Rally Sputnik Pt 3B – The Manchurian Candidate
AKA Fabrication? It’s all true!
Now that we had a car it was time to start stripping it apart. We got it to run long enough to prove the motor had all the parts and drove it onto the trailer to take it to the fabricator.
To start, we needed a nickname for this car. The Lada was just called that, but The Talon makes you sound like you’re going to have to bring home justice from the Court of Owls to Gotham or something. Seriously. We called it the Talhoon sometimes, but that doesn’t really work when you say it out loud. You try it. The Eagle’s Fist makes us think of this. See how hard this race car business is? So we asked our friends to get on their nerd hats – some had them closer to hand than others – and with some help via the Intertubes we got: The Manchurian. Pretty catchy, huh? It refers not so much to the movie – which is really good, or at least the original is – but rather the Russian-Japanese war which took place at least partly in and over Manchuria. As we had a Russian car and now had a Japanese car in it’s place, we thought this was fitting. Also…NERD!
We took the car to Ryan at Rally/Race Developments in Mississauga. We should say now that he was and is both a huge help and a great guy. While it was there we stripped it down, we pulled the motor and threw it in the Jeep for a well-known 4G63 motor builder to deal with (more on this later), and we cleaned up horrible crappy seam filler and punky rusty spots that we hadn’t seen before as much as we could. Honestly, who thought that much crud could fall into ones’ eyes and mouth? Anyone who has worked on 23 year old cars, that’s who.
We found a fair bit of rusty stuff but nothing too bad so Ryan got the cage built and the seat bases and anchors in and the seam welding done while we did other stuff. You can check out all our old posts if you want more details, like here here and here. The head room looked a bit sketchy so we spent some time figuring out how to maximize that, we bought a rally suspension and a load of rally wheels and tires and some spares from Don Morton, who built and raced a 93 Laser with his wife, and we tried to get things sorted out so we could put it back together. Then one day we pulled the body cladding off the doors and body of the car and….crap.
The sills were basically rotted out from the middle of the doors back behind the horribly ugly body cladding these cars came with here. On a unibody car, that is a Very Bad Thing. So now we had a car with a cage stripped down and sitting there and an engine getting rebuilt and a few thousand dollars worth of tires and suspension that fit that car and a tough decision: do we put more money into it or do we walk away? The cage isn’t coming out, so it’s one or the other. We drank some drinks and decided to plunge ahead.
This now necessitated taking the barely rolling chassis to our man Zoltan at Oooonly Audi. He had his bodywork guy Jan tackle all the bodywork and paint. This included rebuilding the sills with steel that seemed more suitable for battleship repair, which was important. The entire car between front and back wheels is now a jacking point.
For paint we went with white for most of the body plus the interior, engine bay, and cage. The blue bits had been added over the white for most of the car when we bought it; to make the stripes they just taped off the original body colour and added blue around it. However, for the roof it appears someone had painted the original black roof and rear spoiler white at some point and then someone else added blue over top. So, yeah. Anyhow, we left some blue and the stripes where normally it would be black and went with that.
We eventually got the car back around Christmas 2013, which made Pierce unlikely as our next race. Great, that gives us until Lanark! We also eventually got our motor back, or what we believe is our motor; there was some confusion in the DSM community around who had which parts, but we got most of what we think we sent and we were able to find the rest. And when we eventually started said motor it ran great, so there’s that!
Through the winter/spring of 2014 we toiled mightily to get the car back together, and we can tell you that honestly there is no part of this car other than the transfer case, transmission and rear differential that we haven’t had apart. (Admittedly, we had someone else take the motor apart, but we took it out, put it back in, re-located the alternator, and attached everything else to it so we think we should get at least half credit on that).
We realized we wouldn’t be ready for Lanark and we couldn’t race at Black Bear because one of us is foolish enough to be organize it – which apparently takes time or something – so we were aiming for Galway Cavendish. And…we went right past that goal, sadly. That would have been the perfect race to start with, too. So now it was time to hit the last race of the year, and also the biggest and hardest race of the year: Rally of the Tall Pines.
And you can find out more about that next week!