Home > Project Cars > 1990 Nissan Cefiro 2.4 GTS-R (A31) > 1990 Nissan Cefiro 2.4 GTS-R Part 2: Looking At What We Got, Getting It Clean, and Learning Something New Everyday

1990 Nissan Cefiro 2.4 GTS-R Part 2: Looking At What We Got, Getting It Clean, and Learning Something New Everyday

In Part 1 of this Power Wheels Magazine Project Car series, we narrated how we came across an online ad about a 1990 Nissan Cefiro 2.4 GTS-R, how we were able to buy it for just P50,000, and how we took it from San Benito Sur, Aringay, La Union on board a borrowed flatbed tow truck and deposited it at JSK Custom Paint and Auto Works in Marulas, Valenzuela City. We mentioned that it was the dream of the author to have a Cefiro after he first saw it launched at the Nissan Metro Motors dealership where he worked in 1989, thus fulfilling a wish spanning 32 years.

If you’re a car enthusiast just like us and you’ve embarked on a new project car – especially one that you found online and reserved without a thorough inspection – you immediately inspect and assess what you just bought after it gets off the truck. We were making a mental note of what we need to do to bring the car from What It Looks Like Now to What We Want It To Look Like When It’s Finished. Since our Cefiro is relatively straight, complete and unmolested, our initial idea is to restore it to factory-fresh original condition. But first, we were itching to clean it!

Dust, Grime and Several Years of Non-Use

When we picked up the car on October 29, 2021, we were told by its owner, Dangal Coronel and his grandson Christian, that the Cefiro has been sitting in their carport since 2017. To avoid paying penalties, its license plates were surrendered to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Extension Office in Agoo, La Union in 2018. For four years, the Cefiro was suspended on makeshift wooden jack stands to avoid flat spots on its Bridgestone Turanza tires but the engine was started at least once a week to keep it from being stuck up. With the Cefiro now at the shop, we started its restoration by washing away four years worth of dust, mud, grime and neglect.

We started by pressure-washing the dust, mud and grime off the surfaces, and crevices of our newly-acquired project car…

… followed by a vigorous application of auto shampoo using a fuzzy applicator to “lift” the dirt off the paint.

We paid particular attention to the dirt lodged between the door openings and the rubber seals.

After we shampooed the whole car, we rinsed it with the pressure hose…

… and then soaped it a second time to remove stubborn paint stains and hardened gook.

We could have taken our Cefiro to a carwash instead but we always opt to give our project car its first wash after we bought it. We want to run our hands around the entire car while washing it and feel every panel for dents, misalignments, rust and any paint imperfections. Since we committed online to buy this car without thoroughly inspecting it first, we were afraid that there might be “hidden” damages or rust spots that would surprise us later on after we got it home. Thankfully, after we washed and later dried our Cefiro, we only found a few areas that needed repair. Whew!

After we rinsed it for the second time, we dried the car with a chamois cloth…

… vacuumed the interior and applied tire dressing to the black sidewalls like they would in a professional carwash…

… and even cleaned the engine bay a bit so it will look presentable when we give it a change of oil, filters, sparkplugs and a much-needed tune-up!

The 7-spoke 15-inch factory alloy wheels and 205/65R15 Bridgestone Turanza tires cleaned up quite well…

… as did the whole car. It was getting late so we called it a day.

Getting and Installing an INCOE Car Battery

We contacted our good friend Brian Kaw at Amaron batteries and asked if we can get a slight discount on a brand-new car battery for our new/old project car. Instead of giving us just a discount, Brian surprised us by sponsoring the new INCOE MF48D26L N50L battery for our Cefiro. Brian said that his boss is very happy with the exposure we’ve given their company for the car batteries we’ve installed in our other project cars. We told Brian that we are likewise happy with the performance of their car batteries, which continue to start our cars even though they are not used on a regular basis.

Amaron Batteries’ Brian Kaw (in yellow shirt) hands us the sponsored INCOE N70 car battery for our Cefiro.

We found that the previous owner placed a rubber mat over the battery tray to protect it from corrosion and to absorb some of the vibration.

We “unboxed” the brand-new INCOE N50L car battery beside our silver Cefiro…

… fit it into the battery tray inside the engine bay…

… and tightened the 10mm bolts of the battery terminals to ensure uninterrupted flow of DC electricity.

When we came to collect the Cefiro from Aringay, the owner installed a borrowed car battery to start the engine and drive the car up the flatbed of our tow truck. He showed us where he stored the metal bracket that holds the battery. Unfortunately, the battery bracket was quite rusty and the ends were beginning to shear off because of corrosion. We can only guess that the bracket came from the factory with our Cefiro in 1990 and was therefore as old as it. Because it was exposed to battery acid or fumes, it corroded faster than the parts surrounding it. We resolved to get a plastic bracket that’ll fit the battery box.

