A few years back I shared my experiences turning a 1996 Miata M Edition into a track purposed car. for me it was a great and fun journey being able to do things “my way” and just focusing on the build using what I had learned from both my track experiences and the many Miata’s that I had worked on. In the end I had a fun car to drive on the street and discovered that with a proper helmet on I just didn’t fit the car. Not that I couldn’t get my self into the seat and belt up, I just ended up with my helmet jammed into the hard top and compressing my neck vertebra. I suppose I could have reengineered the seating but by that point I felt it better ot find a buyer of a stature where there would be no such problem and then I would move on to something else.
I was fortunate to find another track person who was looking for a car that would allow him to learn ever more on track. He was also of smaller stature so that my problem was not his. He came and looked the car over, took it for a test drive and we settled on a price that we could both live with. While I kept in touch with him from time to time we didn’t see each other all that much. Later he let me know that because of a knee problem he was putting it up for sale.
For quite a while I heard nothing of the outcome and in the back of my mind I kept telling myself to contact him to just find out who the new owner was.
After a few years I found out that the car and the new owner was making an appearance at the shop (Automotive Performance & Chassis) to tweak the alignment, have a pre-track inspection, and a corner balance done.
By the time I got to the shop the car and its owner were done and gone. I had to satisfy my curiosity with talking to the techs and finding out that the car looked great and that the owner was a very nice guy.
A bit later I got the owner’s contact info and sent him an email inviting him to drop by my house so I could take a look at the car and meet him.
We found a day and afternoon that worked for the both of us and I smiled as the satin black Miata pulled into my driveway. Andrew was a very nice guy indeed and we hit it off talking all about the car and what he had done and how he envisioned it evolving over time.
The first thing I noticed when he popped the hood was the engine. He had another block rebuilt and a very nice job was done. It ended up with a higher compression (11:1) which turned it into a leak-free responsive four cylinder engine. He retained the light flywheel and heavy duty clutch along with the header and exhaust system (which he liked). He did some nice things to ensure that it would not be an oil burner (my old engine did receive all new seals and timing belts, but I knew it really deserved a proper rebuild. He changed the air intake so that it captured cooler air in front of the radiator and was a little more isolated from the engine compartment heat.
He said that he loved the brakes and added a bias valve as well as support for the front of the master cylinder. All very nice.
He had also removed the Hard Dog side door bars and changed out to a pair of seats that could be lowered down far more than I had done. It was a very smart move and one that I probably should have considered.
He was continuing to work on the interior. He swapped out the hub release on the Momo steering wheel for a much easier or should I say one with a more natural way of connecting and disconnecting. He also changed the transmission to a six speed! That was a very nice change. He is still working on gauges and finding ways to simplify and clean up the dash structure. While I had retained the heater and such he now knows that he can easily live without all that and will be removing it soon.
Due to time much of the suspension’s joints and bushings needed to be replaced and updated. So while he was in there he swapped to a NB front subframe which allowed for a bit more enhanced suspension along with the rebuild. He got higher rated springs for the Flyn’ Miata coil-overs and expects to upgrade those to something even more track appropriate soon. Andrew is not only “track rat” , but an instructor as well.
Next thing I knew Andrew was asking me if I wanted to take it for a spin. Grinning I could not say no. He was anxious for someone else to experience the results of his efforts and I was the lucky one. I got in and it was marvelous! We drove to an abandoned mall where there was a lot of open parking lot available to safely put it through some paces. It was such a treat.
Andrew and I enjoyed talking cars and he has some wonderful plans to further increase the fun and performance factor of the Miata. It was such a treat to meet him and see the car again. When you sell a car anything can happen and usually does. Some times for the better and sometimes it just ends up bad. But certainly not this one. I could not be happier.
We spent well over an hour talking and exploring the black beast. It is such a fun car and Andrew is the perfect owner. We had a great meeting and I expect it will not be the last.