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Underbody braces, turbos and more!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:04 am 
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I've been doing some bodywork on my car in the last little while, and recently issues have come up which have lead me to suspect that the frame of my vehicle may be cracked or otherwise structurally compromised.

First some history. To begin, the front of the car is placed on jackstands. I started by repairing a rust hole in the driver's side floorpan, right behind the wheelwell. This is all stitched together with new sheet metal seamwelded in place.

Afterwards, I went to tackling the door hinges, also on the driver's side. These had quite a bit of play in them (the lower bushing was completely shot). I replaced the hinges, and tightened everything up. I can grab the bottom of the door and try to lift it, feeling for play... There isn't any. It now also latches properly without catching on the sill.

I lower the car down from the jackstands and the first thing I notice is that the door doesn't quite latch right (I figured it was some minor settlement + prior door strike adjustments to compensate for worn hinges). I now readjust the door strike for the new hinges. Everything is working great.

A day or two later it's up on jackstands again to do more bodywork. This time when it comes down, I notice a creaking sound. Also the driver's door won't latch properly. It's clunking like it was catching on the sill, only it's catching on the strike (I check for hinge play, there isn't any). I readjust the strike to the end of it's adjustment, just to get the door to close.

As of right now the door still won't close right, and it's obvious something isn't right with the driver's side of the car. All the panel gaps are messed up. I've started stripping the undercoating from underneath the car to look for signs of something coming apart, but haven't located anything yet.


This is the passenger side. Note the consistant gap between the door and the B pillar:
Image

Close up of bottom of door gap (this door works fine, doesn't catch on sill or have any problems latching:
Image

Close up of middle of door gap (black trim is mostly level between the two sections):
Image

Close up of top of door gap (top of window frame is flush with roof):
Image

Passenger side rear quarter window gap (this stays consistant along the whole length of the window):
Image

This is the driver's side (note how the door looks off):
Image

Bottom of driver's side door "gap" (the door is actually closed in this position, but is far enough down that it's trying to touch the side skirts):
Image

Middle of door gap(something is definately off, if you see the car in person you'll notice that the gap has a taper to it):
Image

Top of door gap (window frame is sunk by about 1/4" below roofline):
Image

Driver's side rear quarter window gap (this gets larger towards the C pillar):
Image

The quarter window is actually closed and latched, yet has a substancial gap between the bodywork:
Image

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Last edited by Lihtan on Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 3:02 pm 
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I had exactly the same problem with one of my GT's that had been in an extremely light accident, door dropped and no matter what I did I couldn't line it up, also the gap between the rear window and the surround was the same as yours, I gave up in the end and used it as a parts car, which I know isn't much help to you, but at least you know you're not the only one lol.

I guess the frame was just weakened with rust and what have you, and then the little knock twisted something or other.

Jon

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 3:05 pm 
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Looking at the pics I would say the pass door is too high and the bottom is tucked in too tight.
as for the drivers side it looks the oposite, too low.
I don't think its your frame, try adjust the hinges a bit.
Take the strikers off the car for now and play with the hinge adjustment.
Then put the strikers on and set them semi loose and carefully line them up as the door closes on the first latch and not all the way.
Open the door and tighten them up.
These bodies flex with age, that's why the braces help keep things tighter.

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"I also love the 7500 rpm scream of a DOHC" :razz: 2X 1989 Swift GTi's a 92 and Jr's new 93 GT

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:12 pm 
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In my experience the body flexes so adjustments to things like the door hinges and strikers done with the car on jack stands will not be correct when it's back on the wheels.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:20 pm 
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Looking at side window gap and rear panel something is tweaked. Its more than door alignment .


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:08 am 
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cant i see some impact damage just behind the door? if the pillar is pushed in, it could be pushing the roof up and causing the door to come farther in before it will latch.

or

jack it up at the original jack locations one at a time and then set it down and see what flexxed. also old seam sealer will start to lift at a seam that flexxes, might help you narrow it down.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:16 am 
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tuffcarguy wrote:
cant i see some impact damage just behind the door? if the pillar is pushed in, it could be pushing the roof up and causing the door to come farther in before it will latch.

or

jack it up at the original jack locations one at a time and then set it down and see what flexxed. also old seam sealer will start to lift at a seam that flexxes, might help you narrow it down.


This car was banged around a bit before I got it (moderate impact to driver's side front corner, minor impact to driver's side rear corner, and the concave depression on the driver's side B pillar.) The doors all worked fine before with the existing damage.

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 1:45 am 
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Did you drill holes in the floor to try and save weight?



