Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/6/13 10:58 a.m.
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After a whirlwind of activity, including two cross-country road trips, our speedy little turbo Miata had become dormant. As happens in life, its owner had moved on from working for GRM, and didn't have as much time available for track days and two-seater shenanigans. For the better part of 6 months the little beast sat, dreaming of opposite lock and wastegate whipsnaps.

Finally, it just became too much, and we started hounding the previous owner to sell. Wanting to see his beloved Miata go to a good home, he relented, and we came to an agreement. True to its reliable form, the Miata needed nothing but a new battery, oil change and an air pressure adjustment, and she was back on the road.

The deal did include one stipulation though. The supercool "High Octane" military-themed wrap would have to go. The hood carried sentimental attachment for the previous owner, as the "High Octane" girl was the nose guardian on a plane his brother serviced in the Air Force. Understandably, he wanted the hood for garage art. Also seeing how the new owner hadn't served in the military, we saw it as a bit hypocritical to tool around in a military-themed car. We have utmost respect for those that serve, and wanted to make sure to pay the appropriate respect. So, the hood was hung on a garage wall, and the rest of the wrap would have to come off.

The prospect of removing a vinyl wrap was a daunting one. The edges of the wrap were secured with a spray-on adhesive, which caused the wrap to fray and splinter each time we started to make a bit of headway. Here's some useful advice, none of which we took:

Remove the wrap on a warm day, after the car's surface has heated up. The adhesive and wrap have much more flexibility and strength above 65 degrees.

Recruit a helper if possible. The wrap can be fiddly, and tiring on the fingers. This is one time where four hands are certainly better than two.

Employ the use of a heat gun. Again, the wrap responds better to warmth than cold.

Of course we did none of the above, and put ourselves on a mission to finish removing the wrap in one day, which we did. Unfortunately, the day was about 50 degrees, not at all good for wrap removal. After NINE hours of continuous work, the last of the wrap had been removed, leaving behind a mess of leftover adhesive covering much of the bodywork.

We tried several products to remove the nasty, dirt-attracting glue, but none worked better than Goof Off. By using liberal amounts of Goof Off, and having the patience of a judge, we were able to free the Miata of its gunky condition.

Next on the list was a bit of an interior refresh. After sitting for so long, the Miata was in need of a good detail. We scrubbed, shampooed, vacuumed and scrubbed some more, and eventually the car's insides came back to life. We also swapped out the eBay special racing seat that had seen better days for a stock seat to make the car a bit more friendly in day-to-day use. Finally, a MOMO Monte Carlo steering wheel was purchased from LTB Autoports; the stock wheel was in bad shape. Also, nothing looks and works better than a classic three-spoke MOMO in a sports car!

Soon, the red replacement hood will be painted white to match the rest of the car, making this 230+ whp Miata a true sleeper. We will also be refreshing the Fat Cat Motorsports suspension tuning during our massive Speedfest at the Mitty celebration. Diagnostic tuning and electronic safeguards from Zeitronix are also planned.

Also, we've noticed the clutch slipping under heavy load. A suitable replacement from Centerforce is on the way to make sure all that power is transferred to the ground. This will go nicely with a new set of tires that will be ordered soon. Currently the car's worn out Fuzions make it feel more like an ice skater, and less like a track star.

Stay tuned!

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ZOO
ZOO UltraDork
3/6/13 12:56 p.m.

I recently removed the vinyl from my motorcycle. A hair dryer made a huge difference. It really isn't worth the frustration without one. I suspect a warm day would do nicely, too, but it was 20 below when I did it.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/6/13 2:01 p.m.

Frustration is the right word. The vinyl comes apart in tiny little pieces when cold. I had decided it was coming off that day though, and didn't have a blowdryer handy. Fortunately I put myself in a trance-like state--- before I knew it the car was done......as was the entire day! Word to the wise----when removing a wrap- heat is your friend!

mistanfo
mistanfo UltraDork
3/12/13 4:31 p.m.

LTB is good people. Though the red hood looks odd.

MorganKevin
MorganKevin None
3/30/13 6:08 a.m.

No buddy I don't think that it looks odd in fact looks classy. contemporary rugs

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