ZacMaster's City Goblin - 2007 SSNA Donor

#1
1/18/19: Hello, everyone.

I guess it's time to start a build thread since I purchased a donor. It's been a whirlwind so far, but I intend to really slow down now that the donor is purchased.



TADAAA!

I've wanted to build a kit car for a long time, and have looked at various models for the last 10 years or so. I can't remember where I stumbled across the Goblin, but I instantly fell in love. Using a donor and a no-weld kit has a lot of appeal to me, and this is going to be my perfect first kit car.

Also, it feels a little like fate. After typing in a few search terms, I discovered that the local IAAI yard had a cobalt SS 2.4L manual up for auction IN A FEW DAYS. But, look at that front right wheel.





I can see the broken LCA (~$125), broken knuckle ($125), Worst case, maybe the steering rack ($125) needs to be replaced. ($50) Maybe the subframe ($200). So with the IAAI fees ($400 or so), the above costs ($500). If I get the car for $500, I'm already in for $1500.

My initial plan was to buy a driveable car, drive it for 60 days or so, then tear it apart for the goblin. I didn't want to buy a non-running car, then end up replacing every last piece of the drivetrain. I can find an earlier LS on craigslist for that, except driveable. How do I put a price on driveable?

But knowing I didn't want to immediately go for TC or SC, I think the 2.4 was perfect, and the timing seemed great.

Let's do it.
 
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#2
1/21/19: A few days after purchasing, I paid IAAI and had a tow company bring it home. In the meantime, I headed off to the local LKQ to grab a new FR LCA and knuckle. I needed to find the FE3 version, so I found a 2008 HHR and went to town.

Since they had already jacked up the vehicle onto rims, I couldn't get any leverage on the axle nut. Hint: If you remove the axle from the transmittion, the axle will slide out of the hub and knuckle withought loosening the nut. Yay.

Late that night, I managed to get the broken LCA and knuckle out of my car, but could not loosen the axle nut. Brought it into the garage, got it into a vise, and finally got it loose. (Oh, and the axle came out of the transmission. Need to look at how to reinstall and whether that means I lost a quart of transmission fluid....yes, I did.)

No pictures....more coming later.
 
#3
1/22/19:

Great progress on getting the donor running today. I managed to reinstall the FR LCA, knuckle (to the strut, LCA, and hub), then get the axle reinserted into the transmission. Brakes reinstalled, and not even a need to bleed. I can't believe the brake lines didn't rupture. See the last picture on my first post.)

The only problem: I had to remove the sway bar end links to maneuver everything into place, and then I couldn't get the nuts back on the end links. The balls just spun and spun. Spent a lot of time googling on tricks to get them back on, but instead, just decided to order some new ones. They're on their way now, but I'll have pictures once they are installed.

I don't know if I mentioned, but the engine appears to run great. Starts up immediately, and revs reasonably. I didn't want to really run it at all (even though it's now sitting on four wheels), because of some messages:



Looks like a check-engine light, ABS light, airbag light, and a message that says "service oil soon." I ordered an OBDII reader (bluedriver) and pulled out the dipstick. Oil looked reasonable, but why take a chance. Let's get some Mobil1 into her.
 
#4
1/23/19: Bluedriver reader showed up. BUT IT DIDN'T WORK. Google google google. No blue light on the module...where does the port get power. Looks like the LTR circuit (15A, halfway down on the left side).




After replacing, I see two codes:

1) P0446 Evap vent control circuit. Reset the CEL and it stayed out. Wuhoo!



2) C0050 RR Wheel Sensor.



But no airbag messages for the airbag light... Hmm...
 

Brian74

Well-Known Member
#5
Congrats!

What year is it? IIRR, the pre-2007 2.4’s came with forged internals. 2.4 was ultimately my 2nd build choice.

I probably wouldn’t take any chances with the subframe.
 
#8
What year is it? IIRR, the pre-2007 2.4’s came with forged internals. 2.4 was ultimately my 2nd build choice.

I probably wouldn’t take any chances with the subframe.
It's a 2007. Does that mean my engine doesn't have forged internals?

Yeah, I looked, and I can either buy a new subframe for $200 or grab one from a junkyard. We'll see when I get it torn apart.
 
#9
1/27/19: Well, after inflating all 4 tires to spec last Tuesday, I now see the RR tire is deflated. Should I order final tires now to drive it aroud, or maybe just drop the $80 to replace this one....I can't decide on wheels/tires, so I'm going to just fix this one.

Tonight, I also vacuumed the interior out (gross). Also, I uplugged the battery and inspected all of the driver and passenger seat connections to try to find a loose connection to fix the airbag light. I didn't find anything obvious, but when I gave up and plugged in the battery again....tadaaaa! No more airbag light.

