The Project Potentia Parts Sourcing Spree

Our Project Potentia’s gold grille

We’ve introduced you to our 1992 Kia Potentia project last time, giving a brief background on the car and shared our intentions with it. Originally, I was thinking of making it a drift car. But in the succeeding months since acquiring it, I saw the feasibility in restoring it to stock-ish condition, turning it into a pretty sweet and unique street-driven KDM ride.

That was hinged on acquiring a grille and headlights for the Potentia. But I will get to that point in a bit.

I thought that I was just going to buy new ignition parts and install them to the car, and the car would just fire up and victory would be ours. Turns out that it wouldn’t have been the case, not by a long shot. We wouldn’t know how wrong we were until we pulled the engine out of the car.

We only removed the engine because we couldn’t locate the engine number. The Kia Potentia owner’s manual was silent as to where it was. The Mazda 929 service manual was also not helpful. We needed to detach one of the cylinder heads from the block to reveal the serial. I guess In Korea they don’t care much about the engine number. That would explain why it is so hard to stencil the motors of the Korean cars we have dealt with.

Fun fact: the engine block is the 162th one cast, making our Potentia a very early production model. Not so fun fact: when you try to look for parts by giving your Potentia’s VIN to a parts dealer, they throw up their hands and say they can’t help you.

The Potentia’s JE-ZE engine on reassembly.

Let me tell you, finding parts for the Potentia in the typical Banawe or Pasay auto parts supply store is pretty much a hopeless case as the 929 was never officially sold here. The previous owner managed to get a water pump for the car locally. But I was not going to comb through each and every shop to find, say, a timing belt or a overhauling gasket set.

Thankfully, the 1992 to 1994 Potentia V6 models were not that far removed from the USDM Mazda 929s. We relied very heavily on eBay for most of the engine parts we needed. We bought stuff for the 1990-1991 929s, a couple of parts from the MPV V6 and even parts from an FC RX7 and RX8!

Really, the major unique thing the Potentia has, aside from minor badging, is the headlights and front grille. The car was gussied up with projector lamps and a unique grill with vertical slats, giving it a more imperial feel than the USDM 929. But the previous owner had a minor fender bender, crunching up the grille and the driver’s side headlamp.

I had absolutely no idea where to buy these. But thankfully my friend Law Han from Kia Rio Upgrade Parts helped me out getting used headlights and a grille for the top-spec 1994-1996 Potentia. The latter is pretty much a Benz knockoff but is colored in an Arabian-esque gold finish. I love the chintzy ostentation of it very much and I later found badging to match.

Kia Potentia Headlight (Image credit:


We’ve had the car more than six months already and hopefully we have acquired most of the parts needed to get this car mobile. On our next update we’ll probably detail how we got our engine running. As of this writing the engine is almost ready to be installed pending the installation of a few parts that just arrived from the US. Keep your fingers crossed that we get to drive this car around pretty soon.

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