Probe Stage 0 Complete!

We’re at what I’m calling “Stage 0.” I have a car that can be driven safely on public roads. Even highways at speed. As long as the temperature is above 40 degrees.

Work since the last update has been more extensive than I’d planned. I’d hoped to be cleaning it and moving it outside so I could start working on my girlfriend’s car. But after the last update, I still had a power steering leak. It turned out to be the cooler loop in front of the radiator. It had rusted through and was seeping fluid while the car ran. I pulled it out and replaced it with a parts-store tube and fin cooler.

Since I had to remove the front bumper cover to get to the power steering leak, I removed the corner lamps and restored them with a headlight defogging kit from the parts store. I also replaced a very blown turn signal bulb while I had them apart.

Huge difference!

Also, while I had the front bumper off, I removed the A/C condenser and the lines. The compressor will come off at a future date. The condenser was corroded and leaked. Considering the limited use I have planned for this vehicle, A/C isn’t really going to be necessary. The old-fashioned model 275 is going to work just fine for my purposes.

The last thing to address before reaching Stage 0 was the tires. The Goodyears it came with were hopeless. Dry rotted, circumferential cracks in between the tread blocks. They were completely unsuitable and unsafe. The original plan was a set of Ebay Wheels and Federal 595-RSRR tires. But then I came across a set of 17x8s already shod in Bridgestone RE-71Rs for $400 complete. I grabbed them. They were rough, but a bit of elbow grease removed the plasti-dip overspray and restored the shine.

Lacquer thinner doing its work

I don’t know much about plasti-dip type coverings, but I quickly figured out that lacquer thinner takes it right off. It took about an hour per wheel, but I was able to completely remove the left over pink stuff, clean the wheels, polish them, and CMX treat them. I’ll eventually clean up the OE wheels and put rain tires on them.

All shined up and ready to go!

Between coats of CMX on the wheels, I used a claybar on the car and cleaned it off, and CMX coated the car. It’s a bit of polishing a turd, but there’s a practical reason: Even on less than perfect paint, these new ceramic coatings work miracles. Water sheets off. Dust and dirt doesn’t stick. Washing a car treated with these substances turns into a five minute wipe down with a good cloth and some detailer.

The finished product is nothing less than stunning, especially compared with where I started:

Before and after

Amazingly, I’m on schedule to have this race ready for the April Optima event at AMP.

Stay tuned for Stage 1 – Suspension.

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