Baby steps they may be, but it’s all part of process. You do something big which puts a smile on your face, then you get straight back into it. And now that the car has a properly-running engine, I took it over to my buddy Fukuda-san at SunBeam in Yoga so we could check out the underside.
The idea here was to get the pros at SunBeam – guys that spend every day maintaining and upgrading suspension and brake systems – to have a look at the state of the 964’s bushes and pinpoint anything else that might require attention.
I’ll eventually be upgrading the currently-fitted coilovers to a more modern setup, so this check was for peace of mind more than anything else. The car was previously sitting for a long time, remember.
Anytime I have someone look at this car now, I’m pretty much primed and prepared for the worst possible news. So on this particular evening at SunBeam, I had pen and paper in hand, waiting to add yet more stuff to Project 964’s rapidly-growing ‘to-do’ list.
SunBeam work on some of the best BMWs and Porsches in Tokyo, which means whenever I visit there are always top-notch upgrades around the shop waiting to be fitted. But seeing this set of BBS Motorsport E88 Over Heads was just pure torture. I have serious love for these wheels.
But back to reality…
The SunBeam mechanic checked out the 964’s rear end first, and my wallet breathed a sigh of relief when it was all given a clean bill of health. Don’t get me wrong, nothing you see here is in perfect condition, there’s just not anything to worry about right now.
The lower strut mounts were fine, as were the spring plates. It also looked like the big bushings on the trailing arms had been replaced at some point.
Time for the front.
I’m happy to report that it was pretty much the same story here too, with nothing of concern. It seems like the previous owner had most of prone-to-wear parts serviced, so that was good to see.
When I do end up going for some modern coilovers I’ll probably take another look, but for now this will do just fine. What the car would really benefit from is a session with a dry ice blaster, but those are practically non-existent in Japan at the moment.Bye-Bye Wobble
One thing I really wanted to get SunBeam to fix was some pretty nasty steering wobble that presented itself at highways speeds.
The car was lowered and the mechanic set about removing the wheels.
With the wheels off I took another look at the front suspension from the top side, further confirming the previously made observations. Firstly that the bushes and links are OK, and secondly that everything is horribly oxidized.
The top mounts will definitely need to be replaced when I do new coilovers, as they’re pretty beaten up. You can’t determine much from this angle, but the way the car rides over bumps and imperfections are all the telltale signs needed. The only question here would be whether to go for OEM rubber items or camber plates with harder or rose-jointed bushes.
Moving onto the front brakes. Aside from the caliper paint having flaked off, there are far more serious issues here. This discs need replacing and the pads are at the end of their life too. Whatever I do with this aspect of the car will have a bearing on others though. If I go for larger calipers and bigger diameter discs/offsets, this will impact aftermarket wheel choice and obviously no longer allow me to run the stock 16s, which I actually like.
It’s the same story at the rear, with the added issue of the drum e-brake being so worn out that it barely holds if you park on an incline.
Incidentally, here you can also see just how massive the exhaust silencer is. That will need to go at some point; I need to hear more of the 3.6L flat six, even if it’s stock.
With the car having sat for so many years, the Michelin tires fitted had developed flat spots. It’s no long-term solution, but until I get my choices made and start stocking up the next round up of parts to get the car handling, stopping and looking right in the fitment department, a simple wheel re-balance will do.
While the rear wheels were on the balancer, I took a quick look around SunBeam’s new E46 M3 time attack build.
These guys are so busy that they barely get to work on this shop project, but I really can’t wait to feature it once Fukuda-san and his team have it finished.
There are those E88s again!
Having discovered that Project 964’s suspension wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I drove away happy. I have to say too, the wheel re-balance instantly made a world of different. In fact, the car rides so smoothly that I’ve now noticed the geometry is far from square.
Yep, I’ve added that to my list…Driveway DIY
The next day, I spent some time at home addressing a few of Project 964’s interior issues. First, using a makeshift ‘tool’ comprised of two small hex keys, I removed the HVAC unit.
By pressing in the clips hidden behind those four holes on each corner of the unit you can wiggle the thing out, past the well-positioned wiper stalk.
That frees up just enough space to slide in your other hand and unclip two electrical connectors.
And why exactly was I doing this? Well, like the million other things that don’t work on this car, the HVAC system is dead. It goes beyond the A/C not working and making cold air; press the buttons and turn the fan speed and temp dials and there are no signs of life from anything. As I found out, the part number on the side indicates this is from a 993, so someone’s had a play here at some point.
I got chatting to Jorge at Specialized ECU Repair in Oakand Park, Florida who said that while he was unable to guarantee if any of the fan motors or A/C compressor were faulty or not, he could at least rebuild the HVAC control unit with new electronics. I was sold; I put the control unit in a box and sent it off. For the rest of this particular story you’ll have to wait for another Project 964 update…
While I was sweating away in the cabin, there was another job I really wanted to tackle – at least partly. As you may remember, the 964 was fitted with a hard disc navigation system complete with an LCD screen mounted to a steel bracket, itself crudely attached to the dash with double-sided tape. This is one of those horrors that the Japanese have become famous for doing to cars in the 1990s. Needless to say, the first thing I did was ditch the screen, but it was time to remove all the other equipment that came with it.
Would you look at that… No comment really.
Another part of the greater system was this analogue TV tuner, hidden in the passenger footwell. The big HD/DVD player unit quickly came off its bracket, leaving behind two holes on the underside of the dash. At least they’re not visible.
But wait, there’s more. To function, an aftermarket navigation system needs a GPS antenna, a VICS beacon (for up-to-date traffic updates), and when an analogue TV tuner is also part of it all, another pair of antennas.
The TV antennas ran up and along the A-pillars and then across the entire front windscreen with thin wires held in place with transparent adhesive tape.
I spent the entire afternoon with razor blades gently scraping away the caked-on glue residue they left behind, at the same time removing the gigantic maintenance stickers which just looked messy. Is it too much to ask to not have all sorts of crap attached to the front glass??
Then there were the beacons. Much swearing in Italian, English and Japanese followed, which earned me curious looks from the neighbors. Thankfully, the crap the double-sided tape left behind came off nicely after applying some cleaning product I had sitting around. The dash surface beneath looked decent, too.
The TV tuner was the easiest thing to remove as the sticky rubber holding it in place powdered away into nothing.
I was happy to have all this crap gone, but I didn’t venture any further. The cables looked far too dangerous to me; I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time, so the last thing I want to do is yank the wrong cable and cause electrical problems. I neatly bundled up the wires, and in true JDM fashion pushed them as far up the back of the dash as I could. This will be a future job for Nakamura-san at Worx Auto, I think.
The result? No obsolete electronics hanging off the dash and the most pleasurable thing of all – a clean windscreen to look out of. Ah… the simple things!
Next time on the Project 964 chronicles, I’ll be hitting up a friend with extreme OCD to help me tackle some aesthetics. Stay tuned for that.
Dino Dalle Carbonare