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Road Race Build Rust to Track

Year
1995
Model/Trim
Eagle Talon TSi AWD

GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
Day 1 - Getting things sorted

Picked this 1995 Talon TSI AWD project up from a local guy who had owned the car for 15ish years of its life. Was driven (195k miles) most of its life here in the Midwest and has rot issues in the rear wells and a bit on the passenger side strut tower. I have a soft spot for these things and couldn't pass it up. Paid 1500$ for it...not the greatest deal but it was local and I've been looking for an AWD to build. With the shortage of AWDs lately and the all to common issues of rust I wanted to challenge myself to see if the rot can be fixed and how bad doing the job really is. So this build thread will follow my journey to getting this car from a sitting broken down rusty shell to a hopefully somewhat respectable car that I can take to an event LIKE #GRIDLIFE.

My goals for the car are to have a car I can learn to road race on. I've been into cars for as long as I can remember and have always valued suspension over going fast in straight lines. So I am going to attempt to use this car to learn how to race in a controlled environment. Ill be honest I have no clue if there are even events like these near me or if I am even capable of doing this but I've always wanted to. So wish me luck and here we go.

Here is how I found her on day one...
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GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
A couple weeks or so after purchase:

Towed the car home and basically let it sit for a couple weeks. Honestly I was torn between whether to keep the car or to flip it. The rot in the rear wells is quite bad but I've seen worse and gotten rid of other AWD shells with worse. But I've never really done this kind of work before and just wasn't sure if this shell was worth it or not. So I set a few goals and mile stones for me to hit before I made my decision. In order for me to make my decision I needed to see what the rest of the shell offered and so therefore I started to dig in.

Goals/Milestones:
  • Floor pan condition both passenger and driver side - Needs to be gutted
  • Rocker and frame rail condition - The skirts hide a lot of these so I needed to pull them and see what kind of condition they were in
  • Seams and all edges and rails that usually go with these cars - If you've been around these cars long enough you know things like trim brackets, door seams, hatch seams etc. all start to fail and usually rust and rot follows suit.
  • Paint - As you can see the car is covered in a thick dust/dirt shield...is the paint fading like usual?
  • Rear hatch area condition - There was so much shit in the hatch I couldn't tell how good or how bad it was although I THOUGHT it would be bad

So I pulled the side skirts and outside of the little screws being rusted the rockers and the frame rails are in really good condition. The pinch welds at the rockers are probably the least mangled and straight I've seen in a long time. After that I gave it a multi stage bath so I could get a better idea on the condition of the paint. Turns out the paint is not faded anywhere, and outside a bunch of door dings along the body bulge the body is in really good shape. First couple of bullets checked off and the car passed, but still unsure if I'm keeping it or not but the car is trying hard to impress :)

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Next step was the clear the hatch of all the crap and pull the front interior so I can get a really good look at the floor pans. Previous owner was...um...dirty.

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Got down to the pans and outside of being dirty as all heck there is no rust at all and they are all in great shape.
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Lastly, and its hard to tell the condition from the picture but the rear hatch area is super clean. No rust at all. Idk how the rear wells rotted so bad but the rest of the car (outside the passenger strut tower) avoided rust. I mean its a good thing but just amazes me.
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So after a bit of digging and detective work I have decided to keep the car...if the build thread didn't already give it away ;) So let the cleanin...ERR I mean build begin!
 
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GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
April 24th 2021:

As mentioned before this car has a bit of rust issues in a few places so I wanted to tackle one of the issues that I wouldn't easily be able to replace or repair and that was the front crossmember. Luckily I got to it in time cause it was scaling pretty bad, so I took some time with a wire wheel and then treated it with some rust reformer and then painted over it with Rust-oleums rust preventative protective enamel flat paint. This will hopefully convert/protect the crossmember for the foreseeable future.

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This is the SECOND pile of scale and rust from the crossmember along with the reformer and paint I used to treat and seal
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The driver side door handle was broken, so before I installed a new one I wanted to try my hand at paint matching it. It started out pretty good, but my experience with more finished painting is next to 0. The picture doesn't show it well but I ended up having to much paint built up in certain areas and the black plastic bled through the paint once fully cured. I think my issues were I rushed the job a bit and didn't give the adhesion promoter and base coats enough cure times. As well I think I double coated a few areas so I had wet paint under dry paint. I hate it but at least it somewhat matches the car. I have a new set of handles and Ill attempt the job later down the road and try and learn from my mistakes.
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Finally I cleaned (clean compared to what it was) the carpet. I have torn into some dirty cars before back in my days of detailing cars as well as some dirty DSMs but man o man is this car just filthy. Not only was the carpet stained in areas but underneath on the body was just covered in dirt, grim, food, gunk you name it. Its going to take a bit of time to really get this thing cleaned up. After power washing the carpet and letting it dry for a few days I decided to dyed the carpet black. I think it came out pretty good but shows way more dirt.

