With the exception of a few details the exterior of the S15 is largely where I want it to be, for a while. Equally the interior is getting to be quite nicely sorted too, save for a few OEM parts that I still need to replace with cleaner (or ideally brand new) pieces.
As such, the higher-priority areas on the car for the next little while are things like the suspension, engine, and brakes. From a functional standpoint the car is fantastic – it handles well, runs well, stops well, and overall has performed flawlessly (following all of the fixes last year…) – but from a visual impact perspective there’s really nothing to write home about in any of these areas. These parts then, were bought to serve two purposes.
Nagisa Auto’s Shakitto Plates – or for the sake of simplicity, Plates – caught my eye as a way to not only add some rigidity to the older shell, but also to start tidying up and dressing up the bay a little bit. You’d have seen them in some of the paint updates already as I decided I didn’t want them in their original satin black finish and had them colour-coded to the car instead. They of course still don’t match the engine bay since it hasn’t been painted yet, but are certainly much closer in colour than they would have been otherwise.
This was one of those installs that wasn’t really difficult, but rather a bit tedious. As you’ll see these serve to tie the shock towers to the firewall and while securing them to the towers is a walk in the park, attaching them to the firewall could test your patience a bit.
The first step was to remove the wiper arms and cowl revealing some grime that surely dated back many years, as well as some surface rust on a few spots where the paint had worn away. I will give this area some proper attention but for now it was given a quick clean before moving on to the Plates – I’ll touch more on that later on.
With the coilover’s hardware removed, the driver’s side Plate was dropped in place. With only one exception all of the mounting holes required for these were already present, although the firewall’s holes had to be enlarged slightly for the new hardware (included with the plates). Here you can see the one area that had to be drilled, for the inboard firewall mount (very top of photo). A right-angle drill attachment was required due to the tight confines though you could remove the hood to gain clearance as an alternate method.
With the new hole drilled and existing one enlarged slightly, it was time to secure the first Plate. This little piece contains two captive nuts and slips in under the firewall’s lip (via the access hole shown in this photo), and is what the hardware for the Plate threads into. It’s with these, that the install gets fiddly.
The driver’s side wasn’t that bad, but the passenger side is where things got really tricky; the access point on the firewall was much further away as the length of this retainer suggests, and trying to blindly line this up with the hardware for the plate took a decent bit of time. With enough fiddling eventually the bolts took hold though, and could be tightened down.
With the Plates in place the next step would have been to put the cowl assembly back together, but before that I had to address this rather sorry-looking access cover. It had to be removed to fit the passenger side retainer inside the firewall and even though it would be hidden from sight once everything was back on, I couldn’t reinstall it looking like this.
There was no way it was going to look brand new again but even just a fresh coat of paint on the old metal would do wonders; and it did. I stripped back all of the rust, prepped it, and shot it with the same black trim paint that many other pieces (like the wiper arms) had already seen.
After drying overnight it was bolted back down and the cowl was reinstalled, but obviously I need to come back to this area soon and address the rest of the rust and grime you still see here. All of this was done just before the end of the season so I wanted the car back together to drive, but now that it’s parked for winter I can pull the cowl off again and give this area a much more thorough scrubbing (and a quick paint touchup) to hold it over until the bay is resprayed in the future. I also need to check and see if there are access covers for the other holes on the top of the firewall; if there are supposed to be, I can add those to the “parts I need to track down” list.
One other detail that I also addressed was to repaint the caps for the wiper arms’ hardware; they had been scratched up over the years so I sanded them smooth before hitting them with the same black trim paint.
With the cowl and wiper arms all back on (but the caps still drying, and therefore missing) this was the end result. Not only do the Plates provide a bit of rigidity but they also work to hide some of the clutter in the corners of the bay, helping to focus attention more towards the engine. Speaking of rigidity, I may still refit the strut bar the car came with (I’ve yet to figure out what brand it is exactly though I might just replace it with something different in all honesty) but I need to work with Doug on that one. With the design of the Plates the strut bar’s endplates don’t fit flat on the shock towers any more so we’ll likely have to machine them down just a little bit. That’s a potential project for another day though!
There are still a few more braces I wish to add throughout the Silvia – and the engine bay naturally still needs a lot of work – but that’s one more install taken care of so I’m happy! Hopefully come spring ’21 the S15 will have a few more new bits throughout the areas mentioned at the top of the post and even though the SR20DE and original white paint aren’t going anywhere just yet, hopefully the bay will be a little more worthy of showing off by then too. Let the winter build season begin!