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XR to Rally Car
The saga begins!

F4 Rallysport > Skye's Rally Journal > 2002
Dec 21, 2002
Hey I'm back, I know you missed me. Some news to report, got the title to the car finally, it was basically a salvage so there was a bit of extra paperwork and sleuthing to do. Good piece of paper to have! The XR will likely go on the rotisserie tomorrow in anticipation of the cage arriving from Sweden in the next couple of days. We also began the design process for "way bee-chin" rear disc brakes, will have to fabricate caliper mounts and disc hats with the correct offset so they will clear cheap and nice Saab rally wheels. If we went to Compomotive wheels there would be more clearance, but if we're fabricating it anyway we might as well save some dough. A new (used) bi-wing has been sourced, I'm brainstorming on colour schemes, and considering swapping in the 2.2L Mopar Turbo engine management system. All glass aft of the doors is being replaced with lexan, fake C-pillar is being cut out. I think that's all the miscellaneous items going on at the moment.

The nascent Pacific Northwest rally club known as Car Crashing Crazy People (CCCP) is coming along nicely, Comrade Bottles has already been so inspired as to organize a rally sprint sometime in Feb, probably the weekend between Thunderbird and DooWop. Our brothers and sisters from the People's Republic of Canuckistan are of course welcome to join our little revolution - get on the mail list for more information. Fun will be had. Fun is required. It is the will of the people.

Nov 18, 2002
Petter Solberg Engine out, transmission out, engine bay doo-dads all removed, heater fan box out, "keeper" parts organized and crated. Rebuilt the garage too, I think it will stay up this time, made some X bracing with the rope and it held up during some pretty strong winds. Unfortunately that meant the ground was very wet while working under the car getting the lumps out, I've narrowly avoided pneumonia I'm sure. All in all, I'm pretty close to where I wanted to be, rebuilding the car cover took a bit of time away that I could have spent tearing out the fuel and brake lines, gas tank, and popping all the windows out.

Next up is removing the seam sealer and undercoat off the body shell, with a little help from our friend Liquid Nitrogen. I'm off to Taiwan for a copule of weeks, when I get back there might even be a roll cage main hoop in the car. Onwards and upwards!

Congratulations to Petter Solberg on his first WRC win.
A great drive in the Rally of F**in' South Wales!

Nov 13, 2002
po-drive logo Found a great T-shirt with this logo on it - pretty damn funny! Pretty much sums up my philosphy. I'll be rockin' it at the races for sure.

In other news, I think my white trash garage fell down in the high winds. Time for a little re-engineering.

Nov 4, 2002
Attack of the loom After an epic battle, the multi-headed Serpent of Merkur was defeated! The wiring looms must weigh about 50 lbs. I'm not sure if the elation I felt was from finally getting it out of the car or due to blood loss from all the cuts on my hands.

Various ancillaries removed, now soaking exhaust manifold and engine mounting fasteners in penetrant. The weekend after next is the only other one I'll have to work on the car this month (going to Taiwan for the holiday), so I'll be pushing hard to stay on schedule.

Nice suprise, I have picked up a limited slip differential (LSD) for the car. I didn't think I would be able to afford one this year, but JVAB Imports came through with a very cheap junkyard solution. Just have to make up a small run of adapters to help it mate up to the XR shafts.

Oct 27, 2002
Cheap garage Got the temporary garage put up, works pretty well, invented it myself this week and cost less than $100. Should keep the rain off, and I strung up some lights so I can work on it even though we enter the miserable dark cold wet season known in the NW as Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, March and sometimes April.

Radiator out, AC compressor out, almost got the main loom all the way out. Now that I can work on it on weeknights it should go faster, assuming I won't be working more overtime at the "day job".

Oct 20, 2002
Die loom die Got almost all of the wiring loom out, thankfully the XR has a separate engine management loom (although mine's partially melted, thanks previous owner!). Still need to undo the forward part of the loom to the lights, wipers etc before I can pull it free. This is all going to be rewired. As you can see it's got a slushbox right now, which will be sold. Front windshield is cracked too. Still a long, long way to go.

Uhh, you remember where all the wires go, right?

Oct 15, 2002
Interior now gutted, all that's left inside is the wiring and the steering column. Most of the wiring is going to be chopped out, once I figure out what's essential and what isn't. There are a heck of a lot of idiot lights in this car which we will be deleting. Keeping the system simple is important and there is quite a bit of weight to be saved, too. Of course, the Booboo kittens helped.

