Mazda 323 GTX restoration

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Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:14 am

Well its the new year, I figure we could all use a little inspiration to get working on our projects. Some people might remember seeing that I bought this car a while ago to use as a daily driver. Well budget and parts availability kept it sitting in my garage for longer then I expected.

You'll notice some of the work is pretty in depth, the main goal with this car was to keep the costs to a minimum. So I have only bought parts that were necessary, and dipped into my pile of random parts when ever I could.

Not long after I got her home.
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Car up on the hoist getting torn down. All the work done on the car was with in a 3 week period. A total of about 80 man hours were put into it, between my self and Rob.
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Stock suspension out, can you spot the problems with it? both rear springs are broken and rear shocks blown out/leaking
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stock exhaust system with the cat deleted. This needed to be fixed to pass emissions.
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Front spindles/brakes came apart very easy. I pressure washed them as they were covered in road grime.
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New front rotors were easy to come by. With it all apart I decided to take a gamble. I replaced the inner grease seals, repacked/reused the wheel bearings.
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Great tool for reinstalling the hubs.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:16 am

Rear rotors were an issue. Originally when I bought the car I looked up all the parts and they were available. A few months later I can no longer find a listing for them. :banghead: After calling around there was only 1 rotor to be found in canada and it was back east in Quebec. I could have ordered rotors from Rock Auto, but it'd take to long for me to have them here. Plus the cost of shipping anything across the bordered gets stupid expensive. So I measured up the rotors and they were well with in spec. They didn't have any bad grooves, or pulsation so I figured I would reuse them. At first I was trying to set them up in the brake lathe to machine them properly but quickly discovered I had no adapters that would work properly. I still set the rotor up as best as I could, using a sanding disc I knocked down the rust ridge and cleaned up the glaze on the rotors. If I have problems down the road I'll have to buck up and replace them.
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Pulling the rear suspension apart to do the rotors ended up being a challenge. The Lateral link bolt at the spindle was seized. The Trailing arm sleeve was seized as well to the spindle. The right side trailing arm bushing was worn out and fell apart the moment I started to fight with it. Eventually I had to lower down the diff so that I could remove the bolts holding the lateral links to the sub frame. Thankfully these bolts weren't seized.Image

The left rear spindle with everything seized to it.
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Not many pictures, but I did manage to get the bolts for the lateral links out of the spindles. I accomplished this by using my heavy duty air hammer, rattling away on the center of the bolt while my co-worker used my 1/2 impact gun attempting to twist the bolt. Eventually we got it to turn and free up saving the bolt and the lateral links. The trailing arm, wasn't so lucky I couldn't get the inner sleeve to free up so I had to torch the bushing off the sleeve then use the torch to get the sleeve off the spindle. That ment I needed to replace both trailing arms. With no new replacement parts available, and no BF's in any junk yards around I had to get creative.

I had a set of mx3 trailing arms sitting under my bench that came out of my autocross 323. comparing them to the GTX trailing arms I discovered they were very close to the same. Spindle side of the mx3 arms is wider but over all it looked like they would bolt up. The wider bushing ment I needed a longer bolt which I didn't have. The local wrecker was having a half price weekend and happened to have a couple clean BG 323's in the yard. A quick trip I came back with a set of stock 323 trailing arms. Here is a comparison of the arms. The Mx3/323 arms are boxed, where as the GTX is flimsy C channel.
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The one issue I saw was with the side that bolted to the body. The BG's use a larger bolt. I was worried if I just slapped in the trailing arms with out finding away to make sleeve in the trailing arm fit the stock GTX bolt better, I would get a clicking sound while braking/accelerating. Rob was lending me a hand with other stuff on the car and had a great suggestion. Using a pop can with the tops cut off I wrapped the bolt in the pop can until it was thick enough to take up the slop. I used the bolt to help hammer the pop can sleeve in place, then cut it to length after it was installed. With the new sleeve installed the BG trailing arms bolted right in.

