Seattle Prep Pt. 1

At the beginning of July, I moved out to Seattle and I knew all along I would be taking the CQ project with me, the challenge became getting it to a decent state before the trailer arrived to haul it out. This post is obviously coming many months late so to get caught up, I’ll keep it picture heavy and short on description.

First off, I’ll show the finished product of the rocker panel project, I’m pleased. We’ll see how it holds up:

I really battled the steering rack. I wanted to take it out to get to some of the chassis seams behind it but I wasn’t expecting a bolt to get stuck in the through hole of the rack…



But that’s OK, at this point, there are very few bolts on this car I haven’t touched. Time for some shiny parts – new lightweight flywheel and Stage 2E Southbend clutch.

Everyone knows the Hitachi injectors these cars came with were junk, so time to get those out and replaced with some more modern Bosch injectors. Better spray pattern/atomization means a more effecient burn, getting more bang for the same fuel input:

Knock Sensors. I didn’t know if they were bad or not but I was encouraged to update them while I was in there so here’s a shot of the old style (left) and the new (right):


I somehow convinced myself that wrapping my exhaust header wouldn’t be all that bad and a worthwhile experience, and really it was a horrible, itchy and not fun in the slightest, but here are the pictures of it anyway:

And to be honest, it does look pretty mean on the engine:


I decided to take the fuel lines inside the car for protection and used some weld nuts to keep the mounting points simple and to one-sided access:


Engine and Trans mated up:


I went for an aftermarket fuel filter and decided to mount it in the engine bay for easy access. Here are a few shots of that with the fuel lines going up to it:

Here’s a shot of the front end brake lines in. Notice these are all flexible lines, steel fittings, AN standard:


Part of prepping the car for transport was sealing up all the open access points. This started with the climate control intake. Steel plate, bolted down with buytl tape used to seal:


I needed to create a cover for the spot where the fuel used to come through the floor bottom of the car from the fuel tank. This is now an access hole as the lines take a quick turn back into the car. So I made up a domed structure so that if there are any fuel leaks, they will drip down instead of pooling. I also added a fitting so that i could zip tie a little hose on here to make it easier to see if it’s leaking:

The brake calipers needed a lot, and I mean a lot, of love. So I decided to let the professionals take care of this one. I had heard great things about King Kalipers and they made short work of the job – really impressed with their work:

Then came the start of the wiring, and I say this because as I write this, I’m still working on the wiring. The main concern was to get the main harnesses through the firewall, plug the extra holes, and tuck the rest away neatly for transport:

When I got the car, the driver’s window was being held up by a couple blocks of wood, so I had to get a new(er) regulator in there to seal up that area of the car:


And that brings me up to July when Lexa and I moved ourselves out to Seattle. The CQ stayed behind with the BRZ until I could organize transportation. I would end up coming back for 10 days and work like hell to actually get it ready and clean out the garage – no small task I would find out.



Seamless Design / Chassis Update

I’ve been posting this progress on both an Audi forum and a forum focused around the rally community. This allows me to get as many different perspectives during the build as possible. The more eyes from different perspectives now, should save me time and energy later.

One of the things the rally community became adamant about while I had the engine bay so empty, was to stitch weld parts of the chassis. I fought this notion with some effort because I knew the magnitude of the work required to pull this off. Eventually I decided to settle on welding the seams that are readily available now, and to return to other parts of the car later.

From the factory, the chassis’ are constructed of unique pieces of sheet steel. These different pieces are held together in a few different ways. First, the manufacturer will create a small overlap in two pieces and use a “spot weld” to hold these two pieces together. Spot welds are created by placing electrodes over the lapped joint on either side of the sheet steel, the current then creates a “spot” of weld.



These spot welds are great for the economical purpose most people have for their cars. In rally conditions however, where the chassis will see far higher stresses than the engineers planned for, these welds can come apart. Especially if the car ends up in a ditch, an occurrence not all that uncommon in rally.

The solution then is to weld these overlapping sheets to each other. But in certain areas, OEMs will also (or sometimes in substitution) use an adhesive. These adhesives are incredibly durable and therefore, hard to remove. This creates a lot of work to dig up this adhesive and prep the steel surfaces for welding.

