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80 Rabbit, 04 ZHP, 71 Opel 1900, 87 325i, 14 Cheating Diesel
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Don’t worry, it was built in Germany


I didn’t know that I needed an Opel until my buddy sent me a link from the dreaded Facebook marketplace. It was just one picture with the title “Opal 1900 wagon.” Even worse the sparse description included the illustrious phrase “ran when parked.”

It was a couple of towns away from my work, so I immediately send a message to go look at the car. He says tomorrow is best, and provides an address. Tomorrow rolls around, I message him that I am on my way. During that 30 minute drive, I get no response. Arrive at the address, find the car parked in a light industrial complex. Message him that I am here and climb all over the unlocked car. Find that it has no rust besides the missing paint on the roof. No accident damage, and only a few door dings too. For a 50 year old unrestored car, it is in amazing shape. Interior is all there with a few split seams and a couple cracks in the dash. At this point I have been at the car for 20 minutes and not a peep from the owner. Ghosted by the seller. Facebook Marketplace truly is worse than Craigslist. I message him my number, telling him to give me call so we can work out a deal. Later that night, he messages me that he will call tomorrow. Good thing, I was starting to get worried. No need to call 911 for a wellness check.

Tomorrow rolls by with no call. The day after, I message: “Call me maybe, hotline bling.” Trying to appeal to his youthfulness. No response. The weekend is coming up, and I let him know that I can make it out anytime. The Weeknd passes and Sunday night, another message, another . Finally, he messages on Monday. “Can we meet on Tuesday?” At this point, I realize he doesn’t check his Facebook often, it takes hours to days for the read icon to pop up. So I ask him to give me a call. And he does. After that, our conversation gets boring and two way.

Knowing that the wagon is a hot commodity, I come out the same day. Ill prepared to try to get it running but I have cash to make the deal. Which I do, and make plans to pick up the car the next day. Pull the tiny lightweight battery from the rabbit, grab a half empty can of starter fluid and some tools and a bit of wire.

I noticed the brand new alternator, battery and battery cables. Signs of electrical problems! My favorite kind. No, really. I did 9 years of car stereo, wired cars from spools and in my current career I am a certified electrician. This one wasn’t hard to figure out. They hooked up the heavy gauge wire to block. Good. Small wire? Tapped to prevent shorting out, but hooked up to nothing. Bad. That leaves the entire chassis without a good source of ground. Like the ignition module grounded to the fender.

A quick patch cable, and the real small powersports battery and armed with a half can of starter fluid I go to work. First spray, I get a cough! Using starter fluid when you are only one person is a bit of a pain. Spray into the car air filter, walk around the open door, turn the key, feather throttle, repeat. If I had a normal sized battery, this would probably be fine and the fuel system would have primed no problem. But, since I couldn’t find my lithium jump pack, and the battery location was too small for the e30 battery. I have range anxiety with a 50 year old carburetor’d car? Luckily my new midsized GM car was built by Europeans, so I was able to sit on the edge of the passenger seat and reach the key while being in shooting distance of the air filter.

I am able to get it to idle with intermittent sprays of engine cocaine. Almost out of starter fluid, I pull the fuel line off the carb. I find gas! Or whatever ethanol enriched gas turns into. Maybe it has uses in preserving wood furniture? I bump the starter, gas is pumping!

So, I hook back up the fuel supply and use up the last of starter fluid, but now I go back to the drivers side to be able to feather the gas. I am able to get it to idle!

At this point, AAA has assigned a tow truck to my request, and they are 20 minutes out. Time to make a decision. Try to drive the opel home over a 1000ft pass and 60 miles in traffic or take the easy way out?

I let the car warm up. It must be eager, because it passes the hash mark for normal operating temp. A couple taps on the thermostat housing, it opens and the radiator starts cooling. The tow truck has been on it’s way for a 5 minutes. I putt around the the parking lot. Makes a scrapping noise on throttle. Probably the old motor mounts are allowing the engine fan hit the shroud. At this point, my desire for an adventure is overcome my desire for 8 hours of sleep. I wait for the tow truck and go catch the last train out of town.

