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The new MX-5 - Equiraptor's Journal — LiveJournal
The new MX-5
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I bought the Mazda MX-5 that belonged to my mechanic (or, both of my mechanics. Or both of my mechanics and one wife. Or something like that). Just actually going through the process of buying the car was interesting enough, since it was a private party sell, with a lien on the car on their end, and I wanted to take out a loan to buy it.

As a dutiful little ex-UT student, with a tiny savings account that's been there for 8 years now, I went over to UFCU for my loan and for instruction on how to actually manage to buy the car. They politely enough told me everything that was needed. John and Dan (the mechanics) and I agreed on a price for the car, so all that was left to do was fill out all the paperwork.

Oh, the paperwork.

You see, the car, the loan, etc. were all in Dan's wife's name. As a result, she was the one who needed to come to UFCU with me to sign all the paperwork, and she had a great deal of paperwork to bring. It turns out she wasn't able to find all the paperwork, but this was not a major issue because the needed information was available online. Only it turned out John hadn't renewed the registration on the car, and UFCU wouldn't fund a car with expired registration (can't transfer the title, anyway, I think). So Dan's wife and I went and found a Williamson County tax office and paid the needed fees. We returned to the UFCU, finished the paperwork, and I vroomed off to go demand the "keys" to my car from John and Dan. They of course happily obliged.

After I spent a few hours showing off the car at work (and doing some real work, too, I swear!), I returned to the shop to meet nugget who wanted to show off his new 911. I also discussed the autocross that weekend with Dan, and we decided I should leave the MX-5 there. Dan was kind enough to bring the car back to the shop and put the street tires back on after the autocross, so I could have it to drive to work Monday morning. I'm very thankful to him for that.

So I actually got to have my car for a week, and it was great. I love this car. It's an absolute blast to drive. The steering is very responsive and body roll is minimized. The ride can definitely be rough, but that's something I'm happy to accept for the way the car feels around corners. The throttle response is fast and lively, and though the car doesn't have the push the supercharged '94 has, in the "real world" on the street it has enough power to leave me happy. The exhaust is loud - sometimes a bit louder than I wish - but it has a rich sound to it. It turns heads without rattling windows. If I'm driving quietly, it's not noticeable to people indoors behind closed windows.

The second weekend I owned it, the first weekend I had it at the house, I washed the car. It was filthy. The top was covered in cat hair, there was bird poop all over the back, and there was a thick layer of dirt all over the poor thing. It got a bath and I discovered that the paint was in need of some care. During the week, after some googling and reading Autopia, I decided I'd use Zaino on the car. This is not a "wax" but a "polish," since it's artificial rather than from natural ingredients like carnauba wax. It's also supposed to last longer than an application of Zymöl. We still had enough Zymöl Clear for a few washings so I didn't order a car shampoo from Zaino. I did order Z-18 Clay Bar, ZFX Flash Cure Additive, Z-5 Polish, Z-2 Polish, and Z-6 Ultra Clean Spray. That's a lot of stuff. The clay bar was obviously to try to get the paint as clean as possible. The Flash Cure additive was recommended... Apparently there used to be a "Z-1" that was a recommended step in the process that's been replaced with ZFX. Whatever. I obeyed the instructions, even if I didn't understand. The Z-5 polish is supposed to help hide fine lines in the paint, while the Z-2 can highlight lines, but has a better look than the Z-5 (or so the documentation says). The Z-6 is a finishing spray that helps layers of polish bind and helps reduce dust buildup on the final layer of polish.

And so yesterday, in 10°C (50°F) windy weather, I washed the car with the Zymöl Clear. This was remarkably not-bad, given my aversion to cold and the extensive use of cold tap water! But this was followed by the clay bar. The temperature made this torture for me. The clay bar requires the car to be lubricated, which means water with a bit of soap. I found my hand was the best application tool for the water to get exactly the coating needed by the clay. The downside of this? My left hand was constantly wet in cool temperatures with a lot of wind. Even when I warmed the water in the bucket, my hands were still so very cold.

