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tbox's first project car - 1993 GPW restoration & learning journal

Joined
11 November 2015
Messages
95
Location
Michigan/SoCal
Hello everyone, I was the sucker who picked up this 1993 GPW (click on the link for some laughs) with 92k miles that no one else wanted. Just look at how many nice folks stopped by to offer their condolences to the car and chastise the previous owner. I probably shouldn't have bought it, but unfortunately I was young, naive, poor, desperate, and deeply infatuated with this car. And yes, I did get a pretty decent discount from asking price considering it's "ruined" and all :)

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For a good while, I debated whether to start a thread to document my build, partly because I felt intimidated by the tremendous amount of effort, creativity, craftsmanship, and money in many other build threads that would make anything I do here seem trivial in comparison. But then I came across that Facebook thread and felt the need to prove to the good people of the internet – and most importantly, myself – that the car could be restored with a reasonable budget and some elbow grease.

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You can read all about how I found and bought the car here. If you’re not interested then we can skip to the part where you’re just a heartless bastard. Just kidding. But I’ve been told that it’s worth a read. In all seriousness, this NSX is my first honest-to-god project car. I’ve put on some minor mods on my daily driver (Scion FRS/Toyota 86) but have never worked on a car that had things broken, let alone “ruined.” One main reason that I specifically looked for a fixer-upper – besides being poor – is to motivate myself to learn everything because I’m only slightly better than Jon Snow when it comes to actually working on cars. So let’s get down to business!

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The first thing I did after I bought the car was to drive the hell out it. I took it from LA to San Diego and back (sat through LA traffic while civics & integras rev’d at me), then brought it to meets & drives with local owners after getting it shipped to Michigan (and heard some say “hey that’s a weird-looking corvette!”), and then drove it some more to work every chance I had, sometimes without the bumper, and even sometimes in the pouring rain. (But rest assured, never without bumper and in rain simultaneously)

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Why yes, those ARE mismatched wheels at every corner....also with mismatched balding tires!

After about 1000 miles within a month, I had a pretty good grasp on majority of its problems, and I still loved everything about it despite all its flaws. Some say that’s how you know it’s true love. I also took off lots of pieces to discover what exactly was missing from the car….and I was definitely not disappointed by what I found or didn't find. In fact, I’m thoroughly impressed by the length PO went through to remove things from the car for the sake of “weight reduction”…or to pay for his giant money pit. Out of respect for the PO, I will assume it’s both. So here's the lowdown:

The Missing Pieces

  • [Found] OEM Seats
  • [Found] Driver side carpet
  • [Found] Driver-side AC condenser
  • [To Upgrade] Radio headunit and speakers
  • [Found] Traction Control Module / [Found] TCU switch
  • [Found] Cruise control regulator & bracket, [WTB] actuator cable, and [WTB] control module
  • [Found] SRS module, [Found] driver airbag, [Found] passenger airbag
  • [Found] Rear upper bulkhead trim
  • [Found] Headliner / [Found] A-pillar trim / [Found] B-pillar trim [Found] sun visors / [Found] dome light
  • [To Upgrade] Center Bulkhead Insulator
  • [Found] Front & [Found] Rear Crash beams (had to remove bumpers to find this one. Seriously?)
  • [Found] Rear bumper shock absorbers
  • [Found] OEM airbox / resonator tube
  • [Found] Engine cover / [Found] Tail lamp bezels
  • [To Upgrade] Door handle NSX emblems (for that 0.02 oz of weight reduction, of course)
  • [Found] OEM catalytic converters / [Found] emission control box / [WTB] Charcoal Canister (it’s not like CA requires smog checks, right?)
  • [Upgraded] OEM Wheels
  • [Found] Windshield wipers
  • [Replaced] Remote control key fob
  • [Found] Interior Sash Covers
  • [Making my own] Maintenance records
  • And more...