:P

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:29 am 
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Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been busy doing bodywork on the car. Here what's new:

I decided to remove the door strike to see where the door really wanted to sit:

It would prefer not to close:
Image

Definately colliding with the bodywork:
Image

That's about a 1/2" droop:
Image

Keep in mind the hinges have no play in them:
Image



I decide to take Knuckles' advice and reset the door. At least I can see if wants to keep going out. I nearly sheared one of the door bolts off. The car sat for a week with the door ratchet strapped together until I could get new bolts:

This could have been very messy:
Image

The bolt held together by a single (folded) thread:

Image
Image



With the door off, I decide to measure the few cross dimensions in the door openning:

Green numbers are in spec, red numbers are out of spec. First number is actual frame measurement, second number is frame spec from FSM:
Image

I - K is short by 17 mm, I - J is long by 8 mm. This suggests to me that the lower hinge portion of the frame is drifting upwards relative to the door frame (or conversely that the door frame is sinking relative to the chassis). Although both situations would probably require that the door sits higher than the the door opening (it's currently demonstrated the opposite).



I decided that all the little rust holes in my car aren't likely helping matters, so I'll be going over the car with a fine toothed comb. Rust holes will be properly repaired. Panel seams will be inspected, then seamwelded, sealed and primed/painted. I started with the area inside the driver's side front quarter panel:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image



I did spot something today that might be a sign... a crack!

Image

Close up of crack:
Image

There's another one just like it in the same spot on the passenger side:

Image



m wrote:
Did you drill holes in the floor to try and save weight?

I believe it's actually a natural process the car does by itself. :wink:

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:38 pm 
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WOW

I dnt know if ya seen my Naked Swift post and i cant beleive you had the same problem on that arch!! Now i dnt feel as sad. The rust on mine was so compacted it was untrue, very tough stuff.

Feel sorry for about your doors tho m8, hope its not as bad as it seems.

Good luck

Tyler


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:24 pm 
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now i see the reasons for your question on rusty red
good job.... mig or stick welder?
one trick i used for holding edges tight was to use
an old screwdriver to push the metal flush and then
spot the adjacent edge down with the mig set as low
as it would go to keep from burning through or warping
4'' spacing 2'' then 1'' then welding closed where needed.
have any of the spot welds in the rockers actually seperated
allowing the change in dimension.. that just seems so
strange that the change would be in that direction without
the car being in a hard crash.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:39 pm 
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Good repair work and writeup, if you need doors give me a call.
I may have a faily mint pair available.
With glass winders just no exterior door handles.

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"I also love the 7500 rpm scream of a DOHC" :razz: 2X 1989 Swift GTi's a 92 and Jr's new 93 GT

Keep your eye on the boost guage!
And I love this one!
"Dale Jarrett's crew chief" "Drive it like ya STOLE IT!"
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:48 am 
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TylerGib wrote:
WOW

I dnt know if ya seen my Naked Swift post and i cant beleive you had the same problem on that arch!! Now i dnt feel as sad. The rust on mine was so compacted it was untrue, very tough stuff.

Feel sorry for about your doors tho m8, hope its not as bad as it seems.

Good luck

Tyler


I was just working on the other side today and I had an even bigger hole to repair. Fortunately my floor pan is pretty intact. I've had two ribbons of rust behind the wheelwells. Quite suprisingly, my sills are pretty solid I've only got some minor pinholes on the driver's side (which I suspect is the reason I never got water on the floor on that side, it would drain out the rust holes!)


hillbilly 993 wrote:
now i see the reasons for your question on rusty red
good job.... mig or stick welder?
one trick i used for holding edges tight was to use
an old screwdriver to push the metal flush and then
spot the adjacent edge down with the mig set as low
as it would go to keep from burning through or warping
4'' spacing 2'' then 1'' then welding closed where needed.
have any of the spot welds in the rockers actually seperated
allowing the change in dimension.. that just seems so
strange that the change would be in that direction without
the car being in a hard crash.



I asked mostly out of curiousity and comparing notes (plus I haven't seen any finished pics yet :wink:). I'm using a MIG welder with flux core wire (no shielding gas). I use that screwdriver trick as well. Another one I use is to swing a good heavy ballpeen hammer at any seams that don't want to sit flat before I weld them. It also convinces the panel to conform to noneven surfaces better.

The vehicle has suffered from prior collsion damage from previous owners. This is what the front corner looked like when I bought it:

The bumper mount and the rebar are little tweaked on this side:
Image

I haven't found any separated welds or seams yet, but I am looking. I'm first gonna stitch the rustholes together so I can eliminate them from the equation. Then I'm going strip off the coating from major panel seams to inspect them for damage, after that I'll seamweld them and finish them off properly. Even if I never find the problem, I will end up with a seamwelded chassis.

Knuckles wrote:
Good repair work and writeup, if you need doors give me a call.
I may have a faily mint pair available.
With glass winders just no exterior door handles.

