Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen Editor
11/20/20 8:00 a.m.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

The original Mazda Miata is one of the most perfect driving tools ever created. Sure, other cars have more power, more style or more luxury, but few can tame a twisty back road and put a smile on the driver’s face more efficiently than the early Miata. Despite its slightly higher weight and size, Mazda’s follow-up model was just as loved.

However, even after a 2001 facelift, by 2003 sales were more or less flat. Some of the novelty had worn off, and buyers had more choices–including Honda’s stellar, 240-horsepower S2000.

Since the next Miata–with its all-new, more powerful MZR engine–was a few years away, Mazda chose the time-honored path of employing turbocharging to squeeze a bit more power from the current car. They added a small IHI turbo, lowered the compression ratio and fitted a small, front-mounted intercooler. The result was the 2004-’05 Mazdaspeed Miata, a limited-production, high-output version of Mazda’s roadster.

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jharry3 HalfDork
11/20/20 8:15 a.m.

If the cooling fans stop working don't trust the temperature gauge.  MSM's over heat easily for some reason, even if you aren't using boost a lot.

The engine is running to hot without the fans even if the temp gauge does not move past center and you are just cruising along. 

This slowly cooks the head gasket.  Which then leaks compression into the cooling system and blows up the radiator.       Literally.    

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
11/20/20 4:04 p.m.

Great to see the MSM covered. It is an amazing car, especially as a building block for a giant killer. My car has an FM built motor, basically the full FM catalog of go fast goodies installed and the performance is just amazing. Drives like a standard Miata but can kill Porsches on a track. Values are rising fast, so better act fast if you want in on the fun!

jhhyde New Reader
11/25/20 8:21 a.m.

I can vouch after having a fully loaded MSM that it's an amazing little car. For my needs doing some autocross and about to hop on track I'm really pleased with it. Regarding cooling issues perhaps this is only during hot track days and haven't seen the needle climb (yet) during car control clinics in summer and definitely not on highway. The solenoid is absolutely an issue, though is easily cleaned to get it back to rights. I did the FM Little Enchilada and honestly don't really feel a need to go past it. I had a buddy take a ride along so if you want to see some guy car banter as well as hear the FM kit, you can check it out here. (There are fact inaccuracies there for sure, though hey, we're not perfect.) It's a blast and I've had it for 11 years now, fighting rust every season though still loving it. If you can get your hands on one it's nice to see what the engineers can accomplish and yearn for the days when they try again.

dxman92 Dork
12/27/20 9:17 a.m.

Never knew that the block had roots from the Capri/323gtx days. Friend of mine had one of these a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

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