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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you will know Panda 1 which I had from circa 2007 onwards. I sold it on to someone who sold the parts and scrapped it. Shame, but that's how it goes:































 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is Panda2.





I've had it since 2010, which for me is a lifetime. On average I have 6 different cars a year. I've sold this once and bought it back and I've bought and then sold other MX5s in between - but now I can't see I'll ever sell this one again.

Let's rewind the clock back 3 years to when I first bought it and I'll bring you up-to-date on the ups and downs of getting to where it is today: an angry thing that likes to pick on 911s...

So, day 1 of ownership of a '94 Silverstone NA8C Eunos Roadster, originally sold to a chap in Japan. While in Japan it had a Mazdaspeed rollbar, seats and exhaust etc. It also had Gearclimb springs and dampers and Endless brakepads. I think it did a little track time over there.



After being imported from Japan to the UK lots of the mazdaspeed bits were moved elsewhere and the car looked a bit sorry for itself. In fact when i got it it was filthy and in need of a good wash. It also still had all the original JDM licencing stickers on it and even things like Japanese parking tickets in side it.















 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It was surprising, the more I dug about, just how many of the original JDM features were still present. For instance the obligatory Japanese flare was still in the holder beneath the dashboard.



..and it had retained a few nice pieces like a Mazdaspeed gearknob and Nardi Torino wheel.





These were destined for the classifieds though and a plan was drawn up. The aim of the car was simple.

- Increase power to weight ratio
- Retain water-tightness so it could be used in the rain
- Retain heater system
- Keep it road legal

The goal was to achieve a car that could drive on the roads to a racetrack without needing to be trailered and do so in the rain and crappy weather that the UK and Europe can experience. It should be able to drive 1,000 miles or so if necessary to a race track in Europe, lap all day without failing and drive back home again.

Feel, balance and harmonising weight and feedback over outright power were a priority. The car should be just as able to be threaded along a UK B road, taking in the unique nature of our twisty, windy badly cambered and broken surfaced tarmac without suffering like so many track optimised cars can.

Being robust and prepared sufficiently to deal with long track sessions without spending hours at a time being fettled in the paddock was also a priority. There are lots of high powered turbo cars that seem to spend 1/2 of the time they're at a track day just sat in the pits having bits replaced or repaired. I was very keen to avoid this.

So, first up - coilovers. BCs were ordered.



I took one look and sent them back. The design of the rear topmount would have given hardly any rear travel. A known issue on NAs and one I thought these coilovers addressed. The info I was fed was incorrect though.

The obligatory GV lip was fitted. I know these are fitted for hard-parking and they're done to death now, especially with the flood of copies on the market. The simple truth its though, they're everywhere for a reason. They look good, but more than that they make a noticable imprrovement to front end aero and transform the high-speed stability of an NA.



Next up some slightly better wheels - Rota Slipstreams, some better tyres and a damn good clean.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
So BCs shelved, HSDs were purchased to fill the void.





...and new chairs were purchased. I think this GRP shelled Sparco Revs are some of the best seats you can fit into an MX5. I've tried loads but these offer a really good combination of weight, fitment and price.



It was then time to start removing stuff. If there's one thing that summarises this build - it's been removing anything that isn't necessary. I like simple. I don't like decoration or parts fitted with no purpose. First for the chop was the mudflaps. They look turd, they trap dirt and moisture and promote corrosion, they're unaerodynamic and they're unnecessary weight. Just look how much Japanese crud had been trapped behind them!







After they were off everything was cleaned up and liberally covered in wax to prevent corrosion forming.



The rear badges also went in the bin. Less > more.



On to rectifying the altitude issue - fitting the HSDs.

The car was fitted with Mazdaspeed coilovers on the rear and KYB Gearclimb dampers and springs ion the front. All of them were past their best so rather than faff taking them off carefully I went the pikey route and cut them off. They were destined for the bin anyway.



...and HSDs on:





The result was approaching Slammed Thread status. Not what I had in mind...





So back in the air for lots more measuring and adjusting.



Rinse and repeat a few times, followed by some cornerweighting and testing around a local 'test track' and we were here:




 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Up next, the biggest and best change you can make to any car - getting your seat and driving position sorted. Get this right and it feels like you're wearing the car. You go from sitting way up on top of a seat to feeling hunkered down low attached to the car. You can feel every nuance of movement through your arse and react to the car moving beneath you. The driver is also one of if not the heaviest single component in an MX5. You want to get that mass as low as possible. There's one way to do this, and it doesn't involve buying a seat rail or adapting the factory slider. You need to get brutal and start chopping ****.

Get the car in the air, check clearance of brake and fuel pipes.



Remove carpets. Drill out all of the spot-welds on the factory 'humps' that the factory sliders mount to and chisel them out.





You can now mount your side-mount seat on the floor. Ensure you strengthen the floor though - the standard steel is like tinfoil and your seat will tear straight out in a crash. I have spreader plates under the floor with captive nuts.

Seat in, periscope required to see over the dashboard. People wonder how a toddler is driving down the road.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Next move towards getting the ergonomics right involved getting the steering wheel closer. I love it close and high, right up in my face. This means you can drive the car with the strength in your shoulders and upper arms rather than your wrists. It gives you more control. Easiest way to achieve this is with a removable boss, added bonus is your wheels also then removable. I'm smart right?



