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Thread: Meet Amy, the 1987 Mazda 323 BF GTX :)

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    Meet Amy, the 1987 Mazda 323 BF GTX :)

    Why hello there! I'm Lewis from the UK. I've encountered your forums many times while searching for BF-related things. As I've been rained off from doing work on my car today (English summers are the best), I figured I'd sign up and tell you about Amy, the 1987 Mazda 323 GTX. (If you're curious about the name, well, you'll find out later!)

    So I acquired Amy from my big brother Alex in 2015, because I figured my first car should be one I actually wanted to own, plus who wouldn't buy one of these little beasts with a complete, original interior given the chance!

    Here was Amy back in 2007 when Alex owned it.


    Apologies for the censored plate. I did this back when I thought there was actually a point in doing this. It's D540 APG, if you care.

    If I have my timeline right, this was taken on the day of her MOT failure. The list of failed things was very long; close your eyes, imagine a big ol' list of things, then two big ol' lists of things, and you have the MOT fail sheet.

    Big bro Alex started work on it. He bought new sill and rear arch panels (which are absolutely unobtainable now, as I gather). There were new Gaz rear coilovers, a bunch of bushes, a new radiator, "reconditioned" turbo, and an engine rebuild (which I did for him).

    And then...nothing happened. For years. About eight of them.

    To Alex's credit he completed no less than three builds in those eight years, all of which are British (for my overseas readers, "British Car" is a alternative spelling of "hell-furnaces fueled by pain, cash and tears"). Add to that four globe-trotting expeditions in his 1963 Land Rover and well, the neglect is hardly through sloth or losing his love for interesting cars. So it goes; little Amy got back-burnered by other projects, and then Alex's other car (a rather nice GT-Four ST-205) made Amy redundant to him for four-wheel-drive, turbocharged Japanese lunacy.

    Anyway, after actual years of occasional hints that I'd be interested in buying it, in 2015 he realised that he really was not going to get around to getting this car back on the road and started looking for a good home for it. A "good home" meaning someone who wasn't going to ruin it with silly mods, or rip out the engine and stick it in an MX-5 and scrap the rest, or strip it out to be a track car. (One condition he added just for me was "don't block off the front wheel drive and turn it into a drift car". Okay.)

    Well, I needed a car. Or rather, I figured that if I had a car I actually wanted to drive it would be a good incentive to learn how to drive.

    Obviously, I bought it, for a whopping 800.

    Those eight years were not very kind to Amy. Here is how she was when I bought her.




    There was a lot of rot. There were a lot of things that weren't rot that were terrifying. But a car this rare and this cool deserved to be returned to her former glory and whatever it costed, it costed.



    I mean, just that complete, original interior makes it worth it right?



    I didn't have the time or bodywork skills to make Amy structurally sound, but I could throw money at people who do! In this case, it was Maurice Hayden (dad of British Drift Championship driver Peter Hayden), who has done some awesome builds like a insane M3-engined E36 Compact and one I am not allowed to talk about (but is retro and utterly mad). We came to an arrangement which was pretty much "give them money, receive working car".

    And so, on a Sunday, the Haydens came to pick it up. I took Friday off work to free the brakes up (which were seized solid, but as my stepdad once said, WD-40 and a hammer solves everything, which is sound advice for most things that aren't relationships). As nobody felt like winching it onto the trailer, we tried to get the engine started. We put a jump pack on it, put a little fuel into it, reconnected an HT lead, and crossed our fingers...

    The little B6T fired up immediately and willingly, as if eight years of neglect and idleness never happened, and dropped back to a smooth, even idle.

    "That'll do, pig. That'll do."

    The first thing they did when they got it home was to power-wash the mould off it. And it really did look a lot less daunting without Mother Nature's green paintjob.




    And so, Team Hayden got to work. (All photos taken at Fort Hayden are courtesy of Peter Hayden - thanks Pete.)




    This all took a while - significantly more than a year. This is fine; I had an agreement with Hayden that he should only work on it only when he had spare time, and in return I got a bargain price on what was a staggering amount of work.




    (Beautifully restored brake calipers right there - remember that they were seized on so hard that I had to beat them with a sledgehammer to free them up just so Amy could be winched onto a trailer!)