The "Fun" Projects

  • [Fixed] Second to third gear synchro grind above certain rpm
  • Oil seeping from VTEC solenoids, camshaft covers, and oil pan
  • One of the head cover bolts is snapped off & has small oil leak around it
  • [Fixed] Car occasionally has trouble hot starting
  • [Replaced] Aftermarket quick release hub had so much free play that people thought the steering wheel was going to fall off
  • Front bumper needs crack repaired (this one was my fault)
  • Front fenders are rolled and buckled/cracked *cringe*
  • [Replaced] Front and rear wheel well liner are cut up & destroyed from stance
  • [Replaced] Climate control unit doesn’t even turn on
  • Both windows are very slow to roll up
  • [Replaced] Washer fluid pump motor doesn’t work
  • [Replaced] Front turn signals lens were replaced with frosted plastic and was not sealed properly
  • JDM tail lamps were opened and not re-sealed properly
  • Certain interior trim pieces have lots of cracks & broken tabs and needs to be reupholstered
  • Door sill garnish / glove box door / dual center console lid needs to be reupholstered
  • Red stitching was dirty / fading and needs to be redone
  • Black glossy vinyl on roof needs replacement
  • [Replaced] Needs new seats that are not fat people filters
  • [Replaced] Needs new wheels and alignment
  • Needs a timing belt / water pump change soon
  • And more....

The Saving Grace

  • Car has clean title (although it was stolen & recovered in Florida before. Stay classy, Florida)
  • Car is actually Grand Prix White from the factory
  • Car runs with no glaring issues…yet
  • I wish there were more...

My initial goal is to replace as many missing components as possible and restore almost all of the car’s original functions for under $3500. That’s right, for the princely sum of 12,069 Twinkies or a mediocre breast augmentation surgery, I will attempt to un-ruin this car. In order to stay under budget, I plan to scour the internet for used replacement parts, refurbish all existing broken parts, and learn to do whatever I can myself to maximize the project's overall cost-effectiveness. Essentially this is the opposite of a money-is-no-object philosophy, if there is such a thing. The ultimate vision is to achieve a simple and clean NA1 NSX R-inspired build with OEM+ upgrades while spending as little as possible. If you’re thinking: “this will end badly”...you are probably right! But feel free to grab some popcorn.

- - - Updated - - -

Here’s a list of skills I’m looking forward to learn from this project. Like I mentioned, I’m a full-time noob so there will be some very basic things on this list. I hope to expand each topic into a project milestone as well as a mini-DIY guide for folks who are also interested in learning along

Car-related topics


Misc topics

  • How to buy parts from Yahoo! Japan Auction
  • How to arrange auto transport across country

- - - Updated - - -

I’m going to use this space to keep track of my budget -> $3500 to restore or bust! (Will need to grow slightly to accommodate for completing the SRS system)

Status as of 9/12/2016 - $3369.48 spent | $130.52 remaining

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Also wanted to keep a map of all the nice people who helped me source parts to for this restoration project and to visualize how the NSX community transcends international boundaries

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- - - Updated - - -

Mod List

Exterior

  • LED headlights
  • NA1 NSX-R front emblem
  • JDM tail lights w/ NSX-R centerpiece
  • Painted front & rear sidemarkers
  • JDM clear sidemarkers
  • Seibon NSX-R style CF rear spoiler
Interior

  • Interior Innovations red perforated leather seat covers
  • NSX-R side gauges w/ yellow needles
Wheel/Suspension

  • BBS LMs (17x7.5 +38 F & 18x9 +42 R) reverse mounted with red BBS McGard lug nuts
  • KW V3 Coilovers with OEM tophats
Engine

  • Innovations solid engine mounts
  • Aftermarket headers
  • Custom exhaust
  • Oil pan baffle
Misc

  • 3M Crystalline Tint
Maintenance

  • Engine oil changed with Mobil 1 Advanced Synthetic 10W-30 @ 93,400 miles
  • Transmission fluid changed with Honda MTF @ 93,400 miles
 

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I do hope that you got that car at a SUBSTANTIAL discount, I see a few of my comments in the FB post telling you not to buy it. Good luck in bringing it back to it's former glory.
 
$3500 is quite an ambitious goal. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing your progress.
 
I do hope that you got that car at a SUBSTANTIAL discount, I see a few of my comments in the FB post telling you not to buy it. Good luck in bringing it back to it's former glory.

It was a discount substantial enough for people to agree that it was a fair price. Unfortunately I wasn't even in the FB group until 2 months after I had bought the car....but thanks!

What kind of QR hub is it running?
I have no idea, but according to people who know QR hubs, it's pretty low quality. It made clinky sounds when the wheel wobbled on the freeway. I had to immediately replace it with an OEM steering wheel. Grabbed a picture for you though. Any ideas?

$3500 is quite an ambitious goal. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing your progress.

Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to not disappoint!
 
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Looking forward to this build/restoration.

I'm already a fan of your writing in this thread and it keeps my short attention span laughing.
 
Looking forward to this build/restoration.

I'm already a fan of your writing in this thread and it keeps my short attention span laughing.

Thank you! Hopefully this thread will help improve your attention span a little bit :)

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Since I've done some work on the car in the past few months before starting this thread, this will be one of few
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posts. (Get it? :tongue:)

The good news is that I've made some decent progress in finding most of the missing parts for the restoration. Over the past two and half months, I've been scouring the nsxprime Parts for Sale section (I think it just beat out Google as my most visited website), eBay, Craigslist, and Yahoo Japan Auction multiple times daily (sometimes hourly) for all the missing parts I need. It's been an incredibly addicting to track things down and watch the list of missing parts dwindle, and at the same time I've also been very fortunate to have encountered some incredibly generous and helpful people along the way who gave me plenty of support and good deals. There's too many to list but I've kept track with this handy map.

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But unfortunately this is the real world and not everything was always sunshine rainbow and lollipops on my mission. I made some bad choices in life and did some things that I'm not completely proud of, namely:

  • Drove the car when it was still hella stanced for 300 miles to pick up really rough (but cheap) parts
  • Invited a complete stranger from Craigslist to my parent's house to drop off parts
  • Made a 6.5-hour roadtrip to middle-of-no-where in Wisconsin to pick up a pair of beat up seats from a dirty bait-and-switching salesman
  • Bugged the shit out of some good folks for parts until they got fed up and stopped responding
  • Cheaped out on air shipping on a very expensive part and ended up waiting seven grueling weeks for it to get shipped from Asia on a row boat with nonexistent tracking updates
  • Bought something pricey and non-returnable from overseas only to realize I didn't do enough research and bought the wrong thing

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So the bad news is that I've already used up 75% of my $3500 budget. You might be thinking, what the f--k? The car looks worse than when you first bought it! And you are right...mostly because majority of the missing parts are inside the car (notice how I haven't posted any interior shots?) and I've been too busy hoarding rather than working, but that will change. I'm still fairly optimistic that I can stay under budget, although I wanted to clarify that the $3500 restoration budget is reserved for OEM replacement parts that should've been in the car when it rolled off the assembly line. Things like the aftermarket stereo system, body kits, wheels, and NSX-R blings in the future will come from another mod budget. That's where the real fun stuff will happen...we'll get there soon! :)

RestoreBudget_zpsakekph42.png


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As I mentioned initially, I wanted to document things I've learned from my ownership so I can convince my future children that their college tuition didn't completely go to waste. I don't expect anyone to follow them in lieu of real DIY guides, but they help me collect my thoughts and serve as a reference for the next time I need to do something again, although be warned, you are fully responsible for any damages for taking instructions from someone who can barely write without using extremely long run-on sentences.

How to jack up the NSX
Duration - 20-30 mins | Difficulty - ●○○○○
Materials: Four 1+ ton Jack stands, 3+ ton jack, common sense
Step 0 - Start on flat ground with plenty of room around the car to move around
Step 1 - Place car jack under jacking point shown here
Step 2 - Raise the jack slowly until one side is tall enough to clear jack stands
Step 3 - Place two jack stands under the designated jacking points at the lowest setting
Step 4 - Lower the jack slowly and make sure jack stands make proper contact with jack points
Step 5 - Move the jack to the other side and repeat step 2, this time raise the car to final height. I would recommend no more than 12 inches at a time (twss!)
Step 5 - Place jacks under the car and lower the jack slowly and verify proper contact
Step 6 - Move the jack to the original side and raise the car to final height
Step 7 - Set jacks in place, raise to final height, and lower the car and verify proper contact
Step -1 - Alternatively, call your buddy who has a lift and don’t forget to bring some beer

Notes: This seems simple to but the first time took much longer because I had to triple check all the jack stands were raised to the same height/number of clicks. Could be good to have a ruler or tape measure handy. I also did more repetitions of moving the jack back and forth for more clearance for a creeper, which I’ve found to help a lot with working underneath the car.

