Over the weekend we started taking the car apart. By "we" I mean "people who are not me", because my role in this endeavor is mostly covered under the heading of "can perform simple tasks under close supervision". Like taking pictures. However, since I started reading the service manual on Sunday night, I expect that I will shortly know everything there is to know about cars.
Due to the fact that it steadily begins to overheat from the moment the engine starts, and that it clearly does not respect a civilized separation of fluids, the first overhaul phase for the Panda car was invasive. Among the important and oil-soaked parts removed were: air conditioning (gone forever), power steering (gone forever), mechanical fan (gone forever), electric fan & motor, radiator, water pump, belt spaghetti, distributor, temperature sensor, intake manifold, valve cover, head, head gasket.
The first thing you notice about this engine is the sheer quantity of oily black crud all over the place. This was not, unfortunately, limited to the outside of the block - once we got in there, the inside turned out to be just as bad. Even I know that there's not supposed to be that much carbonized black stuff inside the cylinders.
I spent some quality time polishing the head with mumble scotchbrite mumble, because polishing stuff is my idea of a great saturday night. Before I started it looked like this:
Oh look, head gaskets. Note that the old one (bottom) is troublingly intact compared to laz's spec e30 take off (top):
The head and block were also quite undamaged under the grime. In fact, we found nothing that might have caused the horrible oily mess, other than the pervasive presence of Horrible Oily Mess itself. Ominously, this included the interior of the intake manifold, which should be shiny and clean, but instead was filled with oily sand.
As a result of initial investigations, we have decided that this car is probably a retired dune buggy.