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Bubble Trouble!

SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
edited August 2019 in Non-Volvo

Usual Nathan insanity/automotive ADHD at play...

Here’s the justification:

The new Small Car Cup series (https://www.drivetekmotorsport.com/small-car-cup) has enthused me, mostly because it appeals to my love of racing cheap shitboxes.

I built the blue BMW 316i for the outright Class B (<1600cc, <85kW, 195mm wide tyre) but the harsh reality is that it’s going to get hammered by a number of other vehicles. In particular, class B is going to become a GTi Swift benefit, sooner or later - they don’t have the best power, weight, brakes or gearing, but they absolutely have the best combination of these things, and that puts them miles ahead of anything else that’s legal.

So, I had a look at what is likely to work for Class A (limited to 63kW at the brochure, and a 185 wide tyre). Came up with two obvious contenders - and one of them is the 121 Bubble car!😁

At 62kW and 805kg, with reasonable sized brakes, they’re pretty much perfect for the class - almost everything else is significantly heavier and/or slower.

Actually finding a car proved more difficult than I expected, mostly because lots of the 1.5 litre cars were specced with autos. The fact that most sellers have no idea what motor their vehicle has, only makes things more difficult.

This car was a lucky find - I sold some Toyota extractors to a bloke and he mentioned that he had a friendly scrappy l, so I asked for the scrappy to keep an eye out for a Bubble car for me. Turns out that the scrappy had one that he’d been using to drive around his property with his 4yo son. And it was a 1.5 manual!

$200 later, and I owned it. Sexy thing that it is...

The front is battered because they’d been running down empty 44 gallon drums, but the only damage is what you can see.

I haven’t gotten stuck into it yet. Have worked out that S40/Mirage rear shocks fit in, and lower it nicely - or way too much if you use the original, short 121 springs... I need to work out what springs to use and how far to cut them, but my gut feeling is Mirage springs with a coil or two removed.

Main work so far has been on the paint, specifically the peeling clear coat.

Following my success with the green BMW, I started on the front passenger’s door. Sand off the flaky clear, smooth down the edges and spray new clear over the top.

This door had been repainted in the past, so the colour was lovely and thick - it came out well, and if I had more patience it could have been perfect.

The bootlid was next, and it was basically a disaster. It had also been repainted in the past but the primer was lumpy and the colour and clear were very inconsistent in thickness.

Sanding off just the clear was pretty much impossible, and I went through to the primer in a number of places.

(sorry, these photos are in reverse order because OzVolvo).

Funnily, putting clear over this mess still helped - presumably the shininess distracts from the different colours?

Still, I need to do something better than this. I tried to buy some paint this morning l, but Mazda has two versions of “Sparkle Green” and I don’t know which version I need.

Other option is a big sticker, but I haven’t put enough thought into that yet.

Rear quarter panel worked somewhere in between the door and bootlid - passable, but not great.

Roof is a work in progress.

New technique was to scrape the clear off with a credit card, rather than using sand paper. Slow and noisy but doesn’t hurt the colour coat.

I have removed about half of the clear so far, but the less-damaged clear is harder to remove and needs more thought before I charge in!

Race numbers are always a good motivator!

The return of the 8-ball numbers are a hint to how seriously I am taking this!



  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    No. How many??

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited August 2019

    Next step is to collect the parts car. I only need the headlight, but for $180 I can’t let it get scrapped...

    I have organised a wheel swap with a mate who is building an NB MX5 rally car. He gets the 15s from the 121, and I get the beautifully lightweight 14” MX5 wheels - this style:

    The control tyre for next year is the Nankang NS2 track version. Bob Jane in Belconnen have been helping me out with tyres for the Cheap Car, but they can only get the road version NS2 (180 tread wear vs 120), and at a price that hurts...

    This will also require more thought. The series organiser has promised a good price and easy supply, so hopefully that comes good.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    I don’t understand this question... 🤪

    There are currently 24 cars at home. Seven of them are motorsport vehicles (defined by “I have spent money on motorsport parts for them”), with another three having aspirations.

    The rest are parts cars (5), road cars (5), or stuff that we have just ended up with.

  • You'll want a very good, very solid roll cage for that one.

    Years ago, I had one as a rental, and turning the bog standard radio up loud actually made the door mirrors dance! On both sides!

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    It has been a long time since I have fiddled with anything so ... flimsy.

    I took a front guard off to bash out a dent - I was mentally prepared for the guard to be “nothing”, but there was just nothing underneath it either.

    The E36s are not particularly safe cars, but they are clearly built much sturdier! Reminds me why people used to bang on about 240s being built like tanks.

  • Yeah they were never safe, very quickly became a 1 star car across the world in the used (I think even some of the new) safety ratings. Good incentive to always be in first place and with headway to second :)

  • They go to 2 or 3 wheels disturbingly easily too with the stock suspension

  • TzantushkaTrent @Tzantushka E. suburbs - Melbourne

    You have waaaaay too much time on your hands.

    (and a very understanding leader of the opposition)


  • PaddlerEdPaddler Ed @PaddlerEd New England Region, NSW

    Spac threads on vehicles always make me feel better...

    As I'm looking at a completely inappropriate replacement for the 4Runner...

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Re-clear coated the roof today. Shows up a bunch of old hail damage that was previously invisible...

    Also made stickers to hide the shitty bits of paint. Not so sure about the Japanese swastika, but it took me ages to make so I am not going to rip it off until I have decided that I definitely don’t like it.

