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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 2:43 p.m.

So I spent a day last weekend cutting up my race car.

Some backstory.

I built the Targa Miata out of a 200,000 mile shell for the Targa Newfoundland. The first step was to weld in the cage, then build the car around there. The car competed in the 2008 Targa with a high compression, bored and stroked 2.0. Then it got a modified L33 5.3 liter V8 and went back to the Targa in 2011. After that, it morphed into a track car that happened to have skid plates and weather protection. I exchanged the 5.3 for a 6.3L engine and started bolting on more aero. The rally computer was removed to be installed in another car for an aborted run at Targa 2016.

Over the past couple of years, the car has seen less and less track time. It's outgrown our local kart track, and FM has other halo cars that get priority when it comes to shows. If I want to play on a big track, it's a 5 hour tow each way and an overnight stay. I recently sold a set of stickered race tires that I'd had installed on wheels two years ago - I'd never even managed to run them. Meanwhile, the front half of the cage is...dated. It could offer more safety and more room. Some of that is the Hard Dog design that is biased more towards ease of installation than ultimate space, some of it is compromises that were forced by a unique rule set a decade ago. So the long-term plan if the car is to remain a track car is to cut out the front of the cage and replace it with a newer design.

But...

It's always been road legal though all this. Rally car, right? What if I tried turning an experienced and patinaed race car into a street car for a while? This was probably done with various megadollar Ferraris when they were just uncompetitive race cars 60 years ago. The first step is the same, cut out the front half of the cage.

So that's what I did. This is what happens when I go into the shop and feel like doing something fun.

Gulp. That's a real statement of intent. I've never actually driven this car without a full cage and this is the first time it's not a weekend away from being capable of rolling up to the start line of the Targa Newfoundland. After the sawzall surgery, I ground off the stubs from the main hoop so I can either add padding (not really an issue with my seats) or simply make it look less like someone sawzalled a cage out of the car.

Also - the front brake hoses are removed. The big 3" diameter ones I use rub at any real lock and the hoses were pretty haggard anyhow. I mounted a set of 200 TW street tires in a 245/40-15 size because, well, because. The brake pads have been swapped out for a street-friendly compound. Ride height is raised up to a street-friendly number and the front airdam, spats, engine skid plan and flat undertray are gone. The skid plate was damaged, that's why it came off. I also pulled the wing off, although that's a 3 minute job to replace. I've pulled the harnesses so I can replace them with newer ones.

So that's step 1 of the Targa Stradale. So far, all the changes are ones I'd be doing if I were updating the cage for hard-core track use or are simple bolt-ons. But the next step will divert a little further.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
9/3/20 2:48 p.m.

As someone who did the exact same thing to a much less powerful miata, you might want to have a frame rail and butterfly brace "disapear" from work and appear on your car ;) Amazing how much turn in/rigidity was immediately lost on my car from caged to rollbar only.

Looks like it'll be fun!

#BecauseStreetCar

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 2:55 p.m.

Plans: The exterior will stay as-is. I'm not sure I could remove those sponsor/event decals even if I wanted, and there's no way I'm painting over the stripes.

For the interior, I'm having fun trying to come up with a race car refugee setup. I want it clean and simple. The half dash that I've used since the start has become a reference for this sort of build, so maybe I take it a step further. Here's the interior in an earlier stage.

The difference now is that there's heat shielding on the tunnel, no intercom (the box in front of the shifter) and the rally computer has been removed which left some holes in the crash pad.

Here's an idea of where I might like to go. Specifically, the deletion of the switch panel in the middle and the continous crash pad along with some new surface on the dash.

I'm trying to figure out if I can work some HVAC in there, I'd love to get AC hidden under that dash. I'd probably keep an eyeball vent at each end of the dash. I've been toying with the idea of an auto HVAC setup which would get rid of any visible controls for that yet still keep the car comfortable.

Also, a big question - carpet? It would hide all the scars on the floorboard and the heat insulation and the various holes for removed devices. But then I have to carpet everything, including adding the plastic panels on the quarters etc. Or I just clean everything up, patch a few holes, lay down some fresh white paint and put some skateboard deck tape for "floormats".

I think I can also delete that vertical support in the center if I replace the cross bar under the dash with a beefy pipe. It helps support the steering column so you need to do something. A different cross bar might also clear up the room for my HVAC stuff.

As for steering column - part of the plan is to change it out for a non-airbag column, which means I get much nicer looking and feeling stalks. I have a few stashed away. That'll also require a new quick release for the wheel. And maybe I change the wheel. I will change out the gauges, as the current ones don't have a functioning speedo so I'll update to NB style to get the electronic speedo that plays nice with the T56.

Another question: do I embed the rally computer in the crash pad?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 2:56 p.m.
accordionfolder said:

As someone who did the exact same thing to a much less powerful miata, you might want to have a frame rail and butterfly brace "disapear" from work and appear on your car ;) Amazing how much turn in/rigidity was immediately lost on my car from caged to rollbar only.

