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prasamin

Project Pras

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Well, I am editing through all of these posts to get to the good stuff, and only keep some of the bad stuff. The point of this thread is to, of-course, chronicle my project, and secondly, provide feedback and information about involved vendors and companies so that people can take advantage of the good ones, and try and bring down the bad ones!

In December of 2006, I was pretty content with my car, and the way it was. I had already begun collecting parts for an engine build, but I wasn't planning on any body work. That all changed with this little incident:

I was pulling out of work, and a guy on a bicycle, not paying attention, slammed into me and landed on my hood. The damage was minor, but I would have needed work on the hood and fender (probably new), and work on my Erebuni front.

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What ensued, well, was total mayhem. I decided to take the engine out, get it rebuilt, and at the same time, get custom body work done. I ordered all my Volvo parts from FCP Groton, who was and still is the only vendor I deal with for OEM parts, unless I'm in a pinch and run to the dealer or a member for something.

For my aftermarket parts, I decided to contact Joseph aka JHEIII874T5M. I ordered my wastegate, injectors, turbo, and blowoff valve from him, and also my Quaife limited slip differential. I got the lines and fittings for the turbo from Mark aka BlackT5. I ordered hoses from Sig at StylinMotors. I wasn't set on tuning yet, so I kept my RICA tune, and got a "base map" from John aka JRoss for my setup.

For body work, I went to a local shop (BlackJack Autobody and Paint) that had done work on my car before, including my Erebuni kit, restoring my Tritons, and other minor paintwork such as the hood. They were patients of mine at the dental office, so they cut me a really good deal. I went with them because they had worked on my car before, we had become good friends, and because they were close to work, and I could go in anytime I wanted to help with the car, learn, and throw some ideas at them.

So, I first took the car over to an engine builder that worked on VW cars, and had been referred to me by a couple of VS members, and a friend who really trusted the guy, and knew his work. The builder agreed to remove the engine, and do the build with the parts I provided. He had a machine shop that he used, so he was going to handle everything with the engine. I would just need to get the parts to him.

I ordered China rods from R-Sport, which arrived on time, and I ordered pistons in stock compression, OS1, from R-Sport, which promised them in one or two weeks. Well, it ended up being almost 2 months, during which time I really reamed Jonathan at R-Sport, got desperate and was searching for other pistons, but just ended up waiting for the R-Sport ones. During this two month wait, my engine builder got frustrated, and handed me my engine back in a million pieces. I don't really blame him (I blame R-Sport), but it really got me stressed out since I was getting closer to leaving for India, and I needed the car back together.

I was getting desperate to have the engine done, so I called a VS member who had worked on Porsches, and he agreed to do the assembly in his garage. He had a machine shop he used, so he took care of boring, balancing, etc, and then assembly.

I also decided to give VMS a chance (wow, what a mistake), and I ordered a performance head from Terry, and got it a month and a half later (was supposed to have it in a week). The head looked good, and even Mike (the engine assembler) said it looked good, and the shop also said it looked good. We should have examined it closely, but we didn't have the time, and we expected a $1500 product to be 100% good. Mike got the engine assembled, and when he got the head on, the intake cam wouldn't spin, so we were at a loss. We took the engine over to the guy who did my manual swap (and had worked on race engines), and he tried, no luck. During the inspection, he noticed a crack in the VMS head...well, we put the cam cover on once, and that crack became opened up and a piece of the metal fell off....We now had confirmation of VMS quality control (non-existant). I was getting really desperate since I had very little time before I had to move back to TX and then off to India. I bought another head, had it rebuilt, and tried that on, and intake cam wouldn't spin. We tried boring that one, and it still wouldn't spin. Now, I was in a pinch, and I decided to buy a stock motor and put it in the car so I could get home. Got it, and got it in and the car running.

Here are pics of the VMS head and it's quality....shitty porting, shitty quality....We tried this head on atleast 50 times, and then the other head too!

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I called Terry a hundred times when it was taking forever to get the head, and after we found out it wasn't working, and after we found the crack. He told me some crap about his niece getting in a wreck or some shit (we all know how many of his family members have died when there was a problem with his parts). He told me that the head was good when it left him, and that they do quality checks on all of them, blah blah. Long story short, I lost $1800, and Terry claimed he went bankrupt, even though his site is still up, along with another one. Don't ever buy from Terry Coon.