Next a climbing frame in the back to ensure your haircut isn't ruined if the car falls over. The bar's a HardDog M1 Hard Core with harness bar and custom X-Brace that was added in the UK.




And some 'just because' pics of progress to that point:







 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cheers dude.

As the car was destined for the track, some Rennenmetal tow-hooks made their way over from Texas and were fitted front and rear.





My trusty Momo Corse was swapped for a more fitting Momo 78, in suede.







Winter then happened. Driving was undertaken in a sideways manner and navigated via the side windows.







New belts went in:





..and a white nylon gearknob.











 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Alignment with track settings:



Seat fitted so my 'race engineer' could come out with me:





...and after some tweeks following feedback from the 'race engineer' I was finally ready to hit the track. First event was Brands Hatch.









Other than smashing the GV lip, it was a great first outing.





And to finish for this week's updates, here are a few little JDM trinkets. Firstly, a super rare Racing Mate Horn push for my Momo:



...and secondly, a Japanese Yen coin that i found under the carpet of the car. It's good luck in Japan to have a coin under the carppet for some reason. Nearly every Eunos imported to the UK, the owner finds a coin hidden. I decided to turn mine into a 'lucky' JDM keyring.



At this point, I decided to sell up. A dude turned up and bought it and went to enjoy the summer doing trackdays in it. I bought a Lotus Elise instead and spent the summer in that and my Mk2 Golf GTI.

However the itch still hadn't been completely scratched and it turned out that it wasn't the end to my dealings with this particular car...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Months passed and I ended up buying the Eunos back. Why? I'd missed it much more than I realised. I'd also only achieved a fraction of the plans I had for it. I left it parked up on my driveway for a few weeks and started to hatch some plans...



While the other owner had it he'd raised the ride-height, so the first job was to rectify that.



I then put on a new Garage Vary lip to replace the broken one.



I then set about putting it on a diet. The doors have were stripped, the charcoal canister and associated brackets etc went along with various under-bonnet brackets, all remaining trim from the cabin, electric aerial etc.. Biggest saving though came from removning the soft-top, frame and associated trim, rain channels, seals etc. That alone was almost 25kg. A carbon hardtop was bought to fit instead.





..and the stripping continued..





A quick roll-over a local weighbridge saw the weight at:

540kg - front
430kg - rear

970kg - total




With winter approaching, a set of winter wheels went on - these were 15x8j ET20 Compomotive TH1580s.



 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The diet continued and i started to get OCD about weighing parts.





The first of many rare JDM exhaust also made its way onto the car at this point. This one being a lightweight Pitcrew Clubman centre-exit to replace the IL Motorsport one that had been on there.







More chopping...







Front end weight loss..







Marmite bumper cut.



Lighter Jass front towhook to replace the Rennenmetal one:



Interior mirror and split-folding JDM sunvisors removed - lightweight mirror and vinyl sunstrip to replace them.







 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
SPA carbon mirrors:



Trial fitment to work brackets out:



Jass hardtop latches to replace the Mazda ones - a 2.5kg saving just for that swap.





And some cheeky stickers:



 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Engine work had also started to happen by this step. The car was running a Reverant enhanced MS2 and had a '99 BP head fitted from a JDM NB Rs model, with the associated JDM cams etc. and the VICS manifold, with the VICS being operated by an RPM switch. The head was also ported and gas flowed and skimmed prior to fitting. With the head and Megasquirt the car was running 152bhp at this stage.

The diet continued with a single skin Vindi ducktail bootlid. This is the trial fitting:



The Pitcrew exhaust was then removed and replaced with an even lighter one. Another pieces of JDM exhaust rarity, a Car Make Corns*:





Boot hinges, lock mechanism etc was stripped and the lightweight boot lid (trunk!) was fitted with aerocatches:





Over-centre catches were fitted to secure the rear.



The front bonnet (hood) release mechanism and cable was removed and pins and aerocatches were fitted to secure the bonnet.





And some alu was CNC'd to make mounts for my mirrors:



Air-con was all removed at this stage and so was the Power Steering system. The power rack had the outlets welded and the pinion welded to convert to manual. Ditching the PAS and running a de-powered rack is probably the second best thing you can do to an MX5 in my opinion (after fitting a proper seat on the floor).

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The carbon SPA mirrors were fitted.





As the car hadn't been aligned since adjusting the ride-height it went back to WIM for a track-spec alignment.



A Racing Beat 4-1 was then bought and fitted.







Next trackday was at Rockingham.





I had chance to get it on the scales during the lunch break.



Weight was 932kg with 1/3rd of a tank of fuel.



The next trip I had planned was into Europe to drive both the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in Germany and Spa Francorchamps F1 circuit in Belgium. So, in a departure from removing things, various things were added in a bid to comply with the regulations at the Nurburgring. Some of the interior trim was fitted back in and I also made some doorcards to apease the 'Ring marshal's dislike for sharp edges and in particular cars with exposed metal doors where cards have been removed. These were cut from 2mm polyvinyl and fitted with Lotus Elise plastic expanding wheelarch liner fastenings so were stupidly light-weight.

 
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