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1991 Mazda MX-5 Miata - Mean Green Love Machine

This ain’t your grandmama’s Miata.

Nate Hassler
Sep 22, 2011
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The Mazda Miata is an interesting car. To many people in the world who aren’t automotive enthusiasts, “high performance” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of this Mazda roadster. To some folks, the Miata is just kind of a funny little vehicle — a cute convertible you might expect to see cruising down Pacific Coast Highway, top down and blasting Katy Perry at full volume. Denying that the aforementioned scene probably does, in fact, happen dozens of times each day would be silly. Conversely, denying the true performance potential of the blonde-haired-stepchild of the sports car community would be an outright and shameful display of ignorance.

It takes a real man to drive a Miata, and Shane Cabral is a man indeed. After discovering his love for Japanese cars at the ripe age of 12, he grew up with high hopes, waiting patiently for the time-honored teenage tradition of receiving his driver’s license (and the associated freedom) to become a reality. Shane’s first car was a ’90 Honda Civic, not exactly what we would call a sports car straight out of the box. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for Shane the limitations of the EF chassis outweighed the benefits, so the search for the next best thing consumed his late teen life.

After owning another FF Honda for a short time, Shane ended up stumbling across a Miata thread on a popular message forum and his mind was changed immediately. Within a matter of days, the Honda was gone, and shortly thereafter Shane had his first Miata. It was a U.S.-spec car, shipped all the way from Torrance, CA, to his home in Montreal. He immediately fell in love with the lightweight and nimble chassis and quickly got to work performing basic modifications to feed his addiction for speed. After an unfortunate and untimely accident, Shane was left with a wrecked MX-5 and aspirations to build the next one to an even higher level.

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Anyone who has ever searched long and hard for a very specific car knows the pains of waiting for the right vehicle to surface. Countless hours of searching through classified ads, days on end browsing online forums and for-sale threads, the search can take its toll on anyone. Not to be deterred, Shane stuck it out and was rewarded when he finally located the car we see before us. After taking delivery of this clean ’91 British Racing Green Miata, the build began immediately.

“I would say that it was a quick build,” Shane adds. “It only took me a little while longer than the Canadian winter season to build this car. The absolute first thing I did with my new Miata was begin by taking it apart piece by piece.” Any project car has its issues, but starting out with a plan of attack is the best way to make your life as easy as it can be. Shane started things off by pulling the motor in preparation for an extensive overhaul.

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“I sent [the motor] to TK Raceheads, a shop situated in Laval, Quebec, for a full engine build,” Shane says. “The work they did consisted of upgraded connecting rods, pistons and headwork.” Shane’s Miata currently sports a turbo kit based off the BEGI SSM kit. An upgraded Garrett 2860 RS “disco potato” turbo helps pump out a little more gusto than the standard kit, while a few other choice upgrades keep the setup cool and reliable. Shane credits Romboti Tuning of Montreal for the fabrication and fitment work, as well as a trick custom 3-inch after-cat exhaust. After bringing the car to another local tuning guru for a final tune, the Miata ended up making a healthy 330 rwhp, which is enough to make this little drop-top scoot pretty good.

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More than 300 whp in a small, nimble car like this is a recipe for disaster if the suspension department isn’t properly addressed. Shane is no fool, which is why he spared no expense in upgrading the MX-5’s handling. A nice selection of performance parts makes up the underside of this Miata. Stance GR+ coilovers keep the car’s posture low and functional, while a Racing Beat rear subframe brace and Energy Suspension master bushing kit provide an extra bump of stiffness to help maintain the best handling characteristics possible. Megan Racing rear upper adjustable arms finish off the suspension modifications, making for quite a nice selection of goodies in Shane’s little convertible.

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And although the Miata is technically a convertible, Shane has gone the popular hardtop route, a favorite among Miata owners who are serious about performance. The rest of the exterior package is simple, consisting of Garage Vary headlight covers, a Trap front lip and Jubiride fender flares. On the inside, the look is again clean and performance-rooted. A deep-dish Nardi steering wheel and Trust shift knob look right at home with the Bride Zeta 2 seat, a modest array of AEM gauges and a Hard Dogg rollbar to tie it all together. The combined effect of these parts is clean and effective — Shane’s Miata won’t be mistaken for anything less than a clean, functional street machine.

“This Miata is the reality of my passion for modifying cars,” Shane says happily. “But honestly, I only drive it on rare occasions when I attend local meets. Using it rarely makes the few times I do choose to use it all the more worthwhile.” A strange sentiment to most, but we can understand wanting to save it for special occasions. Hopefully, Shane gets plenty of chances to drive his MX-5 and maybe even hit a track day or few; after all, it would be a shame to let a good thing go to waste.

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Specs & Details

'91 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Engine Mazda B6ZE inline-4
Engine Modifications 255-lph Walbro fuel pump; ARP head studs & main studs; Cometic head gasket; BEGI SSM turbo kit; custom 3" V-band downpipe & exhaust; Garrett 2860RS “disco potato” turbo; stainless oil & water lines; HKS blow-off valve & 256/264 camshafts; Maruha cam gears; 22" front-mount intercooler; custom intercooler piping; 79mm Wiseco pistons; Eagle connecting rods; Gates racing timing belt; Super Tech valves, valvesprings & guides; Bosch 900cc fuel injectors; Mazdaspeed motor mounts; GM IAT sensor; BMW TPS; Mishimoto fan & fan shroud
Engine Management Megasquirt PNP standalone ECU
Drivetrain ’04 MSM rear torsion differential, rear axles & driveshaft; Exedy Stage 2 clutch
Suspension Stance GR+ coilovers; Racing Beat rear subframe brace; Energy Suspension master bushing kit; Megan Racing rear upper adjustable arms
Interior 330mm Nardi deep corner steering wheel; Trust shift knob; Bride Zeta 2 seat; Memery Fab seat rails; Broadway mirror; AEM true boost, wideband & oil temp gauges; Hard Dogg m2 hardcore rollbar
Exterior Garage Vary headlight covers; Trap 100mm front lip; Jubiride fender flares; OEM hardtop
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 15x8" -3mm Work Equip 03 wheels; Toyo T1R tires195/45R15 (f); BFGoodrich TA Drag Radial tires 225/50R15 (r); Work lug nuts
Thanks To Patrick Amaral, Tom from, JAG Imaging, Club & Rombotis Tuning

By Nate Hassler
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