It has been a few months since the last proper recap of S15 updates and especially with last week’s post showing the car (sitting alongside Calvin’s Spec R), I wanted to take this week to discuss the other changes that were carried out as part of the 2022 season prep. As always the car will continue to progress a bit as the year does too, but before anything else happens we’d best get everyone caught up on the car as it sits now.
The main piece that we’ll look at today has been seen a bit online already but we’ve never properly discussed it and highlighted all of the details, so let’s get to that…in a moment. First though I should show the final tweaks to the outside of the car which both did a lot to clean up the appearance even though they likely went unnoticed (which was kind of the point).
In a prior update I showed the fitting of the S15’s new OEM window visors, and had also alluded to the fact that more new OEM parts were on their way at the time. Those parts all arrived and most are actually in storage as spares (at least for now, the new headlights I have may end up going in at some point but I’ll need to get them PPF’d first) but there was one item which was always meant to be installed straight away: a new wiper cowl.
There are no prizes for correctly guessing which in these photos is the old one. Given it was structurally a-okay I could have prepped it and refinished it with some trim paint, but when brand new OEM is available for not much money it’s a no-brainer. I can always restore the original later on to have a decent spare of this part as well, but for now it’s just tucked away in storage.
Anyway, the new cowl was quickly fitted one evening before Driven and that – combined with some new lug nuts courtesy of Evan – wrapped up the prep for the outside of the car (we’ll count lug nuts as an exterior mod in this case). Your eye was no longer being drawn to a beat wiper cowl when looking at the front of the car, or scratched up and weathered lug nuts when looking at the wheels. See? Unnoticed.
However, the main topic of this post is the piece that I know many of you have been waiting to see more of; let’s move inside the car, where things may have gone a little crazier than originally planned.
As a refresher, to go with the fitting of the Miracle Bars last year I had also built a basic close-out panel to cover the bottom of the now-stripped rear seat area. Combined with the side panels being clearanced to sit alongside the bars as well, the rear of the interior was certainly a lot less bare than you would normally see for such a setup. The few panels did a lot for road noise, provided a place to mount my fire extinguisher, and made it look a bit more refined, but with a long Calgary winter providing me plenty of time to sit back and look at it I realized I could do more. I wanted to try something a bit more ambitious.
So, this happened.
While the idea began with merely building a plain back panel which would separate the trunk from the cabin and pair with the existing base for a much more OEM look to the whole thing (using Porsche’s GT cars as inspiration), it clearly went a bit further. From a functional standpoint, I knew that adjusting the rear dampers would be a royal pain if the panel were solid (I’d have to pop off the parcel shelf each time – likely requiring pulling the back panel forward to even do that – which would only risk breaking the clips and/or the entire parcel shelf) so each corner of the seat delete features a removable access panel. These simply pop out and then I can reach in to spin the adjusters.
And yes, the decals I cut for them are in different colours! The driver’s side wears pink/Chalk pieces (pink to match my horn button and shift knob) while the passenger side has blue/Chalk. No, the Downstar washers are not different colours (both are blue) but that’s only because I didn’t have any suitable pieces when assembling hardware for this project. I’m waiting for the inevitable next order to add some washers specifically for the delete.
I also made up some extra trim pieces to fit around the lower legs of the main X-brace so there wouldn’t be any sheetmetal showing in the corners. The bottom half of the delete is the same piece from last year (retrimmed, however) and with the order of operations for assembling the back half of the interior there was no way a single piece could fully enclose the bar. These covers simply Velcro in place so removal of everything is still super simple.
However, the center of attention with the delete itself would be the “display case”. You may recall that I’d picked up a Cusco rear strut bar and had mentioned it was part of the plans for the interior; when ordering it I opted for a bar that would match the style of the Miracle Bars and this is why. With S15 rear strut bars there are two main types: ones that run above the rear parcel shelf, and those that run below, in the trunk. I didn’t want to cut through my parcel shelf nor did I want a bar running across the top, but anything that ran below would be hidden from sight…normally. I built a simple case that mounts inside the trunk (which I upholstered in the same material as the delete panels) to frame the bar, and then a piece of acrylic attached to the rear delete panel allows it all to be visible from inside.
(Side note – the Cusco front strut bar and brake cylinder stopper have both been fitted as well, but I’m waiting for a dedicated engine bay update to show them off.)
I may or may not have then also fit LEDs to the display case, which can be turned to a variety of colours and either left solid or set to flash and strobe, all from a remote control. This was my blending of the crazy ICE setups of yesteryear (acrylic displays, LED lighting – though worth noting is we’re seeing a resurgence of them now) with a more function-inspired setup (seat delete and rear strut bar). The attention and feedback this entire assembly has received have been nothing short of incredible!
As for the entire process of how this came together, that will be coming in a future post/video combo. I did my best to shoot and film as I went so that we could provide a “here’s what happened” recap of the project, and I hope that you all at least enjoy watching it if not get some ideas of your own from it. And in case you had noticed and were wondering, with so much more going on in the back half of the interior now I felt the fire extinguisher would make it a bit busy visually, so that now sits beside the passenger seat. It’s of course staying in the car for safety, but it’s merely no longer also a display piece in the back like it was with the original design.
With the seat delete now upgraded I’d venture to say the interior is almost bang-on in my eyes and couldn’t be happier with how V2.0 of the paneling came out. I was mindful that the acrylic window and LEDs could look a bit over the top, but in reality I think it’s all just bold enough to stand out while not overpowering the rest of the car. The jokes can continue that I seem to have a thing against having rear seats in cars, but I like how the setups in Mustard and the S15 have gone different directions for the different projects’ themes and am pleased with the few new skills gained during the construction of each. Once again, I also made sure to save my notes and final templates in case we ever found ourselves needing to build another copy; I don’t know how far we’ll take it (perhaps no acrylic and LEDs?) but another S15 in town may just end up with some custom paneling in the back as well. It should certainly be a lot easier the next time around!