Here you can see the spot welds exposed:

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The fix is to lay down a bead of weld approx. 1″ long spaced approx. 1″ apart:

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The welding of this process actually goes quite quickly although the surface prep takes some time. For areas that are covered in the adhesive I mentioned above and are hard to get to (tight corners) the rally community provide a nice solution. The solution was to take 1/16″ flat bar stock and hammer it into a 90 angle then place into the corner and weld.


Placed into the spots pre-prep:



Then prepped and welded (apologies for my beginner level welding):



Also, while there was a lot of bare real estate, I added some new chassis grounds:


I then applied some engine bay paint after many many hours of prep, where you can see the beads if you look closely like an ant trail around all the metal joints. Also what is not really visible is the number of welds done underneath the engine bay where various pieces of sheet metal come together:


Now this was a considerable amount of work just for the engine bay. If I had more time, I would extrapolate this process for the entire car – adding significant strength to the whole chassis of the vehicle.

I had to do some other work on the chassis of the vehicle that pertained more to preventative maintenance than performance enhancing feature. The vehicle came to me with a damaged rear rocker panel. It’s clear the vehicle collided with something and that caused an open gash which has allowed salt to begin to corrode the steal in the area.

Here’s how I found it:

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I started by hammering the indent out from the inside, and then opening up the area with a grinder:


Then using a cut-off wheel, I started removing the decayed areas:


While grinding off the finish for weld prep, I noticed the affected area was worse than originally thought. You can see the left-hand side of the opening has some weaknesses in it and had to be removed further:


More cutting yielded:


So I took a page out of “Project Binky”  and created a cardboard template and then created a piece to be welded in. Here we go:


I’ll need to come back and add a picture of the finished product here. But as you can imagine it was a lot of prep work, welding and then POR-15 to protect it on the outside, then rustoleum spray primed inside and I’ll be using seam sealer on the inside edges. Pictures to come!

Engine/Clutch Refresh Pt. 1

Since this project has so many different aspects, I’ve found that its important to work on as many different available parts as possible. It’s easy to assume that you’ll pull all these parts together in a day and everything will be easy but what often happens is that you realize you’re missing a unique sort of bolt or a seal you forgot to order. So while I’ve been trying to ready the engine bay and do a considerable amount of prep on the chassis, I’ve also been getting the Engine/Transmission package pulled together.

While examining the motor, I found that the main crankcase breather hose was starting to disintegrate and collapse. This is apparently a common failure as there was an aftermarket piece readily available for replacement. The piece is from 034 motorsport and overall I’m happy with the quality. The one piece that could be better is the interface with the smaller breather hose that you can see at the bottom of the picture (not connected). The hose clamp just crushes the hose you insert in there – not making the most robust connection. I’ll be thinking about how to make this more secure.

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As a part of this general overhaul of the car, I’m replacing the clutch with a southbend stage 2E unit. This clutch is rated for way more torque than the car will make, but it will allow me to abuse it and give me plenty of potential to build into. I removed the clutch, and found the surface of the flywheel in decent condition but I still started to look for some refresh options. In order for the warranty of the clutch to be effective, the flywheel has to be either replaced or refinished.



You can actually see the imprint of one of the clutch packs here on the surface – likely from an instance of when the clutch got too hot and was left released against the flywheel. From calling around local shops, a refinish is about $50 but I found a good deal on a lightweight flywheel with an OEM clutch so I decided to go that route.

A friend of mine suggested that “while you’re in there” I should replace the rear main seal – one of the most important (and problematic) seals for an older engine.  Once the car is assembled, this seal is buried and would require a lot of work later on so I had to agree and get this done. Luckily, the design allows for the job to be done quickly and easily. the seal is part of a larger flange that simply bolts on and off with the seal attached.


I’ve replaced another few seals on the intake. These seals are important so that engine knows exactly how much and where all the air is coming in from. If air leaks into the intake manifold from places it is not engineered to, the engine will run lean (more air than fuel expected) and overall poorly since its metering the amount of fuel to inject based on the air flowing through the Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor only. I unbolted the throttle body from the intake, scrapped off the old gasket and cleaned up the mating surfaces on both the throttle body and the intake.


