15 Nov Battle Damage
It’s common sense to admit that Fabel has undoubtedly suffered some battle damage from driving that low. But just how bad *is* it?
Frame Bangin’ Fabel, if you don’t know, is a Mazda Miata that’s been lowered such that its framerails are mere millimeters from most points on the ground. Miles, its owner, uses it frequently and stays true to his mantra of rolling hard, tickets and speed bumps be damned. Being a very low car (and we mean VERY low), it does have some trouble getting onto a service lift. With the help of two different floor jacks and two different people, though, we had him up in the air relatively easily. Relatively.
Once the car was up on the lift, we did a quick survey to see exactly how much damage he suffered. We, being the eternal pessimists through metric tons of past anecdotal evidence, expected a fair amount of carnage. Not gonna lie, if you know how low Fabel is yourself, you’re also thinking that this car is one step away from the crusher for riding that low. What we found, however, was relatively minimal in comparison to what any of us thought. Which is actually pretty great, seeing as how we engineered a few parts on his car to avoid catastrophe. Here’s a quick overview of both the front and back, before we dive into specific parts of the underbody.
We’ll start with the reinforced frame rails. The frame rails are still straight, which for all intents and purposes is probably the best thing one can hear after driving a car that scrapes on a soft breeze. The skid plates on the rails, however, have taken a bit of a beating. Thankfully, the majority of that damage is cosmetic, with the plates pushed in a little bit, covered with asphalt gashes. One small piece of the frame rail skid plate tore off the passenger side, but that’s really about it. Not bad.
If you recall from Fabel’s last time in FMU’s fabrication shop, we installed two skid plates — a very thick plate directly over the motor and transmission, and a thinner plate to cover both the thick plate and the surrounding suspension/steering components. Well, we’re still trying to figure out exactly where that thin skid plate went to (it sure didn’t arrive with the car), but in good news, the thick skid plate is doing its job perfectly. No dents, just scrapes, with barely any material removed from it.
However, if you take a look at the brackets holding the steering rack in place, things are starting to get a little weird. Ignore the rust — that’s a byproduct of age, upkeep and environment moreso than outright damage. We’re pretty sure that the bolts on those steering rack brackets used to be, you know, complete nuts and bolts. Now they look as if they were made from butter (whether or not you believe that’s what it is) and have been smeared considerably. It looks like the first point that the road would encounter the car would be at these nuts and bolts. Yeesh.
The exhaust, which is typically the lowest point on a vehicle’s underbody, is actually tucked rather high up in Fabel. We did this specifically to mitigate any sort of exhaust-related damage that would occur, as that tends to make your car twenty times louder when something goes belly-up, lending to even more pullovers and tickets. Not that Fabel doesn’t have enough of those already, but you get what we’re going at. Surprisingly, there were only three points of damage on the exhaust. First, the header wrap suffered a slight nick. Next, the resonator in the middle of the exhaust managed to catch its lower lip on a piece of pavement, scraping it clean off. Lastly, there’s one small dent on a lower-hanging part of the exhaust. Not even Gold Wheels escapes with this little damage.
There’s one final area that we found that suffered a great degree of damage, almost moreso than any other point on the car. There were two bolts holding together parts of the rear frame assembly. They must have been a little too low, seeing as how they’ve been scraped away to almost nothing. Seriously; one of them is ground so flat that we didn’t even realize it was a bolt to begin with. Removing them shouldn’t involve much more than drilling them out, but still, we’ve never seen bolt heads just eaten away like this. Yowza.
And that’s really about all the carnage we found. His front lip was all in one piece (somehow?) and most every other piece of the vehicle’s suspension (control arms et. al) managed to walk away with barely even a nick. It’s all very surreal in a sense. We know it sucks to roll hard, and when you’re driving what has to be the lowest static vehicle in the state, you know you have to expect to pay for that ride height. It just goes to show you that some things aren’t as bad as they seem at the outset. Enjoy the rest of your day, and we’ll be back tomorrow to cap off another week of FMU coverage!