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

Total MX-5 - - CONTENTS -

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

Richard Tick­ner

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!

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