Sally - Back Story And Build Thread, First Gen

Slapdash Racing Sep 14, 2020

  1. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Sally...


    [​IMG]

    Sally was born in 2002 as an XE WC, or World Champion Edition, whatever that means. Either way, she's a true champeen in my book. A good friend of mine bought her straight off the lot in 2002 brand-new, complete with the Xterra bike, internal bike rack, and neoprene Xterra-branded seat covers to boot.

    The first time I sat in her was early on in '02. I grabbed a seat in the passenger side and thought this thing was the coolest. Then I took a seat in the back and the stadium seating reminded me of the Land Rover Discovery back in the days of Camel Trophy. My friend had all the intentions of modding this thing up to match those overlanding Camel Trophy beasts of yore. But alas, it 'twasn't to be... until I got my hands on her.

    Years went by, I moved to Texas, moved right back to New England, and my friend still had the truck, only now it was bashed up in the right front after an unfortunate texting-whilst-driving event. The truck sat silent and motionless for more than two years as my buddy started his family and the X fell by the wayside, with a bashed in fender and missing front end, looking like a prizefighter.

    Then, on a fateful day more than five years ago now, my buddy got the directive: You’ve got kids now, haul that thing to the junkyard. When I heard the news, I had to act fast. I was ‘between jobs’ at the time and had little dough to make into bread, so I said I’d pay $1,000, which was about three times the scrap price at the time, but much less than if he sold it to another buyer. I knew he definitely didn’t want to scrap it and I knew he definitely wanted it to stay in the family, so to speak. We settled on that $1k and I took delivery via driving it home with his expired plate and registration with 72k on the clock.

    The X sat a few months more, until I landed a solid gig, then the reconstruction started. The immediate goal was to rebuild the truck enough to get it to pass inspection so I could use it as a winter vehicle, as Wifey was concerned about me cruising my ’96 Miata through yet another New England winter, despite me having used that as a daily for the previous 13 years.

    Phase 1: Rebuild

    The major parts that were broken or missing, were the severely crinkled fender, a missing grille, which is probably still somewhere in the woods off the highway, trashed bumper cover, twisted metal bumper, the bumper supports/brackets, missing fender liner, and a cracked radiator mount, which was also bent from the impact. In addition to this, one year the passenger window motor gave up the ghost and he was holding up the window with some heavy-duty duct tape, as he couldn’t fix it at the time. In a money saving venture, I took the door apart and we engineered some wood blocks and foam to keep the window permanently closed and I sent him on his way.

    So I added window motors and regulators to the list.

    Sally was also missing a wheel/tire and was running the spare. We think the other wheel went missing when it was sitting at a local shop for a while.

    I was able to bend the fender back enough so it looked fairly straight and functioned properly and I added back in the missing fender liner. For the paintless area on that crinkled fender, I brush-painted on some rust inhibiting spray paint I had laying around, just to bring it back to black. I would probably be scratching these things up in the woods anyway.

    The deconstruction and reconstruction at this phase went pretty smoothly. Luckily there was no obvious frame damage [but I think there was, see suspension upgrade section], or so little it didn’t affect this process. The new parts went on very smoothly and without incident.

    Also part of this process, I sourced an OEM wheel and got new BFG tires that were slightly bigger than stock and definitely cooler looking. I also swapped in new motors and regulators, the new ones worked as crappy as the originals, and I still have problems with them today.

    In addition to those parts, I also added in brand-new fog lights in the stock location, which were not a feature on his original truck. It came with those faux vent looking things. So I figured out how to wire them and put a nice, round, green-light rocker in one of the switch areas on the console. Although not quite factory, it does look clean.

    Phase 2: Winter Beast

    I did all of this work in January of 2015. In early March, we had a freak, super heavy snowstorm that blanketed my area in about two feet of snow. That night, I decided I wanted to go check out the snow and the 4x4 workings of the truck, as I had never really used a 4x4 before, other than at rally school and that was in an early 80s Audi.

