The new yellow 2002 runs and drives pretty well but the front timing cover oil leaks are pretty bad and the front suspension didn't feel too great, so we decided to do a bit of work (and take photos as we go).
On closer inspection, the motor seemed to leak pretty badly from some combination of the lower front timing cover, possibly the oil pan, and the distributor cover on the back of the head. We're not ready to rebuild the motor yet, but we figured it's worth pulling it and replacing all of the gaskets outside the car where everything is easy to reach.
Attempting to pull off the front bumper revealed that the front suspension was quite damaged. The exhaust side of the subframe was slightly twisted and bent upward at where the bumper bracket sits and the control arm on that side had a good dent in it. The bushings looked tired and we have a lot of steering play anyway, so we decided to drop the front subframe with the engine out and replace everything.
Aron found a good used front subframe that, as a bonus, came with a bigger sway bar and several good spare parts attached:
We pulled it all apart, ordered new control arms, steering links, ball joints, bushings, and other components and then Aron cleaned up the actual subframe and sent it out to get painted. We also went ahead and pulled the engine and then Aron dropped the front subframe. Here's what that looks like, after years of oil leaks:
And here's our "new" one, coming together with nice new components:
Next, we'll clean up the engine bay and replace all of the seals on the motor (along with the water pump and the timing chain and guides for good measure) and then reassemble everything.