Okay, so you know about why the engine took so long, and all of the stuff associated with it. It should have been done in February or March, and it ended up getting done in July, mainly because R-Sport took 2 or 3 months to get me the pistons, and then the cylinder head issue. Now, let's back track to the body work. I was expecting the body work to be well on it's way in January, and hopefully done by February or March, to coincide with the engine, but that was not going so well. BlackJack was REALLY busy, and since I was getting a deal, my car was worked on very sparingly, and usually after-hours, and while I was there. Don't get me wrong, the guys worked really hard on my car when they could, but I needed the car back. From December to April or May, this is the progress:

In December, after getting the engine pulled, I towed the car to BlackJack, and pulled off the door panels and other extra stuff to permit a proper paint job. We had planned to shave the handles, do a flat hood with scoop, fender vents, wide body, and a candy red paint job. We didn't have any plans for the custom body work, and just kind of went along as the days went by. Alot of it was my thinking, and alot was BlackJack's thinking, but it was just going really slowly. We used lots of fiberglass, and did lots of welding. Here are pics in December:

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Here are pics of how the hood was going in January and February. It's really hard for me to picture things, so I had to have BlackJack help me with how things would look. I thought the hood vent looked pretty darn good, and I liked where it was going. I also liked the idea of the flattened hood.

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In the meantime, we did some M5 fender vents (I got a new used fender for the side that was hit), and I decided to do something else which hasn't been done before.....mold in a V70R bumper, and get rid of the Erebuni front. For that, we cut the top off of the V70R bumper, and put it right over the 850 upper bumper piece with rivets, and then molded it in with urethane and figerglass.

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We had also started working on making the fenders wider. We were doing things all over the place just to get the basic ideas onto the car. Notice that it was March by now, and alot still had to be done. The pistons still hadn't arrived, and the whole VMS ordeal was about to ensue, and I had already been handed back my engine in a million pieces by the original engine builder.

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Here's more of the hood vent and bumper coming along. That's my boy Juan at BlackJack welding in the pieces:

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Now it's April, and there is still alot to be done, including the paint job, and putting the car back together. I'm freaking, and still no pistons! WTF! We're going slowly, but the shaved handles and side trim has been welded and fiberglassed:

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wow between you and gdizzle with his wheel problems I am done moddding my cars with the little bit I did to them :lol:

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And by now, the fenders were coming along. I wanted some sort of integrated flap, and I wanted a sharper looking wide fender, so BlackJack had some ideas, and this is where they were headed. Notice the loads of fiberglass....

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During this time, the transmission was at a trans shop for about a week getting the LSD put in....we used new bearings in it too. That was about the only thing that went smoothly in this entire ordeal.

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And I also did a little instrument cluster swapping into the car during some downtime. Gotta tell the full story! Took the stock cluster out, put in a 95 Yazaki with trim rings. I also had the mileage adjusted on it to reflect actual mileage on my car. I want to keep the car accurate!

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And then the real frenzy started. BlackJack wasn't on pace to finish the car within a month, and I talked to them, and they said it was impossible, and that there was not much I could do at that point. I had to do something. The engine was in Houston since we couldn't figure out the cylinder head issue, and the car was without an engine, and not drivable without an engine and with the incomplete body work. I had to get it done, so I took it out of BlackJack, and took it to a body and engine guy in North Hollywood. This is the same guy that had done my manual swap, and had worked on race engines, and was a creative genius, and just happened to be behind a body shop. He agreed to try and bail me out of this mess. He couldn't get the engine deal figured out, but now I was going to count on him for the body work. I towed the car over to him, and the second he saw it, he nearly shat his pants and bathed in his own piss. He told me the body work was very uneven, not even close to complete, and that it would take a miracle for him to salvage it, and finish it within a month. He told me that the only way to do this was to basically start over, because fixing alot of the issues with the body work would take too long. Luckily, he had a few parts cars laying around, and hooked me up with the hood and fenders and some other parts that needed attention, and he began a mission that I thought was impossible. He said the hood was just too heavy with all the fiberglass, and that doing custom hood shocks would be retarded. He gave me a choice....do the flat hood or do the vents, I chose flat....he took his hood, and cut and welded it to make it flat, instead of using 40 gallons of fiberglass. That was done. He removed the fenders (separated them from the sideskirts) and widened them by putting on a rough layout of what he wanted, and then doing a carbon figer and fiberglass deal for the widened fenders. He basically re-did the entire car, and painted the engine compartment for me, since I had bought the stock engine, and he was going to put it in for me. Here are some of the pics he sent me of the progress. He painted the engine compartment, and we put the stock engine in to get the car running so that he could make the fenders for realistic driving application...he would mock something up, and then drive it around and take turns, etc to make sure there wasn't rubbing. I even got the tires swapped to the size I wanted so that he could be more accurate. This was all happening very quickly.

