Hyundai Accent Rally Update!

Since buying the car on the 20th April, there has been an absolute FLURRY of activity on it. I spent virtually the entire weekend in the garage working on this beast, and this post will serve to bring you up-to-date with the latest goings-on with this vehicle!

Tomorrow, my co-driver will be joining me in the workshop to perform further works on the vehicle, so I thought I’d take the time now to show you all what the car currently looks like and document what has been done, before any further work is carried-out.

So what exactly has been done you ask?

Well! I’m glad you did! Below is a list of all the works completed so-far on the car:

– Complete removal of all wheels for inspection of running-gear such as brakes, axles, suspension, etc. I am happy to report that the majority of components are in good-shape. Whilst the rear shocks are a bit soft, and brake linings over half way worn, and CV boots on the outer axles may need some work soon, the overall package driveline-wise is serviceable. I also tested the brake fluid and found it almost completely devoid of moisture according to my brake fluid tester. This was of course tested at the brake reservoir only.

– The biggest time-sink so far has been reconditioning the old, rusty, steel rims on the vehicle. Now, before I go any further, I will say that originally my plans were to upgrade away from the stock 13″ steel wheels and purchase 15″ alloy wheels and 195/50/R15 Potenza rubber. HOWEVER, I made the decision over the weekend to not ahead with that plan…simply because of cost. The 15″ upgrade would have cost me in the region of over a grand. Money which I don’t really want to spend so early on in the piece. Looking at the current 175/70/13 tyres, they are actually in great shape, so I figure why not go with these for the first rally stage. So with that decision made, I decided to recondition the steel wheels; this involved rust removal and repainting them in a flat white. I also applied tyre lettering. This ended-up costing me peanuts compared to doing a tyre and wheel upgrade. But the downside was, it took almost half the weekend to complete just these items. And of course, the tractive benefits from the 13″ wheel package may not be as great as a 15″  upgrade, but again, cost is the main driving factor here and all that said, I am very happy with the way the wheels and tyres have turned-out! They really make the vehicle pop in the looks department!

– I started stripping out more of the rear interior trim pieces. The rally rules state that front door trims are required however, so those aren’t going anywhere, but anything in the rear can go (as far as possible). This should help save some more weight!

– I performed an oil change on the vehicle. Including using a genuine Hyundai oil filter. Oil is Penrite 20W-60…for maximum protection/oil pressure under the strains of a rally. Good choice I think. The engine only needs 3.3 litres of oil! Plenty spare for top-up in the 5 litre oil container I purchased.

– Over the weekend I also purchased a new genuine SPARCO gear-knob and some seat covers. You may laugh at these additions, but they will hopefully serve to preserve the re-sale of the car as well as hopefully making it look the part. The gear knob itself is pretty fancy as a rally-inspired piece.

– I refreshed the wiper arms by removing rust and re-painting in a nice matte black paint.

– I also re-painted the front grille a nice matte black to refresh it.

– Aside from this, I have started on the stickers! There will be stickers for the names of the driver (me!) and my co-driver.

These items may not seem like much but believe me, they took a whole weekend to do; especially the preparation and painting of the wheels and tyre lettering…both of which I guess were most cosmetic than anything else, but still! They help the vehicle look the part…haha. Costs for the above number around the $230 mark for those wondering.

The key thing to bear in mind with this entire project…is COST. This is a BUDGET BUILD for an AMATEUR rally stage. :)

And finally, as of today, I have officially entered the rally! This includes the entry fee and licenses for both myself and my co-driver. All-in, around $250 of extra expense.

So what’s next on the list? Tomorrow (25th April), my co-driver will be coming to visit the workshop and view/work on the vehicle for the first time. It will be nice to not work solo for a change. :) When he visits, we will first go shopping and spend some more hard-earned cash however. :)

Some of the items we will purchase are listed below:

– Purchase at least one 1kg fire extinguisher – this is very important and part of the requirements to enter the rally!

