Feb 3, 2003 update to the Mazda Miata project car

Miata love

Sorry for the break in the updates, but other projects—as well as the magazine—have been vying for our attention. Still, our Miata hasn’t been totally neglected.

One of the biggest changes made this past year has been our swap to 15x6.5-inch Rota Circuit 8 wheels wrapped with 195/50ZR15 Toyo Proxes T1-S high-performance tires for daily use. Our previous setup had been doing fine, but the Kosei K1 Racing wheels were requisitioned for use on the MINI Cooper.

Thanks to competitive prices, light weights and contemporary looks, Rotas have become quite popular lately, especially in the Honda, Miata and Subaru circles. We got our wheels from Atlanta-based Miata and MINI tuning firm RSpeed for $125 each, a place where we always find friendly service. According to our scale, the wheel weighs 12 pounds, 3 ounces each, and after nearly a year of service, the finish still looks new. (And yes, the wheels clear Flyin’ Miata’s big-brake kit.)

We have not run the Toyos on the autocross course, but for daily use, they’re perfect: good grip, low noise and fine wet-weather traction. They’re also quite light, as the 195/50R15 size checks in at 17.4 pounds each, giving us a total weight per corner of about 29.5 pounds—pretty much the same as our stock 14-inch setup.

We also spent a few bucks to jazz up the car. To celebrate our new Classic Autosport title, we installed a K.G. Works polished stainless-steel rearview mirror, giving our Miata a little bit of a classic look. RSpeed imports much of the K.G. Works line, and their parts are just cool—lots of little machined bits that may not make the car faster, but they do add something.

Their rearview mirror fits 1989-‘95 Miatas, and installation is simple: remove the old mirror and install the new one. The stock Miata mirror is held in place via a spring-loaded mechanism, and simply yanking it from the windshield frame is all it takes. The K.G. Works piece includes all necessary hardware, and the whole job took minutes. Actually, there was one problem encountered: Airport security almost didn’t let us carry the piece onto the plane.

The new mirror works fine, and even though it doesn’t feature a day/night setting, we can cope. By the way, RSpeed retails the piece for $109.95. No, it’s not free, but it’s cheaper than machining our own from scratch.

Our car’s suspension has also been receiving some attention, as getting it off the bumpstops has done wonders for the ride and handling. We’ll post some measurements, details and photos soon.

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