This is the part you have all been waiting for. This weekend we return this pocket sports car to its owner. I cannot wait to find out what he thinks of it.
It started out as a request to fix the broken power radio antenna and put a set of good brakes on the car. The first part involved going to the local Mazda dealership and buying a new mast section, removing the motorized unit, and disassembling it enough to get the broken part of the nylon gear out of it. Then reinstalling the motorized antenna and inserting the new mast.
The brakes took some decisions. Knowing that this would not be a track car it was safe to use Brembo drilled rotors and pair them up with some Hawk street brake pads. Both were obtained through Tire Rack. While we were at it we changed out the old brake and clutch fluid for some fresh Brembo brake fluid. We also used VHT black caliper paint on the brake calipers to keep them looking fresh and clean.
We took the car out for some test drives and re-adjusted the anti-roll bar settings and the Tokico Illumina shocks. It had been equipped with Flyin’ Miata springs a few years back along with the shocks.
We were ready to return it to the owner when the request came in to do all appropriate maintenance. That meant:
- Change rear differential oil
- Change transmission oil
- Change fuel filter
- Replace timing belt
- Replace water pump
- Replace tensioner and idler pulleys
- Replace drive belts
- Replace thermostat and all coolant hoses
- Oil and filter change
- Replace spark plugs and wires
We also fixed a problem with the way the cold air intake failed to hold the K&N air filter element. Then we cleaned and painted the valve cover in wrinkle black paint. We flushed the anti-freeze by changing it twice.
We cleaned the contacts on the power window switches and replaced the gear oil in the shifter linkage.
We also installed a front spoiler and rear aero pan on the car. We found a lot of carbon on the piston tops and cleaned it all out with Mopar Combustion Chamber Cleaner. We also cleaned the throttle body and intake.
We took out the oil gauge that came on the ’96 Miata and replaced it with a real gauge and sending unit from an earlier model Miata so that it now had a true oil pressure gauge.
We used a Gates racing timing belt because of the low mileage this car is likely to see. It provides an extra margin of safety if the years roll by but the odometer doesn’t.
At that point we returned it to the owner with a couple of suggestions. One was to equip the car with a roll bar to protect the driver and passenger in the event something bad happened. The other was to fix the rear suspension’s tendency to bottom out as well as the general rough ride.
So back it came to us for some more work. We installed a Hard Dog roll bar with padding. We also installed a Flyin’ Miata Butterfly Brace that provides incredible amounts of rigidity to the chassis. Then we replaced the shocks and springs with a solution that would tame the rough ride, but still allow this to remain a great handling sports roadster. Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs were complemented by Flyin’ Miata’s special rear shock mounts. That meant good-bye to bottoming out in the rear and the track car ride.
To take advantage of the new suspension we added a set of Chaparral wheels and Bridgestone Potenza tires along with a Flyin’ Miata recommended chassis alignment.
So take a look. I know its not the same as an actual drive, but believe me, it is a fantastic ride.