Sharka Road Trip Prep

A trunk rack.

A trunk rack.

Nope, you’re eyes are not playing tricks. That’s a trunk rack. And it’s gonna be on Sharka in a minute.

No offense to those who like these, but… well… I’m not really a trunk rack guy. I’d rather have either a spoiler on there or nothing at all. I really like the bare trunk lid look on an NA. Just never been into having anything back there.

But I’ve got a reason to have a trunk rack. Sharka’s gonna drive to California!

High tech measuring.

High tech measuring.

This blog post is a random collection of prep pix spread out over a couple months. Sorry for it being disjointed.

Since we’re gonna be driving a decent distance, I wanted a spare tire. And not just the donut spare that came with the car… it takes up a lot of trunk room and is nearly useless. I wanted a real spare.

And that meant trunk rack time.

I didn’t wanna damage Sharka’s pretty paint, so out came the post it notes.

Clear bra strips applied.

Clear bra strips applied.

Some quicky clear bra on the trunk lid protects it from the rack. It’s not the prettiest, but it’ll be gone soon and not leave any trace of the rack (I hope).

Boom! Rack.

Boom! Rack.

Back story – There’s a company who designed and manufactured this beautiful trunk rack. Looks just like the one above. It bolts on and comes right back off. I dig the 2 “stripes” that it mounts with. They’re about $400 and are apparently always sold out. I tried over several months to give this company my money. Never succeeded.

There’s another company called Raceland who made a copy of the rack (among other things). It’s all of $125 and possibly came off the same assembly line as the original. They keep them in stock.

I ordered one. It arrived. It looks to be great quality. Everything bolted together well and it’s very strong.

Sharka will drive with a Raceland product for a few months…

Tint.

Tint.

The next step was some tint. I’ve wanted to tint Sharka for years, but just have kept putting it off. I finally had a reason.

I had some “buddies” tint the car. They showed up with a van and a box of no-name purple tint. It was… well, you’ll see.

Aww yeah! Dark windows!

Aww yeah! Dark windows!

... wait. that's... not good.

… wait. that’s… not good.

Yuck.

Yuck.

The side windows went well, but the hardtop was not at all good. I mean, it looked good when applied, but the next day the stars came out.

No amount of time sitting in the hot NM sun cured things. The bubbles were there to stay.

Add to the fact that the tint did not look to be decent quality material and I paid very very little for the (bad) install… I decided to re-tint it the next week.

At Tint and Trim Works.

At Tint and Trim Works.

Re-tint time.

Re-tint time.

Goodbye crappy tint. I hardly knew ya.

I had 3M Crystalline 40 installed all the way around by Tint and Trim Works here in Albuquerque. It’s pretty damn amazing tint. Very thick, blocks everything, and still has decent light transmission.

I didn’t want dark limo tint. That stuff looks pretty odd when the windows and top are down and there’s just the front quarters super dark. Nope, I just wanted some heat and skin cancer protection.

Heh, I’m old.

Tint installed!

Tint installed!

The 3M stuff looks really good. Very OEM+. And it blocks heat amazingly.

Also, no bubbles.

Alignment time!

Alignment time!

Plugged in.

Plugged in.

Next stop was Keith’s Wheel Alignment here in ABQ. Nothing was too off. I just wanted to get everything squared back up and ready for a trip.

Keith’s is great. I’ve gone to him all of my Miata-driving life. I’ve followed Keith through 3 or 4 shops. He’s a wizard and the only one I’d trust to align Sharka.

Now back to the trunk rack.

That's a spare, baby.

That’s a spare, baby.

YES! That’s a reason to have a trunk rack mounted.

The wheel is a spare 14″ RPF1 I had made. See, those wheels used to be rare and special order. I ordered 5 years ago so that I would have a spare if anything happened to one. And then Enkei started making them as a regular size…

The tire is also a spare I had rattling around. I got some grey market Potenza G3s for Bucky (who wears the 14″ RPF1s daily) a few years ago. I ordered 5 just in case one got a sidewall hole or something. Good thing too since those tires are long gone.

Put the extra wheel and extra tire together and now have a lightweight spare for Sharka’s California trip.

Cost: $0.

Strapped down.

Strapped down.

I originally planned to fabricate a wheel mount for that trunk rack. I got a huge chunk of aluminum, some all-thread, various bolts, and other things. I measured and made plans. I was just about to start cutting things.

