If my car had feelings it would probably want to be social, and social cars go out and meet other cars…. Yes! This is a pointless post where all I’m going to do is post some pictures of the damn Miata… but also give a little preview of a project I’m working on that my buddy Rob Ferretti was kind enough to give a hand with.
This is the second time this week that I’ve brought out the Miata in a car show/car cruise type setting. The Cheesequake to Sandy Hook cruise was fantastic, and so was my visit to Gotham Dream Cars in Englewood, NJ.
I would love to do a Marshal Podcast as I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, and instead of trying to figure out everything from scratch myself I asked Rob Ferretti for some advice. Rob has been doing YouTube videos for years now with his Super Speeders channel. So it was nice to see what he’s doing and how he’s doing it.
But checking out the cars was a nice thing also, and even with an inch of dust on my car that has accumulated since the last time I washed it just before the Jersey Shore cruise on Sunday, the cherry red comes through nicely under the artificial light of the warehouse.
As you can see Rob’s collection is quite extensive, from his personal cars like the Acura NSX, BMW M3, Lambo Murcielago, Porsche GT3 and a very turbocharged Toyota Supra to the rental cars like the Ferrari 458, the new Lambo Huracan, a bunch of Bentley Continental GT’s, a Maserati Gran Turismo, and others.
For those of you marshaling…. all the cars you’d already see on the race track just in a civilian form… with all the interior bits typically surrounded in leather instead of carbon fiber 😉
What a great day for a car show! What a great day for a cruise… Started bright and early this morning, setting my alarm clock to 7am to wash the car from all the damn pollen in the air.
And then hit the road for the Jersey Shore. The New Jersey Miata’s facebook club organized a nice little get together at the Cheesequake Service Area on the Garden State Parkway where I saw more MX-5’s then I have ever seen in my life. Mostly NA’s and NB’s but there were certainly plenty of NC’s too that eventually went back on the road bound for Sandy Hook.
The funny bit on the cruise we blew past the exit that leads to the Highlands. The leader of the pack that we were following had some spirited driving in mind along the twisty roads of Central Jersey, but I don’t think he expected so many cars to follow him. But it was nice to see a convoy of Miata’s snaking along the neighborhood.
We made a scenic stop at the Navesink Twin Lights which was great because on a clear day like today NYC and the rest of Long Island was clearly visible in the distance. And then proceeded down to Fort Hancock at the tip of Sandy Hook for a few photos.
The good thing was there were Miata’s everywhere. Everybody was driving at their own leisure, people were coming and going. The crowd was acting smart and mature and there weren’t anybody getting in trouble for doing silly things…
From Sandy Hook we went down route 36 to Long Branch for lunch, convoying with the Delaware Valley Miata Club to Max’s Hot Dogs. On the way I hear a bit of a ticking sound bouncing off the curbing, and sure enough as we parked our cars I noticed a screw sticking out of my left front tire… great! Luckily it wasn’t deep enough to actually puncture the tire so I got to drive home for the next hour and a half without too much of an issue. (There was traffic, that wasn’t cool) I’m really thankful for the good folks at Del Val Miata Club for being quick to offer a helping hand, including pliers and a tire repair kit ready to fix it as there were probably no gas stations able to do this job on a Sunday afternoon. The car wasn’t pulling in any direction, and when I checked the pressure upon arrival it was normal, so luckily I didn’t get a flat! Phew….
Special thanks to TF$ Motorsports for organizing the event and providing all the attendees with these cool stickers:
A blow dryer… how appropriate!
Of all the photos I saw from the event posted on facebook, this is the only shot that actually has my car in it, and a nice panoramic view:
Moss Miata donated some giveaways for which the organizers of the meet held a raffle. My buddy with the silver NC PRHT won a set of Roadster rubber pedal covers. Nice touch, thanks Moss Miata!
All in all excellent event, that I’m really glad I took the time off work to come out and have some fun. IT was the first time I had the convertible out on the highway with the top down… and there were three other cars just like mine (PRHT) with the top down doing a convoy… everybody passing us by was checking the cars out, and quite a few were taking pictures or videos of the cars. Glad to see that, for sure.
Today was a good day to work on the car. So for the first time in my life I went ahead and changed the oil in a car: my Miata. As with anything else that I’ve done to this car so far, it took unnecessarily long. What seemed like hours. But everything was done right.
