Holy Crap! So insanely behind in keeping up with the progress of this machine. Sorry Ladies & Gents, its been a long couple of months, but I can say A LOT has transpired since then. So lets get right on into it. At last check-in, I had just gotten my exhaust setup complete. Well, since then, its held up perfectly. Sounds amazing still, and I’m actually tinkering with an idea to cure future boredom/push it one step further. More on that later.
So around the time I got the exhaust finally sorted out, I picked up a set of OEM Euro LED Tails (Hella Mexico). So back when I had a free moment, I was able to follow the DIY, re-pin then harness so that they could just be plug & play. In the future, whenever I pick up a vag-com or make friends with someone who has one, I will be recoding for Amber turn signals as well as a few other things. The repining wasnt all that hard. Although, I didnt unplug the battery until I got to the drivers side, after already installing the passenger sides… oops. Oh well, no electrocution and/or blown fuses. Score! Shortly thereafter I picked up a bunch of vinyl stickers for an upcoming project.
As time went on, I was trying to figure out what I wanted for a “make-shift” wheel and tire package for the upcoming car show in Vegas. I didnt have the money to drop down and get it over-with for a new wheel/tire package, so I opted for the next best thing (in my mind). Through April and early May, my gf was in a show and we found ourselves entirely too busy on the weekends, thus leaving me no time to get to anything car-related. With the show in Las Vegas, Wustexxxx. fastly approaching, I wasn’t left with much time to get everything in line, so I had to make due with the time I had. In late April, I came up on a set of some retro Moon Disc snap-on hubcaps. For as cheap as they were, I couldn’t pass it up. Even if it was just going to be temporary. So I rode with those for about 2-3 weeks with the full intention of rattle canning them satin black, as I continue to hate anything shiny/chrome. I was talked into painting them the same color as my soon to be various other parts; a PPG color called “Cabernet”. Its a 2-stage paint color that usually runs about $500 a pint (if I recall). The paint has a deep red/slight violet base coat covered with a translucent red pearl top coat, and once combined, it looks insanely deep. But back to the story: the night I go to take my car apart for parts requiring paint, I start to pop off the driver-side hubcaps. I make my way around to the passenger side… Theres only one hubcap. FAK! Of course, in a panic, I start to pace around and figure out what am I gonna do. In pouring down rain, I try and retrace some of my steps of where it might have fallen off. No such luck. Of course the show I look forward to is a good two weeks out and I’m left here with 3 hubcaps. So I continue on with dismantling my car as needed. A day or two later, I had no choice but to bite the bullet; I had to pay for a new hubcap. The sad part is, I paid about half as much for one as I did for the entire set. Still on the cheap, but damnit, I’da been better off with another set. But money was tight and I needed it, so nothin else I could do. 3-4 days later it shows up and I shoot it out to my parents place where we finalize all parts being prepped for paint. I pull off front/rear badges, all interior belt-line trim, shifter bezel, mirror caps, as well as my moon discs.
A little back-story: The idea originated with painted red mirror caps. A bit nostalgic from the days of the early-mid 90’s with Mercedes having their touring car, CLK-GTR. I remember the car was a brighter silver and the mirror caps were a brilliant red. Thats something that I wanted to bring back… well, at least upon my own car. Rather then just settling for painted mirror caps, I planned on painting a few other items so that it would all tie in at some point. We also sanded down the mold lines on the mirrors, from where/how they are made. Rather than have a seem, its been sanded even so its a smooth overall surface.
In the meantime of parts being prepped and painted, I had to address my sad story of a front-lip. The previous owner was a bit “unaware” of things on the road while driving, so with that came a few bumps and battle wounds. Clearly not ‘show’ quality. So I decided to go the cheap route: STICKERBOMB! I was able to get my hands on a bunch of stickers back in April, so with that, I pulled the front lip off and went to town. I seriously thought it would take about 30 minutes. How hard can applying stickers possibly be?! A good 3-4 hours later, its finally done. And looks like snowboard! Haha. A few little things I’m not happy with, but live and learn for next time. So not sweating the small stuff, I slap the lip back on. With that done, I couldnt very-well leave the exhaust hangin out lookin as raw as it did. So I cleaned up the cut pipe (read: “tips”) with a variety of metal files and scotchpads. Removed the rear bumper, cleaned up all that was going to be painted, and painted everything from the Y-Pipe, back, satin black. Again, this goes back to the anti-shine thing I have in me. Gave it a solid 3-4 coats and then let dry for a bit and threw on the back bumper. While that was curing, I set to take on the front grilles. My previous job had a route on horribly kept freeway that lead to numerous chips (and window chips!!) at the previous rattle can job, so it desperately needed to be redone. I picked up a can of black Plasti-Dip and went at it. Gave it a good 3-4 coats as well and then that was it. Let everything set and cure and revisit it all in a few days for the reinstall.
