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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Documenting the 7+ year process of building a Murtaya, which is basically a lightweight roadster body with a WRX/STi powertrain in it (so AWD, turbo H4, etc.).

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Table of Contents:

Post 1 - Discovering the Murtaya
Post 2 - Build Begins
Post 3 - The Build Continues...
Post 4 - This is gonna take a while
Post 5 - Finishing up...In the UK, at least
Post 6 - First Murtaya hits the U.S.A.
Post 7 - Two steps forward...
Post 8 - Going to pick her up...The first time...
Post 9 - More issues...
Post 10 - A new start. And engine. And transmission. And body.
Post 11 - And Interior.
Post 12 - Going to pick her up...The second time...
Post 13 - More Details
Post 14 - Shakedown
Post 15 - Coming Home
Post 16 - The First Month
Post 17 - BNW 2013
Post 18 - Car Shows, Sunsets, and Evos....Oh My!
Post 19 - Forza Motorsport: Heavy Metal Affliction
Post 20 - Miss September 2014
Post 21 - After Delivery + 1
Post 22 - After Delivery + 3 (and after Journey Start + 10)
Post 23 - After Delivery + 4 (visiting her sister + first stutter)














Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Discovering the Murtaya

I first heard about the Murtaya on April 11, 2006. Apparently a news reporter released an article globally that was never meant to go outside of the Murtaya's native Cornwall, England. The Murtaya was described as a lightweight, AWD, turbocharged roadster:



After having a few WRXs and STis in the family and falling in love with them but wanting a little sportier looking car, this was as close as it got for me (in the real world).

I contacted the guys in the UK who were dreaming up the car. They were surprised yet excited to hear from somebody so far away. To cut through a lot of story, I got to know them and we started making plans to get me a car. But first, they had to finish the prototype....

This is still one of the most exciting pictures for me: the very first real life pic of a Murtaya body:


They kept sending out pics and updates and before I knew it (well, not at the time, but looking back it seemed fast), they had the public release of the first Murtaya:



Not too long after that, I headed up to the U.K. to check it out and test drive it personally:




After that, I was sure I wanted one. And so my build began...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
One of the great things about getting a custom car is that you see it from the VERY beginning...like the first shot of mine, where the monocoque was being built:


Over the next few months I would watch the initial stages of my car being put together as they also tried to figure out how they were going to eventually get it to the U.S. a lot sooner than they had ever planned.




They also found me the incredible donor car: an STi Type-R.


It was an exciting time, but I was soon to learn how slow and tough building a car from (virtually) scratch can be...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The Build Continues...

But weeks turned to months turned to years...and sometimes even a paint job would seem like it might take an entire calendar to finish up. But despite getting ribbed about my imaginary car by family, friends, coworkers, enemies, homeless people on the street, etc., I was still honestly enjoying it, especially when I got new about any progress, like getting the secondary donor car for the left-hand drive parts (this was an Impreza from Germany):


And the engine, which used the heads and other parts from the main donor car but had a 2.5L bottom end from the USDM STi:


And the interior (or at least the first version):


And, of course, it going in to get it's (first) paintjob:


And after:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is gonna take a while

Even with the major components out of the way, it became apparent that it was the little things that were going to really take the most time. Besides how to make everything work for a U.S. car, there was also the fact that they were still developing small fixes in the main prototype that had to be retrofitted to my car. But progress continued, and a lot of the time was spent finding cool parts that we wanted to put into the car, like brakes:


Primary gauges:


Auxiliary gauges:


Seats:


Even tail lights:


Little did I know at the time, though...Each and every one of these would change at least once before the process was done.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Finishing up...In the UK, at least

But after several years (I'm condensing this for both brevity and my sanity), she was beginning to finish up.


She had a temporary transmission (she would get her final six-speed after landing in the States):



And a simple, safe tune for the time being:


And it wasn't long (well, actually it was) before she out and being road tested, including her first modeling shots:


Alas, it was time for her to leave her birthplace and go to her new home on the other side of the planet...
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
First Murtaya hits the U.S.A.

And so it was shipped over here. At least the chassis of the car.


The actual powertrain would end up being sourced from the U.S., so there was still the main assembly to be done. But here it is being picked up by the U.S. Murtaya distributor after getting through customs in Galveston, TX:



And after a wash (still missing powertrain, hence the high stance):


While this was very exciting and it seemed like the end of the road was near, it would turn out to be the beginning of some of the darker times of the process...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Two steps forward....

