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Nissan BE-1: A journey from 50bhp to 160+bhp (Entry #1)

Hey everyone! Just wanted to introduce myself to the forum and talk about my most recent project. I have decided to blog that project here for y'all to enjoy.
I live in Atlanta, GA, USA and used to drive a MK3 supra with a 1jz swap but I sold that bad boy earlier this year to help fund my newest toy. I just started the journey down a new career path and have enrolled in an online program for the next 8 months, so this project will give me something to do and work on that is mechanical to escape the technical work of school. I can't wait to award myself for starting a new career with whipping this project around my city.

I did some research and wanted a car nobody else had seen in my neighborhood and would turn heads while cruising downtown or at a local car show. That's when I found this minty BE-1! How could I resist? The color! The headlights! The split-bumpers! Right hand drive! and all attached to a production of only 10k. This is gonna be sweet!


What a beauty!! Anyways, after driving around this sturdy 50bhp guy on stock 12'' wheels for awhile, I decided it was time to make some changes, spend some money, and turn this classic Japanese city-getter into a sleeping giant with a rare profile. Several phone calls and beers later, I have decided to pick up a modern 1.6L Honda V-TEC engine and matching transmission and get them fitted in. Along with those parts, I'll be sourcing a proper ECU that has an open profile to disclude those parts I won't be installing, a new suspension system, a new brakes, and upgrading to some wider 14'' wheels and tires.

So, as I have only started to source all the parts this week, I will be taking my time removing the stock MA10S and 3-speed automatic transmission, along with all the other mechanical peripherals that I won't be installing into the new build. Anyways, here's some photos of today's progress:


Here she is with the hood removed and the washer fluid hose hanging from her open mouth! Time to remove some parts and call it a day


So today I was able to remove the battery and battery bracket, the radiator and radiator fan, starter, windshield washer fluid reservoir and hoses, the grill, the air filter, and the air filter housing. Here are the parts pulled out and sorted. Will be doing my best to find them good homes before sticking them in the bin or selling them for scrap. You can see that I had to build my own upper radiator hose from two existing hoses and an interior couplet a while back. The original hose was pretty dry and was leaking from a couple small cracks.


Thanks for reading! Hopefully tomorrow I can get in and remove some more guts. I will be ordering a proper hoist in the next week so that I can handle the heavy lifting that is soon to follow. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas!
Wow! I was able to get my friend to come by with an A/C evacuation/capture device and get the refrigerant safely removed before starting that system delete. Pretty cool thing, and certainly important to have it removed safely and professionally. Turns out Freon does a swell job of burning up the atmosphere and is really dangerous to be inhaling in your garage!

Now that it's been depressurized/emptied I can get back under the bonnet and remove whatever A/C components I can get to. I'll probably get some time in there before the weekend and post some further progress pictures. The main A/C line runs right over the top of the engine bay, so removing that johnny first will make the rest of my engine dive that much easier.

The more I remove, the larger I find this engine bay to be! Very excited to see how clean a nice wire-tuck around a solid and compact Honda engine is going to look in here. I've been doing a bit of further research into other V-TEC and SI engines and there are a lot to choose from! Going to see some in person soon enough and make a decision from there. My favorite tuning shop around here is pretty booked through the end of the year, so I'll have plenty of time to do my research, source proper parts and get them on a pallet before delivering an empty body and a stack of parts to the shop in one go.

As far as all the electrical components in the vehicle, I'm doing my best to detach each one individually and label the endpoints with what they were attached to previously. I'm unsure exactly what will be included in the eventually purchased wiring harness for the chosen engine, but wires are far easier to remove than engine components. I'm doing as much of this work at home, of course, to save hours of shop labor. Plus, it gets me away from my studies and gives me an opportunity to show my wife that all the tools I own serve a purpose!

Update y'all soon! Thanks!
Thanks to the rain outside delaying my regular yard work, I've been able to spend a couple hours under the hood deleting some more of the engine parts. Pulled the spark plug wires, the alternator, the A/C Freon reservoir ( I think ), and enough nuts, bolts, washers, and zip ties to build a small robot. Also pulled a handful of hoses off of the carb components. This engine LOVES HOSES. You can see all the removed parts below:


Another hour in and we have removed several of the A/C elements, including three larger pieces of piping (not pictured) as well as the parts in the photo below. Wires off the positive and negative ends of the battery terminal, some sort of bracket off the driver's side that was holding back wiring, an A/C pipe, another handful of hoses (!!) and the fan off the A/C radiator unit.


I am having a bit of a hard time with the remaining A/C lines and the A/C radiator as the bolt heads are all pretty stripped or in very hard to reach places. Going to try and pull any ground wiring where I can and clear any zip ties/tapes/twists wherever possible sometime this evening or tomorrow. Will be putting the car on jack stands and get the oil and other fluids drained out soon, too. I should've started with draining those fluids, but I didn't have proper containers for them all until today. Spent some time looking at wheel and tire options and have picked a few finalists and put them on the wish list.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope to be posting again soon!
Today is another day of ripping parts from the Nissan. Here is a preview of what the engine looked like at the end of the last session. She is getting cleaner and cleaner and the engine bay is way bigger that I had thought it was previously.


The plan for this session is to pull and label the wire loom. Going to cut wires at the longest length possible, and label both ends. I am unsure if the wire harness that will come with the next engine will include the same connectors, I want to ensure that splicing is still possible. I didn't realize just how complex the wiring was in an engine that doesn't have EFI, but it was a tangle!

Here is a photo of all the tape and split-tubing that was wrapped around the loom, along with countless zip ties that were in the body and around sections of the loom. Also photo'd are sections of wire that served as splices between others. I didn't see any soldering work on these splices, just crimping and black vinyl tape. I suppose the factory standard has certainly changed in the last 33 years!


I also included a photo of the labeled and tucked connector ends that service parts of the vehicle that will remain after the swap. Items like headlights, side indicators, turn signals and the like. I have also bundled and cleaned up all other connector types and left them unlabeled. I will include these with what I deliver to the engine shop, just in case they have an issue with compatibility, otherwise I imagine they will end up in the bin.


Finally, after what felt like hours of cutting black tape, and pulling zip ties, this is the engine bay in it's current state:


I've tidied up the wiring coming from the headlights and indicators as best as I could for what wasn't a plastic connector. I'll go in and clean up all the dust and grime that;s collected in those areas with a damp rag just for piece of mind and to have a car that looks as good as possible when I deliver it empty. I am hoping to manage the wires for any of the rear lighting systems and interior next, as well as tidy up and pull the fuse box. I've got a bolt on the A/C compressor that wont let go just yet, otherwise I would have that massive A/C line that is in the bottom of that photo pulled already. I'll get some penetrating oil in there and give it another go soon enough.

Thanks so much for reading!!