A bit of an unplanned project, this one. I had been thinking for the last couple of years about changing to cycle wings but it just sort of happened somehow.
It is odd how opinions change but when I ordered my car, I was dead set on the flared wings. Looking back I can mostly attribute this to the fact that 99% of the press pictures/road tests were done with flared cars while I day dreamed. All the pictures plastered on my college books and bedroom wall were of flared cars, and so to me, they just looked right. After 6 years and a number of rides in friends cycle winged cars I fancied the change. I still love the flared look on the right coloured car, the best being the BRG and yellow stripe like mine was. It was just time for a change.
I decided at the start that I would try to do it as cost effectively as possible. To this end, Mandy contacted one of the companies who manufacture the glassfibre parts for Caterham's and asked if she could buy a pair of front wings, perhaps some seconds. She was told that if she got the ok from Caterham, then she could. This she duly did and my Christmas present was sorted for another year. I went for the wings to suit the 13/14" wheels in the end as I prefer the hugging looks these give compared to the large 15/16". I would have to come up with a mudflap to stop the stone chips though, something the larger wings help with.
Next on my list was some wing stays. I posted up a wanted add on Blatchat and got a helpful reply to say someone had just posted some in the for sale section. It happened to be one of the racing guys from Lydden who I knew so we arranged for them to be handed over to Steve at the Trophy night. Unfortunately, once Steve had recovered from the nights excesses, he spotted that they were both the same. A couple of phone calls later and it was found that he did have another pair, but they were in a bit ropy condition. On the positive side though, they were Ex-Vauxhall Race stays, so brought the wing closer to the tire than normal. A quick check that they would go over my 60 profile 032's and I popped down to the coast to do swap. So far so good, two cheap wings and two very cheap wing stays that I could clean up and paint.
Next, it took a turn for the worse though, and it was all my own fault. I decided I couldn't afford a re-skin and re-spray this year as the axle change was taking all the budget this winter. What I should have done is to get hold of some dome headed bolts, paint them green with my touch-up paint and lived with the looks for a year or two. What I decided to do was to remove the riv-nuts, glue a plate on the rear of the hole, fill the hole and sand flat and locally paint. I contacted Tony at TSK who paints all the factory cars and he put me off the idea of using proper two-pack paint due to the fact that you really need to have all the right equipment in order not to die in the process. He did, however, offer to have some aerosol cans made up for me in the right colour. This was a right result as far as I was concerned as they are much easier to work with. So I set to it and got the filled in holes almost undetectable. It all fell apart when I tried to spay it, or rather when I then tried to flat it back and polish. I had masked up the whole side of the car, removed the front suspension and exhaust, etc, and painted all the way back to the rear wing to keep the change point as small as possible. However, when I started to cut it back before polishing, it was clear that it wasn't working as I started to get patches where the paint was too thin and the old showed through. What was worse was that the colour was slightly different. In some lights it looked the same, but in others it had more of a blue tinge. I am sure the paint was fine, it's just that my car had faded slightly over the previous 6 years.
So I was left with different coloured patches down the sides of my car, and I hadn't even got all the scratches out yet. It was time to concede and admit that I had made a bad decision and move on.
Once the decision had been made, it was amazingly easy to get everything sorted out. Mandy, as usual, did most of the calling around and got me quotes from Arch Motors for the re-skin and from TSK and Specialised Painting in Reading for the re-spray. Arch could fit me in the following week so I started to strip the car down. Annoyingly, having had the front suspension off for the painting I had to re-fit it in order to get the engine out with Steve's hoist. I got the car stripped in three evenings (Monday to Wednesday) after work and then the Thursday evening I removed the side skins and rear panel (to save Arch some time - and reduce the cost). My plan was to take the car to Arch, then collect it and ferry it down to TSK and then collect it the following week. On the Friday evening we did a trial run of putting the now bare chassis on the roof rack of my poor old Citroen ZX and it just fitted. It was also quite a job lifting it that high. Saturday morning was an early start to get the chassis into place, all tied down with my usual over-enthusiasm for knots and on the road by 8am. I just wish I had had the thought to take a picture, as going on the funny looks I got on the trip, it must have looked quite funny. Bruce Robinson was there to meet me at Arch at around 10am and we unloaded the chassis and the bits of panels that they'd use to replicate the filler and exhaust holes for me. The old ZX pulled a lot better on the way home for some reason.
Whilst at Arch, Bruce very kindly offered to take the complete chassis to TSK for me in their delivery van. TSK is only 5mins from Caterham factory, so if they had a spare slot in the truck one day it could go in there. Another result as I was concerned with lashing down on a nice fresh Ali shin and damaging it. This they duly did about 10 days later once year end was out of the way for them - fair enough, and very helpful. All that remained was for me to pop over to TSK and see Tony, dropping off my wings, bonnet and scuttle for him to paint with the chassis. I was a little nervous as at this point I don't think Tony knew it was the twit who tried to paint his own car. I needn't have worried as Tony was a true gent and we were soon discussing paint colours and codes. It should be noted at this point that I had spent the time with the chassis gone to look for suitable colours. I remember seeing a picture of a car that was silver and red and I loved it, so I kind of set my heart on that then. But the question was which silver and which red? I won't bore you with the details, but I choose two Ferrari colours, Titanium Silver and, of course, Rosso Corsa Red. I had looked at Mercedes Silver, but in the end I preferred the darker Ferrari colour. (A good tip is to visit your local paint shop - Halfords in my case - and have them mix up any colours you are thinking of, spray a scrape bit of sheet Ali and then see what it is like n sunlight, shade, different lights, etc)
Tony had a lot of work come his way from the factory, and I believe he turned away private customers after me, so I was lucky he took my car. This did mean a slight delay, but as I don't provide his everyday supply of work I completely understood he had to make his main customer happy. My car was all finished just before the Easter weekend and Tony kindly offered to deliver it to me. He hates to see freshly painted, shiny cars strapped down with ropes and the like to trailers or roof racks. I didn't mention that that was indeed my plan/only option! I can't think of many other people who would journey from one side of London to the other around the M25 on one of the busiest nights of the year. What service! More importantly what a paintjob. Even better than the original, and the silver was just jaw-dropping. It was so so sparkly, even better than I had hoped for, and this was just in the garage after the sun had gone behind the house. The red noseband and strip still gives it a slight classic look, and I feel the strip helps to make the car look longer than it is. Fantastic. The build started Good Friday morning, but I still spent a few hours pretending to move bits around the garage, just looking at the paintwork.

Useful contacts:
TSK Paintshop - 01322 441604
Arch Motors - 01480 459661

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