The Mazda Miata was first introduced to the world at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. At a time when most manufacturers were loading up their compact sports cars with complex features such as rear-wheel steering and electronic limited-slip differentials, Mazda took a completely different approach. Their selling point was a lightweight roadster that was as simple as possible (without sacrificing safety, of course) and of the tried-and-true front engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. The Miata was met with very positive reviews in the media and was very popular with consumers; to this day it is the best-selling two-seater convertible roadster in history. Considering that just the first-generation NA models sold more than 400,000 units, it's no surprise that they have been used and modified in every possible fashion. The vast majority of MX-5s, named for Mazda Experiment: Project Number 5, have been built to comply with strict regulations in their racing class, such as the Spec Miata series. While it makes a lot of sense to have a racing class completely dedicated to one make and model of a car, it doesn't get much more competitive than this. It's also refreshing to see a car built with no restrictions nor regulations to follow; the only agenda being the owner's imagination-this car is exactly that.
Matthew Lamphier purchased his '92 Miata in December 2010, originally to pull daily driver duties while he rebuilt the engine in his Mazdaspeed 3. As daily drivers tend to do, however, it grew on him-so much, in fact, that he sold his Mazdaspeed 3 after the engine was rebuilt and opted to build the Miata. Matthew admits that cars have always intrigued him as a whole, having grown up listening to his father's stories about when he was his age building hot rods in a barn. It seems to be commonly accepted by auto enthusiasts that hot rodding is much more a means to express one's style and imagination than a competition. Of course, it allows you to showcase your skill, but there are no rules. This mindset is apparent when taking a look at Matthew's Miata.
The first thing you may notice on this car is the aggressive stance that is significantly wider than stock. The huge polished lips (120mm deep!) peeking out from under the Autokonexion fender flares belong to a set of insanely sized 15x9 -18 Work Meister CR-01s-Work Wheels' most recent offering for the compact and vintage car market. The CR-01s are wrapped in Hankook Ventus RS-3s, which hint that this car is not just a trailer queen. Although quite decent for stock parts, the original shocks and springs have been relieved from their shock-absorbing duties by D2 coilovers, which allow for an adjustable height and stiffer ride-essential when your tires are within millimeters of your fender flares. The Racing Beat front bumper and Chaser Aero hood complement the aggressive theme of the car, while a stock rear bumper with the lower center area removed serves as a frame for the MagnaFlow muffler and painted suspension components underneath. The deep teal that is found on every panel of this car save for the Autokonexion carbon-fiber trunk is actually a GM color, originally available on the Saturn Ion and Pontiac Vue. I doubt this color has ever received as much attention on either of those cars as it does slathered on this Miata.
One of the most impressive parts of this car is usually obstructed from plain sight by the hood. The engine bay in this car has had an amazing amount of attention poured into it-it's virtually impossible to not notice the work. Shaved and tucked engine bays have been commonplace in Hondas and classic American cars for years, however it is rarely seen done on an MX-5. Matthew started by shaving the entire compartment, smoothing out all the seams and filling in every unused hole before coating it all with a white base followed by a clearcoat infused with solar fire flake. The engine itself has been visually simplified with the addition of Jenvey individual throttle bodies, which has also improved throttle response and added a bit of power. Allowing the engine to operate with the new air intake setup is a plug-and-play Megasquirt stand-alone ECU sending and receiving signals through a custom tucked wiring harness. Sitting within the white painted valve cover are OBX 256/256 camshafts and adjustable cam gears, which allow the 1.6L straight-four to make as much use of the additional air as possible. A Walbro fuel pump sends fuel to a Jenvey fuel rail, bringing the air/fuel ratio to an acceptable level. Post-combustion exhaust gasses are pushed through a Racing Beat header and a custom 2.25-inch exhaust system fabricated by Dan's Creation. Keeping the engine at safe operating temperatures is a Koyorad 55mm aluminum radiator fed by Mishimoto hoses; a TorqFlo 12-inch fan keeps airflow consistent even at idle. Seemingly minor details such as the relocated thermostat housing and brake lines make all the difference in such a carefully planned and executed engine bay.
The interior is left relatively spartan, just as Mazda intended. The most obvious changes include a Bride Zeta seat on the driver side, and a Grip Royal steering wheel attached to an NRG quick release and short hub, making entry and exit a little less of an ordeal. A Hard Dog six-point bolt-in "street" rollcage keeps occupants safe in case of an accident at the track. A Garage Star shift extender and shift knob make selecting gears less mundane, and sheet aluminum has replaced the vinyl on the lower half of the door panels, adding to the aggressive feel of the car.