The excess slop, kinda hard to see.
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using the bolt to drive the pop can sleeve in.
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The extra before cutting it off.
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Slop all gone.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:17 am

The suspension was up next to tackle. I had taken some time prior to compare a set of stock BG 2wd shocks, with Mx3 springs to the GTX suspension. This led me to believe with some modifications I could make it work. Since stock rear springs were non existent. new stock shocks couldn't be found in north america. inserts and coil overs to expensive, I figured I would give it a shot. I tryed to take pictures but I don't think I took enough, so hopefully you can follow all this.

I'll start with the fronts. They took the most to figure out, but were the easiest to modify to make them fit. The spindle side was straight forward, the lower bolt holes needed to be relocated since the bolt spacing was different between the BG and BF's.

The body side was a little more difficult. BG's use an upper spring perch that is machined out to accept a little plastic bearing/bushing that allows the spring/struts to turn, when turning the wheel. This plastic bushing sits against the upper strut mount that is then bolted to the strut and to the car. The BG upper mount also uses 4 bolts to attach it to the body. The BF uses an upper mount with the bearing built into the strut mount. The spring perch then has a washer kind of piece that contacts only the inner race of the pivot bearing.

The point between the threads and the shoulder on strut shaft is longer on the BF shocks, then it is on the BG shocks. Also the BG shocks have a smaller diameter strut shaft. This ment the BF, strut mounts would not bolt the BG shocks.

I ended up knocking all the studs out of the BG upper mount and test fitting them on the body. When turned so that 2 of the 4 holes lined up with the holes on the body they were very close to lining up. 1 problem though, the large hole in the body where the strut mount pokes up threw is oval, and not wide enough for the BG strut mount. I ended up putting the BG mount in the vise and squeezing it, to narrow it. It didn't take much to make it work. From there I had to ream out the holes a little bit to make them line up with the body. I then welded the studs from the Stock BF strut mounts to the BG mounts.

With the modifications complete, the front struts would now bolt into the GTX using BG shocks, Mx3 front springs, BG strut mounts.

The only pictures I have are of the completed mounts.
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Just to note. BG springs have coils that get wider in diameter as they go from the top to the bottom. BF coils are the same diameter at the top as they are at the bottom. The top coils between a BF and BG spring are the same diameter.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:18 am

Rear suspension was easier to figure out, but took a little more work.

Both the BG rear springs and BF springs were the same diameter, so they could be interchanged back and forth.

Mx3 rear springs mocked up for fun on my old BF GTX rear shock, and rear spring mounts.
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A comparison in the shocks reveal a couple of problems though. Lets start at the spindle. The BG spindles are wider then the BF spindles by a 1/4. So a plate needed to be made in order to make up the gap. Also the bolt hole locations are different spaces and needed to be relocated. With access to a milling machine this wasn't to hard to modify and make work.
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With the spindle part solved lets move on to the upper mount. The BG uses a very thick upper mount where as the BF, is pretty thin. You couldn't use the BG upper mount since the orientation of the bolts is off set and will not fit in the body of the GTX. The BF upper mount will work, but you need to build a spacer to fit between the shock and the mount. With Robs, help and access to his dad's lathe it didn't take long to make up a couple spacers.
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We drilled out the upper mount and put a small shoulder on the spacer in order to make sure the upper mount would stay properly centered.
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completed and rust proofed.
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Great, we have all the issues solved right? We can now bolt it all together and have it all bolt into the car. Kinda sorta. There is one more issue to over come. The distance between the spring perch and the spindle is different by about 1" This ment using the BG rear shocks would give the ass end of the car a bit of a lift. The Mx3 rear springs are a little different then 323 springs as they have a bunch of coils tightly compressed together. Cutting one or 2 of these coils out shouldn't affect spring rate to much and allow me to level out the ride height of the car. I haven't put the car on the ground yet, so I don't know how much to cut out yet. As of right now the shocks are assembled with full length Mx3 rear springs.

