Progress Thread 1993 Lx-cobra Conversion Project

91TwighlightGT

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I've been working on this project since 2011, and have a build thread going over at the corral... but frankly, that place is so dead these days that I have been kicking around moving it to where people would actually see it. I probably should have done it years ago, but seeing as how the project still has a few months left...

So, without further ado, this is the project: Take a beat up 1993 2.3L car, convert the body to 1993 Cobra R specs, and eventually build a 2.3L turbo motor for the powerplant. The car will be a daily driver with (hopefully) some occasional autocross duty.

The project is mostly paint and body work/restoration and less about modification.

Part 1: 05/15/2011
I'm in the process of converting my 93 LX 2.3 to a Cobra clone. I figured since my project will be body work intensive, the best place to post up the project would be in the body shop forum.

So, without further ado, here is the gem...

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Early February. Giving the new ride a first look. Not too impressive. Needs a windshield, and the driver's window isn't opened, it is missing!

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All 105 HP out of the 18 year old 2.3L Four Cylinder.

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Left front fender apron damage. Looks like a minor frame pull is in this car's future. No biggie.

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Left front fender area. Probably going to need both fenders. New lights are ready to installation in the future.

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Door is pretty wavy. Probably going to need another one of those, too.

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More damage! Going to need a little pull on this quarter panel. New gas door is going to be needed.

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This hatch is wasted. Fiberglass will replace this rust prone hatch.

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New tail lenses on the way.

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Car has a lot of little spots to repair, like this one.

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I usually make it to the toilet before I take a dump. I guess the people who owned this car weren't quite as good :)

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Interior... needs a "good cleanup" to say the least. New carpet, seat disassembly and cleaning, and a new headliner should bring it back nicely.

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Door hinge kit on the way. Can't close the door without lifting it up, as it hangs down about a full inch when opened.

Part 1: Continued

More...

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That's the driver's seat! Looks pretty different without the foam cushions and cloth seat covers! This one is getting a couple of new welds to fix the "gangsta lean" these cars are known for.

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New fuel tank, housing a new fuel pump. Previous owner damaged the last tank so that it was leaking.

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My repainted differential cover. Had to take remove the axles to replace the rear axle bearings.

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New parking brake cables. They were frozen, and had the rear brakes locked on. Car has brand new front rotors, calipers, pads, front wheel bearings, rear wheel bearings, rear shoes, rear drums, and brake hoses all the way around. She'll stop :)

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Tail lenses off of an 86 GT. They need a little refinishing, but they are on right now so I can get the inspection all squared away.

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Brand new exhaust on the way. Could probably save some of this, but... nah.

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Interior is looking a little different these days!

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Passenger rear floor pan is... uh... rusty! Cutting and welding on the way!

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The old exhaust manifold. Ditching the heavy, no flow POS for a Ranger tubular piece.

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Ranger header looks nice with the new paint. Quite a bit lighter than the stock junk.

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New rack and pinion. The old one was leaking, so it was time to upgrade to a sport rack. 2.5 turns lock to lock, down from 3.

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Another shot of the interior. Still a long way to go here!

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Okay, what the hell did these people do in this car? You know what, I don't want to know. Seats are disgusting.

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The fearless. Me on the left, my Dad on the right.

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Washing out the seat covers after they are removed. Yum!
 
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 2: 06/20/2011

Sorry, no body work stuff yet :( But, here are a couple more pics from what we have been working on!

Painting the seat bottom
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Driver's seat back welded and ready for paint
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Seat foam ready to be cleaned
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Driver's seat (cleaned) compared to passenger seat
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Junk on the trunk
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Interior still looking rough
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New exhaust finally installed...
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New Battery
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Ranger header installed!
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New striker bushings installed!
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Back seat cleaned and reupholstered
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Torn seat foam reinforced with leather backing
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Driver's seat tracks repainted
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Passenger seat tracks in original condition
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The blend door wouldn't operate properly because the cable was frozen. Working on lubricating and freeing up the cable. Might just have to replace it.
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Cowl Vent panel is damaged. Going to have to get a new one it looks like.
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 3: 07/24/2011
Well, I had more pics, but I messed up and didn't get them on the flash drive like I thought, so I'll snag those next time.

