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On Unfinished Car Projects

March 20, 2013 by Matt

Toyota Supra 1JZ Swap Wiring Harnesses

I miss my previous cars. I think about them often, reminiscing about overall qualities and specific situations, snapshots from my experiences with the RX-7s, the Supra and the Audi 4000, among others. From time to time, though, my nostalgia for a particular car seems to spike, and I think I’ve identified at least one possible culprit: The feeling of an unfinished project.

No, not open-ended projects currently in progress—outright failures. The images at the top of this post represent arguably my biggest failure when it comes to automotive projects. They’re a before-and-after of the wiring harness of my 1988 Toyota Supra Turbo, whose engine, during the fall, winter and spring of 2003-2004, I decided to replace with a Japan-only, half-as-powerful-again 1JZ-GTE unit. The physical swap itself went perfectly smoothly and was complete within a couple of weeks, but the necessary wiring harness lengthening operation wasn’t. The harness I acquired had already been hacked by a previous tuner, and in the process he had made a complete hash of it, to the point where, with everything connected, the car would barely start and stay running for a couple of seconds. After a few experiments and rabbit trails, I eventually decided to completely pull the harness and clean up the wiring, the result shown at right. To my great dismay, although the overhauled harness improved the situation to the point where the car was (barely) drivable, it didn’t solve the car’s fundamental running problems, and after struggling with it for several more months and losing motivation (and running out of money, natch), I decided to unload the whole project.

The right decision it may have been at the time (I was in the midst of some pretty major life changes during that period as well), but in retrospect I desperately wish I had at least had the persistence to overcome the car’s problems and sell it as a fully-functional driver. The new owner, a Toyota tech from Charlotte, camped out in my apartment complex garage for an evening or two, sorting everything out, and drove the Supra home, fueling the immediate feeling of regret by demonstrating how close I had been to a solution. Even now, it just bothers me that there was a car project I didn’t finish. The car was not complete. I didn’t have a chance to experience it at 100%, to assess it on its merits after having been swapped and make an decision about whether to sell then. Yes, I probably would have kept it, at least for longer than I did, but there wouldn’t be any loose ends dangling in my personal car history.

What about you? Do you have any unfinished projects or unsolved problems lurking in your automotive past? If so, does it bother you?

Filed under: Car Stories, Tinkering

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