The throttle body also had a lot of carbon build up on the butterfly valves. I didn’t take a before picture but some work with a soft brush and cleaning agents like brake cleaner got the piece to an acceptable state. The carbon build up can influence how the engine runs based on how it affects the air flowing through the throttle body. If the carbon build up on these butterfly valves is significant enough, it can impede the airflow as it travels through the throttle body and create this inconsistency between what the engine expects and what it’s measuring through the MAF.


In this project I’ve deleted all California Emissions components (optional on these cars) since this is a purpose built car. Furthermore, I’ve deleted the Exhaust Gas Recirculation circuit that connects the exhaust to the intake. OEM’s did this to help reburn unburnt fuel in the exhaust, overall creating a cleaner burning system. This recirculation however, also introduces a lot of CO2 which is not useful for a good burn. It’s also one more system that would have required attention to get performing correctly again. I purchased a block-off plate for the intake and new gasket to keep it sealed.

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Oil cooling is a feature the CQ did not come with from the factory but with the expected abuse on the engine, I want to give the engine and all compoennets & fluids as best of a chance as possible to stay in their typical working temperature range. By cooling the oil, I am taking some strain off of the cooling system and also keeping the oil in its optimal temperature range, insuring its effectiveness. I’ll be able to take an OEM piece from Audi’s performance cars (urS4, urS6) that had a turbo 5-cyl. motor. Here you can see the two different oil filter housings, the new (old) piece on the top has ports for the oil cooler, as well as a spot for the oil filter. You can’t see the inlet/outlet for the oil cooler which are on the backside of the housing. New gasket on order.



Winter Thaw ’16

It’s been four and a half months since my last update which is incredible because to me it has felt like so much and so little has happened since then. There are many contributing factors to why the project will look like it has been crawling along, when really I’ve been in the garage quite a lot in the past 135 days. Since then I’ve worked on 3 different cars (all Audis) including one I bought and sold in that time.

Starting with the CQ, I continued to work on the wiring harness. Most of the unnecessary strands have been pulled by now. The work mostly focused on wrapping the wires tightly in Velcro Straps and applying easy-to-read white vinyl flag labels to various parts of the harnesses. Here’s an example of “completed” strand here:

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In early November, I turned my attention to a technically challenging part of the project, something that I’m sure many enthusiasts have run into and feared at first  – a broken exhaust stud. This exhaust stud had no external threads protruding from the head. Now this can seem daunting, but as with many other tasks, with the right tools, the job can be done with some patience. Here’s a shot of the culprit with a center hole punched in the center of the stud. This mark keeps the drill from wandering on top of the steel surface and allows it to bite and penetrate easier.

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The next tool to have for this task is a set of left-hand drill bits. You want the left-hand set for the scenario of when the drill bit snags on the stud. This moment of increased torque is then working in the direction of loosening the stud – not tightening.  This has happened to me before and when it does, it saves you from any more work! I had no such luck here, so here’s a shot of the drilled hole. Be careful not to go so deep that you drill into the head but you’ll want to go far enough so the tip of the extractor does not bottom out in the hole, stripping the surface of which it needs to grab to.

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Now I’ll take the extractor and with a hammer tap it into the hole. I’d prefer a metal hammer here so that the impact force is available to set hardened steel extractor into the softer steel stud.

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The only thing left to do is to crank on the extractor in the loosening direction. NOTE that the extractors are not made of unobtanium and will break if you push them too hard – you must consider the limits of the steel. If you feel like you’re pushing the limit of the extractor – STOP! Drill the hole out slightly larger and use a larger extractor. You do not want a broken extractor in the hole, that’ll make your day much worse. I would also recommend applying a lot of heat via propane/MAP torch and penetrating fluid such as PB blaster. In the end, you should get something like this, and you can walk around feeling quite proud of yourself.

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I’ll also show the tool set I used for this job here. It’s not a cheap set but owning old vehicles in New England is not cheap or without stress and this tool set is mighty handy for when things start to go wrong. The other tools I used in this process are relatively common in the garage, a punch, a 3 lb. hammer, and a Tap wrench to turn the extractor.

