After my patience had worn thin, I'd finally managed to find a good job in my home area and move back there.
This saw huge changes to my trusted BRZ, which had already proven itself to be a companion I'd shared many important memories with, to what I'd intended for it in the first place.
Gone were the days where the driving profile had been everyday city-car and long-distance cruiser.
Welcome to the nice-day fun and track driving profile.
The end of 2016 had seen me get out of the so-hated and quite useless region of Baden-Württemberg.
Also, the car would only be used for fun, not as a daily car, from now on. Meaning I would be able to do much more to it in the future.
One immediate fix during the car's hibernation was the equalization of the front grill's looks with the side openings.
However, that was not enough.
It took me 3 months to think up and perfect, through practice, a means of cutting the front bumper in such a way that was repeatable and absolutely symmetrical.
This would initially serve to optically loosen up the front "mustache", as it's known in the community.
Technically I'd be getting more air into the intake as well but that would come later.
Of course, the plastic mesh I so adored had to be there as well,
And finally, after so many horrible years in Baden-Württemberg, the car was finally able to get a proper, honest and good number plate.
I think that the mustache apears really a lot slimmer and you can see elements of the STi concept.
As part of my last group buy for the Germans, I got myself a pair of fender garnishes from the just-released facelift model.
Mine were just fine but one thing that'd always annoyed me was the real fake mesh imitation glued to the preface fender garnishes.
Over the years there'd been many thoughts, not only by me, to make the fender garnishes functional. I dropped them because they were vastly uneconomical. Those new garnishes do, though.
And yes, the hood was still open.
By the way, I'd sold the preface garnishes within 15 minutes of installing the new ones, even without ever advertising them. They were that popular.
I can understand that. One of my reasons for not choosing the Toyota was that the fender garnishes looked rather giddy.
Under the hood, a stabilizer bar was fitted on top of the engine. Stealthily, of course.
Front back on.
Additionally, I used the time the front end was off to have the insides of the headlights dechromed.
That's because I'd realized that the black/silver/blue didn't work and the silver had to go. If I may say so,
I find that immensely good-looking.
Remember the frontpipe I'd had modified before?
Well, the catalyst removal and replacement with noise-cancelling pipe didn't turn out well. The weld on the pipe had broken and the thing was producing a high-pitched rattle.
So in wenit a HKS Twin Resonated Frontpipe.
The Dezod muffler had also received a small strenghtening upgrade. As the early-model Y-piece was prone to tearing at the seam, a strenghtening crossmember was fitted.
One day after my 29th birthday, I finally had the opportunity to take the car out on a racetrack, namely Lausitzring.
Still in its long-distance, daily-sporty setup, I knew I'd have some fun but that's about all I expected. Also, the track is more laid out for power rather than handling.
I was right. Although the passenger enjoyed it a lot, I had plenty of time on the straights to make a mental list of what I'd have to change, now that I could go away from daily-sporty layout to sporty only.
I find this funny-looking.
For any conoisseurs of old German vehicle names, this one was called the SdBRZ FlaTr/L120.
Again, this is what I find funny.
Porsche-style brake cooling ducts as per a guide from the German forum. However, I've taken the liberty of improving the design and fitment.
As is traditional for me, the picture indeed does look worse than the end result in real life. Serisouly.
This was done as a direct result of my first tracking the car.
While the original brakes are excellent on the streets and the rear brakes also do rather well on track, I found the fronts to be a little weak for my tastes. So as a quick improvement, I tried this.
The blackouting resumed.
Those are OEM-style tail lights.
I'd tried cutting the OEM's open, blacking them out and glueing the mback together which looked awesome but I'd always know they had been cut and glued. That was always only going to be a shoddy job and I couldn't live with the knowledge of having something like that on my car.
The tail lights I bought honestly could be better, for example I don't appreciate the way they did the blinker reflector.
Not perfect but much better and, as a mix of technical soundness and optical improvement, the best I could think of.
Old blinkers in my hand, new ones already installed.
What a match!
The reverse lights were also blacked out, although the change is not as obvious.
Small detail. The red/white door open markers were removed and I'd gotten the clear white set from Japan.
Then, I applied some black tinting color and installed blue lights.
One may argue that the black tint was pointless as the lights are only ever on, but I love attention to detail.
A more interesting addition.
New wheels and tires had been on the list after I'd left the track and here they were.
The tires had arrived. To be mounted soon.
Nice comparison picture.
It's amazing was a few blacked-out lights can do to the car.
Minor details that come together to give a truly amazing result.
As mentioned before, #Blacklightsmatter.
After the experience on the track I'd fitted some EZ-Lips.
While I never quite got comfortable with installing a bodykit I was still curious to try out the effects one may have on aerodynamics.
While the front lik looked horrid, the sides turned out very nicely.
Also, there were aerodynamic benefits to be felt at least.
Still, I removed the lips shortly after.
Finally, the new wheel/tire combo was ready.
235/40R17 on OZ Superleggera 17x8J.
The 235mm were not my first choice but unfortunately, 225's weren't available. Love the ballooning effect, though.
The track plates came off again as the wheels are optimally spaced for the car. So finally, away with the interim solution!
The winter tires were also sold during the process.
Side note: After the front track plates had come off, I decided to have a small drive with the +50 plates on the back.
It was an interesting experience; the car handled almost as badly as a Golf then.
It's worth mentioning that the wheels were never made in this color. I had them powder coated in silk matte black.
So there I was, ready for the annual German meet.
Semislick tires on smaller-diameter, lightweight wheels in order to increase acceleration and braking performance.
Also, improved handling from removing the now-unnecessary track plates.
The silly EZ-Rubber Lips came off then.
One tricky thing was finding hubcaps that fit.
I would only be able to properly remedy that during winter.
It must be said though, with the blackout going, the car seemed to swallow the light. Amazing results. But I was not yet done.
The silver hubcaps, taken from my old 18"s and hardly fitting, were then taped over with black foil as a stopgap until I'd find properr caps in winter.
The original spoiler on this car is quite nice.
But upon seeing some Aero Toyota's, I noticed that the car has a quite pleasant trunk shape. One thats hidden by the preface spoiler.
I like some simple, handlebar-like spoilers like on the old Integra Type R's.
Unfortunately the general trunk shape of the Toyobaru doesn't fit this type of spoiler.
However, just that year, the Facelift had introduced this new spoiler.
So I immediately got it, just taped over the old mounting holes of rhe Preface spoiler and got to work designing. I was not nearly finished with this spoiler.
At the (second to?) last event the Lausitzring hosted befoe being sold, I had to see how the modifications I had decided on in may would turn out on track.
I'd finished about 40% of what I'd planned to do, after all I don't want to spend summertime driving and wintertime in the workshop.
But even so, a few things had gone in already. The effects were... profound. Even in crappy weather.
As the passenger commented, the experience May-Octover had changed so much my passenger got nauseated. Good sign.
What now appears as just the next thing in a line of modifications is not that simple.
In my opinion that original spoiler was way too low.
So had the original spacers 3D scanned and, in a couple of weeks of work and using a few prototypes, had designed a height extension.
This is from the day I had them officially inspected and approved of by German DEKRA, which is similar to TÜV.
The 86mm extensions are made from aircraft grade Aluminium and the only ones available that can be legalized in Germany at all. Products from overseas are of a simplified design I decided against very early in the project. Cutting corners was never an option.
I was in a big rush to get this formally legalized by the inspection agency as the winter hibernation was coming.
So the old spoiler's holes were taped over, the unpainted Aluminiumm brackets just wrapped in some black foil and off I went to inspection.
Hence the rushed shots in typically poor angle/photography skill
I had intended to offer up the spoiler extensions to others as well.
However, between my perfectionism in the design and underestimating the cost in general the cost went up quite a bit.
Additionally, the car had already become too mainstream and the average technical knowledge level of drivers dropped drastically.
So, by the time this came around there were many who admired and wanted to buy such extensions but none that wanted to pay the adequate price.
A good learning experience, though. At least they're now unique.
As I'd sold the winter tires, those free "standing tires", whose job it was to only roll into the garage on the 31.October and back out again on 01.April, were fitted.
They should become too small already within that winter.
The winter saw many interior blackout parts that I failed to take decent pictures of in the garage.
Also, I'd started work on another serial design of mine:
The Antenna Delete Cover!
A lot of effort went into that one. A manufacturer had to be found and it took him a while to get the quality right, I had to find a proper gasket material and so on.
It would turn out that I'd be making quite a lot of these.
Since I had already had the lightened flywheel for years, it was time to also change some pulley to lightweight ones.