Oct 6, 2002
XR to Rally Car
Put a deposit on a roll cage and replica GrpA suspension for the XR today, no turning back now! Looks like everything is coming together, with a tentative goal of competing in the Thunderbird TSD in BC in February 2003. I've also started pouring over the Ford Motorsport factory Sierra preparation manuals which contain a wealth of information on building up these cars, even to the point of exact suspension settings and tires sizes on factory cars at various events. No doubt this will be a huge advantage in getting the initial setup of the car correct.

Sep 28, 2002
RS500 Looked at the car, crunched the numbers, consulted the Signficant Other - it looks like I can do this very near to my target $5000 budget. Might be some developments this weekend. Wild West was fun, we randomly picked a Motel 6 in Tumwater to stay at (big up the Tumwater dnb massive!!), and woke up to find the Mitsu team (Rhys Millen et al) and a half dozen Subarats parked outside. Our own personal Parc Expose. The Super Special was fun, and not too wet - the Saabs were gloriously loud. We only had time to check out one stage after that, it was a blast watching the cars haul ass down the long straight with one bend (who would lift and who wouldn't?) and into the Square Right while the Speed camera chopper blasted down the valley tracking them. Some other good news, it seems Merritt is becoming quite the rally town with Mountain Trials coming up (WCRC), and involvement by the new Active Mountain Raceway project also getting involved with rally stuff in the area. I've been working on buying property only about 30 minutes from Merritt for a few years now, so this is great news.

Sep 6, 2002
Going to the WildWest ProRally in Olympia, WA tomorrow, but just as a spectator. No ride yet... next year. I really should have volunteered to work as a marshal, but I didn't get my act together in time. Volunteers are the lifeblood of rallying.

Aug 27, 2002
Considering a Merkur XR4Ti now, going to see a car for sale this weekend at JVAB Imports. It gets 175 hp and nearly 200 ft lbs torque out of the stock "Lima" inline-4 SOHC 2.3L with turbocharger and it's quite reliable. I always thought these were odd little cars, but apparently outside North America it was known as the Ford Sierra and in Cosworth RS form not only did it look much better, but was driven to many international rally victories in the late 80s and early 90s including:
  • 1988 - 1st overall - WRC Rally Corsica (Tour de Corse) - Didier Auriol/Bernard Occelli and also 3rd on the 1000 Lakes Rally in the same year. Carlos Sainz, in an identical car, consistently came in around 5-7th position.
  • Manx International in 1987 (by Jimmy McRae/Ian Grindrod), 1989, 1990 and 1995,
  • Mark Lovell of recent SCCA ProRally fame drove a Sierra Cosworth successfully early in his career
  • The Sierra Cosworth was the first factory ride for Didier Auriol, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae
  • Not to mention its absolute dominance of British Touring Cars in the same period which was so crushing they had to change the rules to ban it just to give others (*ahem* BMW M3) a chance!
The high powered rear-wheel drive car was naturally at a disadvantage on loose surfaces compared to the all-wheel drive Lancia and Mazdas but still did suprisingly well in those events!

Dollars-to-smiles ratio could be very high in this car, and it's very important to me to have a make of car that has a rally history (especially as a factory backed effort) as I don't have the experience to engineer the needed components from scratch. Another huge bonus is that I can upgrade to Cosworth 2WD, or Cosworth AWD drivetrain, and then simply transfer everything to an Escort shell if I want to go that route in the future (the Escort Cosworth 4x4 was based on the floor pan from the Sierra Sapphire, shorted a few inches). I really like having an "upgrade path", from an entry level Club car all the way to a full blown Group A monster, that doesn't involve tossing everything and starting over. Still have lots of logistics to work out though, before I get serious about anything. I've picked a budget, now lets see if its possible to go rally on it.

Aug 24, 2002
Congratulations to Nick Marcuse and Rob Dunn of Seattle who came in 1st in class in their 88 323GTX in the 2002 Alcan 5000!! I had never heard of this race before, it looks like my kind of fun. Maybe in 2004?

Aug 23, 2002
I've wanted to go racing for ages, and now that the student loans are paid off and I've researched all the options I think I'm ready to go ahead. I've thought about autocross, karting, road racing, and almost went with Formula Vee, but rally is what really captures my imagination; I think it's some sort of primal urge that has been laying dormant in my BC blood. The Mazda 323 GTX seems to fit my criterea; not too expensive, AWD, fast enough. They are kind of hard to find since only 1,243 were sold, but there seems to be a fanatical underground following for these cars. Thanks to a generous offer by 323gtx list member Matt, I'm going to go check out a rally-prepared GTX this weekend, can't wait. My girlfriend keeps telling me "you don't need another car", but on the other hand she's almost as addicted to WRC coverage as I am, so thats a good sign.

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