    Off I go into the night. I’m drifting through the snow, executing near-perfect Scandinavian Flicks, and threshold braking (I am a trained stage rally driver in a rear-wheel E30 BMW). After I had my fun, I started heading home, driving normally, to let the adrenaline evaporate a bit. Once on my street, I decided, heck, there’s one more turn I can Scandi Flick around before I go home.

    Let’s just say I blew it.

    Right into a guardrail at about 20 mph - on the opposite side of the truck that my buddy smashed. Not only did I spend a few hundred dollars in parts two months ago, I broke all the SAME parts again, this time adding the other fender damage, the brand-new fogs, one of which was now missing, a sidewall-damaged brand-new tire, and a shattered windshield washer fluid reservoir.

    My wife grounded me.

    That’s your winter daily, she said. Why didn’t you take the car that you have all the parts for already? She was referring to the rally car, for which I had three cars’ worth of free parts for, from recent part-outs. She had a point, I guess.

    Since I had just spent all my car parts budget, I had to get creative with parts and brute force. I bent back the fender like the other side, bent back the bumper supports with a small sledge to get them sort of realigned, and I ziptied the grille and the bumper cover, which was missing a whole corner section.

    I also picked through the snow bank by the guardrail every time we walked the dog, and the winter was warming at that point, and I was finding all my parts as the layers of snow melted.

    The one thing I couldn’t fix was the washer fluid reservoir and I desperately needed that for the salt. So I got crafty and used an actual bottle from a washer fluid bottle. I carefully separated the pump motor and the fluid level sender from the shattered OEM part and inserted them over so carefully into the bottom of the store-bought fluid bottle. Worked like a charm for a year, then I just added a new store-bought bottle when that one fatigued. This is the closest I’ll ever get to rat-rod.

    So. That’s that. So far. Sally got her name from the ziptied bumper look from Crash No. 2. When the zipties went on, it instantly reminded me of Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    More coming soon... this is just to get me started.

    Mods:

    • The goal of this truck is to have a daily winter truck that doubles as rally tow rig, kayak carrier, vintage popup dragger, and now, overlander.
    • In addition to the mods above, er, bringing-back-to-stock mods, Sally now has the following added to her (more pics coming soon):
    Tires:

    • The Biggest BFG KO2s I could get without cutting anything, although I did remove the stock mud flaps due to rub. Update: Tire size is LT265/75R16.
    • Stock X wheels.
    Engine:

    • Engine is stock, except for the DIY airbox mod found here.

    Suspension:

    • 4x4Parts 3” lift with 3-leaf AAL (replaced stock leaf springs when I discovered they were broken).
    • Upgraded torsion bars.
    • Steering arm support thingie.
    • Bilstein 5100s.
    • Control arm bushings all around.
    • New ball joints all over.
    • New center link.
    Brakes:

    • New ‘commercial grade’ pads, rotors, calipers.
    • New lug nuts all around (after a ‘loose wheel’ incident whilst Wifey was towing the popup alone, story to follow).
    Exterior/Interior:

    • Shrockworks winch bumper.
    • Warn Evo 8k winch.
    • Hella 500/550? driving lights.
    • Shackles.
    • DIY limb risers.
    • Modified fairing, replaced when the old one flew off.
    • Trailer hitch. Hitch cover. Modified/extended trailer cables.
    • Removed rear seat bottoms to get the backs to lay flat (I still use the backs for various support configurations, depending on need, ie rally or camping weekend).
    • Plaid headliner.
    • ‘Upgraded’ stereo, but want an original OEM, with AUX mod.
    • Added OEM nets in the rear-rear pockets from a junkyard X with a better trim package.
    • Upgraded, reversed hatch struts.
    • Warn manual hubs.
    For storage I use a large military case that latches down, which I usually use inside, but can go up top. Also two ammo cans for easy-access items and tools.

    Future plans include some sort of comms, whether CB or GMRS.



    -30-​
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  2. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Washer bottle hack...

    upload_2020-9-16_11-39-3.png

    upload_2020-9-16_11-39-20.png
     
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  3. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
  4. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    313
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Great story man!