Albeit a useless modification by itself, it compounds with things such as the light flywheel.
There indeed was a noticeable difference.
It's hard to tell, since the winter gap was very long. One noticeable thing, though, was that each April the engine would cut out on its first drive and at one particular corner. Like clockwork.
Not anymore since I'd installed the pulleys.
Another thing I'd had to do still in the "old year" was to see whether the new brake calipers would fit. I'd measured it first but just wanted to see.
OEM STi Front Brake Calipers. Diectly from Japan.
Of course, the STi logo was much, much too colorful and would be adressed shortly.
Picture taken still with the old brake discs on, nevermind that.
So I ordered the rest next.
Oil catch can holding bracket. Designed by yours truly.
Can also double as subwoofer fuse older or whatnot.
I actually sold 2-3 of thosee but never made much fuss about it.
One can simply wedge this underneath the battery and that's it.
But the catch can still had to be adopted to suit the bracket.
Getting season ready.
During the winter I'd replaced any and all silver trim pieces that I could.
Not chrome, mind you. Chrome was still accepted.
Some, I'd had to paint. Such as the gauge cluster center ring.
Others, such as the steering wheel spoke, were changed with OEM black parts from Japan.
I'd held those in hand quite often for buyers from my group buys, but never thought much of them.
I thought they looked cheap. Painted they'd look much better, but paint wears out. so I was never convinced to get those trim pieces.
But my mistake was that I did not consider the inside of the car. Everything there is sorf of a matte black. Painted pieces would look horrible!
I understood, finally, ordered and installed the blacks. Looked absolutely matching.
A lot of love went into every detail. I even sanded off the logos to paint a more black background.
The Subaru logo's chrome frame was dechromed by me using electrolysis [insert Breaking Bad joke here].
To be fair, I always thought the silver trim looked rather all right. It did give the interior a slightly more qualitative feel, imo.
But that could just have been me telling myself that as I had to live with it.
Anyway, it didn't fit my aesthetic concept anymore so it had to go.
During that winter break, I'd bought a new trunk lid and had the entire lid, spoiler and Extensions painted.
All connecting pieces had been beautifully seperated using the rubber seals also used on the OEM Toyota bodykits.
As a tiny side note, the rear Subaru was deleted outright. Both remaining holes were closed off and the plastic garnish painted over while they were doing the rest of the trunk, anyway.
I'm still as excitedd about this as on the first day.
Later I should indeed find out that the fitment and durability of the Extensions is indeed far superior to the others.
Styling aside, let's talk real changes.
In the picture you can see the oil cooler vent rather well.
More importantly, the brakes were finished!
STi Front Calipers, EBC Black Dash Brake disks and Ferodo DS2000 Performance (or something similar) pads all around.
Also steel flex brake lines all around.
As mentioned before, I'd found that the front brakes were leaving something to be deseired. The original rear calipers are better than the STi ones anyway. So I left the rear calipers as they wwer.
As someone commented, here we can see what the dark hours of the year were used for.
The Oil Catch Can had finally been fitted with mountings, fittings and anodized black.
I think I may as well have built one from scratch.
You may find that I decided to simply leave the intake manifold cover off. Also, I'd had to change the intake hose a while ago as I'd tried to fit a throttle body spacer I was unhappy with.
Front Subaru Logo Blackout finished.
The chrome ring was gone but I did like the chrome stars so I left them.
Only bothersome thing were the Daytime Running Lights, for which I should find a solution one year later only. Two days before the point was rendered moot.
One of the few actually good pictures taken by someone who apparently knew better what he was doing.
The looks really worked. You can already start to see how the car appeared to swallow the light.
Here you can see what work I'd done to the interior trim.
Door handles, vent liners, center consile trim, shift know liners, A/C panel buttons, all black.
And finally a decent picture of the immense center dash garnish.
The before mentioned matte black rising sun had been a stopgap for many years.
Please note that the prefacelift version of the dash panel was always two-piece. And absolutely all of them had such a visible gap.
But help was finally at hand.
This was scheduled to be done before April but unfortunately the panel needed some especially thin leather and the supplier was belated in delivery. But, better late than never.
Exchanged the old Preface panel with the one-piece version of the Facelift for that gorgeous, flush look.
Aluminium Differential Cover.
It comes with a greater volume and cooling ribs.
But I just changed that because it was alread off, anyway.
More importantly, I'd ha the final drive changed by a professional.