In November I stumbled across a listing for a ’95 Audi 90qs that a young guy was looking to get rid of. His asking price was $1000 and it had low miles so I decided to take a look. What turned into a scouting trip for a cheap driver’s seat in good condition (the one in my daily driver is not original) ended up in me owning a $500 car, delivered to my garage. I decided to flip it and made about $1600 in the end for a few weeks of work, $1600 that I could put towards some much needed Audi parts for the CQ. Here’s a shot of it I used to sell it.

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After this, work started to trail off for the winter. I took much of November and early December off to enjoy the winter while not laying on a cold, bare concrete floor. I enjoyed the holidays and used some of the late Fall warmth we had working on my daily driver – a 1995 Audi 90q that was in need of some love.

I tracked down a number of issues and worked solely on that car with any bit of time I had for 3 months leading up through February. I was noticing that although I was putting in a lot of time and effort and money, a few problems persisted and others arose. This cycle of fix, break and diagnose wore on me and I decided that if I was really going to finish the rally car in near term, I needed a daily driver that didn’t require so much time and money for itself.

Fast forward a few months, after many test drives and moments of indecision, I decided to pick up a Subaru BRZ. Over the next couple weeks I just need to touch up the 90 and get it listed. But for now, I’ll enjoy taking this back and forth to work worry free and, of course, while also enjoying some weekend drives as well.


Big Pre-Winter Updates

It has been all too long since my last post so this one will cover a lot of different areas. Let’s start off with the suspension.

It was my intention all along to pull and seam weld the sub-frames and control arms. From the factory, these pieces are only spot welded in anticipation daily driving abuse. For rally, it simply won’t be strong enough. In addition to that, I’ll also need to reinforce the rear differential mount. This mount is known to be problematic in the Audi community never mind the corrosive environment the car has been in all its life.

Here you can see the mount that has begun to dissolve as well as the completed seam weld along the bottom of the picture:

Here’s a look at my first solution for the reinforcement of this mount:

There are a couple reasons why I didn’t go with this solution. First, the differential sits between those two triangular structures and actually extends beyond the rear face of the mounts. The actual distance beyond depends on where the differential sits in the slot that you can see at the top of the structure. I put in a small bend to account for this but without knowing exactly where the diff was going to end up, I didn’t know if this bar was going to interfere or not. Furthermore, this solution was surely going to be quite the gravel trap and make accessing the bolt holding everything together a big pain.

I decided to go with 2 “U” shaped pieces that sit inside the existing triangular structures. It turned out like so:

For a beginner welder, I’m happy with it. The seam welding of the 2 sub frames and 2 rear control arms took quite some time simply because of the amount of welding required but there’s not much to show. It’s a simple process, but time consuming. As a note, the front control arms of these cars are cast, but the rears are stamped – hence why only the rear 2 got the treatment. I wish I could explain why, but let’s just leave it at “Audi”.

Once the welding was done, I could paint. Paint prep and painting takes an immense amount of time, it surprises me every time. I chose a brush-on paint for the suspension that many recommend for harsh environments – POR15. POR15 requires a deep degreasing followed by a metal prep treatment. This treatment seems to give the surface a deep etching in preparation for the paint. It has to be washed off very thoroughly and even after, it will be begin to corrode the bare steel before painting. Here’s the paint process I used:

  • Clean with scour pad and degreaser (I used the POR15 product)
  • Rinse thoroughly and let dry
  • Spray on POR15 Metal Prep and make sure the pieces stay wet for 20 mins.
  • Rinse THOROUGHLY and let dry
  • Brush on the POR15 Paint product, wait 2-3 hours
  • Brush on second coat of Paint, wait 2-3 hours
  • Spray on Rustoleum clear coat, wait specified time and re-coat

Some pictures from the never ending painting experience:

Half way through the process, I realized that I had forgotten about the Front Sway bar. I had already used up all the POR15 that was open so I decided to do that piece with all Rusoleum spray paint. It’ll be a good comparison between the two products. Here’s the sway bar after some grinding:

The shiny results:

Finally time to put away the suspension… for now. The next steps in this category will be spending money on all new bushings and mounts for the car but there’s no point in that until I’m closer to installing it – so for now, they wait.