Despite the cold, using the clay bar was a very satisfying process. I had read that I'd feel the bar move more easily across the paint as that part of the paint became clean. This absolutely was the case. The bar went from moving easily across the paint to moving like an air hockey puck moves across the air hockey table. I could see the fine particles of dirt it was pulling off of the paint and had to rotate the bar frequently. The flat areas of the car - the hood and the trunk - were actually much more dirty (post-wash, pre-clay-bar) than the sides of the car, even around the wheel wells. Every time I washed the '94 Miata, I felt like I didn't really get the car completely clean. This time? I felt like the car (or at least the paint) was clean.

By this point in time, my left hand was PAINFUL and I was cold so I went inside for a break. When I returned, I washed the car with Clear again (fastest car wash EVER!), dried it very carefully, and prepped the Z-5 for the first application of polish. The ZFX comes in a tiny little dropper, very much like the droppers some liquid food color comes in (a bit smaller than those, though). It also comes with 2oz mixing bottles. One is supposed to mix 1-2oz of the desired polish with 4-5 drops of ZFX per ounce, not exceeding 10 drops in one 2oz mixing bottle. So I filled one of the bottles to just over half full with Z-5 and added five drops of ZFX. The Z-5 is lavender, opaque, and somewhat thick. The ZFX is dark blue and very thin. Shake to combine. This was rubbed onto the paint a few drops at a time leaving a swirled haze on the paint. I left in to dry (Yay INSIDE!). Once dry, I rubbed it off and applied the Z-6. Though all of this was time consuming, it didn't really require a lot of muscle from me, so though my hands hurt from the cold and my back was sore from the bending, I wasn't really all that tired and I avoided sore muscles and joints.

But that was just one coat of Z-5! This polish says it looks better as more coats are applied, and the Z-2's supposed to be the really pretty one! So today, I went back and applied the Z-2. It's a very similar process to the Z-5, except the Z-2 is pink instead of lavender and it took a bit more muscle to rub off the car. I also used the Z-6 to get off what little dust accumulated on the car overnight before applying this next coat of polish. I finished the car with one more go-over with the Z-6, and took it to the sun for some pictures. I still don't have a good picture of the car's color, but there are some interesting pictures of the details of the paint. The painted surfaces of the car are now very, very smooth to the touch, and this polish seems a lot more fingerprint resistant than the Zymöl is.

Though it took a lot of time, the Zaino took less force from me to use than the Zymöl, and so far, I'm quite happy with the results. I'm hoping this will last longer than both the full Zymöl and the Zymöl cleaner-wax.

Even clean and essentially waxless, this "Nordic Green" color got a lot of comments. I'm hoping it looks even better now, with all the work I put into it.

Oh! And I forgot to mention, Mazda has done some very, very nice things with this new MX-5. With the top down but the windows and wind blocker up, there's very little outside airflow in the cabin. This, combined with the powerful heater, means staying warm on cold top-down days is even easier. There are also three stages of vents into the cabin, with an added one between the normal floor and dash levels. This lets me have the wind blowing my hair while keeping my legs and lower body toasty warm without multiple layers of clothing. The top is easier to use, the fancy key is really convenient (unless someone messes with the cables, or so Dan tells me), the steering wheel stereo controls are great, the cruise control is a joy to use... This car is better than my '94 in so many ways. I'm so happy to have it.

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3 comments | Leave a comment
poisonkitty From: poisonkitty Date: March 5th, 2007 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on the new car. I like the finish. When I bought my wrx, the previous owner had done this kind of work on it to get the paint immaculate. Sadly, I haven't kept up the effort since taking ownership of it a year ago. I should take it for a spa day sometime this spring.

BTW, do they not ticket you for having a missing front license plate where you're at?
equiraptor From: equiraptor Date: March 5th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. :) It is a lot of work, but I'm starting with such a new, relatively undamaged paint job. I'm hoping this can keep it that way for years to come.

That seems to be one of those, "Treat the officer with respect and they won't be pedantic on you," things, around here. In the '94, I had no front plate and I was written a warning once, by an officer who pulled me over for not having a plate (on my way to a funeral - I was in a black dress with a black shawl.... GRRR!) on a south Texas back road. I was pulled over two or three times for speeding in the Miata and none of the Austin/Round Rock officers ever said a thing about the front plate to me.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 9th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow - I don't think the car was that clean the day I picked it up. It looks fabulous.

So glad you're enjoying it:)

3 comments | Leave a comment