For now, though, here is my latest progress...


Bags of stuff from the interior and various assorted parts.
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Passenger seat all cleaned up and ready to go...
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Driver's side rear floor plan sandblasted and primed.
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Ready to cut out the rear floor and install a new one. It still looks awful right now.
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Sandblasted rusty spots all over the car, and primed, such as this tank strap holder.
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More sand blasted and primed areas on the subframe.
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Front floor pan blasted and primed...
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The car as it sits right now. The frame work is done. The new fender wouldn't even bolt up before, it is on (loosely) right now.
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Some sand blasted areas prior to priming...
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Me sandblasting...
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That's all for now, hope to get the passenger side floor taken care of next weekend, and then the real body work can begin!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 4: 07/31/2011

Okay, update time!

First, a few from the interior from a few weeks ago, then what we have accomplished this weekend.

Sunvisors in need of "restoration." They retail for like $170 at LRS with the mirrors, so I am going to see if I can't fix these up.
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The headliner is wasted. I have actually stripped it all down to the cardboard, but I am waiting until I know if I can fix the sunvisors before I go get new fabric for the headliner.
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The roof with no headliner...
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Some of the horribly rotted, disgusting old headliner insulation that rained down on my head when I removed the headliner. I think mice actually got up there based on the amount of sunflower seeds.
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Replacement floor pan from Rock Auto...
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Air Chisel beginning to knock out the spot welds on the old pan...
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more removal in the works...
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And the old POS is finally gone...
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Some leftover...
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Yabba dabba do! It doesn't stay this way for long...
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 4 Continued
New floor being welded in... I wish I had taken a few more pics as we went along, because there is a lot of trimming and fitting that took place. Too bad it was hot as hell and took a long time, I was just trying to get it done at the end. Still not 100 percent there, but really close to finished.
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Another pic of the floor...
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Some cleanup work to do...
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And the tool that makes this all possible...
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Coming soon...
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 5: 09/25/2011
No work on the car itself, but here are some shots from last week when we put up the paint booth.


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The booth is already constructed from our previous project of painting my 91 GT. For space saving, it folds to the wall when not in use.

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A picture of where the hook holds the paint booth to the wall.

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And another of the same.

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Top picture of the booth before it is opened.

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Once the booth is detached from the wall, we slid it open.

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A picture of the booth from the inside. The supporting top beams need to be reinforced at this point.

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Installing the support beams.

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A picture from the inside.

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Picture of the front of the booth.

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Clean up work to do.


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Picture of Dad's 99 Cobra convertible. It will be seeing the paint booth after my car is done.

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Another of his car.

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Last one for this week!

Baby is due October 10th, so progress will likely be slow, but I'll keep adding pics as we make progress!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 6: 10/23/2011

Finally doing some bodywork on my project! Not a LOT of stuff yet, but here is what we've got so far...

Sanded the paint off of the Right Rear Quarter panel to repair the damage...
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Then attached the pins with the stud welder.
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Once the pins were in place, we began pulling the dent with the slide hammer.
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Finished the pulling. Two tears need to be welded up.
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Some primer to keep it from rusting until we are ready to do the final priming and filling.
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The next part we attempted to work on was the lower right side rocker. Because this will be covered by the side skirt, I decided to pull it out the best I could. If it was staying an LX, it would have to be cut out and replaced because it is badly creased in several areas.
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Took off the paint
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Ever seen the lawnmower man?
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Pulling and hammering etc...
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Best we could do with what we had, primered for now...
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Last part we worked on was the left rear quarter flair.
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Here is the GT bumper cover loosely installed.
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 7: 01/29/2012

Finally, finally some updates! Although it's been slow to update, I have been pretty busy on the car. I managed to snag a pair of GT doors off of an 87 Mustang. I really only needed the passenger door, but...

1. They were sold as a pair.
2. I needed the GT molding for the driver's door anyway, and they both had good belt moldings, too.

The driver door was damaged more than the one that I have, so I decided to scrap that door.

We have been doing some more rust repair and cleanup in the hinge areas, but aren't quite done yet.