Now, what is my plan? I have a standing deal worked out for a 5.3 iron block LS. I also have a GM T5. I could keep the motor stock, buy a bellhousing and use the t5. But since it is a truck motor, the cam is tiny. It’s hard to resist the easy power. But then I will need a t56 to handle the power.

Ooooorrr…. I have a freshly rebuild ABA with a turbo lying around. I just sold the rwd trans and adapter but rebuying that will be less than a t56.

And either way, it’s gonna need a rear end to handle the power. Looks like some people have adapted volvo 240 axles, and there is the explorer 8.8.

Enough text, more pictures:


 

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M3, CX-5, Tahoe, motorcycles
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2,870 Posts
I'm super excited to see where this goes. I lean towards the 5.3, but what do I know? I think the real move would be a 2.0-liter Ford-Cosworth BDG, but that's likely not a cheap undertaking.
 

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Premium Member
80 Rabbit, 04 ZHP, 71 Opel 1900, 87 325i, 14 Cheating Diesel
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4,249 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm super excited to see where this goes. I lean towards the 5.3, but what do I know? I think the real move would be a 2.0-liter Ford-Cosworth BDG, but that's likely not a cheap undertaking.
A Ford motor in a GM product? The horror.
 

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Turtles walk slowly, but get angry fast!
21 RS6 12 QX56 10 A6 Avant 88 16v Scirocco
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12,272 Posts
YES!!!!

I cannot wait to watch this happen!!!!
 
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Reactions: Bad Rabbit Habit

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46,911 Posts
Wow! That's a pretty cool project and it's in amazing shape. This should be a fun ride. 🍺

I feel like a LNF Ecotec would be the most appropriate. Since it uses the Colorado trans (IIRC) maybe you can use a truck rear end, too?
I kinda like that plan. Just shorten the driveshaft and narrow the axle if you have to. :)
 

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That looks like an awesome project! I admire your willingness to chase after flaky sellers.
 
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Reactions: Lawrider

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2021 Mazda 3 Premium Turbo
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If it’s anything like the Opala I drove in Brazil then it’s about 20 rotations lock to lock. It will need your full attention to stay in your lane.
 

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Premium Member
80 Rabbit, 04 ZHP, 71 Opel 1900, 87 325i, 14 Cheating Diesel
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4,249 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Soon as you mentioned a V8 swap, all I could picture was this.


Good thing I will not be trying to do a big block. If it doesn’t fit under the hood, not gonna do it.

I feel like a LNF Ecotec would be the most appropriate. Since it uses the Colorado trans (IIRC) maybe you can use a truck rear end, too?

Or maybe an L3B
Ecotec has issues clearing the steering rack without a custom oil pan. Also, don’t have one.

Isn't an ABA a VW engine?

But it’s not a Ford. Also don’t have one.

Ok, what about a Vega Cosworth 4 or the QUAD4?!
Cosworth Vega could be interesting. I happen to know where one is. Doesn’t make a ton of power, so will need less other upgrades. But it also doesn’t make a bunch of power.

If it’s anything like the Opala I drove in Brazil then it’s about 20 rotations lock to lock. It will need your full attention to stay in your lane.
I’ve maybe done 1/4 mile in it so far. The steering rack didn’t seem that crazy. The wheel feels huge and in the way when you get in the car. May get a Prototipo.
 

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2020 Subaru Ascent & 2020 Subaru WRX
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I came in to suggest an Ecotec swap, glad I wasn't the only one! Sky Redline as a donor??
 

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Premium Member
80 Rabbit, 04 ZHP, 71 Opel 1900, 87 325i, 14 Cheating Diesel
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4,249 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Cool snip from Road & Track.
3 turns lock to lock, unibody and front discs! Things I am learning even though I own it.
 
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