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Old 11th January 2014, 14:53   #961
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Hi,
I have a 2003 Suzuki Zen (mom's car) that is in a very bad shape (and one that has done less than 10500 kilometres in 10 years). We are planning to buy her a new car, but I want to look into the option of rebuilding it by replacing bad parts with new and better technology. That would include changing the wheels, brakes, suspension, clutch, gearbox, rebuilding the engine, etc.

The first thing to know is that I am a noob when it comes to practical aspects of car modification. I'm a software engineer, so any knowledge and understanding I have is theoretical. I need practical advice and guidance. Now assuming that an attempt at rebuild is still worth considering, hereís the things I can figure out that need to be changed.

All the rebuilds that I have in mind for this 10 year old car matter only if the chassis is in good condition.

Q0. Who can I get all of the below checked from?

Q1. How do I gauge the state of the chassis? What all do I need to check?
If the chassis is useable then the first step would be to upgrade the brakes.
Q2. Is it possible to change the drum brakes on the front to disks and what might the costs be?
The tyres also need to be changed (and maybe the wheels can be replaced with alloys)
Q3. What is an appropriate alloy and tyre size upgrade for the Zen?
The clutch is hard to figure out. Itís difficult to know when it engages. Ideally I would like to change the clutch, and reduce the distance it has to engage and disengage. Also, the gear box, while not bad, leaves much to be desired. A short draw for the gearbox would be nice as well, and a synchromesh first gear too.
Q4. Is it possible to change the gearbox and clutch without changing the engine and what might the costs be?
The next and final step for the first phase is to gauge the engine. IMO the engine is not bad, might need to get better sparks and get it cleaned (flushed) once. But I need to figure out if thatís enough or does it need to be rebuilt as well.
Q5. How can I figure out if the engine is in good condition or needs to be rebuilt and what might the costs of rebuilding be?
Q6. Will a 1.2l K-series engine with its standard transmission fit in the bay of the 2003 Zen? What will a new engine and transmission cost (individually and together)?
I am not too sure about the suspension, but for the sake of consideration, letís assume we need to change those as well.
Q.7 How much might new suspension cost? Should I stick with the stock suspension or will that change depending on the tyre/wheel setup? If it changes, what suspension should I go with and what might its cost be?

I should also like to install central locking with keyless entry. That should be possible without changing too much of the doors, right? Sundry changes might involve getting a better steering wheel, an audio system (which the car doesn't have), a tachometer added to the dash if not too expensive, and definitely an ORVM for the left side.
The final step is to repaint the car. Nothing extravagant there, colour preference priority goes to mom. Might go in for body-coloured bumpers as well.
I obviously need to get all of this checked from a professional just to figure out whether itís worth it.
Hereís the thing: buying a new car for my mother is the simplest way to end her car woes. But I am (or would like to be) and enthusiast and so the prospect of rebuilding a lovely Zen (oh so much better than the Estillo) excites me even more than the new Hyundai i20 I just bought (will give ownerís review in a few months).

So I would like to have your opinions on this car and the rebuild potential and the costs involved. The project has to cost considerably less than a new Hyundai Eon or the Alto 800 (that I'm trying to convince her not to even look at). Please let me know what you experts think.

Thanks,
jdr
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Old 11th January 2014, 22:29   #962
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdr View Post
Hi,
I have a 2003 Suzuki Zen (mom's car) that is in a very bad shape (and one that has done less than 10500 kilometres in 10 years). We are planning to buy her a new car, but I want to look into the option of rebuilding it by replacing bad parts with new and better technology. That would include changing the wheels, brakes, suspension, clutch, gearbox, rebuilding the engine, etc.

...

Q2. Is it possible to change the drum brakes on the front to disks and what might the costs be?
Zen already has disc brakes in front. Or was there a stripped down base variant without disc brakes in 2003? I had spent close to 10k for the brake system overhaul a few years back. So replacing all parts including discs might come somewhere around that figure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdr View Post
Hereís the thing: buying a new car for my mother is the simplest way to end her car woes. But I am (or would like to be) and enthusiast and so the prospect of rebuilding a lovely Zen (oh so much better than the Estillo) excites me even more than the new Hyundai i20 I just bought (will give ownerís review in a few months).

