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Mr. & Mrs. Showtime

Lisa & Mike Riker Rescued This Miata From the Daily Grind and Delivered it Into the Limelight

John C. Naderi
Apr 1, 2000

As with most other tales of rampant excess, this too started innocently enough. Mike and Lisa Riker needed a compact car to deliver Lisa to and from work. They found this cute little ’91 Miata at a used-car lot and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Rikers can definitely be considered a family that plays together. They are a couple of seasoned car-show veterans who competed in the once-popular Southern California mini-truck circuit before evolving into the import scene. After playing around with the little Mazda for a while, the urge to build it into a show car became too great, and Lisa surrendered to temptation. During the early stages of the buildup, the goal was to preserve the daily driver status by keeping the modifications minor. But what started with wheels and some bolt-ons, blossomed into the showstopper you see here.

One of our favorite traits about the Rikers (Besides Mike’s great taste in women.—MAX) is that they really know what it takes to make an award-winning car. Today’s show cars seem mild in comparison to the hot rods, mini trucks, and air-cooled VWs that were once so prevalent on the scene. Trust us, we would much rather see a trick GS or M3 than a Nissan hardbody with hydraulics and rolled tires, but something is missing. The wildest features normally found on today’s trophy hunters are usually mystic paint jobs and mobiletronics installations. With the exception of some poorly executed taillight conversions, nobody really sweats the details anymore (Enough with the soapbox oration.—MAX). With the Miata, Mike and Lisa have proven to be the exception to this rule.

The Body Beautiful
While the Miata’s body may be cute with plenty of retro-styling elements, this doesn’t score any points with the judges. To lend a more aggressive stance (If that’s possible.—MAX), a Racing Beat body kit with a Type II front clip, Cobra tonneau cover, and a Wings West rear wing was added. Additional exterior improvements came in the form of a Brainstorm half-tilt headlight kit and fuel filler cap, EPH carbon-fiber splitters, Catz XSL driving lights, red marker lights on all corners, and Lonza taillight covers. An impressive list, but still not enough for the Rikers.

Starbucks Auto Graphics in Riverside, California, was called in to straighten the body, properly fit the aftermarket pieces, and shave the antenna, emblems, moldings, and windshield washers. After completing the bodywork, Starbucks applied the PPG Super White paint and actually painted the silver stripe with the phantom checkered flag and Robocar logo. The workmanship and attention to detail on the paint and bodywork have to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

Extra Points for Performance
All of that beautiful bodywork doesn’t mean a thing to the judges unless you back it up with some hardware under the hood and fenders. Mike and Lisa followed through with such go-fast goodies as an MSD ignition, Split Fire plugs, a GReddy mild cam and stainless-steel valve kit, ported and polished head and throttle body, Cool Flex radiator hose, and, just for fun, a 50hp NOS with a high-pressure fuel pump. For improved airflow, an HKS Powerflow filter was added with a beautifully fabricated custom intake tube that was actually made by Mike. The exhaust is routed through a ceramic coated Racing Beat header and a Tanabe exhaust system. A Center Force dual-friction clutch and Brainstorm short-shift kit help improve things in the power converter department.

It should be noted that the Tanabe exhaust was the first on a Miata in the U.S., and the gang at Mackin Industries (Tanabe’s U.S. importer) also brought in a set of Tanabe Sustec Pro dampers. Mike and Lisa went back to Racing Beat for some race springs; front and rear antisway bars; front, center, and rear lower braces; upper front and rear strut tower braces; and an adjustable rear camber kit. Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings help tighten up the suspension even more. Stopping power is improved with Brembo cross-drilled rotors, steel-braided brake lines from Stillen, and Racing Beat high-performance pads. But the real jewels underneath the fenders are the four massive 18-inch MHT V-10s. These beauties look hot, and they are topped off with some no-profile 35-series Toyo Proxes rubber.

The Interior Uncovered
If you flip back the ragtop, you’ll find the interior is just as impressive as the rest of this Miata, from the chrome Racing Beat rollbar with JVC-mounted on-board camera to the MOMO race seats and Trust harnesses. Mike’s handiwork is evident again in the custom door panels with a raised checkerboard design. Other nice touches are the MOMO steering wheel and shift knob, Lonza pedal set, brushed-aluminum door sills, billet window cranks, chrome fire extinguisher, white gauge faces with billet rings, Auto Meter A-pillar mount and dash vents filled with silver gauges, and a carbon-fiber dash kit. In the mobiletronics department, California Sounds managed to squeeze in an Alpine receiver and six-disc changer, MTX 4160 amplifier with electronic crossover, two Audiobahn 8-inch subwoofers, two Rockford Fosgate 6.5-inch separates and swivel tweeters, and they tied it all together with Streetwires wiring.

Since they’ve done just about everything to the Miata, the Riker’s might retire it from the show circuit and roll the car out to the races. Lisa already piloted the Miata down the 1320 in a somewhat respectable 14.2 at 98.60 mph—and that was in full show trim! Now she wants to try her hand at some autocross and road-course events. Mike is pondering an engine swap of some kind. These show people, they’re always trying to do something impressive.

2017 Mazda Miata
$24,915 Base Model (MSRP) 26/33 MPG Fuel Economy
By John C. Naderi
49 Articles

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