The term “fast car” is extremely subjective. While it can mean anything that chirps second gear to anyone with VTEC stickers on their fenders, it usually means face-melting acceleration and neck-snapping G-forces on unassuming off ramps. Simply put, a fast car is whatever can kick your ass without a second thought. Here’s how to make a fun-spec Miata into a bona fide ass-kicking machine.
(Welcome back to Build of the Week, where we highlight your project cars. If you’d like a chance to be in the Build of the Week drawing, send an email to my Jalopnik email address and I promise that it won’t sit in my inbox for weeks. For realsies.)
This week’s submission comes to us from Joshua, who liked a Mazda Miata so much that he threw its body away, added a turbocharger, and made it into the kind of hardcore track focused machine that makes divorce attorneys across the country salivate uncontrollably.
This track-destroying lightweight started its life as an already heavily modified Mazda Miata. The car sported an engine with upgraded internals and a turbocharger and produced a yet undisclosed amount of power, but let’s just say it was adequate, given the Miata’s profound ability to achieve weightlessness while on Earth.
It was then quickly stripped to its subframe components, that thankfully can come off the car in one piece, like that ‘Stang your uncle keeps referring to when he drunkenly blurts “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Instead of installing some two-bit bodykit that made the car look like a ‘90s Lamborghini or ‘60s Ferrari at 1/2 scale, Joshua took the build in a whole ‘nother direction. He implemented a used and somewhat rusty shell of a kit car known as an Exocet.
For those that don’t live on Mazda Miata forums, an Exocet is a metal tube frame that you can drop right on the connected sub-frames of a bone stock Mazda Miata and increase the handling and responsiveness of the car to an extreme degree, as the whole package weighs 800 pounds less than the duct-tape-and-string body that came on the car originally. This makes the theoretical power to weight ratio of this car in particular something that would be considered by Ferrari to be a fifty year goal.
After disassembling the Miata, Joshua primed and painted the lightweight Exocet body/frame combo himself and started the somewhat lengthy process of putting the whole thing together, refurbishing and upgrading parts that weren’t fit on anything less than a fully realized track monster, like a fully adjustable Tein coilover suspension with electronic control and USB chargers. It’s not the most technologically advanced setup in the world, but it’s everything you’d ever want in a car that does only one thing spectacularly.
As it stands, the car is the best track day bargain that you can get today, bar none, as even the most no frills Lotus Seven clone would set you back five times more than what a good Exocet project would cost. You can also build it yourself like Joshua did, for a sense of accomplishment that you wouldn’t find on anything with a warranty. With slight power mods, you’ll be sure to have something extremely well sorted, or you can put in something with a ridiculous torque curve and do your best to try to spin the planet the other way.
In any case, I’m extremely glad these things exist, and given Joshua’s awesome looking build thread, I’m compelled to make one of my own. I’d urge you to follow his build, especially if you’re a budget modder with maximum thrills in mind, or you can be a pioneer in your own right by finding a Miata of your own and making it epic.
If you’d like me to write a few nice or not so nice words about the money-sucking hunk of steel that is your project car, you can comment here or email me with any of your suggestions. Be descriptive and send lots of pictures. Make sure to write “Build of the Week” in the subject, or else next week I’ll write about that stupid stanced and murdered-out VW Golf that cut you off on the highway that one time.
(Photo Credit: Joshua Miller)