I don't think it's my doors, but I am on the look out for a clean shell. How's that donor car coming? :razz:

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:33 am 
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It's been a while since my last update, so here's what's new:

I yanked the dash out so I can get some room to do some welding close to the firewall:
Image

I finally got started with repairing the upper frame on the passenger side:
Image

I had previously patched the rust hole with tape! :mrgreen:
Image

I had previously removed most of the loose rust chunks a few years ago, so this is mostly surface rust:
Image

The first stages of cleaning up the metal:
Image

I suspected that there might be rust underhere, so this pic shows the spotwelds partially ground out with a Dremel:
Image

Spotwelds removed:
Image

Yup, there's rust under there:
Image

Final clean up:
Image



Here's the layout the patch:
Image

Initial cuts with a jigsaw (my roommates were happy I was doing this at 1 in the morning :twisted: ):
Image

Cutting is done:
Image

Holes for plug welding are drilled, and surface rust removed:
Image

Weld-thru primer on patch:
Image

Weld-thru primer on frame:

Image



Initial tack welds:
Image

Seamwelding:
Image

Weld beads ground down:
Image


I also picked up a 20' rectangular gazebo. It's nicing having a carport:
Image

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:00 am 
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Great write up Lithan!

I think that where those cracks are(driver&passenger under-door cracks) It looks like the car didnt have a heavy frontal collision but It may have been jumped and landed heavily on the front.(Maybe several times)

Did the seller have a hump-back bridge anywhere near his house?

Its jus a suggestion but 'seams' to me thats the only way the cracks would appear in exactly the same place on both sides.

Good luck with it dude.

Ps what sheetmetal are you using to patch up?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:14 pm 
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I can sense im gonna learn a heap load off you lithan thru my rebuild.

I wish ya only lived down the road from me, instead of over the pond, to help us out lol.

Its great when you see someone, with the same enthusiasm about their Swifts, sharing the info they know.

Thanks, Tyler


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:24 am 
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G10 wrote:
Great write up Lithan!

I think that where those cracks are(driver&passenger under-door cracks) It looks like the car didnt have a heavy frontal collision but It may have been jumped and landed heavily on the front.(Maybe several times)

Did the seller have a hump-back bridge anywhere near his house?

Its jus a suggestion but 'seams' to me thats the only way the cracks would appear in exactly the same place on both sides.

Good luck with it dude.

Ps what sheetmetal are you using to patch up?


I do suspect there may have been a certain amount of driving on unpaved roads due to the amount of paint chips the car had when I got it.

I'm using some scrap steel that are left overs from previous fabrication projects. If I need more, there's a place called Metal Mart where I can buy more. Although it should be entirely feasible to cut up old fridges and stoves for their sheet metal as well.



TylerGib wrote:
I can sense im gonna learn a heap load off you lithan thru my rebuild.

I wish ya only lived down the road from me, instead of over the pond, to help us out lol.

Its great when you see someone, with the same enthusiasm about their Swifts, sharing the info they know.

Thanks, Tyler

In addition to fixing rust holes, there will also be seamwelding, door hinge replacement and if I get around to it sunroof removal, brace construction and a repaint.

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:19 am 
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:lol: Old fridges and stoves.......bloody great!

Not only are you recycling the old fridges etc but your recycling the swift aswell.

A few ppl could take a leaf out of your book dude!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:47 am 
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I'll be watching this topic :D

Great idea on the carport 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:04 pm 
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It's update time! I'm inside the car now.

Floorpan seam stripped of seam sealer so I can inspect the spot welds:
Image
But first there's something I need to do...

I chopped out a small part due to suspected rust:
Image
This on the floor pan seam right above the front swaybar mount. Unfortunately it looks like I have rust inside the factory spot welded seams. Only an acid dip is gonna get them all out.

Metal cleaned up:
Image

Patch cut:
Image
This one's gonna go in flush.

Patch tacked:
Image
The patch needed a little grinding before it dropped in flush.

Patch seam welded:
Image

Patch ground down:
Image
This turned out well.


We now return to our regularly scheduled floor pan welding:
Image

Floor pan seam ground:
Image
This looks so much better than seam sealer

This is me fixing a mess:
Image
This was a section I patched a few years, when I realized that rust holes large enough to stick your fingers through couldn't be ignored. I didn't have welding equipment at the time so I used a mini-brazing kit (with those $10 a shot disposible oxygen bottles). Brazing sucks for filling holes. I wasn't quite done when the oxygen started to run out. Not wanting to throw another bottle in to finish the job, I looked around for another materials with a lower melting point. I ended up using lead solder to seal the rest of the holes. Flash forward a few years later... the edges of the patch have rust contamination, and it's quite evident that it's nowhere near as watertight as I'd like it to be.