I followed the recommendations from Miata.net and acquired some Mobil 1 0W-20 fully synthetic oil… yes the oil cap on the engine says 5W-20 and no – that’s not what I went with. I got what most people agree is the best option for the car. And I used a Mobil 1 M1-102 oil filter too, because… why not?
The funny story behind the oil is that I got it dirt cheap from a local parts store. How cheap?
$5 dollar cheap… that’s a hefty discount considering Wal Mart sells the jug for $36 dollars. I randomly stumbled upon this deal and couldn’t believe my eyes. Was totally convinced it was a price mistake, asked the clerk if they would honor an obvious price mistake, but the item scanned at $5 bux. So I bought two jugs. Now I know it says 0W-30 and posting this picture on the forums resulted in comments that people would gladly use it for that price. But after about a month from the purchase I went back to the store and they happily exchanged my two jugs for the correct oil. So all was good. I bought the oil filters on Amazon for $10 bux each, or double what I paid for the oil, how ironic?
I took the opportunity while doing the oil change to thoroughly clean everything under the car including the oil pan protection plate which was covered in grime. I also noticed that a few plastic clips were missing in the shroud that surrounds the front wheels so I popped some new ones in place. Car fired up and purred like a kitten after the oil change. Drove nicely. Although when sitting at a red light the engine RPM’s drop a lot and I wonder if it’s normal.
I also took the opportunity to try out my newly purchased 16″ OEM wheels. I noticed that on the road trip I scuffed the front 17″ OEM wheels up a little so it was time to try something softer and smoother for our pot-hole infested roads. And boy did they make a difference. Granted the feeling is identical with larger pot holes, but the general crap you encounter on the main highways like the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway is manageable. And the difference is obvious. I am liking the softer ride. I really don’t think I understand how people lower their cars and get fancy big wheels with low profile tires. It must be solely for the looks. They must not drive their car much. Or they must really like doing wheel alignment from hitting pot holes so hard their teeth chatter with a stiff suspension.
I am a big fan of the 5 spoke wheels, though the 10 spoke ones will go back on the car in the summer time when roads are better.
The fella I purchased the wheels from invited me to a Miata Meet his club was organizing. So as soon as I finished tinkering with the car and took a quick shower, I hit the road for Central Jersey. This month the Delaware Valley Miata Club was meeting in Freehold, NJ at Jersey Freeze burger and ice cream shop. They do this sort of thing monthly, and the mid-week afternoon event totally works for me since I can’t get off from work on the weekends. There were about twelve (12) Miatas present of which 1 NA, 3 NB’s, 4 NC1’s, 3 NC2’s and 1 NC3. It was very cool to see other Miata owners from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, especially the guy with another Copper Red Mica. I was eager to compare the rear bumpers to see if the shades are off like they are on mine. But by the time I noticed his car it was too dark outside for a good comparison. Still a nice feeling to see another similar Miata so close.
Great crowd and very good food too.
So all in all what a beautiful day! I got to change my own oil. Change the wheels. See how the car feels with the new oil and the new wheels on a 140 mile road trip. And meet a dozen other Mazda Miata owners in New Jersey over a delicious dinner. Looking forward to more of this in the summer time!
Note to self: oil change done at 32,295 miles… when should the next one be? 5,000 miles? 10,000 miles?
Since I bought the car in December I’ve only put 1,000 miles on the odometer… until my Road Trip to Watkins Glen, NY where I did 500+ miles in a just one weekend.
I was thoroughly impressed with the car. It was very comfortable at highway speeds and during a trip that lasted about five hours because I made a few stops along the way that I normally do, one of them to pick up some sliders for lunch at a Scranton Sheetz gas station (yep, gas station food!)
Before doing the thermostat replacement I was averaging about 23 mpg sometimes less, hardly ever more. But on this trip I got a solid 33 mpg with 95% highway driving, but a good 5% driving in first gear from the RSI campground to the WGI conference building along pit lane. Mainly because the road was really muddy, and I coated the whole bottom of the car with it. It was the first time I’ve been to a race track where I went to a car wash first before heading back home. And I’m glad I did, because on my way to the self-serve car wash I stopped by the International Motor Racing Research Center in downtown Watkins Glen, and took some pictures there. My favorite was the little red sports cars atop the street sign posts that act as the numeric street signs:
But back to the track. I’m happy the car didn’t get stuck in the mud anywhere or bottom out on any of the pot holes. I took it nice and slow and it served it’s purpose well.
