- Mar 9, 2007
- '17 Mazda MX-5 RF, '89 Toyota Blizzard SX5
"Blizzard in a Blizzard"
This seems to still be the beginning of what is going to be a long journey.... also get ready for a novel.
So I wanted a vehicle I could drive in the snow. The RX-8 is ok with proper tires but less than ideal. Unfortunately, I have very peculiar taste. I started trawling craigslist/eBay etc, mostly looking for small SUVs like Trackers or Samurais, something very small with 4WD and a manual transmission.
Then one day, CrzRsn sent me a link. http://bringatrailer.com/2014/09/15/1989-toyota-blizzard-sx5/
I thought it was cool, never heard of it before, and moved on with my day. But then I started thinking. It's only 2-3 hours away. I have money (I shouldn't be trusted with money). I want a small 4WD SUV. JDM is tight, yo. What is actually stopping me?
As it turns out, nothing! I watched the auction end with no bids, then contacted the seller with a low offer. He wanted more money and was going to relist in a month.
So, I waited. The vehicle popper up on craigslist for far too much money. I waited some more, and the ebay auction came back, same starting bid. But then after a few days, it went down again. I contacted the seller who said he had some offers on the car but so far no one had actually come through. I asked to meet him that weekend, withdrew a lot of money from the bank, and drove up with a friend.
I should have noticed the signs on the test drive. The vehicle started right up but was sluggish. It had trouble with the guy's driveway, which was, to be fair, absurdly steep. I honestly don't understand how he doesn't slide off a cliff every winter. Nevertheless, the interior, body, and underside were mint, and it's fucking right-hand drive. I did that thing that you should never do, I was in love with the car before I even saw it. We came to an agreement on price, I handed the man a lot of cash and I drove it home. Two and a half hours of flat-out 60 mph bliss. Especially at toll booths.
A week of registering, insuring, and bribing later, and I had plates. I thought that would be the hard part, but it turned out to be no different from normal. Road legal! One trip to Autozone for universal plate mounts (turns out Japanese plates have different holes, even though they're about the same size as US plates) and it was back on the road.
This is where FG picks up the narrative, because when I got home, there was a nice puddle of diesel waiting for me. I got it inspected but the fuel leak was getting worse until eventually it barely ran at all.
All of my local mechanics had no diesel experience and didn't really want to touch the thing. So, I found a shop about 20 miles west of the city that specialized in small diesels (in the US, a small diesel is a V10 Powerstroke), and had the vehicle towed there. The guy assured me he had experience with similar vehicles and the only issue might be finding parts.
A week goes by, then two, and finally I get a call that he has identified the leaky gasket but is having trouble sourcing the part. After another couple of weeks back-and-forth, we find it through a third party compatible unit and he gets back to work. And this is where things start going to shit.
Pump no longer leaking, vehicle put back together, and there's no fuel pressure. The internals of the injector pump are bad, which is unusual. Another weak of tear-down reveals the issue, and it's back to the part search. things are starting to get expensive.
Parts are sourced through the original supplier in Japan, and shipping will take about two weeks. At this point, we're in mid-December, so part arrival is right around New Year's.
Parts arrive but I don't hear anything for a week. During the second week I call, and he hasn't "rotated in" the truck yet. I'm starting to get pretty mad.
After another week and a half I'm about done with the guy, he assures me it will be finished in a few days. This was two weeks ago.
Last week, I call him several times and keep getting "tomorrow" as an answer. Finally, on Thursday the truck is running and he just needs one more day to tune the timing. I picked the truck up yesterday, payed the man far too much money and took it home. I notice that the power levels are still absurdly low, I know it's an ancient diesel but it really struggles to get moving from a standstill.
Today, the truck doesn't start. I run the block heater for an hour (hey, look, a block heater!) and it seems to make no difference. it's only 33 degrees Farenheit, this really shouldn't be a problem. Finally I get it started with my dad by spraying silicone into the air intake, but this is absurd. Three months and a shedload of money later, the truck runs like shit and doesn't start in a cool breeze.
I'm at a loss. The cold starting issue could be the glow plugs, which would be simple enough, the dash light seems to turn off way too quickly. But it's clear the engine is severely underpowered, which could be anything from timing (supposedly done by the guy who worked on it), to compression, to turbo issues. There's only so much more money I can put into it. I'll be calling the guy back on Monday to see what he has to say, if it comes down to it I will be disputing the charge on my card. There's no way it should be running like this after the repairs he did and what he charged me.
It's time for a TL;DR, here's a summary of where I am right now:
- way down on power
- can't cold start
- unknown status of glow plugs
- trouble shifting down into 2nd
- oil leak (valve cover gasket, it was cheap so I ordered one for a US model with this engine to see if it fits)
- wheels a bit rusty
- missing one wheel stud
- hood cable broken
- unknown age of tires (they seem fine, one maybe has slow leak)
- shitty aftermarket Canadian foglights which served as DRLs broken
- trim around rear windows and roof extremely sunbleached
- zero rust
- 64,000 km (~40,000 miles)
- immaculate body
- 4WD with proper transfer case and low gear
- electronically adjustable suspension (stock!)
- seats 5
- turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo
- everything else
But enough with being pissed off with the world for now. Time to talk about the truck itself! The driving experience is hilarious. I can't tell where I am on the road. It's impossible to aim for turns. My turn signals have become windshield wipers. My left hand doesn't know how to find gears. Best car ever
Click for larger!
Last, but not least: