Mazda Motor : From frog to prince

Once upon a time there was what used to be called a "Kei" car or a peoples car Japanese version. It sat forlorn with no engine, it's once simple but cheerful looks defaced by a series of owners who in attempt to replace broken windshields made-do with backyard remedies. What used to be a car ended up looking like a boxcar jeepney. Even the taillights that were long gone had been fixed by simply tying surplus taillights with GI wire.It was black and blue both in color and dents and rust it gathered in time. It was to the untrained eye ugly and even my beloved wife and daughter had no good words for it. They called it Le Frog and would go around it saying "Ribbet, Ribbet" mimicking the sound of frogs. That was their great blunder. Never mock the Grand Oompa-loompa's vision because that is like laying down a challenge.First lesson: If you believe in something put your money where your mouth is. I got so annoyed by their ribbing and "ribbeting" that I went and paid P7,000 for "a pile of garbage."Lesson 2: In order to move forward with a problem, put it in front of you, never behind you. I got the car and parked it in the driveway where I had to see it everyday and reminded me of the makeover challenge.Lesson 3: You must have a picture, an idea, or a vision of what it is suppose to look like, then improve on it.The Kei car was a 1960s Mazda R 360 coupe, the first model of Mazda for the Japanese market. The one I found was a rare original left-hand drive. Starting out with no engine, I said to no one in particular that it was time to fuse the past with the future by making the Kei car a classic electric car, something car manufacturers in Europe and America had tried with electric car prototypes as far back as the 50s and 60s.element-invisibleOpinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1Lesson 4: Finding what you want is never easy when you need it, but just when you think it's impossible it falls into your lap. Never give up.If my plan was to work I needed a two-seater golf car, and during an unplanned visit to Maribago Blue Water resort on Mactan Island, Cebu, I discovered through our friend Marge Munsayac that the resort had a golf car that was no longer in use. Maribago Blue Water Resort donated the golf car for the project.Lesson 5: While you may have your challenge in your living room day in and day out, that is no guarantee that you will be on top of the project unless you commit to a goal and put an immovable deadline on it.That deadline came in the form of a commitment to Alvin Uy, one of the prime movers of MIAS, to put the car on exhibit at the Manila International Auto Show starting tomorrow, April 7, 8, 9, until the 10th. By then even the boss of Mazda, Philippines Steven Tan had announced to friends in the motoring media about the upcoming showcase. There was no backing out on this one!Lesson 6: Call a friend whether for information you need or even for technical support. One of the friends we made on this project is Grace Villafuerte-Gadon, the brand activation supervisor of Oriental and Motolite Marketing Corp. who helped us acquire the much-needed power pack for the project. Being newbies with electric vehicles, Grace looped in the IB Product and Market Development/Technical Services expert Noriel Muscosa to make sure we got the right stuff.Lesson 7: Go with the good stuff.Because this is our first attempt at using an electric motor as a power unit, I knew that the best source for deep cycle special batteries would be Motolite since I've seen their solar application Amp-Tech batteries that are up to 120 AMPs and are designed for slow discharge. Aside from being "heavy duty" and differently labeled, I quickly discovered that these batteries weigh 28.32 kgs and the SRP is P6,960 only. I also learned that the Motolite Amp-Tech are designed for speedboats, electric ATVs and of course for power storage for Solar power set-ups.Lesson 7: Some things in life don't come from a tree or can be bought off the shelf, that's why God gave you hands and a brain be creative and create.Finding parts for a rare car can either be extremely difficult or impossible. We needed to adapt motorcycle tires to the car. Then we needed old school side view mirrors, signal lights, headlamps, door handles and levers and a steering wheel that would closely resemble the original.When we got stumped we started calling fellow collectors for parts or replacement ideas and eventually the Hot Rod motto: "Built Not Bought" kicked in. In the absence of original trims we called in our dependable stainless trim artist Orly Alayay who is one of the remaining few Filipino artisans that still does made to order stainless trims that has disappeared from modern cars. Then we got Manny Bornales of Triple V Upholstery and his lead man Roland to reconstruct the upholstery of the Mazda R360.We actually had to re-make a late model steering wheel by cutting, slicing and stitching it up to look like the original steering wheel. Then we ran to Pixografx in Mega Mall to print out sticker versions of badges and names that we could not make out of the original metal models. By this time my daughter Hannah was already involved in searching for fonts and letter designs for the badges and calling the car "The Little Prince."Lesson 8: Keep a sack of Tenacity in your mind, a mouthful of prayers, and with every accomplishment praise God and commend yourselves then step back and enjoy the moment.align="centerMany people view this hobby as expensive, as the rich man's past time. That is not necessarily true. It is about finding lost or forgotten treasures, rebuilding once glorious and beautiful works from a time when designing cars was an art, not just a job. It is what we call the Car Culture. It is dying, fading away. This is why we restore cars. It is not about ownership, it is a passion for an art.Check out the red and white Mazda R 360 Coupe at MIAS.align="centerEmail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan

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