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madaz

My attempt at turning an ugly duckling into a swan (1994 GE 626 "Luxury")

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Given that its coming up to nearly 1 year since I bought the car, and that I've been on the forums for a couple of months I figured it was about time I created a build thread.

This is my 626, its a 1994 GE Series I 626 "Luxury":

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I bought it nearly a year ago (16th October 2016) to fix up in memory of my grandfather, who had recently passed, who had a GE from new, and absolutely adored it. When I bought it it was in a sorry state. The clear coat was peeling (still is, and sadly has picked up a few more bumps and scrapes in the past year thanks to the fact that I live in Sydney, and also the tight turn that I have to make to get into my garage, along with an incident I had a couple of months ago with a dog...), the interior was dirty and full of rubbish and the dash was all bashed and broken, the ignition system was totally shot to Hell effectively making my V6 a V4, it had an exhaust leak (amazingly I only passed two cops on the way home from Gosford, I idled past them both and thankfully didn't get pulled over), and it was also rather unhappy that it had been converted to LPG. Inside it also had that disgusting "old car" smell that some old cars have. It was so bad that I could smell it on my clothes even after I got out. It was a hot day, and I couldn't run the AC due to the "lack of power" issue...it was a rather unpleasant drive home to say the least.

On the drive home I also found out that the brakes were, well, questionable and that the steering rack would fight against you when turning, when driving at over 60 km/h. Pro tip: Never buy if you can't take it on the highway, or at least somewhere where you can get up to highway speeds on a test drive.

First thing I did was to get the exhaust leak fixed so that I could drive it without being heard 3 blocks away and causing a scene, after which the ignition system was overhauled, and all fluids and filters replaced. Then it was off to Bridgestone to get new rubber. The HiFly things on it were dangerous and needed to go, so I went from one extreme to the other, and opted for a set of Potenza RE003's. At the same time I had the steering rack replaced, and brakes sorted.

Afterwards I drove it as-is for the next couple of months, just making sure it was completely sorted mechanically. It was still on petrol/LPG dual fuel at this point. Then in January, it happened. The big breakdown:

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I was halfway between Sydney and Nowra, on the way to catch up with a mate when I lost power. Ended up having it towed to an NRMA MotorServe and catching the train back to Sydney. About a month later (!!!), after my constant pestering they finally fixed it. And charged me way too much for the pleasure. And left me with a flat battery. They jump started me, and told me the battery was healthy...I drove back to Sydney, and went to the cinema at my local shopping centre...not knowing that the car was basically running off the alternator. I did notice though that it wasn't quite running right. Did some shopping, saw a movie, got back in the car...nup, dead. The next day I went to Supercheap, bought a battery and went back to the car and fitted it, and drove home. I was about to make a booking with an LPG specialist to have the LPG system ripped out since it had given me too many headaches, and also prevented me from doing a lot of work on the car myself when I had another breakdown several days later, on a main road in Sydney. There was a fire truck behind me, the firies got out and pushed me off the road into the bus lane. I was incredibly embarrassed. I called the NRMA, again and specifically asked to be towed to an LPG specialst. They towed me to a taxi mechanic. Who went on holidays that week and couldn't fit me in. So the car basically sat for a week outside his workshop, unable to move. Pissed off, I called NRMA again and pretended I'd had another breakdown, and got towed to another LPG specialist who got the car sorted out and pissed off the LPG system.

Pissing off the LPG system was by far the best thing I could've done for the car. It was like a whole new car afterwards. The week after, the interior overhaul began.

The interior was given a good clean and completely gutted:

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Wiring for the new sound system was installed, as was a bulk pack of Dynamat. Carpet from a 1995 model that was in far better shape was installed. Broken dash parts were replaced. (while the car was off the road I'd been rather busy at the wreckers, I'm pretty much on a first name basis with them now!) Everything got a good go-over with Autoglym Interior Shampoo. The new sound system was installed. As the car started to come back together I was rather proud of myself with how good it was starting to look. Here's a pic of it mostly complete:

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And the final product on display at the Mighty Car Mods meet at Eastern Creek earlier this year - it was finished literally 3 hours before the meet!

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(and yes, those are the original sales brochures for the 626, and on the dashboard is an issue of Wheels magazine from 1993 where the 626 won Wheels Car of the Year)

About a month later I came across a JDM woodgrain dash trim from a 1994 Mazda Capella. $180ish, but I had to have it. Air freight from Japan to Australia is quick, it was in my car a week later:

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I love it. Really adds a touch of class to it. Given that the GE was marketed in Australia as a luxury car, I personally think it should've come with it from factory.

Since then there hasn't been much happening with it. The alternator gave out about a month ago, which I replaced. I'm actually learning how to do everything on this car, I'm doing all my services, repairs and everything myself for the first time, and am rather proud of myself given that the most I've done mechanically in the past has been to check/top up fluids and tyre pressures, and replace a flat tyre. Otherwise, since the LPG was pulled out the car has been solid as a rock. Cruising on the motorway with the AC cranked up, and some nice music playing its amazing to think that 12 months ago the car was as much of a shitbox as it was. While it still looks like crap from the outside, its once again the luxury cruiser that it was intended to be.

As for future plans - the next thing I want to do is to get something done about the paint so I can take it to show and shine days, and have something that actually looks halfway decent. I'm looking at getting Halo EFX applied - in Mazda Ruby Mica, same colour as my grandfather's old 626:

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(pic taken from Google Images)

After that...I dunno...*says in his best Tim Allen voice* more power?

 

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LPG in a 626 - why the hell? I can understand with bigger cars. Looks great inside. I suggest replacing the cabin filter - this can make a huge difference with interior smell.

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I'd say once up on a time, with the idea of saving money. LPG used to be rather cheap, and easily available here, and back in the 2000's there was a big government rebate available for LPG installations, making it very cheap to convert your car to LPG. Over the years I've heard all kinds of wonderful things about gas and really wanted to believe it...but given how unhappy it was on gas...the fact that most servos are in the process of pulling out their LPG pumps, not being able to work on it myself, and most of all, having to take it to an LPG mechanic to get the annual pink slip....the negatives just outweigh the positives.

To be honest, after lots of elbow grease, and quite a bit of Autoglym Interior Shampoo, the interior now smells rather nice. Do GE's have a cabin filter? I've never seen a reference to it anywhere - where is it?

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Yeah LPG is cheaper and worthwhile if under $1 a liter especially with a Falcon or Commodore I wouldn't think so much in a 626. Vapor injection is the only real way to go with it - I had a dedicated egas Falcon which used the old canister. It was good and didn't give me much problem just the 10 year tank test and yearly $50 check. Injection is far better, less parts chances of leaks and stuff pity factory LPG injection came with the FG and VF right when Ford and Holden started slowing production.

Cabin filter usually lurks under the dashboard, commonly behind the glove box. Have a vacuum handy - in older cars its almost guaranteed not to be changed ever.

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It was actually an injection system, though I don't think it had been installed/maintained properly. I'll have to have a look for the cabin filter.

i had a productive day at the wreckers today, scored some red rocker covers from a Eunos 30X. They need a good clean but they're going to look mad.

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10 hours ago, madaz said:

It was actually an injection system, though I don't think it had been installed/maintained properly. I'll have to have a look for the cabin filter.

i had a productive day at the wreckers today, scored some red rocker covers from a Eunos 30X. They need a good clean but they're going to look mad.

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Oh man lol this is what I was planning to do on mine next. They'll look great

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