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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After a little over 2 and a half years of owning my 3, I've decided to finally make a build thread for her. Everyone, meet Ellie:








So I purchased my 3 in the spring of 2013. It was completely stock save for a tow hitch and window tint, and had just a hair under 60,000 miles. It's a fully loaded model, so it came with leather, moon roof, nav system, xenon headlights, and most importantly, a 5 speed gearbox! :dance2:




Now to the mods! Right away I hated the horsewhip antenna and how the front end was so rounded. I liked the look of the GV lip, but everyone and their mother has it, so I pulled the trigger on the oem aero pieces and a home depot lip. ***Oh and by the way, I lost a lot of old pictures when my previous laptop got stolen during a break in, so many of these are recent ones highlighting the individual mods.***

Then one morning during my commute to school (during finals week of all times!!) some lady in a brand new white VW cc going 95+ mph decided to swerve across all five lanes of the freeway at once--without looking--and clipped my passenger front area, causing my to spin out. Mind you my 3 doesn't have traction control, and I was very tired as it was finals week. I ended up doing about 4 and a half rotations, first spinning into the middle of the freeway and eventually ending up hitting the shoulder. Keep in mind this is during moving, but heavy traffic during a southern California morning commute on the 91 freeway to Riverside.

My thoughts during the whole ordeal was oh $h*t oh $h*t oh $h*t, why today...of all days?!?! And, to make matters worse, that lady didn't even give me a second look. She just sped off and got the hell out of there... However, once my car had collided with the median and stopped moving, I notice that all the traffic had stopped--I could have easily collided with another car but I didn't. Then, a civic that had been driving behind me for a while pulled up, gave me a look to see if I was okay--which I was--and then took off after the lady. A couple of other people also slowed down to ask and make sure I was okay. Eventually the CHP got the lady thanks to the gentleman in the civic and that whole situation was dealt with. Needless to say, my faith in southern Californians was temporarily restored and I'm very thankful that the situation wasn't worse as it easily could've been.

The pictures don't really show the damage because it was mostly to subframe/suspension components. I had hit the wall with my passenger front wheel first--while it was at full lock. Damage was a little less than $7,000. Anyways, I'm just babbling now, so here are some more pics:



There ended up being a lot of issues during the repair process, but after about a month and 3 separate times of being back in the shop, it was finally sorted. Sort of. I was never happy that they put monroe quick struts on my car. The handling and feel was just crap with them.

So that leads to my next mod, which was suspension! I did a lot of research and ended up selecting koni str.t shocks and eibach pro-kit springs. I had previously decided to transfer to a university in southeastern Tennessee, so I didn't want to go too low as I would road trip back and forth each summer (I live in southern California). My wants with the suspension were less body roll, added stiffness without being overly harsh, more grip, and of course to kill that wheel gap lol. I'm actually very happy with this combination. It exceeded my expectations. I also decided to ditch the hitch cause I would never use it (kind of wish I had kept it though lol).



Immediately after this I decided to ditch the side moldings and 2.3 badges, dip my emblems, upgrade the wimpy stock horn, and install an amp, subwoofer, and the grom aux cord kit.



Nice and clean! :coolio:

I also added those bumper guard things.



I wanted the amp hidden, so under the passenger seat it went:



Aux cord routed to the armrest area:



And a 10 inch kenwood subwoofer! I also have a 8 inch JBL one in a small sealed box that I swap in for the school year.



A couple weeks later I added Rallyarmor UR mud flaps courtesy of my awesome girlfriend :grin:




Next came ebay climate control knobs, some blue leds for the ashtray, and led license plate lights.




Now one of my favorite mods; my "custom" magnaflow exhaust. I bumped the pipe up to 2.25" after the stock resonater, added a nice magnaflow mufler, and finished it off with a 4" magnaflow tip. Excuse the ghetto welds lol :lol: It actually sounds really, really good though. Quiet while cruising, not much cabin drone at all, and a really nice deep tone. I wish it was a tiny bit louder, but man, I'm happy with the sound. It also has this intoxicating burble if I accelerate, leave it in gear, and let the engine wind itself down. :smile:





Next, the STI lip! I really love how it looks with the oem aero kit.




I then decided that southern California summers and leather seat do not mix at all. I also wanted that integrated armrest/cupholder that the 07+ models got, so I got black cloth speed3 seats (and black cloth seats from a non-speed)!! I modified the driver lumbar support a little cause my back gets sore very easily, but other than that, these seats are super comfy and I love the extra bolstering!




Next up, pillarless speed3 wing plastidipped gloss black and the CPE tow plate.




And lastly, I bought a used set of stock enkie wheels from an evo 8 and wrapped them in 225/45/17 rubber. They are 17x8 et35mm. I actually really like how they sit too. They're a little beat up, but I have plans to refinish them sometime in the future. Also my girlfriend put on pink valve caps. I like them lol.