Before:
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After:
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This picture gives a better idea on how black the carpet is:
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GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
May 17th 2021:

Made a list to help keep my organized and the first couple items were centered around getting the interior gutted, cleaned, figure out a solution for my seats and headliner and put it back together. I've had a bunch of DSMs and I have yet to come across one that was this dirty, there was just so much dirt and grime not only on the surface but even under the carpet and in places I wouldn't have even thought could get that dirty. I don't get how people let their cars get this filthy.

First was a seat solution, after following @Justin DuBois and his build I decided to also go with some WEDGE brackets and some Sparco R100 black seats. These weren't a direct fit and needed a bit of encouragement to get fitted right. I did let Judd over at WEDGE know and after a bit of back forth we came up with a solution that got the brackets fitting well.
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Got the seats in!

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Just a test fit teaser, but after cutting, grinding, heat, rubber mallet and fiddling with the brackets and seats I got the driver side test fitted and I think it turned out good. Need some fine tuning but its close.
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Also pulled the headliner and reupholstered it in black suede. This is my second headliner and I think I'm getting a bit better at it. Its a slow process and really taking the time to prep, test fit and make sure you have have everything good to go before you start laying adhesive down makes a world of difference. These pictures aren't super great and its hard to really get an idea on how it really looks. But I think overall it came out nice.

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Last project I checked off the list was getting the engine disassembled. I didn't mention it in my first few posts but the car came with two 4G63 long blocks. The original had more holes in it then a block of swiss cheese due to loss of oil and the second one was apparently a good engine pulled from a running car. Both had full accessories so I salvaged what I could from the first block (brackets, nuts and bolts, head etc.) and pulled the head off the good engine to get it sent off to the machine shop. Getting the head resurfaced, hot tanked, valve job and some new valve seals. Doing a new head gasket with ARP head studs and all new timing components.

Bottom end is worn for sure but this is just a light rebuild/refresh to get the car on the road again. IMO a project that doesn't move under its own weight is much harder to stay motivated on so I want this thing running and driving. I plan to do a full top to bottom forged rebuild in the future but this should get me moving. Ill wire wheel this block and pan, give it a fresh coat of paint and reseal the pan and do the front and rear main seals.

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If you made it this far then kudos but here is a bit of a taste of what is to come. I've always wanted a legit set of coilovers and wanted to treat myself. Heard great things about these so I bought a set of FEAL 441s. My previous build had Koni Orange and Eibach Pro kits and I just didn't like the way they rode. I want a more "on rails" ride and hope that these don't disappoint. I have a ton of parts rolling in for this build. My plan is to get the car put back together pretty much in its stock form with the much needed maintenance done and much cleaner. And then test the car out on a local track and then make modifications from there. I want to see how the car does in its stock form and then progress the car slowly. Can't wait!

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GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
I'm going to have to do the headliner too, your way looks nice.
Are you going to offset the seat on top of the sliders?
Yeah I think it turned out pretty good, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

And I requested the Sparco customization from WEDGE when I ordered them so as far as I can tell the sliders and everything lines up as Id like them to. Only thing I don't particularly like is the seatbelt placement once I bolt the stock receivers onto the WEDGE brackets, I feel like the sit to far forward and look a bit off.
 

Justin DuBois

Proven Member
192
97
Aug 15, 2019
Oakland, California
Yeah I think it turned out pretty good, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

And I requested the Sparco customization from WEDGE when I ordered them so as far as I can tell the sliders and everything lines up as Id like them to. Only thing I don't particularly like is the seatbelt placement once I bolt the stock receivers onto the WEDGE brackets, I feel like the sit to far forward and look a bit off.
Yeah, the darn seatbelt tab. I prefer the cut and tap method I did on the drivers side, not that I'm using stock recievers, but the height on the wedge bracket is right up in the side of the seat fabric.
 

GregoryRyan

Supporting Member
128
51
Jul 22, 2013
Imperial, Missouri
Yeah, the darn seatbelt tab. I prefer the cut and tap method I did on the drivers side, not that I'm using stock recievers, but the height on the wedge bracket is right up in the side of the seat fabric.
Yeah I had to dump a ton of heat and pound the bracket away from the seat to get it to stop gouging into the fabric. Overall the brackets are nice they just need a few tweaks.
 
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