27th May 2013, 22:11
It's now a few years later, and I still own the car and drive it every day. Since I wrote the last review, I have modified the car a bit. It now has the brakes, spindles, hubs, 13 in wheels and 155 80 R 13 tires from a 95-01 Metro/Swift (if doing this swap, remember to use the inner wheel seals from a 91 and not a 95. The axle seal diameter is different). I also recently changed to the transmission from a 1996 1.3 liter Swift, which gives it the same final drive ratio as a Metro XFI. However, with the change to 13 in wheels, it cuts it further to an effective ratio of 3.52, the same as a 89-94 Swift 1.3. It now has a cruising RPM of 3,050 RPM at 70 MPH, as compared to 3,500 RPM when stock.
I will also add that the car has terrible body roll. This is in spite of switching to new KYB struts and new bump stops (I also switched to 2000 Metro strut bearings at the same time, as they are an improvement over the 91 design). I will soon be replacing the exhaust with a new 91 rear section and a 95 catalyst section to gain clearance for the front sway bar. I am not certain if this will fit, but there is only a 3/4 in difference in length between them, so I am hoping I can make it work.
Another thing I learned is that grease turns to paste after 20 years. Most of the greased components of this car have required me to disassemble them, clean them and add new grease. The most important of these parts is the steering rack, which was difficult to use due to the lack of lubrication. After I lubricated it and set the tension on it, it cut the steering effort in half and made it fairly easy to steer in parking situations. I also had to lubricate the door latches because they would stick, causing me to break exterior door handles. After lubrication, the doors open with nearly no effort at all. Likewise, I also had to go through the wiper linkage, as the pivots were seizing, and caused the wipers to chatter.
Another thing that needed work was the ventilation system seals. I wound up removing the dash and disassembling the system. I had to clean the evaporator core and remove a lot of debris from the system. Likewise, all of the foam rubber seals had disintegrated and required fabrication of new ones. After repairing this issue, the system works like new and blows with much more force.
This may all seem like a lot of work, and it is. However, it is worth it. The car now saves me $200+ a month in fuel costs versus my 4 cylinder/5 speed Nissan Frontier. I may well have had to essentially build a new car from it, but even with a rebuilt transmission ($157 for the kit, which I did myself) and rebuilding an engine (which I am doing now), I have still spent less than half the cost of a good, low mileage used car. My total spend is probably around $2500. That's not a lot of money for a car that rarely ever gets less than 40 MPG in the city, and sees 30,000 miles a year.