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84FSP UberDork
1/7/23 11:51 a.m.

Great to see this progressing!  Maybe find your self a shop that rebuilds starters and alternators?  They could likely help you frankenstein something together.

BA5 HalfDork
1/14/23 3:32 p.m.

Spent a little more time with it today and got it set in correctly and 3 of 4 mounts bolted in.

Then I did the most important step for any project:

I sat in it and pretended I was driving it and remembered why I'm bothering with this monstrous undertaking instead of just buying an Evora or something like that.

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/14/23 10:33 p.m.

Thanks for sharing another update on this project!  I bet seeing the drivetrain in the chassis is a good motivator!

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) SuperDork
1/15/23 7:09 a.m.

Very early yet, but have you considered the engine covering? If I may please go Lexan for this. I have one that came on my Cayman when I bought it and I love it. The double take looks the car gets when people see it is awesome.

I think it is especially important on this mental swap.

Cayman from outside the rear window:

BA5 HalfDork
1/15/23 11:00 a.m.

Thanks for the kind comments. I was actually thinking about the engine covering, and I'm thinking there will be......


I think I'm going to have to being the firewall all the wall up to separate the engine bay and driver's cell. The problem is that I have the roll bar in there, and the firewall has to go on one side or the other. If you look at the pictures above you can see the front mount encroaches on the roll bar space pretty closely. So the firewall will have to be on the driver's side of the roll bar. So just going straight up the while way seems the easiest way. Them maybe I'll usea camera or something for the rear view.

I was going to replace the rear window with louvers, so I'm not sure visibility out the rear window was going to be a thing anyways.

Ando New Reader
2/13/23 1:11 p.m.

This project is so amazing!

Two design nit picks....

The Subaru five speed transmissions are not well regarded in their torque handling ability, do you plan to make any upgrades as part of your eventual boost plan?

Have you calculated the loads that your rear upper shock mounts will have to carry? Shock shaft loads can be much higher than just the spring load weight carrying of the car depending on the damping.  

I always imagined the final level of un-reality in a project like this would be having a center driving position like a McLaren F1

BA5 HalfDork
9/13/23 1:34 p.m.

Yikes.  It's been way too long since I've updated here.  Been busy with a couple other big projects in life: I'm writing a textbook (mechanical engineering of antennas) and I'm kind of starting my own business.  And I have 3 elementary-school-age children.  That's made it hard to find time in the garage.

That said, I've started trying to work on it a bit again.  First up was to clean up the garage.  I let it get a little out of hand:

So first things first was to clean it up so I could actually work on the project:

It kinda looks like I cleaned up everything but the car itself.... but at least now I can get to it.

I also made some actual progress on the project itself.  The wheel bearings I had were *very* sloppy.  I was worried that it meant my combo of Honda wheel bearing and Subaru wheel hub wouldn't work, even though according to the numbers they should.  Luckily I have a bearing expert at work, so i showed it to him and his best guess was that they were just some shoddily manufactured bearings.  I replaced them with some Timkens, and sure enough they're perfect now.  I figured the cheap bearings would be cheap, but I didn't think they'd be THAT bad.

The video shows the play in the poor quality bearings:

The new bearings have zero play, as they should.

Right now I'm turning it into a roller.  


clutchsmoke UltraDork
9/14/23 10:41 a.m.

In for more progress! I wish my garage clutter was that minimal.

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/16/23 10:50 p.m.

Hopefully cleaning up the shop helps build some motivation to get working again!  I like where this project is headed.

BA5 HalfDork
11/13/23 4:19 p.m.

Hey all, unfortunately I'm going to have to offer this up for sale.  At this stage of my life (3 young kids, writing a book, work, other work) I just can't finish this.

Because it's OPP (other person's project) I'm going to offer it for only $1800.  I figure it'd probably make a good $2000 project car.  You could probably trade/sell some of the stuff that comes with it to recoup some of the purchase price.

The good:

  • It's a rolling chassis. Frame and suspension are done.
  • Engine is in and freshly rebuilt (J32A3)
  • Wiring harness is in.
  • Transmission is in.
  • Comes with 6 wheels plus sheet metal 'n stuff to get some other things completed.

What needs to be done:

  • Cooling system
  • Clutch and brakes (I can tell you how I was going to make it work)
  • Needs power and some wiring modification to make the throttle body work (I'll tell you how to do that)
  • Firewall (I'll supply at least one big piece of sheet metal to make that happen)
  • Figure out how to shift it (again, I can explain how I was going to do it)

I can supply some engineering design stuff that I've worked on for it, and it shouldn't need much heavy fab work.  I designed the whole thing that pretty much everything runs from off the shelf components.

If anyone is really interested, let me know here and we'll figure out how to get in touch.

BA5 HalfDork
11/14/23 11:43 a.m.

PS, located in Atlanta, GA.

Shavarsh HalfDork
11/14/23 12:36 p.m.

Sad to see this one moving on. Hopefully the new owner can keep us updated. You've accomplished some very impressive work!

spacemaster New Reader
12/3/23 11:58 p.m.

equally.... All the best and hope someone pick this up and complete this as your originally intend

BA5 HalfDork
1/5/24 4:48 p.m.