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From this point on, there aren't many pics since I was busy moving my stuff to San Diego, and getting ready for a big move to India. Trius completed the body work, and now I had to figure out the paint. BlackJack still wanted to do the paint, and since we were friends, I was okay with that, and they were willing to do it in one weekend, but candy red would have taken a bigger effort, and I was double-guessing the decision too since my dad would be driving the car while I was gone, and any damage to the candy would mean a hassle to get color matching, etc. I decided to go with OEM 601 red, which the engine bay was already done it (we weren't going to go candy in the engine bay anyway). I had a trip to D.C. to take, so I took the car over to BlackJack, and left it there for the weekend to get it painted. When I got back, the car was painted. There were many flaws (lots of overspray and orange peel), but I had no time to complain. I had to get the car back together and leave for Dallas within a few days. The day I got back from D.C., I began putting the car back together....did the door panels, bumpers, mirrors, lights, etc on, and get the car running. I spent a full day doing all that, while one of the guys at BlackJack spent the day wetsanding and polishing. We finished what we could, and I was ready to head to Dallas to my parents place. I was planning on having my car shipped to Dallas, but when I got to DAS in Los Angeles, they said my car was way too low, and that I couldn't store my spare wheels and other parts in the car. I even tried to bribe the inspector lol, but got nowhere.

I forgot to mention that in January, I bought a 1996 Nissan Maxima as my daily driver since the Volvo was out of service. Here are pics of it just for fun!

I just put a new JVC HD radio unit in there along with a sub, and then got some wheels, and did the tint, and I was happy....really great car....I had the wheels on there, and I sold them right before I left for Dallas, and put a For Sale sign on the car since I didn't need it anymore. I bought it for only $3700!

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Okay, so I had the two cars. I couldn't ship the Volvo, and that's what I really wanted to ship since I wasn't sure if it could make it 2200 miles on the newly installed stock engine and the fact that it had just been put together. Plus, I wanted to get the wheels and other car parts in it and ship it. I could have shipped the Maxima, and driven the Volvo out, but that seemed like a bad idea all by myself, so I had my dad fly out to San Diego (I was at my uncle's house by now and ready to leave). We decided to load both cars up, and make the drive. While I was in San Diego, Paul came over and took the pics that you see a couple of pages down. Anyway, my dad and I left San Diego after checking the car over and making sure nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We made the drive straight. Non-stop. Not a hitch....both cars ran great! No leaks, no funny noises, no nothing. The only issue I had was that the A/C in the Volvo wasn't working through Death Valley, etc. That was brutal. Here are pics of the car in San Diego:

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I get to Dallas, and that same week, Aaron in Houston, who has my rebuilt engine, figures out that the reason the heads wouldn't work on my car was because the machine shop and engine assembler had not noticed that the dowel pins that align the head gasket were missing. When the head would be torqued down, it would line up evenly, and the cam wouldn't spin. I had ARP studs in there, so it just looked like everything was lining up. Aaron figured it out, and I got to Houston with a third rebuilt cylinder head to put on there. Not much porting and polishing was done to this one. I was out of time and money to do anything, so we just put that one on there as long as it worked. It was rebuilt with new seals and guides and very mild porting, so it was fine! Here are pics of when I was down in Houston to get the engine swapped! Aaron put the turbo on, and welded the wastegate plumbing, and did alot of other shit.

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Aaron got the engine in, and after a few hiccups, the car started right up, and we did some oil changes, and I drove it back to Dallas, which was basically break-in. It ran great, although super freaky deaky rich because the RICA tune I got was either too rich, or the wrong map. I still have to find out. George at ViVA is going to be checking that out and hooking me up with the proper map, I hope.

For some other parts of the story, including what went down at Aaron's place in Houston (we ran into some starting issues), you can see some posts later in this thread.

And, for the where the car stands now, look towards the end of this thread!

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That makes me sick to my stomach reading that pras, I feel your pain man. Good luck in India!

Edited by matty.bou

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Thats fucked up. Any news on if the head I sent you worked. It sure as hell should have.

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Damn Pras, sorry to hear about the 855. Hope everything turns out ok in a couple of months. :tup:

~Mike

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Damn man, what an ordeal..I feel your pain with body shops sucking at being on time <_<

I can't wait to see what you've done to it though, sounds basically what I want to do to mine in the future..

I hope you get this straightened out before you leave, I know it will be a burden over in India.

Good luck in the future!

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Holy shit bro, i had no idea.

I had some issues when my motor was built, but no where near what you have been through. That is why I will never let anyone but myself.. and my brother do work on my car. You just get people that do half assed jobs and then when a problem comes up, you don't know where to start because you have no idea what they've done. fuck that.

I'm not even sure what to suggest at this point. I would hate to see you have to sell your car. Definitely interested to see the pics though man. I hope you got some shots of the VMS head.

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LMAO...all I can picture are those hunks of bondo on Trius's floor. Can't wait to see the finished product...mebe in real life before it goes to Tx. Talk to ya later this weekend

Oh yea forgot to mention to everyone...the car does look awesome in real life...it was just a shame to see that kind of money had to go into everything to do it right. It was like a happy sad thing...sad to see such a beautiful 855 get messed up...then happy to see it all come together finally

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