    I'm curious what your thoughts on the AC 3 leaf pack is? My leaves struggle to handle the weight of my bumper and all my stuff. I've been considering getting the add-a-leaf as opposed to new leaves as I just don't have the money for alcans, but need..... Something.
     
  5. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT

    Thanks!

    I’ve had a lot of fun with this thing. I was going to go with a new bumper cover but I upgraded to a Shrockworks front bumper.

    I have more build pics coming along. I’m trying to organize things.

    I love the 3 leaf pack. When it’s empty it’s a little bouncy, but that’s what it should be. I tow a rally car with it (2,500 lbs + trailer) and a vintage popup (1,500 lbs) and it does very well. I was going to just slap’em on when I did the lift, but then found the middle leaves of both sides were snapped in half, probably from towing overloaded, but I did have helper springs too (those are for sale if anyone’s interested).

    So I got new OEM springs then put the 3-pack on top of that. I love the setup now.
     
  6. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    313
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Good to hear, especially since I'm planning on getting an offroad trailer in a few years. Seems like it should handle the weight of my bumper and a 1500lb trailer just fine. Have you experienced any sagging of the add-a-leafs yet?
     
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  7. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    No sagging yet that I've noticed. When I did the lift originally, it had a wicked rake (not in a good way), like a 70s drag Mopar. For me, it was too rake-y. After a few weeks of tinkering, I actually pulled a leaf out, and driving around, I thought I would get used to it, but no. Something was wrong. So I figured out that I had not cranked the torsion bars enough. So I gave'er a good twist, got realigned, now it's exactly where I want it, with the rear about 1.5 to 2 inches higher than the front. It's been a year since the install and adjustments, with a camper tow and a race car tow and still no noticeable sag.
     
  8. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Here's the 'Before' of Sally, on the day I took deilvery...

    upload_2020-9-19_19-7-33.png
    Things are a wee bit twisty. My buddy hit on the right and everything shifted left. I ended up doing two 'restorations' to this rig. The first was bringing it back to stock and driveability, with cooler tires, then another mod-fest later that included the lift, Shrockworks bumper, new, bigger tires, etc.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-10-18.png

    upload_2020-9-19_19-10-48.png
    Duct tape stains. This is from holding the window up with duct tape for a year when the regulator gave up the ghost. I got most of this off with some Goof-Off and a lot of patience and swearing, but there is some ghosting left.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-12-27.png
    Low angle of the original damage. The truck sat at a mechanic's shop for about a year, then another several months at my buddy's house before I took delivery. Those are some pretty streety tires.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-14-22.png
    Side view of the carnage, with a shot of my daily in the background. The Miata has been retired from active duty and is enjoying occasional cruises through the countryside nowadays. Jettson, or Jett to this friends, is a '96 base model and is bone stock, except for a K&N drop-in filter and poly sway bar bushings up front. This is staying stock, but would love to add a period correct LSD out back.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-17-33.png
    Left side doesn't look too bad from here, except for sportin' the spare and those streety tires. This side was crunched (by me) about a month after this picture.
     
  9. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    The rear...

    This is considerable more stickered at this point.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-25-20.png
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Deconstruction for re-roading...

    upload_2020-9-19_19-30-49.png
    The fun begins. Bumper cover and bumper removed, bumper supports removed, grille was pre-removed.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-31-58.png
    Close-up of fender damage. Those three little bolts at the bottom of the fender is where it connects to the radiator support, so the impact folded that piece at 45-degree angle.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-34-15.png
    I didn't know this at the time, as I'm not by any means a trained mechanic/body anything, but the radiator support was rotted out and cracked from the impact. Since I didn't know how to replace that at the time (still don't), it still exists today, but my radiator is held in with heavy-duty zipties. Since this theory works in my rally car, sure enough, it works here too. Even though I do beat this up a bit, it never sees the punishment I give the rally car. So, so far, so good on the radiator staying where it should be. Y'know, sort of.

    upload_2020-9-19_19-38-12.png

    upload_2020-9-19_19-38-48.png
    Looks sooo bad here...
     
