Vinyl Wrap With a Split Personality

Stickers are worth 5hp right?…So it was only logical to wrap the whole car in a GIANT sticker!  Anyways, on a real note we knew that the @Halfmilespeed3 couldn’t just be fast, it had to look good and what Car Guy or Gal doesn’t want their car to look good?

We have a plan at CorkSport to wrap all of our R&D Shop Cars with an awesome blue that aligns with our “CorkSport Blue”, but we want each car to have a little unique character to it.  Thinking about the halfmilespeed3 build and goal we had the brilliant idea of a split wrap…seems fitting right? Half and Half…

So what did the car look like before the wrap?

2007-2009 Mazdaspeed 3
2007-2009 Mazdaspeed 3

Metro Grey Mica is the color name and its pretty bland in my opinion.   I added the white roof and hood accents along with white wheels to help brighten up the car, which it did, but it was time for change.  Oh yeah; white wheels and track spec brake pads don’t mix, just an FYI. 

So what is like to get your car wrapped?  What’s the process?  I can’t personally give you details as I did not do the wrap myself, but I was close to the action and watched it all come together.  Respect to those that take this on themselves and to the professionals out there.  It is a tedious process that requires attention to detail to get a great final result.  

Mazdaspeed Vinyl Wrap

A local friend is a professional and was open to doing the work in the CS shop since the Speed was not in a running and driving state at the time.  

Mazdaspeed Vinyl Wrap

Saul S. (@saulywood) did the work over a few weeks’ time in evenings and weekends.  He kicked a** on a project that turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected.  

Installing a wrap is a process of pulling, stretching, heating, cutting…lots of different skills and abilities to get the job done.  All this has to happen without damaging the vehicle you are wrapping.  It’s quite a feat.  

Mazdaspeed Vinyl Wrap

Going through the process the build kind of evolved if you will.  Luckily Saul was very open-minded to it and even a bit eager to try some new things. 

Probably my favorite aspect of the wrap is the unique and new wrap from 3M.  Called “Shadow Black” this wrap has a slight texture to it that depicts patterns sort of like camouflage.  

Mazdaspeed Vinyl Wrap

We used this on the roof and in a narrow strip over the seam between Satin Black and Blue Gloss; it really added a unique aspect to the look and style and brought the two colors together.  Pictures just do not give it justice nor can you feel the texture.  

Halfmilespeed3 build
Halfmilespeed3 build

So let’s wrap this up (see what I did there?) with some finished images.  

Halfmilespeed3 build
Halfmilespeed3 build
Halfmilespeed3 build

I have to admit I’ve fallen in love with my car again.  The exterior of my car was pretty beat up and neglected with rock chips, scuffs, and just generally not well taken care of paint.  With the new wrap there is a whole new rush of pride and enthusiasm to keep it looking amazing. 

Lastly, and this is bit cheesy, I requested Saul to match my helmet to the car…

Halfmilespeed3 build

Why not right?  It’s not just another black helmet and I love it.  

With that I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into wrapping a Mazdaspeed.  Stay connected as we share more and more about the @halfmilespeed3 build…engine, seats, roll-cage, and power!  At some point this season an event will open and we can actually race!

-Barett @ CS

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Painting, a Necessary Evil

Safety first right?  As much as I want to survive an unfortunate incident while racing my 650+whp Mazdaspeed3…I have a bone to pick with safety.  Sometimes it’s a real pain in the A**.  

Let me explain…and hopefully help you learn from my experience. 

Mazdaspeed3 Drag Racing

Today we are talking about how to paint a roll cage, specifically one that has been custom built to fit tightly inside the cab of a GEN1 Mazdaspeed 3.  How does this relate to safety?  Well…a cage is made from raw steel in “mild” or “chromoly” materials.  Both of these metals will corrode/rust over time. Not only will this result in a very ugly cage inside your car, but it could eventually affect the structural integrity of the roll cage, and that would defeat the whole purpose of it.  

