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Jason’s 1988 Reatta Rejuvenation


Jason Umbreit
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Picked up my first Reatta coupe with 67,000 miles, vin 1g4ec11c4jb901417.  No rust, no major interior issues, a few mechanical (fuel line leak, frozen caliper) but nothing severe. 
 

I’ll be using this thread as a repository for my photos and updates. 
 

Was literally a barn find but we did get it running long enough to hear the engine until the fuel leak just got too much (guess it just pushed more of that rust out of the way and maybe some into the filter)

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I agree with Ronnie, nice car and it is actually a pretty rare early car with the 16 way suede seats.

The '88-89 Reattas had steel gas lines all the way from the tank to the engine. If you find the leak in an accessible area you can using some high pressure gas hose, cut out the bad area and replace it with hose.

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Got it home and kicked my sons Volvo 740 out of the garage.

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Didn't get it started yet but nice to see all the displays and controls work fine.  Radio crackly and it sounds like I'll need to redo those 6 capacitors.  Also tape deck head appears to be stuck in play mode but I'm going to tap into the inputs and put in a bluetooth receiver inside the center console.

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Gave the underside the once-over and I'm very happy with how it looks.  Just need to sand down some spot welds in the floor pan and then actually undercoat the car like one would expect.  I guess I'm just used to the thick undercoating of my Volvo 240 and the 740.  Oh, and plenty of cavity wax...big fan of cavity wax.

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Here's where the fuel leak is, just a couple feet or so before the filter...you can see a stream spraying onto the floor pan, where the undercoating has been sprayed off.

I'm pretty sure there were other leaks at the junction where the tank lines connect to these but I'm planning on redoing the fuel lines first...then likely do the brake lines.

I'll try the nickel/copper lines, they say they bend easier and won't rust.

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Did a bit of cleaning of the interior.

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Dying to get into the engine compartment and clean this up.  Have some new iridium plugs and new wires on the way.

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Along with the Dorman subframe bushings, I also ordered up some new sway bar links, strut rod bushings, calipers, rotors and pads.  Hopefully I can get that all in this weekend.  I'll definitely post up many pics of those tasks.  It was suggested in another thread that 4th gen Camaro calipers and 12" rotors will bolt on and while that may be the case they won't fit in the 15" rims :(.  And I honestly can't see myself changing these rims out since I want to keep it as original as possible.

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6 hours ago, Ronnie said:

That's a nice car and it should clean up really good, but being from the south I couldn't really call it rust free now that I've seen it underneath....

Yeah, up here in Wisconsin, for a 30+ year old, if it's just surface rust you can sand away, it's rust free.

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23 hours ago, Jason Umbreit said:

Did a bit of cleaning of the interior.

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Dying to get into the engine compartment and clean this up.  Have some new iridium plugs and new wires on the way.

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It was suggested in another thread that 4th gen Camaro calipers and 12" rotors will bolt on and while that may be the case they won't fit in the 15" rims :(.  And I honestly can't see myself changing these rims out since I want to keep it as original as possible.

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my ugggly reatta wheels are in the attic.i prefer my 16"caddy wheels and 12 inch brakes.

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Posted (edited)

I really like working in this Reatta.  I’ve never had a car that came apart this easy...no broken bolts, no need for a torch, maybe just a breaker bar.  Ok, those little pos 10mm bushing mounts kind of sucked and had to be ground out. But even that wasn’t too bad.  
 

Anyway, fuel filter, new calipers (ds caliper was locked), rotors and pads, sway bar links, (partial) strut rod bushings (was not up for drilling out the rivets) and subframe mounts (definitely follow the instructions at reattaowner.com).

 

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Did a quick patch of the fuel lines, no leaks but still no fuel pressure at the rail. I’ll lock that down this week. 
 

 

I also made sure to clean up all those areas where the bushings go and where subframe meets the body, sanding down any rust then going over with a few coats of spray paint. I don’t know how it’ll hold up long term but I used the Rustoleum Rust Reformer Indoor/Outdoor oil based flat black paint. Not my usual procedure but it looks really good on the frame and such. 

Edited by Jason Umbreit (see edit history)
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Man, all that stuff looks good! The Reatta has a prime/test wire that you can use to connect the fuel pump directly to the battery and bypass all the electronics if you need to test the pump to see if it will run. Instructions for doing that can be found here:

Fuel System

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Hah! Was able to get it out of the garage and on the road. Finished putting in my Dorman subframe bushings. Easy enough job other than having to cut out the old style bushing studs using my straight die grinder.  I don’t know how it handled before but I can say for sure I like how it handles now! 

Found this while putting in the last bushing so I fixed that up.  Not sure yet what it was for...maybe  the A/C?  He deleted the compressor so don’t really know for sure yet. 