  11. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    313
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Helluva rebuild!
     
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  12. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Thanks!

    Here's a before and after of the slapdash, brushed-on-spray-paint look. I was trying to appease my inspector at this point. Seemed to do the trick.

    upload_2020-9-21_19-11-41.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-12-2.png
     
  13. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    But wait, there's more...

    Final pics of the first rehab. Last pic has everything on it from the first rebuild, including the upgraded tires from stock. I think this is the first of only two times in 6 years I've washed this thing. It may have gotten one cleaner wax job in there somewhere too. My detailer friend just shakes his head.

    upload_2020-9-21_19-15-20.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-15-34.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-15-49.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-16-2.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-16-15.png

    upload_2020-9-21_19-16-27.png

    This pic was taken a mere month or so before I smashed up the driver's side.

    upload_2020-9-21_19-16-48.png

    More post-apocalyptic pics coming soon-ish. The second rebuild...
     
  14. kirk

    kirk I'm Shady AF. Ask Anyone. Moderator Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,265
    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    Im digging this! I too love miatas. I have a 91 NA and a 99 10ae.
     
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  15. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Nice!

    At the time, I couldn’t find any triple black pop-ups, so I put in a bid on a ‘99 in silver. Didn’t get that. Next day, my triple black NA showed up.

    Didn’t think these were gonna be so much fun, but I’ve had mine for 18 years now! Completely unmodded except for a drop in K&N. Would love an LSD, but otherwise wouldn’t change a thing.
     
  16. kirk

    kirk I'm Shady AF. Ask Anyone. Moderator Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,265
    Location:
    Allen, Texas

    Yes! I always say, people who hate miatas, never drove/owned one.
     
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  17. meisanerd

    meisanerd Bought an X

    Messages:
    195
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB, Canada
    I know a bunch of people exactly that way. Guys are all like "Miata's are girly cars, I would never be caught dead in one", then get a chance to test drive it, and are immediately like "where can I buy one of these".

    I keep looking at them as a daily (currently only have the X with it's wonderful fuel economy....), but everyone around here wants way too much money for one.
     
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  18. TheCrabby1

    TheCrabby1 Skid Plates Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,352
    Location:
    Burtonsville, Md
    I don't remember the year but I had a Pontiac Fiero with the handling package and a V-6 . It was a blast to drive !! It handled better then I could drive it that's why it WAS a blast to drive :confused:
     
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  19. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Wait a liiittle deeper into the Fall, then they'll start getting a little cheaper.

    Oh wait, just saw you're in Canada... probably winter there already!
     
  20. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Ahhh, the Fiero... Similar format to my Fiat X1/9 back in the day. Only mine had an anemic four-banger and came rusty from the factory. Sooo much fun to drive though, that mid-engine layout.
     
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  21. meisanerd

    meisanerd Bought an X

    Messages:
    195
    Location:
    Edmonton, AB, Canada
    Nah, they are just stupidly priced around here for some odd reason. There are bone-stock ones with like 200k on them going for more than a newer BMW Z3 with 60k in better condition.
     
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  22. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    Dang. Even NAs?
     
  23. Slapdash Racing

    Slapdash Racing Bought an X

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Eastern CT
    No more cataracts!

    Finally got around to restoring my headlight lenses. Drove at night for the first time in a long time and thought I forgot to turn the lights on. Turns out they just had cataracts. Fixed that today though, with remarkable improvement and now night-time vision!

    The process was easy, if a little tedious, but I liked the results. I used Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, which I found on Amazon for $20. Well worth it for me.

    Before, full:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-28-45.png

    After, full:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-29-16.png

    Before, left:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-30-2.png

    After, left:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-30-30.png

    Before, right:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-30-52.png

    After, right:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-31-16.png

    And before and after, side-by-side:

    upload_2020-11-14_18-31-44.png
     
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