    Oh, and I also stripped the interior. I was hoping to save 50kg, because that would roughly be the weight of the roll cage - but my gut feeling is that I didn’t even make 50kg!

    Only real weight still to come out within the SCC rules is the AC and the sound deadening tar on the floor. And the rubber insulation on the firewall.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Working on it today was a great way to decompress from yesterday.

    Front bumper came up WAAAAAY better than I expected. It isn’t great, or even good, but still much better than I thought.

    Rising Sun is growing on me.

    Brake rotor is on an Evo6 rotor. So dinky... getting a bit nervous about the brakes TBH. Probably no worse than the majority of cars in the class.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Lipped the rear guards. 15” tyre caught at about the 9 o’clock position, oddly.

    Narrower, 14” tyre should have plenty of room, but doing it now should avoid any dramas.

    New bushes through the front end. Stupidly easy job - about an hour to do the lot. Possibly helped by one of the control arm bolts being loose 😳.

    Both outer CV boots are rooted. $12 each for new ones, so will order tonight.

    Test fitted the seat. It is too low, but not ridiculously so - and I have nearly a foot of clearance from the roof to my (unhelmeted) head!

    Currently thinking of running two lengths of 50x50 RHS from the sill to the tunnel and then mounting the seat on top of them. Adds strength and raises the seat to where I think it should be.

    Seat is surprisingly not too far back in this position - can easily get the clutch pedal to the floor, but the steering wheel is too far away. There’s numerous steering wheel spacers in stock.

    Blinkers were a mess. This is the better one. I super glued it back together and then put clear vinyl over it. Worked out ok, but I am on the look out for replacements anyway.

    The right-hand one is rooted - see first pic in this post. Orange vinyl is a crappy solution for the time being. Definitely need a replacement for it.

    Also have an electrical problem: when you turn the indicators on, the my work like they should AND the opposite side guard indicator also flashes.

    And the wipers don’t work, but the wiper switch turn the guard indicators on. I am assuming a bad earth, needs more investigation.

    Here’s some random photos.

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    Please, a massive , deconstructed 1940s Japanese flag over the whole car.

  • Ex850RSnoopy @Ex850R Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Melbourne.

    Unrelated but not.

    German rep from German company , all of 25yo t a low like having a German flag on ttheir award winning a clearly quality product is not on,just like most stuff in the old Wermacht. Stupid.

    U s ay spreads it's terror for oil around the globe but 1945 Germany can't run a flag up.

    Lucky I got to show him my new 10K MIG machine, Lorch brand, from the fatherland, mit stylised flag on side, I think he was secretly proud....

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Mental health day today (a real one).

    Some old NA6 MX5 Eibach springs in the front, and then the original front springs in the back.

    Still needs half a coil or so off the rear.

    Also got the race seat in. Like always, it took way longer than you’d think.

    Fitted the shitty chinabay steering wheel, using the boss kit that was sold to me as BMW (but clearly wasn’t). Excellent luck that it suits the Mazda.

    Will put a better chinabay steering wheel on it once I have bought one.

    Plenty of headroom!

    There’s five big steel plates under the floor.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited August 2019

    $340 in so far.

    That's the car, white vinyl and front suspension bits. Everything else has been lurking in my shed.

    Exhaust, tyres and pre-bent cage will put my total up around $2000. 😐

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    So yesterday, I bolted on some narrower, smaller diameter wheels with the same offset as the 15s. Took me like ten minutes right?


    More like five hours!

    As best as I can tell, the aftermarket 15” wheels do not actually have their advertised offset specs. Going from 15x6.5 +43 with 195/50 tyres to 14x6 +45 with 185/60s should be a no brainer, but the inner sidewalls rubbed hard on the springs.

    Long story short, I messed around with the spacers, thoroughly investigated the possibility of putting a spacer under the bolt-on stub axle, and a bunch of other stuff.

    In the end, my solution was to fit longer studs and redrill some 18mm slip-on spacers I had.

    Only other achievement yesterday was refitting the centre console sans stereo.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

    Bought a second set of NB8A wheels with six (very old) semi-slicks for $240.

    Also scored two almost new front brake rotors to replace the worn originals, at $10 each.

    Running total is $580.

    Flipped two of the tyres on the rims, fitted the two loose tyres to the other set of wheels.

    The 195/60s on the front look pretty goofy, not sure if they are going to rub. They’re only for shaking down regardless.

    Cleaned out the interior this morning. The harness shoulder straps are just hanging there - don’t yell at me for terrible angles!

    Fire extinguisher mount was the easiest ever - it needed one hole drilled and then it bolted straight to the factory holes in the floor.

    First round of SCC is next weekend. Nine confirmed entries, with an almost even split between Class 1 & 2. A couple of late entries expected - 10 or 11 cars is a pretty good turn out for a new class.

    We discussed getting the Bubble ready for El Wifeo, but apparently she’s not up for the required running around.

  • SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.
    edited September 2019

    Took the 316i for a test day today, aborted with a slipping clutch.

    Towed the BMW home, loaded up the Bubble and drove back up to Marulan.

    The Bubble Is Awesome fun!

    It is so slow in a straight line, but it handles way better than expected - you brake earlyish, and then get on the accelerator WAY before the apex and it is actually pretty quick!

    Churned out a bunch of low 67s with a few laps dipping into the 66s - this is a stock 230,000km old econobox on 15yo tyres! 😍

    The Class A break out time is 67.6(!), so I am thinking of entering this is as a Class B car. Class B break out is 66.6 - but I need to make sure that the break out times aren't going to change before the race...

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