I wrote this piece in 1999 when I got the car back. It obviously is much different now, but I'm leaving it here because it describes the uphill battle I had to take to get this thing whipped into drivable shape...
Basically, the car was in terrible shape when I got it this time around.
It had never been cleaned. All of the paint has peeled somewhat, making the finish look terrible. The interior has had more water in it than I can imagine. It has also been left very dirty. The trunk was filled with dirt and grime. The engine was covered in a layer of greasy stuff. Basically it's a mess.
On a lighter note, the engine runs perfectly fine. It starts and runs without any problems whatsoever. It still consistenly gets over 45 MPG (guess the ring job I did on it several years and 80,000 miles ago is still paying off).
The front end is a mess though. It pulls slightly to the passenger side (probably a lower control arm), and it clunks over every single bump. one or two of the CV joints are knocking, and the struts and springs are worn out. The headliner is falling down around my ears in there, and the seats are ripped. It vibrates like crazy over 60 mph. But if you look at it as a whole, for a car that has 309,000+, it's in very decent shape.
Things I would like to do :
I would like to replace the whole suspension, the driveshafts (with new CV joints, YAY!), That darn lower control arm, and maybe the tie rod ends again. I would like to use an aftermarket suspension next time for improved handling. I will replace all the brakes, and update the fronts with vented rotors. All of the motor mounts should be replaced to minimize vibration inside the car, and I would like to find a 5 speed transmission for it (It's a 4-speed, Yuck!). I would like to replace the headliner, the carpet, and recover or replace the seats (haven't decided). The dash was a tan color, but now it's burnt. It's nearly black by the windshield, and it gets lighter as it gets further towards the passengers. I don't know what I'll do with it. I might either paint it or replace it.
As far as the exterior goes, that will be the most difficult part. I was tapped in the rear passenger side by a little pickup who thought I had gone at a stop sign about 4 years ago. He smashed in the tail lights, and crunched in the sheetmetal just a little. There are also various dings and dents all over it. Needless to say, it will need some bodywork, and some TLC in order to look good again. I will eventually paint it the original color, which is a dark green. I will also do other things on the car that I haven't really thought of, but probably will think of in the future.
Since I wrote this, I've replaced the driveshafts, the dead lower control arm, all brakes, all struts, 3 of the 4 motor mounts, the head gasket, all the seals on the engine, the wheels, the headliner, and given it an extremely thorough cleaning. Also, when I did the brakes, I replaced the wheel bearings and found the source of the wobble at higher speeds. One of the bearings was halfway out of the hub. That could have been bad!
I also purchased some new front seats out of a pickup with tan leatherette. I'd like to recover them plus the back seat in something that looks like the original cloth at some point. I also need to replace the carpet.
But first things first! The body needs work and paint. I think that will be the next major piece of the puzzle with this car. Once that's done, doing the interior is a matter of collecting the proper bits and replacing what needs to be replaced. It's a slow journey, but we'll get there!