On to the Emergency brake assembly which will be one of this first assemblies to be put back in the car. This assembly is “non-serviceable” technically which just means that you have to get creative when re-doing it. Here is the old assembly:

The reason for messing with this assembly at all, is that the grey rod you can see in the picture is used for adjusting the tension on the brake cables. That rod is also exposed to the elements and is now a corroded useless piece of steel. You can order new components from Audi, but the assembly is held together with a deformed pin. Once I got the grinder out, you can see how it works:

Nice heat treatment eh? You can see in the above picture that the pin is non-circular which holds the pieces together. Once the two ends were ground off, it could be knocked-out. What I noticed next though, was that for some unknown reason Audi made all the inner diameters of the pieces different from one another and used a plastic insert to make up the differences. This piece was now useless so I was going to have to make my own inserts to reduce the amount slop in the final assembly.

Here’s an example of what I did. Home Depot actually makes little inserts for this and that but of course nothing with the dimensions needed. I just found the piece with the right outer diameter, drilled it out to the correct inner diameter and then cut to the thickness required before pressing in place:

Here’s the final assembly. I used a 1/4-20 bolt with a lock nut. I’m going to get my hands on a low-profile lock-nut to help slim down the assembly but it should do the trick.

Next I turned my attention to the engine bay. I needed to clean it, grind out some unnecessary pieces, weld up some holes and repaint it before the engine can go back in.  The battery tray (left side of picture below) is now irrelevant as the battery will be getting relocated inside the car and the ABS brackets (right side) can be removed as the ABS system has been. The angle grinder made short work of this:

That picture above also represents a few hours cleaning the engine bay over and over to get a lot of the grime out. I found Simple Green to work great for this. I took a long break from the painting to work on the wiring harness but I’ll come back to that. Just a few weeks ago, I spent even more time with a scouring pad prepping the engine bay for painting. After cleaning, it was masked as shown here:


Painted with clearcoat

I was again reminded of just how long painting takes. With the prep work of cleaning and masking, then the dry times between coats, it is not hard to eat up a whole day. I was mostly happy with the result using VHT Engine bay paint but it was a little cold out that day and I think the paint layer suffered. I noticed little congealed paint flecks in the spray but I was on a schedule and didn’t have time to wait and figure it out. As a result, the paint has a bit of texture in it now – oh well.

Now back to that wiring I was talking about:

The picture above shows various strands just starting to get laid out and decoded. You can see many little blue flags (masking tape) which I was using to label various pieces in anticipation for stripping out unnecessary strands. This is another project that just does not fit with the anticipated time. Decoding and stripping out wires while using the manual is a HUGE time sink. I can easily say that I spent 40+ hours pulling off old wire tape, decoding the various connectors with the manual, pulling wires out of connectors and so on. It’s a complex job that is closer to a puzzle than typical rally project work.

Here’s a shot from a good way through the work. I’ve got 3 of the main strands laid out there near the fuse panel and on the right of the picture is the bundle of wires removed from the harnesses, not to be used again.

Sifting through the wiring is an exercise in patience. I came across this one relay plug that I had marked “unused” from when I originally found it in the car:

Now I needed to know if it was necessary or not and whether or not I could cut it out of the harness. My trusty Bentley manual made no mention of it while tracing through all the wire sources. I spent about 4 hours on this one socket and had to resort to an Audi facebook group page for some help. I only wish I had done this sooner. In 20 minutes I had my answer.

This socket was not even for the coupe quattro. In cars that came before the “Auto Check System” (A system used by Audi to check various fluid levels and bulbs throughout the car) this relay communicated one very important piece of data to the driver – whether or not the engine had oil pressure. Ultimately, I decided to keep it since this could be a very useful feature at some point. A classic example of how to sink hours into a small detail of a project of this size.

