The new colour options really pop, and look great.... in daylight. Unfortunately, they don't work very well when backlit, and obviously one needs to be able to see the needles at night.
I put the needles aside for a bit, and moved onto the LED change. I knocked up a rough power loom (to connect to my bench PSU), and used the carcass of the mk4 GTI donor cluster as a testbed for the lighting mods. Red dial backlight was already decided, so I got those swapped over before looking at the needle backlighting LEDs specifically. Though red dials and red needles doesn't look too bad, I want some contrast.
I started out thinking just to go for a colour inversion, red dials and blue needles, or use violet LEDs for the needles, but it didn't really work. In the photo below, the rev needle is cleaned of paint and has blue backlight, coolant has a blue LED with non-cleaned needle, and fuel and speed have violet LEDs with non-cleaned needles.
After a bit of discussion with a couple of chums, I tried the white LEDs from the mk6 cluster. Red dials and white needles worked well enough on the 8L S3, after all. So, I cleaned the paint off of the other needles, swapped the LEDs over, and fitted the needles. Phone camera doesn't really like getting the brightness realistically, but it shows it well enough.
I liked it, but I was still thinking it could use some tweaking. So, I lightly sanded the rev needle (to give a little move diffusion), and painted the speedo needle with Vallejo Metallic Medium (gives a kind of Mother of Pearl look). Still trying to decide which I prefer.
And then... something happened. Something I did not expect.
On a whim, I'd asked a new friend at VW to run a part number for me. I expected it to come back as "discontinued"... it didn't. It was very limited stock, though. There were none left in the UK, but there were FIVE left in Germany. I had to have one. The order was placed without a moments thought.
A little over a week later, I was informed it had arrived. I'd made some supporting purchases during that week as well, but the big one was the first to arrive. It was collected and test fitted ASAP (with the grudging aid of me mum).
Genuine Bora R Front Bumper! 😍
The cluster mods were put on hold. I had to have the bumper on as soon as possible, though I had to wait for some bits to arrive first.
The bumper grilles turned out to be a bit of a ballache, though. The Bora R bumper uses the same grilles as the R32, but not all of those grilles are still available from VW. Centre grille is still available, as are the closed-mesh side grilles and the drivers-side open-mesh grille, but the open-mesh passenger-side grille is not. More importantly, NONE of the fog light grilles (open- or closed-mesh) are still available from the Stealers.
Luckily, the mk4 still has sufficient following that the aftermarket can provide, so soon some knock-off grilles were winging their way to me from Ebay. The fog lights themselves were not available from VW, either, but HELLA still make them (they're also used on the Lupo, Fabia, and I think the Polo too).
Side skirts are ABS "R32 style" reps from Ebay. They're not spot-on identical to legit 5 door R32 skirts, but they're close enough. Good quality, fit well, and decent price to boot.
I did, however, manage to get a brand new genuine LCR splitter, from SEAT (because great big hairy bollocks to paying ebay scene tax).
But, such is the story of my life, there was a bit of a hiccup. In my excitement about the bumper, I had failed to notice that a corner of the bumper had been broken off! Worse, one of the mounting brackets (to hold it onto the body of the car) had also gone missing. I checked the photos I'd taken when I first got the bumper: both bracket and corner missing, I just hadn't noticed. I called my chum at VW, concerned. He checked the photos he'd taken (because enthusiast and rare part), and found the part were missing when the bumper had arrived at the dealership. It had obviously happened in transit, but it was not too late to do anything about it.
(Photo taken after removing old mount adhesive, it didn't arrive with those scratches).
Luckily for me, I had the skills and materials to fix the problems. The Bora R bumper, like the R32 bumper, is made from Polyurethane, which is a bitch to fix if it breaks. I do, however, have a selection of nefarious adhesives for working with "difficult materials". So, with a strip of shaped HDPE plastic and a load of minty blue structural adhesive, I rebuilt the corner:
Once the structural adhesive was fully cured, the corner was shaped and contoured roughly...
...before the (now much reduced) HDPE strip was removed, and replaced with suitable flexible filler. Once the filler was cured, final shaping was done, before I tested the strength of the repair. Happy with the result, I moved on to the next stage: test fitting and adjusting the LCR splitter.
The genuine LCR splitter is, obviously, not a direct fit to the bumper (unlike some aftermarket offerings, like Maxton's) as they weren't designed to go together. So, the splitter needs to carefully heated, bent, shaped, and trimmed, to get the desired fit. I also don't like the textured finish on the splitter, so as well as shaping it to fit, I smoothed the surface. Came out pretty well, but there's a couple of areas I could've done better. Still, in all likelihood no-one will notice.
The final piece of the bodywork puzzle was another Oettinger item. After lucking out on the grilles, I got in touch with Jutta again, asking about the roof spoilers. As with the grilles they still had a couple, so I grabbed one (no pre-paint pic, though).