To make them not rub on bumps I also had to roll the fenders and give them a slight pull. Did it super ghetto-ly with a baseball bat :lol:




So, that's all I have for now! I've actually just applied for dentistry school and am studying for the Dental Admissions Test now, so who knows where I'll end up or what I'll do (or have time to do) to the car next. But, I would like to actually paint the wing at some point. Can't decide on gloss black or body color though. Also I want to refinish the rims either a stock looking color or gloss black. And, I would like a speed3 rear sway bar at some point. I'm also thinking about getting SPC camber arms if I can get a better pull on my rear fenders. I'm at -2 degrees left and right getting a little bit too much of unwanted camber wear. I would like to be around the -1.2 to -1.5 range. But who knows, maybe I won't.. For now I'm just working on little maintenance things, like the AC flickering problem.

Pic of camber wear on previous tires:




Well, that's it for now. That's about the previous 2 and a half years of mods since I purchased the car. I'll try to update this thread with all the little things I do, so stay tuned!
 

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Nice post! Ugh, sometimes people are horrible and then sometimes people are fantastic. Glad you got your car sorted, it's looking great!
 

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After a little over 2 and a half years of owning my 3, I've decided to finally make a build thread for her.

***Oh and by the way, I lost a lot of old pictures when my previous laptop got stolen during a break in, so many of these are recent ones highlighting the individual mods.***
See this is why you need to make the build thread right away :p

Then one morning during my commute to school (during finals week of all times!!) some lady in a brand new white VW cc going 95+ mph decided to swerve across all five lanes of the freeway at once--without looking--and clipped my passenger front area, causing my to spin out. Mind you my 3 doesn't have traction control, and I was very tired as it was finals week. I ended up doing about 4 and a half rotations, first spinning into the middle of the freeway and eventually ending up hitting the shoulder. Keep in mind this is during moving, but heavy traffic during a southern California morning commute on the 91 freeway to Riverside.
Jeeezus that's ridiculous! Glad they caught the psycho... Good to hear you eventually got everything fixed up too, car's looking fantastic!
 

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Your 3 is so clean, i'm jealous :p
I love the oem aero kit w/sti lip, I have the 2 pieces front lip thats already painted laying in my garage but I'm too lazy to drill my bumper -_-
 

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Your 3 is so clean, i'm jealous :p
I love the oem aero kit w/sti lip, I have the 2 pieces front lip thats already painted laying in my garage but I'm too lazy to drill my bumper -_-
Dude just do it! And the golden rule of car mods is don't get lazy about things and take shortcuts... do it right the first time. I've made that mistake far too many times.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the kind words, guys!

Dude just do it!
I agree! And post pictures when you do!
Drilling that first hole into the front of the bumper is the hardest and most nerve-wracking part, but after that it's easy sailing. I was able to get it on just fine with the bumper on, but I would recommend taking it off to make things a bit easier.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Decided to do a couple small things last night and this morning.

I broke out the old mallet and heat gun to get a better roll on my fenders--when I initially did it with a baseball bat, the fenders were left very uneven and it kept bugging me, but now they're nice and smoooooth! :coolio:



I also did a quick Lowe's run to get some quarter inch plastic plugs to debadge my hatch on the cheap. The plugs stand out a little bit more than I was hoping, but overall I'm pretty happy with how they turned out--especially since the mod only cost me $2! I sanded the plugs first, then brushed on three coats of color matched touch up paint, and finished by shooting three coats of clear. In a few days I'll take some polishing compound to blend in the fade marks from the old Mazda badge.






I also have another thing coming in the mail hopefully by Monday. It's not a very noticeable or conventional mod, but I'm definitely very excited for it!
 

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Looks like that turned out pretty well with the plugs! It's a bit of a shame that the holes aren't at least in a straight line, would have looked a bit better lol

What's the part you're waiting on...?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah I agree about the holes.. I'm also confused as to why Mazda decided to use holes and plugs for the Mazda part of the badge and tape for the 3 lol.

Package arrived today! It's a little something called Air Lift 1000. Hopefully this will get rid of my saggy rear end during my loaded down, cross country road trips! And I would imagine it might make canyon runs a little more fun too.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay so I've done a couple things these past three weeks. First I'll start off with the Air Lift 1000. Here it is installed:



And my placement of the fill valve:



I initially bought a kit# 80754, but it didn't work. Bags were just a tad too large. Anyways, I returned it and bought the kit# 60723 which is meant for a Ford Focus Sedan (derp move on my part not getting this first). This kit works perfectly in our cars (just keep in mind that if you are lowered then you will need to modify the bag spacers).

Now my impressions....I am impressed! They greatly improve the driving dynamics of the vehicle when there's a heavy load in a back. I took a drive up highway 74 (great road btw!) to Mountain Center, CA with 5 people in the car (including myself) and a hatch full of backpacks--with the bags inflated to 20 psi. These bags restored my confidence and I was able to take corners without my cheeks puckering up in fear that the rear end would not do what I wanted it to. In daily driving with the bags at the minimum 5 psi, you don't notice them at all. If you inflate them to the 20-25 psi range though, I do notice a drastic decrease in rear squat when under hard acceleration. I definitely recommend these bags to anyone who regularly uses their hatch to haul stuff.

The next thing I did was the AC flickering fix. I didn't take any pictures, but definitely search for the how-to if you have this problem! It's a really easy fix, just a little bit time consuming.