This is where the issues and the headaches with the car really started to mount. I later found out that customs had taken quite a toll on the ol' girl. First she had her driver's side window shattered by the dock workers so they could get in and get her off the boat when they couldn't figure out how to gain access because of the handle-less doors(despite us having instructions on the inside of the window on how to do just that).

After that, the customs inpsection agent apparently had destroyed the hood latches to gain access to the engine compartment.

We still had to source a transmission, and the one we ended up originally getting had been used in a rally car and had some issues.

Despite these, there was a push to get the car up and running again with the new U.S. components, and I was getting ready to pick it up....

(I know, no pictures this post. Like I said, it was a dark time for the build, and what better way to convey this feeling to you than by having a boring, text-only post? Besides, there weren't too many pics at this point...)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Going to pick her up...The first time...

It was finally time for me to go and pick her up, now that she was all assembled with her U.S. parts.

Well, not so fast.


I got there to find out that there were just a few more issues...Like, for example:
  • The exhaust somehow shrunk on the way here and was now four inches too short (?!)
  • The engine wouldn't always start
  • Lights didn't always want to work
  • Shifter didn't fit so well
  • Oh, and the transmission/clutch slipped with anything more than moderate throttle
Those were the major things, but I also noticed how the body and paint had cracked, the interior parts were all a bit off, etc. etc.

So we gave it a good shot at getting her done:


And got lots of help:


But after several days of working on it, I realized she wasn't going to be ready, gave up, and headed back home.


Needless to say, I wasn't totally happy with leaving her behind, but I figured that I'd rather have her done well.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
More issues....

Ultimately we had found a new transmission (not one from a rally car this time) that would actually work and apply pressure through the clutch. But right after we got that working, the wiring loom decided to burn itself out.

Not only that, but the advanced engine management that was installed in the U.K. was unknown to anybody over here, so tuning was proving to be a pain.

After all this time, I had a car with a burnt out electrical system, an untuneable engine, and deteriorating exterior. Not fun. Plus, the distributor wasn't having any time to work on it, so things got dark for a while. Really not fun. End of the road?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
A new start. And engine. And transmission. And body.

But up from the ashes (and dust), she eventually rose.



I found a new team of Subaru experts, a great interior guy, and a mechanical/fiberglass body genius to take over the reigns and do wonders to the car. And wonders they did.

After having hassles with the current engine and transmission, we decided to just start from scratch, rip all that out and put in a well-known USDM STi powertrain.


(breaking her down again...)



While it took a while to rip out and replace the mechanicals and electronics (especially the miles of wiring), they got her up and running with her new heart:


And while the powertain was being worked on, I figured we'd also fix up the interior and exterior a little...though I had no clue how much work we'd end up having done on it.

For the body, we decided to just strip her down and fix up the body:


And boy was it worth it:



While it might be hard to see here, it was suggested by the guys that I come down to view the differences, and it was a very good suggestion. Gone were the spider cracks and chips and orange peel surface and instead there was just an incredibly smooth, strong black surface. It was basically rebuilding the car, but worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
And Interior.

So now that the exterior and the powertrain had been addressed, I wanted to see if there was something that might be done with the interior.

I originally wanted a black-with-red-accents on the interior, and it did have nice Alcantera inserts, but during the visit I realized that I didn't like the look and feel of the flocking that was on the dash and door cards.


Initially I thought I'd just have the flocking areas replaced with stitched leather. The more I looked, however, the more I saw needed addressing. For examples, the gauge cluster was crooked and the shifter cutout had been damaged. So, what to do? Well, replace everything, just like the mechanicals and the body.

But not only replace, redesign.

I always liked the driver-oriented cockpits, and now that I had access to a great fiberglass worker and superb interior guy, I thought I might be able to add my own custom touch with their help. As such, I started designing my ideal interior using computer models:



We'd be moving from the standard waterfall-typle console to a more driver-centric one:



And sure enough, within a few weeks, things were literally shaping up:


And before I knew it, it was ready for the surface material to be added:


And so the black leather-covered, double red stitched dash material along with the black pinholed with red underneath inserts was added (along with a custom gauge cluster surround):



Oh, and then we had to add some gauges, buttons, and lights...(still looking for a little 'Murtaya' emblem to put in its spot...)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Going to pick her up...The second time...

