cleaned the car up and put it in the garage (my roommates are saints to let me use both sides for my rediculously impractical hobby).

Appleseed MegaDork
1/2/22 2:55 p.m.

If you don't mind me asking,  what was your ridiculously low offer?

QuasiMofo (John Brown)
QuasiMofo (John Brown) MegaDork
1/2/22 2:56 p.m.

Ohhhh wow!

jdogg Reader
1/2/22 3:01 p.m.

Whoa, cool, yes it will turn right lol. Fix that puppy up and turn some laps in it, Mopar engine in a Chevy body? What's the deets on the power?

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:05 p.m.

That was almost a year ago. Since then, I've been making (very) slow progress on getting this thing prepped for the track. Autocrossing the Miata and a few other short-term projects took precedence, and only recently have I turned my attention back to the stock car. By the interior, it appears to once have been an old Richard Petty Racing Experience car, probably used at Charlotte until they decided it was past its prime. I don't know who campaigned the chassis before that. After its Petty days it made the rounds as a functional show car for at least two groups before I bought it.

Its engine appears to be an early 5.9L Mopar Magnum block, judging from the casting numbers. Probably an old truck engine cammed up to make it sound right and keep the paying customers happy in a "real NASCAR" while not letting them go actual race speeds. It has a few Nascar-style goodies bolted to it, like a custom pan, oil pump, filter relocation kit, intake and exhaust manifolds (that lead out to boom tubes - hell yeah), but the dipstick port has been sealed off, and that plus the custom pan and massive filter and the extra AN-style plumbing means I have no idea how much oil is actually supposed to be in this thing. My grandpa says standard engine capacity plus another quart is a good place to start, so that's what I'll do (once I get to changing the oil). 

I made a quick list of obvious to-dos and put it up in the garage:


This is far from comprehensive (or even complete) but it's a start.

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:08 p.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

$1k. Or by my reckoning, 1 Steve (the blue Miata in my profile pic). I bought that car for a grand in college and it's been the yardstick by which I measure all other purchases ever since.

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:09 p.m.

In reply to jdogg :

Great question, I want to know the answer too. As you'll see, I'm still very early in the process of fixing this thing up.

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:29 p.m.

I've got a few small projects out of the way. I replaced the battery and hooked up a tender, replaced the burnt out starter solenoid, cleaned, cleaned, bought new harnesses and fuel line insulation, a new steering wheel and quick-disconnect, a new air filter, replaced some corroded AN fittings (my poor fingertips), cleaned some more. That pretty much brings us to the present.

I've been working on extracting the fuel cell from the trunk. Unfortunately, the foam inside it has completely disintegrated. The car has no fuel when I try to start it, and while I suspect the mechanical fuel pump diaphragm is kaput, I know the foam in the tank is absolutely stopping up the intake line. Unfortunately the top cover seems to have been epoxied in place - there's no removing it. So out the whole thing comes. It's huge - probably 20 plus gallons or so as a guess - and as a one man job it's quite tough. The left side has nothing to grab, so I resorted to lifting it with rods inserted through the drain holes and jacked up on a couple of floor jacks operated with my foot while I yank on the right side with my hands.


I got the thing most of the way out of the hole, but the left side was stuck. I needed more leverage to lift with since the rods were a little short, so I had to Rube-Goldberg my way to extra torque with hand tools:

^That's a wrench that I inserted under the tank to lift it from the bottom, which actually worked quite well!

Of course, as soon as I extracted it from its hole, it turned sideways and fell right back in :/


Only then did I realize the fuel cell will not physically fit through the trunk opening.  After measuring it every which way I saw that there is no way to clear the rear frame bars and fit below the rear window. I suspect the body is not the original, and that it was changed at least once in its life to keep it current. The fuel cell was probably installed before the body was hung.

I'll have to remove the rear window to get it out. The fuel cell is rusty junk, so I think I'll replace it with something a little smaller so I can take it back out again if I ever need to for maintenance reasons.

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:32 p.m.

Speaking of replacing the fuel cell, anyone have any recommendations? I was looking at something along the lines of one of these: https://www.jegs.com/i/RCI/821/2172A/10002/-1

The current cell is 33 1/2" W x 17" D x 15 1/4" H. The trunk opening is about 13".

jdogg Reader
1/2/22 3:33 p.m.