My Cervini's Cobra body kit arrived, which is good. I also managed to pickup a Fiberglass hatch on Craigslist. It was made by Design Concepts. While it seems fairly good, I am a little disappointed with the fitment along the quarter panel. The gap is a little bit wider than I would like, which is somewhat expected with Fiberglass, but my HO fibertrends hatch fit better.

However, I do like the fact that this hatch has a finished underside, which the HO one did not. Overall, though, I am satisfied with the hatch.

I also finally pulled the trigger and bought a new hood from HO fibertrends. This one is a stock style fiberglass hood, and so far the fitment is as much as I expected, which is pretty nice. I won't give it a perfect thumbs up yet because I haven't done any final fitment of the doors and fenders, so I will give it another comment once everything has been fitted and I am satisfied with the looks.

Unfortunately, I had to buy another set of fenders. Turns out that the ones I bought that were supposedly off of a 92 Mustang were actually 79-90 style fenders. I am kicking myself for not double checking them when I bought them, so let this be a lesson. Double check, don't just take it for granted that you are buying what you think you are. I tried for two months to find a decent set of 91-93 fenders, and struck out. So, these are Sort-fit fenders, but actually they seem decent right now, but again final fitment hasn't been done because the doors are still off of the car.

Last thing that you guys may find exciting... I weighted some of the stuff as I pulled it off. So, read on to find out what some stuff weighed!

Okay, okay, on to the pictures.

Here is the car with the old fenders and hood on it. Everything is loosely bolted on in this shot.
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Here is the control weight of your author...
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First up to be weighed, the stock steel hatch. All wiring has been removed at this point, as well as the glass, the latch, the lock cylinder, etc. It is just a bare steel hatch.
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and the verdict is... a simple subtraction of my weight gives us a total weight of 43.4 lbs.
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How does that compare to the Design Concepts Fiberglass hatch?
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24.8 lbs! Or about 18.6 lbs lighter than stock.
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Next up is the back glass.
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A total of 19.6 lbs.!
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How about a Cervini's Cobra Wing?
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10.4 lbs for the wing.
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Okay, last thing I weighed was the Fiberglass stock hood. Since I just did this one today, here is the new control weight.

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and the weight of the Hood is a total of 20 lbs.!
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Some pictures of the hood installed. A reminder, final fitment has not been done, so don't judge fitment on these pics :)

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The only downsides to the hood are the unfinished undersides, and the area where the latch hooks is not reinforced with metal like my Cervini's hood.
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Here are some pictures of the hatch with installed Cobra Wing.
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And with the Cobra rear bumper hanging loosely...
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And finally, how the car is sitting right now...

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Okay, that is it for now! Hope to keep the updates coming along a little quicker!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 8: 04/22/2012

Well overdue for an update here. Although we have been working every weekend, progress has been slow. The weather has not cooperated every weekend, which has hurt us a bit.

So, some of the things we have accomplished...

- Welded up the antenna hole in the fender, and added filler to smooth it out.l
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- Taped off the hatch and door openings (except driver because I still need to get in there sometimes) as well as the other holes in the body to keep out overspray.
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- Scuffed the body to ready it for primer.
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- Cutout the GT bumper for the Cobra insert.
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- Removed the metal strips from the side moldings (Much easier with the heat gun)
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- Finally, we started on some of the areas that required more serious filler work.
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I am really hoping to get the whole car in primer within the next two weeks. Once we do that, then the real fun begins with block sanding the car to get it flat. I can already tell that there will be a lot of little spots of filler in order to straighten it out!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 9: 05/20/2012

Okay, as promised a long overdue update.

We've been working hard to get the car ready for it's first coat of primer. Over the last month or so, we managed to get the ground effects test fitted. This wasn't very difficult. We lined up the ground effects how we wanted, drilled the holes, and installed the supplied sheet metal screws. The kit seems to fit well, and although we won't final fit for a little while yet, I expect no issues.

The one good thing about the delay is that it has allowed us to get the fiberglass parts plenty of days in the sun, which I was a little concerned about.

Other than that, we were mainly doing filler work, as the car has it's fair share of dents and wrinkles. We decided to go ahead and spray a guide coat and block the doors, as well as do the majority of filler work on the body. I expect that there will be plenty of sanding and some more filler in some areas before we are ready for color.

