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alfadriver PowerDork
8/1/12 7:19 a.m.
Keith wrote: Eric wanted full HVAC, and doing a half dash leads to very ugly plastic bits being exposed in that case. Keeping the lower half looks more vintage in that regard - well, to me anyhow.

Yet another part of the Miata that I would make sure made it to the Alfa with the rollerskate transplant. good HVAC is important.

Keith MegaDork
8/1/12 8:37 p.m.

A few other things needed to be addressed.

Eric had a NOS Flyin' Miata dual exhaust system stashed away, so he shipped it out to me. These are no longer available. It worked well with his cut bumper.

All the plastic under the front of the car got replaced because, well, it gets gross.

Since the car was moving to Canada, it needed DRLs. Thank you Mazda, on a 1994-97 Miata all you need to do is plug a Canadian DRL module in the wiring harness in place of a jumper. Super-easy.

Keith MegaDork
8/1/12 8:50 p.m.

Now the big one. This is where Eric really let his imagination run wild. He was looking at all sorts of wheels of all sorts and it was up to me to tell him if it was or wasn't at all possible. He was willing to run a bolt-on adapter if we could make it work.

He looked at everything - old Cosmics on Triumphs, Maserati Merak wheels, Mahle "gas burners", you name it. It was quite entertaining.

The classic five-blade Fuchs? Unfortunately, no. You can't overlay a 5x130 pattern on a 4x100 and there were some problems with brake clearance on that big an adapter. Anything's possible, but this would have required custom hubs and brakes. Just in case anyone says "but I can get this adapter for my VW" - yes, you can. The hub bolts they use allow it. But a hub with studs won't.

He considered several steel wheel options, and we became conversant in the number of holes found in many aftermarket steel wheels. The more the better, and there's a set of Cobalt steel wheels that was very seriously considered. He also was fond of the steel wheels and hubcaps found on BMW 2002s, and even bought a set of 14" ones. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were really 13". Tire availability took that size out of contention.

And again, the final answer was Porsche. Four-bolt Fuchs, to be exact. They're reasonably light, 15" so tire availability is good, and they had the look he wanted.

An adapter was needed to match the Porsche 4x130 bolt pattern. The adapters are 25mm thick, and this gives the wheels an effective offset of +17. That's a bit on the low side for a Miata, but not out of the question. As you can see, the adapter just barely fit into the stock brakes. It wouldn't have worked with 1990-93 brakes. We just contacted Adapt-it and told them the car and the wheels. They took care of the rest, quite quickly.

Here's the final result. The wheels have a satin finish on the recessed regions and are polished on the face, but the overcast light hides this. The final result is not to everyone's taste, but Eric loves it. You can see the cut rear bumper in this shot.

The extra offset of the wheels effectively softened the V-Maxx suspension, which gave the car a really nice fluid ride on bad roads. We did find a bit of rubbing when running two-up on my "Targa Simulation Road", but a bit of rolling took care of that. Yes, the car is on jack stands.

Josh SuperDork
8/1/12 8:58 p.m.

Weird thing is that the lower (effective) offset wheels, which I usually like the look of, sort of betray the "vintage" theme - especially given the flat face of those wheels. They'd look more appropriate sitting well inboard, or with some dish to the face if the tire is going to sit way out there.

Keith MegaDork
8/1/12 9:06 p.m.

Eric flew out to pick up the car, and drove it 2000 miles home in two days. It had a couple of small teething problems - one of the mirrors loosened up a bit on the way, and some adjustment was needed to a window so it would seal against the hardtop properly. He also had a problem a bit later with a loose bolt on the alternator wiring - Mike had put the car together very quickly and hadn't really put a wrench on every nut and bolt. Still, the fact that it was a stock 1996 underneath meant that Eric had no problem at all finding someone to sort the car out.

The border crossing went quite easily, as Eric had done his research there. He's been really happy with the car ever since. It's a custom-built car, built to a strong vision. He knew what he wanted, and every little bit from the shift knob pattern to the lack of a front air dam was considered against this vision.

I went back to Ottawa last fall and met up with Eric and his little blue car. It kept catching my eye on the street - even though I wasn't looking for it, I'd notice it because that color just isn't seen.

Eric and I share a philosophy on budget: don't spend more than you have to , but spend enough to do it right. The wheel/tire/adapter/lug nut package came to about $1275 including a set of brand new Michelins. More than Eric originally intended, but they were a big finishing touch to him - and it's not that bad a price, really. The seats cost $33.95 after he sold his stock ones. The paint was about $500 for materials, plus lots of time. The seam welding didn't cost anything, but thanks to that the chassis feels really solid. The total was right around $6300, after selling excess parts such as the roll bar and seats and swapping the 1996 dash for a 1990 one.

