Urban Camo Outlaw
Covered in a hand-applied coat of urban-camo paint and packing a vicious exhaust note, Richard Tickner’s unique MX-5 is a true assault on the senses. But it’s not to everyone’s taste… Words and pictures Dan Sherwood
With urban camo paint and packing a vicious exhaust note, Richard Tickner’s unique MX-5 is a true assault on the senses
Inits pure st sense ,‘ modification’ is a word that describes the act of making something different. Usually it’s to improve or make something better. But sometimes a modification can simply be to make something stand out or, in some extreme cases, rile the establishment. In the case of Surreybased MX-5 fan Richard Tickner and his camo-covered mk2, well, we’d say he’s ticking all those boxes.
‘I guess you could say that my addiction is turning heads!’ laughs 24year old Richard.‘i suppose I’m a bit of an attention-seeker really, but isn’t that the whole point of modifying a car?’
While plenty of people will agree with his underlying motivation, not everyone seems to have such an openminded and inclusive attitude when it comes to Richard’s ride…
‘Although the majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, whenever you do a car as different as this, you always get a few people who feel the need to hate on it,’ chuckles Richard. ‘But to be honest, that just spurs me on. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.’
Too true. Richard’s 5 may well be a little further out of the box than most, but that’s one of the things we love about the modifying scene, that people are constantly coming up with innovative ideas and are not afraid to give them a go.
Richard’s journey with his mental Mazda began when he acquired it back in May 2014. It was nothing like it appears today, with only a set of coilovers, an induction kit and set of Rota wheels to set it apart from any other red MX-5. So, obviously, something had to be done. After painting the engine bay white and
covering it with neon-coloured splats, Richard was eager to make more of a statement with the Mazda’s aesthetics, and after receiving a Japspeed carbonfibre wing for Christmas, he was inspired to take things to the next level.
‘After installing a set of uprated brakes, the first things to go were the wheels,’ Richard explains. ‘So many people have Rotas and, for me, that was enough of a reason to get hold of something different.’
He found what he was looking for in the form of 8 x 15-inch Revolution threepiece split rims from MX-5 specialist Moss Europe.‘as far as I knew, no one had put Revolutions on an MX-5 before as they are such a pain to fit,’ Richard says.‘the width, combined with the low offset and wrong PCD, means that you need to run a PCD adapter. But then they stick so proud of the bodywork that you need to widen the arches.’
With the rims bolted to the hubs, Richard sorted the wheel protrusion problem with some wide arch extensions. However, the fronts were still sitting proud of the bodywork.‘i needed an extra inch of width on the arches so I decided to flare them,’ he recalls.‘the front wings can be unbolted from the bottom and pulled outwards to make wider arches, but I went a step further and cut off the bottom of the wing and made a custom spacer to mount it to. It was really simple actually, not only solving the protrusion issue, but also adding some race car chic.’
And it’s this kind of hands-on attitude that Richard has in spades, preferring to shun the use of specialists and wield the spanners himself.‘i’ve saved so much money by doing things myself,’ he says. ‘In fact, everything from the urban camo
respray to the engine swap, was all done on the road outside my house.’
But unlike the wheels, arches and military-inspired exterior, the engine conversion didn’t come from a desire to be different: it was born out of necessity. ‘I was out for a drive when I heard a loud bang, so I pulled over to see what had happened but couldn’t find a fault,’ remembers the modifying nut.‘in the end I simply continued on my journey. However, seconds later the bottom end bearing disintegrated and the engine was toast.’
A leaking crank seal had slowly robbed the engine of its vital lubrication and sent the motor to the scrapyard. However, always resourceful, Richard sourced a low-mileage replacement lump for just £125.‘While I was waiting for the new engine to arrive, I decided to smooth the bay, paint it teal, and complete a partial wire tuck,’ he explains.
And so it was only right that his freshly painted bay play host to a similarly impressive-looking engine. So the new motor was treated to a lick of paint, a carbonfibre airbox, cam belt cover and pair of purple vernier cam pulleys, before Richard got busy with the spanners to install it.‘i’d never swapped an engine before, but I just learn as I’m going along,’ he laughs. ‘It’s all just nuts and bolts at the end of the day, anyway!’
With the new motor safely installed and running sweetly, complete with a new custom stainless steel exhaust system, Richard turned his attention to the car’s exterior.‘i really liked the urban camo look and thought it would suit the MX-5, so simply went at it with masking tape, newspaper and graffiti paint,’ Richard smiles. ‘It wasn’t hard, just timeconsuming. But I think the effect was well worth the effort.’
Along with the carbon front splitter, the attention-grabbing paint-job is a real head-turner. Ironically, however, one of the car’s most eye-catching and controversial modifications wasn’t done solely for attention, but as a neat solution to the car’s lack of storage space.‘i was going to a show and needed room to fit all my camping gear in the car,’ he laughs.‘the roof-box just seemed like the best idea!’
With the exterior now suitably sickening to any hardcore MX-5 purist, it was time to move on to the interior, where Richard has stripped out the factory carpet and painted the exposed metal in a the same shocking shade of teal as under the bonnet, before
lavishing the controls with carbon replacement parts.‘i love carbonfibre!’ Richard enthuses.‘i got the D1 Spec handbrake handle and gearknob and made a custom panel out of the black weave for the stereo delete and to hold a section of switches and gauges.’
But it’s the steering wheel that is the crowning glory in Richard’s car, as it’s a full carbonfibre item from Reverie. Fitted via a snap-off boss, the lightweight helm is a lovely piece of kit and one that even the most staunchly traditional of MX-5 owners would find hard not to appreciate – the Corona beer bottle adornments to the heater vents and indicator and wipers stalks, perhaps less so…
‘Like I said, I just like to be different, and when I offered them up one day, the bottle caps just fitted perfectly.’ Now we’re not condoning drink-driving, but hey, even Vin Diesel likes a Corona. And they certainly are a unique touch. But that’s exactly what Richard’s MX-5 is all about. He’s purposely chosen the route less travelled, even if it gets mixed reviews along the way.
Below: Revolution alloys a swine to fit, but worth it. Above: check out the front wing treatment
Above: engine bay is a riot of colour Below: Reverie steering wheel is completely carbonfibre
Left: coloured headlight lenses Below: beer bottle tops a novel piece of interior design
Above: spoiler was a Christmas present, so had to be used!