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I am very aware of any possible engineering flaws I might have created with relocating the lower spindle bolts and how I have done this. Along with various other things I have had to modify, so there is no need to remind me of it. The whole point to all this was to see if it could be done, because at this point its only cost me $12 in materials to do the suspension work.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:19 am

The exhaust system was pretty straight forward for me to fix. Since the flange that would have been before the cat was in ruff shape, and the flange after cat was horribly done. I decided to cut it all out and build from scratch with new flanges and flex pipe. While I was at it, upgraded the pipe to 2 1/4 just in case I was to have a little more fun down the road. Since the stock cat back was in good shape, I decided to save my penny's and leave it alone for now.

The welding was all done with a flux core welder. It looks like ass, but the welder works really well.

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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:20 am

Since this car has such low miles, with very little rust on it I felt the need to preserve the body as much as possible. So while everything has been apart, I enlisted in Robs, help to give the car a good coating.

Stripped the front end down, you can now see some of the damage from the front end hit. Looks like the RF took the brunt of it.
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All prepped
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Rear trunk area done. We wanted to pull the diff to really get all over, but couldn't get the brake lines apart so I decided not to pull the diff.
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Rear suspension all together and installed.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:31 am

The car mostly back together. Ready for wheels and a ride height check.
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Front suspension all back together.
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Rear suspension all together with the BG trailing arm installed.
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Ride height check. She had about a 1.5" rake to her.
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I ended up cutting 1 coil out of the top portion of the men springs. This portion is compressed all the time so it was an even half inch drop. This still leaves the car with a bit of a rake but it looks pretty good. If I don't like it in the future I will cut another coil out.

With the suspension all buttoned up I focused on some maintenance items. The cooling system was full of this jelly like substance so I flushed it out with water. Changed the thermostat. Ran a rad flush chemical threw it and flushed it again. While I was at it I changed the engine oil and flushed brake fluid. Then took the car down for an alignment. I didn't slot the front struts enough to get tthe camber I wanted but the rear worked out well. I managed to get the front set to 0 camber 0 toe. In the rear it was set to -1 with 0 toe.

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Rear control arm angles look good at ride height
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After the alignment shop it was off for emissions testing unfortunately the car developed a very bad hesitation on light throttle tip in. I turned around and took the car back to the shop. On what whim I decided to do a tune up. It's a good thing I did. The spark plug holes were filling up with oil from a leaking valve cover gasket.

All 4 plug wires came apart when I tried removing themImage

An interesting note. A miata valve cover gasket can be used if you can't find one for a b6t. The bolt holes are slightly different shape but it all goes in place and seals up.

Unfortunately the hesitation wasn't solved. It took a little bit of digging to find the cause of the hesitation. I didn't save any of the screen shots, but using my lab scope I was able to watch what the O2 sensor and some various other sensors were doing. When the car was hesitating the O2 sensor was showing lean. Also my fuel injector pulse width was flat spotting.

Basically as you tip in on the throttle you should see a steady increase in fuel injector pulse width. That increase will vary with load/boost and rpm. While my computer wasn't commanding the fuel inejctors open long enough to allow the motor to get enough fuel. This caused a bad hesitation from it running lean. This issue could be caused by a number of different things. Mainly a bad TPS, or Air flow meter. When I checked the signals from them during the issue I found no issues. humm damn. Now what? I checked a couple other things, such as crank sensor, cam position/TDC sensor since they can have an affect on fueling as well. But all that looked good.

At this point I figured the computer was bad, and I started looking it converting the car to mega squirt. Stock or modified ECU's for this car are almost impossible to find now. But i remembered to check the basics before dishing out anymore money. An ECU has to have a good power source, and good grounds. Doing a voltage drop on the ground circuit revealed a 304mV drop. This is way to much for any ECU to handle. I ended up tracing the wiring to a ground wire that was left loose during all the work I had done. *face palm* DOH!.

Its been almost 10,000km since all the work was completed and the car has run beautifully. I am just sad I can't afford to run any TSD rally's this winter.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby solorex » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:35 pm

Emissions testing? I thought Aircare was done?
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:02 pm

solorex wrote:Emissions testing? I thought Aircare was done?


