I wasted no time tearing into The Stormtrooper. This was literally the 2nd day of ownership.
A few words about the NC1 tail lights – I hate them. I think they’re a horrible design. I’m appalled that the designers could go from the NA tail lights (which hang in MoMA for god sake!) to these late 90s trendy clear things. I mean, by 2006, automotive OEMs had moved on from the clear plastic Altezza look almost completely… except Mazda had to grace the ass of the NC with them.
Sorry to those who actually like these tail lights. I’m not trying to make enemies. I just dislike the design very very very much.
Something had to be done.
The NC trunk is completely wrapped in hard plastic. All the walls have the stuff. Gone are the NA and NB days of lightweight fluffy stuff over the metal panels.
But at least it’s easy to remove.
There’s roughly 870 little plastic retainer pins to remove. My finger nails were up to the task.
The tail lights are held in by only 3 bolts once the plastic is all removed – and you do have to remove all four walls worth of plastic to get this far. There’s also a plastic keeper thing on the far outside of each tail light. I put an arrow by it.
Gentle tapping with a hammer is all you need to get that keeper to pop free. A few gentle taps from the inside of the trunk. I removed my lights with no breakage.
Look at all that plastic. Dang.
And don’t worry. Sharka will be blogged about soon.
There’s many ways to take care of the NC clear tail lights. A lot of folks use Lamin-X red film. I’m very very good at applying vinyl, but this seems like a job for paint. Plus, I wanted to leave the reverse light hole clear.
Paint lets you mask off stuff more easily than cutting a hole in some vinyl does.
I measured the reverse light area by holding a caliper up to the lens and kinda guessing. I programmed my vinyl plotter to cut some 70mm roundels.
They weren’t big enough. They looked a bit strange. So I went back and cut some 75mm circles. PERFECT!
The lights are curved enough that you can’t just pop the vinyl in place. You’ll have a wrinkle. But putting a little bit of slightly soapy water on the lens to let you smooth out the wrinkles works great.
Once the circles were in the right spots and the wrinkles on the edges were smoothed, I cleaned them with 90% rubbing alcohol and masked off the edges.
Nothing to the painting really. The VHT stuff worked great. I just applied fairly thin layers until I couldn’t tell that the red reflectors were red anymore. That was 4 coats.
A few words about masking off the reverse light area – I thought it might look a bit off at first. A bit odd. But the inner red reflector around the outside of the reverse light takes all of that away. It gives the optical illusion that the reverse light is just right up at the surface of the light.
You’ll see in a second.
It looks so much better red!!! Seriously. The ass end now actually looks like a Miata! At least it does to me. It looks very familiar to me now. Like tail lights I’ve lived with for the past couple decades.
But that’s not all.
This 6 speed knob is pretty yucky. Tons of cracks and scratches on the top. And the leather grip part below that is all worn away and suede feeling. Not good.
It kinda smells too.
Many moons ago, I restored a bunch of wood stuff. I did a Momo wheel and a handful (heh) of brake and shift knobs. And then I never used them. I didn’t really like them in either Sharka or Bucky.
But the Stormtrooper? That basketball interior just begs for some wood.
It was wood time.
A few notes about these pieces – any shift knob from a Miata fits any other Miata. They’re all M10x1.25 threaded. That’s a common shift knob size. So any special edition shift knob (that ND baseball one is awesome) can fit on any Miata shifter.
But the brake grips are not compatible. The shaft on the NC is a lot thicker than the NA/NB, so an NA/NB brake grip will not fit. If you try to force it on, you’ll get stuck halfway or you’ll break your wood knob.
Unless you have a Dremel.
I dremeled a lot of wood out of the inside of my Nardi brake grip. And now it fits.
I’m not gonna lie – this is blatant product placement. But putting my little 6 speed shift plate in the Stormtrooper was SO satisfying.
When I was designing them, I really liked how the 6 speed pattern looked. The design is slightly smaller than the 5 speed. I wanted to use one so badly, but I didn’t own a car with a 6 speed.
Now I own a car with a 6 speed.
Yeah. This is a big improvement already.
Seriously, is there anything better than a blank canvas? A project with TONS of low hanging fruit ripe for the picking?
The Stormtrooper is ALL low hanging fruit at this point. So many ways I can go. So many mod possibilities.
It’s really refreshing.
I’ve owned the car for 3 days and I’ve blogged about it twice.