Matthew shared with us that he has always had a crazy imagination-as if that wasn't obvious after taking a glance at his creation-but there is a method to his madness. Not only did he meticulously choose every addition-every part replacement made to be a part of a larger whole-you can literally spend hours looking over every inch of this car and continue to be impressed by the details. Compared to the majority of Miata enthusiasts, Matthew took a unique approach to building his car. Many Miata owners consider themselves purists, keeping the driving experience true to the original design and keeping the exterior features subtle. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, variety is considered the spice of life for a reason. If nothing else, Matthew has definitely succeeded in seasoning a classic platform with a fresh new flavor.
Behind the Build
Build Time 2 1/2 years
"I have always had a crazy imagination, and I wanted to create a Miata that would break necks."
You can literally spend hours looking over every inch of this car and continue to be impressed by the details.
1992 Mazda Miata
Engine B6ZE; OBX 256/256 camshafts, cam gears; Jenvey Dynamics IRTBs, 90mm aluminum horns, fuel rail; Zeromotive vacuum block; AEM fuel pressure regulator; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Racing Beat header; Dan's Creation 2.25-inch exhaust with MagnaFlow and resonator; Denso spark plugs; Duralast Gold battery; Koyorad 55mm aluminum radiator; Mishimoto radiator hoses, thermostat; TorqFlo 12-inch fans; Mazdaspeed oil cap; Beatrush radiator cooling panel; Blackworks Racing gold fender washer bolts; Megasquirt Version 3 plug-and-play; AEM digital wideband; thermostat relocated to rear of head; custom wire harness with two Wirecare.com Deutsch connectors; engine bay shaved and painted white with solar fire flake
Drivetrain Mazda 4.10 Torsen LSD; 949 Racing billet slave cylinder, stainless steel clutch line Suspension D2 coilovers; Racing Beat 15?16-inch front sway bar, rear subframe brace; Hard Dog 6-point bolt-in street 'cage; Energy Suspension full bushing replacement kit; all control arms painted white
Wheels/Tires 15x9 -18 Work Meister CR-01 (120mm lip); Hankook Ventus RS-3
Brakes Powerstop ceramic pads, zinc-plated cross-drilled and slotted rotors; Track Dog Racing stainless steel lines; Wilwood proportioning valve, 7?8-inch master cylinder; All In Fabrication brake booster delete; rerouted brake lines into cabin
Exterior Racing Beat Type 2 front bumper; Chaser Aero GT300 hood; Autokonexion carbon version 1.5 trunk, 40mm fender flares; Depo smoked signal lights; shaved gas door, antenna; GM Dark Dragonfly Teal Metallic paint sprayed by Tanq Industries; VHT red nightshade applied to taillights; cut rear bumper
Interior Bride Zeta driver seat; seat brackets welded to floor; NRG 4-point harness, short hub, black/neochrome Version 2 quick release; Grip Royal Royal Sleek steering wheel; Garage Star 2.75-inch shift extender with white ball; white LED conversion in gauge cluster; custom aluminum door panels, air vent gauge pod; Project G custom black leather shift boot with white stitching; Broadway 270mm convex rearview mirror; steering wheel hook; Power Acoustik PTID-4333NR head unit; C4 components front speakers; Kicker 350.4 amplifier
Gratitude "A lot of love goes out to my buddy Chris Bader; he was there through the thick and thin, no matter what we did he was always more than willing to lend a hand. Tanq, for doing all of the paintwork and letting me help with the process. Omar and Juan Cardona at Invision Autohouse for helping me source parts and always giving support. Scott Allinder at Grip Royal for the best customer service with steering wheels and accessories. Joseph Dale at SouthrnFresh out of Atlanta for always giving me new ideas to try and possibly do in the upcoming years. Max at Rev9 Autosport for all of my Jenvey parts and hard-to-find JDM parts. Ravi Angard for letting me be a part of Team V2Lab and always encouraging me to succeed in the auto industry, my family was always a great help; they would always try to help and encourage me, not just build a well-rounded car, but to better myself, my knowledge, and my own hands-on experiences with building a car. Lastly and most importantly, my fiance, Kassandra; no matter how late I'd stay up to work on my car, or when she would have to take me to grab a bolt or part because my car was apart, she was right there by my side to assist."