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focusmaniaczx3 07-18-2011 08:18 AM

JK03SVT review
well here is the blow by blow. i just bought a 02 SVTF from robert for just under $2100 with 124700 miles on it. it was an absolute steal for that price but not everything went smoothly exactly.

contacted him about it and we went back and forth for a few hours discussing the price and the car itself mainly discussing how it would do on the 5 hour trip from atlanta GA to hickory NC. i have access to a truck and trailer but im obviously going to want to drive the car i just bought. robert told me several times it should make the trip. well it didnt LOL! but we will get to that.

over the next two weeks i asked for detailed interior, exterior, and underhood pictures on several occasions so i could show them to the bank since they prefer to see the car they are giving a loan for. i never got the pics so never got a loan for the 02 SVTF. instead i ended up putting a lean against my 00 zx3.

i then found out that the georgia DMV is gay. you cannot get a tag, registration, or temporary transport tag, or anything for a car in georgia unless you are a resident of georgia. you cannot get any of that in NC unless you have the title or copy of it in your hand to show the DMV. notice the problem here? the only LEGAL option is to trailer the car or make the trip from hickory to atlanta and back TWICE. once to pay, wait for the title to come in and then go back and get the car. that aint gonna happen either way. i was told the car would easily make the trip and i want to drive the little booger.

then i realized my dad is an evil mad genius. he pointed out that the 2000 zx3 i already own is red and the 02 SVTF is red. the body style is the same and the only thing that would give it away is the vin number. and ive been pulled ALOT and have only had a cop glance at my vin once when i got busted for street racing and had another cop really scrutinize over it on another occasion because i decided to be a smartass with him and prove him wrong at which point he proceeded to look for a legitimate reason to write me a ticket LOL. he ended up giving me a ticket for improper muffler... pff whatever...

so anyway that problem was solved... ish. another week went by because by the time i got everything straitened out after work friday morning it was too late in the day to make the trip to atlanta before the bank down there closed. i asked for pics again, never got them.

we talked more discussing the car. the car is fully loaded with every option that came on the car for that year. there is absolutely nothing wrong with the car other than a CEL for a bad cylinder head temperature sensor. no dents or dings in the paint, not wrecked, all the body panels line up, the paint is very good, the interior is immaculate. at this point im starting to get a bit scared because who the hell is going to try and sell a cherry 02 SVTF for 2 grand? either the car is stolen, has some very very serious issues, or im going to get robbed when i get down here.

screw it, friday rolled around and down to atlanta my lovely mother and i went. woke up for work at 5pm on thursday, clocked in at 7pm, clocked out at 7am, came home and showered and took off down the road with no sleep. too excited to sleep on the way. you see where im going with this... by the time we got there i was 23 hours without rest.

when we got there we met robert's dad. he is a very interesting character for sure with VERY good taste in cars. beautiful SVT cobra. and i think he might have tried to hit on my mom LOL. anyhow i crawled all over the car looking at stuff but not really seeing anything if that makes sense. sleep deprivation will do that to you. i even went so far as pulling the dipstick to check the oil and noted that there was no need to add oil but missed that there was water in it. i missed the obvious absence of clear coat on the back bumper, missed the split in the driver seat, missed quite a bit of body damage (probably 15-20 dents and dings between the size of a pencil eraser and the palm of your hand), missed that it is missing the antenna and it is not the factory SVT radio in that car. well actually it might be i dont know. it is the same single disk CD changer that comes stock in a 2000 zx3 i know for sure. i thought all the SVT's had 6 disc CD changers or at least had it as an option. since the car was supposedly loaded with every option available for that model year i assumed it would have that. its no biggie tho so long as it has a radio and it works.

he also didnt ever mention the motor mounts. it appears to have a steeda polyurethane passenger mount and a factory driver side mount. this is a big time no-no. either do both top mounts at the same time or not at all. doing one at a time puts a hell of alot of stress on BOTH of them. it will chew the factory mount all to pieces and then it can break the metal part of the poly mount. i dont know what the story is with the dogbone mount yet. ive yet to have a chance to get under the car and honestly im a bit scared to.

