Today I cleaned up the exterior of the car by removing the front lip and side skirts. Lately I had been playing with the ride height, trying to raise it up to keep it legal. The front lip hung so far below the front bar that the car had to be quite high to achieve this. The only trouble was that the bottom of the intercooler had sagged and was hanging past the front bar. The black lip covered it but that was going so I needed a solution.

After the cable ties holding the lip on were cut off, I raised the front of the car by the wheels to bring it to a more ergonomic height. I then put a jack under the intercooler and pushed it up as high as possible without fouling the headlights or reinforcement bar. Next I used some left over pieces of metal in my scrap tub and bent, drilled, cut and ground two new brackets to hold the top of the intercooler firmly in place.

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Previously the intercooler was only held in place by a bash plate at the bottom. When I replaced the intercooler that came with the car, I retained this setup. With the load now spread to the new top mounts, I pulled off and modified the bottom bash plate. Some bits were bent straight where they had sagged and one part that was previously only held together with a single nut and bolt was given nine rivets instead. The result is a nice brace that helps support the weight of the core and protects it from bottoming out. The extra reinforcement also adds another jacking point, which while not a strong as the engine cross member, is a lot easier to reach for emergencies or short jobs.

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I could now drop the car to the ground and measure the ground clearance. Without the front lip, it was about 130 mm. I took off the wheels and lowered the car by about 20 mm. Sliding a 100 mm block underneath the car shows it clears everything comfortably, making it legal in this respect. The car now has  much nicer stance, like it did when I purchased it, but with less chance of scraping the front or drawing unwanted attention.

With the front cleaned up, it was time to tackle the side skirts. Only a few self tapping screws per side were keeping them attached. They came off easily. Ether side of the doors were patches of adhesive and the bodywork underneath the side skirts was filthy.

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So far I have cleaned up two of the four areas, firstly by scraping off the largest chunks and then by using a ‘caramel’ / eraser wheel attached to a drill. This is a big rubbery disc that rubs off foreign substances without damaging the paint. I’ll take some photos of the before and after when I remove some more goo. Another 4 kg was saved by removing these cosmetic parts.