Sacramento Area Miata Owners Association

Intakes, Outtakes and Retakes

...What is the best modification for your Miata

Why on earth do we feel it is necessary to modify a perfect car to begin with.  There is an old saying in the world of cars: The answer to nearly every automotive question is Miata.  What is a fun car to own?  What is an economical car to drive?  What is an easy car to maintain?  What car is easy to modify?  What car can I autocross?  What car can I drive to the track and drive home. What is a car that is easy on insurance?  There are more questions to answer.

So why?  Because it is everyone's right to personalize your vehicle, whether it needs it or not.  The engineers at Mazda have spent over 30 years designing and perfecting the Miata.  And they have taken a giant engineering hammer and hit the head of a automotive nail on most every generation.

So you bought a first gen Miata because you heard these things are fun and economical.  Mostly fun.  Where do you start if you think you can improve it.  For the most part, a first gen car is going to need to be improved a bit.  Other than maintainance and wear and tear on a 25 to 30 year old car where do you start.  A lot of folks start by opening up a Moss, Racing Beat, Goodwin Racing or Flyin Miata catalogue.  Lots of choices.  But, the key here is to find a mod that is CARB approved.  The socialist state of California has neutered a lot of the fun factor in modifying your car.  It is really important to make sure that the part you are watching on ebay is not only cheap but CARB approved with an EO number.

This article was meant to be number 2 of four stages during the year, one for each newsletter.  This issue was originally going to be the second.  About intakes, headers, exhaust and such.  But as the famous poet, Robert Burns once wrote, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Go oft awry.  Well this one went off the rails just recently because I probably read too many car magazines.

I was doing research on CARB legal Racing Beat intakes for the NA and NB, headers and cat back exhausts from the same.  Jackson Racing, Borla, RoadsterSport are excellent sources for NA owners to empty their checking accounts.  Mazdaspeed/AEM makes an excellent intake for the NB, which I have installed and it is a very nice looking piece of metal under the hood.  The ND is limited in intakes because of design differences of the motor in the engine compartment.  The list goes on.  Goodwin Racing, Flyin Miata, Moss and Racing Beat are all tried and true sources to empty your rapidly diminishing checking account.  Visa thanks you.

So let me quote a recent article from Road and Track by Travis Okulsky:

"It becomes difficult to justify buying other cars that will give half the thrill of the Miata for two, three, or four times the price.  Especially when you can buy a wonderful used one for far less than $10,000."  The writer/test driver goes on, "The Miata's sheer joy and ebullience has no equal." And here is the kicker, "This is the best, purest new car you can buy.  Proof that driver aids, electronic intervention, and gimmiccks in other cars exist solely to mask shortcomings, not to improve the experience.  If you truly enjoy driving, there is nothing better."  Amen

With that having been said/written, let me be the first to tell you that if it's higher performance from your little rocket that you are seeking, the best modification someone can make to the best sports car in history is YOU!  Take some driver education classes.  Go autocrossing.  Autocross is probably the best, safest  and cheapest way to experience the limits of your car, which is the beginning to learn how to drive.  It is a controlled environment.  Go to the track and get involved in Group C of a track event.  Get someone in the passenger seat who can really show you what your car can do.  I always remember a time when a young STR class driver asked me what was wrong with his car.  He wondered why he was getting his @$$ kicked by some old man.  So I drove with him and offered some hints.  By the end of his practice runs he had knocked off over 2 seconds off his time on a 40 second course.  It's is all education and experience.  In a couple of words.  Driver education.

Get out there and get experience if you want more enjoyment from your car.  Want to keep up?  Education.  Experience.  Ask questions.