With lots more work, I finally started producing wiring harnesses I was happy with:

Here you see white Vinyl labels have replaced the blue masking tape and Velcro wraps have replaced the crusty/gooey wire tape. Now, this really isn’t a position to leave your wiring harness in for use, but I wanted a flexible solution that will allow me to easily make changes later, once the harness can actually be tested on the car. Shrink wrapping the whole strand would not allow me to do that. One last shot on this showing my current status of the harness, about 80% of the way there.

You’ll notice that some of the wiring is still in black protective wrap. That’s because I decided against opening up the engine harness beyond where it passes through the firewall. This was simply to limit project scope a bit. The harness took me much much longer than I anticipated and I did this to save some time seeing as there was very little need to open up that area.

The last major area to update for now is inside the car. The floor in the driver’s side was showing some signs of rust and I wanted to cap that off. I also wanted to  prep the car for the cage builder when the time comes and that means grinding down some of sound/vibration dampening material. Here again I decided to limit my scope and focus on the areas forward of the rear seats. Here’s a shot after some progress had already been made:

I used a few different tools for this job, each had their strengths. I started by using an oscillating tool with a scraping blade. This tool does a good job of getting very close to the steel body and lifting or melting the adhesive underneath. Here’s a couple shots of the progress:

and after hours more…

Then I got out the angle grinder and put on the cupped steel bristle attachment. A respirator or at least a particulate mask is a very good idea for this part. The steel bristles do a great job grinding/scraping up the remaining adhesive attached to the steel and much of it will hang in the air. The result was good:


So, with much much vacuuming done and not shown here, and then two rounds of cleaning with towels, painting could be done. I didn’t necessarily have to paint at this point but it would cap off the rust and I can’t say when the car will actually be ready for paint with the cage in it so now seemed like a good time to at least lay down a primer. Primer white:


which looked damn good while drying. Unfortunately, when I came back a few days later, the paint still hadn’t dried because the temperatures were so cold (and I laid it on pretty thick). This resulted in the paint soaking up some of the adhesive residue underneath and tainting the color – good thing this is only primer.

This brings me up to where the project is now with winter fast approaching. Next steps will be to nail down the fuel system, the brake lines, and installing (what!?) a few things in the engine bay. Should be good! …and cold.

Nearing the Bottom… Pt. 1

There has been a flurry of work done lately which is great news for the timeline of the project, but with every step forward, I see at least another half step to go. It’s truly difficult to predict the amount of work a project of this magnitude requires having done nothing quite so extensive and particular. No excuses, let’s look at the progress.

I started by working on the exhaust studs. These had to be replaced since a few of the studs sheared off when attempting to remove the nuts – and yes, one sheared off deep in the threads. I have yet to attempt to remove the buried stud but I’ll be waiting until I purchase a proper stud extraction set, certainly not something worth attempting without the proper tools. But otherwise, all the studs came out with a good bit of penetrating fluid, heat, and sweat. I used a two nut technique to extract the studs.

Essentially, you thread two nuts onto the stud, tighten the second nut against the first nut and then try to remove the inner nut. The friction created in the threads from the two nuts locked against each other is usually enough to bring the stud out. So, with 9/10 studs out and the side of block cleaned up a bit, it started to look like progress.

I then turned my focus on the wiring harness of the car. Since I’ll need far fewer features in the car for Rally use, there is a lot to gain by removing the wiring harness and stripping out the wiring behind the creature comforts that have been removed. Often, services in rally are just 20-40 minutes which is not a lot of time to debug a wiring issue, especially with the amount of wiring in a typical car. A simple, well-labeled, and properly secured wiring harness is a must for long-term abuse.

I started removing the wiring harness by uncoupling all the connections (carefully labeling along the way) and working my way towards the driver’s area. Working first on the driver’s door, then the passenger door, and then finally all the wiring rear of the front seating location, I got to this point after many hours.

This is where you need another person if you attempt to remove the harness in one piece as I did here. I still had all the wires hanging in the engine bay as well. The wires in the engine bay first had to slowly be pulled through the holes in the firewall into the driver’s compartment. This is a tough task because the connectors at the end of the wires are barely small enough to fit through the small holes in the firewall where the wires are fed through. With much communication between a person in the engine bay and one in the driver’s compartment, all the wires were pushed/pulled into the car. To fully remove the harness from the car however, the entire harness needed to be pushed up through the fuse box located in the splash tray – between the engine bay and firewall. Carefully pulling and pushing various strands slowly yielded the result we were looking for – but not without much effort and sweat: The entire wiring harness of the car removed as one.

