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Old 06-21-2013, 10:55 AM   #1
tunedbysaturnsl
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1995 SL1
Happy Two Years In The Making

It's been quite a long time since I've been on the Saturn forums. I was active back years ago when Twistec, XRC, Saturn Motorsports, and SPS were still holding up shops. So, it's been that long.

I've had my 1995 Saturn SL1 since about 1999 that was given to me by my mother who inherited from my grandmother. Back then, it only had less than 20k miles. Now, the engine has about 98k miles. My car was rear-ended by an elderly woman in a Crown Victoria back in the winter of 2011 when I was at a stop waiting for traffic to clear to turn into my driveway. The whole rear end including the two quarter panels (minus the left taillight), bumper, and the trunk were destroyed from the impact. I didn't know it at the time due to the fuel pump's relay having came loose from the accident, but the engine still ran.

About a week later, my insurance company wrote it off as a total loss which I figured would happen. I ended up keeping the car in hopes of somehow fixing it. Had a body shop take a look at it and they said the only way they could fix it was to weld in a whole rear clip and that was going to be expense minus the clip itself. At the time I was unemployed and just finished up school the month before so, I didn't have a whole lot of money.

Ended up starting work and saving money to have something done with it, not sure what though. Decided having welding done on the rear clip was going to be a no-go since I've heard some stories about that. So, I approached it as finding a Saturn of similar year/model with maybe a blown power train and swapping my parts over to. Ended up finding a dark green 1995 SL close to where I was working so, I went by to have a look at it. Engine was missing some parts, interior had seen better days, and the car needed a bath, but that wasn't what I was really after. I was after the frame. Took a close look at that and it looked good, real good. Maybe even, dare I say it, better than how mine was before the wreck. So, I offered the fella a good price for it since all he was going to be doing was try to part it out and the deal was set. Picked it up a couple days later and towed it home.

Months went by and I was able to swap parts here and there during the weekend (remember I was working during the week). Started with the body panels (doors were last for that phase). My company's contract ended up not being renewed spring of last year so, I had a lot of time to get a lot of stuff done while I was job searching. Swapped over my entire wiring harnesses connecting everything along the way. Put the interior pieces in. Even went so far as to swap over my HVAC unit (that big black loch ness monster thing under the dash). Then came the engine that I had to come up with a solution to.

I got an engine hoist, but I didn't want to disconnect the axles and power steering to pull it out of the top. I wanted to drop it all completely out of the bottom as a whole assembly. You know, like they installed them in Spring Hill, TN. So, I did some reading and found one guy on line that had done it in his driveway with a crane attachment in the back of his work truck. Well, I didn't have that and the engine hoist's legs were going to go too far under the car to allow the engine to come out.

Well, lucky me, I got a lift from my dad for an early birthday present. Unfortunately, fall was already here and it was getting cold. So, I had to put it all on the back burner until spring. About two months ago, I rolled the lift out (not easy to move I assure you) and pulled my engine out. I didn't disconnect any of the wiring. I disconnected the engine harness at the PCM and un-routed it down the fender to engine compartment and tucked it away. A couple fuel and coolant lines had to be disconnected regardless. The engine spent a couple of weeks in the garage on a mover's dolly since I was cleaning it (minus the bottom half). Came out great, better than I could have hoped for. Not that it was super dirty anyway. I even put blue wire looming on it as well.

Then, I had to get it into the good, "new-to-me" frame where all my stuff from my original car had been swapped to. Wasn't bad really. The lift was able to lower the car low enough to the ground that I was able to thread the subframe's bolts in and raise it up some to get my air gun on it. I did this without the front wheels and struts on. So, now I have my car again, just with a new frame.

I basically swapped everything minus the dashboard (mine had a break in it for the glove box handle), the front/rear windshields, the roof (obviously that wasn't going to be able to be swapped), and one of the lines that go to the a/c since it was accidentally bent to heck. Obviously, the next thing is to put some fuel in it and start it, but I need to route the PCM wiring down the fender to the inside of the car (haven't done that yet). The interior still has to be put back together since I finally got around to hooking up the shift linkage and replacing two burnt out mini-bulbs for the HVAC controls. I'll still have to do an all-wheel alignment and a full body paint job. And obviously, bleed the brake system, but waiting to see if my dad will get me a set of front and rear powder coated blue brake calipers.

I have managed to do things a bit better with my aftermarket accessory add-ins like cleaning up the wiring really nice for my car alarm, making provisions for my backup camera, working on making a harness for my sunvisor tvs, etc. I've learned a lot along the way. Resources I used were RichPin's videos on YouTube since without those, some of the things I would have never been able to do. The other big resource was the actual Saturn Factory Service manual. I used that when I first retro-fitted the power windows/locks/side mirror and cruise control. Very big help.

But, so far, everything that I have connected, powers up like the windows, dome light, headlights, turn signals, trunk light, etc. Just have to trouble shoot the locks since I think I inadvertently crossed a wire with the key cylinder switch in the driver's side down and it's grounding out whenever I press lock and popping a fuse.

