I first saw the car years ago in the back yard of a little shop in Japan called Classic Car Nagoya. It was in sad shape, but I had a Hakosuka skyline in even sadder shape. So, after some negotiating with the man in charge, a deal was struck.
One sad Hakosuka for one less sad Isuzu and I was a happy man to have a restoration project I could tackle. I then stripped the car all the way down to bare metal to asses the amount of metal work I'd have to take on. Relieved that it was mostly minor, I got to working cutting out the old rot and welding in new steel.
Once all the body was completed and smoothed on out, it was time to lay down some primer. This was about as budget of a build as you could get. The welder was borrowed, I bought an air compressor from the 1960s, and my air gun was a hand me down from my father-in-law. Still, the paint went on smooth and clean and looked good!
After spending countless hours wetsanding and smoothing the primer, we were ready to spray color. Of course I messed it up once and had to sand it all smooth and spray a new coat, but once done it looked pretty good! I then spent countless more hours wetsanding back and then polishing to a mirror shine. The end result was pretty good for a garage job (and my first paint job ever).
With the body painted, it was time to build the engine. The rings were shot and one of the cylinders had some rust starting in it. So, this still being a budget build, I bought a hone attachment for my drill and go to work taking out the rust. After about a week of honing, measuring, swearing, reading and learning, I got the bores all clean and just on the edge of spec for a stock set of rings. In went new crank and rod bearings as well but the cylinder head just got a clean. So this was more of a refresh than a full rebuild.
With the engine in, assembly proceeded in earnest! Each part was painstakingly dismantled, cleaned and then installed to the vehicle. The interior got treated to all new carpet, but the seats and instrument panel were in remarkably good shape and did not warrant redoing. After months of work, the old girl finally took her first test drive.
Unfortunately, the diff had a dead bearing that was making an absolute racket. I knew it would cost tons to get fixed properly while living in Japan, and with my wife and I planning a move back to Texas in the near future, the whole car got put on hold for nearly two years. However, once we were back in Texas it was time to finally sort the her out! Unfortunately, during shipping, the left rear fender got slightly damaged, so I decided it was time fix some of the issues I had with the paint on the hood and engine bay while fixing the damage on the fender. With the car on stands in its new home, I got to work!
The diff came out and I spent about 2 months hunting down the right parts. I was fortunate enough to get back to Japan for a few weeks on business, so I was able to source some bearings from Isuzu directly, but in total, all the bearings and races came from about three different sources. Once the diff was rebuilt, the engine bay got mostly stripped and a fresh coat of black paint was put down.
After the engine bay was completed, the hood, cowl, and the edges of the front fenders all got freshly coated in black paint. That was shortly followed with some black stripes down the side. With the really dark blue paint, the black stripes are very subtle, but look rather good! They also have the added benefit of going right over the damaged part, meaning I don't have to try and match the blue I used.
And that brings the vehicle up to the present! Now, she's waiting on me to get back from being away on business again so I can run her down to the DMV and get some proper Texas tags on!