So I would like to have your opinions on this car and the rebuild potential and the costs involved. The project has to cost considerably less than a new Hyundai Eon or the Alto 800 (that I'm trying to convince her not to even look at). Please let me know what you experts think.
Even after all the changes you do to your car, it'll still be a low slung, non-PS car with a very high turning radius. Considering it is a car for your mother who I assume would be 50+, the exact opposite might be what they prefer. I would recommend buying her a new car. BTW, Zen doesn't have a high resale value and hence you can probably keep it as a project car.

My mother stopped driving after she retired, primarily because she was not comfortable without the power steering and the high turning radius combination of Zen. For Swifts, she says its too bulky for her to handle in the narrow roads in Kerala.

At their age and considering the current traffic and parking congestion in the cities, some of the most important parameters you should not compromise are the following, based on my mother's views:
Power Steering - a must!
High seating position - they wouldn't appreciate having to bend down to get in and out of the car sooner or later.
Low turning radius - really helps take U turns easily in traffic after a short trip to a near by store in the main road.
Central locking - at least manual central locking. They just don't want to check all doors every time they lock the car or having to stretch to unlock other doors once they open the driver door.
Power windows - Not used normally but this really helps cool down the car after being parked in the sun for a while.
Narrow car - They prefer to be within their side of the road even when overtaking a 2 wheeler - something we can do in Zen but not in Swift.
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Old 11th January 2014, 22:52   #963
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

I agree with zenren. You should buy a new car for your mum and keep the existing car for your experiments. However, changing the engine of the earlier version with the new K-series will be very costly and may not be feasible.

My suggestion would be not to waste too much money in restoring the car and go for a car that your mother would feel more comfortable to drive. This will give her more comfort, convenience and peace of mind. The reliability of the existing car even after restoration will always be a gamble.
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Old 12th January 2014, 01:13   #964
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
Zen already has disc brakes in front.
I did not see disks on the front. Maybe I need to look closer

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
Considering it is a car for your mother who I assume would be 50+
That would be correct. But she's very happy with the Zen and want's something similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
BTW, Zen doesn't have a high resale value and hence you can probably keep it as a project car.
I'll be sure to tell her this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
My mother stopped driving after she retired, primarily because she was not comfortable without the power steering and the high turning radius combination of Zen.
Her Zen does have power steering, and a pretty decent one too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenren View Post
Narrow car - They prefer to be within their side of the road even when overtaking a 2 wheeler - something we can do in Zen but not in Swift.
This is the most important point for her. I showed her the Hyundai Eon and i10, and she thought those were huge! She wants an Alto 800 or Tata Nano

But yes, buying a new car seems to be the best option for her. I'm still working on convincing her to leave this car for me. If I get to experiment on it, that should be a good learning experience.
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Old 12th January 2014, 01:35   #965
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdr View Post
Hi,
I have a 2003 Suzuki Zen (mom's car) ...
So I would like to have your opinions on this car and the rebuild potential and the costs involved.
Thanks,
jdr
Been there, so I guess I could be in a good position to help you out.

Firstly what I would suggest you to do is take the Zen to an authorised service centre of Maruti and ask them to give you a quotation of restoring/ repairing/ replacing all the necessary parts of your vehicle. This way you will get an idea of exactly how much work is required for your car. If your looking at replacing the suspension, brakes and clutch you may expect to cough up approx 20-25k (+/-).

Secondly, your wheels and tyres will cost you approx 30-35k (assuming you go for alloy wheels. Best size should be 165/65 R13. You need not look at 195/45 R14 as they are an overkill for the lil Zen.

Thirdly, I would suggest you against an engine transplant. You are better off with a regular service and stage 1 modifications - Conical Air Filter 4.5k (piperX), Free Flow Exhaust (11k) and Throttle Body Enlargement (4k). I have had these mods and trust me the character of this car completely changes with these.

Lastly, you may wish to re-paint the car and add a few accessories which would not exceed another 40k.

So if you follow the above suggestions, you will be ending up spending approx 1.2 Lakhs.