both tail lights have had a pretty good chunk taken out of them. my assumption is that he had aftermarket tails and the factory ones got kicked around in a garage for awhile. its not a big deal either, its not very noticeable. im not sure if it is a factory SVT hatch either. tell me if im wrong but i thought the trim piece above the tag that the ford emblem is attached to was painted the same color as the car instead of being that textured black. once again no biggie, i can paint.

the windshield has a pretty nasty crack in it as well that robert never mentioned. that will cost a couple hundred bucks to get replaced im sure. it isnt bad and isnt in my field of vision at all so i might be able to get it inspected before replacing the windshield. dont know yet, we shall see.

i thought the wheels were factory but they are not. i cant remember what they are called now but they are decent. ill have to track down a center cap for one of them since it got lost but overall im very happy with them. the tires look like they MIGHT have a couple thousand miles on them. they are basically brand spanking new.

robert threw in a xcal2 with tunes too which is excellent. i might get tom to tune it, dont know for sure yet but im happy nonetheless. the only gripe i have with it is that it does not give any modifiable parameters on the tune. cant set 2 step, cant adjust where the fans kick on, cant adjust idle, none of that. you just load the preset tune and that is all. and it takes like 15 minutes every time too which is odd. the one for my zx3 takes maybe 2-3 minutes tops. and tom is THE MAN by the way. he is going to take a look at a datalog of the SVTF for me after i get it put back together to see if anything looks off or not.

the seats are recaro. they arent heated or electric. i thought that was an option for 02 but once again i could be mistaken. im not sure if they are seats he bought and put in the car or if they are factory. the driver seat is broken. the back sags on the door side so when you sit in it you are facing the center of the windshield instead of facing the steering wheel. im not sure how to go about fixing this. robert said i can transplant everything to a standard focus seat and it will be exactly the same but im not sure about that either. the split in the seat will be easy enough to fix i have several friends and family members who work with leather.

we did the ye olde' inspection where i sit in the car and check all the lights and signals. everything works fine and it has HID's too. [woot] the driver side fog light, housing and all, will need to be replaced. or at least the bulb. it doesnt work and the housing is full of water. i havent looked into that yet since it isnt very high on my priority list right now.

it has the factory sub enclosure in the back with a MTX sub. is that a factory sub? i dont know, somebody tell me! i dont care either way, it looks clean and sounds great now that i got it wired up and replaced a blown fuse in the amp. we did that yesterday after we got it home since it was just sitting back there and wasnt wired up and we didnt have anything else to do at that moment in time. gotta love a car with a good sound system.

it also has a carbon fiber RS wing on the back. i dont care for it very much. the gel coat on the top is completely done but it still looks great on the underside. im thinking i might paint the top to match the car since i dont know if i will be able to clear it again without it being really cloudy. leave the bottom side alone and the lay the clear coat on thick over the whole thing. or i might just trade it for a SVT wing. we will see how that progresses.

the power steering is just about gone in it. it has fluid and as near as i could tell there isnt air in the system so its probably just the pump. i can deal with it for awhile but its going to have to get replaced.

robert had a good idea but didnt research it well enough first on one thing. he was going to add another switch in the door to control the sun roof for convenience purposes. not a bad idea really. so he cut out a hole underneath the buttons for the windows and then saw a control panel under there that was way too close. no room for a switch/button. so there is just a hole there now. that might cost me 5 bucks at a junk yard if i can find the piece. it was a freaking sweet idea but unfortunately didnt pan out and im going to need to fix it. still not a biggie.

i took the car for a lap around the block and when i first cranked the car i noticed that the engine seemed to spin over really really easily but didnt make the connection until several hours later due to sleep deprivation. [sleep] when you loose lots of compression like from a blown head gasket for example the engine will spin over very very freely. also he told me that it has a very fresh clutch. im not sure about this either. the clutch lets out at the very very top and im not sure if it slips under load yet since i never did really give it the beans. ill find that out soon enough. all i know is that i replaced the clutch in my zx3 at 80k miles and it now has 123k on it and the clutch lets out about halfway so as of now the clutch isnt looking very promising.

we left robert's house and went to the bank to meet him and pay off the car, signed the bill of sale and came back and BS'ed for awhile. cleaned his stuff out of the car, found a magazine for his .40 in the driver side door. he wouldnt let me have that with the car. [hihi] then i proceeded to put the first dent ever in the header backing out of the driveway. [facepalm] DAMMIT MAN!