I have had the car on the road since September. Plus driving it with out a cat was pretty noxious before.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby thenorm » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:49 am

solorex wrote:Emissions testing? I thought Aircare was done?


and good riddance!

it was a joke anyways, i passed with out a cat converter.
Norman Hayton -
2014 Mustang GT in F Street
1999 BMW 323i for Rallycross
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby solorex » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:05 am

Yeah no kidding... was such a joke.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:40 pm

solorex wrote:Yeah no kidding... was such a joke.


It's kind of interesting. From a mechanics perspective I had no problems with air care. When it was first introduced it was definitely needed but there was a lot of confusion and miss understanding about this. There still is to this day. A lot of Internet information is wrong or very out dated.

The only thing I didn't like, was that it didn't stop unsafe vehicles from being on the road.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby solorex » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:39 am

I just say it because there was too much variability between stations and staff. Lots of employees would have trouble with driving a manual transmission on their dyno. I have failed at Coquitlam, then driven over to Pitt Meadows and passed with no trouble. And this wasn't about not having the cat warmed up enough, I always made sure the car was at proper operating temps before the test. But I am glad it's gone, no more fooling around with my car that only gets driven a few thousand KMS per year these days (if that).
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:55 pm

So my GTX has a bad transmission in it. 3rd gear is really bad. It grinds on the up shift and down shift. Even when you are gentile with it. I have been nursing it along while I sourced out parts to rebuild a spare one I got with the car.

I have documented tearing down and rebuilding these mazda G series transmissions in a number of different threads so I wont go into full details. I did take pictures and planned on filling in some more gaps that I haven't covered in the past.

If you are interested here are the links to some of the other info I have posted.
http://www.clubprotege.com/forum/showth ... highlight=

http://www.clubprotege.com/forum/showth ... highlight=

pages 12 and 13 have some info as well.
http://www.clubprotege.com/forum/showth ... %29/page12

Lets start with the transmission. Yep it looks like a BF all wheel drive unit, I believe its known as a G5MR-X.
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Lets talk about removing the center diff lock actuator. Its a pretty easy process I have seen talked about, but never really documented. So first off there is this bolt. Its a lock pin for the rod that moves the fork for the diff lock. You need to remove it. While you are at it also remove the sensor. This sensor is a pain in the but with out a sensor socket. The sensor is used to indicate when the diff lock in engaged.
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Now removed the 17mm rear plug on the actuator.
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When you look down inside you'll see the rod and it just so happens to have a slot in it. You'll use a flat head screw driver to turn the rod 90 degree. This is what the rod looks like with the actuator removed. This picture shows it in the normal operating position.
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This picture shows the rod turned 90 degree so that you can remove the actuator
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Now you undo the 3 mounting bolts and the actuator will slide off. YA!

Tearing down the transmission is pretty straight forward its very similar to a 2wd G series. I didn't take to many pictures of that process. I think I have explained the 2wd stuff enough in the past.

With mine tore down I saw why the transmission was busted. Thats a lot of metal on the magnet.
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The center diff blew up/seized up and chewed its self to pieces. When this happens you get a lot of loud clicking/clunking when turning sharply. It can be pretty violet and loud.
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At this point I decided to continue tearing down the transmission and inspecting it. The results weren't very good. This transmission has been used/abused chewed up, spit out and chewed up again. At the end of the day I threw everything but the counter shaft in the garbage. Its a good thing I have an issue with hording parts.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:57 pm

