A few of us here at Barn Finds realized that it seems like eons can pass before we provide an update on our project vehicles. So, here’s mine! First up, the 1981 Toyota Hiace: so far, the motor has been given a once-over and minor tune-up, along with rebuilt injectors and new glow plugs. The guys at Oxford Motorcars are hoping to fire it up this week and see if the new injectors solve the high-idle issue that sidelined it originally. New tires were also added. Then, we’ll move onto suspension and brakes.
Cosmetic issues are the Hiace’s biggest problems (for now), so I’ve been picking away at some fixes. As a vehicle that was not officially imported here, finding parts has been a challenge. I did track down some OEM turn signal lenses for the front and the rear with the help of some friends made over the internet via a small but active message board for Hiace owners. The good news is the 2.2 L-series diesel engine was sold in the U.S., so mechanical parts have been easier to find.
The biggest trick of all was finding a proper rear bumper. I did track down an original chrome front bumper to replace the log on the front of the van, but this NOS aluminum rear bumper was discovered in a New Zealand repair shop! These same contacts on the Hiace message board agreed to receive the bumper from the merchant, as he wouldn’t ship to the U.S. I sent over a FedEx label to my “pals” and they got the bumper – still in its original Toyota box – to its final destination.
My farm-find BMW 320/6 is nearing its first year in my care. The car is now at the body shop to sort out the bump on the nose, but unfortunately, the engine is still not done. As of February, it will have been with the machine shop for 12 months. It’s frustrating, but they have made some progress and were set to begin boring out the block to accept the slightly oversized forged pistons I had made for it the last time I checked in.
In the meantime, I’ve been continuing to build a parts stash for this car. I snagged these vintage Konig bucket seats out of a junked 2002 in one of my favorite salvage yards, which is chock-full of nice finds like these. The seats will need recovering, but they are still incredibly comfortable and will look perfect in a car like the 320. Even the adjustments still work, though one of them doesn’t slide freely at the moment.
Amazingly, my luck with finding replacement parts for the 320 continues. This picture shows an OEM headgasket kit, still factory sealed, that I found in the trunk of the car! I knew the previous owner had plans to rebuild the engine himself, but I didn’t realize how far along he got before the project hit the skids. I’ve also found original timing belts, tensioners, valve seals and other bits still enclosed in their factory wrappings.
And finally, the wierdo Subaru XT6! This car is endearing itself to me, though I’ll be more of a fan when it stops leaking oil and coolant all over my garage floor. This project is actually set to head to The Subaru Shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, for a full engine re-seal, headgasket job, new clutch and a few other fixes. I just put a replacement headliner (from a junkyard!) in it and have begun sourcing parts for the suspension build.
Believe it or not, this car has been the one that has been hardest to find parts for. Subaru’s parts catalog is an exercise in frustration and most dealers have no idea what you’re taking about when you call up for parts for an XT6. Thankfully, dealers like North Coast Subaru in New York (which sourced these OEM headgaskets and timing belts directly from Japan) and Center Subaru in Connecticut have been willing to go the extra mile and track down obsolete components.
I’m perhaps most excited about the suspension phase, including having these junkyard-sourced 16×7 Subaru alloys refinished and painted gold before mounting. The small group of XT owners have figured out a way to crib together Ground Control coilovers with KYB shocks and struts for a fairly competent-handling package, but some fabrication is involved. That will be the next job when the XT6 is back from its engine reseal. Whew – any questions?