The only complaint, if I should call it that, was the massive pot holes along the 250 mile stretch between my home in New Jersey and the track Upstate New York. Especially Upstate and most of Pennsylvania had these big craters where the asphalt meets the concrete of the overpass, or along the joints of two otherwise perfectly smooth lanes, there just had to be these stupid pot holes. I’m going to speculate because I’m not entirely sure this is the case, but I have a feeling that I got some new curb rash from hitting some pot holes I couldn’t avoid especially along the lip of the front rims. And let me tell you, this was the most attentive I have ever been driving this route going the speed limit and trying to dodge the bigger pot holes in my path at all costs. A few times I didn’t realize just how big the pot hole was until I was on top of it…. Ugh!
All in all I am very happy with this first big Road Trip in the Miata. I had a great time and will definitely do it again, especially going back to Watkins Glen to work one of their events, IMSA and/or NASCAR. The RSI hospitality was really warm and welcoming, as usual. I genuinely felt I was wanted there, which is a good feeling. Best of all the heater worked really well in Lynne & Tate’s guest camper… so even though the car outside was covered in frost, I was nice and toasty at night. Thank you Lynne & Tate, Patrick and the rest of the RSI for being awesome!
PS. on the way home I stopped to refuel across the street from a peculiar site, a mobile BBQ truck… of course I had to have a sample:
I have always envied people that know what they want in life. The story of my life has been full of uncertainty and indecision… until I started looking for a Miata. I knew exactly what I wanted!
The dealer that showed me the first Miata I went to see in flesh and actually test drive, told me good luck finding a red hard top for the price I was willing to pay. He said it so sarcastically… and then I proved him wrong. I got exactly what I was looking for, a Copper Mica Red with a PRHT for not that much more than what the dealer was asking, except it was from a private owner who only put 1/3rd of the miles on the car compared to the one the dealer was selling.
During that search I was really unsure about the wheels. I really liked the five spoke OEM 16 inch that came stock on some base models. But I knew that IF I bought a car with them, I would also get an OEM 17 inch ten spoke set to have as a spare. And I am proud to say that after a few months of searching, I got a fantastic deal on a set of the five spoke wheels.
Based on my research on Miata.net it was recommended by one of the reps from Tire Rack who is the forum’s sponsor, to use smaller wheels with slimmer tires for the winter. Instead of the low profile 17’s, they recommended 16’s using a 195 tire. And I’m so glad I got myself a set of 16’s, now the deal-hunting begins for some winter tires, hopefully they’ll be on sale now that the winter is finally over (its early April and we still had snow a week ago) we’re only about 8 months away from next winter anyway. I plan to keep the car for a long time, so having a spare set of wheels is a must.
I bought the wheels through eBay. After a few months of random searching on the forums and Craigslist, I knew it would cost me upwards of $300 to $400 for a reasonable set. The other night I logged into eBay, typed in “Mazda Miata Wheels” and the first search result that popped up showed a set of pristine 16’s with a current bid of $100 with local pick up only, listed in a New Jersey town that’s only 25 minutes drive form where I live. The listing was like a God sent. I didn’t have to drive for hours to some neighboring state. I didn’t have to pay a ton for shipping from across the country. They were right here! So there I am, sitting in the car at a shopping center parking lot, glued to my phone with only a few minutes left to auction’s end, submitting my bid. And I won! Not only that, I won the auction for significantly less than I was prepared to pay, which makes me really happy. I quickly contacted the seller to see if I could pick up the wheels that night because I had my Road Trip to Watkins Glen planned for early the next day, and the guy agreed.
I was seriously concerned that the wheels might be stolen since they sold for such a low price. But once I arrived at the seller’s home all my worries went away. Not only that he’s also a current owner of a beautiful 2007 Miata in True Red which is far brighter than my Copper Red. And he’s actively involved with a Miata club called Del Valley, which is awesome because now I have someone locally whom I could cruise with and meet other Miata owners. I’m really excited!
Good deal all around. The 16’s came with center caps, so that’s a big plus. And still have some tires mounted on them which I guess is a bonus. Though I’ll be shopping for new winter tires soon. Will I have any issues using the smaller wheels? Like will the speedo be off? Not according to this (or at least I’ll be going half a mile faster at 65mph)
In a short, not too distant future there will be a YouTube video of my car with Mr. Regular from the Regular Car Reviews making a snarky comment about how this guy (me) wanted his crappy car reviewed so bad he made a blog post about it. (this one)
And I’m OKAY with that.