I've got a bit of a problem:

While the white car is down I've been running the red car at time trials.  It's been a lot of fun.  At the Road Atlanta time trial in November, on the very first lap as I dove into turn 10a I downshifted into 3rd.  No problem there.  But then I remembered that the car and the corner are pretty slow, and I could should probably be in 2nd.  So I dropped it into second.  I probably did it a bit early, and it felt a little funny, but nothing seemed or sounded off so on I went.  About a quarter of the way around the next lap I noticed the car was *really* slow.  Too slow for even a '99 Honda with 297k on the clock. I glanced down and saw the check engine light flashing at me.  Uh-oh, but maybe I can just pull off, restart, and it'll clear whatever code it's picking up on.

Unfortunately I pulled off on the tower side pit instead of the pro pit (that the event was using).  So I had to pull all the way back around and as I'm pulling up I can hear the car:


Not super loud, but not normally, either.  So I pull to the side get out, check some things out and figure out I'm done for the weekend.

Go home, rent a tow dolly, and pull it home:

At this point I'm guessing a over-revved it on that corner and bent a valve.  I pull the spark plugs:

And that top one seems to confirm my suspicions.  So I go ahead and pull the head.  I'm just kind of poking around when I see this:

One of these things is not like the other.....

So that is the cylinder that the ticking was coming from.  It may just be glazing, I can't seem to feel any actual damage to the cylinder.  I have to order a special hone because it has the FRM (Fiber Reinforced Matrix) cylinder liners that Honda liked to use for a while in the 90's.  I'm hoping I can just hone it and then fix the valve and I'll be good to go.

Unfortunately, I now kind of have TWO Prelude projects, which is really 2 more than I want.  But I really don't want to get rid of any of them, so I think I'm just going to have to put my head down and actually finish them both.  The red one first, for sure.  It work, but it's just a straight forward repair.

I guess wish me luck!

Shavarsh HalfDork
1/5/24 4:52 p.m.

Woohoo! Good luck, rooting for yah

jfryjfry UltraDork
1/6/24 9:41 a.m.

Yessssss.  Please finish the white one.  You have a long way to go but you've come a long way already.  I predict once you get back to it, you'll develop a momentum!

CrustyRedXpress Dork
1/6/24 1:25 p.m.
BA5 said:


I guess wish me luck!

You've got this!

-I'm super curious about the failure mode and repair for the FRM sleeves. Was the sleeve the only damage to the block, and what was the cause? Will you try to DIY repair, or will you send away to a shop? I love the idea of a Challenge Prelude, but the engines didn't appear to be as shade-tree friendly as the D and B series stuff.

-Don't sell the white car. It's such a unique project that not many people are going to be able to finish it.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/6/24 2:03 p.m.

Another vote for you to finish the white car, even if you only log a couple hours per week on it. As you've described your love for it, I think you would forever lament the one that got away.

BA5 HalfDork
2/26/24 3:37 p.m.

Apparently I have a bad relationship with Honda's reciprocating parts.

The left is the piston from the red Prelude I just pulled. The middle piston is from the engine I spun a bearing on when I did the hill climb.  That's what led to this whole mess in first place. :) The bearing half is from another time I spun a bearing on the white Prelude's engine, and the little piston on the right is from an F4i that I broke at an autocross in college when I was on the FSAE team.  I wasn't the sole contributor to that breakage, it turned out that the oil pan drain boss was below the chassis.  We had been smacking it into a brick transition on the autocross course all day; I was just the last (and fattest) guy to drive it and so I finally cracked the pan and toasted the engine.  The guy who rebuilt the engine gave me one of the pistons as a memento. 

I suppose 4 wrecked engines over 25 years of racing isn't actually too bad a rate.

I've about got the engine out of the red Prelude, so this thread might turn into the red Prelude rebuild thread for a while until I get back to the white one.  But I'm not doing anything crazy with the red Prelude, so it shouldn't stall out or get tough. :)

BA5 HalfDork
4/9/24 4:11 p.m.

So I've been working on the red Prelude.  First thing is that the engine has to come out"

At this point I've stripped the engine block, too.

I took a look at the bearings.  There's a little bit of damage, but overall I wouldn't say too bad for just under 300k miles, including racing on them!

I think I've found a machine shop that can do the work. so now I just need to pull the block off the stand and get it over to the machine shop!

Run_Away Dork
4/13/24 10:36 a.m.

Nice work.

Any thought given to going to an Accord F series block to get iron sleeves back? Could also move to 2.3L of displacement.

Or is your car an SH model with the different block for the ATTS?

BA5 HalfDork
4/14/24 9:27 p.m.

It is an SH model. 

Also, I'm going to do some minor prep work on it so I can keep TT it in the SCCA 'sport' category. That means no engine swaps or really anything fancy. It also means those won't be a long term project to totally derail the white car. Just fix and get out back out there.

BA5 HalfDork
6/21/24 4:46 p.m.

It's been a while, but I was able to get the block repaired.  We werent' sure it was going to be fixable, but luckily it was.

Bores are looking shiny and smooth now.  I even got to start putting parts back into it.

Packaging for parts is a lot fancier these days.  I feel like engine bearings used to just come in a basic box all shrink wrapped together.  Like this:

Now I get a fancy box:


And they come in a little tray:

Getting some basic assembling together so I can check clearances:

Sourcing new pistons has been a pain.  Apparently Honda one's are out of production, and all the aftermarket ones are .020 over instead of the factory recommended (and what I had the block bored out to) .010 over.

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