There is a saying, that whatever the question is, the answer is always Miata. Here is a new question. What is one of the most modified cars around today? The answer is of course Miata.
I discovered “The Red Door Meet” earlier this summer, and went back a few more times to check out all the cool cars. Looking through my photos I noticed something. I had seen lots of 1st generation Miata’s, and virtually none of them appeared to be stock.
The Miata seems to be a blank canvas to automotive artists. You can fight among yourselves if what has been done to these cars is sacrilege or not, but none can be called boring.
Let’s start with my favorite, this fantastic off-road Miata. Doing a little research on this car turned me on to an event called the “Gambler 500 Rally”. People compete in old beaters and it looks like it would be a blast to participate in.
According to the video, the car has over 200K miles, and was pretty much used up, so why not do something kind of crazy, like making it into a poor man’s Aerial Nomad. I was kind of surprised to find out the car uses stock Miata wheels. Who would think rubber like that would fit on a stock wheel?
Speaking of Aerials, how about this Exomotive Exocet? This is a kit car that turns 1st and 2nd generation Miatas into a budget Aerial Atom. While possibly one of the worst daily drivers ever, this thing must be extremely fun on a twisty road.
I’ll be honest here. This last one tests my automotive tolerance. This blank canvas has been turned into a Velvet Elvis painting. What you see here is called Kimoji style. When I first spotted this car I figured that this was about as bad a thing that you could do to a poor little Miata.
A month or two later I saw it again, and by god the car had gotten worse. Those stars added insult to the previous injury. The car is now almost too painful for me to look at. I’m sure the owner is a fine person, who has put their heart and soul into the build, and maybe someone will point out some amazing fact about the car to change my mind, but until then, I say “Kill this one with fire”.
That’s why I keep mine stock, so few are.
+1: keeping it stock… as it should be.
Not to distract, Tim — but in looking for modified Miatas online, I found this. Custom gauges: who knew ?
Thanks for the interesting topic !
Without commenting on the last Miata, I do have questions. I have never seen a car with a stance like that.
Does that car drive down the road with all four tires having a negative camber like that? Or do the tires somehow get properly aligned for driving (and that camber is just for parking at the show)? If a car like that drives with tires on the inside edge, how long can the tires last? Do other owners do the same thing to cars but instead with a positive camber? And, of course, why is this done?
The primary reason to do this is looks and style. I think it took inspiration from some autocross racers, which used wide low profile tires, lowered suspension and mild negative camber to help in extreme cornering.
Of course the custom crowd admired the look and took it to extremes, sometimes rendering the car almost undrivable. Suspension function and handling are ruined and the tires don’t last long at all. But driving it is not the point. It’s built to be looked at and admired, like a rolling sculpture.
Of course, extreme customizing has been enhancing extreme looks at the expense of function for over 70 years. It’s not to my taste but I’m happy to see someone enthusiastically customizing their car.
And it appears that somebody is inspired by bosuzoku (sp?) although they haven’t taken it nearly far enough to be a good example. I think that the sin there, too wild for American tastes, too conservative (bordering on half-assed) for Japanese.
Thanks for the info; I don’t get it. I can not understand taking a car that originally handled great and taking it to the cusp of undrivable. Now I know lead sled Mercurys and low rider Impalas have been customized to extremes – with no benefit to and probably some detriment to their enjoyment as a driver. I understand those though.
Now going another way with a Miata I think could be absolutely great. Take it down to a car as spartan as a bug eye Sprite. But the beauty in that is obvious; it is lighter, quicker and handles even better. I see no beauty in making a car useless.
As someone who took a fair amount of LSD in my youth, I get it. 🙂
There’s more to life than things functioning optimally.
It doesn’t on the surface make sense to offer a BOF 4×4 like a Chevrolet Suburban and then market it with 22″ rims and tires from the factory either, (which don’t help it off-road OR on-road in situations when the 4WD is needed), yet here we are… 🙂
While I wouldn’t want to own some of the vehicles pictured, I am glad they exist. There are more than enough bland-mobiles in the world.
He’s crossed genres here – that paint job looks almost itasha-style.
All 5 of mine were stock as well, with the exception on 4 of hi-po, gumball tires!! Of all the cars I’ve owned including 2 C4 and 1 C5 Vette, none has come close to the driving FUN my Miatas returned. Two were Matono’s original N/A, the other 3 N/Bs, including 1 Mazdaspeed version.
Being a retired Designer, my eyes most like the N/As, clean, simple and really timeless. I took my first N/A Miata down to SE Kentucky with 2 friends on superbikes. Once we got on the twisty back roads down the, neither of the 2 bikes could keep my Miatas’ tail lights in sight!! Absolute most fun I’ve ever had with 4 wheels!! DFO
Yes. That is how it drives down the road. The ground clearance is almost zero.
Typo: Tom MatAno, ACCD grad same little class I was in, 5 made it thru to graduate. Tom was the U.S. Design Manager for Mazda’s Advanced USA studio. He and Chuck Jordon’s son-on the board sketching-plus the others did a superb job of creating the look/feel of old UK roadsters, but in a fresh new way. Truly timeless ID work!! 🙂 DFO
I’m a big fan of the Flyin’ Miata kits, which are a tasteful way to shave some weight off of an NA or NB Miata. The one pictured below is the Catflish, but there’s even a more-minimalistic one called the Excocet, which is almost Ariel-Atom-esque in its simplicity.
Those are gorgeous- kind of reminds me of an over the top BMW Z4.
I realize I come across as extremely pedantic with this but the phrase should be “Miata Is Always The Answer”. Note the first letter of each word.
All Miatas are fun, and they do lend themselves to customization. Some people just like to customize a little more than others. You’ve shown an assortment of interesting options, thanks for sharing them!
Not being pedantic, that’s the whole joke! You just beat me to pointing out the same thing. I first learned it in RLPlaut’s COAL series.
I have heard of V-8 conversions for Miatas. This one should be especially healthy!
For those who always have LSx as the answer, this could be the best of both worlds.
Having driven two Miata’s, and a few LS engines, my heart skips a beat thinking about this marriage.
Saw this one at the local Dairy Queen back in May:
Considering how many bone stock Miatas I see in Pick-A-Part with good paint and upholstery, I’m inclined to say “why not ?” .
I recently saw a red 4X4 looking one and thought it clever if weird .
That ‘Kimoji’ thing is plain old silly as it cann’t actually be driven father than it takes to get to the show and shine but it’s not being scrapped so whatever……
A Miata is definitely on my automotive bucket list. Just love that short-throw shifter. Only drove one once 10 years ago but still remember it!
“What’s the minimal amount of vehicle you can autox with?”
Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner but I was out driving mine. 🙂
Can’t forget this one – it will haunt your dreams tonight.
Oddly enough, that does not look half bad. I imagine it is easier to park then the 59 Caddy
A 59′ Cadziata. OMG, as the kids say.
Noticing that swing-axle cars like the VW, and perhaps some up-market German cars as well, spread their tires like a bitch taking a squat (sorry — maybe that will be bleeped) when at the bottom of their suspension travel, I assumed that all the extreme lowering jobs looking like that were the natural result of their respective suspension geometries. To hear that this unfortunate side-effect became an end in itself brings on thoughts of . . . hara-kiri. Oh, the humanity.
I’m with Paul above, but….
Why do I not mind these and think there should be more of them, but get really annoyed seeing folks buying 1950s Studebaker Trucks and immediately putting them on S-10 chasis, sticking crate engines in them, and otherwise modifying them out of any true existence?