One thought I had was to just go over the edges of the existing patch with the welder. I tried it.... briefly. MIG wire won't stick to metalurgical mess I made with brazing rod and lead solder, plus the water trapped in the panel was messing with weld arc.

I had no choice now but to chop the entire mess out. I cut a sizeable area around the patch, but I was still left with quite a lot of non-ferrous metal that had to be removed. The brass came out easily enough with a grinding disk, but the lead was going to be a challenge. I knew that if I tried grind it out, it would clog the disk instantly. I tried using a wire wheel, but all it really did was smear it. The easiest way to remove the lead was to melt it with a torch. I initially used a desoldering pump, but found it was quickly innundated with way too much lead. The tool that worked best was actually a Shop Vac:

That's solidified lead deposits inside the vac wand:
Image

Closeup of a crack around the freshly cut hole. The metal appears to be under some stress:
Image

Paint removed from corner. I've also got a rust hole on the sill to deal with as well:
Image

With the paint gone I can inspect the seam. This one looks good, but I'll still be seam welding it anyways:
Image
Image

My new patch is going to be a bit oversized so I'm first gonna weld some seams behind it first:
Image
Image

The hole is now ready for a new patch:
Image

Template:
Image
The dashed line is a tracing from the old patch I chopped out. The dots indicate where I'm gonna drill holes for tacking. This turns out to be a mistake later.

Pattern is now transfered to metal:
Image
The idea with a large overlap was to have lots of tack sites to help secure the panel by more than just the edges.

Impact center punch makes this easy:
Image

Cobalt drill bits rock:
Image
My first mistake is that the holes are too small.

Freshly cut patch:
Image
I had to buy a new angle grinder for this project. My old one (which I bought for $20 at Princess Auto) finally died after about 2 years of frequent use (I would always reach for it instead of a hacksaw, regardless of the task). It died of shorted out motor windings, stripped threads in the gear head, a guard that failed from metal fatigue, and brushes that were down to 1/3 left. Only the power switch and the cord were salvagable. I replaced it with a new Makita 4" angle grinder that I bought at a bit more upscale tool supplier. I stuck to the 4" size because I like the agility of a smaller grinder, and because I already have a shitload of 4" disks.

Patch after cleaning and contouring:
Image
My second mistake was that I didn't spend enough time shaping the panel

Patch after the first round of welding:
Image
I've skipped a lot of steps here. The final culmination of my errors was that the smaller holes weren't quite in contact with the base metal and instead of being plug welded, I ended up with holes that were welded shut. Oh well, live and learn.

Patch ground down:
Image
I'm still not done yet. After this stage is looking for pinholes with a light, welding, grinding, ad nauseam.

Underside view of patch:
Image
This needs to be smooth.

Underside welding:
Image
Remember how I messed up with this earlier? What I'm doing here is welding some heavy beads so I can get fusion with the patch above. Not quite sure where it, so three beads should do it... :wink:

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 9:17 pm 
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Lihtan, how about a pic of the welding equipment
you're using. this write-up is a great tutorial for the
younger guys wanting tackle something a little
more difficult to save their swift. equipment list and
prices would be helpful. perhaps it's sticky time :thumb2:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:28 pm 
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hillbilly 993 wrote:
Lihtan, how about a pic of the welding equipment
you're using. this write-up is a great tutorial for the
younger guys wanting tackle something a little
more difficult to save their swift. equipment list and
prices would be helpful. perhaps it's sticky time :thumb2:


I was actually thinking about doing something like that. However here's the recent course of events in the last few weeks:

As I've been working on the car, I have yet to find any evidence to support the frame going through any kind of structural failure. Every factory spot weld was intact. Some had minor surface rust, but nothing that looks like the car is tearing itself apart. The major rust holes in the car are now all sealed. it's entirely likely the noises I heard from the chassis may been panels shifting around due to the extra play that the rust holes had created.

There is still more I'd like to do with the car, but summer is drawing to a close. The days are getting shorter and colder, and I only have the outside to work on the car. Even if I had enclosed shop space, it would still probably be another several months of work with my current level free time. Because I've been working on the car all summer, I've had no time to enjoy driving it, nor take it to the track. Due to this, I decided to finish things up where they are, and get the car back together. Within days of the car being assembled, I spotted an ad for a black '89 GTi on craigslist. Of all the GTis I've looked at in the last few months, this one was the cleanest. It has one little rust hole in the driver's side footwell, plus a little bit on the front fender. The bodywork is mostly clean, the paint is above average for it's age. It's in much better condition than my own car. The price was right, so had to pick it up. There's too many cars at the house now, so the white one I've been working on may have to go. It's fate is undecided right now. Here's the new Swift:

Image

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jaguar,vettes&sprints wrote:
...can you inlighten me about lihtan's
( miracle pour hole)
maybe a picture Thanks


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