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One of our newest members, Eric Altomare, recently purchased a slightly used '99. While many of us would never attempt a project such as this, Eric just happens to have a frame straightening machine at his house! I have no doubts that Eric will be able to restore this car to it's original condition.

Check back here regularly, as we'll be updating this page as work progresses. If you'd like to drop Eric a few words of encouragement he can be reached at [email protected].



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Here it is - a brand new black 1999 leather package with 196 miles on the clock and a small scratch on the hood! The previous owner misjudged the distance between the car and the semi stopped in front. It looks like Eric has his work cut out for him!


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Here is the first step towards restoration. This front clip was located in North Carolina so Eric rented a U-Haul trailer and went to pick it up. The clip was in excellent condition with only a few small scratches under the front chin spoiler.


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Sunday 4/22 was spent stripping the interior. This enabled us to see how far back the damage extended. Unfortunately, there were a few creases in the tranny tunnel. The heater box was slightly crushed, but the dash itself fared well. Most of the damaged sheet metal was removed from the front end, and some preliminary pulling was started in the evening. The results were encouraging!


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The last weekend in April saw the removal of the engine and suspension. This allowed a better view of the damage to the transmission tunnel, and better access for the measuring and pulling equipment.


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The majority of the pulling is done! If you can see in the pictures, the doors now line up perfectly. We've started to drill out the spot welds on the front frame and remove the bad parts. We will follow the same procedure on the now stripped front clip. The pieces from the front clip will then be welded onto the existing frame rails on the black car.


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Here is the donor front end all stripped down and ready to go on the car. All of the damaged sheet metal has been removed from the car all the way down to the floorpans. The donor nose has been prepped exactly the same way by drilling out the corresponding spot welds. When the nose is installed, the drilled out spot welds will be filled with new weld material anchoring the nose section in the same way as the factory did it.


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Here is the car ready to receive the prepped donor front end. All of the damaged sheet metal has been removed by drilling through the original spot welds and removing complete sections.


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The donor front end has been successfully welded to the car! All bare metal was coated with weldable primer before installing the front. Now the welds will be ground, seam sealer and rocker schultz applied, and then the undercarriage will be painted before re-installing the engine and suspension. At this point, all of the geometry is within 1mm of Mazda specifications.


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Here is the new front end installed. Factory seam sealer has been applied to all of the joints. All bare metal has been primed and the complete front end has been painted "Brilliant Black". Rocker schultz has been applied to all of the factory undercoated areas. The next step is to replace the suspension and the exterior body panels.


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The last weekend in July saw the interior being re-installed. The new fenders and hood were primed, color sanded, and installed ready for the final finish. The suspension was re-installed. The few broken pieces left on the engine are on order. Next week should see the car down on it's tires with the engine running. Next stop the paint booth!


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Here it is all primed and ready to spray. All of the small dents and waves have been taken out. The car has been completely wet sanded and taped ready for the final finish coats of Brilliant Black.


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Well, here is what we have all been waiting for! From these pictures, the finish looks incredible but would you believe it looks even better in person! Now all that is left is the paperwork - getting it titled and registered. That may turn out to be almost as much work as the restoration!




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