Mazda MX-5 Sport Tech Roadster Cosmetically Restored
The Mazda MX-5 has been hugely popular ever since its release around twenty years ago. Despite its small size, it promises a huge amount of fun packed into a small, 2-seat car. The 2.0-litre, 160ps engine with a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds isn’t going to see off more expensive sports cars in a straight line, but the MX-5’s real charm lies in its agile handling. Chuck this lightweight, rear-wheel drive car into a corner and feel the fun begin! It is, quite simply enormously rewarding to drive! Add to this the excitement it elicits when the retractable roof is down on a hot summer day really makes the MX-5 a special car. As Jeremy Clarkson once said: “The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it 14”.
In this instance, the customer had been relentless in his quest to find the right car. As a present for his wife, he was persistent in his search and eventually tracked down an MX-5 that was first, a third generation (NC) 2.0 Litre Sport Tech Roadster, second, mechanically sound and third, the right colour! Having located ‘the one’, a low-mileage 2013 example is Metallic Silver, he noted that it could do with a certain amount of cosmetic restoration to bring it up to his exacting standards, especially as it was destined to be a surprise present. Having completed the purchase he arranged for the dealership to deliver the MX-5 direct to UF’s Brands Hatch Detailing Studio for a number of award-winning detailing services including Gloss Enhancement, Alloy Wheel Refurbishment and Wheel Protection.
One of the customers stipulated requirements was to have the paintwork protected to a high level in order for the weekly wash maintenance to be as easy as possible. So, following a vehicle appraisal and consultation with the team at UF, opted for Kamikaze Collection ENREI Coat, an advanced two-stage ceramic sealant.
When selecting a protection coating, we take a consultative approach and ascertain how the vehicle is going to be used, where it will be kept overnight and how often it’s going to be driven. The customer wanted the car to look great and be as easy to keep clean as possible! ENREI Coat is highly hydrophobic and strongly repels water, dirt, and oils, so contamination does not adhere well, instead, sliding away from the treated surface. Therefore the car stays cleaner for longer and is also easier to maintain. Also, ENREI is virtually impervious to extremes of ph, so provides protection from road salts, environmental and industrial fallout that can etch the paintwork causing it to lose gloss and become dull. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The process of restoring the cosmetic appearance of the MX-5 began with Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD applied to the wheels, tyres and wheel arches using a Kwazar Orion Super Pro+ Pump Up Sprayer. This pressure sprayer has a long fibreglass lance allowing it to reach into all of the nooks and crannies.
Despite its low miles, the previous owner had managed to mark the wheels and all four would need to be sent off for ‘factory standard’ refurbishment. Prior to being removed from the car they were thoroughly decontaminated and cleaned to avoid any cross contamination once inside the studio.
After allowing Surfex HD to dwell, releasing dirt, grime and grease-based contamination, the surfaces were agitated with a brush. The tyres were scrubbed too, to ensure old remnants of tyre dressing were completely removed as a build-up can turn tyres brown, detracting from the overall appearance of the car.
The wheels were then treated for iron contamination, using Bilt-Hamber Korrosol to remove brake dust particles. Korrosol changes colour on contact with ferrous contamination, changing to a deep purple as the active ingredient shrinks the ferrous contamination, shrinking the particles and forcing them to break away from the substrate. They can then be rinsed away with a jet of water from a pressure washer.
Although the wheels were scheduled to be sent away for refurbishing, getting them completely decontaminated and cleaned is important. If the wheels aren’t clinically clean, dirt and contamination can easily be transferred onto paintwork whilst the rest of the car is being cleaned and dried. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The wheels and wheel arches were treated for tar deposits using Nanolex Tar Remover, a specialist product that dissolves adhesive compounds to allow the contamination to be rinsed away. Then, using Wheel Woolies, the wheels were thoroughly washed to remove any remaining dirt.
The bodywork of the MX-5 was treated with Korrosol to remove any iron contamination, then rinsed before being degreased using Surfex HD to remove oily deposits and diesel splatters that can cause staining. After another rinse, Tar Remover was sprayed on to eliminate sticky deposits. A final rinse, and then Ultimate Snow Foam was applied. This high foaming pre-wash cleaner lifts larger particles of dirt and grit away from the surface of the vehicle, encapsulating it within the foam.
As the foam is rinsed away from the car’s surface, the dirt is carried away too.
The MX-5 was cleaned thoroughly using the Two Bucket Method, Nanolex Pure Shampoo and a microfibre wash mitt. The Two Bucket Method keeps wash and rinse water separate, the wash mitt being cycled from wash water to the car, to the rinse water. The mitt is brushed across the Grit Guard in the bottom of each bucket, releasing dirt from the microfibre pile and thus preventing dirt from the car being reintroduced. Pure Shampoo is free from gloss enhancers or additives which might interfere with the final sealant or cause streaking when rinsing.
After rinsing the suds away, an Aqua Gleam De-Ionising Water Filter was attached in-line with a hose to deliver a final, pure water rinse, eliminating the potential for water spotting. The MX-5 was dried using UF Ultra Soft Microfibre Drying Towels, the thick pile absorbing water gently to leave a perfectly clear finish.
