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1992 Mazda Miata - Run Devil Run!

A Roadster That Destroys All Conventional American Stereotypes of the (De)Famed Mazda Miata.

Joey Lee
Sep 15, 2011

The Mazda Miata has a bad rap in the United States. As an automotive enthusiast, we hope you don’t but we’re sure you easily recognize that. When one thinks of a Miata, nice words don’t tend to follow; even you might not think very nice things—and there’s nothing wrong with that. There has just always been this stigma that’s been associated with the Mazda roadster in our country. To be perfectly frank, it’s rather silly to think that we as Americans are so image-conscious that we would place gender labels on an object with four wheels and an engine. “It’s a girl’s car.” “Only chicks drive Miatas.” Any American feminine stereotype that has been placed on Mazda’s roadster is firmly locked in place, and the keys were thrown out long ago. Truth be told, any compact, two-door convertible could easily be considered a “girly” car. Americans are so concerned about image that it’s not even okay for two guys to sit in a car with the top down without being emasculated by any and everyone around them. The Honda S2000 doesn’t have it quite as rough as the Miata and it’s actually one of the most popular chassis to modify because of immense support from the aftermarket. Even so, you still wouldn’t find two grown men sitting elbow-to-elbow in a S2K with the top down and not let off a slight chuckle under your breath.

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These American stereotypes are terrible because it destroys our perceptions of what these compact two-door roadsters were originally designed to be—sports cars. The Mazda Miata is actually a great platform and is one of the last of a dying breed of true roadsters. It’s a sports car and always has been since Mazda originally came up with the notion to create it. Hell, it’s probably more of a true-bred sports car than what you drive. In Japan, and other parts of the world outside of ours, the Miata is quite the popular chassis to build upon. Like the few Miata-lovers stateside, enthusiasts around the world appreciate the Miata because of its lightweight unibody design, rear-wheel drive configuration and perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Miata-enthusiasts aren’t concerned with what people think about them because they know that they are driving one of the best-engineered compact sports cars of the modern era. Real car guys should be less concerned about how they look in their cars and more focused on how to make their project cars as functional and nimble as the “girly” Miata roadster.

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When Cody Chan first acquired his 1992 Mazda Miata, he had no idea what he was getting into. He didn’t care what people thought of him owning one; he just wanted something other than the car he had. “I had an AE86 Corolla back then that I just wanted to get rid of,” Cody says. “No specific reason really; it was a good car and I just wanted something different. I posted it up for sale, somebody offered me a trade for a Miata and I took it. I didn’t know anything about them at the time and I never even saw the potential that they had.”

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The Miata was foreign to Cody and it took quite a bit of time before he realized what he wanted to do to his roadster. There weren’t many around for him to draw inspiration from so he sat in front of his computer, surfing for as much info as he could find. Cody recalls, “When I first got the car, I really didn’t know what kind of direction I wanted to go. The whole ‘Hellaflush’ movement was starting to become popular during that time so I just threw on random parts that I thought were cool and didn’t bother to visualize how it would all come together in the end. There was a lot of trial and error involved but I’m glad that I was able to learn from it all.”

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Cody ultimately drew inspiration from the Eunos roadster, which was the Miata’s Japanese counterpart. Visual examples from his many nights of online research helped to create an image of what he wanted. He loved the really aggressively-built Miata track-monsters in Japan so he decided to build his own. “I really wanted to build a Miata the way they did in Japan but with a few of my own personal touches. I wanted a Japanese-themed track monster that I could also enjoy on the streets.”

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What you see on these pages is the culmination of a 4-year build. This two-door convertible is as mean as they come, and barely retains any resemblance of its stock form. The most obvious alteration made is the widened footwork. For this type of wheel fitment and stance to be possible, meaty rubber wraps around the 9-inch wide TE37Vs, which sit snuggly under a set of Autokonexion fender flares. Behind the Advan A032R rear tires is a Shine Auto rear diffuser with vortex generators and an exceptionally tall RS GT-wing. The front-half of the Mazda has a face lift via a Bomex front bumper and the signature pop-up headlights of the first gen Miata have been removed in favor of Mid-Tenn flush mount units. Further spacing had to be done up in front to properly fit the -15 offset Volk wheels.

Cody had to cut into his OEM metal hood to install a URAS-style hood vent, but the additional ventilation proves useful in keeping the Jackson Racing M45 supercharger cool during Cody’s canyon runs. A smaller supercharger pulley enables him to run higher boost while injectors from a newer 1.8L Miata engine ensure that Cody’s B6ZE motor is receiving adequate fuel.

