When I first got my '91 Base model
Mariner Blue Miata, I had a list
of things I wanted to do to it. I started with a 240W CD changer
Then, I added some 15" Fittipaldi 500 wheels. The wheel/tire
change turned out to be quite a headache, and after about 30,000mi,
I returned to the stock steel rims - ugly, but trouble free.
I had performance mods in mind, but I had just stepped up from a
1980 Honda Civic to a brand new 1991 Miata, quite a performance
upgrade right there. I decided that I could probably get in
enough trouble with 116HP, and truly, I can.
Over the next 5 years, I bought a house (read- no car money),
and did various low-cost things to the car:
In 1996 the Miata was paid off (simultaneously with the student loan),
rather than a new car, or saving for retirement, I think it's time for
some serious performance mods. The October 1990 issue of
Sports Car International featured a Cartech Turbo Miata,
that is essentially what I've wanted all along, and that's what
I'm doing now:
- Miata Club shift knob, I like it alot
- Air horns- neat
- Hella Headlamps, with the euro-pattern low beams, also much
better than the stock equipment. These and the horns were
a "car warming" gift from Dad. Later upgraded the H4 bulbs
from stock 55/65W to 55/100W, can you say HIGH BEAMS! ?
- G-Analyst, it's not really a mod to the car, and it wasn't
really low-cost, but it is a nifty toy, and it gave me an
objective viewpoint for what I and the car were doing.
I used it for about 2 months & put it away, bringing it
out when I make performance type changes to the car.
When I first got the G-Analyst, I practiced a few (maybe
a dozen) drag strip starts, got it up to a solid 0.5g
all through 1st gear, by slipping the clutch the whole
way. Perhaps that is why my clutch was almost gone at
48,000 miles. G-Analyst was traded for a GTech Pro
(plus cash), now I can read 0-60 and 1/4 mile times with
some semblance of repeatability.
- Triangulating rear sub-frame brace - I think it was from
Technosports, but I'm not sure. It noticably
improved the vibration I was getting from the 15" wheels.
I also believe it may have contributed to the demise of
my stock muffler - mild interference between the brace and
the muffler, combined with extreme heat from spirited
driving may have caused the driver side muffler hanger to
snap off - the $10 Meinike braze-on job seems to have
loosened one of the baffles, which now makes an awful racket
when hot - again, due to spirited driving.
- Splitfire plugs, I think they made an improvement, though
I want to get a set of new NGKs and do an objective
Moroso Motorsports Park
looks like a great place to do this kind of testing. Changed
to Bosch Platinums, Platinums got munged up after 15Kmi, changed
back to Splitfires - I think a plug is a plug is a plug, though
the Platinums proved not to be self-cleaning like they claimed to
- Timing advance, here, I believe the Splitfires may be working
against me, I can't get much more than 13 degrees BTDC without
pinging on 92 octane gas. Call me sick, but something inside
me just felt "wrong" about putting "cheap" gas in my baby,
advancing the timing gave a bit more pep, and a reason to
buy premium- sad, but true. I also only drive 10,000 miles
per year, so this is a matter of maybe $100/year.
The following are yet to be done:
- Front Airdam- There's a fairly good installation description at
although I will point out that if you drive the car up on ramps,
then install the airdam, you'll need to jack it up off the ramps
to get it down without tearing off your new airdam. Luckily, I had
the airdam in place before getting out the ramps, so I didn't make
this mistake. I wish I'd done this a long time ago - about $120
from Roebuck Mazda,
and the car is much more stable at highway speeds. In black, it
is hardly noticable, which is how I like it.
- O.K., five years after buying the car (one day after taking
the airdam picture), I finally got around to removing the front
"fangs"; if I had realized how heavy they are I'd have done this
sooner. I used to use them to tie on my lightweight car cover.
I haven't used that cover in four years, so I guess I can take off
the hooks now and get all those damn Miata clubbers off my back,
everytime they see the car, the first thing they look for is whether
or not the tie-down hooks have been removed, sheesh! A few days
later, I removed the rear hooks for good measure. They're much
easier then the fronts. Altogether, the hooks weigh about 6 lbs,
about the same as a gallon of gas.
- Brake system upgrade - the old
pads were gone anyway, so why not do it right?
- Centerforce Dual Friction clutch- this one will also get more
detail later, but for now, let's just say I'm glad I'm breaking
it in (450 miles) without the turbo installed. I don't know if
I'd have the self-control to be able to drive without using
full power for that long!
- Rollbar more than just a saftey item,
it really stiffened up the '91 chassis.
- Turbo - a System IV from Cartech and the
Dealer Alternative - the ultimate exhaust system replacement.
- Wheels & tires, again.
- 94+ Torsen limited slip differential.
This involved not only the differential, but driveshaft and
halfshafts as well.
- Flying Miata sway bars w/ urethane bushings (stiff hole in front, middle hole in back)
- Tokiko Illumina 5 position adjustable shocks (3-medium in front, 2-soft in back),
this is a mild understeer setup, which I (and 9 out of 10 911 Turbo owners) prefer
for day to day driving.
- AnaLink is a data capture, graphing and analysis program
that works with the Link ECU and a PalmPilot PDA. "Huh" you say? The
manual shows what it does.
- Lowered seating position a no-cost modification that
makes the Miata fit better to my 6'1" frame, why did I wait so long to do this?!?
And these things I haven't decided if I'm going to do or not:
- Speedometer calibration, it's only reading 5% slow, hard to justify
possibly screwing things up for 5%.
- Racing seats. I love the seats that came in the 911 speedster,
especially the color-keyed seat belts. Of course, my 5 point
harness will be electric blue.
- The custom multi-color paint job isn't happening, I got a plain old
repaint as part of collision repair from a hit and run accident,
a stolen Mustang 5.0 knocked me into a bus :(
The Miata Features Table
makes a nice baseline reference for what Miatas have come equipped with over