In reply to AMiataCalledSteve :

I run a simi'ar setup in my 2.5L V6 Probe for track days and it went from 3.9qt to almost 8, after two filters and a 16-pass Derale cooler, and much shorter and smaller AN lines than yours.

Make sure you give that old engine the good stuff with zinc in it, semi-truck diesel oil will work too I drive a big rig and all our oils use zinc in them because they are also designed to work in older stuff like CAT C15, 3406e and Cummins N14 and other stuff from the 90s, a lot of those are still on the road and need that stuff to work right.


AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:38 p.m.

In reply to jdogg :

Hmm, thanks, that's good to know. I wish I still had a dipstick to help me find the right level, but alas...

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 3:46 p.m.

Also, does anyone know what kind of hardware is holding the fuel pump in place in that last picture? It looks like a 12-point socket would fit but I wasn't successful when I tried that a few months ago.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/2/22 4:37 p.m.

Those appear to be ARP 12 point fasteners on the fuel pump. The other thought I had for you regarding your fuel cell issue is why not cut it up in place and remove it that way if you're going to replace it entirely anyway? Since you are in North Carolina and doing an old NASCAR to turn left and right I'd suggest looking into Motorsports for the masses as a possible place to come out and play. We do a lot of the Rovals and such with them.

AMiataCalledSteve New Reader
1/2/22 5:02 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

I've had my eye on M4tM for a while, this might be the thing to push me into attending one of their events! It would be a good way to see how the car handles on a smaller course before I go full road course, since I don't have any track experience yet (just autocross).

Unfortunately the fuel cell still has some old gas in it, and even if it didn't the foam has been soaking in fuel for years. I don't think I'd trust it with anything that could cause a spark. The rear window is just held in with flush fasteners and maybe some caulk, so it should be relatively easy to remove. I'll give it a shot when I have time after work this week.

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/2/22 5:38 p.m.

The Rusty Wallace show comes to our track every year. Its pretty funny seeing guys pull up in a late model BMW and racing gloves and start talking apexes and racing lines, and then go out and post times substantially slower than our four cylinder stock cars. But they still come out of the car pretty bug eyed. Its cute. The cars are pretty clapped out and twisted from hitting stuff but they do go quite well in the right hands. I think they have more than a basic truck motor. Maybe the last race motor with a restrictor plate.

1SlowVW HalfDork
1/2/22 8:42 p.m.

Nothing to ad other than this is really cool, and for the money you have in it you stand to have a lot of fun! 

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
1/2/22 9:12 p.m.

    Odd there is no way to check the oil level, if it is dry sump, with a eternal oil pump you would check the oil level at the oil tank.

       From the pictures don't see a oil tank, so hard to tell how it was set up.


     The VR-1 valvoline oil has the zinc and should be fairly easy to find.

Miracle_Max New Reader
1/2/22 9:37 p.m.

Say that's a nice screwdriver, where'd you get it?

Appleseed MegaDork
1/3/22 1:46 a.m.


I love you.

mslevin New Reader
1/3/22 2:41 a.m.

If you're worried about cutting up the gas tank to get it out while partially full of fuel, you could always fill it with water and then cut it up.


YMMV, keep a fire extinguisher handy :)

Wally (Forum Supporter)
Wally (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/3/22 3:43 a.m.

The oil level should get checked in the dry sump tank. There's usually a sight glass or dipstick there. The pan holds very little oil. Our Busch car held close to 12 quarts, I'd expect yours to hold the same. 

1/3/22 11:43 a.m.

This looks like barrels of monkey level fun! Wish I was closer so I could help you get it running.....

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
1/3/22 12:23 p.m.

   For the fuel cell, first check the rules for where it will be run, for just autocross might be able to use almost anything, but check the rules first.

     For SCCA racing, the cheaper ones won't be OK.   So check all the rules for possible future uses, a cheaper cell will cost more if it has to be replaced with another one later.

  Depending on your planned use, might be able to use a smaller cell, which would be cheaper and easier to get into the car.

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/3/22 12:33 p.m.

Dang it.  This is what's sitting in our work parking lot.  Nothing this cool.  

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