Now comes the question whether you should spend that much on an old car? If the car does have some sentimental value in your lives then it is a no-brainer but do keep in mind as to for how many more years do you intend to use the car. The resale value of a 10 year old Zen will still be in the whereabouts of 1 lakh.

So finally I shall conclude by saying that even I was in a situation like you 4 years ago and badly wanted to refurbish my Zen but parents chose to buy a new car instead. On retrospect I think that they made the correct decision simply because the new car was/ is bigger, better in all aspects and the sheer feeling of sitting in a 'modern' car is indeed way better than sitting in a decade old vehicle.

Hope it helps.

Last edited by S2!!! : 12th January 2014 at 01:41.
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Old 12th January 2014, 11:04   #966
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Unhappy Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Zen Carb Upgrade

Need to know how to extract more out of my carb zen engine ? The only upgrade i have is a FFE

Options that i have in mind are
1. Porting and Polishing - what would be cost of it and the gain ? & best place to do in Bangalore
2. Throttle body enlargement - Esteem throttle body - Gain ?
3. Upgrade the carburretors - Weber or Mikuni Racing - Price & Gain ?
4. Air filter upgrade - Stock replacement or conical filter - Price & Gain ?

Looking forward to your replies on the same.

Dire need to get some juice out of this baby.
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Old 13th January 2014, 21:56   #967
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
You should buy a new car for your mum
Yeah... about that. Mom's response was a resounding:
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We have decided to try and make the Zen drivable.

So I am wondering: is it possible (read: affordable) to change the shifter (and links) of the transmission to get one with a short travel for the same gearbox?

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Old 14th January 2014, 18:59   #968
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

The Zen's exterior design even though two decade old, it is mostly preferred to be left as it is in original state, however a little bit of interior spruce up can give a whole new dimension to the drive feel and owner ship experience, here is how we got the Pocket Rocket's interiors redefined to remain head to head with new generation guys on the track.
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Old 14th January 2014, 21:49   #969
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

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Originally Posted by Anil Vincent View Post
The Zen's exterior design even though two decade old, it is mostly preferred to be left as it is in original state, however a little bit of interior spruce up can give a whole new dimension to the drive feel and owner ship experience, here is how we got the Pocket Rocket's interiors redefined to remain head to head with new generation guys on the track.

This color combination is definitely not to my taste. I like the original upholstery colors and as you said about the exteriors, I would also leave the interiors as they are. But hey, it's your ride so your choice matters. If you are happy with this color combination, then enjoy the 'exclusivity'

BTW, how do you manage to drive with that orange dashboard glare on the windscreen? In the 3rd picture the glare can be seen and it must be quite distracting and irritating at the same time while driving.
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Old 15th January 2014, 09:12   #970
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

I'm thinking of replacing the high mount stop lamp for my Zen. Location preferably at the top of the rear window.

I have one fitted long back which has stopped working.
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Any suggestions for good designs? I was thinking of 2-line LED of Indica or the one found in Manza if I can get it from the Tata spares. Any other design that can suit the Zen?

Car accessories shops doesn't seem to be stocking this anymore since all new cars come one and no one seems to be interested in it. So I guess the choice would be limited to OEM spares that are available over the counter.
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Old 17th January 2014, 12:33   #971
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anil Vincent View Post
The Zen's exterior design even though two decade old, it is mostly preferred to be left as it is in original state, however a little bit of interior spruce up can give a whole new dimension to the drive feel and owner ship experience, here is how we got the Pocket Rocket's interiors redefined to remain head to head with new generation guys on the track.
Very nice interiors.
How do they get the orange colour everywhere? Do they remove the old dashboard, paint it in orange and put it back?
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Old 26th February 2014, 20:20   #972
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Ok, I'm back, and let the Zen modification research begin.
I have not found any car of that size that is suitably VFM. So I will get the Zen fixed, as mom only plans to drive it for 4 years -- till retirement. After that, I plan to modify it to the hilt.