So, things are coming along. We got the body in primer today, but got rained out before we could get to the doors, fenders, or any plastic pieces. The spraying conditions were not ideal at all, as both the humidity and heat (90 degrees) were up today. This created a few minor problems, but has helped us prepare a little better for next time. Also, we got a chance to use our new spray gun for the first time, which performed quite well.

Okay, time for some progress pics!

Lots of work done on the doors to get them straight. It was pretty tough to find some decent ones for a reasonable price, so these things required some work to get them straight enough.
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The Cervini's Cobra body kit fit nicely. Can't wait to get it installed with some paint!
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You can see some of the screws in the picture. The kit feels quite secure with the screws, but the top parts will become much more secure with the double sided tape after the color is applied.


Cobra grille insert test fit install.
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And finally, the body gets a single color. The pics look like the primer is pretty white because of the flash I guess, but it is more grey in person.

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Hope next time all this stuff is primered, too!

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Okay, that is all for a few weeks!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 8.5: (No Pics) 06-10-12

No pictures yet, but the small update is that everything is in primer! However, we did have a few adhesion issues on the plastic pieces. Not a huge deal, but just a dose of frustration and extra time to get them right. The other setback that may be more serious is that the body moldings weren't in that great of shape when I started. I am not happy with their appearance after priming, and I may end up replacing them altogether. They may be saveable, but I didn't have time to give them a full evaluation yet.

So, next week it will be a fresh round of primer work on the plastics. Also, the quarter windows also need to be hit with high build to get them ready for trim paint.

Once the rest of the priming is done, we will be doing a guide coat and sanding. I imagine that this process will take several weeks to get everything as straight as I would like. Despite our previous filling and sanding, the car still has some issues to work out on the right rear quarter panel and one of the doors. I can't say it wasn't expected, though, because this car was far from straight at the beginning.

So, after next week I should have some more pictures. My hope is that we will start seeing some color in July!

Thanks to everyone for the interest and the encouragement, it does help keep me motivated :)
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 9: 06/17/2012

Got a little done today!

Everything is in primer, which is good. There is some sanding that needs to be done, so we aren't quite ready for color yet. The next few weeks should see us putting on a guide coat, sanding, and doing any remaining filler that we missed before primer. Once that is done, we will final prime and block one more time to get the thing really flat for the base and clear.

So, here are the pictures of everything in primer!

Passenger door
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Driver door
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This is the front of the driver door. Somehow we missed this before priming, but we'll get it filled and fixed soon.
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Front of the car with some GFX pieces sitting on it...
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Rear bumper cover hanging on the bumper...
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How things look right now...
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That's all for now!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 10: 07/09/12

Well, not a lot to report. I had to replace the bumper cover on my Wife's Escape, so the Mustang got pushed to the back burner for a few weeks.

We'll be back on it next week, though. In the meantime, I did manage to accomplish one important and somewhat time consuming task...

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty happy with how this turned out...

Side glass is 35% (Darkest I am allowed by Missouri Law)
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The rear is 5% (along with the quarter windows, not pictured)
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Looking forward to getting some more body work done!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 11: 08/02/12

Thanks for the support guys!

I have been working on it, but I admit the heat wave has made it really not much fun lately :)

The good news is that progress has been steady, if slow. We applied a guide coat and have block sanded most everything. It doesn't look as nice as it did before, but it did expose some flaws in the body that we have been correcting. The rear quarter panels were actually pretty wavy, so more filler and sanding has helped to straighten it out. Also, there were a few defects on the fenders that needed a small helping of filler to straighten out.

At this point, the major body issues have been addressed, we are just trying to get all the small areas that will rear their ugly heads in the base and clear.

So, it looks like another round of primer and more block sanding before we apply the base and clear. A little disappointing, but definitely not unexpected given the condition of the car when we started. I hope the next round of primer and blocking will get the body straight enough for paint, but I want to make sure it is really right before we spray color!

I have also done a little bit of work on restoring my tail lenses. I will get some pictures up this weekend!

Thanks for the interest everyone, and I hope everyone's projects are moving along nicely!

Part 11 Continuned... 08/20/12

Long overdue update...