Reference: http://danoland.com/nsxgarage/jack/jack.htm


How to change the NSX engine oil
Purpose - Maintenance
Duration - 30 mins to 1 hr | Difficulty - ●●○○○ | Cost - $30-$60
Tools - 14 mm socket + wrench / torque wrench / funnel / oil filter wrench / car Jack / 4x Jack stands / oil drain container / gloves
Materials - 5.3 Qt 10W-30 Engine Oil/ Oil filter (15400PL2315) / 1x 14mm Drain Washer (94109-14000)

Step 0 - Drive around to warm up the car slightly. Do not allow car to fully warm up to avoid being burned by hot engine components or oil. Let the car cool down if it was recently driven.
Step 1 - Loosen lug nuts on right rear wheel just enough to break the initial tightness
Step 2 - Jack up the car on 4 jack stands
Step 3 - Remove right rear wheel to allow easy access to oil filter
Step 4 - Place oil drain container underneath drain bolt located here
Step 5 - Remove drain bolt with 14 mm socket wrench and let oil drain for 15 mins
Step 6 - Clean the bolt, replace washer, and tighten to 33 ft-lb with torque wrench
Step 7 - Use a strap wrench or oil filter wrench to loosen the oil filter. You may need to remove this clip to move the brake line out of the way to get more clearance to remove the oil filter. Oil will spill out so make sure the oil drain container is properly placed.
Step 8 - Replace with the new oil filter. Be sure to lubricate the seal of the new filter with oil
Step 9 - Locate and unscrew the oil filler cap here. Fill 5.3 qt of engine oil with funnel
Step 10 - Verify engine oil level with dip stick (remove, wipe, dip, check, replace)
Step 11 - Reinstall the rear wheel and lug nuts and tighten to 90%
Step 12 - Lower the car from jack stands and properly torque the rear wheel to 100%. Take it for a gentle drive and double check lug nuts are fully tightened.
Step 13 - Let car sit overnight and check floor to make sure there are no drips. If there are drips, double check the crush washer is replaced and the bolt is properly torqued to spec.

Notes: The oil change can be done without removing the rear wheel by being acrobatic, but I find it much easier to remove the wheel.

Reference: http://danoland.com/nsxgarage/oil_change/oil_change.htm


How to change the manual transmission fluid on an NSX
Purpose - Maintenance and resolve transmission sychro grind
Duration - 1 hour | Difficulty - ●●○○○ | Cost - $20
Tools - 17 mm socket + wrench / ⅜” Wrench or adapter / Torque Wrench / Funnel / 3+ ft plastic tube / duct tape / oil drain container / jackstands / car jack / gloves
Materials - 3 quart of Honda MTF (08798-9031A) / 1x Filler crush washer - 20mm (94109-20000) / 1x Drain crush washer - 14mm (94109-14000)

Step 0 - Drive around to warm up the engine & trans very slightly. Do not allow car to fully warm up or you risk getting burned by hot engine components or oil.
Step 1 - Jack up the car properly & locate the drain and filler bolts here
Step 2 - Locate the drain bolt and place the oil drain container underneath.
Step 3 - Remove the fill bolt with 17mm socket to make sure you can refill it later! If you can’t, get a gym membership or use an extension bar. No oil should be flowing out of the fill bolt if you’re on level ground.
Step 4 - Replace the 20 mm filler crush washer immediately and toss the old one
Step 5 - Loosen the drain bolt with the ⅜ adapter/wrench and let the fluid drain for about 15 minutes (overnight if you have time).
Step 6 - Replace the 14 mm drain crush washer immediately and toss the old one
Step 7 - Replace the drain bolt and torque to 29 ft-lb with torque wrench
Step 8 - Run the flexible tube from the top to the filler hole. Helps to secure the tube with duct tape to prevent shifting during filling.
Step 9 - Fill 2.9 qt of Honda MTF from funnel and tube. Be careful that it will start to overflow towards the last 0.3 qts.
Step 10 - Tighten the filler bolt to 33 ft-lb with torque wrench.
Step 11 - Lower the car from the jack stands and take it for a gentle drive
Step 12 - Let car sit overnight and check floor next day to make sure there are no drips. If there are drips, double check that you’ve replaced both crush washers and torqued the bolts to the specs.

Reference: http://danoland.com/nsxgarage/transoil/index.htm

Impressions
I’ve done oil changes on other cars in the past, but this was the first time I’ve put up a car on 4 jack stands and changed the transmission oil, so I would consider that the ownership has already rewarded me with a few new real life skills. Definitely worth emptying the bank account.

