My Car’s Second Life

A while ago, I posted about my car’s 300k mile milestone.  Since then, a few things have been in play that have some relation and interaction.  The first is my scheduled garage re-conversion.  This will give me a safe place to store my car and work on it out of the elements.  The other thing is a more or less finalized decision to get a second car, one made for hauling and touring.  That will give my primary car a chance to rest, so its mileage won’t be climbing as quickly – although honestly, it will probably still be my daily driver.  With these two changes, it almost feels like my car is getting a second chance at life, even though it’s at 300k+.  To support this idea, I’ve been planning and working to rejuvenate my car for its second trip around.

When I first got the MX5, back in 2010, I made a series of customizations to make the car my own.  I changed out the upholstery to a custom leather, I changed the antenna, and finally, updated the stereo.  Time has really worn on these changes.  The antenna, once black aluminum, is more or less silver aluminum now.  The leather seats have worn through.  The stereo doesn’t seem to be playing any sound from the left speaker.  And on top of those bits of wear, the leather on my steering wheel has been worn out and torn off for many years now.  I’ve had the thought of rewrapping it, but never quite got around to it, because the stitching is something I don’t feel I could do adequately.

So I’ve got a plan.  First up is the steering wheel.  A new leather wrap is about $120, plus whatever time it takes to stitch it.  They say to budget 12 hours.  Yeah, no.  So what if I took it to an upholstery shop?  The place that sells the wraps will do it for $140 and has a two day turnaround time.  Well, maybe I should wait until I get the second car.  Or, I could buy a junk wheel and have them wrap that one, so my car isn’t unavailable.  Hmmm.

I do a quick search on Ebay and find a replacement factory wheel for $95 shipped.  And the leather on it is perfect.  So, why don’t I just buy that and swap wheels?  It’s far cheaper.  And that’s what I did.  The wheel is on its way.  Soon, I’m going to have a brand new wheel with new leather on it.  And this time, I will preserve it by wearing my driving gloves, so my skin oils don’t destroy the leather again.

Now, the seats.  This one is easy, because I never got rid of the original leather.  It took me a weekend to swap the leather the last time, so I can budget the same this time.  And just like that, the car will look brand new with fresh leather on the seats and wheel.  That leaves the shift knob.  Damn, these are expensive.  $200?  Well, maybe that part will have to wait.  And the antenna?  I’ll just return it to stock; I never got rid of the original, either.

And then the stereo.  Originally, I installed a low-profile subwoofer under the passenger seat, but the sub actually interfered with the airbag sensor, because it was too tall, so I took it back out.  The amplifier was always mounted in the trunk.  Well, after all this time, now the amp is just sitting on the floor of the trunk flopping around loose.  I can now relocate the amp to under the passenger seat and regain my full trunk space, which also means putting back my emergency kit (flat tire and hard-top failure repair).  More returning to stock.

After all this is done, and I have a garage and I have my car’s interior sorted out, the next thing is to get the MX5 repainted.  The fiberglass panels on the car have suffered considerably and the paint is completely ruined on them.  Getting a fresh coat of paint on the whole car, getting the marks and etching of lovebug carcasses off the front bumper, having a garage to keep the car out of the elements, replacing the worn leather parts of the interior,  it does seem like a complete rebirth of the vehicle.  A deserving one for a car that has served me so well and has been through so much with me.

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