Project Garage VIII: Making it Messy

Project Garage: Making it Messy

By Sarah Forst

There are seven cars in Project Garage – one for each day of the week.  Well, four in it and three outside of it.  At any rate, it's a constant stream of car projects, from simple fluid changes and suspension upgrades to engine swaps and cam installations.  The Garage is a well-oiled machine. Having sufficient lighting and electrical outlets (Part 2) to efficient tool storage (Part 4 and Part 7) has made working on cars much easier.  Even large scale projects are less daunting with this much organization. However,  Project Garage was about to be faced with its biggest job yet.

Rusty NX
All those years of salt and winters have taken a toll on this NX!

The prognosis wasn't good – cancer; and it was terminal!  I've shared many memories with my beloved Nissan NX, from cruising with the t-tops off on hot summer days (race car A/C) to breaking my road racing cherry at a Friday Funday event at Nelson Ledges.  And now she was dying.  A screwdriver could quickly penetrate the A-pillar and put her out of her misery.  The henna colored tumors were bubbling up everywhere from the fenders to the wheel wells to the sideskirts and trunk lid.  No amount of sheet metal work or bondo coverup was worth getting this car to pass inspection. She wasn't going to be easy to be replaced.

I had dreams for her.  She was going to be my road-race sleeper.  The NX already handles beautifully around the corners.  I just wanted to slip a nice SR16VE N1 or SR20VE 20V (both about as rare as a Sasquatch sighting) or some sort of SR block Frankenstein combination in her engine bay and take her for a ride.  The T-top equipped car made me a little leery to make a full-on race car but locating a non-rusty hard top NX is a lot like finding a winning lotto ticket in the trash.  
Removing engine from NX
This engine hoist has seen better days and tends to leak hydraulic fluid, making it much easier to drop the engine rather than hoist it.
And then I looked in the right trash can.  It was red, but I could always paint it; and a 1.6L automatic – also fixable.  So I rented a truck and a trailer to journey up to Long Island for pickup.  I didn't get more than 10 miles from my house before there was a hitch in my plan.  Or rather, no hitch.  Going through an intersection, the trailer so skillfully hooked up by the rental place decided to drive itself. Luckily, it rolled back about 15 feet and into a curb rather than someone's expensive car.  I had to walk the trailer around the corner while 2 of 4 bystanders helped me, the other 2 just pointed and laughed.  It was a long day and a long drive but she made it back and fit comfortably in the 4th bay of Project Garage.  
Where she sat for years…  They say 'Mo Cars, 'Mo Problems.  Ain't that the truth!  I felt like Octomom with 7 “kids” in my family, all cranky and high maintenance.  A wild hair (and a few beers) would finally provoke a full day's work on the red NX, stripping her down and removing the sorry powerplant she came with.  She was finally just a shell of bare metal.  Now I just needed to get everything out of her sister.  
Removing engine from white NX
150k + miles and still going.  If my VE dreams don't materialize, this baby is going in the red NX.

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