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Old 06-05-2014, 04:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
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Taking stock: condition of the permanent aeromods on the Metro/Firefly, years later

I've been giving the old Flea a good clean-up and general going-over, which involves removing some of its "permanent" aero modifications.

I'll be honest: most of them have not stood the test of time.

Photos tell the sad story. I'll start with the good...

1) My home-made grille-block/bra

Originally made in 2007.

See a pic of it new:

It's made out of vinyl material. Aside from being dirty and a little faded (and with duct tape residue for added effect), this has actually held up decently.

2) Smooth wheel covers

Originally made: 2007

See what they looked like new - project thread:

These were made by glueing (is that a word? Looks funny) plastic shapes over the holes in the factory wheelcovers. They worked for a couple of years before the plastic shapes started curving up at the edges ... and some fell off and drifted away like autumn leaves. Each wheelcover has lost at least one shape.

This week I yanked them all off and cleaned off the adhesive. I'm probably going to go the pizza pan route, screwing them on to another set of wheelcovers I have. I'll re-paint the original wheelcovers to preserve the car's collector value.

3) Sealing around the headlight assemblies

Originally made: 2008

See what they looked like new - project thread:

Utter failure on this one. See the little bit of weatherstripping under the right side of the turn signal? That's all that's left of it.

I never took my own advice in my build thread and ran a bead of black silicone over top to seal my weatherstripping from the weather. The problem? The adhesive completely let go after a while and the weatherstripping got pushed through the gap (hot sun on black paint probably turned the glue to slippery goo).

4) Rear wheel/fender skirts ...

Originally made: 2007

See what they looked like new - project thread:

These have actually held up quite well. Originally they got "flappy" in hot weather due to the plastic being too thin, so I reinforced them with a backing of coroplast attached with contact cement.

But then something else happened in the last two years: they seem to have expanded a little between the attachment brackets/screws, and have bulged out. I don't know why. It's fixable though.

Originally I tried velcro as an attachment method, but it was too hard to remove the skirts. So I made custom attachment brackets:

These "pinch" the 90 degree bend in the wheel arch lip, because I didn't want to drill the metal and give rust a toe-hold. I just removed them for the first time since '07, and they have held up reasonably well, with some corrosion because I used 3 dissimilar metals: copper, stainless & steel! The good news is there was ZERO rust on the wheel arch where I had them attached.

The screws holding the skirts to the brackets rusted too, but they were just painted steel. I should find some stainless ones that fit when I put these back on.

Overall, reasonably happy with the durability of the wheel skirts.

5) Fiberglass Kammback ...

Originally built: 2008

Project thread (best photos around post#95, #127, #163):

This is probably my biggest disappointment because of how much freakin' work I put into making this look as professional as possible when it was new:

Now it's failing structurally (sagging on the trailing edge) and cosmetically (finish is peeling and the whole thing has generally gone lumpy).

But I'm a big boy and in retrospect can accept that I used dumb construction techniques: not enough glass to make it strong; trying to encapsulate the cardboard form originally (since stripped out) was silly.

Cosmetically, I obviously did a poor job prepping the various layers of filler/paint, which is why they've started peeling.

Yes, it's fixable, but it'll never be as pretty as it once was. I'm more tempted to get a used hatchback and make something I can rivet/weld right onto the structure that can also act as a strong attachment point for a removable boat tail.


Main lesson learned: the mod that held up best was the grille block. I guess I should have made everything with a sewing machine and vinyl material.

At this point ALL my aero mods (except the passenger mirror delete) are off the car. I'm giving it a good cleaning and will be repairing/touching them up before they go back on.

This is humbling - it has given me an appreciation for the design & durability of the OEM bits and pieces on our vehicles that last its lifetime.

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