So with the transmission torn down, I started comparing parts from some of the other transmissions I have. Input shafts from a B6T 2wd, Mx3 V6 and the GTX. Can you tell them apart? In reality there are minor differences but any one of these could be interchanged and swapped around with out and issues other then gear ratios. The Mx3 has a different 3/4 ratio. The B6T 2wd and GTX transmissions are the same.
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Here is the counter shafts. The mx3 has a wider pinion gear, its easy to tell it apart. The B6T and GTX are only slightly different though. The B6T pinion gear has 19 teeth, where as the GTX has 20 teeth. This has to do with the different final drive ratios. The B6T transmission has a 3.86 final drive, where as the GTX is 4.1005. Its pretty important to know this since the counter shaft isn't interchangeable.
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At this point I started tearing things down further. Some fun pictures showing you how. Both the counter shaft and input shaft come apart similar. The top bearing needs to be pulled off. There isn't a lot of room to get the bearing splitter under the bearing with out wreaking the outer cage and pulling on the rollers, so I tend to just cut the outer cage off first.
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On the input shaft under the bearing you'll find a snap ring. This locks the 3/4 hub and slider in place. With the snap ring removed you can now pull the hub off. Try not to pull the outer slider off, the dogs tend fall off and go all over the place. When you do pull the hub off you need to mark it. Both the hub and slider have to be installed in exactly the same orientation other wise you'll have issues. Sometime the hub can be pretty stuck. If you need to you can use the bearing splitter on 3rd gear and use 3rd gear to pull the hub off.
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Your input shaft will now look like these guys. The one with the input bearing still on it is from an Mx3 transmission. The other one is from the GTX.
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On the counter shaft under the top bearing you'll have the driven gear for 4th. This is usually press fit on and takes a little bit to pull off. Down lower you'll have another C-clip that needs to be removed. Then its time to remove the driven gear for 3rd. If you are going to do things this way just take car not to chip the teeth. It can take some finesse to get it apart.
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At this point you are down at 2nd gear. I'll just slide off along with the syncro. There is another c-clip holding the 1,2 hub and slider in place. Once that's removed you can pull off the hub. Just like the 3/4 hub it can take a little muscle. You can get the bearing splitter under 1st gear if you need to pull it off. Once again mark the hub and slider, it has to be installed back in the same orientation. With everything off the counter shaft it ends up looking like these guys. 1 of them is from the mx3 and the other is from the gtx. This is where you can really see the difference in the widths of the pinion gears.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:58 pm

All right now lets get a little more detailed. When going threw a transmission there are a number of things you need to look at. First up is the clearance between the gear and the syncro. I am showing how this is done with a feeler gauge while its apart, but this is easier to do while things are still together. When worn out the gap between the syncro and the gear will be pretty small. 2 things can cause this. The clutching teeth on the syncro ring can wear out, but also the cone on the gear its self will wear. So make sure to check your clearance with the new syncro as well.
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Here is why everything from my GTX transmission ended up in the garbage. These teeth on the slider should be sharp and pointed. Sometimes minor burring can be cleaned up, but this toast.
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The clutching teeth on this gear are chipped. Often times if someones been grinding gears, these teeth would be rounded off. Once again they should be sharp.
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This is what a good slider is supposed to look like.
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This is a good set of clutching teeth.
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There are some other clearances you need to check while the input shaft and counter shaft are still together. You can end up with wear on the gear its self causing to much end play. This is is checked for each gear with a feeler gauge. Usually if you have a problem in this area its caused by abuse and a heavy foot or a lack of oil.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:58 pm

There are some other things to look at, but I didn't have any good examples to show what I would be talking about. So I'll just keep things moving along.

The bearing and syncro kit I picked up. Some part numbers if anyone is every looking for one.
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OEM mazda seals in this kit. I was pretty happy to see that.
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When ever possible its best to use OEM syncro rings. You can see the difference between the factory and aftermarket ones. OEM one is on the left. The difference in shape of the teeth will affect shift quality. Aftermarket ones also tend to break teeth of when abused.
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New bearings. Top to bottom. Diff bearings, counter/input shaft top bearings, transfer gear support bearing, counter shaft pinion bearing, input bearing. All the bearings between a 2wd drive transmission and a 4wd drive transmission are interchangeable. Right up threw all the G series transmissions I have pull apart.
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At this point I haven't taken many other pictures. A fun fact I haven't talked about yet is how I have set this transmission up. In going threw all my parts and playing with gear ratio/rpm/speed calculators I decided to swap out the factory GTX 3rd and 4th, for the closer ratio Mx3 3rd and 4th gear. I am not building this car to be a power house, I want a little better around town fun. I have noticed shifting to 3rd there is a bit of a flat spot in the power band. The factory gear ratios are a pretty far spread. The closer ratio 3rd and 4th should help fix this. It just so happens this is the same gear ratio set up as a BP G series transmission. 4.10 final drive, close ratio 3rd and 4th. Anyone with a boosted BP, would actually benefit from swapping to a longer ratio escort/B6T/GTX longer ratio 3rd and 4th.

