Fitting the ST valance and 3DC wing

ST sedan valance 1

You’ve seen the finished product, but now you get to see how it came together and hopefully have some questions answered by finding out some of the details of the fitting of these parts. Rebel Devil Customs’ ST sedan valance was a brand new piece for which my car was one of the two testers, and the 3D Carbon wing was a piece that I had literally never seen installed on a single Mk3 other than the one used for 3D Carbon’s own photos. Because of this I made sure to take notes and pictures of the work that went into fitting these parts not just to have something to write about here, but also to help other owners who may be interested in getting these for their own cars.

The majority of the photos below – all save for the last four – were taken with my phone. Because of that and the lighting they are not all of the highest quality but they serve their purpose to illustrate the process. I wasn’t afraid to get my phone a little dusty and dirty at the body shop, but I didn’t want my camera exposed to that.

One last note before we get started today – this wouldn’t have happened without the help of Dave, Devlin, and Lawrence at Stampede Collision. Bodywork and paint are two things that I like to help out with if I can, but will gladly leave to people who know what they’re doing.

Fitting the ST valance 1

The first order of business was to see what work the valance needed. With the bumper off and the old valance out of the way, the new piece was put in place and for the first time I could get an idea of what it’d look like. By this time José already had his finished and installed but was still having to wait for mine to be complete before he could share any photos.

Fitting the ST valance 2

Mine was only the second piece out of the mold – the first was José’s – so we were providing feedback to Rebel Devil Customs about the fitment and the install process. There were some small gaps here and there but nothing that couldn’t be fixed fairly quickly.

Fitting the ST valance 4

Some time with filler and sanding blocks took care of the fine-tuning.

Fitting the ST valance 3

We also made sure to test-fit the reflectors and grilles (the latter not shown here) and see if their pockets needed any tweaking. Just a minor bit of sanding was needed to get the reflectors sitting properly. My reflectors and grilles are all OEM parts but aftermarket reproductions of the grilles will be offered as an alternative to buyers. They will lack the tabs found on the OEM parts, which need to be trimmed off to fit the valance.

Fitting the ST valance 11

With that, there was one last detail to take care of – how to secure the valance to the bumper. The OEM valance clips in which makes it extremely secure, but it can also make removal difficult. The ST sedan valance features the same tabs as OEM but they’re molded shut. We debated opening them up but feared that with the material removed, they may end up being too weak to withstand future removal and re-installation. In the end we devised a not-quite-factory approach that I can live with. A small screw was run though the bumper and each tab on the valance, as shown above. This holds the two parts together securely and also makes separating them much faster and easier. Now if I ever need to pull the valance off it’s just a matter of removing some screws and sliding the tabs out.

Fitting the 3DC wing 7

With that done, let’s move on to the wing. There was less prep needed to prepare it for paint, but more effort was needed to install it afterwards, as I’ll explain below.

Fitting the 3DC wing 6

Out of the box the piece was pretty much ready for the paint booth. 3DC even shipped it with the double-sided tape already applied for the install. For those confused by the 2011 molded into it, that’s because the Mk3s did actually first come out as 2011 models in other markets.

Fitting the ST valance 5

With the pieces prepped and ready to go into the booth, it was time to figure out which shade of Yellow Blaze they were to be matched to.

Fitting the ST valance 6

Being a pearl colour, Yellow Blaze changes greatly depending on the light and angle it’s viewed at which makes it tricky to match perfectly. An assortment of these spray cards are kept for my car, each showing a different combination of base colour shade and number of pearl coats. A variety were checked against the bumper and trunk and viewed from all angles, before we found the one that always matched. Using that as reference the paint was made up.

Fitting the ST valance 7

After that, it wasn’t long before the parts were yellow!

Fitting the ST valance 8

This was when the hatch’s trim was painted as well, and once it was cured I brought it home and reinstalled it.