– Purchase of a reflective safety triangle – another important requirement for the rally.

– Purchase of some spare drive belts for the engine. E.g. water pump and power steering belts. These are essential spares in case of failure during the stages.

– Possible purchase of a new air filter. Service records on the vehicle are spotty, and therefore best to have this changed-out.

– Possible purchase of headlight lens cleaner – the current lenses have seen better days! Maybe some spot lights to purchase if the wallet is feeling feisty…no promises however!

Once back in the workshop, we plan to carry out the following work on the vehicle:

– Installation of said fire extinguisher(s?) – a metal bracket and secure bolts are required. This will take a bit of time.

– Finalise removal of rear interior trim. This will serve to save ever more weight.

– Possible installation of some radiator protection; i.e. some mesh for the radiator perhaps.

– Removal of remaining “interior protrusions”. This is a requirement for the rally, that no sharp objects remain in the interior of the vehicle. With the rear seat gone, there are some brackets and hinges still bolted to the chassis; these will need to be removed to leave a flat floor.

– Possible Plastidip application to the interior front door trims and dashboard. I am thinking a nice matte black to match the real rally Hyundai Accent. This will take some time but hopefully serve to really make the interior look the part.

– Possible mounting of a GoPro into the interior cabin of the vehicle. This has been approved by the rally organisers.

– Continuation of stickers/decals! The most fun part of course. :)

Looking ahead, on Wednesday, the vehicle is going in for a full coolant flush of the engine and radiator. Then on Saturday, the vehicle is booked-in for a 2″ sports exhaust from cat-back. :) There will sure to be updates at that time! Hopefully including a video. :)

On the following Sunday (30th April), with a lot of the work completed on the vehicle, I plan to drive it to an isolated area (sorry, no telling where!) and perform a ‘shakedown’ to test the vehicle out and put it through its paces with my co-driver. This will also be a good time to test our team dynamic in the car and perhaps make notes of any further improvements to be made before the actual rally starts on the 20th May.

I spoke to one of the rally organisers today, and they have allowed a GoPro installation to be made inside the vehicle cabin! So perhaps this will be sorted in-time for the shakedown for some quality footage to be provided to you all.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for this update! For those who don’t yet know, I have started a GoFundMe page on the vehicle! Any and all donations are appreciated! We have, of this writing, already received our first generous donation of $30 so we profusely thank for donator for this contribution! This can go towards our fire extinguisher. :)

If you’d like to contribute, please do, at the following URL. Again, any amount is much appreciated!!! Your contributions will go towards making this vehicle the best it can be. :)

Before closing, the obligatory pictures of the latest happenings as described above. Until next time, enjoy!!

Note: the pictures below should be in chronological order, with the latest status of the vehicle shown in the very last photo below. Also note that I experimented with gold wheel rims at one stage…glad I didn’t go with them! I hope you agree. :)

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Rally Here We Come! (aka: what have I done???)

Since I was a teenager, I remember playing the video game – ‘Colin McRae Rally’ – on the various video game consoles and then on the PC and I remember dreaming what it would be like to one day drive my own rally car. Growing up since then, I regularly played other rally games and still the fire inside me burned. Here’s a memory of old which just struck me like a lightning bolt: ages and ages ago…I rounded a round-about under construction in my 2003 Hyundai Accent which was modified. The roundabout was all gravel, and whilst my Accent was near-new and very doted-after and shiny, as I negotiated the roundabout, I remember giving it some welly in 2nd gear and I distinctly remember the smile burn itself across my face as the front wheels did their thing and the car came around. Being that my Accent was in very good condition however, I never pursued my passion of rallying. But, interesting that that moment was seemingly forever ingrained in my memory…

WELL…fast forward about…hmm…a WHOLE DECADE…

The other week I was sitting at work, browsing the Internet (on my lunch break of course…) and suddenly came upon a forum where users described amateur car rallying. It was a Hyundai Excel rally forum. It instantly piqued my interest. Unfortunately however, the events were all held anywhere else but in my state (which is Western Australia). My hopes dashed, once again thinking that our state never gets anything fun…I then came upon!

