You may have heard of Built - it's a celebration of all things automotive, held annually at Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast by Fitted State, Blackwater Graphics and Blok 51. After a fantastic debut show it's back, so we decided to build a car to help promote it.
Over the winter we had toyed with the idea of building a car that would represent the 4 key areas of what the very first Built was about – stance, modified, track ready and classic but what would that car be? At the time I was driving a Volkswagen Bora while my R32 was tucked away from the salty roads – hardly a prime candidate. Then something happened that the optimistic amongst you may consider fate… the Bora’s engine blew up.
So on the lookout for a new daily I was presented with what you see below by our good friend Peter Matthews. Having bought the car as a non-runner that had been parked up for 3 years, Pete had set about getting the 1991 Eunos Roadster (MK1 MX5 imported from Japan) running, mot’d and back on the road again but had decided against building another MX5. It certainly would be able to tick all four of the key areas with some wheels and a few stickers, right?
While the car was a bit of a brute on the outside, it ran well, had some fresh coilovers, a Nardi steering wheel and a lot of potential. The Mariner Blue paint had seen better days with stone chips, lacquer peel, dents and some sections that had been buffed through. It was pretty clear that our original plans weren’t going to work.
We picked up the phone and had a chat with our friends at Alphagraphics & Hexis UK. Hexis were one of our big supporters in the first year of the show and were excited to hear about our plans for the Roadster, sending us 10 metres of high quality automotive vinyl wrap to lay over the 27 year old paint.
Over the coming weeks the car was stripped, sanded, filled and flattened to achieve a perfect finish on which to apply the vinyl to. Normally prep for a wrap wouldn’t be this intense but seeing as our paint was already ruined and the car was full of dents, we decided to goto town.
Next on the journey was a trip to Blackwater Graphics. Traditionally full panel wraps are not the type of work they would take on, but after a bit of gentle persuasion Andrew finally lightened his stance and it was game on.
I know what you’re thinking here – why are you wrapping a blue car blue again? I’d posted a few photos of this on Instagram and people thought I’d lost my mind… but there was a plan, there was always a plan.
The first layer of Hexis Vivid Blue Gloss was then covered with Tiffany Blue Gloss and I must admit at this stage I was a little scared. While the Tiffany Blue looked great, I was worrying the two tone was a bad choice… the car already looked great with a fresh coat of Vivid Blue.
I need not have worried because once the insert well known tyre manufacturer name here stripes went on and we started filling the car with sponsor logos it became clear it was a strong look.
With the over the top wrap complete the MX5’s bodylines were looking a bit soft so we beefed it up a bit with a Garage Vary front lip, Jap Style side skirts, a duckbill spoiler and a 5 Race roll bar.
At this stage I was very happy with the direction the car was going. The wrap had turned out better that I had expected and the body was looking much more aggressive but there was still one major component missing though… wheels.
Step up Performance Alloys. We are a big advocate of working with and supporting local businesses, so when one of the UK & Ireland’s largest wheel distributer wants to work with you, and they are only 20 minutes up the motorway from you, its a no brainer.
After a lot of browsing we decided on a set of Rota Grid Max. Based on the Grid V, the Grid Max features a concave face as well as a dished lip and in a 15×8” ET0 fitment they were an aggressive wheel straight out of the box for our Eunos.
Truth be told, they were a little too aggressive, afterall this was a car that we needed to driven every day and taken to events all across the country. It needed fitment, it needed to be low but it also needed to be drive-able and rub as little as possible. Jim Morrow Tyres in Comber provided us with a set of 195/45/15’s which gave us the chunky look we were after. After a little persuasion with a hammer the rears were on but the fronts needed a little more work, down sizing to a 175/50/15 to give us the extra clearance we needed.
The final piece of the puzzle came from our friends at Street Racer Motorsport. Agreeing to build us an exhaust we went into discussions of what the system would be. One of our requirements was that the exhaust be tucked up under the car more as the scraping was starting to take it toll. Rather than go for a traditional exhaust, because lets face it, not much about this Eunos is traditional, we went for 2.5″ upswept staggered shot guns which hangs proudly out the back of the car. A ridiculous exhaust, for a ridiculous car!
The car has been nothing but a head turner. From the first drive people have stopped me in petrol stations, car parks, traffic lights and events to chat about the car. “Where do you race it?’ and “how fast is it?” are commonly asked but it has more that served its purpose at generating interest for Built. None of it would have been possible without the people and companies to came together to make it a reality so a massive thank you to Alpahgraphics, Hexis, Performance Alloys, Street Racer Motorsport, Blackwater Graphics, Jim Morrow Tyres, CIP Insurance, Wheel Whores, Auto Finesse, Blok51, Rota and anyone who lend a hand putting it together.
The future for the car? Well come along to Built this Sunday to see it in the flesh. Tickets are available at http://builtevent.com and on that door at the Titanic Exhibition Centre. After that? Who knows, maybe it finally will see a track somewhere…