we made it about 75 miles down the road and stopped for gas and drinks, everything was going pretty good. it got dark so i hit the headlights. no backlight for the gauge cluster... shit on a stick. so im going by the speed on the GPS and intermittently turning on the dome light to check gauges. cruise control and radio controls on the steering wheel work great so im happy.

about 25 more miles down the road disaster struck. i saw a huge cloud of smoke pour out of the back of the car and the water temp needle dropped strait to cold. goodie goodie. we are 3 miles from our next exit so i cut the engine to coast down hills and baby it back up until we get to a gas station.

i pop the hood and it has blown the temperature sensor out of the top of the thermostat housing. what on earth would cause this? i know it can only be a few things. backwards thermostat, nope it would have happened sooner. sensor wasnt completely seated, this is within the realm of possibility. or the head gasket is blown and cylinder compression leaking into the coolant system caused an increase in pressure that blew out at the point of least resistance, bingo. im finally wide awake and start to notice things. i hope im wrong. i went inside and got antifreeze to fill it back up. put the temp sensor back in place and seated it hoping that it just wasnt seated properly which was the cause of the blow out. i know he just replaced it because the old one is laying in the back seat cup holder. i crank the car back up and notice water coming out of the exhaust and it smells just like antifreeze. wonderful. pull the dipstick again and now that im wide awake i see water in the oil. there is a days inn about 100 feet away so i pulled it into a parking spot up there and left it over night. this IS a biggie. and the best part is that i clearly remember my mom asking me if it was normal for the car to have a little water dripping from the exhaust along with a little white smoke at idle BEFORE we even went to the bank. i blew her off. karma is a cold hearted bitch gentlemen, remember that.

i came back with the truck and trailer to get it the next day, which was yesterday. we got it to my buddy's house, he has a garage which is spectacular. i hate laying in a gravel driveway to work on cars. and that is where we are right now. i priced a head gasket and stretch bolts from o'reilly's at $130 for bolts and complete top end gasket set. surprisingly that is cheaper than ordering from ANY online vendor. i would use ARP fasteners but i cannot justify spending that much more when the car is to remain as close to factory as it can. the only thing that i am worried about is spun bearings, and a warped or cracked head now. i dont know for sure how long the car was driven with the blown HG before i got it and i dont know if the additional 100 miles i drove hurt it that much.

so this is where i am right now. in a few weeks robert will get the title back in the mail and sign it, and send it to me in a box with a carbon fiber trunk/hatch cover thingy that goes between the back seat and hatch and some silicon IM couplers that he had at home but forgot to bring. there may have been something else too but i dont remember for sure. sleep deprivation is a bitch. i pick up the stuff from o'reilly's on tuesday and will start on the head gasket on friday and/or saturday. it shouldnt take more than 4-5 hours with lots of beer breaks.

what am i going to change with the car? absolutely nothing. the car is to remain as close to stock as possible. i am however removing the stickers. good lord it has stickers EVERYWHERE! who cleans up a car by debadgeing it and then mucks up up by putting stickers all over it? ah who the hell am i kidding my zx3 is lightyears worse LOL. i am going to remove all the dents, then paint it back to factory red and will replace any broken components with either factory replacements or aftermarket parts that are stronger and/or will last longer. in 2 or 3 years if it is still around it might get a JRSC thrown to it. im still continuing the build on my zx3 to shoot for 400whp on a JRSC piggybacking nitrous but i wont be happy with that forever. it will eventually end up with a turbo kit and at that time ill have a JRSC to throw at the SVT.

so all in all everything turned out about how you would expect a deal like this to. a guy sells a $6000 car for a third of that claiming that the car is cherry but it just isnt quite there. im happy with the deal, i still would have bought the car had i know ahead of time it had a blown head gasket. i would have just gone ahead and had the parts ready here and trailered it home and avoided the hassle and stress associated with breaking down a couple hundred miles away from home. robert, thank you for cutting me such an awesome deal on this car, i love it, my dad will love the heck out of it too im sure since he will be driving it back and forth to work to save gas. but i would have been happier to know about the bad HG before coming down. just saying. anyway, no harm no foul, water off a ducks back, turn the other cheek and all that jazz. im thrilled because i got the car i wanted for a steal and youre happy because you are getting the bike you want so its win win all around.

thanks again for the awesome deal


MustangCRZY302 07-18-2011 12:51 PM

Well, at least you didn't pay $6k for it. if you did, He'd have the car through his front door. lol but for $2100, you have plenty to bring it back to life. And btw, the Hatch trim piece above the license plate on SVT's IS color matched. Its not supposed to be black, only on ZX3's.