With that I decided to paint the roll cage in my Mazdaspeed 3.  I daily drive and race the car AND I live in the PNW which has lots of rain and moisture.  In fact, in the couple weeks that I did drive the car with the raw cage, I was already getting surface rust build up…gross. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

To add to the difficulty, the cage in my Mazdaspeed was custom built from scratch vs a kit so it was very tight fitting and I have extra “X-bracing” added for increased roll over protection.  This just added to the amount of surface area to paint and the number of locations with bars very close to each other.   

The roll cage/hoop in my #halfmilespeed3 is technically a 8-point cage with an added X-brace in the main hoop and between the rear strut braces.  The X-bracing is what helps with high speed roll over protection, but with a weight penalty.  Go look at any modern rally car and you’ll see X-bracing plus lots more. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Ok, time to get our hands dirty.  Here are the major items you will need to paint your cage:

  1. Paint – I used a rust-oleum paint & Primer Combo.  Make sure it works with a metal surface.  2-3 cans will be needed to complete the job and I’d suggest a high gloss enamel finish.  It will be much easier to clean.
  2. Safety Equipment – Goggles, Face Mask (a real one with a rating for fine dust), Bunny Suit (because you will get paint ALL over you), Gloves
  3. Scotch Brite Pads – You will need this so you can remove any rust build up (assuming it is minor, if you have a heavily rusting and rough cage then you will need to get far more aggressive)
  4. Cleaner and Rags – Gotta clean the cage after the scotch brite process
  5. Plastic Wrap – This is like industrial size cling wrap.  Easily found at Home Depot or other hardware shops in the painting isle.
     
  6. Blue Tape – A few rolls of the 1.5” will do. 

Step 1: Remove everything you can from the interior (which may not actually be much if you have a cage.  Take your seats out, carpet (what’s left), center console, …etc

When I had the cage installed I decided I wanted to keep the front two seats as factory as possible.  With that I have kept my carpet, center console, dash, door cards, roof upholstery…other than the door bars from the cage, you would have no idea the car has a cage when sitting in the front seats. 

Step 2: Scotch Brite Time!  Grab a pad and start giving your cage a nice rub down. You need to go over all surfaces of the cage if you want good adhesion of the paint to the metal surface.  Once done, do a quick check and I bet you find some missed spots.  Get those also…

Step 3: Clean up time! Grab some clean rags and a cleaner that does not leave any residue.  Clean all the cage surfaces to remove any dust and/or oil.  This is equally as important for good paint adhesion.   

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 4: Time to seal up the car.  My number one advice here is avoid wind if possible.  This plastic sheet loves to blow away in the wind…it can be very frustrating.  If you have a friend that can help, that would be a great idea. 

You basically want to cover all exposed surfaces inside the car and a lot of the outside of the car.  While you are spray painting, you will be creating a lot of overspray mist floating in the air.  This will settle on all surfaces inside and out.  

I completely wrapped my doors and door edges, inside and outside of the car a bit. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

I completely covered my dash and shifter assembly. 

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

For the roof upholstery I did not use the plastic wrap, I actually used a piece of cardboard to act like a shield.  I held the cardboard with one hand, shielding the roof while I sprayed the upper sections of the cage.  It was effective and much easier than plastic wrap for that area.  

Step 5: Time to actually paint.  First you need to get into your bunny suit, get your gloves on, your face mask and goggles.  Be proud of how ridiculous you look!

Before you start spraying, make sure you are in a well ventilated area and do not have any other cars or items in close proximity; they will get paint on them. 

Actually Painting: I would advise starting with the hard to reach arrears first.  You are essentially painting inside a jungle gym so get to the hard to reach areas first so you don’t have to worry about touching wet paint later.  I started in the center and top of the cage because I had to be in the car to do so.  Then was able to get to the more outer parts of the cage while outside of the cage.  

Applying the paint is a bit of an art.  You want to apply smooth and consistent layers.  Your hand is always moving side to side as you spray.  Don’t point and shoot or you will get runs in the paint. 

Do a first coat that mostly covers all the surface area, then let it tach up for about an hour or reference the instructions on the can.  Then apply another coat of paint.  Trust me you will find thin or missed spots.  

