Time to Strip

Sound exciting? Well it is! In addition to the fact that stripping the car of unessential parts is a fun project, it also costs you very, very little. Before you have the roll cage installed, or take specific interior measurements, you will need to take some of the interior out. Prior to going nuts (in many ways) taking every last possible ounce out of the car, talk to others who drive the same make and model if possible and ask how difficult it is to get the car to the minimum allowed weight. While some cars are easy to get to the minimum weight. You might blow right past the minimum weight and become too light. In the case of my car, it was very easy to get to the car’s minimum weight. I took out many of the basic items from the car and then had the car weighed. Much to my surprise, it was underweight. You might be wondering, “why not just add weight back in if necessary?” With my Prelude, the weight distribution is much heavier in the front of the car. Looking back now, there were some things I would have kept in the rear of the car to benefit its front-to-rear weight ratio if I had realized that the car could so easily achieve the minimum weight. Maybe it would have made sense not to have taken any of the sound deadening out of the rear of the car, or at least to have kept the rear seat in case I had decided to re-install it. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much time taking out other fairly minor items, particularly ones located in the rear of the car. While these small items may not weigh much by themselves, they add up when looking at their total combined weight.

One mistake I made during the process was taking out the door panels very early in the build process, when I was using it for HPDEs and did not yet have a club rulebook. I later found out that it was the club’s racing requirement to keep them installed unless using NASCAR style door bars, which I did not have. (A picture of a NASCAR style door bar is shown later in this section.) Of course, I had already thrown out the door panels. Ooops! It was then necessary for me to fabricate door panels that met the rules. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what is legal to take out, and what is not, if you value your time and money. Depending upon the club, removing some minor things such as the windshield washer fluid reservoir may be illegal.

Once you have determined approximately how much weight you want to take out of the car, it is time to get started. If you are unable to determine how difficult it is to achieve the minimum allowed weight, you can always add weight back in. My suggestion, in this case, is that you focus primarily on taking as much weight out of the front of the car as possible, as most cars tend to be front heavy. To give you plenty of room to work, take both front seats out and then begin having fun. Just out of curiosity, I put all items that I had taken out into an empty trash barrel, and at the end of the process I weighed them. I never would have guessed how much the sunroof, air conditioner compressor, and other parts weigh. Wow, it all really adds up! Oh, and be careful when taking the sunroof out if you have one. When I attempted to take it out of my car by myself, I learned how tricky it can be to take the last two bolts out while holding the sunroof up. Boink! It was a painfully interesting experience.

Before you do or buy anything, check the rulebook to ensure that it meets the club rules.

I strongly suggest that you take the major items out of the car before bringing it to the person who will be installing your roll cage. Contact the person who will be doing the work to discuss what work that you will need to complete prior to bringing the car to them. As a minimum, you need to take out the roof’s insulation, sunroof (if so equipped), carpet, and rear seat. The topic of how to seal the hole that was created by removing the sunroof is discussed below. If you don’t strip the car, either you will be paying the person for this work that is very simple to complete, or they will be building the cage around these items. Needless to say, if they build the cage around these items, it won’t fit nearly as nicely as it would if installed when these items are removed.

dryiceWhen you are ready to begin taking the sound deadening out of the car, buy a basic chisel. If you are lucky and it is cold outside (the colder the better), this process will be much easier. When the sound deadening material is cold, it will break apart much easier than if it is warm. If you live down south or are doing this in the dead of summer, it will take a little bit more creativity. Many people who have done this in warm temperatures have purchased some dry ice, laid it on top of the sound deadening material for a bit, then carefully took it off the area they were going to begin working on. Be very, very careful when working with dry ice and wear thick gloves. All you need to do is bang away with the chisel and hammer.