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Still couldn’t get it started, just air at the fuel rail coming out of the Schrader valve. It ran with a good shot of starting fluid so I knew it just needed fuel, but my guage said 1/4 tank +. I put a few gallons in and bam! Started right up. Drove it to the gas station and filled it up with 15+ gallons...so it was just out of gas 🙄

 

So now that I’ve been driving it, here’s what needs to be done:

*fuel line leaks

*passenger headlight door just gave out on me

*blower motor vibrates on high

*radio crackles...guessing capacitors

*the hood closes funny...doesn’t close evenly at the hinges 

 

otherwise everything else is great on this.  Gonna love driving this thing!

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Many GM cars (and at least one pickup) of the era used that same radio module, some without the equalizer and Allante wired it slightly differently.

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Posted (edited)

Finally got the fuel line replaced. Didn’t do any other fuel or brake lines but made sure the surface under the lines was treated, painted and under coated. GM really skimped on the undercoating. 
 

it was a pretty simply task using 3/8 nylon fuel lines, 3/8 steel repair line with 16mm fitting,  and a heat gun.
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Edited by Jason Umbreit (see edit history)
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Popped in at Gibsons today and found a fresh, untouched ‘88.  
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Got myself a few things to add to my inventory including the guage cluster, CRT and radio. Not sure how to test them but I’m not planning anything until I need one. 

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Pretty happy I grabbed this, didn’t realize I had a different one. 
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  • 5 weeks later...

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Had a bit of vibration when the fan was in high...plus it didn’t seem to push much air. I guess this hood insulation would explain it. 

After cleaning out the blower fan, changed the spark plugs and wires so of course I decided to clean up the engine bay...

BEFORE

It was pretty gross, lots of oil, tree crap and rodent stuff. Emptied a whole can of brake clean to get rid of the sludge. 

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AFTER

I'm pretty sure the cover isn’t the correct year but it was the best j e at the scrap yard. 

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With the insulation in the blower fan..... you need to check the input side of the evaporator... it may be covered with crud also affecting your air flow.    Not at home so I cannot attach pictures showing access to evaporator. 

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25 minutes ago, Barney Eaton said:

With the insulation in the blower fan..... you need to check the input side of the evaporator... it may be covered with crud also affecting your air flow.    Not at home so I cannot attach pictures showing access to evaporator. 

Thanks. I’ll look into that. If you have pics cool, otherwise I do have the big Buick service manual for it

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Yes, 88 was the only year that had the 3800 on  the plenum and not the cover. Is how I knew that '89 Vixen motor homes had '88 engines.

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Spending my week of vacation doing what I want to do, car stuff.  Last two days was spent on headlight motor and door speakers.  I also needed to test a radio I got out of the junkyard and maybe hook a Bluetooth receiver up to the tape inputs. 
 

I ordered an Infinity Kappa component speaker set but used some DS18 3.5” speakers instead of the little tweeter. I just wanted the crossover and 5.25” Kappas. The crossover found room stuck in the inside front door. 
 

The junkyard stereo is better but I won’t be happy till I recap my original. Front speakers still sound a bit weaker volume-wise than the rears. 
 

I’m pretty happy I was able to fit the ds18’s in the stock mount. 
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The headlight door repair went well, mostly. The actuator was clearly the problem.  7924A137-4B58-4CC9-B925-FFBF7A68C5F9.jpeg.5b6fc41d926a583ed833adf8edaf4db5.jpeg

 

The rollers looked and felt ok yet but changed them anyway. 
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But dang, putting that motor back together with those spring loaded brushes...sheesh! 
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I ended up putting the motor back together except for the stator then slipping zip ties around the wires.

 

I reached out to EastCoastReattaParts for some tricks and he happened to suggest the same thing...

“Hey Jason,

I have seen people make loops out of twist ties to go around the wires and hold them to the motor assembly so you can get the armature in and then snip the loops and remove the twist ties. Hopefully that will help you reassemble.

Best of luck!

Marck Barker
EastCoastReattaParts.com

Oh, if you snap a door fastener, I made mine out of a Nylon screw.  I sanded the head down and shortened it.94E3E89E-394D-4835-838C-51A4BB771D65.jpeg.8da1fb3a20ebf72b7ebc78e0dbbdd7f9.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Jason Umbreit said:

But dang, putting that motor back together with those spring loaded brushes...sheesh! 

 

Looks like you are making good progress. There was no reason to take the motor apart. All you needed to do is open up the gearbox to replace the bushings/rollers.

 

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I use fishing line to hold the brushes in the holder so the motor armature can be installed.

Maybe not in the same way  ......... I will post a picture when I get home. 

I also made a sheet metal tool that holds the brushes in place but the fishing line works better for me and is faster. 

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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16 hours ago, Ronnie said:

 

Looks like you are making good progress. There was no reason to take the motor apart. All you needed to do is open up the gearbox to replace the bushings/rollers.

 

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Yeah. Two things happened there; I couldn’t get the gear out (I always avoid forcing anything) and then I misread the instructions and thought it said to pull the worm gear out. 

13 hours ago, padgett said:

Note that the bar in Ronnie's picture has the rubber cushion to relieve the shock.

Yeah. That’s a good thing to mention since it’s not in the instructions, but I did put it on. 

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