Fitting the 3DC wing 1

As for the sedan’s parts, the valance was installed first (as you can see in the background) and then it was on to what would be the more time-consuming of the two; the wing. The old wing was bolted, clipped, and taped to the trunk lid so it took some effort to remove. With it out of the way we could start to figure out exactly where the 3D Carbon piece would sit and if any additional work would be needed. I was hoping that it would just use some of the factory mounting holes…

Fitting the 3DC wing 2

…but it didn’t. This is my one complaint with the 3D Carbon wing, but it’s a small one. A couple of new holes had to be drilled, not all that far from the existing ones. They will be covered by the stock wing though should it ever find its way back on, but I had to watch a drill bit run through my trunk lid.

Fitting the 3DC wing 3

One oddity I noticed is that the factory wing requires three holes on the driver’s side and four on the passenger’s side. The arrow in each photo above points to the new hole for the 3DC wing. Just in case we had to do some drilling I had the paint pens for my car on hand and made sure to touch up the bare metal immediately afterwards.

Fitting the 3DC wing 4

For drilling the holes 3D Carbon provides a template but it wasn’t exactly 1:1 scale so figuring out the exact location required another plan. Included with the wing are two small screws to hold it in place, but instead a couple of studs were made up and installed which helped to hold the wing in position while a nut was threaded on from inside the trunk lid to secure it. This also allowed us to mark the location of the required holes on the trunk lid by marking the end of the studs with a paint pen and then transferring that to the trunk.

I placed the wing on the trunk lid where I thought it was properly aligned, and then we verified its location by measuring from points on the wing to reference points on the trunk lid in various spots (I managed to get it perfectly positioned just by eye-balling it, I might add). Its location was marked, the wing was removed, the studs installed, paint pen marks transferred, and holes drilled.

Fitting the 3DC wing 5

With all that out of the way it was time to get the trunk lid ready to accept the new wing. Along with the double-sided tape and bolts, 3DC also includes a strong adhesive to really secure the wing to the trunk lid, and also to ensure water can’t seep under and get into the trunk. To allow the adhesive to have a better bond, some coarse sandpaper was run across the paint to give it some tooth – but not before the paint which would remain exposed was masked off, just in case. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all. This also highlights the second unexpected detail – one of the original mounting holes on each side would be left exposed and would have to be plugged, because trunks tend to work better when they’re water tight.

Fitting the 3DC wing 8

After that the picture taking stopped and we just worked to get it finished. The 3DC wing was bonded in place and secured with the two small nuts from inside the trunk lid, and also securely taped down to ensure pressure was applied all around either side as evenly as possible. After the adhesive had fully cured I removed the tape and could admire the new look!

Fitting the 3DC wing 9

If you look very closely here you can make out one of the black plugs that covered the extra holes – look on the passenger side of the trunk lid, in the shadow beneath the wing. The black ones stayed for a little while as I attended to colour-matching another set which was installed after. Had I known earlier that plugs would be required, I would have picked them up before and thrown them in with the rest of the parts heading into the paint booth.

Fitting the ST valance 9

Together, the two parts have completely transformed the rear of the car and my ST exhaust finally has the proper valance to frame it!

Fitting the ST valance 10

Well, almost. Jose’s exhaust does fit better but that was because he installed it along with the ST valance and was able to line it up perfectly to work with that specific piece. Mine was installed to work with the factory sedan valance (almost two years ago now) so it sits a little lower and further back. It’ll be addressed when I get some more exhaust work done down the road.

Thanks again to Mike at Rebel Devil Customs for providing the pieces, and to Dave, Devlin, and Lawrence at Stampede Collision for the work they put in (with bodywork, painting, and installing, respectively). At last there is nothing that I feel the exterior really needs, in terms of body panels and parts. Everything flows, nothing looks out of place, and it now looks like an ST from both the front and the back. It’s aggressive, it’s tasteful, it’s balanced. It’s just what I envisioned.

-Bill

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