Mazdaspeed Roll Cage Prep

Step 6: Get out of the bunny suit.  Hahaha ya this can be a process

Anyways, I pushed my car back into the garage and let the paint cure overnight before removing the plastic wrap.  I didn’t want to risk the plastic wrap touching/sticking to the fresh paint.  You may not have that luxury and if you don’t I would at least give the paint a couple hours to cure before removing the plastic. 

Other takeaways – this was an ALL DAY PROJECT.  I thought I could get it done in half a day, but with the concerns about keeping the still installed interior looking good, I was extra cautious with the plastic wrap which added time.  I also did not want to do this again later so I was extra detailed with the painting process.  Checking for missed spots and thin areas after each coat.  

However, the result was well worth the work and I have no regrets about painting the cage.  I can now drive my car without worry of the cage getting ugly or losing strength due to corrosion.  I highly recommend that you take the day or so to make this happen in your car.  

CorkSport Shift S3ctor

I hope you enjoyed this blog and thank you for following along with the @halfmilespeed3. Stay connected (instagram, blog & “Built With Barett” video series) as we share more and more about the @halfmilespeed3 build…engine, seats, roll-cage, and power!  Rolling into the Shift Sector 2021 season we will have more great content to share!

-Barett @ CS

Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2021 Mazda 6

After learning a lot from our re-release of the CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 Coilovers, we decided to use our new design style and apply it to the GEN3 Mazdas. We are proud to introduce the CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Before and After

We hit a great balance between a street and track setup so you can have plenty of fun whether your corner of choice is on a backroad or an autocross course and still be comfortable on the daily commute.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2013-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6 Coilover Suspension

Along the same line as our MS3 kit, we diverged from the normal spring rates chosen for 3rd GEN coilover setups. We really wanted to strike a good middle point between a basic street coilover and a full race setup. 

With that in mind, spring rate selection was critical to ensure a stiff enough setup for good track handling but soft enough for regular roads.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Shop All 2014-2018 Mazda 3 Parts

The final rates we ended up at were 7K linear front springs and 8K linear rear springs. We prefer linear springs so that the car will react the same no matter the corner or bumpiness of the road. This provides a ride that is stiffer than stock but is not harsh or uncomfortable. This is coupled with more neutral handling (less understeer) and a suspension natural frequency that is slightly higher in the rear than the front for added driver feedback and comfort.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Racing Inspired

To further add to the handling benefits, the CS coilovers have 15-way adjustable rebound damping in both the front and the rear. This allows you to tune your ride to exactly how you like it, whether you’re going for comfort or handling. It’s even easy to use one set up at the track and then soften things up for the ride home! The front also comes with adjustable camber plates for fine-tuning camber for handling or fitment.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Long Lasting Quality

Obviously, there’s one big component that we haven’t talked about yet: ride height! The CorkSport Coilovers offer approximately 2 inches of ride height adjustment, with the highest option being roughly 0.5” lower than the OEM suspension. This is enough adjustment to go from an “OEM+” setup to a low setup that will turn heads and everything in between. This isn’t just about looks though as a lowered ride height offers a lower center of gravity, reduced body roll, and improves driver confidence.

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Optimized Spring Rates

One final unconventional touch is the inverted monotube design of the front coilovers. Instead of a more conventional and cost-effective design, this uses a 180° rotated damper design. This improves the rigidity and reliability of the strut while also removing a little bit of unsprung weight. You get great driver feedback from this style of design, which is why we specifically chose it!

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Adjustability for Street and Track

The CorkSport Coilover kit is a great upgrade for whatever corner you want to throw at your GEN3. Be sure to check out the product listing for more details and images. 

CorkSport Performance Coilovers for 2014-2018 Mazda 3 and 2014-2017 & 2018+ Mazda 6
Shop All 2014-2018 Mazda 3 Parts

Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you may have as well, we’re happy to help!

Mazdaslow to Mazdaspeed

Let me take you to an extraordinarily dull time in my life, the last time I started my car when it was still stock.

September 14th, 2018 was a beautiful September day in Washington. I started my car at 6:45 am, just like every other weekday. The car burbled to life, but it was relatively quiet, flat, and a bit uninteresting. No one knew I was leaving for work – I wasn’t shaking any windows, but that was going to change.

