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'83 BRAT: Back-In-Black

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This is my 1983 BRAT that I bought this summer. It was in pretty good shape when I had bought it, but it needed a paint job for sure, haha. The previous owner had put hours into it, and it was running well. He had also cut out and re-welded all of the large rust spots/holes. I had been looking for a BRAT for a while, and this one was in good enough shape to give me the gumption to purchase. 


Here is a complete list of what the seller did to it before I got it (besides body work and rust replacement):


At 167,000 miles

Converted Trans to 4 speed single range 4WD Manual out of an '81 GL

At 175,000

Front right wheel bearing replaced

At 191,000

Engine/Transmission swap. 4WD Dual-range, 4 speed Manual trans with a bigger clutch from an '84 GL wagon. Engine still an EA81. 135,000 miles on those.

Valve cover gaskets, oil pan gasket, 2 crank seats, carb gasket

New clutch disc, new pilot bearing, new fluids

New balljoints, new tie rod ends, new brake rotors, rebuilt calipers, remanufactured CV-axles (auto zone), new brake pads, front wheel bearings repacked with fresh grease, alignment

New performance exhaust

Front shocks/struts out of a low mile '86 Brat

New Monroe rear struts

Bucket seats from an eagle talon installed

Custom rear bumper installed

Front and rear body cut flush with bumpers


Then, when I was in the process of buying it he sealed the undercarriage and coated it with Rhino Liner and coated the bed with Rhino Liner also. After I bought it, he did extensive body work to both doors and the front fenders, primed it, and painted it (double stage paint job with pearl metallic black paint with red flecks that show when the sun shines directly onto the car) He also installed another step panel, so now both sides have the secret step panel. I then put in a carpet kit (which wasn't even wide enough for the car, which was great) and have spent many many hours cleaning and detailing the interior. I also broke all of the plastic fins off the vents because the plastic was all crumbly and nasty. It looks pretty clean now. 


Since I have bought the car, I have made it my mission to get it to stop leaking, so I have since had new oil pump housing gaskets installed and the crank seal replaced. When we bled the brakes, the master cylinder froze up, so we installed a new master cylinder. It was still leaking, so we replaced a large part of the oil pump that was cracked and put in a new oil sensor. Then the water pump and front brake calipers started leaking so we replaced those. I just barely ordered new rear drum brake adjuster screws because the old ones are completely worn out. I also have new KYB front struts, but haven't put them on yet.


The mechanic told me that the only thing that they can see that is still leaking is the rear main seal, but I am waiting to replace that since the engine must be removed to replace that one. I am hoping that it will definitely not leak after this.












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really like what you've done with your brat, except for the fenders being cut, but hey its your ride so make it what you want. very nice!

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Its amazing with these cars what something as simple as a paint job will do for them. I really do love seeing it shine! Good luck on the leak.

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WOW your brat looks great but after that black paint work.... because before that paint work in first 2 photos it was just looking like a scrap tin. Lolxx, thanks for sharing the photos, I like your drive but still needs to work on interior. Good Luck

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Replaced the rear-main seal. Turns out the EA81 has two rear-main seals, and my Brat only had one out of two. OUCH! Good thing it's taken care of now though. It doesn't leak a drop anymore. I got new wires for all of the spark plugs and the starter, so it doesn't ground early anymore. It was still doing weird things on my gauge and the lights were way dim. I had the alternator and the battery tested and they checked out fine. I had the electrical looked at again because it didn't stop being erratic, and the guy that looked at it found a few bad wires and fixed them. He also found out that my reverse lights were wired to my 4WD Low instead of the reverse switch in my transmission (they replaced that switch the same time they took the engine out, but the reverse lights didn't work still. That was because the silly mechanics wired it to the 4WD Low. So now my reverse lights finally worked. After this guy fixed these random electrical wires, my gauge showed normal and my lights weren't quite as dim, but only 2 days or so after he fixed it (electrical is weird). Then the gauge dipped again and hadn't been very strong, although the lights weren't nearly as dim as they were before. Well, the gauge didn't go back up until it got really cold, then it showed really strong. It's still off and on, and it seems like my gauge will be stronger if I have used more of the electrical functions lately (the lights and the defrost, etc.). Quite frankly, the electrical scares me because it never makes any sense. Now my rear running lights (the dimmer lights that get turned on at night) aren't showing even though my brake lights work. I hope it's just a bulb. However, the Brat runs fine, so I should be grateful. The paint on the tailgate, however, is cracking. Now I can see that the cracks run all the way through the body. Must have been a bad job of Bondo, mud, or just a failure to get rid of rust right? The whole tailgate is doing it all over, it's a mess. The body of the car is generally fine except for one or two paint bubbles and spots where welds come through the paint.

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