Finally the day comes! RED PAINT! I’ve been waiting for this color to be laid down since I got the paint back in Aug/Sept of 2010. Pics dont do it any justice. Everything laid out nice and smooth. A few dust bunnies, but those were taken care of through wet sanding. If I recall, the process was as follows
– Scuff interior parts with Mild ScotchPad
– 240 grit on Moon discs
– Degrease parts
– Self-Etcheing primer on Moon discs (promote adhesion upon the metal surface)
– Rose colored primer upon all parts
– “Knock down”/re-scuff primed parts (even/smooth out painting surface)
– Base Coat
– Top Coat
– Clear Coat
– Dry/Curing (72 hours)
– 2000 grit wet sand
– 2500 grit wet sand
– Rubbing compound via buffer
– Polishing compound via buffer
While everything is setting/curing and so on, I travel out to a friends shop and have him tint all my windows (minus the windshield) with SunTek Carbon 45% film. Ive chosen the “lighter” route specifically on my last 3 cars cause its dark enough to block out sun, but not be murdered out to be a red target for cops to hassle me, especially since my car doesn’t exactly sound/look stock. This has been the longest I’ve ever fishbowled a car. Usually within a week or two of getting my cars, they are immediately tinted. So now that all the painting is completed and everything’s set/cured as needed, I went ahead and popped in all the interior parts back in place. What a change. It brings in some color to the interior and with whatever sunlight that does come in (esp with the windows down), it just pops like crazy. So happy with it. Also popped on my mirror caps as well. The Cabernet against the Platinum Grey really looks great and has a nice contrast. And while I know its not everyone’s cup of tea, its totally fine by me. It suits for what I want. While I was in the process of reinstalling all my parts, I did a test fit with the moon disc on and snapped a pic (see below).
Now that everything is ready to go, its “hell week”. The week of Wuste is already upon us… and in NorCal its raining! Delaying a much needed detail, not to mention my gf’s gti (mkv) having to need new tires and finding out the passenger side outer cv boot is torn. This was all found out on Sunday. We leave for Las Vegas in less than 5 days. While we scamper around, handle her car, and deal with wet weather, its now Thursday evening. Thankfully shes can hold her own in the car dept (what a woman! haha) so we attacked my car with a heavy washing. Dried and threw it in our one-car garage. With the weather still being in the low 60s and drastically dropping as the sun sinks, the metal is getting colder and making it harder to cure a coat of wax. We throw on the space heater and shut the garage door with my car inside and get to washing her car. Washed. Dried. Swap cars. We attack either side of my car simultaneously with wax. Leaving the space heater running, really did help a whole hell of a lot. Had we not, we’d have fought non-curing wax and major build up in the micro-fibers. We finish up my car and let her car “heat up” in the garage, as we did with mine. We throw on a coat of wax and finished some other odds and ends and that was that…
CVS Run > Pack > 45mins sleep > Drive to Vegas > Commence tom-foolery > Sleep > Buffet > Quick Car Wash > Dry > Return to Hotel
Once we return to the hotel, its time to install the final pieces to the car. I rode down with my painted moon discs in my car as well as the front and rear badges. I left them off the exterior of the car since they were freshly painted the week prior, and a 500mi journey, through the desert no less, is no kind of “break in” I need to endure on the way to a show. I threw on the newly painted rear badge, locked in the front badge in place and snapped on the moon discs.
As soon as well make it to the top level of the parking garage, we don’t even get out of our cars without a couple people coming up to us and asking us about our painted parts. Was a pretty cool feeling with people diggin on your car, as well as meeting cool people who are just enthused about cars and customizing them as you are.
Once the show was over, we headed back to our hotel. Make it up to our level in the parking garage. As soon as I swing around, I hear it. FAK! One of my newly painted moon discs pops off and rolls a good ways. My gf goes and grabs it. Miraculously it rolled on its side and landed face up. So the very top edges are a little rashed, but I guess thats what you get for hubcaps, right? Ah well, thankfully I’m only out a couple a bucks for em, though they were a cheap/quick solution for wheel coverings, their sole intention was to be completely temporary. Another thing about them, is since they dont snap on like the factory hubcaps, they are loud as hell at low speeds. Sounds like an old owbbly shopping cart. Ugh! But no worries.
So now that you’ve been bored to death, if you’ve even bothered reading this far (haha), lets take a little picture journey and see the recent happenings.
OEM Tail Lights out
OEM Euro Led Tails installed (will be looking for one with no rear fog in the future)
Moon Discs installedThe stickers I picked up from ihatestickers.com
Ready for the salt flats
A look out back
You never realize how much you use your mirrors until they arent there
Up in the air. Front lip removed.
The underside of the lip. All jacked up.
Laying the “base” layer down
All done on one side
All done on the other side
Bombed! Can’t even tell that I have a huge chip in the lip
The tint I’ve ran with on my last 3 cars (45%)
Semi-Gloss Black exhaust
Interior trim all reinstalled (overcast day)
Still not 100% back together in Vegas, but literally working on it, in the background
Finally situated at the show
Me and the Mrs, Cheesin in front of our cars
Two things I live for
Now that the car is “done” with Phase 1, I can start to get into the next phase. “Luckily” my tires are showin signs of wear. I probably have a good 5-10k left on them, if that. So I’ve already shopped around and got quotes on tires for my new wheels. I just have to track down my wheels. I wont get too much into that, since its kinda touch and go right now. With regards to taking my exhaust ‘one step further’; I’m thinking of doing a “removable Cat” section. Swapable to either a straight pipe or to a 200-cell high-flow cat (either/or with O2 sensor spacer). I figure for as cheap as it would be to do, why not? It would definitely sound ungodly and scare small children. So we’ll see how that ends up going. I’m also keeping an avid eye out on interior pieces. I’m looking for black/anthracite a/b/c pillars, etc as I’m overly tired of the light grey two-tone look. Also GTI/GLI seats, steeting wheel, and the list goes on. More stuff to add to a seemingly never-ending list. But so such is life, right?
Til next time, keep it on all fours