I later weighed this bundle, and it came in at 40 lbs! There was also a lot more weight removed in controllers, actuators, and brackets. But of course, this is only half (or likely less) of the battle. Now, the harness will need to be laid out, labeled further, and dissected to remove unnecessary strands then relabeled and shielded from the harsh environment. More to come on that and lots of other work soon.

End of Summer… Still Digging

I’ve been busy these past few weeks/months taking advantage of the hot summer weather to get in the garage and keep wrenching. I should start by saying the car now seems farthest from “road-worthy” than ever. “Project creep” has taken hold and the schedule to be running and driving by winter is slipping big time. Let’s see.

In a sort-of modern artistic fashion, I painted 70% of the suspension components with POR-15 – a rugged anti-corrosive paint. I got creative with hanging the parts:

Looking closer after a couple coats, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Still need a top coat though.

Front Control Arms

OEM Strut Housings… There is a lot more. but onto better things.

I took a Friday off and decided it was time to pull the motor/transmission from the car. It felt good to get in the garage so early.

To the left, you can see the engine hoist in pieces. Not having a truck has incurred extra time/labor in some cases, but I’m getting by.

Airbox and intake hoses removed…

Separation! you’re seeing many little blue flags to help me keep my sanity during this process so I know where everything goes when it’s time to put it all back in. On top of the transmission there, you can see acorn shells and other nuts, a testament to the time this vehicle spent sitting, a habitat for many creatures.

An evening spent with the car, pulling many unnecessary things out of the engine bay such as, ABS controller, sensors and tubing, Aux washer fluid reservoir, hydraulically assisted braking system, charcoal canister, cruise control, and many many other things.

Here you can see the MAF I’ll be installing next to the one I removed. Larger cross-sectional area = more air for the engine. This is off of an early build B4 90 quattro which is plug N play – although I will need a tune to take full advantage of the gains.

I’ve started to tear down the brakes as well which are in desperate need of a rebuild.

Here you can see the old exhaust manifold compared to the new. The bottom one is in fact an OEM part. Removing the original exhaust manifold was a challenge, a couple rounded nuts, a few broken studs – one of which is still in the block, in the threads. That should be fun.

The exhaust will need some love before it can go back on the car. The down pipe connection is all rusty so that will need to come apart and get new hardware.

Here is where the project sits right now. Transmission and motor have been separated. Transmission drained of old fluid, ready for the new stuff and a new slave cylinder (Part that returns the clutch pedal to the top position).

That’s it for now. I’m nearing the point in the project where I can start rebuilding instead of tearing apart. That will be a long uphill battle for sure, but at least much of the complexity of the project is being removed, organized or at least made visible. I can’t wait to see how it all goes.

Suspension / Drivetrain Work

It’s been a while since I’ve written an update since progress has been sporadic and slow. The suspensions assemblies have been disassembled, bushings have been removed and parts have been sandblasted. Last night I started the refinishing process which included using a heavy-duty degreaser on the parts to remove any remaining grime, rinsing off and then letting them dry.

I used some rope and ran lines from pretty much anything solid to something else. In the end it turned out pretty comical but it should do the trick.

Differential got fresh fluid last night and the vacuum actuating system has been removed to make way for a micro linear actuator which I’m installing to simply the vacuum lines – of which this car had wayyyy too many. The differential lock likely won’t be useful for rally but instead will be more of “fun” button.

That’s all for now. The rear control arms have been welded and I’m working towards finishing the subframes which are getting a full seam weld and reinforcement around the rear differential mount. New wheel bearings to be pressed in next week.

Future work: New fuel & brake lines, ABS delete, Brake booster conversion, Clutch master and Slave replacement, Charcoal canister delete, and many many other items!

Tearing it all apart

Some significant – although destructive – progress has been made over the past couple weeks since the car was started. I think that was a good motivational boost. The car seems to still have life in it so the project seems slightly more possible!