    And so, after a long wait, Amy arrived home. And I had to start thinking about paint. Continued in a reply as I reached some image limit on this board
    Last edited by lewiscollard; 08-20-2017 at 11:04 AM.

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    Aaaaand part 2, avoiding the image limit.

    Bear in mind, I was going to do this on a budget, without a serious workshop. So with the advice of drifter Dave Jackson I found out about Montana cans, and as I learned during spraying they are insane if you just want to get paint onto a car.

    (Yes, I rattle-canned the whole car. Some of you may start hating me at this point, and I understand. Hey, serious spray gear would be wasted in an imperfect spraying environment, and cans were a metric ass-ton cheaper than getting someone to do it for me.)

    I was going to go for slate grey as a colour. My brother hated the idea, as he wanted me to go for bright blue as it was when he owned it. I was on the fence, and asked my friend Amy what colour I should go for, and she picked the most obnoxious light blue (cyan, really) straight away. And in time I realised that the little GTX was a lot like Amy - tiny, cute, and feisty as hell. So that is how Amy got the name Amy! Amy (the human) was fine with this.

    Surprisingly, as someone who knew absolutely nothing about paintwork when I started this, it all went quite smoothly.




    Gratuitous selfie. You're welcome, darlings.

    Colour-coded plastic eh? Get back in line! This is the 1980s!





    What I should have said when I said it went smoothly, was that it mostly went smoothly. There was one little thing: The f**king bonnet.



    It might not be apparent from this photo, but on the left side, after several coats, the paint mostly stuck. On the right hand side though, it was an absolute ********ing nightmare. Paint just would not adhere on the right hand side part in this photo, after Deity-knows how many coats - I'd used as much paint on the bonnet as I had on the entire rest of the car at this point. Whatever it was that was causing the adhesion problem had survived hand-washing, pressure-washing, being cleaned with chemicals that can actually give you cancer, sanding, and then being washed with Cancer Juice again. At this point I gave up.

    Which is okay, because by some incredible streak of luck I managed to find another 323 GTX bonnet!!



    It so happens that my drift racing friend Tim Newell owned a 323 GTX about ten years ago, back when they had almost no value. He broke it for parts, but for some reason (I think it might have been with a view to cutting the little GTX-specific bulge out and weld it onto something else) he kept it kicking around. And so, I told him how rare those bonnets are, and how much it's worth (probably 200-300), and also told him I would give him 50 for it. He agreed!

    And so, I got to work, taking it back to bare metal, filling the tiny crap bits that this bonnet had (really, it was in AMAZING condition for a 30-year-old panel that had been sitting in a shed for 10 years).


    (yeah, that paint stripper was a bit stronger than I expected..).







    AND WELL, that was quite a lot of work. But so worth it. Here's Amy a few weeks ago:



    OK, not perfect, but a lot better than the wreck I bought in 2015. My mission today was to go over her with compound polish to take all the little imperfections in the paintwork, but hey, I got rained off and that's why I'm here making this post.

    So, near-term plans! Keeping her as standard as possible, which means not doing very much. Getting the paintwork as perfect as a rattle-can job can get (when the rain stops this weekend). Then fitting this very nice set of pressed-metal plates to tidy her up:



    And then on to the interior. Which is all original, all there, but needs a damn good clean. And in another incredible stroke of luck (really, if you need someone to pick your lottery numbers or to find an honest politician standing in a rocking horse poo I am your man) I managed to find a Blaupunkt tape player from a 1980s Porsche 911 SC (because if you're gonna be 80s, be the whole 80s). That's gonna need servicing, but that's going in!

    Thanks for reading! I'll keep you updated! <3
    Last edited by lewiscollard; 08-06-2017 at 03:18 PM.

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    suspension mods intheworks FE3-323's Avatar
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    your storytelling in this thread is top notch m8, lovely introduction. Welcome to the club!
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    I pet my dash when I get into the car..."good car"
    he actually has a mazda tree, parts grow on it


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    Quote Originally Posted by lewiscollard View Post
    ......
    Thanks for reading! I'll keep you updated! <3
    Fabulous read. Cant wait for the next instalment.

