November 20, 2016

DIY Maruti Suzuki Esteem Restoration Project - Part 1

"I can probably outrun this thing on foot" said a guy about the humble 800cc engine on the Maruti 800"

I've been looking to upgrade to a better car for a long time now. I considered the Hyundai Getz, Fiat Palio and even the Suzuki Baleno. My requirements were simple: a minimum of 1200cc, well maintained motor under the hood; and a working air conditioner. The cosmetic condition was not a problem. The worse the better. All the more fun for DIY repairs.

Then one day, out of the blue a friend from Deloitte inboxed. She wanted to let go of her 20 year old Maruti Esteem and asked if I was interested. Hell yeah I was. I drove the car home in a couple of weeks and got the papers transferred in another two. The RTA screwed up a little on the registration though...that's another story. Thanks for the car Trishula! You're awesome.

I'll list some basic fixes/DIY improvements I did to the car over the last one month. I will post regularly here and on other portals(FB, Insta), as there doesn't seem to be much online about the path breaking car that was the Esteem. Team Bhp has some great threads on it but they've rejected my applications for registration twice already. I'm not motorhead enough for them yet.

Looks great from this angle. The tail lamp assembly still looks classy.
A tight turn or a shared auto that inched too close.
The 'Doctor' sticker needs to go.
All lights in order. The boot opens via a release under the driver seat. No key access.
The front seat covers have seen better days. Will be replaced soon.
The car came with a Pioneer Head unit with a 12 CD changer! I had to remove it due to a broken ribbon cable.
Mechanical steering. Just what I like.
The 1.3L power plant. 20 years but still roars to life without a complaint.
The Maruti-like front. One of  bits I'm not a fan of.
The car came with these Pioneer 'Helmet' speakers, Pioneer sub in the middle, and a massive amplifier under the seat. This car is ready for long drives with friends!
The door panels need work.
The back seat covers too.
This car has been on some really bad roads. Or did a dive into a nasty pothole.
Will replace the wiper assembly in one of the service visits.

With the Maruti 800 I had invested a lot of time and money in making the car 'presentable' . I will be following the same routine for the Esteem. No over the top mods like spoilers, engine tuning, or "speed is life" stickers on the car.  The aim will be to make the car look cool, while not making a hole in my pocket.

I made a list of things I wanted to do on the car, in no particular order or priority:

- Fix music system (done)
- Engine oil flush
- Radiator flush
- Wheel alignment
- Dashboard revamp (done)
- Cabin light, plus two exterior lamps
- Door Sill plates (done)
- New Seat covers
- Door panels revamp
- Ambient lighting
- Bottle holders
- List still updating...

Leaking fuel line
On my second trip out in the car, I noticed there was a leak in the fuel line. I'd initially thought it was just condensation from the AC. When I popped the hood, I saw this

I bought a similar pipe and replaced the faulty bit. Problem solved.

For the Dash, I decided to give it a quick coat of Matt black to hide the two decades of scratches and discoloration. It was not as easy as I'd thought it would be. First, I was unable to remove the dashboard as the speedo assembly wouldn't come off. I didn't want to break anything so I went the easy way -  Masking tape. Lots and lots of it.

A closer look at the dash:

That panel gap above the glove box door was bothering me. I had fixed the loose catch on it but it still won't close completely.

I fixed it with some foam board. I chose orange to go with the new Sony head unit I installed in the car. Will do another post for the music system later.

More information on the car :