Moving our Miata to a front burner

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David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Nov 18, 2005

Sometimes real life—like magazine deadlines, business trips, other project cars and so on—get in the way and keep a favorite from getting some much-needed love. That more or less sums up our ‘92 Miata project car. We built this one back in the day and have been enjoying it since—but only to the tune of about a thousand miles per year. While the car is still in great shape, we realized that it was time to give it a little love.

This plan was kicked into high gear when a wheel company said they’d like to use the Miata for some publicity shots. We discussed this at the SEMA Show, the wheels arrived the other day, and we have been busy getting the car back into shape ever since. Since we’re also more or less on an editorial deadline (that statement is true for really any time of the year, by the way), we took a bit of a shortcut and dropped off the car at BSI Racing yesterday. They have built a few dozen Spec Miatas over the years, so they know how to quickly get a Miata back on its feet.

Our to-do list had the following things on it:

  • Replace the front brakes. A while back we had installed an aftermarket big-brake kit, and to be honest we were never happy with it. It was time to rebuild the stock calipers and go back to Brembo OE rotors. We’d also install a set of Hawk street pads and some Goodridge braided lines.
  • Fix the rear brakes. The right-rear caliper started emitting a sound that was awful. Sounded like a pad was hanging up. We’d go with new lines, calipers and rotors back here.
  • Corner-weight and align. Even though we had recently set up the chassis ourselves, the guys at BSI felt we could safely run the car a little lower without losing any comfort. They were right, as it was sitting a little high. Not nearly as high as a stock car, but if it’s going to be used to show off some wheels, might as well make it look cool. Since we’ll be shooting the photos tomorrow and time was of the essence, we let them handle the suspension.

We got the car back this afternoon and so far, so good. (They had to wait for the brake pads to show up as they tend to stock track-only parts.) Even though it’s now a little lower than before—there’s now 5 inches between the ground and the corners of the rocker panels—it’s not hitting the bumpstops at all. The car even passed the railroad crossing test. No harshness.

We just got back from bedding-in the pads, and the whole car just feels better. Now the car gets a bath tomorrow morning, and then it’s time to mount up the new wheels and go take some photos. More details to come soon.

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