Alex Kersten profile picture Alex Kersten 6 years ago 80
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This Is What A Rust Repair Job Looks Like On A Condemned Mazda MX-5

It's day two of a massive four-day job to get the rust repaired on Project MX-5. This is what's been going on...

Remind me later
My view of Phil currently. Panels are being fabricated and welded in place
My view of Phil currently. Panels are being fabricated and welded in place

About five months ago, I bought a Mk1 Mazda MX-5 for £1150. A few weeks later, I made some calls and spoke to a bloke called Rob Atwood of MX-5 parts specialist Moss Europe. After showing him the awesome CT community, he agreed to help get Phil (the car’s name) looking, sounding and performing better than ever. We’d be tracking the car’s progress on a new YouTube series called Project MX-5.

So far, we’ve fitted a Cobalt exhaust system and Jackson Racing exhaust manifold, plus a JR cold air intake and TSIs. Phil’s also rolling on a controversial set of Rota BM8 rims (people love to hate on them, but I simply love the look) and Uniroyal Rainsport 3 tyres, which are grippy as hell in all weather situations. And no, they’re not fitted incorrectly. They’re non-directional tyres.

Soon enough, I’ll be dropping the suspension (I can take a hint, guys), getting a roll-over bar fitted, and adding a few more bits for handling and strength. I don’t want to go too mad with Phil, though…I just want to make it the best road car it can be; fun, fast, safe, comfortable and amazing to look at.

Underneath the MX-5...that's what I like to call natural weight reduction
Underneath the MX-5...that's what I like to call natural weight reduction

There’s been one thing that’s needed attention for a while, and that is rust. Rust kills many MX-5s, and had I not bonded with mine so much, the same fate would have befallen Phil.

Since yesterday (Thursday), I’ve been in Winchester with Skuzzle Motorsport to address the dreaded issue of rot. Owner Nick seemed to think that the job could be done fairly quickly and efficiently (Moss provided me with two new sills and rear quarter panels), but on closer inspection, the car was in seriously bad shape. “If you were anyone else, I’d have told you to get lost and scrap the car” was what Nick said after hours with an angle grinder revealed the full extent of the problem.

Skuzzle employee Marc grinds out original panels to reveal the massive rust issues
Skuzzle employee Marc grinds out original panels to reveal the massive rust issues

But fair play to the bloke, and his employee Marc. They’ve both put in the hours stripping Phil of all the rust, and now the fun begins: fabricating new panels, welding and swearing. Lots of swearing.

Skuzzle owner Nick fabricates new panels on the floor of the workshop
Skuzzle owner Nick fabricates new panels on the floor of the workshop

At this point, the right-hand side of Project MX-5 is being rebuilt, after which the sills and rear panel will be expertly welded into place. Phil looks ready for the scrap yard now, but in a couple of days, he’ll be completely rust free!

Then he gets to work with the TIG welder, something he does very, very well!
Then he gets to work with the TIG welder, something he does very, very well!

Of course, Ethan and I have been tracking every part of the rust repair with the video camera, which will be edited up into a sort of ‘How To’ guide…not that you should attempt to fix a car this bad, apparently. Phil just got lucky having a community like you behind him every step of the way!

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For more updates on progress, check out my Instagram page.