Sunday, January 15, 2017

Project Night Prowler

In the two and a half months I've owned my Bronco, I've bought almost all the parts to make it drivable (sans floor).  Also, I have spent exactly two days working on it, and both were cut short.  It's currently residing too far away from my home and tools, but I'm bringing it home today.  With this in mind, what's the logical thing to do next?!  That's right!  Buy another project!

Craigslist photo.  Haven't gotten a chance to do a preliminary photo shoot with this one yet.
I've been looking for a '03 Crown Vic since I started looking for my second one back in 2012.  Eventually, I had the money to get a Vic, but I found a sweet deal on an '02 LX Sport that was really clean.  It was supposed to be an interior donor with a drivable shell for cheap, but then I thought it was too nice, I put more money into it, and now I'm fairly upside down on it.  I'll never get my money back out of it, so I guess it'll be here for a while.  I will say, it is a blast to drive, and it's exactly what I wanted it to be in its second rendition (once I started putting tons of money into it), a badass daily driver that is fun to beat on.

Picking it up at the guy's house.
The time has come to go back to my original plan, however spread out the timeline may be.  I want an '03-'04 P71 with cruise control, hopefully not too much rust, and as few police wiring holes as possible.  If I'm lucky, I'll maybe even find one without that puke cleaner smell inside.  (As of writing this, I'm going this afternoon to move my Bronco and buy a Vic, so that's why the writing changes later.)  You may ask why a '03-'04.  Because I hate computers and like big motors.  What?  The "whale" version of the late model Panther platform, in this case Crown Victoria, has three notable variations in the under pinnings.  '98-'02 had coil springs and shocks at all four corners and an old school, recirculating ball steering gear box.  In '03, they updated the front suspension to have a rack and pinion and coilover style struts.  In '05, they changed the material of the control arms and added drive by wire.  I don't like drive by wire on a fundamental basis, but the early Ford stuff seemed especially laggy in my mom's '05 Five Hundred.  The added benefit of an '03-'04 is that the lack of a steering box makes more room for a 5.4 swap.  Now I've completely killed any kind of suspense that could've been building for the next paragraph.

The sweet tow rig pulling her home.
While the 4.6 is adequate and happily accepts boost if I so choose, and the 4R70W can really be livened up with a good shift kit, what I really want to do is pitch it all in favor of some more displacement and a shifter I can really wrap my hand around.  I want a 5.4L Vic with a stick.  I'm not talking the normal swap you see with a SOHC truck motor and a T-4650 out of an SN95 Mustang.  No, I'm a firm believer in the "go big or go home" mentality.  I want a GT-Five-Hund-Vic with a 6-speed, a DOHC 5.4, and a twin screw supercharger on top making belt noises ("Wreeedom!").  But alas, I'm super cheap, and big mod-motors cost big money.  So what am I gonna do?  I'm gonna properly build suspense for the next paragraph this time!

It was fun following my Vic in my Vic
See? It worked; you're still here.  I'm going to save money for the 6-speed kit from and find either a junkyard Navigator motor or a cheap, junky Navigator that I can harvest the motor out of and possibly make most of my money back on by parting the rest of it out.  In the mean time, I'll keep working on the body to make it happy to receive the transplant... while probably also having to daily drive it.  Speaking of which, how is this newly found project car of mine?  (Please hold...)

It was a good view on the way home
We actually snapped a spring on the F-350, but he thinks the previous owner was eager to overload it.
Ok, so this isn't the best car I've ever bought, but in the world of project cars, it's not totally junk.  The body is fair.  There are some rust spots that I could do without, but again, I'm looking for a 13-year old car in Wisconsin, so it's not gonna be perfect.  The motor idles well, but we think (based on the cobbled wiring repairs) that there's something messed up in the engine wiring harness causing a P0355 code (Ignition coil E, primary/secondary -circuit malfunction).  When you finally get it to rev there's a bad bearing noise from either the alternator or maybe the water pump.  The pump in the trans is a little slow to engage, but as far as I can see, it works.  The power steering is heavy like it has poor flow too.  Not sure what that is.  Also the driver's seat is power, and it's stuck in a less than comfortable position.  All things considered, I don't feel too bad about the price or what I got.  It's a decent beater with a heater, and in Spring, it'll start to be a really ok starting point for my newest project car.

Family picture!
I've even already started having other bad ideas based on the stock of junk in my garage!  I found a pair of Mustang wheels in my tire pile, and then I found another one for $40 on Craigslist.  One more, and I'm in business!

The magical tire pile
I bought these last year with some snow tires.
They're rough, but a little powder coat goes a long way.  Probably dip them first.
They're just lined up, but they look good.