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Discussion Starter #1
Some of you will get a kick out of this. I don't need a fourth car, but I couldn't pass it up after I saw it in Craigslist. I didn't find out until after I had it home and researching that it's the sought after (ha) SP23 trim, which has the 2.3 engine and exclusive goodies like two-tone leather, heated seats, nice Bose audio, rain sensing wipers and some other stuff. The rear wheel wells are super rusty but the underbody seems ok.
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It's the 5-speed manual version and even though it has 200k and seems a little neglected, it drives like a dream! Steering is tight and confident, the clutch and shifter feel freakishly new, and the engine idles quiet and is pretty punchy. My plan was to get it inspectable and flip it, but my wife drove it the two hours home and was impressed by it enough that we might keep it for her commute several times a week. The reddish brown leather two-tone interior, which desperately needs cleaning, is legitimately gorgeous IMO and looks downright modern.
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I'll post updates with pics here as I move along with the winter "restoration". If for some reason I missed something major and it turns out to be uninspectable, I'll be out a couple hundred bucks and my labor (which isn't worth much, haha). But if I get it to pass inspection, it will be the deal of the decade! :) And it is a great little car.
 
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Very nice. I was actually looking for a manual 2.3 early 3 before I ended up getting the 6. I'd still love to find a cheap one to use as a daily driver.
 

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Very nice. I was actually looking for a manual 2.3 early 3 before I ended up getting the 6. I'd still love to find a cheap one to use as a daily driver.
You definitely should, this car is pretty great. BUT, get one from a southern state. Underneath where the plastic side sills trapped moisture and salt, the rockers are in real bad shape. I don't have the sills off but I imagine I'll need to buy new rockers for it. I knew this wouldn't be easy!
 

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I'm from the dirty south, rust generally isn't a problem thankfully as long as the paint doesn't get scratched and untreated.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wheel well progress (driver's side here quite a bit worse than passengers). Original:
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After Por 15 treatment and epoxy filler:
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Hit with black primer to keep moisture away for now (still need to do more sanding, spot putty, etc. before painting):
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Rocker panels: what a disaster! Original after removing the plastic side sills:

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I bought panels for both sides online for under $100 including shipping and had a local guy weld them in. I washed them off after getting the car home so I'll be priming and painting them soon. After welding:

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I've now painted the new rockers and the repaired wheel wells. So I did the front brakes over the weekend and it was warm and dry enough, so I took the 3 through the car wash on my way to Home Depot. It's really a pretty nice looking car when clean!
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WOW great job removing that standard New-England well and rocker rust lol. Looks way better than it did!

Good luck on your continued project - that poor thing needs some love!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
WOW great job removing that standard New-England well and rocker rust lol. Looks way better than it did!

Good luck on your continued project - that poor thing needs some love!
Thanks. I'd bet money the previous owner never once washed it. Rain doesn't wash salt away!
 

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So I finished up the rear brakes tonight. They were very neglected. I bought a set of all 4 coated rotors (because salt) and ceramic pads off eBay. They look and fit fine so we'll see if they perform ok. They're certainly better than what was on there!

Before:
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After:
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Discussion Starter #14
Slow going on this project but I did headlight restoration. Before & after:
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I was nervous about having it inspected, as without an inspection sticker in Maine, a car is just an expensive paperweight. The state's safety inspections are pretty rigorous. I'm happy to say it passed! It's nice to have your hard work validated.
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I was nervous about having it inspected, as without an inspection sticker in Maine, a car is just an expensive paperweight. The state's safety inspections are pretty rigorous. I'm happy to say it passed! It's nice to have your hard work validated.
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Congratulations! Glad that everything is fine. I'm curious about the headlight restoration, how did you do it? Did you just rub the exterior part or you have to "tear it apart" so as to clean the interior lens?
 

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Congratulations! Glad that everything is fine. I'm curious about the headlight restoration, how did you do it? Did you just rub the exterior part or you have to "tear it apart" so as to clean the interior lens?
Just Meguiar's ultimate compound and my cheap buffing machine. Took maybe 5 mins per light?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
And some shots of the cleaned up interior:
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Discussion Starter #19
SOLD! I ended up selling the 3 because my wife and I are doing WAY less driving nowadays due to the virus, so car #4 doesn't make sense at this time. I didn't make much but not many hobbies pay you! And when I say "save the Manuals," I walk the walk, haha. Cool little car, I would recommend them to anyone (but beware of rust).
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And the profit from the 3 funded most of the cost of my newest acquisition, a Chinese Honda CT70 clone. It's my first motorcycle and it's a hoot! It's nice to have a fun toy during these somewhat bleak times.
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