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'91 Capri XR-2 Resto-Mod

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Here's the car as I found her, loaded up on my tow dolly ready to come home. I made a six hour round trip from New York to Connecticut to go pick her up, plus the few hours it took to winch the car out of the bush she had been living in up onto my tow dolly. I had never even heard of these cars before this one popped up on Craigslist, and for $600 I just couldn't say no.

My wonderful view on the drive home. All in all, it was about a 10 hour adventure, with my wife and 12 month old son, to go get this car. Easily the furthest out of my way I've ever gone to pick up a car.

It was dark out by the time we got back, but here she is at her new forever home.

8 Hours of work later, and the engine was about ready to come out.

The rear-most engine mount is pretty much the only part that put up a fight this whole time. Well, and the exhaust....but that was a mess anyways so I gave up fairly quickly and cut it off.

The engine and car have about 151,000 miles on them. This thing was absolutely disgusting for so few miles. I did what I could to clean it up, but it will have to go to the machine shop to get hot tanked.

This is one of the main reasons I pulled the engine out and apart. You can see here how bad the head gasket was. All 4 fire rings were egged out, and you can see coolant puddled up on the wrong side of the gasket around cylinder #4.

Here, I'm measuring the endplay in the crankshaft. It was actually pretty good, right at 0.00055 inches. I haven't checked any specs yet (I plan to take all of my measurements first), but I'm pretty sure that it's well within the limit. I'm planning on measuring EVERYTHING. Anything that's out of spec is going to have to get corrected. I do plan on throwing more boost at this engine, so I want to make sure it'll be able to handle it. At the bare minimum, the engine will be getting new rod bearings, main bearings, piston rings, and seals/gaskets. And hot tanked.

And this is where I left off last night. I got the rods and pistons out in order to start measuring oil clearances. The bearings are actually in decent shape, but they are pretty worn through. No deep scratches or hot spots or anything like that. This car may have been neglected, but it doesn't seem to have been abused.

So that's where I'm at after about a week of ownership. I plan on building the Capri into a sort of daily driver/track car hybrid. I'll be getting rid of the air conditioning, power steering, audio system, soft top, etc etc. to save as much weight as possible. At the same time, I plan on increasing the boost, and possibly the compression ratio as well. I'm still debating with myself if I would rather do the rocketchip or if I'm going to go with microsquirt. If I go standalone, I can replace the silly VAF setup with a normal intake and a MAP sensor. I can also get rid of the car's factory ignition system, which seems rather weak to me, and replace it with a slightly newer setup from a Miata. I might even be able to go to a coil-on-plug setup. The only real downside is that it's expensive. It'd cost me about $550 for the microsquirt, plus however much more to essentially rebuild the wiring harness, intake system, and ignition system. Tough decision. In addition to all of that, the only real modification I have planned is to replace a bunch of the bushings in the car with poly bushings. I was planning on making my own, since I can't seem to find much in the way of aftermarket. I'd like to add some chasis bracing too, but again that'll probably all have to be custom. I can't even find front and rear strut tower bars. That's okay though, I do enjoy fabrication work.

Congratulations on what seems like a great score. Beautiful work you are doing to. We do suffer parts availability by being an orphan. When you're doing your searches, search for Mazda 323GT (not GTX) for suspension parts. You're more likely to find what you are looking for. Whiteline usually has those bushings you're looking for but you have to pay shipping from Australia. Of course MX5 is the place to look for engine mods. Sounds like you have a good plan, best of luck with it and keep us informed with your progress.

Here's a question for you guys. While I have the engine fully apart, I was wondering if there would be anything to gain by slightly increasing oil clearances by using oversized main and rod bearings. I figured if the factory set it up to run at factory boost levels (I think 8-10 psi?), and I am planning on running it around 17-20 psi, it may be beneficial to widen the clearances by a tiny amount. Before I start changing anything away from the factory specs, I figure I might as well consult with the experts.

While I've got the whole drivetrain ripped apart, is there anything you guys would recommend doing that may not be immediately obvious to someone unfamiliar with these cars specifically? Anything to beef up the transmission, or any other known weak areas? Like I said in the first post, I'm still debating swapping over to a Miata ignition system....but I don't really want to obliterate any chance of having Rocket's ECU work with my setup. Such difficult decisions. If I went with larger injectors, would that also cause conflicts with his chip, or would they work the same but at a lower duty cycle?

The entirety of my electrical system needs to be replaced. So, so many connectors just sort of imploded on themselves while I was disassembling. I'm going to need to re-wire essentially everything under the hood. I know off the top of my head that the connectors for the VAF, the injectors, and even the main harness (the big round one) all broke. I'm planning on tucking all the wiring, and switching all the connectors over to weatherpack stuff. I think I may even move the battery and fuse blocks into the trunk. Any advice or warnings before I commit to this plan and start ordering parts?

Just wanted to add an update of what I've done the last few days. To start off with, the one piece of the engine that I'm really concerned with looking good is the valve cover. It's front and center, right at the top. The one piece you'll see the most when you pop the hood. So, my plan, instead of painting it, is to polish the hell out of it. Get it to look like a mirror. Here's how it looked when I took the engine out of the car, and then how it looks now. I'm nowhere near done, but it is a start...

In addition to that, I've been working on cleaning up the rotating assembly. Behold:

One down, only three more to go. Quite the time-consuming task, and they aren't even as clean as I'd like to get them.



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