CorkSport mod budget. Employee incentive.
At CorkSport

Once I arrived at work and spread some Friday cheer, I settled in. Almost immediately, I could feel the pile of parts in the corner behind my desk, glaring at the back of my head. I thought to myself, “Don’t turn around – focus damn it!” The day had finally come – install day. Thankfully with our awesome half-day Fridays, I was out of the office and on my way to Brett’s house before 12:30 pm. 

After we loaded up Brett’s Rodeo with a load of parts, we set sail to our destination, a place where many tears have been shed, knuckles have been busted, and where dreams have come true; Brett’s garage. Every tool you’ve ever needed and gadgets you didn’t know existed. There were even a few specialty items present, that if he didn’t have quite frankly, this couldn’t have happened.

CorkSport employee mazdas.
Shop all Mazdaspeed 3 Parts

We started with thorough degreasing of the engine bay and setting up the essential supplies- because what is an install day without beer and snacks! Once the car has cooled down, I started with taking out the battery box, intake, and intercooler; and then the fun really started. I’ve read the horror stories, I’ve watched the videos, and I thought I spent enough time mentally preparing myself for what was about to come – I was wrong.

The Downpipe

We all know about the Mazdaspeed downpipe on our cars. The devil engineered the placement of this thing, and he had his minions tighten the bolts. There isn’t enough PB blaster in the world to help the corrosion and excessive heat that these bolts withstand. We got the first one out with little to no issue, but it just got progressively harder from there. It was only a matter of time before rounding off the edges of that last bolt. Thankfully Brett has an extractor tool that we hammered on there, and with the small act of god, it was successfully extracted.

My experience with removing the downpipe from the exhaust, as is everyone’s experience, was different. Mine was influenced by the previous owner adding a 2.5″ resonated exhaust on it from the second cat back. The downpipe didn’t want to come out until I wiggled a pry bar in between the flange and put Brett’s Caliper spreader in there (again tools I didn’t even know I needed) and applied sheer grunt force. I got the flange to bend, and after learning a few new choice words, we got it out. By this time, it was 11:30 pm, and we still had a few other things to unbolt before the exhaust came out. Instead of using power tools and waking every neighbor up in a two-block radius, we called it a night.

The Morning After

After some much-needed coffee, we made it back from the hardware store (replaced the downpipe nut from hell) it’s time to party. We started with sliding in my new downpipe with the High flow Cat what a breeze compared to taking it out. Next came my intake, I went with the 3.5″ so I don’t have to buy another one when I finally go with our CorkSport CST4 turbo. Still might go with the new CST5. Then I put in my ECU Relocation Box, and I have to say, what a clean looking piece to have in your engine bay! 

CorkSport TMIC
Mazdaspeed 3 TMIC Top Mount Intercooler

We changed out the OEM spark plugs for some NGK 6510 gapped to .026 and started to put on my new TMIC that is rated up to 450WHP after we got the TMIC it was time to put on my shiny new boost tubes Engine bay= Complete.

Now time to get underneath and put on my highly anticipated Non-Resonated Cat-Back exhaust and my Stage II RMM. Goodbye, torque steer! Once we had the exhaust mostly in place, I realized if I didn’t have the CS exhaust hangers I would have been in trouble. The person before me had his exhaust welded quite poorly in place of the hangers, and I didn’t have an option to use my OEM ones. 

Moment of Truth

After everything was double-checked and rechecked, it was time for the moment of truth. I hooked up my battery, I flashed my new tune from Erik Bjork at Drama Tune, and now it was Go Time! I will say hearing my car make those sweet sounds was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I purchased my car, and it was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had.

We let the car run for a few minutes and checked to make sure I didn’t have any leaks, and then we headed out for a test drive.

In the immortal words of George Takei “Oh My!”