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Protip: Do not work on the car outside at night. If you do, invest in a proper shop lamp instead of using an IKEA lamp.

After I changed the trans and engine oil in one go, there was an IMMEDIATE alleviation of the 2nd-to-3rd gear grind, but it can still be felt above 5k rpm. I was a bit disappointed and thought about sourcing new sychros to rebuild the transmission, but I kept driving the car around for a few days and gradually shifted at higher and higher rpms, and by the end of the second day, all the grinding disappeared!! For the first time after two months of ownership, I was able to fully enjoy car without worrying about the the awful grind from 2nd to 3rd gear! It was a magically satisfying moment and all felt right with the world. The notchiness between shifts remained, but in the wise words of Usher & Juicy J:

I don't mind.

More to come!
 

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You are a brave man, my friend. The patience to acquire all these parts is epic.
 
Congrats on the purchase and good luck!

I just picked up my 91 red/black a few days ago from Windsor and I also created an Excel worksheet to document the cost of ownership. Studied engineering to be proficient at Microsoft Office, right? Haha.
I am also taking a bunch of pictures throughout the process to document it in addition to keeping and scanning all receipts (including fuel)!
 
This car use to park close to my old house. I'll just leave it at that!

I'm going to look thru my old stash of parts and if there's anything I can donate to you I will send it over. This is a huge undertaking! I don't even know how one could get an NSX to the state it sold in to begin with.

This should be a group effort! I encourage anyone who has old parts collecting dust... Send it to this guy! Hell, someone donate at least an old set of Phat 5 wheels... PLEASE. I'd have given you mine but I already gave them away. It kills me seeing those 4 mismatching wheels lol
 
Hey Tianbo, please remember that you indeed DO have a friend with a lift available close by!

GREAT write-up so far, and I very much enjoy your style of wordcraft ;^D


Cheers,
Brian
 
You are a brave man, my friend. The patience to acquire all these parts is epic.

Thanks Butters, it's actually not as bad as you think since there is a ton of great support from the NSX community. I found most of my parts from other owners within two months and was able to befriend many of them along the way! Btw let's see some pics of those fun-sized toys of yours :)

I see my car! Good luck on the restoration attempt, let me know if you need anything.

Thanks Hass, I'll definitely need to rely that treasure trove garage of yours for some more unwanted goodies

Haha I love the way this post is directed! Anyone willing to save an NSX is cool my book. Keep us posted

Thanks man, if this turns out well I'll start the Save-an-NSX Foundation

Congrats on the purchase and good luck!

I just picked up my 91 red/black a few days ago from Windsor and I also created an Excel worksheet to document the cost of ownership. Studied engineering to be proficient at Microsoft Office, right? Haha.
I am also taking a bunch of pictures throughout the process to document it in addition to keeping and scanning all receipts (including fuel)!

Congrats man! You should come join us for some cruises in the Detroit area. Just keep an eye out on this Michigan thread. Haha, I should've just majored in MS Office instead of engineering! Unfortunately most of my office skills was learned on the job. Post all those pictures and let's get a build thread going! Let's see some pics of the car at least :)

This car use to park close to my old house. I'll just leave it at that!

I'm going to look thru my old stash of parts and if there's anything I can donate to you I will send it over. This is a huge undertaking! I don't even know how one could get an NSX to the state it sold in to begin with.

This should be a group effort! I encourage anyone who has old parts collecting dust... Send it to this guy! Hell, someone donate at least an old set of Phat 5 wheels... PLEASE. I'd have given you mine but I already gave them away. It kills me seeing those 4 mismatching wheels lol

LOL this honestly made my day. I'm not sure if I should be grateful or insulted that people actually felt bad enough to want to donate things. AND I can't believe this very nice guy below actually fell for it! Made me regret not making this thread sooner. Or maybe I should actually post some pictures of the interior to elicit some more sympathy... But in all seriousness, thanks for the kind words and I promise the mismatched wheels will be replaced by something better in the very near future. But I'll be happy to take your free stuff :)

I have parts laying around that may help you and donate to the cause. I'll pm you.

Tony, this is amazing. Your act of kindness brings me to tears. PM replied.

Hey Tianbo, please remember that you indeed DO have a friend with a lift available close by!

