Is that an ST sedan?

Some are aware this happened, but for many this will be the first time they’ve seen the sedan’s new look. Obviously coilovers and the Tarmacs were on the list for this season, but unknown to many was the fact I was coordinating a third change; one that would be a complete surprise.

ST nose 1

That’s right – the yellow sedan received a full OEM ST front end conversion. This has been a huge head-turner and was absolutely worth the time and money. Since it was unveiled there have been many questions regarding the swap, so along with the story of the process I’ll also try to provide some answers to the common ones for anyone else who is wondering. Please read on.

The swap:

This idea originated some time back. A few hatchback owners in North America had completed the conversion, and there were movie cars built for The Sweeney a few years back (full ST clones using lower model hatchbacks), but there was not yet a documented swap on a Mk3 sedan. There were quick rumors of one but no proof had been provided. With the ST influence and parts the car already had it was even suggested to me multiple times that I should add the front bumper to the list, and I had plans to.

However, I really liked the carbon fiber lip the car already had, so I decided that if I were to someday go ahead and do the swap, it would only be if that lip happened to be destroyed. I figured that’d be a good reason to change up the car, right?

Anyway, while I was working on the plans for this year’s makeover the idea of the ST bumper started to run through my mind more. With more ‘suggestions’ to do the swap coming my way, and figuring the chances of seeing it done were growing as these cars got older and people were working on them more, I decided to start researching it as a possible addition for this year. After getting the part numbers, seeing the prices for the components and making some calls to determine paint and 3M costs, I made the choice to go ahead with it. I wanted to make my sedan the first confirmed recipient of the ST front end.

I decided to have a little fun though, and kept this extremely quiet. Starting from the time when I ordered the first part, it took about 6 weeks to see this completed. For almost all of that time however, almost no one knew what I was up to. A few people had to be let in on the plans, such as Danny who ordered parts for me and later on Kanji when he applied the 3M, but for most of the time that this was being prepared, only a select handful were aware of what I was working on. There were a couple of times that the secret was almost let out but fortunately we kept it together.

The first real look that people got of the conversion was when I took the car in to have the bumper wrapped in a clear bra; a few days after that was the true reveal and many were completely blown away that this had been going on and they didn’t know. I guess it helped to distract them with new wheels and suspension! Haha. Those alone would have been a great makeover for the car (and they were) but this was the finishing piece.

I have to give a big thanks to those that helped with the swap, through their various roles. Danny, Dave, Kanji, Mario, and Mike all became aware of it at one point or another during the 6 weeks but understood my wish to keep this top secret. Thanks also goes to Stampede Collision for the paintwork (dealing with Yellow Blaze is a nightmare but once again they handled it) and my mother for helping me assemble the bumper late one night. I’m not kidding at all when I say that was probably the least pleasant thing ever done to this car. You’d be amazed how difficult it was to assemble. Mario has some idea of the pain from working on his own car.

ST nose 2

Does it bolt on?

Yes. While there are some pieces that have to be ordered in addition to the bumper and trim – such as the mounting bracket and an air duct – it is still a bolt-on job and requires no more work than simply swapping components. The process is not very complex (save for assembling the bumper), only requires basic tools to complete, and can be done fairly quickly. The hardest part of the removal/installation procedure is getting the bumper-to-fender brackets undone as space is limited there.

ST nose 3

Do any of the old parts get re-used? 

There were only three components that could be carried over. The two fog light housings were taken from the old bumper, as was the harness for them. The harness fit almost perfectly with just a couple of the original clips not lining up in the ST bumper’s mounting locations, but that’s really not an issue. One could very easily just attach new clips to the harness in the (slightly) different locations and push them in.

ST nose 4

How did you make the emblem?

You may have noticed in some photos the car wore the ST badge on the grille. The reasons for this were simple; not only does it come pre-installed (which I was unaware of when I ordered, so I would up with an extra one), but the grille is designed for it to be there. Removing it leaves the grille looking incomplete and I could not stand that. As a quick ‘fix’ I wrapped the red inlay in matte black to make the badge more subtle as I worked on a replacement.

The new piece shown above is still a prototype as I am working to refine it, but I’m quite pleased regardless. A custom SE decal was made (along with one for the trunk lid) in the ST badge’s style and colours. Once applied to a custom-made base for support, the unit was then mounted on the grille in place of the original badge.

I have been receiving additional questions as to if more can be made and the answer is yes; once I finish them that is. I’m happy with the current version but I wouldn’t want to sell them until they are 100% ready in my eyes.

ST nose 5

 

What next?

While I am extremely happy with the conversion, I still feel it needs one more thing; a front lip of some sort. There are two main options in my mind which I am considering, but that will be for later in the year. For now I am happy to take the sedan to the regular meets and shows and see the reactions it gets. Some simply assume it’s an ST, some understand what has been done and think it’s pretty cool, and others get totally confused as to how they’re seeing this.

Looking back at the process, I can say it was completely worth it and I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer. It was much more fun to do this now and suddenly show up with the wrong nose on the car.

-Bill

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