I found out that they recently built a track in WA and had already run the first rally round in March 2017! And better yet…round 2 was scheduled for May! Only about a month away!! After scouring their web page and taking-in as much info as I could, I rang the event organiser on the phone and had a nice chat about the event in more detail. After confirming some of my queries, I was happy to proceed!

So naturally, I went online and started looking for vehicles…I initially looked at Hyundai Excels…I’m a bit of a ‘Hyundai Nerd’ (the original, according to some of my friends), so of course I was going to try to fly Hyundai’s flag as much as possible. I found a great candidate in one Hyundai Excel. It seemed perfect, good paint, low mileage, and VERY CHEAP – $1,200 cheap! I phone the seller, however it seemed that I had missed it by only hours, as the seller mentioned that it was literally just sold 30 minutes earlier!

My hopes dashed – for the second time – I went-on to look at other vehicles…and somehow…came upon a 2001 Hyundai Accent. In Silver (one of my favourite colours). I learnt to drive in one of these cars too…so naturally I guess I had an affinity for them. Sure, it was priced at $2,000, but that price was still manageable. Plus I figured I could probably knock the seller down a few hundred.

I messaged the owner, who stated it was still available, so off I went then, to take a look…at 6.30 pm in the evening, when it was well-dark!

The couple I bought it off were nice enough. The wife was obviously sad to see it go, but hey, I’ve been in that position more than once now and I definitely know the feeling. Apparently, it was her car that she learnt to drive in and they apparently owned it for eight years.

In case you’re asking why an Accent, well, this car once featured in the WRC (quite successfully, I might add). I doubt I will reach such lofty heights as the WRC with this vehicle, but hey, it’s a start, right?

The vehicle is a bit rough around the edges paintwork-wise (clear-coat deteriorating on some panels and lots of bumps and scratches, but mechanically, it seems robust enough. The best thing is, the car only has 163,000 odd kms on it! For a 2001 vehicle, this is quite good! Whilst the service history is severely lacking, the oil colour in the engine is still golden and the oil change sticker on the windshield indicates an oil change required at 167k kms…so not bad! Unfortunately, the coolant is another story…it’s basically water! But not too rusty or muddy from what I can tell. Still, I intend to get that changed out ASAP and flushed and replaced with quality coolant.

Otherwise, the vehicle drives fine. As aforementioned, because I learnt to drive in a vehicle just like this, so memories came flooding back as I bought the car and drove off! The best part, I knocked the seller down from the advertised price of $2k to $1,800. That’s $200 in my pocket to pay for the rally entry fee…which is, incidentally, $200!

Within minutes of getting the car home that night, I started stripping-out the interior…this included removing the rear seat and parcel shelf trim. The spare tyre and basic tools as well as some spare oil will have to stay, given the nature of rallying…better to be safe than sorry!

This car has a princely 100-ish horsepower, is front-wheel-drive, but only weighs sub-1000 kg in factory trim (I think the official figure is somewhere around 960 kgs). I figure that stripping it down will save me about 40-50 kg and with some skillful driving, I should have a fighting chance…especially when I read that round one of the Gravel Action Sprint was actually won by a Ford Laser – a front wheel drive vehicle – in a field of turbo all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars! So I figure, I should hopefully have a fighting chance…once I get my driving experience up to task, that is!!

All that said, I should note that I don’t intend to fully ‘soup-up’ this vehicle…even though I may sometimes refer to it as the ‘Rally Beast’ haha…this is more just a vehicle to ‘get my feet wet’ in the rally world and who knows where it may take me if I like rallying more than I already think I do!

Here’s some links to the rally event I’m entering and the organisers:

Also, here’s a video summary of round one, where you will see the winner of the rally, a Ford Laser…

I will close this introductory post here, save for including a few photos…more updates soon! Enjoy!

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