GREAT write-up so far, and I very much enjoy your style of wordcraft ;^D

Thanks Brian, you're the best. I want you to know that I'm partially dedicating this build to you. Long live the purple monster!
Btw, I will need to pick up those wheel well liners from you some time soon!
 
Thanks Butters, it's actually not as bad as you think since there is a ton of great support from the NSX community. I found most of my parts from other owners within two months and was able to befriend many of them along the way! Btw let's see some pics of those fun-sized toys of yours :)

It's good to see the community here is treating you well! And since you asked, I attached some photos of my toys.
 

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If your ambition matches your writing style I have full confidence in your ability to complete this build. Well written and well done. Cheers from a fellow engineer.
 
Congrats man! You should come join us for some cruises in the Detroit area. Just keep an eye out on this Michigan thread. Haha, I should've just majored in MS Office instead of engineering! Unfortunately most of my office skills was learned on the job. Post all those pictures and let's get a build thread going! Let's see some pics of the car at least :)

Will do, just need to get the maintenances up to date first. The AC is out and the driver side window doesn't go up all the way sometimes.

I'll probably create my build thread this weekend when I have some time, but I haven't accumulated enough content yet haha.

Click here for my purchase story and for pictures!
 
I am glad someone saved this car. Funny because the pictures you posted look nothing like the original owners pictures. Somebody was good at photoshop.:rolleyes: I guess having your Nsx look like a 4 wheel drive suv with 2 different sized and different colored seats is cool though. As long as it is a Grand Prix white right? I am sure you will save her good.
 
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It's good to see the community here is treating you well! And since you asked, I attached some photos of my toys.

I like your style -- practicality is overrated anyways. That exige is shweeet! Love the stormtrooper scheme. Reminds me of this photo:

darthvadervsstormtrooper.jpg


But with that many toys....How do you choose which one to drive every day?!

If your ambition matches your writing style I have full confidence in your ability to complete this build. Well written and well done. Cheers from a fellow engineer.

Thanks Catana, I wish I could have the same confidence in myself!

Will do, just need to get the maintenances up to date first. The AC is out and the driver side window doesn't go up all the way sometimes.

I'll probably create my build thread this weekend when I have some time, but I haven't accumulated enough content yet haha.

Click here for my purchase story and for pictures!

Holy Jesus, Andr3w, that attention to detail is insane! If I ever buy a car in Canada I'll bring you to inspect it :biggrin: You would probably puke if you saw my car in person! But it looks like you got a good example at a great price, just take care of the maintenance issues peopled mentioned and it should be good to go. I have the same AC and driver side window issue so I'll let you know if I ever get those resolved! Congrats again and good luck!

there is an ass for EVERY SEAT..good luck on the build bro

damn straight & this ass is gonna be all over this seat and never get up!

I am glad someone saved this car. Funny because the pictures you posted look nothing like the original owners pictures. Somebody was good at photoshop.:rolleyes: I guess having your Nsx look like a 4 wheel drive suv with 2 different sized and different colored seats is cool though. As long as it is a Grand Prix white right? I am sure you will save her good.

To be honest the car did look better before I bought it, and he previous owner did take some nice pictures. Good catch on the mismatched seats! I'm not proud of what I did, but I did what I had to to make it more bearable for daily driving and prep it for the restoration. To quote Harvey Dent, the night is the darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming....but it's gonna get a lot darker first!

This is one of the best threads I've seen in a long time. Welcome to Prime and good luck with the build!

Thank you, Dave! Lots of content coming up so check back soon!
 
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Haha, yeah it's a tough choice to make sometimes. But the Exige is so raw that it's best saved for going out and DRIVING. Not just putzing around town.
 
Time for another
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post! Hopefully the last...


As parts start to finally trickle in, I find myself tackling several high-priority projects simultaneously to get the car ready for action ASAP, namely wheels, seats, climate control, and the ever-growing parts collection. I’ve always been skeptical when someone says that every car project always takes longer, more money, and more effort than you expect…and now I’m experiencing this axiom first-hand. Unfortunately, this leaves little time to update the thread, but I suppose better late than never :smile:

