It's all change at #topalwaysdown HQ. So much so at least that #topalwaysdown has a new secret lair. And in the meantime, there's also been some additions to the S2000.
We'll start with the wheels. It's no secret that I'm a little bit obsessive over wheels. It's also no secret that I've grown to love the early S2000 16"s. So I bought my third set over Christmas. I’d already bought a set last year that were in good condition, but when I found a set in Bristol that were recently painted and immaculate, I had to have them. The decision was made easier by the fact that the same seller was selling the JDM bumper that I’ve already fitted to the car.
I finally got my tyres swapped onto them a couple of weeks ago and they’re now fitted to the car and making a much bigger difference than I expected. Amazing what some glossy paint does! Now all that’s left to do is to sell set #2 to pay for some new rubber on the rear. I’ve done well to eke out a year (or about 13k miles) from the RE002s and enjoyed them on the car, so another pair will soon be on their way to me. The fronts meanwhile are barely worn in. Very impressed for such a soft tyre.
Next up, I have a new roof. It’s always been on the cards as when I bought the car it came with rips in vinyl to the rear of the side windows. Given that it was mainly folded down and that the plastic rear window was relatively new, I had put it off until now. My attempt to repair it was more to prevent it getting any worse, but it didn't look too great. Roofs can be anything up to £1000 including the fitting, so I followed the crowd that had been taking their S2000s down to a small trimmers in Swansea with pleasing results. Jack Smith’s Trimmers have earned a great reputation on many forums, initially catering mainly for MX-5s, though the recent influx of tired S2000 roofs has the booking schedule full well into June. This is clearly a sign of a good product, at very good value.
I had been told exactly what to expect when I reached ‘the rear of’ St Helen’s Avenue, but it still surprised me. I found a guy very much like Uncle Bryn from Gavin & Stacey sat in a small lock up shed on a sewing machine, surrounded by offcuts of cloth covering every inch of the floor. Nevertheless, he got on with the job, which involved removal of a surprising amount of interior plastics. It didn’t take him too long before the roof was nothing but a frame. I left him to carry on at this point and took a wander into Swansea city centre for some lunch before a walk along the beach in the sun.
Four hours after my arrival, the cracked vinyl and scratched plastic was gone and in its place was a beautifully well made cloth roof with a glass windscreen, ready for me to hand over just £260 and make my way back. I had been advised to leave the roof up while it stretched, but come on, I wasn’t going to listen to that, was I? And as such, I found my downfall when I attempted to raise the top, which resulted in a 20 minute struggle. I've given it a week now without using the car, so will see if it's stretched a bit tomorrow.
A small repair was all that stopped the problem worsening
Roof was soon stripped back to a frame and I left Uncle Bryn to it
Much blacker, much tidier, no rips!
It was never as tidy on the other side and the vinyl had faded very grey
Perhaps the nicest part of Swansea was the view out towards Somerset...
And the bonus of glass in the back, making the rear window actually usable!
Finally, if you're wondering why I've not used the car all week, that's because it's role has now changed. It's no longer a daily doing 20 miles each way on the commute and has become a weekend plaything. I’ve rented a very small house within walking distance from Taunton town centre, so while I complete the 3 mile round trip on foot or bike, the S2000 now sits at home, locked up behind two big wooden gates under a car port. Not only is it more secure, it also give me somewhere to work on and clean the car under cover and sheltered from the wind. The extra good news is that the 120k mileage isn’t likely to increase at such a huge rate any more, and also that fuel cost and tyre wear are now going to drop substantially. I’ll no longer be spending 75% of my time in the car crawling through rush hour traffic and will actually get the chance to use it purely for enjoyment. Here’s to a summer of #topalwaysdown driving, just for the sheer hell of it!
I didn't want a garden anyway, but this little gated driveway was a blessing
And it's perfect as somewhere to give the car a good clean up