Mission accomplished

Operation Nibbler has landed. Here’s the debrief.

As I related two months ago, AutoXpressions sent me plastic shark teeth to try to fit into Nibbler, my copper-red 2011 Mazda 3 Sport (hatchback for you Americans) GS. The teeth are meant for a Miata/MX-5 so I knew there would be some fiddling to do. Now that we had two days of warmth and sun, I have completed my fiddling.

Top row snipped, tabs removed.
In my original test fit, the teeth seemed to fit. I had to break some of the plastic tabs to get the teeth into the grill, but that’s what they’re there for. I cleaned the car, let it dry, and used the adhesive pads to attach the teeth. There were two problems, one with each row of teeth.

The upper teeth needed to bend with the curve of the grill so much that the stress in the plastic was far too strong for the glue. The outer ends would spring out of the grill no matter how much adhesive padding I used. I had to snip the top row of teeth in half and attach each half on independently.

In my original test, the bottom tooth row fit more or less fine, although they are a bit scraggly. The outer teeth point away from the car and the middle tooth points in. It’s not a big deal; they look fine from the front. I used the rainy weather to drive around with them in for two weeks and the tooth row stayed in place. The problem with this bottom piece, though, is that the white tabs show through the grill. It doesn’t look as neat as it should.

My solution to that was to mask the teeth and paint the tabs with high-heat, black spray paint. Once I was doing the bottom tooth row, I figured I might as well paint the tabs on the top teeth, too.

The paint dried during two rainy days and yesterday, we had sun again. When I did my original test fit, I had put the adhesive pads on the top of the tabs on the top row of teeth, but I had a brainstorm. When I place the teeth for good, I put the adhesive pads on the bottom of the tabs. They are attached to the bumper section of the grill, which is much wider than the narrow inturned rim of the body metal above the grill. The top teeth rest on the bumper in a triangular fashion, with the apex of the triangle being the bend between the teeth and the tabs. It looks great.

Here are the sizes and locations of the adhesive pads I used. I had my own roll of adhesive padding to replace the pads included with the teeth kit, which I used up in my initial testing.

Bottom row

Passenger side top row

And here’s the final product. These photos come from a test fit before applying the adhesive pads. The top rows are more symmetrical after attachment.

Bonus warning:

Coming soon, video of me at karaoke!

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