Progress has continued to be slow, and it won't get any faster for the foreseeable future. Holidays, vacation, and other stuff is all conspiring to make sure this project moves along at the speed of molasses at 35 degrees. The pictures are from multiple weeks, but we remain in the body work phase and there isn't a whole lot to show from the pictures. I mean, you can see things, but it isn't exciting or flashy like a nice coat of paint would be :)

The car was pretty rough when we started, and some of that is rearing it's ugly head now. The quarter panels and doors were very wavy with a lot of dents and depressions, so it has just taken a lot to try and get them flat enough for paint. Anyway, here are some pics of the progress!


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Left rear quarter panel. A lot of filler gets sanded off, so the thickness is okay, but you can see all of the areas that needed work.

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More left rear...

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And the right side, same song different verse...

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I had a lot of red filler primer sitting around, so I decided to use it as a guide coat, which turned out to be kinda foolish. I made more work for us because the stuff is thick and likes to clog the sandpaper. So, next time it will be regular black spray paint...

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Some more finished shots of the sanding before re-prime. The whole body has been blocked once at this point. Lather, rinse, repeat until all defects are gone and the body is flat. I am going to bet that the third time will be the charm for the bad areas.

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The doors are basically done, I think that they will block out well. Ignore the primer spots, those were to cover some bare metal areas, I didn't miss them while blocking :)

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Finally, the second primer coat is on! The hatch, hood, fenders, and doors should block out smooth, but the quarters may not quite be flat enough. We'll find out once we start blocking again.

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Last thing, we didn't get to prime the ground effects or bumpers yet. Those all need flex additive, which we didn't have time to mix up a batch, so those will be getting primed in a few weeks. If all goes well there, they will also be ready for color and clear shortly thereafter.

Early this year I had high hopes for this thing to be in color by August, but that isn't going to happen, obviously. November is looking far more realistic these days :(
 

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Part 12: 09/14/2012

Well, I will finally be able to work on the car again this weekend, and hoping to make a little more progress.

But, in the meantime I did manage to finish up my tail lense restoration.

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I used the same method as described on this site for headlight restoration.

Headlight Restoration-new UV sealant idea - Auto Geek Online Auto Detailing Forum

I am pretty happy with how it all came out. For the purists, I am aware that real Cobra tail lights are charcoal, but I went with black for two reasons. One, it looks better, and two, this isn't a real Cobra so I get to do what I want :)
 
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Part 13: 11/18/12

Long overdue update...

Things are progressing slowly, but finally something interesting to share! Sorry about the pic quality, my cell phone is a POS, but I didn't have the regular camera available.

The few pieces we sprayed today...
Someredpieces.jpg


Small part of the Side Skirt
Rearsideskirtred.jpg


Fender extension
FenderExtensionRed.jpg


Inner door frame
DoorJambRed.jpg




So, it is officially goodbye crusty old reef blue (don't worry Reef fans, the color is fine but this particular example was :puke:) and hello to Vibrant Red Clearcoat!

So, the color is now known for everyone! My early hint about the options giving away the color is because this is going to be a Cobra R clone, hence the manual windows and standard cloth seats. No rear seat delete yet, though.


So, unfortunately the rest of the car isn't quite ready for paint, but the body work is continuing. We are making progress, but it is just slow going, and I want to make sure it is all right before we waste a bunch of paint and clear to find out that the body is still wavy or we didn't do a good enough job of knocking out the deeper sanding scratches.

Also, this test run was important to help get the equipment sorted. Although the pics don't show it, there were some trash issues. I don't think they will be a problem on the main body, but the rest of the small parts (spoiler, large side skirts, etc.) will be hanging, and our booth prep is going to be a little more thorough. The trash on these parts will sand out, it just makes a little more work.

Thanks to everyone for their support and interest in the project, it is good motivation to keep this thing rolling along!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 14: 04/14/2013

A long hiatus, but finally an update.

Body work continued through the winter, along with some odds and ends stuff that isn't interesting or worthy of a post, but we were basically ready to paint in January. St. Louis Weather in January is not nearly warm enough to paint, so it has just lately finally started getting up to around 70 degrees, so finally we started shooting some more color.

