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Experiment 626 (Stitch) MX5 1. Tell us the story behind your ride. What made you pick this particular one? Where did you find it?: Over the years I’ve had a variety of vehicles. The majority of which have been FWD. This includes the one project I put the most money into that got away from me. After that learning experience and now having a steady job. I made the decision that it’s time for a new project. I wanted something to show I’ve been doing something with my time. I was in the market for a track car. Racing isn’t big where I live. But we do have track. And Drag Racing is an option. But I would rather spend my day driving on a road course rather than getting 10-15 seconds once every few hours for 660-1320 feet at a time. So I wanted something Small and RWD. I was hoping to find a Mini to convert or an S2000. But the price ranges for me were excessive. Eventually all that time I spent on Craigslist paid off. There was an ad for a non running 1996 MX5. One I had seen parked at a local shop on my way to the gas station. I immediately threw all of my funds together I could to go look at the car and make an offer. It had been sitting under the trees for awhile. The paint was heavily chipped and flaking. The clear coat was coming off. The interior was leather and looked like it had every bit of the 160000 Miles advertised by the gauge cluster. The engine stopped working according to the seller and the shop couldn’t troubleshoot the problem. The engine wasnt complete or in running condition. It had a small turbo welded to the exhaust and the intercooler routing needed attention, which came from a Subaru. But it had a brand new Vinyl soft top, and tires. So I offered the seller slightly less than he was asking for but in cash and I would tow it away that day. After the deal was made I couldn’t have been more happy with the purchase. I had a car I saw potential in. 2. Describe the modifications you have made. Where did you start, what’s the most recent mod and what motivated it? To start the process of restoring my Miata. We began with removing the engine and clearing the engine bay of parts that did not need to be in the way. Stripping out the wiring harness to inspect the damage done with splices and butt connectors. There was loads of work to be done on Bolth the engine and harness. In the end we chose to scrap the turbo engine and replace parts of the harness and patch the rest. Having a new engine ready to build. We started with what do I want the car to sound like. Without a turbo I was still looking for a deep, tuned and smooth Subaru style vibrato. We managed this with a set of unequal length headers from CXRacing that we were able to modify to fit for easy install and maintenance by cutting them and re bending them in areas. We kept the displacement 1.8L and cams the same. But we installed Fidanza adjustable cam gears and painted the block Ford Blue and powder coated the Valve Cover gloss Black. I later came back and my friend (Owner operator of Torque Factory LLC Redmond Oregon) who is the lead builder, pulled me aside to show me a new part he had been working on for my car. He built an LED Custom spark plug wire cover for the center of the valve cover that was plasma CNC cut to read “Torque Factory”. Of course I had to have it. It gave it a very nice “Iron Man” vibe. This also set the theme of having a tron/techno style build. Some other parts we made other than a custom twin loop exhaust. Radiator mounting, coolant reservoir relocation out of engine bay (this allowed us to put the Intake in its place before I later installed the Jackson Racing air intake that made things that much cleaner and better) oil catch can bracket, custom oil dipstick. And we put together and installed an LED blue digital dashboard. We had to build a custom speedometer Sensor for the Transmission. So if you have one we can make it work for you if you need. The last thing I modded was the rear spoiler. It was time to add bait to the car to get people to notice it. I went to a Swap Meet where I met a gentleman who had for sale a nice aluminum rear GT style spoiler that he had for sale. Recently he had wrecked his Miata at a track day and was looking for new home for some of his parts. The most proud moment I had was installing the spoiler and driving it for the first time and the car maintained true driving alignment. It never pulled in either direction. And with it, people started taking notice. I didn’t care if it was going to shout “Ricer” or not. It got peoples attention and got the word out about where the exhaust came from. It also helped promoting my friends shop. As described once by a gentleman here on Wheelwell. “Click Bait in Real Life”. 3. Of all the mods you’ve made, which do you think offers the biggest bang for the buck? Nearly all of the mods I have done to the car were about $400 each. And when it comes to modifying the car. The best bang for your buck is the one that helps define you and your characteristics that you like about your car. I couldn’t say any of my mods were practical. But everyone of them defined the car. And you won’t ever find another Miata that looks or sounds like it. So to say best bang for the buck for a Miata. I’m stuck between Suspension (anything honestly) as you will see more driving experience in your Miata then before. However. If you wish to race the car. You must 100% have a Roll Cage. So just having that opens more doors for opportunity. And still adds to chassis stiffness and style. 4. How did you go about selecting the specific parts for this build? Any installation tips to share? When I was building my budget. I set it for how much can I get out of it with the least amount of money. This was a problem. The average parts cost I wanted was close to $1000. So I worked on private company’s who have had success outside of EBay and may not have been recognizable brands. While simultaneously buying stuff like Flyin Miata and Moss Miata parts for things that require a quality product. I think that was a perfect way to manage the build. The parts that are seen are quality. The parts that I can get that go around and under the car being more affordable allows for more parts less budget. You can get a nice Fuel Pump for cheap by Deatschwerks and a Flyin Miata fuel rail to make up the difference. 5. What’s been the biggest challenge with this build? The biggest challenge for me was “Want”. I am an impatient person. And I also don’t like having to do things more than once. I had bought racing seats and 4 point harness from Corbeau. I needed a Roll cage. And my carpet was thrashed. So I did not want to do anything until I had ALL the parts and was ready to do it in one go. And knowing I had to modify the fitment of the seats and harness. I just didn’t have the patience to store the seats while I waited to have the budget to proceed with rest of the build. And I could not wait that long. 6. What are you planning next? The Goal was to have a track ready race car. To take out the engine and do a V6 3.7L Honda Engine Swap with a BMW M3 ZF 6 Speed Transmission. Big ambitions for what I thought was the most reliable perfect build. With a fastback hardtop. This was modified to having a 1.8L Beams Engine with a Toyota 6 Speed Transmission. For a cheap 4 cylinder that I think is as good as a K series motor and at a fraction of the cost. And then that was modified to making a race car as light and balanced as possible with a 1.3 L Rotary Motor Swap. Which was the most perfect plan. However again. I’m an impatient person with a small budget. What I did was cheat go with an off the shelf track day car. By doing so though, I sold my MX5 to someone who also appreciated the finer details of the build. And wanted to finish the idea of having race ready Miata. Recently they have flared the tenders and lowered the car further. So in the end I built what I consider the most unique Miata and gained so much knowledge that I want to share. And one of the best words of wisdom I can give. Is know what you want first. If you are unsure of the direction you want the car to go. The harder it is to source the correct parts in the right order. And become knowledgeable on the car you are building. It annoys me when people say a turbo Miata is garbage because it can’t hold Boost. It does you just need to know what’s causing the problem and fix/replace it with better parts. A set of CXRacing Rods for $200, Flyin Miata ATi damper and Billet oil pump for $1000 ($600/$400) are the best ways to get that extra reliability. With or without Boost. Enjoy!
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