Seems like it’s been a bit since I posted about the long term project of upgrading the 9-3, so let’s pick it back up again… where was I…
After completing the interior upgrades from Hirsch, the next major change for the 9-3 was to the exterior in 4 major phases.
Phase 1 would consist of adding three items:
- Hirsch rear bumper diffuser
- Hirsch dual stainless exhaust
- Hirsch trunk spoiler
These three items improved the overall presence of the car giving it a more sporty appearance and aggressive sound. Perhaps the easiest parts of this uprade were the exhaust and rear diffuser. With simple loosening of a single exhaust clamp and removing some rubber hangers, the old exhaust was off in less than 5 minutes. At this point, before I fitted the new Hirsch exhaust, I opted to change out the stock Aero ‘diffuser’ for the Hirsch diffuser, (this was not a 5 minute task as part of the installation involved trimming the rear bumper down to allow the more streamlined Hirsch diffuser to fit properly). Once the diffuser was fitted and secured, the Hirsch exhaust was loosely hung in place and adjusted for the optimal fit before tightening down all the clamps.
The most stressful part of this phase of upgrading was the trunk spoiler, for two reasons: on the white Hirsch show car that debuted at Geneva, the spoiler was finished in a two-tone scheme, with the upper surface being painted body colored and the lower surface being finished in black. Only a handful of images showing this color scheme exist, so it was very difficult to get a 100% match to how they did it. The second issue was the fitment: Hirsch recommends fitting most of there spoilers/ground affects pieces using an adhesive called Sika-Flex 221. It is a tricky substance to use which basically gives you one shot (so there’s a lot of pressure to measure and get everything lined up perfectly). Having looked at multiple high resolution images of the color scheme for the wing, my painter set to work priming and painting it completely in Arctic White, then clear coating it. Once that was completed, we chose where we wanted the color break to start and proceeded to mask off the wing and apply a coat of matte black exterior trim paint to the under side of the wing. After allowing the wing to dry and cure, we began the process of testing fitting and marking out where the wing would sit on the lid. Finally with an extra set of hands to help align the wing, we applied the epoxy to the to the mating surfaces, aligned everything, took a deep breath, set the spoiler in place and secured it with some painters tape.
The next morning, I returned to the shop and was happy to find the wing had adhered and set up to the trunk lid perfectly overnight. There was nothing left to do at this point except fire it up and go for a drive. The initial cold start with the new exhaust was fantastic, a nice rumble while the car casually idled from 1600 RPM down to it’s usual 1000 as it came up to temperature. Out on the road I was smiling like a fool listening to the exhaust as I accelerated hard up through the gears and was happy to find out that at cruising speeds on the highway, there wasn’t the constant droning/booming usually associated with most sport exhausts on the market). It was actually very subtle until you tipped in on the throttle.
Stay tuned for the next weeks installment…