I'd selected to go from 4.1 to 4.667, arguably the shortest final drive for use on street or track. There are shorter ones available but they're mainly used for drifting.
Let me point out here that, in the Facelift, Subaru has already pretty much admitted that the original 4.1 was way too long.
The Facelift, outside of Europe, gets 4.3 final drive ratio.
But alas, not in Europe.
This and the flywheel are, in my humble opinion, THE best modifications for this car.
Just the sheer increase in agility and responsiveness is amazing. The gears now go to areas where they're actually much more useful.
Of course there's a tradeoff and on certain roads the results may not be all that beneficial. But that's frankly the case with anything.
Small Trackday. A rare opportunity for actually good pictures.
I was geting used to my car's handling under the changed setup.
Also, by that time my first series of Antenna Delete Covers had been done.
Through a curious angle in the picture my passenger looks as if he's alone in the car. That's not me, there.
The last Trackday of the year and, to me, it ended with a positive Bang.
Having been put up against a stripped out, race ready 200SX with ~350HP I though I'd had it. What was I doing on the same track as him? I'd be stationary and just get in his way!
But actually, I'd gotten used to the performance upgrades on my car.
An they were good. They were almost perfect for this track, narrow and set up for handling.
So at the end of the day, it was a place on the podium for me and my first win ever.
small optical upgrade for the rear seats.
Left is new, the velours from the (lower level trim) ones with blue stitching instead of red.
Right is old, that silvergrey mesh I actually liked.
But the rear seats are mere emergency seats.
The silver mesh still looks somewhat inviting.
The black, combined with the now-black backrest, was meant to convey a simple message:
"This is the back. You don't want to sit here, no one is meant so sit here, you will not be comfortable. Get out of the backseat."
The final, last bit of chrome on the outside went away.
I'Ve had the exhaust tips emailed black, the only thing that'll really hold even under temperature.
The previous, play-it-stealthy exhaust header and frontpipe combination also went away.
Instead I upgraded to a stealthy JDL UEL catless and JDL Catted frontpipe.
Now it may appear odd to those knowledgeable that I choose UEL.
Indeed I did not mean to.
However, in this case I was offered an extremely good deal on the entire combo that I just couldn't sensibly refuse.
The EL, with the few hp it'd gain me over the UEL, was in no way economical when considering the package.
Naturally, I used my trusted OFT to make the setup run at all and, later, tickle every bit of performance out of the car.
Especially the intake mods shown below required a lot more of that.
Finally the OFT was really paying off.
I'm not going into the old ECUTEC VS OFT discussion.
Yes, Ecutec has allegedly got one big benefit but a lot of other stuff I don't want, need or like. And, at least when I made the decision to go for OFT, The distributers for Ecutec had... shall we say, a... properrty scheme I really didn't appreciate at all.
In addition to exhaust improvements I also scored a Gram's throttle body.
I'd been trying to procure, port open and powder coat, an intake manifold from the USA for a very long time by then.
Unfortunately, since I was let down by unreliable sellers twice by then, I'd planned on running the throttle body on the original header.
That would get me through 2019 and during the next winter break, I'd do the header. Such was the plan.
I'd forgotten, when I got my new wheels, that I'd been running a larger spacer in the back.
Before I ran 40/50mm plates front/rear which I was then able to loose for a properly flush fitting wheel/tire combo.
At the time I tried to make the car more understeery in general. The previous year's track experience had left me with the impression of too much oversteer. I wanted to make the car understeery by rear axle modifications in order to then adjust the front end to suit.
Spoiler alert: after trying the result out on the track, I removed the track plates again.
The large throttle body comes with an adapter funnel to the header. Also, they supply a widening hose that fits the OEM intake diameter as well.
In other words, the OEM diameters aren't changed but it widens just in front of the throttle body. Then, right behind the TB, it gets narrowed down to original spec again.
In other words, installing the TB like this is useless.
So I bought a proper, widened intake hose to suit and just designed an enlargened Airbox outlet. This way the TB would actually be useful - at least up to the restrictor in front of the header, of course.
This intake upgrade was also coupled with me throwing out the old HKS intake snorkel and making a new one that fit directly behind the mustache cutout I'd made two years prior in order to create a slight ram air intake effect.
Wide angle side mirrors.
I'd have taken them even if they didn't have the blue tint. But they did, so all the better.