That was my thought, EVEN on just a base map. My car felt and sounded 1000% different than before. The intake was amplifying fun new mechanical noises – like I was hearing my turbo and BOV dance for the first time. The crackle from the exhaust on a hard 2nd to 3rd upshift was intoxicating, all the while my RMM putting in work to make sure I don’t torque steer into someone’s front lawn. What an experience! I would even call this life-changing for me. The funny part of the story is that I wasn’t planning on buying all these items at once – true intentions of a foolish car enthusiast. Thankfully for me, I have a fantastic career within CorkSport and have a great friend that helped me make my dreams come true. Who wants a stock car when you work for the number one place in the world for Mazda Performance, not this guy.

Zach from CorkSport
Zach from CorkSport

Keep an eye out for my turbo blog, because it’s only a matter of time until the mod bug bites me again.

4th Gen Mazda 3 Sport Springs

The 2019+ 4th generation Mazda 3 is a car that certainly divided opinions when it came out. From its divisive looks to the new torsion beam suspension, even we weren’t quite sure what to make of it at first. However, we have since fallen in love with our shop 4th GEN, a big part of it is what we are releasing today: the CorkSport Performance Lowering Springs for 2019+ Mazda 3 (Sedan & Hatchback for both AWD & FWD). Give your new 3 an aggressive look that is sure to turn heads while improving the handling for those twisty backroads!

2019-2021 Mazda 3 lowering springs
Gen 4 Lowering Springs

Let’s start off with the elephant in the room: ride height. When we developed these springs, it was somewhat difficult as we had to account for different body styles, transmission options, and now even driveline options. With all things taken into account, we found the right range of ride height that looks great on the lightest, heaviest, and all options in between.

The perfect balance of lowering for the 2020 Mazda 3
Why Lowering Springs?

On the lightest GEN4: hatchback, front-wheel drive, manual trans, the CS lowering springs offer 1.5” front and 1.8” rear ride height drop. On the heaviest GEN4: sedan, all-wheel drive, auto trans, the CS lowering springs offer 1.6” front and 2.2” rear ride height drop. Depending on your vehicle’s options, you will end up at or between these extremes. Don’t worry though, your ride ends up sitting level no matter what combination of options you have. The images below show the lightest (upper) and heaviest (lower) Mazda 3.

AWD Mazda 3 low down springs
CorkSport

We also focused heavily on improving the handling with the CS GEN4 lowering springs. A lower ride height means a lower center of gravity which when combined with a stiffer spring rate, means less body roll. This improves handling feel and driver confidence when attacking a backroad. We even increased the rear spring rate more than the front to reduce understeer and help with turn-in.

2019-2021 Mazda 3 lowering springs
All Lowering Springs

The CorkSport 2019+ MZ3 springs went through a few different iterations of spring rate and ride height before we found the best balance of ride quality, handling, and appearance. The final spring rates are 3.4K front and 5.9K rear. Compared to the OEM rates of 2.23K front, 4.20K rear, we made a decent jump in rate; however, the new springs are well within the OEM damping rates. The ride is obviously stiffer than OEM yet is not bouncy and you can still comfortably daily drive on the springs.

The perfect lowered stance for your 4th Gen Mazda3
CorkSport

During development, we even tested for the natural frequency changes in the suspension from installing lowering springs. Essentially, the natural frequency is a good way to compare how “stiff” one car feels compared to another, even if their suspensions are different (for more background info on natural frequency, check out this blog). We went from an OEM of ~1.6Hz front and rear to 1.75Hz front and 1.8Hz rear on the CS lowering springs. This increase is enough to feel “sporty” but not enough that it will ruin your drive to work.

FWD or AWD the springs work on all 2020 MZ3
Gen 4 Springs

As with all CS lowering springs, they are a direct fit install that can completely change your car in only a few hours. The only permanent modifications are trimming the OEM bump stops to account for the lower ride height. To ensure they will last as long as your car, each spring is made out of high tensile strength spring steel, which is then powder coated blue for corrosion resistance and a great look. The rear springs even include spring silencers to prevent any added noise from the lowering springs.

The CorkSport GEN4 Mazda 3 Lowering Springs have really changed our opinion on the new body style. With the right set of wheels, our CS shop car turns heads all day long and would fit right in at any car show. If you’re ready to upgrade your 3’s handling and give it an aggressive look, we are happy to help! Give us a call if you have any questions, and be sure to check out the product video on the web listing!