Tjin Inspired: Bomex Aero For The S15

If we rewind back to June of last year, I had published a post documenting a day trip to Edmonton and back, for which I had borrowed the Suburban. It served as a great way to shake down the truck following its restoration work but that wasn’t the reason I had taken it; I really did need the cargo capacity given there was more set to come home with me than just the Turbomacs shown.

This is one of those times when the “secret” wasn’t really a secret – if you understood the last line of that post you’d have known exactly what was in the cargo area, and some photos have been shared since anyway – but I figured I’d kick off the new year by properly showing off what had been the reason for that trip in the first place:

Genuine Bomex Japan aero for the S15!

Before we get any further into the post, I did toss a video up on the YouTube channel showing the kit roughly mocked up, so if you wish to see that you can hit Play above. If you’ve already seen it or want to get straight to the photos and more information, that all starts now.

So, the find. One day during one of my routine Kijiji searches the ad for this partial kit (front bumper and side skirts) came up and it immediately caught my attention. Not only was it an authentic, OG Bomex kit (from the Bomex Japan days, not Bomex USA), but the price was insane (thanks to some damage on it) and it was located here in Alberta no less. An aftermarket aero kit was something I had never ruled out for the S15 – despite the purposely-restrained approach taken with the exterior currently – but I certainly hadn’t expected to be picking one up so soon into the build. However, there seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging with the S15 and that would be opportunities or dream parts coming up at very unexpected times. Like how the Advans had almost fallen into my lap in 2020, this kit came out of nowhere in 2021 and before long I was on the highway to pick it up. But, why this kit?

Back in the early-2000s when I was really getting into the modified car world, HCI Magazine was my go-to. I’m fairly sure it was the first magazine that I made a point of buying every single month, and did so without fail until its eventual demise some years later. That era was also when Neil Tjin was busy with his S14.5, and it was one of the first cars that I really, really looked up to. It was seen in the pages of HCI at various points but there was one article in particular that I remember reading front-to-back over and over and over, which is why I pulled out the old issue to grab a couple of photos from it specifically.

This was the July 2004 issue, and it was when the car’s custom carbon fiber upper half was documented. No, it was not wrapped in carbon fiber vinyl; the upper half of the car was skinned in ACTUAL CARBON FIBER before the edges were blended into the existing metal and fiberglass panels and the lower half was resprayed in a fresh coat of its existing orange hue. In some ways (interior mainly) the car does look a bit dated compared to current builds but at its time this was one heck of a car and I adored it. And yes, it wore Bomex’s distinctive S15 front bumper.

A couple of years later it was resprayed green and became the Turtle Wax 240SX before being given away as part of a contest. All of these years later it remains as a favourite older build of mine and I’ve even had the pleasure of speaking with Neil himself in recent times as we share progress photos of current projects with one another, including when I first picked up the Bomex kit for myself – some 17 years after practically memorizing that carbon skinning article from reading it so many times.

We joke – as indicated by the video’s title – that Jon made me buy this. He knew I was looking at the ad and really did do his best to pester me into making the trip for it, but I think the eventual outcome would have been the same anyway. If teenage me knew that someday I’d not only have an S15 but have the exact same bumper for it that Neil had used on his S14.5, he probably would have been beside himself with excitement. It may be some used fiberglass showing the signs of some minor incidents over the years, but this is a piece I am overjoyed to have in the collection despite the needed TLC. Besides, it’s not like OG Bomex kits are easy to come across these days.

Anyway, after returning home with the kit I gave it a clean (it had been sitting in deep storage for many, many years after coming over to Canada on another S15, as I understand its history to be) and then set it aside as the season continued on and the S15 was still steadily going to events. Come the fall, before parking everything for the year, I dug it back out and got around to finally mocking it up on the car to see it in place. I immediately ran into an issue of the main mouth of the bumper extending far too deep and running into the crash bar however, so I made some quick cuts to remedy that.

And with the (crude) trimming, I could finally see my car wearing a bit of Bomex aero for the first time! I was HAPPY. You can see here how much had to be taken off of the central opening; if or when the bumper goes on the car I will absolutely be retaining the crash bar so the bumper had to give up some material. I haven’t decided yet if the entire opening will get trimmed back to the same depth at that time, or if the sides will be trimmed at an angle to keep the full length on the bottom; that’s a decision for the future. I will note that I do have the section that was cut out to clear the crash bar tucked away with the rest of the kit now (don’t be surprised).

Happily, despite its age and wear the bumper did actually fit really well, without any professional bodyshop adjusting. For these photos it was loosely bolted to the fenders and the only real areas of concern were the inner corners by the headlights along with a touch of warping in the grille, though as noted in the video that would still need some light trimming to clear the factory structure underneath.

Really not bad, all things considered. The rest of the headlight gap and the fitment to each fender was quite remarkable.

How about the skirts then, you ask? These are the part of the kit I’m really unsure about as due to the nature of how they mount I’m very hesitant to use them, unless we can find a way to very securely (but not permanently) fasten them in the door jambs (double sided tape perhaps, though I’d worry about what it would do to the fiberglass upon any removal attempt). Unlike the Mk3 Focus for example, S15s do not have removable side skirts from factory so adding anything aftermarket requires drilling into the rocker panel and there is no way I am doing that after all of the time and money spent on the shell and its paint job.

There’s no denying they would really add to the look and provide a bit of balance instead of running just the bumper, but no drill is being put to the car’s door jambs. Haha

Alternatively, in the video I did hint at one idea I have for modifying the front bumper to better line up with the factory Aero skirts, but as with running the kit itself that is something to explore another day.

For now, I have not only had the chance to mock up the parts and get an idea of what a V2.0 of the S15’s exterior could be, but I did also leave the bumper with Speedy for a couple of weeks over the summer to let them run through it and put together a game plan for a restoration of it. They know what would be required to bring it back to like-new (in terms of work) and I know what to expect (in terms of money) but I don’t plan to be leaving it in their care just yet.

At the time of picking up this kit I was considering having it restored over this winter but since then – as other puzzle pieces have come together – I have locked in the Grand Prix as my main project for 2022 and so this kit will need to be set aside for a future date. I may very well wait for the S15’s return to Speedy in another year for an engine bay respray, as logistically and financially it would make the most sense to wait for them to already have the car and already be mixing up paint for it again, for the kit to then be bodyworked and painted as well. However, I won’t make any promises of that. If 2020 and 2021 proved anything, this build has never stuck to any predicted timeline.


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