pontiac fiero build, pt. 5 – the long, slow path to rebuilding

Looking at the parts spread around the garage, it feels like I’ll never get to the point of rebuilding this thing. The more I dig into this car, the more it feels like an impossible jigsaw puzzle. The more I think about it, the more overwhelming the entire project feels.

But why?

Under Pressure

Part of the pressure is monetary—working on cars is expensive. The other part, and probably the largest part, is the length of the list of things that need to be done before the car is finished.

Unfortunately, you can’t get around the length of the list.

Rebuilding and restoring a car never goes quite as planned, you always find more that needs to be done than you anticipated (which is why checking out the car and buying cars in better condition is always a good idea). For me, it was finding rust in the floor on both the driver and passenger sides, as well as in the upper frame rails. Nothing that I couldn’t handle, just more work than I was looking forward to. The engine also managed to throw its fair share of curveballs—the cylinders need to be bored and the crankshaft has some suspect score marks on it that look like they’ll be difficult to machine out.

The laundry-list of items that seem to pile up after you think you’ve got a plan in place is why the pressure builds. There are no simple projects when it comes to cars.

The Project To Date

At this point, I believe I’m two years into this particular project and so far, I’ve been continuing the tear-down, mostly in hopes of finally reaching a point where I could turn things around and start putting the car back together. Unfortunately, every time I thought I was getting to the end, I found something else that needed to be added to The List.

I knew that the trunk and the frame rails would need to be repaired. On any Fiero, this is a definite must. I didn’t realize the floor pan in the driver’s compartment would also have its fair share of holes in it. The passenger side control arm was bent a fair amount, most likely due to a run-in with a curb. The engine needed to be torn down and rebuilt, but I didn’t realize the amount of wear the cylinders had gone through and that the crank essentially needed to be replaced completely.

The floor has some issues. Nothing I can’t handle, just more than I was hoping to have to deal with.

The crank has some corresponding scoring… but on a different journal… It’s a mystery for the ages.

This is the sunroof track, or what’s left of it…

Luckily I enjoy planning my projects out.

So much so that I’ve gone through and listed out what parts I are needed for the car, added to that list, reviewed that list, and added more parts to it. In addition to creating lists upon lists of parts, I’ve also gone through and listed out all of the items that will need to be repaired and listed out the tools and supplies needed to make those repairs.

It’s been an arduous process, and mostly self-imposed. (When you’re overwhelmed, it’s incredible easy to find things to do that feel productive instead of actually being productive.) And unfortunately (or fortunately?) I managed to find a second project to distract me from the first, a 1984 Volvo 240 Station Wagon.

Getting Sidetracked

The Volvo wagon was purchase with the best of intentions—I was going to use it for a second daily driver, as it was becoming necessary to have a second car. It turned out to be a project itself, one that I hadn’t completely been planning on, but wasn’t completely put off by the idea.

The best part about the Volvo was that it ran, more or less. I could drive it and it didn’t die randomly at stop lights. I ended up using a large portion of the budget for the Fiero on replacing things like the fuel pressure regulator, the O2 sensor, spark plugs and wires, replacing the battery, getting larger (though still stock) wheels, new tires, a new exhaust, and replacing the springs, shocks, and struts.

(Didn’t I say that when you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to get distracted with other things that feel productive?)

Where I Go From Here

The Volvo is, for all intents and purposes, in a decent state to be left in. I still need to re-pack and adjust the wheel bearings, change the oil, and rebuild the electric overdrive, but the car is in fairly good shape and can be left for the time being.

The Fiero is another story, a story of neglect, anxiety, and some occasional depression.

At the moment, I’m getting ready to clean up the front and rear suspension, fix the holes in the floor, and repair the trunk and frame rails so that I can cross those items off the list. In my down time, I’m going to add some parts to my ever-growing list, seeing as how the crank is in bad enough shape for me to weigh replacing it outright against machining it.

I’m hoping that this summer takes its time to pass because I want to get the Fiero to at least a point where it will roll, even if it’s not under it’s own power. I think that this is a doable goal. Now I just have to get myself in gear and do it.