Hoo boy. There's a lot to cover, but basically I've been mainly lurking on here with little to no other activity and it's time to change that. With the great Photobucket debacle all of my posted pics on here have poofed, but I'll find some other way to post them in the near future.
I'm pretty sure I've covered this before, but I started off back in 2003 with the black '165 in my avatar. It needed a lot of attention and in all honesty wasn't the best purchase, but I cut my teeth on that car. Due to reasons of practicality I had to sell the car in late 2006 and regretted it almost immediately.
Over the years I tried to get back into another '165, but ran into the typical problems: cars that were beat into the ground and/or poorly modified, rusty shells and a few nice ones that were out of reach in one way or another. A few years ago I even found my old '165 for sale, but the years had not been kind to it and the seller a little too unwilling to budge on price.
Two years ago I found one of the cleanest examples I've ever seen for sale on this board and was in a position to get it. At 33K original miles and mostly tastefully modified(including the full Whiteline kit that's been discontinued for years), it was a no-brainer. I flew out halfway across the country, bought it, and had it shipped back. As per the previous owner the '165 had been purchased directly from(or was given by) Toyota for use as a testbed for laser-based blind spot detection systems. The PO purchased the car from the company in 2001; the recorded mileage was @18K. The PO installed the suspension bits and a full 3" exhaust(with Aussie DP, no less!); an ST205 transmission came later when the original box failed(likely due to lack of use/maintenance). No clutch was done at this time at the PO's decision; a Gen3 swap was considered but never performed. Basically this car was sitting at about the point I envisioned my old one and I feel like I won the lottery finding it.
Once getting the '165 in my hands I had some necessary maintenance done including a timing belt/water pump/oil pump replacement and a few other things here and there; as my DD was failing on me I had to press it into service as a daily. It performed very well until I could get a replacement daily, racking up nearly 8K with only a bad blower motor and a climate control panel needing resoldering. Even the A/C worked until the original charge leaked out early on.
Unfortunately, major issues cropped up. The symptoms started off as vague steering. After a minor curb incident in December 2015 happened my local shop(who have touched a few GT-Fours before and specialize in vintage exotic/classic cars) determined that there had been major damage to the steering rack at some point which had been poorly repaired, including a third mount tack-welded into place which was now separating from the firewall. For a car with less than 40K on the clock, it was a shock.
The '165 sat for about a year until I pulled it in to get the engine removed and a better look at what really needed to be done. The passenger side steering rack mount had been broken off at some point early in the car's life and was simply glued back on with silicone sealant with the tack-welded third mount relying on bolts/washers shoved through the firewall in order to shore it up. The firewall was bending outwards due to the stresses over time. The '165 made a trip out to a classic car restoration shop and the firewall was rebuilt. At the same time I made a bevy of parts purchases to either repair or enhance reliability and performance wherever possible. I'm happy to say that after a year of being off the road and six months of shop time my beast is in the final stages and should be back in my hands at the end of the month. In addition to the firewall repair there's a lot of other work being done:
-Engine completely resealed/rehosed
-Clutchmasters FX200 clutch, new slave cylinder w/extended pushrod and braided clutch line
-Driveshaft Shop single piece carbon fiber driveshaft(factory carrier bearings were failing)
-Feebay special aluminum radiator(original radiator was discovered to have some cracking)
-New brakes front/rear
-Bosch I/C pump to replace aging factory unit
Once I get the car back there's a few things to take care of such as resealing the quarter windows before it's ready for prime time. While I wish I had the facilities and time to take care of a project of this magnitude by myself, between a heavy workload, no real garage to speak of and some other things on my plate it was easier to farm this out. However, that leaves me some energy to tackle some fun jobs for next season. I plan on getting the obnoxious single exit exhaust replaced with a more stock-ish twin exit unit and (later) putting in an ST185RC I/C core I have sitting around. I also have a late-spec JDM ST185 ECU with the correct harness to put in, giving me fuel maps to up the boost a little bit(though for safety/reliability I'll only be setting it to 10-12psi).
Other than that I wanted to thank the community at large. The knowledge base we've built up over the years is absolutely awesome, and I've even given myself answers from posts I've made from years ago. I've forged some good friendships over these cars, and I'm glad to be back here. I've made some good friends out of local GT-Four owners. Unfortunately a good friend of mine who had picked up Shawn's(SuperWhite92) ST185 passed away late last year without bringing his project to fruition; another reason I wanted to get my car done is a tribute to him. While I understand that these cars are just vehicles, the friendships and connections I've forged throughout the years have changed my life for the better. I'm glad to be back, and hope to contribute more once I'm back into the swing of things.
Glad to be here.