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The cockpit of this roadster is perhaps the least refined of the build. The Auto Power rollcage is scuffed-up, the foam padding of the cage is falling apart and the Buddy Club buckets are beginning to show their age. If this Miata is a “chick’s car”, then “she” must be driving the shit out of this one. The wear and tear of the interior adds a certain character to a build that already has enormous amounts of personality. It’s a sure sign that the owner is having a good time.

The credo that Mazda came up with during the development of the Miata was the Japanese phrase “jinba ittai”, which translates roughly to “rider (jin) horse (ba) as one (ittai)”. It was coined to reinforce how important the connection was between the car and its driver. Jinba ittai is also a phrase that Cody knows all too well. “Of all the cars I have owned, this one is the one that I feel I have the deepest connection with.” Negative connotations or not, we’re sure this hasn’t dampened his spirit to drive a downright wicked roadster.

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Tuning Menu

1992 Mazda Miata
Owner Cody Chan
Hometown Pomona, Ca
Occupation driver
Power est. 155whp
Engine 1992 Mazda 1.6L B6ZE; Jackson Racing M45 supercharger, 4-2-1 exhaust manifold and high-flow catalytic converter; high-boost pulley modification; custom carbon-fiber intake with ducting; HPS silicone couplers; Miata 1.8L fuel injectors; CX Racing oil cooler; GReddy oil filter relocation kit; Racing Beat Power Pulse exhaust; Mishimoto electric radiator fans; Beat Rush cooling underpanel; DME cooling panel; Garage Star wiper cowl, carbon-fiber spark plug cover
Drivetrain ACT Stage 1 clutch, heavy-duty pressure plate; lightened 1.6 flywheel
Engine Management MegaSquirt Miata plug-and-play engine management
Footwork & Chassis Megan Racing street coilovers; Racing Beat rear sway bar; Auto Power 6-point rollcage
Brakes Brembo front and rear drilled brake rotors; EBC brake pads; stainless steel brake lines
Wheels & Tires 15x9" Volk Racing TE37V (-15 offset); 205/50-15 Falken Azenis (front), 225/50-15 A032R (rear); ARP extended wheel studs; Muteki SR48 lug nuts
Exterior PPG Mercedes white paint w/House of Kolor silver ice pearl; Bomex Type 2 front bumper; APR Performance carbon-fiber front splitter, side mirrors; Autokonexion side skirts, fender flares w/custom spacing on front fenders, carbon-fiber rear finish panel; Shine Auto rear diffuser w/vortex generators; RS GT-wing; Project-G roof spoiler, side-splitters; URAS-style bolt-on hood vent; Craftsquare rear canard add-ons; Lexan ¼ window w/vent; R.E.D. tow hooks, hood tow hook; Mid-Tenn flush mount headlights; Moss turn signal intake vents; K2 Altezza-style taillights w/candy apple red paint; Custom LED 3rd brake light; OEM Mazda optional hard-top
Interior Buddy Club seats; Nardi Classic 330mm steering wheel; MOMO steering wheel hub; FET steering quick-release; Autogrimmig shift knob w/shift extender; JDM OEM Roadster checkered floor mats; KG Works starter panel; LED kick panel interior lights; Safe Racer-spec Miata hard-top mounts; !njoy door pulls; Rockford Fosgate Punch 10-inch subwoofer; Kicker amplifier
Thanks You Thanks to everybody that has had a hand in this project, I couldn’t have done it without my good friends and supporters. It was a lot of late nights, blood, sweat, back pain and headaches. Mike Burlas at Autokonexion; Robert Bahr at R.E.D.; Ryoku Engineering and Design; Hung Huynh and Max Tam at Hipro Speed; Ray and Dee Gonzaga at DB Auto Care/Racetoys; The Drift Speed crew: Quoc, Tony, Koji, Yoshiyoka, Minako; Long Le and Jim Le at Buddha Paint OC; Ken Raif at Garage Star; Daniel Lim at Tustin Mazda; Steve Fujita and Joey Tam at Project-G; Adam Feliciano; Chris Oi; Emerson Hernendes; Brian Linga; Jonathan Bartolome; Paul Rohm; Kinod OG Crew/Garage Woolery; and to our friend Kevin Harney, rest in peace brother!
WWW autokonexion.com; buddhapaintoc.com; driftspeed.com; formoverfunctionz.com; garagestar.com; hiprospeed.com; racetoys.net

By Joey Lee
242 Articles

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