Once inside the studio, the MX-5 interior was steam cleaned to lift ingrained dirt from the intricate design around the pedals.
The engine bay required cleaning, so a steam cleaner was used to dissolve dirt and contamination prior to an application of protective sealant.
A soft microfibre was used to remove excess moisture.
After careful drying, the engine was treated with Swissvax Motor Shine, a hydrophobic and oleophobic dressing that repels water and oily grime.
The door cards were dirty and required intensive cleaning so the steam cleaner was used with a solution of Meguiar’s All Purpose Cleaner.
The steam cleaner effectively lifted the dirt out of the textured grain. The trim was then treated with Gtechniq C6 AB Matte Dash, a nanotechnology based dressing which, as well as being anti-static and therefore repelling dust, also provides an on-going anti-bacterial function.
The steering wheel was also in need of cleaning and the steam cleaner made short work of this.
The leather seats were cleaned lightly with Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner and then protected with Colourlock Leather Shield to protect from abrasion and UV fade. The interior was now looking as good as new!
With the interior taken care of, attention returned to the exterior. First, the MX-5 was raised on a hydraulic ramp and the wheels removed and sent for refurbishing. The wheel calipers were thoroughly cleaned using detailing swabs to reach into tight areas. Then, paint depth readings were taken over each panel to ensure there were no areas of damage that had been resprayed. The paintwork was uniformly thick, so machine polishing would not be a problem. The paintwork was inspected under SCANGRIP high-intensity lighting and general wash swirls and several random deep scratches (RDS) were revealed. Given the varying sizes of the panels and the contoured features of the MX-5, a variety of machine polishing tools were employed.
To correct the paintwork damage, a RUPES LHR 12E Duetto dual action polisher was used with a Chemical Guys 135mm Black Optics Microfibre Cutting Pad and Koch-Chemie Heavy Cut Compound H8.02. For the smaller areas, such as along the sills, a RUPES BigFoot LHR 75E Mini dual action polisher was used with a Chemical Guys 100mm Black Optics Microfibre Cutting Pad.
For the polishing stage, a RUPES LHR 12E Duetto dual action polisher was used with a Kamikaze Collection Banzai Dynamics Red Polishing Pad. This pad features a ‘nippled’ profile, which allows for improved air circulation keeping working temperatures low – ideal for softer paint finishes as found on Japanese marques. Menzerna Medium Cut Polish 2400 was used, the gentle diminishing abrasives breaking down to leave a hologram free finish.
For final finishing, a FLEX PE14-2 rotary polisher was used with a 3M PERFECT-IT III Black Finishing Pad and Kamikaze Collection Ichiban Finishing Compound. The rotary action of the polisher burnishes the paint surface and Ichiban, a jeweling polish designed to complement softer paints, produced a deep gloss to the MX-5’s silver paint.
With the gloss and colour clarity restored to the paintwork, Gtechniq Panel Wipe was applied to ensure any polishing residues were completely eliminated. The surface was now ready for ENREI Coat, Kamikaze Collection’s flag ship ceramic coating. Providing extreme levels of water beading, gloss and protection, the performance of ENREI lies not only in the formulation but also in the application method which has been specifically determined by Kamikaze Collection during the development stage. In addition to the precise application requirements, the coating must be applied in tightly controlled environmental conditions with ambient temperature and humidity kept within strict parameters. As a result of these stipulations, ENREI Coat is available as a service only through Kamikaze Collection trained and certified detailers.
ENREI Coat is a two-step system. The first coating is applied and acts as a primer, bonding to the clearcoat and ensuring a uniform surface that actually has an enhanced chemical affinity for the top coat. After a minimum of three hours, once the primer has hardened, the top coat is applied and allowed to cure for a minimum of twenty-four hours during which time the car must remain within the temperature and humidity controlled environment, away from the outside elements. After this, the coating will have cured sufficiently that the vehicle can be taken outside without the integrity of the coating being affected. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The exhaust tips were in need of polishing and protecting. To remove tarnishing and soot build-up, Britemax Easy Cut Metal Polish was used.
To protect the finish, Britemax Final Shine Metal Sealant was applied. This helps inhibit soot from building up and treated metals are easier to clean.
The newly refurbished alloy wheels and brake calipers were sprayed with Gtechniq Panel Wipe and buffed off to remove any residues that might interfere with the protective coating bonding properly to the surfaces. They were then protected using Kamikaze Collection Stance Rim Coat. This heat resistant, nanotechnology coating is hydrophobic, repelling water and waterborne contamination as well inhibiting the build-up of brake dust. Treated surfaces are easier to clean negating the requirement for harsh wash chemicals. Being virtually impervious to extremes of pH, treated wheels are better protected for winter driving conditions. After allowing Stance Rim Coat to fully cure, the wheels were replaced and the torque settings crossed checked against Mazda factory specification.
The tyres were then coated with Gtechniq T2 Tyre Dressing to give them a natural satin sheen.
Now fully restored to better than when it left the factory, the MX-5 was ready to deliver to the unsuspecting recipient, the UF team involved in the work would have loved to have been there to see her face when the car was unveiled!
UF Detailing Studio – Award Winning Detailing. Call 0333 800 8004 to discuss your requirements.