Because Racewagon

What is the #racewagon? At it’s core, a 2001 BMW 325i Wagon, with the grey interior wrapped in Alpine White paint, equipped with sport and premium packages. This wagon has been a staple of the fleet for a little over five years, as a daily-driver and parts runner. The unofficial motto of SkunkRennWerks is “leave nothing stock”, and the wagon is no exception. It is minimally prepped; with FK Streetline coilovers, ECS Tuning shift bushings, ZHP weighted shift knob, ECS Tuning aluminum water pump pulley, a square set of BBS RS2 18×8.5 wheels in a fetching liquid copper powdercoat, and Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 tires in a narrow 225/40/18 configuration. Additional non-performance mods include OEM Euro clear corners and taillights, and PlastiDip-blackout trim & kidney grills. It also has a rarely-installed  Yakima roof rack with spoiler for that ultimate stance-scene street cred. However we use the hell out of the rack, especially at Home Depot.

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After selling the #stealthbomber, we moved the wagon to race duty, with the addition of another wagon to the fleet, a 2011 Subaru Outback. Surprisingly, at least to non-BMW people, the little wagon runs very similar times to the #stealthbomber, even on it’s small non-sticky tire setup. Future plans call for something closer to the 200tw street tire class limit, along with a Porsche 996 Brembo brake package. After abusing the GT500 setup on the Bomber, big brakes are a must for all vehicles in the SkunkRennWerks fleet! Look forward to more race updates and work being done on the now 100% wagon fleet here at SkunkRennWerks.

I Wanna See It Painted, Painted Black

We clearly appreciate the color black (or shade, if that’s your opinion on colors, but that’s a whole other post), and there are many types of ways to turn an item black. After getting asked by a fellow racer about the types of black paint we use on the Stealth Bomber, we decided an in-depth post was needed.

In the SkunkRennWerks garage, we have five basic categories of black paint. From left to right; Plasti-Dip, Rustoleum Textured Satin Black, Rustoleum Trim & Bumper Black, Rustoleum Flat Black Engine Enamel, and Krylon Smooth Finish Flat Black. All are spray cans for convenience. Now these aren’t the only blacks we use, but they are in the rotation the most.

The first, and our personal favorite, is the love-it-or-hate-it Plasti-Dip. Originally developed as a tool handle coating to increase grip, Plasti-Dip’s spray can formula allows the wielder to create a tough, rubbery coating on nearly any surface. This product produces more of a satin than a flat black, with an appearance similar to OEM trim. We like Plasti-Dip’s ease of application, with minimal prep work required and rather lax masking needs. It can even be re-coated over and over with no need to remove existing dip. Plasti-Dip can be peeled off, assuming sufficiently thick coats are used. The downside of Plasti-Dip is that it loves to stick to itself, so as mentioned it peels (occasionally when you don’t want it to), adding difficulty in areas where you need a harsh line. It also does not wear well, resulting in tears in the dip itself, so is not suitable for high-traffic areas. Painting with Plasti-Dip is also an art form. Unlike traditional spray paint, thick coats are a way of life. Typical application steps for us are one light mist coat, then 3-4 thick, wet-paint coats applied 15 minutes apart. Our preferred use for Plasti-Dip are grills, three dimensional badges, and trim that doesn’t get touched often. We would never use Plasti-Dip on an area that sees high heat. Plasti-Dip’s makeup means cleanup is a snap, with Goo-Gone reverting the dip to a liquid state, and overspray wiping away with detailing spray and minimal elbow grease. The Stealth Bomber has Plasti-Dipped GT badges, gauge and vent trim rings, and strut tower brace.

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Next up is the Rustoleum Textured Satin Black. This is a standard spray paint, but with just a hint of texture. This texture happens to match most OEM’s black plastic. Our preferred usage for Rustoleum Textured Satin Black is for interior trim, radio bezels, and items that get touched often. Like Plasti-Dip, we wouldn’t use this on areas that see high heat. The Stealth Bomber has Textured Satin Black on the 3-gauge panel, shift light surround, pedals, and cup holder trim.

Third in line is Rustoleum Trim and Bumper Paint. This paint is great for exactly what it says, trim and bumpers! We use this in place of Plasti-Dip where we have harsh lines and transitions that don’t bode well for the dip. Produces a satin black similar to Plasti-Dip. This paint also has a bit of flex additive in it. Currently, the Stealth Bomber has nothing painted with this paint. Works great for Fox Mustang bumper trim.

Fourth is Rustoleum Engine Enamel. The can we grabbed happened to be the 500° version, but we also use the 2000° version regularly. This paint is very flat, and best for temperature-intense areas. Note that it will produce some vapors/smoke as it fully cures after the first heat cycle. The Stealth Bomber has it’s AC Condenser and exhaust tips painted with this paint.

Finally we close with Krylon Interior-Exterior Ultra Flat. This paint seems to stick to anything, dries dead flat, and has incredible coverage. However it is not for high-temp usage, or nice enough to use in the interior. The Stealth Bomber has the tow hooks and some miscellaneous underhood items painted with this paint.

Besides the five main black paints, we also have a few little cans in our blackout bag of tricks. Among those are gloss black caliper paint, obviously only for brake calipers and recently used for touch-up on our Brembo calipers, and Testors Flat Black Enamel Model paint which was recently put into action with the rivets holding down our GT500 hood vent.

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In general, we paint in what we call a four-angle paint job. Large items are painted from four sides to ensure even application, then flipped over and repeated for complete 360° coverage. Small items are rotated by hand through each of the four sides, with the hand holding the part sheathed in a latex glove for easy cleanup.

In the words of Mick Jagger, “No colors any more, I want them to turn black

January 2016 Bomber Update

It has been a few weeks since we modified the Stealth Bomber, so let’s get into what has been done in the past month. In the plate category, we switched to California’s 1960’s Retro Black Plate program with a personalized plate, matching the black paint quite nicely.

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Internally we continued the blackout program with a refurbishment of the extra wide brake pedal using Rustoleum textured black paint and grip tape, the addition of a GT500 dead pedal with black grip tape, blackout sills using Plasti-Dip, blackout cup holders, and the return of the MOMO MOD-88 wheel, this time with working horn and turn signal cancellation!

Externally we took the “go big or go home” mantra to heart and stepped up to a set of 18×10.5 ET45 Rotiform (model unknown) wheels, wrapped in used Bridgestone RE-71R’s in 275/35/18 sizing. Somebody took our sign to heart! The grip is astounding and we can’t wait to see what the Stealth Bomber will do out on the track!

Mods, Mods, Mods

We can’t leave a car stock (or at least how we purchased it in this case) for long. The Stealth Bomber was no exception, and we acted fast. One of our key design elements is simplicity. We blacked out the GT badges, and tinted both the front and rear markers. We swapped out the large and ungainly factory mirrors for the Agent47 Race Mirrors, and picked up a set of street wheels and tires. Inspired by the JDM scene, we chose Avid 1 AV-06 wheels measuring 18×9.5″ in bronze. We wrapped those with the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 in 275/35/18 sizing. These all-seasons gave us a bit more confidence in the wet than the Nitto NT-01”s! At the same time we went with Gorilla open-ended aluminum race lug nuts, adding to the JDM flavor. The interior got a bit darker with the help of the ever-popular Plasti-Dip, and our brakes got a lot less dusty and loud with the help of Powerstop Z23 Evolution Sport pads. Braking was noticeably diminished, but still well within the “let me just pick up my stomach off the dashboard” range that the monster 14″ 4-piston Brembos provide.