The Middle Muffler of Wrath.
The Dezod catback was further modified.
Please note the strenghtening piece at the Y-junction mentioned previously.
From backto front, I'd had one of the flanges cut away, the entire assembly tucked higher against the body to improve groud clearance and the Dezod middle silencer thrown out. Instead, I had a middle muffler specifically made to be as big as possible in order to reduce noise as much as possible.
A hopeless endeavor in this model of car, indeed, but still remarkably successful. The resulting sound profile was amazing.
Here, the new JDL front pipe assembly can be seen.
The heat shield wrapping reaches from there until the engine block.
Part of the "more understeer" project were stiffened rear axle carriers.
The rear wishbones received excentrical bushings for rough camber adjustment.
The outer screw mountings were lenghtened to allow excentrical screws to fine-tune the camber.
This was soon followed by camber bolts for the front.
As far as handling was concerned, I'd achieved the goal.
Surely, it felt as though there was nothing more to get out of the OEM suspension - what little was left of it...
I'd planned to spend the rest of that year getting to know the setup better and formulating the exact modifications for winter.
However, I was going to address one small detail, namely the blackout of the daytime running lights (DRL). I had found the excellent solution in the beginning of July and was going to implement it one week after that.
During the annual German meeting, a rabbit and my car had a difference of opinion as to who was going to be on the road at the time. The rabbit lost. I'm going to spare pictures of the poor thing but it flew quite far.
It needs to be said that this was a Proper Bavarian Rabbit - quite a chunk, as universally agreed on-spot.
I was actually able to drive on, luckily this was ~100m from the Hotel.
So I parked the car and looked at what had happened.
The front bumper was almost clearly sheared off, only about 4cm were still on at the bottom. That 4cm strip of plastic and the lighting cable were probably all that was still keeping that side of the bumper on.
The mounting bolt of the DRL was pushed into the oil cooler, puncturing it.
Also, as you can see, the cooler was bent.
The bunny hat hit that area with such force and at such an angle that the bumper just plain sheared, which was good for the rest of the car. No damage whatsoever elsewhere.
Then we have my oil cooler. I seem to have fitted that quite sturdily, as it actuall deflected the whole animal.
In the end, what's done is done, but after some analysis I'd like to believe that, had there not been an oil cooler, or had it been fitted less rigidly, the rabbit, along with the bumper, cable and cooler would have been dragged under the wheel. I don't wish to know the amount of follow-up damage that would have caused, especially if that had thrown off the car's bearing. The road in the area was fairly narrow and along the side of a mountain. So, after all, I seem to have been quite lucky.
Although it did not feel as such at the time.
Naturally, I was in a mild sort of shock. Especially ~300km from home, this was suboptimal.
Luckily, we were approaching dinnertime. So, after the situation had been taken in and paperwork (it happened in Germany, after all) was finished, The best course of action was to let the mind settle with some beers.
Actually, I couldn't wait with the calmdown beer until the paperwork was finished.
Once the inconstructive emotion had settled, I made plans both for next-day corrective action and also started to muse about the chance hidden in the dilemma.
Both solutions I came up with were largely shot down by the Germans present as being "impossible".
After a healthy breakfast, a friend and I went to work on the solution I'd thought up on the day of the damaging incident.
I can't express how grateful I am to the Hotel owners allowing me to use their simple but extremely well-stocked workshop for this.
Everything worked exactly as planned and this is the result.
The main problem was the broken oil cooler. With fluid leaking, the car was going nowhere.
I simply disconnected the hoses leading to and from the cooler and connected one in a sort of "short circuit" that basically omitted the cooler. That hose had to find place in the engine bay and so it did.
A refill of the (not yet critical) came next.
Since the bumper was shot anyway, I added some holes and cable-tied the broken bit back on.
The headlight washer nozzle cover and side blinker both had taken a flight through the countryside and I found them all again. The blinker went back on but I saw no point in adding the nozzle cover.
I'd had to remove the wheel well as its clips had mostly been blown out and the plastic molding was more or less just hanging on. A little bit of the wheel well molding had chafed against the tire so I opted to replace it entirely.
So, after a short test drive and double checking the oil circuit for leakage, we simply drove the car home. I kept a close eye on oil and water temperatures all the time and the friend driving in convoy made sure nothing was fluttering. All was optimal.
Relatives I drove by when I got home after the 300km trip didn't even notice any damage on a glance.
