In the spirit of bringing everyone up to speed, Junior has been laid up at my friend Chad's house for about a month or so now. By about the end of June I was sure Junior was suffering the beginnings of an oil pump failure. This was evidenced by slow to no change in oil pressure on the first start-up of each day. The gauge (a "real" one that I salvaged from a wrecked 1992) would then read relatively normal values for every subsequent start. As Junior has already suffered a crank nose failure (yes, it can happen to a 1.8 liter car!) and is over 125,000mi old, an engine rebuild/replacement is in order.
For reference, here's what his engine bay currently looks like:
For my rebuild, I'd like the end product to be a near perfect stock engine. I'd love to have a high-compression rev monster with IRTB's, etc. but right now, it's neither in the budget nor really where I want to be. I haven't driven Junior in anger in several months now (including passing on bringing him to Miatas at the Gap this year), and his crankiness was really just getting on my nerves. I miss just being behind the wheel! Sure, he may not be as fast as the other kids on the block, but, with the engine woes out of the way, I can concentrate on making up for that lack of power, eh?
I really want to do this right, so I'm spending the time now to do the research and budgeting ahead of time. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to drop a comment!