A new fuel pump, fresh filters, a new slave cylinder, and a some fresh Amsoil meant it was time to drive up and down hit the road in a victory dance. And that I did... until I ran out of gas that day a few weeks ago in the middle of a busy road, 500 feet from my parking space, at the beginning of a snowstorm (sans license plates). Luckily, my coworker and at-the-time passenger was kind enough to grab me some gas in the weather-fraught rush hour as I stood behind the car where a hole existed for a license plate to cover. I fired the car right up, cursed the lying fuel meter, and parked the car. Hey, only some loose ends were left to be tied up!

That’s not the case as I write this with the starter out of the car, parts ransacked from my coveted ‘85 transplanted in it—to no avail—and with all loose ends untied. A couple of days after running out of gas, I decided to hand the keys to a friend to drive the car down the road. It began fine, but synchros began to whir a couple of minutes in. The clutch went out soon after and I limped the car back to his shop nearby. The master cylinder, a part that had a replacement included with the car, had puked Super ATE all over the pedal box. I didn’t replace it before as the line fitting was completely rusted onto the master, but a torch was broken out for a surprisingly arduous session of wrench turning. The threads on the fitting turned out to be stripped. The line, costing over $120, was united with the new, free Duralast master cylinder. Predictably, it leaked. I called it a day and decided to order a new line and master cylinder, as those two sure weren’t coming apart in any functional state.

The next day, sleep deprived me got around to taking a swing at reusing the master cylinder and started loosening the fitting. Only, in reality, I was tightening it. After this dawned on me, I filled the reservoir with brake fluid and tried the clutch. It held! Driving around (or something resembling that) with the thoroughly air-imbued clutch system, it was clear that it needed to be bled but would work. I jacked up the car and disconnected the slave, with a mechanic friend pumping the clutch as I opened the bleeder valve. Everything was going fine until he told me the clutch became abnormally stiff. I went up there and the pedal had lost all travel and was difficult to even modulate. I tried taking everything apart and piecing everything back together, but it became clear that the cheap-o master cylinder was the culprit as the clutch operation was normal when the pedal was detached from the slave and still atypical when they were joined.

I posted on the forums hoping for a solution but didn’t get one, so I proceeded to take the line and master cylinder out of my sidelined ‘85. Curiously, the ‘85 didn’t have an aluminum spacer between the master cylinder and firewall as the ‘84 did, but more on that later. I replaced the ‘84 master and line with the locally-sourced parts and ended up having a really interesting time baking upside down on an uncharacteristically warm day with a pedal and master cylinder that didn’t seem physically able to combine. However, everything went together. I turned the key to start the car, and... nothing. Absolute silence. Back under the kick panel I went, trying to figure out if the dangling connectors were the same ones that were dangling when the car started. However, no combination would yield a starting car. I kept trying to diagnose the problem until today, when I realized that the fuel pump was priming when I turned they key and that the starter may be the culprit. A test light revealed that current was flowing to the starter, so I ended up spending some time under the car to drop the starter earlier, which was a cake walk aside from the one damned nut for the power cable which needed removal of some other obstructing pieces. Anyways, the starter, which looks original, is now out of the car. Tomorrow I will diagnose it and, honestly, have my fingers crossed that it’s bad. Putting in the old part after that would just be icing on the cake.

I will also bleed the clutch, and I really hope it works. The pedal travel still feels wonky, but with any luck that’s just me. If the car starts and shifts after tomorrow, I’ll be a happy guy; albeit one who still needs to change change the gear oil, detail the car, service the overdrive, put a drain plug in and fill the differential (and find the tools I ordered to do that), flush the coolant, flush the power steering system, and put on a new wiper arm and two new blades. But at least that’s straightforward. Famous last words, I know.

And I almost forgot about the lack of backspacing on the ‘85 master cylinder actuation rod. The systems are exactly the same. On my ‘85, I’ve had a problem that presents itself in much the same way as a slipping clutch, but persists despite clutch assembly/flywheel replacement. When I put transplanted that master cylinder in the ‘84, I tried putting the master in without the spacer, and had to actually push the master cylinder in a bit to get the totally-released pedal to pop in. I know that the slipping began soon after the replacement (not by me) of the master cylinder, which would make sense if the clutch was never totally engaged. This potentially means that the fix I assumed to be a four-figure overdrive rebuild may simply be a little chunk of aluminum. Of course, it could still be a four-figure overdrive overhaul. That has yet to be seen. Hopefully I shall bring you good tidings (and much shorter ones) by this point tomorrow!