There are a few defects to work out, but overall everything is starting to shape up nicely. All that is left to paint at this point is the Front and rear bumpers, one of the side moldings, and the unibody itself. Last weekend we knocked out the fenders, doors, ground effects, spoiler, hood and hatch. The hood and hatch took two days because we had to do both sides, and I wanted to paint them flat to reduce orange peel and lessen the chance of runs.

So, a look into the booth at some finished pieces...
IMG_1409_zps1f64591a.jpg


Right Front Fender

IMG_1411_zps4320d765.jpg


Cobra Wing
IMG_1413_zpsf54734c2.jpg


Left Door
IMG_1414_zps16f8b903.jpg


Right Door
IMG_1415_zps95fe4e05.jpg


Bottom of Hood
IMG_1417_zps2337bdf0.jpg


Top of Hood
IMG_1433_zps5732feb0.jpg


Side Skirts
IMG_1437_zpse09f961a.jpg


Hatch (not a good pic because of the reflections)
IMG_1439_zps12ba4174.jpg
 
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91TwighlightGT

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Part 15: 04/27/2013 Wall of text...

ceetwarrior;11376604 said:
Your LX is coming along nicely don't get me wrong, it's beautiful..... BUT why are you making a FOBRA?! For the money you are going to invest in this LX you could have bought a faded/neglected REAL '93 Cobra that you can always get your money back out of. When you buy your girl diamonds do you also buy her cubic zirconia's too??


Well, I can't say I never expected the question to come up, and it is a good one.

Basically, I don't really have a use for a real '93 Cobra. I have a '91 GT that I spent a lot of years doing a similar rebuild on, and have no plans to ever get rid of it. I don't have any need for a second V8 Mustang, I have no place to garage one, and I wanted something that I could drive every day and not worry about. A real '93 Cobra is a great car, but I wouldn't want to drive it every day.

I could replace the GT with a Cobra, but Cobra values are generally more in their originality than a restoration. I spent over five years of my life working on my GT - it simply has more value to me than a mint Cobra that I had no hand in making.

Also, the money spent may make for a more valuable car, but the buy in on a Cobra is substantially more than the $750 I spent to acquire this car. Even if I managed to snag a rough one for 6-8K, it would still have needed a lot of the same kind of repairs as this LX has needed. If I needed to replace parts on the car, they would be a lot more expensive because genuine '93 Cobra parts are hard to find and costly. A set of OEM '93 Cobra side skirts will run about the cost of the entire Cervini kit. Granted, they are nicer, but again this car will see the weather and sit outside, it will get plenty of wear and tear.

I will almost certainly never get my money back out of this car if I chose to sell it. It is something that I accepted up front - this is a hobby, not a career. If I could make enough money doing this stuff, then I would open a business. Factoring in the labor involved, I wouldn't make money on a real '93 Cobra either. Truth be told, based on some life changing events over the last few years, if I could go back in time I probably wouldn't have started the project. I am beyond the point of no return now, though, and it has to be finished. Building a car is not a good investment, unless someone is paying you to do it.

Time and money permitting (this project is already 2 years in the making) I would eventually like to go the 2.3L turbo route. It would make for a fun car that is a little different, and I can enjoy it every day.

Thanks to you and Papa Cosmos for the interest in the build, it is a great motivator!
 

91TwighlightGT

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Part 16: 05/06/2013

Well,

The body of the car is finally red! The pic isn't that great, but you get the idea here.
IMG_20130429_204720_zpscd14cd65.jpg


We did a a couple small spots that needed some razor blade attention. A little run on the LR quarter panel, and a few other small areas.

IMG_20130429_204534_zpscd08d4c7.jpg


The car was actually painted last week, so we have managed to knock everything out and have already started sanded the car with 1000 grit. We still have a little more sanding to do on the roof to get rid of any remaining orange peel, plus the doors/fenders/hood/etc. all still need to be cut down and buffed.

Unfortunately, I won't be touching the thing for at least 3 weeks now, but things are progressing along nicely when we get to work on it! We still need to spray the bumpers, but after that we should be done with red. Once the red is done, we can spray the trim black and dye the interior pieces, then it will be time to reassemble. It sounds simple, but I believe we still have months ahead before that time.