So if you’ve seen parts 1and 2, you’ll know that I have some pretty strong opinions on styling (that some out there disagree with), and I’ve also got a cheap, repaired and primered Duce kit.
This time, it’s all about paint and fitment, plus a few thoughts on the finished product!
On the evening of the 24th April, Nick brought his compressor and paint gun round to my super professional climate-controlled outdoor paint booth. We flatted back the primer and got everything set up for the colour, a 2k straight to gloss. Amazingly, the paint came out really well! There’s a few runs that will need flatting back once it’s fully cured, but despite the cooling evening weather and the persistent bugs, the finish came out waaay better than I was expecting!
I left the kit to dry out for a couple of days in my new curing booth, as sadly my last one (housemate’s bedroom) became reoccupied.
Then… it was onto the fitting! A particularly dreary Thursday wasn’t the best weather for it, but the rain held off for the most part.
The skirts were offered up and taped in position, a few adjustments being made mainly to the repair on the rear of the driver’s skirt to ensure a good fit. They were offered up, checked for fit, removed, trimmed and refitted until I was happy with how they sat.
Then, my favourite tool came out: The Rivnut gun. If any of you haven’t come across rivnuts before, you essentially drill a hole in the body you’re fixing to (in this case, the car) and press a threaded insert into it, clamped just like a rivet. Then, you drill a hole through the other item (the skirts) and can bolt them through with normal bolts. It’s just like riveting, except they can be removed and refitted just like a nut and bolt. One of the best inventions of all time, and I find myself using them over and over again!
With the skirts fixed on, attention turned to the big one: The bumper.
Lots of stuff had to go to fit this Duce bumper. The original crash pad that normally lives behind the front bumper had to be removed, and my current front tow hook and plate mounts no longer fit due to the new ‘mouth’ position. Thankfully Dan had done most of the fettling, but some minor adjustments still needed to be done to pull the bumper into the right place. Currently, the slam panel section is bolted on and the wings are cable tied, but the old spring-latch quick releases will eventually be transferred onto the new bumper.
At this point I had to step back and think for 5 minutes. It’s been so long that I’ve wanted one of these kits and I was astonished to see it finally fitted! A new numberplate mount was made up from an old DVD player I had the case from, mounted to the original crash bar holes. The tow hook was also addressed by using the old numberplate mount reversed, with just enough space to clear the mouth edge. It’s not ideal and I don’t think it would withstand snatch pulls if the car got beached in a gravel trap, but it’s strong enough to pull on if I break down. In any case, this is a temporary measure until I can get a better tow hook made up. (PS. If anyone knows any that fit with the duce bumper, please let me know!)
Thankfully, the front bumper clears my low profile ramps. This is something I was a little worried about as I use these all the time, and having to remove the bumper every time to get the car on and off them would be a complete pain in the arse. There’s still a bit of clearance, so she could come down a few more mm… but we’ll see about that!
Side by side you can really see the added aggression of this bumper. I must say I still have moments where I consider if it’s a bit too much, but then from other angles it’s absolutely perfect, and nothing could suit better.
Then, a few short days later, Japfest loomed, and with it the first time the car had been off the drive! I got some planks of wood ready for any grounding out issues, but luckily it seems I had just enough clearance to skim over the drive. As well as the Japfest convoy, the whole house came out to watch the maiden voyage. (See link for hilarious noises as nobody quite knows if it’ll clear or not) https://www.instagram.com/p/BTkaYAWj634/?taken-by=rearaxledivergence&hl=en
Again the car is probably a little high right now in terms of making the kit look as good as it can, and there’s a little arch gap I’d like to close up but that can wait til I move house, because quite frankly having to use planks to get on and off my driveway is a bit embarrassing. The drop kerb would have words to say about it too, as even at this height I have to enter the drive at a big angle not to scrape the front lip down.
Then, it was time for the pilgrimage to Japfest, and the first big reveal for the car. It’s the first time I’d had a chance to properly get round the car and see it from all angles, at and a distance and I was taken back by it. I actually can’t think of many, if any, OEM-coloured actually glossy Duce kits in the UK, and it really suited the car well. I must say I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and glad to have taken the plunge at last! (Cue petrol station scene pics and sassy swagger walk)
All in all, I’m really, really happy with the kit and I’ve absolutely fallen in love now it’s fitted! Exterior wise the car is looking pretty much like my vision, with just a few more touches to go. The kit has lost the car a little bit of width, so some wider overfenders may be incoming before too long, but I need to see what will work best. I’ve a few ideas.
In the meantime, the biggest problem is this:
Rear bumper urgently needed! As mentioned in part 1, I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE the standard Duce rear, and although this R-Packaged import bumper looks pretty good, it’s just not quite there. So if anyone’s selling a Shaz/Arios rear please let me know! Otherwise it’s going to have to wait until I start my new job in a couple of months for a brand new one.
Job: DUCED. Thank you for reading! This has been a pretty major bodywork project which is something I’ve never really touched before. All in all it’s worked out quite well. Which is good… as there’s a lot more to come! 😀