R50 Project: The Car Arrives and Teardown Begins

Posted by L P on


The car arrived! The body and exterior were pretty clean other than a few small dings, some missing trim, and the traces of an old Union Jack decal on the roof. The interior was also in very good shape, just typical wear on the driver’s seat. Most importantly, everything looked and felt dry, including the carpet. We hooked up the battery jump box and turned the key to ON. The odometer showed only 104k miles. Lights, A/C controls, etc. seemed to be working. All good signs. Under the hood is where things started looking worse. The spark plugs were already out of the engine. Checking the dipstick showed only water, no oil. Bummer, but we pretty much expected the engine to need a rebuild and that was part of the project. After giving the car a nice wash, we brought it inside and put it up on the lift. While the water drained from the oil pan, we got a better look at the underside of the car. Everything looked solid, but there was a nice layer of surface rust on most of the suspension and brake components, especially in the rear. Not a big deal, because most of that is going to be replaced anyway.


Up on the lift for the first time. Also a good action shot of our sweet fan.


Getting a good look underneath. Note the missing muffler. The car had some "custom" exhaust work.


Next step was to pull some of the interior to check for any water-related issues. Surprisingly, the carpet was totally dry. No signs of water anywhere in the passenger compartment. We got some weights of the interior stuff as it came out. The complete carpet is only 15 pounds. The front seats (non-sport) are 94 pounds for the pair. The rear seats are 38 pounds.

Getting some of the interior out. Everything was clean and dry.


The carpet and center console pieces don't weigh very much.


Found a new friend inside the car.

Next up was to get the engine and transmission out. Remove the front bumper and radiator support with radiator, fan, CVT fluid cooler, and condenser. Unhook the positive battery cable, the engine harness from DME and body, the power steering fan and pump wires, the fuel supply line and vent line, heater hoses, and shifter cable. Remove the axles and the lower engine torque mount. It’s a good idea to remove the lower bell housing bolts now while there’s easier access. Disconnect the exhaust manifold from the head, or remove it entirely. Support the engine / transmission from underneath and remove the upper mounts and brackets. Now the engine and transmission can be removed from the front.

Getting ready to remove the engine and transmission.


This lifting table / cart works great for engine removal. We put the bumper back on for some reason.


Once the engine was out, we saw a large hole in the rear of the block that somehow hadn’t been noticed before. The transmission was separated from the engine, then engine disassembly to see if anything was salvageable. There was some water in the intake manifold. The head, camshaft, and rockers looked good. Cylinder #1 was trashed. Once the pan came off, that was the end of disassembly. The #1 rod was broken and the crankshaft was damaged.


Crankcase ventilation.


Inside the oil pan. Yum.


#1 connecting rod.


#1 piston.


Next, we removed the front and rear subframes with steering and suspension components, the remaining exhaust, fuel tank, and heat shields. Most of the suspension pieces went right into the scrap bin and will be replaced with new. Some of the brake hard lines were a little rusty, so those were removed and will be replaced with some nice ones from a parts car. There was small amounts of surface rust in the fuel tank area, but luckily we got to it before any real damage started. There was also some spots of surface rust starting under the door seals on both sides, which is a common problem on these cars. All of this will be removed, treated, painted, seam sealed, etc. as needed. Overall, the body is solid with no major issues. Finally, we brought the car outside for a good cleaning of the engine bay and underneath; all of the places that are never accessible. Everything cleaned up nicely and the car was ready to come back inside.

Front subframe removal. Having a forklift is helpful.


Rear subframe removal. The forklift won't fit back here.


Fuel tank removed and cleaned.


Washing underneath. The boards are just there to protect the undercoating from the forks somewhat. They are NOT supporting any weight. It's hard to tell from the picture, but our forks reach all the way through.


All cleaned up.


Back inside on the lift. Getting a better look underneath with everything out of the way.

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