Once back home, I first had to wait (for about a week) for the insurance to take stock of the damage and release the repair work.
Which I ended up doing myself because I had decided not to just do a simple and cheap replacement but, instead, went for a more expensive and ambitious Front End Conversion , a.k.a. Zenkou Mod which I also wrote a tiny guide of sorts on.
This is the other "impossible" solution that I'd come up with on the evening of the day of the incident, had subsequently done much more research on and found feasible.
This picture shows some of the components required for the switch. As the Guide/Parts List for his is available on my site and the install ins pretty straightforward I'm not going to go into detail here.
I'd also opted for a smaller, thicker Setrab oil cooler instead of the broken HKS.
The old mounting brackets I'd crudely built, years ago, in my garage to mount the previous oil cooler had held up well.
Since they had proven themselves I decided to keep them.
As hot-air outlet, I adopted the same, proven solution I had coma up with years ago and transplanted it into a new moulding (as the old one had been damaged).
Years ago I'd had the windows tinted but that shop had used foil I'd not particularly appreciated.
Since waiting on insurance, parts shipping and paint gave me plenty of time I used the oppotunity to get the rear windows retinted properly.
I'd been meaning to do that in November but this gave me the chance to expedite.
Finally, after many years, I had the result I wanted. No bronze hue anymore, just proper black.
Also, I'd sworn to myself that I'd find a proper solution for the lowering of the brake light. A good, repeatable solution and not the provisionary fix I'd come up with years prior.
So now was the time to finish it!
The plan had been to do this in tandem with the window tint so, since I'd already had the design about 50% done I just had to step up the schedule and that's that. I had no idea at the time just how much the Brake Light Lowering Kit would help the community.
There was also some time left to do a small cosmetic upgrade for due diligence: I removed the cosmectic silver stitching from the sports seat belts for a cleaner, black look.
Also, the ram air intake scoop I'd just hand-moulded from fiberglass during the previous winter didn't fit the new front bumper anymore so it had to be replaced by a Greddy air intake.
As is plain to see, the intake snorkel partially blocks the water cooler.
I've heard of some people getting heat problems this way, especially those who installed their oil cooler in front of the water cooler (an easy but not a good solution anyway).
Luckily the side inlets for the oil cooler are also much larger on the Facelift bumper compared to the Preface - albeit they're far harder to cut in order to actually make them functional inlets.
3 weeks after the bumper got damaged, I'd managed to put everything back together and driving resumed as normal.
As is plain to see, the washer nozzle covers and side inlets aren't in yet and there's a good reason for that.
Since I was the first to do the front end conversion I'd had to half find out how to do it on the spot. One thing I found is that the headlamp washer nozzles are incompatible. So after a test fit I'd had to buy new nozzles and adapt them to the (also incompatible) washing system.
The nozzle covers themselves were at the time unavailable in Germany, the Facelift only having been out for a few months.
So they came from Japan and that took a while. Also, they were unavailable in black so I had to have them painted before I could pop them on. I just disabled the nozzles and taped the holes over as this was not a real impediment to driving.
Same problem with the side inlet covers.
Since those missing parts were all "pop on from outside" I left it for later.
Installed the missing covers.
Nothing much to say about the nozzle covers.
More to say about the side inlet covers. They were really a pain to cut open and, once I was done, it felt as though there was not much left in terms of covers at all.
I'm also not entirely happy with this version and was planning on importing a different style from the Japanese market later.
To protect the cooler, I'd put in a black metal mesh similar in style to, but not identical, to the old plastic mesh I'd put in.
I was also planning to install the same mesh in the center grille as I'd done on my old bumper during the coming winter while redoing the side inlets, had my plans for the future not changed for the better.
During its flight through the Bavarian countryside, the side blinker had gotten slightly chipped at the upper edge.
Unfortunately, the same type was unavailable so I went for the darker V2. That had to come from the USA and I replaced them at the same time I installed the front covers.
Since the Enduring Clusterfuck which is 2020 kept going on and I was stuck kind of in between everything, I had way too much time on my hands. Luckily, I'd still kept the car and was able to make another small upgrade. The seats had been designated for a major upgrade in the winter of 2019, but due to this and that the only thing they received in 2020 is the removal of the red cosmetic stitching.
Those were the last red seams anywhere on the car. Now we have a proper all-round blackout. Small change, huge difference.