Tag Archives: classic

DIY: Vintage Doors

There are a few guides online for re-trimming your door cards but no-one has attempted to re-trim a standard pre-94 NA door card to fit 95/93 LE speaker covers. So after a couple of weeks of planning and buying parts, I’ve finally made my very own vintage-retro doors.

Estimated Time: An afternoon – weekend.
Difficulty: 6/10
Tools require:

  • Screwdriver
  • Spray Adhesive Glue
  • Staple Gun
  • Hex nuts and bolts

Step 1. Buy some vinyl/fabric of your liking. I got 56inch by 32 inch from eBay. This covered both panels with the diamonds going horizontally across the door with enough vinyl to spare.

Step 2. Remove the armrest, door cup and door handle.

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Step 3. Remove the door card from the door. I have a standard 91, so the speaker covers were a separate piece to the door card itself. Just pop out the tabs with your fingers. I found it easiest starting from the corners with the speaker covers. Here is a photo of the door without the door card. You can use this as a general reference as to where the tabs are located. Just run your fingers across the edge and you should be able to feel where the tabs are.

Step 4. Remove the screws and staples that attaches the door bolsters from the door card

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Step 5. Place the door card on the back side of the vinyl and with a sharpie, mark out the size of the door card. This will be used as a reference for you to cut. Because I have a 91 and the speaker covers are a separate piece, I traced both of them as if they were attached so that when I install them back on, they would look like a single piece.

Step 6. Cut out the vinyl, spray on some adhesive and place the door card and speaker panel on. Remember to remove the paper and metal mesh from the speaker panel. At this point, the only thing holding the speaker panel to the door card is the vinyl. So to help with rigidity, I used some hot glue to help strengthen the two pieces.

Step 7. Just staple around the edges. I found that instead of trying to mimic the factory cut, it is better to leave extra fabric so you can use one hand to pull the vinyl tort, and then use your other hand to staple it into the fiberboard. Once firmly stapled and attached, just cut off the excess.

Step 8. Cut out holes for the speakers and door cup/handle. Next, align the 93/95 LE speaker cover on the vinyl and mark out the holes where they attach on the door card. Then with a drill, drill through the door card/original speaker cover . Then with some hex bolts and nuts, tighten them to your new door card.

Step 9. Reattach the door bolsters. Installation is just the reverse of removal.

Step 10. Enjoy your new retro door card!

Before:

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After:

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RS Watanabe – The Magic of Unsprung Weight

I finally got my Watanabes on the car. And oh my god! Not only does it look amazing but the lightness of the rims made a bigger difference than expected (especially when comparing to the heavy mazdaspeeds I had on for 4 years). The fitment/offset was far better than expected. In fact, I had some 20mm hubcentric spacers that i was going to put on but I guess they’re up for sale now. Right after I had them on this morning, I drove up to the local mountain pass (Black Mountain) for some spirited driving. It. Was. Awesome.

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However, on the downhill, I did notice a bit of scrubbing under hard braking and cornering. May require some guard rolling in the future, but it’s most likely due to the old stock suspension. Chances are that the shocks are pretty much dead which is perfect timing for the next part up on the list. 😀 Especially given the car looks like a 4WD, begging for some lowering.

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Everyone knows that the lighter your car the better the acceleration, braking and handling. But there is important distinction in weight when it comes to weight reduction. Specifically, it’s the concept of sprung and unsprung weight. Sprung weight refers to the parts of a car that are supported by the suspension/wishbone links. In essences, they hold the vehicle’s frame, engine, body, driver and everything that are above the wheels. Of course, these parts make up most of the weight of the car. On the other-hand, unsprung weight refers to parts such as the wheels, tires, and brake assemblies.

The diagram below demonstrates why unsprung weight is so important:

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The effect of reducing unsprung weight is that the effect of weight reduction is far more effective in improving acceleration, braking, and even ride quality! In the example above, if the unsprung weight is 50lbs, a 2G bump would result in a vertical force of 100lbs. On the other-hand, if the unsprung weight is 30lbs, the same bump would only result in a vertical force of 60lbs. The increase in unsprung weight will reduce the grip of the car, because the weight of the car is what keeps the tyre planted, and pushing a car up into the air with that much force will inevitably reduce the weight on the tyre, and hence grip. Essentially, the more upward force, the more difficult it is the keep the tires planted on the road. This is especially true for lighter weight cars like the MX-5. In the same light, ride quality is reduced as the same springs and dampers has to deal with a stronger upward force. As for acceleration, the reduction in unsprung weight essentially means that there is less mass for the engine/diff to turn. As a result, less force is required to turn the wheels resulting in faster acceleration.

Note: The performance difference at driving speeds are not massive, but you can definitely feel it on your ass 😛

DIY: Custom Retro Switches

This mod is fairly popular for anyone going for the retro mx-5 look. Nothing says retro more than toggle switches, plus the stock switches on the NA tends to build carbon deposits on the contact points resulting in the switches not working. Embarrassingly, it has happened to me a few times when someone was checking out my car. This window switch idea came from a bloke in the UK. Check out his site here for more details on wiring and design.

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Anyway, here are the stuff you’ll need. I’ve also linked some Jaycar pages where you can buy some of the parts. This project is fairly time consuming. Took me about 2 hrs in total to fabricate. It may have taken longer, but thankfully, I have a workshop with all the spare parts and tools at work which I could “borrow”. 😛

Parts:

  • 1 stainless steel plate, cut to a rectangle 66x52mm. It should just cover the stock plastic window switch. The corners are similar size to an Aussie 10 cent coin. Check the radius as you are filing down the plate. You can buy this at Bunning’s.
  • 2 toggle switches.  You will need Double Pole, Double Throw (DPDT), ON/OFF/ON momentary switches.  Here’s a link to where you can buy some.
  • 12 ring or fork crimp connector. I had some lying around the workshop but again here’s a link to where you can buy some.
  • 10 gauge automotive wire.
  • 1 Mazda MX5 plastic window switch. Feel free to buy one from ebay if you do not want to cut up your current ones.
  • 4 nuts and bolts. Had some nifty hex bolts lying around, but any bolt from Bunning’s should do the trick. Really depends on personal preference.

Tools:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Hack Saw
  • Range of files
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Crimper
  • Phillips-head screw driver
  • Hex key and spanner
  • Dremel

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Using the dremel I hacked out everything on the switch. Take care when cutting the hole as you don’t want to cut/weaken the three mounting points on the plastic backing. Don’t worry too much about cutting a nice straight rectangular hole, the metal backing will cover the hole. Just make sure that it’s big enough to fit the toggle switches (I’m just a bit anal about shit like this).

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Next, cut out the metal plate to size and use a file to shape the corners. Obviously sand the corners as well, if you like, sand the surface for a brushed look. Since the switches have been hacked, this make it very easy to check if you have the correct dimensions. It helps if you draw a mock up plate out of paper/cardboard to make sure everything fits.

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Then, hold the metal plate against the plastic holder and drill through the two pieces with the desire hole size for your bolts. This ensures that when it comes to assembly, everything fits.  perfectly. Where you drill the holes are completely up to you.

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Finally, crimp and solder everything together. Remember to put heat-strink on all your connections! I found 10-guage wires difficult to solder strongly, but I stumbled on this  very helpful video on soldering thick gauge wires. Alternatively, you can use flux if available. Here is the wiring diagram.

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Then all you need to do is assemble and you’re done!