“Nice wheels,” people would tell me sarcastically (I presume). “Which one? There’s four” I would ask, and then they would proceed to walk around the car only to realize that ALL the wheels are different, not just front and back. We get a chuckle out of it, but every time I die a little bit deep down. So I’ve made it my top priority to find some new wheels. Needed to stay 17/18 to strike an optimal balance between handling dynamics and aesthetics. Always liked how clean Advan RZ/RS’s looked on the NSX, but the price was too high, so I was about to settle on set of replicas that although didn’t look as good, was much cheaper….until a set of BBS LMs in NSX spec popped up for sale from a prime member in Hong Kong. For me, BBS LMs were always the holy grail of street wheels. That clean & classic multi-spoke design with the polished lip, combined with BBS’s racing involvement and strong ties to OEMs make them simply irresistible. But again, prices were completely out of my reach so it was never really in my consideration. I checked my bank account multiple times a day hoping that it would magically grow (it didn’t), looked around the house for valuable things to sell (found none), and finally prayed that my girlfriend would now be OK with cubic zirconia instead of a real diamond (maybe?) before I finally pulled the trigger.

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The seller turned out to be very nice and provided two methods for shipping: 1-2 week via air or 4-6 week via sea. Being the cheap ass that I am, I opted for sea to save some money. Just a few extra weeks, no big deal, right? Second worst mistake of my life. Tracking said it left Hong Kong one week after it was dropped off at the post office. So far so good…..Then it stayed the same for week 5, 6, and finally 7. Did they fall off a boat? Got stuck in customs? A port worker who shares the same love for BBS LMs secretly kept it for his own? It was pure psychological torture. The 8th week came with no updates. The seller followed up with the post office and they have no idea where it is either. It felt like my heart was hanging from a frayed rope and the strands are yielding one by one as each day go by. Then out of nowhere on the 8th Saturday, a knock on the door woke me from my nap, and the USPS worker showed up with a single wheel! Needless to say, I was way too excited to wonder the whereabouts of the other three. Alas, there is hope! The next one arrived on Monday, and finally the last two showed up on Wednesday. HALLELUJA! Lesson learned, never going with sea shipping ever again.

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So what to do when you have a set of BBS LMs? You customize it to your heart's content, of course! BBS being a German company, their options list is almost as long and expensive as Porsche’s. Did you know they are comprised of 6 different components (face, barrel, center caps, nuts & bolts, valve stems & caps, hub centric rings w/spring) and every one of them was customizable through BBS? Before I knew it, I got suckered into new center caps, valve stem caps, and lug nuts. In case you were wondering, yes, they all say BBS on them. During my research I stumbled upon a trend called reverse-mounting, where one would bolt the wheel face on the other side of the mounting surface in exchange for extra lip width. It was supposedly denounced by BBS engineers as structurally unsafe, but it looked so goddamed good. Plus everyone was doing it, so had to try it! The rabbit hole got deeper as I found some excellent DIYs on mirror-polishing the lips on Stanceworks. Since the wheels could use a refinish anyway, I figured I’d give that a shot as well. I now have a grand vision to customize my dream wheels, and it's going to take a boat load of elbow grease to get me there. Little did I know, the boat turned out to be the fucking Titanic. More on this later. Pic below for inspiration (BBS LM reverse mounted, polished lips, customized center caps/bolts, brushed face).

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Turns out fancy rims are no good without proper tires. As a wise person once said, invest in things that keep you away from ground: shoes, mattress, and tires. I kept this in mind when I set out to find the perfect tires. First, I had to find the best size for the wheels (although technically one should start with the tire and then decide on wheels) by doing a little math to figure out the sizes that were closest to stock in order to keep traction control within range. Once I got the size down, I punched it in tire rack and two top options came up: Advan Neova A08Rs and Dunlop Star Spec IIs. After reading tons of reviews online and consulting with people who ran them, I ultimately chose the Dunlops for their unparalleled grip and cornering response, albeit with increased road noise and treadwear. (OK, maybe it was because they were cheaper...) I placed an order and the tires arrived the next day...Tire Rack is truly an amazing company. Now all I need to do is make sure I finish the wheels and mount them before winter hits in under 2 months!

