One thing that bothers me thus far is that I cannot identify the model or the packages of the car. According to the official paperwork, the car was made in 1998 or Heisei 10th year. For that year of production, the Alto Works Limited was only offered in Superior White. But this car has all the signs of the Limited model: 14” wheels, steering wheel, seats, and upper rear spoiler. Listed on the VIN plate is code 0DG, the body color of this car is definitely Saturn Black Metallic from the factory. Yet, all the catalogs I could find all suggest that there was no black produced. Anyone out there have an idea?
I also can’t figure out why the front grill and intercooler intake are silver, while the logo is in red. No amount of internet scouring could explain it, since I don’t see it appear on any other cars in exactly this manner. It looks pretty professionally painted. Was it a factory option? Either way, I don’t like the contrasting color, so this has to be alleviated. Off it goes for a respray...
This bumper is mounted with more points than I expected from a kei car. Wagon Rs literally have 3 screws and 5 plastic clips and it can come off. This one has 9 screws and a handful of clips… not to say this is very difficult, either.
I’m looking to also install a tow hook or strap. Unfortunately, kei cars don’t typically have the front crash beam tapped for a threaded hook. I’ll have to come up with some option to hard mount a hook somewhere.
What can we gleam from looking at the front of the naked front? The A/C radiator is absolutely gigantic compared to the actual engine radiator, which is on the left side of the car. (Right side when looking at it directly from the front.) The bottom of the radiator is designed with a ramp to divert a bit more air to it. There is some open area to the left in this photo below the A/C, perhaps that will be a good place for an oil cooler in the future. The front wheel well guards are molded into a part of the frame, so holes will have to be made into this surface for brake air ducts.
Now that we have it off, our first modifications can begin. I saw a few interesting modified Alto bumpers on the internet and I wanted to do the same. Essentially, the objective is to increase airflow to the radiator of the car, which is on the left side of the car. (Right side when looking at it directly from the front.) The front bumper is already pretty busy and opened up for airflow. The turn signal and fog lights also take up a good portion of it as well. The only openings are in the black plastic in between the two grills.
Follow the old adage of “measure twice and cut once.” I made some templates and carefully attached it to the bumper with double-sided tape. Instead of using heavier cutting tools, I opted for a delicate dremel to cut cleaner lines. The ABS material (with very few fibers for reinforcement) is relatively soft, so it is cut fairly easily and smoothly.
It took a bit of time to do properly. I passed the cutting wheel gently over each line several passes, being careful with the corners. The proper way to use a dremel is to cut lightly, as the motor is more about speed than torque. Applying significant force might get things done, but it will burn the brushes out quickly.
To finish up the cutting, a good old box cutter is strong enough to cut through the material. In reality, I didn’t need to put so much effort into doing this properly, as this car is far from being a show queen. But if you’re gonna do it, do it right.
I think it came out really well. It is subtle enough to not be distracting, but it is a cool addition for those taking notice of such little things. It is also extremely functional, but how much additional cooling it adds is questionable. But it certainly won’t hurt.
Time to paint and find some mesh!