I’ve spent many hours now tearing apart the interior of the car. When I started, it was impossible to stand being inside the car for more than a few moments due to the mold, smell and creatures crawling about. The seats, carpets, carpet cushions, sound deadening, plastic consoles and nearly everything visible to the typical consumer has been or will be removed.

A couple pictures of the process:

I’m using the little blue flags to denote where each wire was connected. This will help later when I simplify the wiring harness. Simplifying the harness is important for quick diagnosis of electrical issues later on. To give you an idea of some of the features being removed from this “Luxury” coupe: Power and heated seats, door alarms, central locking, automatic climate control (and all the associated vacuum lines), airbags, ABS, interior lights, stereo and speakers, sunroof and so much more.

Small shout-out to the previous owner on the picture below. Yes, this is the driver’s side window being held in place with some pieces of wood and zip ties…

Found another gem in the process of stripping the car, mouse nest count: 5

But all this work was fairly easy in comparison to the effort it took to remove this:

That is the entire rear-end of the car. 24 years of corrosion made this task so much harder than it really needed to be. I’ll be tearing this assembly apart, grinding the components down to bare steel, replacing seals, fluids, wear components, and hardware as needed and then painting to protect them from future abuse. Stay Tuned!


For the first time in 5 years and 11 months, the coupe was fired up this past weekend. After taking the easy route for now with the fuel line and running a hose around the outside of the car to the engine bay, the starter was the last thing needed. I picked up a used starter off a forum member for the price of shipping (Thanks!). The easiest way to get to it though was to through the front passenger suspension… all of it.


Since I’ve kind of decided I won’t be driving this thing any time soon, pulling out the whole front right suspension wasn’t a big deal. I’ll be pulling out the whole suspension now anyway in order to replace all the bushings, joints, and hardware that quite literally is dissolving around me (See bottom of picture above). At the same time I’ll be cleaning and refinishing the structural components like the strut housings and control arms etc. etc.

But back to getting the coupe started…

Once I had access to the starter bolts, I found that one of the bolts was just sitting in there with no nut on the backside, it simply pulled right out. Which is sort of the theme of this car, I’ve found a number of pieces either loose, backed off or simply missing. Some mechanic in New York had NO idea what he was doing. And to add to that, here is what I discovered upon removing the old starter:



I can’t believe I had to use a vacuum to suck out the nuts and leaves and other vegetation from where the starter came from – I mean, the starter was quite literally sealed in its position by corrosion and required a hammer to be removed. How did this stuff get in there?! There seems to be bits of greenery stuck in all sorts of places around this car – I just don’t understand.

Anyway, with the new-used starter in. I removed the old spark plugs, turned the engine over by hand and then with the starter a few times to get things loosened up again without the strain of compression (assuming there is some left…). Then came the moment of truth… or the first of many of these moments for the day. Starting the car the first few times proved fruitless. The starter would crank and crank and nothing would happen, not even an attempt at firing. After a few cycles of this I removed the fuel supply line to find there was in fact gas there but when I removed the first plug, you couldn’t smell gas in the cylinder. With an ear to the rear – of the car – I noticed that the fuel pump wasn’t running when switching the car “on”. So perhaps the fuel relay was bad?

By removing the relay and connecting the Power source directly to the output terminal, I could confirm the pump was working. Further testing showed that there was no signal going to the relay and that the relay was working fine. Just the start of the electrical gremlins I expect to find.

So, with the fuel pump hardwired, I got this on the first crank:

Well, to be truthful, it was the second start, the camera wasn’t rolling for the first start – whoops.

I was incredibly surprised that after so many years, the car simply started right up. Although it had some issues lasting for any amount of time. After it died a few times, I hopped in to give it some revs. Afterwards, walking around the car I found this:


Looks like the coupe was a bit plugged up – thanks again to the mice or squirrels or other associated rodent-like miscreants. After that the coupe ran well and idled without issue. I had to remove some of that organic matter again around the exhaust when that nearly caught fire. But all in all, it was a day that went much easier than expected. To celebrate, I cleaned up around the car and swept in preparation for making another huge mess as the exhaust and other corners of the suspension come apart.