Keith MegaDork
8/1/12 9:08 p.m.
Josh wrote: Weird thing is that the lower (effective) offset wheels, which I usually like the look of, sort of betray the "vintage" theme - especially given the flat face of those wheels. They'd look more appropriate sitting well inboard, or with some dish to the face if the tire is going to sit way out there.

They do divide opinion. But Eric likes them, so that's all that matters I think they look good in person too. They're definitely not modern and they're a bit unusual. This wasn't intended to be a fake Lotus Elan or 356, but a car that took cues from those cars.

ebonyandivory Reader
8/3/12 9:22 a.m.

If this isnt the very essence of grassroots, I don't know what is!

(Like Eric, I am a huge fan of any Porsche as long as it has a "356" in the name (911 'aint so bad either).

SilverFleet Dork
8/3/12 9:56 a.m.

Very cool build. I dig the vintage vibe. That color is very nice too!

Adrian_Thompson Dork
8/3/12 10:49 a.m.

Beautiful build. A couple of quick Q’s.

Why paint the rocker panel black? I much prefer them body color and I think that would have been more vintage looking.

Second, what do those wheel adaptors weigh?

Third, you mentioned you used NB seat runners, for the non-initiated amongst us what is the difference between the NA and NB part? BTW I really love those 914 seats.

Forth, what did those 4 lug Fuchs come on? You say they are P car, but I don’t recognize them, not that I’m a P car expert.

Finally, I understand the wheels are the owners choice, and I actually like them, but where the classic MiniLite style considered and what was wrong with them, too played out?

Well that stretches the definition of a couple of Q’s doesn’t it!

P.S. anyone else think a series 1 Sirocco would look amazing in this color?!

Javelin MegaDork
8/3/12 12:17 p.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson:

The wheels were installed on certain Porsche 914's. I'm not sure which ones (besides not the 914/6, which was 5-lug) and if they were standard or optional, but I've seen a lot of them. Very nice wheel for a vintage 4-lug.

mblommel Reader
8/5/12 3:42 p.m.

I love everything about this car except the wheels. The photos with the steelies and no black on the rockers are really awesome. As long as the owner is happy with the final product that's what matters. Thanks for sharing another awesome build.

Keith MegaDork
8/5/12 6:37 p.m.

I painted the rockers black because I think it makes the car look much better. Body color down there makes the Miata look too stumpy and heavy to me - and also makes it look as if there was a lazy body shop at work But it really does lighten up the car to my eyes. That particular touch did not come from endless discussions with Eric, that was me saying "this will work better". And in person, it looked a lot better. It's a more dramatic change than pictures generally show.

I didn't weigh the adapters. They're aluminum, so you could probably figure a rough weight based on the weight of a disc of aluminum that measures 6" around and 1" thick. They weren't noticeably heavy and the car showed no ill effects.

The seat belt receiver is attached to the rail on the NB seat sliders, which means it moves with the seat. The receiver is attached to the transmission tunnel on the NA, so it's either sticking out a bit too far or trying to hide in the back.

They're 914 wheels, I don't recall the sub-model specifics. There have been a couple of comments from other folks that they're TOO recognizably 914, but every wheel is associated with something! The Merak wheels might have been hard to place though. It's a shame I never got a shot of the car with the wheels in bright sun, the different surface finishes gave them a different look.

Classic Minilite/Panasport was considered seriously. Eric was designing this car for himself, so "played out" wasn't really a factor. He just liked the Fuchs better. I think the car is actually rolling on a set of Chaparral Minilite copies right now. Steel wheels were a very, very strong contender for the final choice, especially ones with a higher number of holes. But they just didn't fit into what he wanted, they were a bit too "retro racer".

irish44j SuperDork
8/5/12 7:14 p.m.

Nice build Keith. Love those wheels. Wish someone made some that look just like them, but in a wider size/different offset/BP.

The one thing that I was thinking, especially for a Canada car, that would add to the retro look would be some "retro" looking mudflaps of some sort. In addition, the ones in the rear would kind of disguise the narrow wheels and low offset and make them "flow" into the rear lower quarter a bit better, IMO.

Just a thought though, since it's already done.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/5/12 9:51 p.m.

Another very vintage look is the tailpipes that follow the rear bodyworks upward slant.

Keith MegaDork
8/5/12 10:02 p.m.

That's also a 1990's German look A real vintage exhaust would have a single tailpipe about 1.5" in diameter.

MrJoshua PowerDork
8/5/12 10:28 p.m.

My que was aftermarket Spitfire or stock Ferarri.

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