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    Registered User BFMRGTX's Avatar
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    Nicely done.

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    Thank you for the kind words folks, I appreciate it very much.



    As promised, I spent this afternoon attacking Amy with compound polish again to get the paintwork where I want it to be. And I fitted her "new" bonnet which has smartened her up immeasurably.



    This pic makes the paint look a lot more uneven than it is - the lighting is just weird and uneven with the sun shining through a leafy tree onto it!

    Slowly, surely, getting there Let's see what I can get done after work in the week.

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    turboooooo Dixie94Pro's Avatar
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    Enjoying this! Any pics under the hood?


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    Registered User 323GTX-RSA's Avatar
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    NICE! Good to see another one saved. Love the write up.


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    Registered User 323GTX-RSA's Avatar
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    Meet Amy, the 1987 Mazda 323 BF GTX :)

    Looks like it could have been 'Pure Red' originally, same as my one. I believe only 4% of them were Pure Red. But that blue looks cool.


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    You folks :)

    Oh hey guys! I didn't get anything done after work this week because it was raining every single day (it's Summer in England, remember), and well, the arseing was not be'd. But I thought I'd stop by and reply as you're all so cool and kind.

    Quote Originally Posted by 323GTX-RSA View Post
    NICE! Good to see another one saved. Love the write up.
    Thank you!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dixie94Pro View Post
    Enjoying this! Any pics under the hood?
    If you like, but you may want to put a little bit of paper over your screen right under this paragraph because it's not pretty. Well, no more than the inherent loveliness of that little B6T:



    The blue is indeed from my paint, but it is not overspray for anyone who thinks I'm an idiot (I am, but not on that count, so it's a valid opinion to hold nonetheless). It's just paint that was in the atmosphere from spraying in such a confined space that settled. It's like dust. Wipes right off without so much as thinners wherever I've tried it

    You can see the original colour here - it was sprayed a different blue (see the very first photo in this thread) before I owned it, and obviously they were as lazy as I am.

    After the interior is done I am definitely putting some attention into smartening up the engine bay, because that great little engine deserves to look pretty. One thing at a time of course, but I have ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by 323GTX-RSA View Post
    Looks like it could have been 'Pure Red' originally, same as my one. I believe only 4% of them were Pure Red. But that blue looks cool.
    Maybe the picture above will help you confirm what the original colour was. Just to clarify, such that you don't hate me over the rarity of the original colour: I didn't spray over original paint - I'd have gone to the much greater expense of keeping it original if it hadn't already been resprayed at least two owners ago.

    Thanks all for your kind words again, hopefully in between binges of the Irish Drift Championship livestream this weekend I'll actually get something done. Cheers and good fortune to you all!

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    Registered User 323GTX-RSA's Avatar
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    Meet Amy, the 1987 Mazda 323 BF GTX :)

    No hate, just observations. It is just the second red one I have seen, we'll sort of red.........


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    Registered User 323GTX-RSA's Avatar
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    Love your rims.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 323GTX-RSA View Post
    Love your rims.
    I rather like them too.

    If anyone's curious, they are Minilite clones made by Ronal, from a Saab - they were dealer options for the Saab 99 and 900. With a thin (~3mm) spacer they fit the BF nicely.

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    Registered User 323GTX-RSA's Avatar
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    Cool, I can get mini lite clones over here. Like how they look on the car.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 323GTX-RSA View Post
    Cool, I can get mini lite clones over here. Like how they look on the car.
    I do too! My big problem right now is that I can't find a set of centre caps for these - the hole is 62.5mm diameter internally which is an interesting size. And if I did find an original set of Saab caps I'd be incredibly hesitant to ruin them by repainting them, because of their rarity. Or maybe I like the way they look with no centre caps, I'm not sure...

    Anyway, not much to report this weekend; as expected, the Irish Drift Championship livestream totally ruined any idea of productivity this weekend. But some of yesterday afternoon was spent trying to remove the compound polish residue from last weekend, which I am learning is a really stubborn little bastard when it gets into the tiny shallow parts of matte paint. But we're getting there.



    Also, Amy has her new plates now, and they make her look so much more presentable.



    Onwards!

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