Now I need to figure out what I can sell now while I'm still driving it.
 
#10
The evap code will come back. It might take a couple starts, however. It can be turned off with HP Tuners.
At first I was really worried about the CEL being on for a Kansas Highway Patrol inspection I thougt I needed in order to transfer the title so that I could show the cobalt's title in my name in preparation for registering the Goblin.

1/28/19: New RR tire and bought a 1.5 Ton aluminum jack from HF to keep with the cobalt. (Instead of dragging around my low-profile 3-ton racing jack....heavy...)

Also, I went to the tag office to ask for a 1-day tag so I was legal to drive it to have it inspected so I could get a 60-day temporary tag to drive it aroud for awhile. When the nice ladies at the tag office told me I only needed the IAAI receipt and the signed-over title, I no longer needed an inspection on the cobalt to move the title over. They handed me a 60-day for $13. They were actually really excited to see the goblin when I bring it in.
 
#11
1/30/19: Oil change (Mobil1 5W-30) and filter change today. Oil looked reasonable, but look at the magnetic drain plug...



Yikes. And look how bad this filter looks:



At least it's fresh now. Hope there's no damage. I keep driving it around the block 0.1 miles at a time, but I don't want to take it far given the transmission fluid level (it must be low since the axle had come out.)

I also installed some new knockoff sway bar end links. I'm not going for anything performance here, and may not even use a sway bar on the goblin, but I didn't have the time to remove the sway bar, so I just needed it to be hooked back up on both sides to stay out of the way.

 
#12
2/1/19: Got the transmission fluid changed out. Pulled out the fill plug (just left of the fuse block), removed the level plug, and finally removed the drain plug (all 8mm hex key). A lot of people need a stubby hex key to take out the drain plug, but I managed. Just barely.

I drained about 0.6 quarts (of 1.7 capacity). Glad I didn't drive it around. I poured about 1.8 quarts back in and saw this, as expected.



Buttoned everything back in and drove it about 10 miles in the city shifting through the smooth-as-butter gears.

The car pulls left pretty hard regardless of power application. I'm sure I need an alignment, but is it worth it prior to ripping the thing apart. Kinda depends on whether I'm going to drive it for a little before tearing it apart.

Also, the air conditioner doesn't work. Clearly, I'm going to do the a/c compressor delete, but maybe I'll just wait until the car is apart.

This is so fun, and I haven't even started yet.
 

Karter2026

Well-Known Member
#15
Nice work.

Dont align it. Dont spend money where it wont be used moving forward in the Goblin form.
Right! If you want to drive it around more. Do the string from front to rear alignment. Worst you will do is wear out a tire that you probably won't use.
 

ctuinstra

Well-Known Member
#16
The filters always seem to be crush some when you remove them. I don't know if the o-ring is not wanting to seat or what. I've greased mine to make sure it slips in. The magnet is just doing it's job. I wouldn't be too concerned about it.

Don't get too carried away with buying parts to make the donor better. You will be throwing much of it away after the build. Use the money towards the build and buy new items as you build. New ball joints, wheel bearings, and things like that will make the Goblin a new car. Don't even worry about brakes as some of this stuff comes with the kit. I did bought things like the sway bar links and bushing for the sway bar and never ended up using them. I was just so excited to start, I wanted to pack the garage with everything I thought I might need or want.

You are right, it is a blast building the car. Save some of the energy and excitement for the long haul, ;)
 
#17
Well, it turns out that if you fill up all four tires with the same recommended air pressure, the donor tracks straight. Feeling a little dumb.

Yes, the EVAP CEL came back, but I'm obviously not going to do anything about that.

At this point, I think it's ready to park and strip.

But first, I think I'll order the kit. Here we go.
 

ctuinstra

Well-Known Member
#18
Well, it turns out that if you fill up all four tires with the same recommended air pressure, the donor tracks straight. Feeling a little dumb.

Yes, the EVAP CEL came back, but I'm obviously not going to do anything about that.

At this point, I think it's ready to park and strip.

But first, I think I'll order the kit. Here we go.
On Tiffany's car (Cobalt) she was getting that code and it was the fuel cap is loose and not allowing the system to pressurize. Her cap would click really easy and would not tighten down unless you pushed in on it really hard.
 
#19
On Tiffany's car (Cobalt) she was getting that code and it was the fuel cap is loose and not allowing the system to pressurize. Her cap would click really easy and would not tighten down unless you pushed in on it really hard.
Yeah, there is something wrong with the filler neck. See in my original pictures that the fuel door won't close? The filler neck is not where it should be. I can look in, but there's nothing obviously wrong with it, so I've been postponing any troubleshooting until the build. But thanks for the tip. Definitely worth looking at.