So, I'll be on here more now since my car is getting back into shape. She'll be a "driveway queen" since she's my baby and has sentimental value to me. Guess you never realize something (or someone) means as much to you until it's taken away. Just gotta have the means and motivation left to go on or in my particular case, rebuild it. Sure, I was probably nuts for doing it, but I never claimed I wasn't. I'll post again once I fire her up in another week or two. Thanks for reading.

TLDR: Rebuilt my 1995 SL1 from the frame up after an old lady in a Ford "battle tank" hit me.

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Old 06-21-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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2001 SL1
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

A wonderfully written account of your dilligence!
Hope to hear more as you progress.
Might see you driving thru Virginia.

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Old 06-21-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
EHuntress
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1999 SL2
1992 SC
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

You love your car! If I lose another, I will be doing a similar replacement. I won't be without a Saturn again. I love them too much.

I lost mine to a rear end collision too. Insurance totaled it out. I lamented about fixing it, but in the end the gas tank had been damaged too. It looked better than what really happened underneath. I let it go and then about a year and a half later threw out my original Saturn manual and spare keys!!! I regret that now.

In Feb I bought a 99 SL2. I'm very happy. It might be better than what I had in some areas, not so much in others, but I'll fix it.

BTW - don't drive through Front Royal, VA! It is accident prone. I was rear ended at a stop light in a 25 mile per hour zone. The guy who hit me was a hit and run with a huge Ford F250 or F350 Lariet grill 2008 - 2010 model. The guy hit me so hard his tow hook was lodged in my bumper, a partial license plate imprint in my bumper and sent me to the other side of the intersection.

My drivers seat gave out and I was laying down. Thank God my kids were not in the back seat. They could have been seriously injured by my seat falling into their laps.

Never did find the guy and my insurance screwed me out of a replacement car. I received an ambulance ride up the street to the hospital and months of physical therapy, plus the PITA of having an accident in the first place.

He wasn't doing 25mph, he wasn't doing 35mph, he had to be doing over 50mph to lose his tow hook and imprint a partial plate into my plastic bumper.

Another hit and run driver in that town, might be the same guy, nearly killed a friend and her son. He T boned her, she has facial scars from the impact.

...
http://thatsaturnchic.wordpress.com
Owner of a 1999 SL2 Saturn (manual trans)
Original 1997 SL2 Saturn owner RIP
Owner of a 1992 SC Saturn Coupe, AACA 1st Junior winner!!!
Owner of a 1993 SC2

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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1997 SL2
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

Quote:
Originally Posted by tunedbysaturnsl View Post
TLDR: Rebuilt my 1995 SL1 from the frame up after an old lady in a Ford "battle tank" hit me.
HEY!!!! There's nothing wrong with Ford Battle Tanks

But yeah, while you're in there and I'm not sure how well the interior is assembled or gutted out at this point, but ya might wanna take some time out and kick the F-5 issue in the ass...

...
97 SL2
DOB: 3/19/97
Date Obtained: 5/30/07
Status: Alive, 1/2 exhaust

2004 Merc G.Marquis GS
DOB: 2/4/04
Date Obtained: 7/6/12
Status: Alive, no heat

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Old 06-22-2013, 12:05 AM   #5
alordofchaos
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2002 SC2
1998 SL2
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

Impressive dedication/work!

Could've started the post with the TLDR rather than putting it at the end

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 141k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 06-22-2013, 09:16 AM   #6
jimboman
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2001 SW2
2005 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

You really stuck to it. I hope you get many more years of it.

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Old 06-24-2013, 08:20 AM   #7
tunedbysaturnsl
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

Thanks all for the kind words. The whole project did take a lot of motivation since I've never done an engine swap before which was the most daunting experience. But, plenty of research and having the "just do it" attitude one cool, sunny day helped with that. Plus, many hours of lost sleep plotting in bed on ways to get certain parts done. Lol. She'll be around for awhile. I have an exhaust system I bought for her last summer sitting in the rear seat.

...
1995 Saturn SL1 "Abby"-Powertrain Swap Completed. Running As Of 07/27/2013
1997 Mitusbishi GST "Phoebe"

Looking For:
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:35 PM   #8
Inky
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

Open an account at Flickr, upload some photos there and link to them in a post here. I wanna see!

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Old 06-24-2013, 05:09 PM   #9
tunedbysaturnsl
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1995 SL1
Default Re: Two Years In The Making

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inky View Post
Open an account at Flickr, upload some photos there and link to them in a post here. I wanna see!
Okay. I can do this this week probably. Anything in particular anyone wants to see? Lol. I have a lot of pictures of my car, just not necessarily from the rebuild itself.

...
1995 Saturn SL1 "Abby"-Powertrain Swap Completed. Running As Of 07/27/2013
1997 Mitusbishi GST "Phoebe"

Looking For:
Saturn Blimp plush
Homecoming Saturn Logo "Lost Form Cast" piece

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