In order to do the gear ratio swaps you need to tear down the counter shaft and input shaft. You need to swap both the drive and driven gears as a matched set to do the swap properly. I have yet to find a G series transmission that has a different 1st and 2nd ratio.

At this point I have the counter shaft and input shafts reassembled. I ended up using my mx3 input shaft because the reverse gear on it was in the best shape out of all the input shafts I have. The GTX counter shaft had to be used because of the pinion gear as mentioned earlier. So this was assembled using my old mx3 1st and 2nd driven gears due to them being in the best shape. I also used the driven mx3 3rd and 4th gears to complete the closer ratio swap. Fortunately for me I had a complete set of good OEM syncros. Now I am just waiting on time to clean up the case before I can move on to the next step.
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:12 pm

Well I have had sometime this week to work on the GTX. The starter had been giving me some trouble when the car was hot and slowly it had been getting worse. If anyone has looked at the placement of the starter on a GTX you'll know its a pain to get at. Pulling the transmission is about the easiest way to get at it.. Since my transmission has issues with 3rd gear I figured why not finish the rebuild.

I didn't take many pictures but pulling the transmission is pretty straight forward. I had it out in about an hour. I sent the starter of to be rebuilt and got to tearing down the transmission.

Yep 3rd gear is shot..
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So was the 3/4 shift fork.. Shift fork wear like this usually due to cable alignment issues or people who rest their hands on shifter and preload the shift linkage while cruising..
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I was thankful the center diff in this transmission was good. I have posted pictures before of GTX center diff torn down. Its pretty easy to do. If someone wants to know how I can take pictures of the broken one I have and show the steps to tearing it down.

My son gave me a hand this weekend putting the transmission back together.. New bearings, mx3 input shaft, mx3 close ratio 3rd/4th, new 3/4 shift fork... Pretty much a completely new transmission.
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The rebuild kit I bought came with new Mazda OEM seals. part numbers for the axle seals and the seal between the transfer unit and the transmission.
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Once thing to note... With the change in the input shaft I had to change the nut and collar up by 5th gear.. The GTX and MX3 shaft are different widths.. The gears them selves can be interchanged though..
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Time to install.. Flywheel was resurfaced, clutch still looked pretty new from when the last owner installed it. rebuilt starter, new transmission.
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Couple hours later and ready for a road test.. Yes thats a BG GTX in the back ground... Its a parts car I'll eventually use for a drive line swap...
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I drove the car about 50 - 60km's today after I finished it... The transmission worked great.. I always found the shift into 3rd gear left the car feeling like it was out of the power band... With the new 3rd and 4th the car feels much more peppy in around town driving... Its nice not having to double clutch down shift into 3rd now..
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:29 am

Well its that time again.... I spent some time cleaning the garage and getting the race car running so that I could use it as a daily driver.. The GTX made its way into the garage for an interior restoration/make over..

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Time to tear her down..One of the previous owners handy work wiring in the stereo.. yep its ugly..
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Its amazing some of the fun things you find when tearing a car apart.. In the case some 30-30 shells under the rear washer reservoir, some glasses and a knife sharpener? wedged in the shifter assembly.. Even a hair clip in the sun roof..
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Re: Mazda 323 GTX restoration

Postby crazycanadian » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:30 am

First order of business.. Power glass moon roof swap... This was very straight forward.. Unbolt the old sun roof.. Bolt in the new one.. Unplug the old wiring for the over head lights and plug in the new wiring.... All done...
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No more hand crank.. :)
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