We need to buy a plastic battery bracket to replace the rusted-out original and hold our brand-new INCOE N50L car battery in place.

We’re confident that our Cefiro will start when we turn the key with the 50Ah and 430 CCA that the INCOE N50L supplies.

With the new INCOE battery, we cranked up the RB24 inline-6 and it whirled into action almost immediately.

Going Through Our Project Car 

With our A31 Cefiro now clean and running, we went around the car to see what we need to fix. We noticed that the silver paint was flaking off while we were hosing it. JSK proprietor Johnson Tan surmised that our project car had a wash-over paint job but the surfaces were not prepared well, thus the top paint coat was beginning to peel off. We also saw a small dent on the hood, some faded portions on the top edges of the fenders, and some bubbling of the paint in the right top edge of the trunk lid. But it was the peeling paint that was drawing a lot of attention and it was making our Cefiro look worse than it really is.

Except for the peeling and faded silver paint, and some scratches at the corners, our Cefiro still looks good – from about 10 feet.

There is some paint bubbles on the top right edge of the trunk lid but rust has not penetrated yet when we checked underneath.

The only way we can correct the peeling paint is to sand out the top coat until the factory base coat…

… and spray the entire car in a new coat of metallic silver.

But before a respray, we need to repair the rust at the right rear lower door frame…

… and at the right portion of the engine cowl near the right hood hinge.

Inside, the gray fabric seat material held up well despite being exposed to the local tropical climate for the past 31 years. There is a small hole that looks like a cigarette burn on the left side of the driver’s seat and the rear seats are not bolted down, but other than these, the seats are in good condition. The dash pad is not cracked and all the gauges and warning lights in the instrument panel works with the odometer showing only 70,919.1 kilometers. The LED clock on the dash is missing and has been replaced with a black leather cover while the plastic side vent on the top right of the dash is broken. The Pioneer CD player head unit and the Clifford alarm switch are the only add-ons that deviate from stock. We’re not sure if the tweeters on the far corners of the dashboard are factory- or owner-installed, but they need to be removed and replaced.

The interior appears to be intact and unmolested but it needs to be cleaned, recolored or refurbished.

The LED clock is missing and was replaced with a black leather cover/panel.

Small plastic vent grille is broken and needs to be replaced.

All the gauges and switches work but some need to be cleaned. Aircon still needs to be tested.

Colors of the plastic panels and parts became different due to 30 years of UV exposure.

We Feel Blessed to Get Such a Lucky Find 

We inspected all the four door cards/sidings and found them to be good. The power windows of all the doors need to be fixed though, with the ones at both front doors needing the most mechanical repairs and attention. We were wondering why the metal housing/frame of the power window switches have rusted despite no signs of water leaks inside the car. Perhaps the previous owner left a portion of the window open when they parked the Cefiro for 4 years? Anyhow, the headliner is still intact and the interior light still works.

Rear seats are not bolted down and needs thorough cleaning but are otherwise still in good condition…

The headliner is intact while ceiling light still works.

All four door cards/sidings are in good shape…

… except we’re wondering why the metal frame around the power window switches has rusted.

We opened the trunk and the fuel filler flap using the cable-operated remote lever besides the driver’s seat and we’re happy to find that they work fine. Behind the fuel filler flap, the original Nissan fuel filler cap still keeps the gasoline and fumes in the tank. Inside the trunk/luggage compartment, the gray molded spare tire cover and trunk carpet are still there, with a full-size spare and a scissor jack underneath. The rubber seal that lines the trunk opening still feels flexible and can still seal the trunk from the elements.

Fuel filler flap still opens with the cable-operated remote lever and still features the original Nissan fuel filler cap.

Trunk or luggage compartment still has all the molded covers and carpets…

… complete with a full-size spare tire…

… and a scissor jack with a lug wrench.

To add to all the blessings we received when we got this A31 Cefiro, we were happy to learn that, since the license plates were surrendered to LTO Agoo, it will not cost us much to re-activate and update its registration. However, we had to drive all the way to Agoo to retrieve the license plates from storage and start the reactivation process of our project car’s registration. While this is not the first time we bought a used car, this is the first time that we encountered having to retrieve the license plates from LTO storage that we have to drive two and half hours to reach.

Boy, we really learn something new everyday!

We drove around 225 kilometers north to retrieve our Cefiro’s license plates from LTO storage in Agoo, La Union.

Thanks to the excellent service at LTO Agoo extension office, we were able to start the reactivation process starting with the retrieval of our Cefiro’s license plates.

We cannot wait until our Cefiro is roadworthy once again…

… so we can drive it around to further debug it. The work and excitement never ends!