Keith’s Blog: The Three Amigos Are Ready to Rumble

The ES is on its way back to being a car after eight months in the shop for a complete engine rebuild, following the discovery of a cam that had gone flat. The final steps were getting the injection to behave itself; an erratic idle was identified by local Volvo expert Cameron Lovre as being due to a faulty brake booster. Even though the brake pedal felt fine, the booster had a leak in its seal, causing the idle to vary between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm.

Our list with the Volvo is now getting short with a few simple items — the squirters don’t squirt, and neither the heater diverter lever nor the heater temperature control seem to work (not a problem during the cold season, but we don’t want a constant stream of hot air in the summer) — and one troubling item:  a crunch from the gearbox when you shift into reverse.

We installed a new clutch, pressure plate and throwout bearing sourced from Mike Dudek at iRoll motors. We’ve adjusted the clutch several times. Perhaps 10% of the time there is no crunch, 10% of the time a yucky crunch, and the rest of the time a small snick. It didn’t do this before, so I’m sure that Cameron will get it to stop doing it now – even if it means pulling the tranny.

The ES surprised me on Saturday. It pulled well (what a difference a fresh, balanced engine makes) and handled the twisty back roads with aplomb. It has front and rear IPD swaybars and new gas shocks. I also had our suspension experts of choice, The Line-Up Shop, level all four corners.

We still may be selling this car as a part of the “rationalization” of our collection, but the car is growing on me as we fix each little thing and make it into an SCM kind of ride.

This was the tii’s first real outing since we had the warm-up regulator rebuilt by Pacific Fuel Injection, and a final tune by Mike O’Hara’s BMW Service. What a difference! For the first time since we got the car (from long-time SCMer Ned Scudder), the car starts perfectly and idles properly.

Previous attempts to get the car to run right, with a faulty regulator, involved fussing with the injection settings to compensate for the bad valve. But now, it’s on the button and a delight. I was going to swap with Michael halfway though, giving him the Volvo in exchange for the tii, but he clenched the steering wheel and grinned through the window of the BMW with door locked and kept saying, “I can’t understand you.”

I got the message.

We haven’t had a chance to put many miles on the GTV since the mysterious stopping problems last September, but we’re 99% sure replacing the fuel pump solved the issue. We’ll find out soon enough and report back.

Who’s wants to volunteer to drive these cars with me on our next mini-road trip? After all, isn’t seat time what it’s all about?

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market, now in its 33rd year. Keith has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and had his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity. He has received many honors, including the Lee Iacocca Award, the Edward Herrman Award, was inducted into the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame and more. He is on the boards of directors of The LeMay Museum and Oregon Ballet Theater, and was formerly the chair of the board of the Meguiar's Award.

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