So the new guys had done such a great job fixing up the exterior, interior, and powertrain. it was time for me to pick it up (again). I flew down to find the car...on the stands:



Apparently some of the parts still hadn't arrived, and a few issues remained, like the speedometer not working, the engine cutting out at high RPM, the driveshaft coming into contact with the monocoque when torquing, and--most importantly--my new wheels weren't in (the horror). It WAS good to see her and the incredible interior and exterior changes.


And despite the issues, I was still able to drive her around for the first real time:



I was determined to at least drive her for a few days since I had come all the way down. After a few blocks of engine cuts, wheel rubbing, driveshaft/body contact, and the speedo dying, I decided that maybe I should wait.

Not taking her home for a second time was another blow, but the thing that really bugged me was that she just didn't feel right. Besides the main issues, her exhaust was LOUD (I could hear it blocks away when they were running her around trying some fixes), and the interior--while looking great--just didn't feel right. Things that were perfectly sized in an Impreza like the steering wheel and shifter just felt way too big in this car. I knew it was going to be a small car, but she was not fun to drive, in all honesty. She got a LOT of looks in the short drives I had, but I was really thinking that maybe this relationship wasn't going to work out--even after all the time and effort put into it...But, we looked at the issues and worked up a plan to try and fix as much as we could. And I flew back home again, sans car.
 

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Wow, awesome tale! I see you're in the process of completing the entire story, and I look forward to seeing how the finished product performs :D

I see you're in Seattle? I'm probably no more than 20 minutes from you!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
More Details

So there were still a few big fixes to be done, but again, it was the details that were gonna make or break the car. By now, this car had basically had everything replaced at least once. For example, remember those original parts we installed that I said would all change before the build was through? Well, yup:

The brakes (and these aren't even the final wheels)


Primary gauges:


Auxiliary gauges:


Seats:



And taillights:


We also had a custom exhaust built and put in to fix the noise issues, the flow-through, and appearance of the existing one. Old on the left, new on the right:



After getting a lot of these main issues fixed, it was once again suggested that I come out and visit the car so I could find any last issues that would need to be fixed. And once again, it was a great suggestion...Not only that, but it was the trip that made all the headaches, issues, problems, doubts and fears from all these years worth it..........
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Shakedown

So once again I flew down to check on the ol' girl. By now I was kinda numb to the entire thing...It would be good to see her again, but after the last visit, I still had doubts.

Then I got to see her, start her up, and drive her around.



WOW.

It was a complete turn-around from the previous experience. She looked, sounded, and--most importantly--felt incredible.

The small changes that were done to her interface turned out to be anything but; we found a great steering wheel rim replacement that--while expensive--retained the center hub and cruise control while shrinking the diameter of the wheel. It also was much thicker, had great grips, and had a flat-bottom, making it much easier to get into and out of. This REALLY made her feel good and was probably the best mod.

The shifter--which had felt far too tall before--was also replaced with a short shifter (not only in shorter gear throws, but in physical height) and felt a lot better. Granted, it still needed to be tightened up and the reverse lockout needed some modifications, so quick shifting was not an option for the test drive, but it was still much better.

The seats also felt much better positioned and I didn't feel my knees up in my thoat.



So driving her around felt great, but the reality of what I was doing didn't settle in until I drove past a store on the main street and saw her reflection in the window. It was both familiar yet unfamiliar to see this new profile (where I would usually see either a truck or a WRX). But then it dawned on me: I was finally driving her around. After years and years of trying to get her going, I was finally driving her around. WOW.

And it only got better from there. I had stopped at an auto shop to get some driving supplies for her, like blindspot mini-mirrors, fire extinguisher, and a giant wing (kidding). When I exited the store, I was greeted with a crowd of people surrounding the car, wondering what she was. I got to meet all of them and give them a quick explanation of the car and its history. There was even a girl who wanted not only a pic of the car, but me in the pic with it. It was the beginning of a week full of stares, thumbs ups, and many questions (the car didn't have any badges on it, so that didn't help).

I did find a few more issues, but then again, that was the point of this final shakedown visit, before I finally take her home...

And of course, more pictures:






In the next few weeks, we'll hopefully have the final story of her build/first story of her on the road...

-Mike

 

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WOW. Great story, very cool looking car. Looks like a lot of legit work went into it too, a job done right! Nice to hear some SUCCESS stories every once in a while!!!
 
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