May 18, 2010 update to the Mazda Miata Turbo project car

Loving Louvers

We started by finding the best possible location for our louver (without hurting Miss High Octane, of course).
Drilling the corners of our vent hole made for a nice, clean radius at each corner.
We used an angle grinder with a cutting disc to make the hole. The aluminum construction of the Miata's hood made it easy.
Aluminum is soft, especially when faced with an abrasive disc spinning at 17,000 rpm.
Once we'd cut the profile of the vent, we opened the hood to remove the bracing in the affected area.
With all of the cutting complete, we only had to drill holes and install rivets to secure the vent.
The RunCool Louver panel kit included the rivets required for installation and a properly sized drill bit.
We like the way the finished product looks, and if we change our minds it can always be painted.

After seeing how cool they look on Per’s LeGrand project, we decided to try a similar vent on our Miata. We ordered a set of RunCool hood louvers, hoping they would help prevent our turbocharged project from overheating after extended on-track sessions by allowing the heat to radiate away from the turbocharger.

The RunCool Louvers come in pairs, but for our application we thought we could get most of the benefit from only one. After all, the exhaust manifold and turbocharger all live on the left side of the car. Plus, asymmetry gives our warbird-themed Miata a purposeful look. We also wanted to be careful with the vinyl wrap, as the vent would need to go dangerously close to the Peter Ledger nose art.

Installation was more intimidating than difficult; we simply had to remind ourselves to go slow and be patient before cutting holes in the car. We started by eyeballing the vent to the best possible location. It’s almost directly above the turbocharger itself, but offset a few inches back and to the side in order to preserve Miss High Octane’s sassy good looks.

Once we’d found the right spot to install the vent, we followed the kit instructions by taping a border around the chosen location. After lifting away the vent, we laid down another tape line that overlapped the outside border by about an inch. This border would provide plenty of space for the rivets needed to hold the vent in place, but still allow for unrestricted airflow to the the louvered panel.

We’re pretty happy with the way the louver went in, and the finished product looks great. We’re confident that the newly provided escape route for underhood heat will help, but we won’t know for sure until we got on track and put in some hard laps on one of those hot summer days we’re bound to get around our Florida headquarters.

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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
5/19/10 10:44 a.m.

Nice work! It really does suit the character of the car. Might help keep things cool underway, too, as it'll help pull air through the rad. You accidentally put it in the low pressure zone on the hood, right where it belongs for this sort of behavior :)

Putting another on the other side (if your heart can take the stress of cutting through that wrap again) would help the airflow through the rad even more.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
5/19/10 12:51 p.m.

Thanks Keith! It was surprisingly easy to work with the vinyl wrap; lots of RPM made the cutting work a cinch.

I'm considering the other vent; it may or may not find its way onto the car. I like asymmetry and I'm very protective of Miss High Octane, so I'm hoping to avoid it.

mistanfo UltraDork
5/24/10 2:50 p.m.

Would a smaller version of this vent work on the other side? Would still help pull more air through the rad, and things would still be asymmetrical. Heck, maybe a longer, thinner one so that you get the same amount of airflow? That would absolutely be asymmetrical. Grab a set of their side louvers (yes, I have been to the site), and tack one on the other side of the hood!

Wowak SuperDork
5/26/10 7:31 p.m.

The thought of cutting a hole in my Miata's hood gives me the jibblies.

Xceler8x UberDork
5/27/10 9:33 a.m.

I like that asymmetry. I've been thinking about doing the exact same project. That location, while drawing air through the rad, should help cool the turbo bits very well.

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