BLRich1 07-18-2011 01:08 PM

^^^Thats not true, the '02 did not have a color matched hatch strip. Also the recaros and the hids were not factory options in '02.

MustangCRZY302 07-18-2011 01:11 PM

I stand corrected. Learn something new everyday.

focusmaniaczx3 07-18-2011 08:43 PM

I didnt think the hids were factory. The ballasts arent where they should be and arent even bolted down. Over all im happy with the deal tho.
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focusmaniaczx3 07-21-2011 05:50 PM

work was slow last night, the boss gave us the option to take the night off if we wanted so i went ahead and started pulling the head. the head gasket is indeed blown but it wasnt gone for very long thank God. judging by the looks of it i may have been hasty when i said it was blown when i got it. the head gasket may have blown during the trip. it was most likely due to overheating because the temp sensor wasnt seated properly and blew out causing a loss of coolant. OR the head gasket blew because the head appears like it may have recently been off and was not torqued back down properly. 2 head bolts broke loose very very easy. they were barely finger tight and the rest ended up breaking 2 or 3 very heavy duty extensions for a 3/8 drive impact gun they were torqued down so tight. we ended up using a nearly 3 foot long cheater bar attached to a breaker bar to get them all loose and i was scared to death the whole time we were going to break the bolts. i have never EVER removed a head from a car that the bolts were on there that tight. im taking the head to the machine shop in the morning to see if its cracked or warped. i could not see any cracks with the naked eye nor did it seem warped when i checked it with a strait edge. piston number 3 is very clean because of all the water going into it. the cylinder walls are immaculate. the rings are great, pistons look good. dropping the oil pan tonight to start cleaning as much nasty chocolate milk oil out of it as i can. i will have the head back by tomorrow afternoon hopefully and will be driving the car saturday. that might just be wishful thinking though. that damn thing might sit until this time next week LOL

ST 2K5 07-22-2011 10:38 PM

It's amazing that you're staying doesn't sound to me like u got a good deal for the money spent..but as long as your happy

focusmaniaczx3 07-25-2011 02:46 AM

well i may have gotten screwed a little bit but not alot. i could sink $3000 into that car for repairs and still recover every penny spent if i took my time selling the car. not to mention that there are several aftermarket parts with that car that i am not a fan of and will be selling. by the time i get done selling some of the aftermarket parts i will recover a fair amount of what i put in it initially. i could only be happier with the deal if the car had made it all the way home without a hitch.

this is where i stand right now. the head is off! finally...
the garage is a freaking disaster area.
but i got the head back from the machine shop and it all checks out. i got it cleaned up real nice and pretty and the shop pressure checked it for cracks and then had to take about .10" off to fix the warp. it WAS warped but not hardly at all. the combination of overheating the head and it being improperly torqued down caused the warp. luckily the overheating was so brief that it didnt have time to do any serious damage.
i went ahead and put new valve stem seals in it while i was at it. if the head is off you might as well get it all while you can. so now all i need to put it back together is a new water pump, power steering pump, and a new timing belt and tensioner. oh yeah and i need time too. there never seems to be enough of that to go around... it shouldnt be too long now and ill be ready to hit the road in it!

focusmaniaczx3 08-05-2011 09:38 PM

just updating. still waiting for title and other little bits and bobs that he has laying around for it. im thinking of calling tomorrow to check up on things. still dont have it together. i dont have access to the garage this weekend to work on it which is unfortunate because i have time to work on it. better luck next weekend, perhaps ill get to it then.

WiscoGTI 08-06-2011 08:44 PM

Well.. I would have been pissed.. but so long as you're happy.

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