And then I strapped the tire to the trunk, just to see how the straps worked by themselves.

It’s ON there. Not moving. I mean, the whole car moves when you try to shove the tire around. It’s solid. So I’m just gonna use these two lashing straps for the trip.

I’ve got two more spare straps in case I need them, but they’re REALLY good. I can get the tire off in a few seconds and back on in about a minute. No big bolts sticking up when the tire is off. Win all around.

No paint contact.

No paint contact.

Front side.

Front side.

Back side.

Back side.

Hardtop clearance.

Hardtop clearance.

And I can even open the trunk!

And I can even open the trunk!

Yeah, these lashing straps are fantastic. I don’t think I’ll have any problems with the spare over the 1500 mile journey.

Just one more thing…

Stock mirrors.

Stock mirrors.

There’s ZERO visibility with the spare back there. I considered a camera and monitor system, but the huge stock mirrors are a much better solution. They can be angled to show the rear view out of both mirrors and the bubbles take care of lane changes.

No cameras or technology needed. $0 solution.

Round wheels.

Round wheels.

Sharka will wear his 15×8 RPF1s for the trip. They’re round and road force balanced. No 70mph shake at all. They’re not anything near as pretty as the Star Sharks (I’ve never even blogged about these 15x8s…) but they’re round. They’ll be good for the trip.

I even got some center caps to fit and made inserts for them. Can’t expect me to roll without center caps!

Spare tire.

Spare tire.

Ready for action.

Ready for action.

Overkill? Probably. But I like fiddling with the car. I don’t wanna be unprepared. And I don’t wanna have to drive with a tire in the seat next to me.

Next stop: California!

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  • Cosmin M says:

    Need road trip details!

  • Klaus says:

    I wish you a pleasent trip!

    A few remarks concerning this kind of trunk rack:

    – they tend to dent the trunk lid a little bit, so you should take a look when you come back and get the lid dedented if that’s the case with yours, too.
    – if you ever should use it for luggage, make sure the raised bar points to the front of the car, so that in case of an accident the luggage doesn’t try to hit your head … that’s the reason for that bar, anyway!

  • GT-Alex says:

    Road trips are always a good trip. Any particular reason for bringing Sharka to Cali ?

    And yes, driving with a tyre on the passenger side is a no go. I did this once, for 5 km. You don’t want to turn right.

  • Brad says:

    I always wondered why anyone would drill into their trunk for a rack, but now I understand that you don’t do that. Still not quite sure how they hook to the edges of the trunk and maintain enough tension on it though… Thanks for posting, I learned something new today. I’ve considered a Jeep basket type setup for the Supra. I think making a small hitch would be the toughest part, in all honesty.

    Good to know that 3M crystalline tint works well. I’ve had five of my cars tinted over the years (mostly when living in Phoenix where the sun shines 23 hours a day it seems), and only ever regretted the visibility on dark roads in the rain. Feel like you’re in a box…

    As for the wheels, you seem to make a point of the 15×8’s being round. Are you implying that the Star Sharks are not round? I’m a bit confused here.

    Anyway, enjoy your trip! I’d say take your time, take the scenic routes if possible. 8 hours on the interstate in a Miata isn’t exactly the most comfortable place to be.

    • revlimiter says:

      Nope… my Star Sharks have one wheel that’s ever so slightly out of round. No matter how well the tire is balanced on that one, I still get a bit of shake on the freeway at 70-75mph. And that’s the range I’d be spending a lot of time in during the road trip… so. No Sharks for extended freeway time.

      Also the Dunlops on them are horrible and super noisy on the freeway. Like enough road noise that I can hear it above the wind and exhaust. They scream! The Toyos on my RPF1s have all the grip ever and are decently quiet.

      I need a set of NEW 15x8s in something exciting so that I can retire the boring Enkeis.

      • Brad says:

        That’s unfortunate that one of the Sharks is out of round… kinda had a feeling that was what you were hinting at. Have you considered a wheel repair service? I know VR Wheels and Memoryfab do things along those lines, might look into it if you wanna make them like new again?

        Word of caution though, I can see it being easy to want to change things up when you have so many wheel customization options on the table.

  • Zandr says:

    1500 miles… round trip? That doesn’t get you to NorCal.
    Beer’s on me if you do make it to the Bay Area.

  • Larry Hopper says:

    Everything looks great. Raceland gets little respect, but I have heard things about their trunk rack.

    Have a safe journey.

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