Looks like it'll be fun!

#BecauseStreetCar

The car is seam welded and has frame rails along with a crossmember that holds up the T56 trans. I could see the windshield header moving as I sawzalled, though - I did consider adding a single bar that goes from the center of the rear hoop to the center of the windshield frame to bring some of that back.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/3/20 2:58 p.m.

Approve yes

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
9/3/20 3:00 p.m.

Don't you have an MGB GT to get on with?

 

Petecheeky

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
9/3/20 3:01 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I only noticed it on mine when I was on track really, but having rails, crossmember, AND seam welded - I doubt it'll be as floppy as mine was. But I mean, you already know all this! Excited to see where it goes, especially the interior!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:04 p.m.
NOHOME said:

Don't you have an MGB GT to get on with?

 

Petecheeky

Not much to do to that right now, honestly. It needs new tires, but mostly it's just a matter of getting it out and road testing.

The Mini needs some SU love, the Cadillac needs a new brake drum and AC work, the Vanagon needs the Subaru transmission conversion done, etc. I have many needy children :) But this is more fun, and I wasn't driving the car because it wasn't very streetable.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:04 p.m.

If you were to loose the vertical support you could suspend the computer there.  However if you are not going to use it I would loose it all together and instead consider a radio.  I mean if you are addling AC you need tunes yes?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:13 p.m.

The rally computer is for the navigator, so it goes in front of the navigator :) I wouldn't be using it, it would mostly be a nod to the car's history and more interesting than having it in a box on the shelf. If I install it, it'll be embedded in the crash pad.

If I do a radio, it will be invisible. No faceplate other than possibly a single knob. I've considered it. I'll have some sort of door covering but I can't do a full Miata door card with the top pad because it would interefere with the seats. Still, speakers are possible.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:16 p.m.

I'd like to point out that the pipe insulation you can see on the removed cage chunks were there for comfort on my ankle and elbow. The real padding was removed before I cut the cage out.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:16 p.m.

Tesla swap?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/20 3:20 p.m.

I would do that to a different vehicle :)

Rodan
Rodan Dork
9/3/20 3:29 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing where you take this.  yes

That interior pic with the continuous crash pad was an inspiration for me as well, but I still ended up with a gauge panel replacing the top of the tombstone... it was just too useful to have gauges there for the track.

I had similar thoughts about our track NA (the next step for mine is a full cage), and drove it around without the hardtop for a few days.  For me, it was still a little too hardcore for the street, so the cage is still in the plans.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/3/20 6:13 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Just caught your recent youtube video with Hoonigan, by the way.  Fun to see habu still marking the rounds, and how much everyone who drives it so loves the car.

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
9/3/20 9:34 p.m.
nderwater said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Just caught your recent youtube video with Hoonigan, by the way.  Fun to see habu still marking the rounds, and how much everyone who drives it so loves the car.

There were 3 of them recently. I thought there would be more talk of them here. They were good videos.

I'm happy to follow this. Definitely agree with your plan, especially with no changes to the exterior.

Strizzo
Strizzo PowerDork
9/4/20 10:11 a.m.

You could probably hang a classic car style under dash a/c in front of the shifter if you eliminate the center support.  

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
9/4/20 10:21 a.m.

Eliminate or re-angle the center support so it goes towards the nose of the car at the bottom.  Place a radio in some kind of enclosure ahead of the shifter.  Hang HVAC controls either on top of the radio (careful with space and venting to let heat out of radio) or hung from under dash.  Build basic console that runs from near the firewall back to just past the shifter to make a home for radio and make the shifter surround a bit more pretty.  Get a bunch of diamond pattern quilted vinyl and cover trans tunnel and put console on top of that.  Basically this but more simple;

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/4/20 10:31 a.m.

I can promise there will be no quilting. That is not my style. I tend to want to pare down my interiors to the bare minimum, then hide what's left.

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
9/4/20 2:24 p.m.

I actually like the idea of tearing out the carpet and painting the whole thing red on my own miata. I am actually putting a racing seat and a roll cage in the car. 

Are there advantages to not having carpet in a racecar? 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
9/4/20 2:45 p.m.
Snowdoggie said:

Are there advantages to not having carpet in a racecar? 

Weight savings and fire are the two things that come to mind immediately...

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
9/4/20 3:01 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

Just wondering if there is some kind of paint that is easy to clean if you get dirt or mud in the car. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/4/20 3:16 p.m.

Sure, automotive paint :) And a vacuum cleaner.

 

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
9/4/20 3:20 p.m.

The red actually looks good. I have painted the floors of cars with rustoleum before that looked like crap. Of course the car was a rustbucket. 

The red one looks like he actually sanded and primered the thing like it was the outside of the car. 

 

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