The Great Beater Challenge 2019 – Vehicle Preparation and Theme – Creation of the Hamborghini

After the first segment I now had a cheap car that needed to serve two purposes. The first and most pressing was to replace the Civic as the kids car. For that it needed to be functioning and reliable. There was a list of items that needed taking care of. For the Great Beater Challenge it was a bit of boring choice so needed a fun theme to jazz it up a bit.

The first item on the list was a rather big annoyance with the front door handle. It was broken on one side and while the previous owner’s fix with twine was workable once you mastered the correct opening technique it would soon become really old to have only one functioning door. Door handles are a known weak point on the Tercel but at least the replacement part was quite cheap. The parts were sold as a pair so I have a passenger side one ready if the need should arise.

There is a decent amount of labour time involved in the replacement as the interior window winder and door cards need to come off. There are a couple bolts behind that door that were initially frozen on. I was able to work them free. One side went smoothly but the other side dug into the plastic of the handle and just spun so I had to cut it off. Why is it that I need to use the angle grinder for every job?

The end result of a fully functioning door handle was worth the time however.

The other big snag was that it was pumping out all sorts of white smoke on startup. Not sure how I had missed this at purchase time but probably had something to do with the fact that I did not follow any good used car buying guidelines. My first thought was head gasket but the oil was filthy but free of coolant.

Sometimes a good reader is worth its weight in gold. Incidentally this Tercel was one of the first cars with OBDII.

A new EGR valve was shockingly expensive and almost as much as I payed for the whole car. A good cleaning of the intake and EGR valve was a good place to start. The throttle body had to come off for access. There is a tiny, tiny little passage in the intake that leads to the EGR valve that was completely clogged. In that bump above the throttle body is the small passage but after much awkward cleaning I was able to blow carb cleaner though it. The EGR valve was cleaned as well but happily the smoke went away.

The tires on the car were in awful condition and the next piece of the puzzle. Luckily they are very cheap on the second market if you can find them. I was able to find these “all year” winters tires in almost new condition. They are essentially longer wearing compromise tire between a traditional winter and all season. The rims are from a Corrolla SR5 but really the same as what I had on the Tercel. The cost was actually cheaper than what it would be to get a set of tires mounted on rims. They had even been recently painted. As a bit of a bonus they were wider at 175/70R13 than stock at 155/80R13.

An oil change was definitely required with whatever oil happened to be on sale at the time.

For spark plugs Toyota specified these dual electrode style plugs which took a while to track down. The Tercel has an interesting ignition set up with two coil on plugs and then a second spark plug slaved off each with a wasted spark firing. The dual electrodes are supposed to cut down on electrode wear.

With all that work done is was now time for the tough part; teaching two teenagers to drive stick shift. After many stalls and some roasting of the clutch around a new neighborhood development with roads but no houses yet they were both competent enough to be set free on public roads. My wife included this handy reminder so the car did not roll off once parked.

Both two door and red. The resemblance is uncanny!


I am not entirely sure how we came up with the pig theme for this year’s Great Beater Challenge but I believe it started when I was driving in the Tercel with at least some of the boys and a Lamborghini passed on the other side of the road. We started coming with reasons why our Tercel was better than that Italian exotic and came around to our red paint slowing fading to pink. Pink like a pig was mentioning with the name Hamborghini being mentioned shortly after. We decided it would be one half pig, one half Lamborghini and a further one half Toyota Tercel. For those fussy on math concepts I can only state that our GBC team was using some sort of new math methods. We now had our theme in concept and just needed to make it real.

We then went shopping for an initial pig related items and the above is what we came up with. An interesting mix for sure but the flowers and wine were my wife who has to suffer though this madness.

The first step was to come up with a snout but keep it on a budget as a I am big fan of the cheap, homemade vibe on a GBC car. I looked around the garage and spied a plastic garbage can that we used to collect our bottles and cans for recycling. It was round and roughly the right size and with two holes cut for nostrils could be a snout. While buying a proper hole saw blade of the size required would have been expensive but easy I settled for drilling many small holes and then joining them together followed by a bit of smoothing out. Not perfect but certainly good enough for the purpose.

A quick color change had it look more pig like so I just needed a reasonable way to mount it without blocking access to the radiator and causing an overheating issue.

For the ears I would use these small pylons painted pink. Happily the cheap ones had holes in them for airflow and mounting.

We also needed a curly tail so I built this one from a pool noddle and a wire coat hanger.

Any self respecting Hamborghini needs to have the appearance of performance and what better for that than a giant wing? As some of you may recall I made such a wing for our 2017 GBC Civic out of pallet wood. While that wing was functional (in a purely visual manner) it was also extremely heavy and required driving several holes through the trunk lid. On top of all of that I had recycled it long ago so it was not available for re-use. I was given strict orders not the wreak the car and unfortunately replacement Tercel body panels are getting hard to find in the salvage yards around here so I wanted to re-use the stock spoiler mounts. I also wanted to spend as little money as possible so I settled on a piece of flat wood that would be bolted to the trunk lid which would serve as my platform to built the wing on. Since I live in a newer neighborhood with homes under construction there are plenty of cut down 2x4s sitting in dumpsters ripe for the picking. I was able to find four reasonably appropriate sized pieces which would provide a guide for the dimensions of the wing. I also had some spare Ikea brackets and deck screws to complete the build although I did have to buy the bolts to secure the whole thing to the trunk. So close to free.

Counter sunk holes for the deck screws to hold wing together but not scratch the paint.

Some bracket left over (I think) from an Ikea wall mount. This gave the wing some extra support in addition to the deck screws which was an improvement over the earlier Civic wing leading to an overall lower weight.

The completed wing minus paint ready to mount.

The fire extinguisher NOS made a return from the 2017 GBC edition (photo from then since I neglected to take one this year) for more simulated performance creditability. On the inside we added a coupe pig mascots. One was a very strange pig game that involved rolling a dice, pressing the pig stomach then passing around the pig while he sings until he stops and farts. Then that person looses some points or something along those lines. Since this is a Canadian market car we had a nice parcel shelf instead of a passenger side air bag to play it on. The other pig was a stuffed toy and a last minute donation from our neighbor when they saw our car.

Given the non-destructive mandate we had to get creative mounting our decorations and used rope rather than screws or bolts. If the rope looks a bit old nasty that is because it is. I believe this came in the trunk of some sort of car I had bought over the years. Load rated for highway travel no doubt.

We also added a mouth and eyes with electrical tape. Here is a preview from the night before.

I did not know how well these decorations would hold on at highway speeds and the start was in Calgary this year which is a roughly 180km (110 mile) drive away so final mounting would wait until that morning for everything except the wing as it did not fit inside. I did not mind losing a few bits during the event but it seemed a shame to lose them beforehand. As usual for me and in true GBC tradition everything would be tested for the first time while on the event. The wing did not even get a spin around the block for testing. We got quite a few puzzled looks at our big wing Tercel including one from a policeman who seemed to being thinking of reasons to pull us over before coming up short. In the next installment we will meet some of the other teams.