I then decided I was tired of my subwoofer sliding around all the time, so I made a little strap out of things I found in my garage. It works brilliantly!



And when fully cinched down, you can't even tell it's there!



I also added some more hatch lighting, which I have been meaning to do since I bought the car.





And lastly, back to the stock spoiler while the speed wang gets some much needed body work and some body color paint! When I initially purchased the spoiler, it came with a gross looking third brake light (which I decided not to use) and a 3 inch long crack that I hastily superglued before slapping on some plasti-dip. The dip was horribly faded and the crack was worsening so I figured it was time to do something about it.



Lesson learned: don't dip over primer, it's a royal pain to get off...seriously. It took 4-5 hours just to remove it all from the wing. And I know how to dip properly.



Here is the crack drilled out at the edges and dremeled out in the middle, then filled with epoxy:



First layer of bondo and sanding in progress (I ended up doing two layers):



And here it is currently primered and awaiting wet-sanding with 400 grit before laying down some 29y! (once Mr. UPSman decides to deliver my package that is)



I am very excited to start laying down the base coat! The wing already looks so much better with the third brake light properly "deleted", the crack fixed, and all the little imperfections smoothed out. Taking the time to do it up right this time is definitely worth it!
 

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I like what you did with the hatch lighting... turned out nicely. Regarding the sub, why not just velcro it down? Does it still wiggle around in the back while it's attached like that?
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I was thinking about velcro for the sub, but the ridges on the plastic trunk liner just seemed like it would make it a little more complicated. The sub still moves a little, but it's only 1 or 2 inches, compared to sliding across the whole trunk like before, which is good enough for me.

Yeah I'm really happy with how the lighting turned out! That cellphone picture just doesn't do it justice. It really is pretty bright for only being two 6inch strips of leds. I'm tempted to add some colored strips cause it looks so cool at night



EDIT: Just laid down the 29Y! Fighting very strong urges right now to spray clear tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow morning.

 

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Sprayed clear this morning, let it dry for about 5 hours and here it is mounted!!











If 0 is a 15 minute rattle can paint job by someone who has never painted before and 10 is a factory finish, I would give myself an honest 6. In the sun and at distances greater than 20 feet, I'd say it's more like a 7, but overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! I made the dumb mistake of wiping the top side of the wing with wax/grease remover before clear coating (when it says clearly on the bottle not to use on paint newer than 6 months old..) so you can see some faint wipe marks if you get up close, and it could've used another can's worth of clear, but regardless, I'm content. I think it is a little darker than the rest of the car, but I have a small color vision deficiency so I can't really tell. Let me know what you guys think!
 

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I just wish those cheap replica wings had the center section like it's supposed to...
It looks really weird to me.

I'm in the middle of painting the next speed3 wing for my car right now; sitting at work. Too humid to try to be painting though so it's still sadly on hold for at least another week. Finally sanded it down though... only took like 5 months lol

Just a heads up on that clearcoat, give it at least a week of cure time before you sand and buff it.
As far as color shift goes; meh, I sprayed my wing as well, and you can see a difference, but then again, the bumpers don't look the same either. Plastic vs metal, I don't think anyone is going to care/notice.

As far as 3rd taillights go, you'd probably then like my bottom mod for my stock hatch wing.
I pulled mine long ago, as I have had a speed style wing for some time and had no need to have the interior light, since the remainder of the time it went to the wing.

LED is attached to the underside of wing; above the black plastic piece. Just cut out holes, glued sandblasted plexiglass above the holes to try to give more of a haze fill vs seeing the individual LEDs.

 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
@XCNuse, I felt the same way about the wing being pillar-less before I got it, but it was only $60ish from amazon, so for the price I thought why not. However, the look has actually grown on me quite a bit, and it is really sturdy (I can rock the whole car by just the wing), so I can't complain!

I feel you about that humidity...I leave for Chattanooga, TN on Saturday morning for my last year of undergrad, and I am NOT looking forward to the humidity... I'll take dry 105+ degrees Southern California summer days any day of the week lol.

I also like what you did for the 3rd brake light! I've been meaning to get rid of the "stinger" style light and get some led strips or something. Just haven't gotten around to it yet..


But anyways, that segues into my most recent mod, which was wiring a back up camera into the oem navigation unit! I figured this would be a huge help during my cross-country drive since my hatch is always completely full of stuff. Pics:



The quality isn't the greatest, but I only paid $17 on amazon for the camera, so I'm not complaining! It's also pretty stealth, so unless you were looking for it, it's hard to even tell that the camera is there. The guide lines are pretty much useless since I mounted the camera so low, but I really just wanted to be able to see behind me. Btw in the picture above, the trashcans were about 45 feet away from my bumper and the driveway is 25 feet at its widest point. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!





 

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Looks great! I like how youve got it displaying on the OEM screen ( that we don't have in Canada). If I was planning on keeping my car longer I would have done that for sure...
 

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Gonna look into an airlift system for sure! After moving out of my summer apt (while towing a trailer) I felt so bad for my lil hatch.

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