Being that this Catfish will be serving double duty as a weekend cruiser and a track car I wanted some nice looking wheels that were light weight and strong.
I already had some Rota RKR 15×9’s (from my second donor car) but I opted to sell those and buy some new 15×9 Avanti Storm S1’s.
The Avanti Storm S1 is a new wheel that’s very strong with a 550kg load rating. They are flow formed and super light weight. They come in black and grey but best of all the 15×9 weighs only 12.2 pounds.
I purchased mine from Good Win Racing and it just so happens that Good-Win-Racing is located here in San Diego about 15 minutes away so I was able to pick them up the same day!
Tires for the Catfish:
My second donor car already had almost new R888 225/45/15 tires on the Rota RKR 15×8 wheels. I had the wheels dismounted from the Rota’s and installed on the new Avanti Storm S1 15×9’s here at a local shop in San Diego.
The first step was to cut out the exhaust hole in the fiberglass. I ended up drilling holes then filing the rest. I then mounted the fiberglass body, attached both parts of the muffler with the Vband and got a good sense for were the muffler needed to be mounted. I then drilled holes and mounted the exhaust to the floor panel.
My next step will be to take the car to a muffler fabrication shop so that I can get a custom downpipe made.
Installing the steering column and the pedal assembly was a pretty straight forward process. However, after installing it, I decided to remove it and paint it black. The rust color just wasn’t workin for me against the clean black powder coated frame (even though it would eventually be hidden).
Steering column (pre-paint):
I also cut an initial hole in the the fiberglass transmission tunnel. This will eventually need to be larger depending on what type of shift boot I get but as of right now I haven’t made a decision. I also plan on mounting the Willwood adjustable brake proportioning valve next to the shifter so I can access it from underneath the shift boot if needed while driving. If anyone has suggestions on a cool shift boot and ring let me know!
One important Cord mentioned I needed to do was seam seal the floor panel and the frame. This will help cut down on noise and vibration, and protect the floor from water and moisture. I used DAP clear flexible gutter and roof sealant from Home Depot which was better and less expensive than automotive sealant.
For my steering wheel I ended up selling the Nardi wood wheel from one of the donor cars and replacing it with a Momo Race wheel and an NRG quick release. I checked out a bunch of different wheels at a couple local shops and beyond looking good this one was sized right and had a nice heavy high quality feel:
Once the steering was functioning I was able to roll the chassis out of the garage for the first time! (Gotta celebrate the small wins)
Next up: running the fuel lines and brake lines.]]>
There are two main ways to set up a radiator and intercooler. The typical way is to simply sandwich them together. This is the way Cord set up his Catfish. This is a standard setup which means you have longer intercooler hose lengths but shorter radiator hoses.
The second option we discussed would be to do a “V” style.
This means essentially mounting the radiator so it slants backwards instead of forward, then mounting the intercooler at the top of the radiator horizontally. The trick to this setup is making sure that incoming air is forced through the intercooler and radiator. Doing this requires some fabrication. The benefit is that the radiator and the intercooler don’t fight over the same air and the intercooler hose lengths get very short. As another benefit the weight is moved back towards the center of the car (which is always a good thing). Last but not least it looks cool!
I opted to have Dave over at Bent Motorsports in Escondido help me fab this up.
Update: It ended up being much easier to sandwich mount them so we stuck with that route (as you can see)]]>
However, before coating the aluminum panels I suggest you first test fit all pieces to make sure you have everything and ensure that everything generally lined up. Having Cleco fasteners (temporary rivets) will make this process a whole lot easier. In my case I did not have the Clecos and ended up riveting a few spots then drilling them out later.
Once the panels have been test fitted you will want to remove them and prep them for the Lizard Skin. Lizard Skin is a thick ceramic insulation that sprays on (similar to a bedliner material). Lizard Skin comes in 2 formulas, one is the ceramic heat control (this is the one you want) and the other is a sound control formula. The sound control is meant to go on as a first coat under the ceramic insulation but being that the Bauer Catfish is an open cockpit roadster there is not much need for a (heavy) sound control insulation.
I also took the unnecessary step of primering all the aluminum panels before spraying them with the ceramic insulation then realized that aluminum is the one metal that does not require primer before applying the Lizard Skin. (Lesson learned: read instructions)
I would also recommend buying the Lizard Skin application kit (pictured below) to make the job easier. Once blended up the Lizard skin is easy to spray (using the spray bottle and nozzle) but it goes quick.
I purchased one gallon and I had enough to coat the outside of all panels except for the back panel behind the seats. I also double coated the firewall on both sides.
P.S. I’ll probably never use my application hardware again so if you are interested contact me and I’ll give you a good deal on mine.
I purchased a donor package comprised of:
– 2003 1.8L VVT motor with 50k miles on it
– Torson 4.1 LSD
– 6spd Transmission
– All parts needed from a Stock 2003
If you care to read about how I sourced it and how I came to this conclusion feel free to read on:
After I pulled the trigger on the Catfish deposit I started to research options for donor cars. I had been told to stick with an NB (second generation 1998+) miata for a number of reasons most notably the larger 1.8L motor. I had also been told to ideally stick with a 99-00 However most of the NB’s I was finding were in pretty good shape and selling for $4k – $7k. This seemed a bit steep for a car I was going to rip apart so I started looking for other options.
I was introduced to Roman Maguinez up in LA and he ended up putting together a donor package for me so I could get exactly what I wanted. This not only saved me some time on sourcing and stripping a full car but it allowed me to get even better components from a 2003 for less than I would have spent on buying a 1999. Roman is one of the people involved in the development of the Catfish and he has personally owned over 300 Miatas so its safe to say he is a good resource. He was great at helping me uncover my goals for the car and piecing together a donor package that would work well for me. I wanted the car to be street legal but built for the track and I explained that I had intensions of doing forced induction at some point down the road. With that said, Roman ended up putting together a donor package from a 2003 MX-5. The kit included the front and rear subframe, a 1.8L VVT motor with 50k miles on it, suspension, ECU and wiring harness, brakes and just about everything else (except for the shell of the car and the wheels). I also ended up having him upgrade me to a 4.1 Torson limited slip differential and a 6 speed manual transmission. I have heard a lot of people say that they prefer the 5spd but I have also heard that the 5psd can only handle about 250whp and I intend to make closer to 300whp with the turbo kit so I opted for a 6spd which is known to be able to handle more HP. I figure they are inexpensive enough that I can start with the 6spd and always pick up a used 5spd for about $200 if needed.
If you are wondering about transportation, the entire donor package for the catfish fit in the back of a midsized pickup truck.
Here is a picture I shot at Bent Motorsports when I first saw Cord’s Catfish!
So here’s my story:
After months of research I pulled the trigger on a Bauer Limited Production kit car (known as a Bauer Catfish). Below are just a few reasons I chose this route over other available kit car options:
1) I wanted something I could reasonably build in my own garage with a couple friends without having to weld.
2) I wanted something somewhat affordable to build (affordable in the context of the automotive racing world at least).
3) I didn’t want it to be so expensive to maintain that I would be discouraged from tracking it and running it hard.
4) I wanted something that was built for the track but also street legal.
5) I wanted something with 2 seats so I could enjoy it with others.
6) I wanted something unique and custom that could not be easily identified.
7) I loved that it was designed and built here locally in San Diego so I can support the local economy.
8) I wanted to be part of a new and exciting kit car.
9) I wanted something that was easy to work on.
10) I wanted something with amazing performance both in terms of handling and acceleration (shooting for 300hp and 1,700lbs).