Here's the overall plan I have in mind:

Stage I: Critical fixes
suspension, brakes, wheels, and tyres

Stage II: Visual enhancements and creature comforts
steering wheel, seat covers, ORVMs
ICE, central locking
body coloured bumpers, new paint

Stage III: Performance mods if desired (after mom's retirement?)
Engine overhaul; throttle body enlargement (maybe), FFE, CAI

-------------------------------------------------

What would you guys recommend for stage 1?
Here's my requirements:

1. Bigger, better brakes, all 4 disks if possible. Might need to upsize the rims for that. will 13" be enough for bigger brakes? which brakes? brands?

2. Michelin XM1 tyres maybe? need ones with lesser road noise. 155/60R13 5j OR 165/55R13 5j? (alloys) best upsize? brands?

3. Stiffer suspension, but not so stiff that ride quality is shot to hell. brands?

The idea behind stage 1 is to improve the car's driveability, handling, and safety.

The timeline for this stage is a 4-6 months. So obviously, I'm in no hurry. The other aspect is I might be doing much of the work myself (under professional guidance, obviously)

Also, what is the availability of required parts in Pune? Can I get them off the shelf, or do I need to find other sources?

Thanks in advance,
-jdr
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Old 28th February 2014, 13:40   #973
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdr View Post
Ok, I'm back, and let the Zen modification research begin.
I have not found any car of that size that is suitably VFM. So I will get the Zen fixed, as mom only plans to drive it for 4 years -- till retirement. After that, I plan to modify it to the hilt.

Here's the overall plan I have in mind:

Stage I: Critical fixes
suspension, brakes, wheels, and tyres

Stage II: Visual enhancements and creature comforts
steering wheel, seat covers, ORVMs
ICE, central locking
body coloured bumpers, new paint

Stage III: Performance mods if desired (after mom's retirement?)
Engine overhaul; throttle body enlargement (maybe), FFE, CAI

-------------------------------------------------

What would you guys recommend for stage 1?
Here's my requirements:

1. Bigger, better brakes, all 4 disks if possible. Might need to upsize the rims for that. will 13" be enough for bigger brakes? which brakes? brands?

2. Michelin XM1 tyres maybe? need ones with lesser road noise. 155/60R13 5j OR 165/55R13 5j? (alloys) best upsize? brands?

3. Stiffer suspension, but not so stiff that ride quality is shot to hell. brands?

The idea behind stage 1 is to improve the car's driveability, handling, and safety.

The timeline for this stage is a 4-6 months. So obviously, I'm in no hurry. The other aspect is I might be doing much of the work myself (under professional guidance, obviously)

Also, what is the availability of required parts in Pune? Can I get them off the shelf, or do I need to find other sources?

Thanks in advance,
-jdr
Hey JDR.
I am in Pune too and have a 15 year old Zen which is now up for sale. The condition is average.

However, I am quite interested to know how you proceed on this Zen modification part and the expenses involved.
Did you find a competent body shop by any chance?
Also, about interiors, have you found a specialist who can give a sporty dashboard, for example?

Let us sync up if possible.
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Old 3rd March 2014, 00:41   #974
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by S_U_N View Post
Hey JDR.
I am in Pune too and have a 15 year old Zen which is now up for sale. The condition is average.

However, I am quite interested to know how you proceed on this Zen modification part and the expenses involved.
Did you find a competent body shop by any chance?
Also, about interiors, have you found a specialist who can give a sporty dashboard, for example?

Let us sync up if possible.
Hello Sun,
We can surely sync up. PM me your contact number and we can get in touch.

I am still working on finding competent body shops, and I've got a couple of leads. I'll keep you posted.

regards
-jdr
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Old 4th April 2014, 10:42   #975
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Default Re: The Zen Modifications Thread

I have decided to get the car a new life - I am talking about the '96 Zen.
So, the following will be done:
1. Complete body work with patching to get rid of the rusting all over the body.
2. Denting and Painting both inside and outside. Will paint in silver (since that is what the RC book states) inside and outside.
3. Changing of electrical wiring
4. Removal of engine bay components and fitting it back after painting
5. Suspension overhaul - new parts to go in
6. New brake pads
7. New windshield and new ORVMs
8. New carpet and mat inside.
9. AC needs gas and perhaps some overhauling. The gas is the old type and rare to find.
10.Power windows and central locking

Looking for some good graphics which can be put during the paint process and give it a better look -something that the missus will like
Please advise.
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