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The second biggest gripe I had about the car were the seats. The red bucket seats that came with the car looked cool but were terribly cheap and uncomfortable and made me swear like a sailor every ingress or egress. I got lucky and found an OEM driver seat shortly after I bought the car, and it was hands down one of the most comfortable seats that ever graced my cheeks. Everyone who sat in the passenger bucket seat have complained about their literal pain-in-the-ass, so the choice was clear: find an OEM passenger seat or lose some friends. Unfortunately not many people sell OEM seats, and if they were shipping usually kills the deal. I finally found a set of OEM seats from a car parts store 450 miles away for $400, and verbally agreed to purchase the passenger side for half that price. Since this place doesn’t open on weekends, I bent over backwards to arrange them to drop off the seat at a nearby car dealership that was nice enough to hold them so I can pick it up over the weekend. When it finally came to paying the invoice, the salesman pulled the good-ol’ bait & switch and demanded $350 for ONE SEAT or $400 for both. Furious but desperate, I reluctantly paid for both seats and made the 6 and 1/2 hour road trip to retrieve them. Luckily the salesman wasn’t there, or else one of us would’ve left with a black eye. At least now I have more than enough seats to keep my friends and an extra one to tell the story.

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I recall seeing pictures of the Mugen NSX-RR concept many moons ago, before I ever owned a car, and absolutely falling in love with the white exterior and red interior color combination. Throughout the years, I've grown more attracted to it as I start to realize that white and red had been a classic sports car combination that had graced the classics such as the SL300 gullwing, E-type, Countach, early Corvette and Mustangs, as well as the newer LFA, 458, F-type, and M3/4s. And of course, red in white had long been a visual signature in Honda’s type R lineup. So since the car is GPW, it was an easy decision to wrap the OEM seats in red while leaving the carpets black to in line with the NA1 NSX Type R’s interior color scheme and to feed my white-on-red addiction. I ordered a set of red perforated leather covers from Interior Innovations for a very reasonable $585 shipped based on good reviews from several members on prime. A week later, the package arrived from Karachi in Pakistan, which meant they’ve outsource the manufacturing overseas to my slight surprise/dismay, but the covers themselves seemed to be well-made, so I'm looking forward to begin my reupholstering project.

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Another project high on the list was fixing my climate control unit. It was as broken as it could be and does not turn on at all, so I’d have to start at square negative one and work my way up. The good news is I’ve finally ordered all the stuff I need to begin fixing the climate control...but the bad news is that summer heat wave is over and I’ve lost all sense of urgency. Being an electrical engineer myself, I told myself that if I couldn’t figure this out I’d find a new profession. With the added pressure of finding a new job, I procrastinated a few more weeks before finally starting the project. After replacing all the capacitors (many were leaking and/or blown) and repairing a few broken traces, I pessimistically plugged it back into the car, expecting nothing to happen, but the fan actually turned on! Except it was stuck in high and there was still no display. I suspect more traces are broken and the power isn’t getting to the control board, but it could be anything. At least we’ve advanced to square zero...more on this when the weather gets colder.

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Remember when I said one of the only saving graces of this car was that it drove without problems? Well, that all went down the toilet when I started having hot start issues. I'd drive it to dinner only to come out to a car that would crank, start, and immediately die. It would repeat many times until it finally started, and the problem persisted for several weeks. Someone mentioned cleaning the throttle body, which I did to little benefit (surprise). Then after some researching and asking around, I arrived at the conclusion that fuel was likely the culprit since it would run normally once it started, which meant air and spark was fine. A little more research on Prime revealed that the solder joints inside the main fuel injection relay could develop tiny cracks over time and cause intermittent fuel delivery. A new main relay was $70, so I did what any reasonable cheapo would and remelted and added some new solder on the old solder joints on the circuit board. Haven’t had another hot problem since then so I would say problem solved thanks to Prime!

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Finally, an update on the parts collection. I finally sourced a set of mint OEM carpets from a former owner in NYC (to be picked up in mid-October), found rear shock absorbers and OEM airbox from a primer in Australia, picked up front wheel liners from a local owner (thanks Brian!), bought a set of front inner fender liners from AHParts, and added another $100 worth of OEM fasteners just to bolt everything back together. Out of the $3500 budget, only $130 is left with a few final pieces remaining. I’m hoping to stay within 1-2% of budget if all goes well. In addition to all the nice people who sold me parts and posted in this thread, I want to give a shoutout to @ektyperhatch and @Hass for actually agreeing to donate parts following @RYU’s comment. Since I’m at the receiving end of people’s kindness, I’d like to pay it forward by giving free parts back to the community. Stay tuned for give-aways!

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very nice splurge on the wheels

$150 on fasteners? Is that right?

I've spent a couple hundred on OEM fasteners myself but wow, your figure still seems high.
 
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