I want Regular Car Reviews guy or people, however many of them there are, to do a thorough and sarcastic review of the NC Miata using my 2007 MX-5 GT PRHT with an automatic… AUTOMATIC!
I think it would be the coolest thing ever. I’m prepared to go on a Road Trip all the way to Pennsylvania to make it happen too… how far could it possibly be? I got the free time. I would love to drive the car more… summer’s coming, etc. Let’s do it!
So would any of my people get in touch with their people and make it happen? I’ll probably even buy a t-shirt from the Miata videos they’ve already made, and you could too… here’s the link:
But more importantly go back and watch the damn videos, they’re hilariously funny… Here’s the original:
Track day bro! Yo… Hoosiers, bro… Cones. Gonna Tear it Up! lol…
It’s the Best! The BEST!
Naturally Aspirated 1990 Miata… The feminine version.
I’m a fan of the Regular Car Reviews, ever since I saw one of their early videos shared on Jalopnik. It was the one with the Volvo S60R. I don’t always get the humor and the references but I can’t wait to see what they could muster with my car.
What would be really funny is… if this actually happens.
People say that the Mazda Miata is a cheap car to own and maintain. It is not. Ford Crown Victoria was a cheap car to own and maintain. I should know, I’ve had ten of them. In fact I have replaced a thermostat on a Crown Vic, a few times. I even went for the cooler 195 degree option. Between going to the store to pick up the $7 part, removing the two bolts on top / front part of the engine, and dropping the new one in. It would take no more than 20 minutes for the whole process, including the drive to the local parts store.
With the Miata this process is slightly longer.
I bought the car in December, just days before my trip to Portugal to marshal the Maxi Endurance 32 hour race at the Algarve Circuit. Before I could even make it home in my newly purchased car from central Long Island I got the Check Engine light illuminated. So I rerouted to the nearest AutoZone store to see what was going on. Code P0126: low coolant level. Hmm!
So I quickly researched the solution to this code on Miata.net and based on the recommendations of people there, rushed out to the nearest Advance Auto Parts store to pick up a new Stant 48728 thermostat. This one listed for about $31 plus tax. Hmm! I used one of the deep discounts Advance always offers, picked up a pair of Mechanix orange gloves with my order, and the box sat on my desk at home for several months, as the Check Engine light went on and off with about five or six cycles of the engine start/use of the car. Admittedly I didn’t use the car too frequently because of the snow/ice situation this winter, so it didn’t get too many miles put on it with the lazy thermostat. But the jist of the problem is the fact that the thermostat gets stuck open, and it takes a while for it to close, at which point the system checks out when you turn the ignition key and the CEL goes off.
With further research from Miata.net it was deemed that replacing the thermostat is not your 20 minute job like with a Crown Vic. This was more a two or three hour affair requiring the removal of a bunch of parts and trying to thread your tools through a variety of tubing just to get to the thermostat on the lower part of the engine, under the throttle body. People recommended to clean the throttle body in this process, why not? It’s already off. Might as well replace the air filter with all that access. People were also recommending to replace the overflow coolant reservoir, because unlike the thermostat which triggers the check engine light, coolant tanks experience catastrophic failure without any warning…. other than an explosion under the hood with the smell and steam from spraying antifreeze. So I ordered the overflow tank, for another $50 + $8 shipping from TASCA Parts a Mazda dealership in Rhode Island. Someone mentioned that their local dealership matched the online pricing of their competitors, but with three dealership within 20 mile radius of my house, none would price match. None of them had the part in stock either. It would have to be special ordered, at a full $70+ list fee, plus $14 shipping for expedited delivery. So I swore off the local dealerships and ordered online. Thanks but no thanks: Mazda of Lodi, Ramsey Mazda and Wayne Mazda!
The dealers did have something in stock that I almost bought, FL22 antifreeze/coolant. But at $26 per gallon I thought that was ridiculously expensive compared to $12 or $13 for Crown Vic antifreeze. So I researched a cheaper alternative and Zerex Asian Vehicle Coolant only carried by NAPA Auto Parts came highly recommended, and at $14 a gallon, a lot more reasonable than Mazda OEM FL22 coolant. Zerex is a Valvoline product.
Anyway, fast forward to this morning and before the mail man delivered the coolant reservoir from TASCA, I rushed out the door to pick up some distilled water to do the coolant flush, and realizing that the radiator/engine capacity for coolant is higher than just one Gallon, I bought another bottle of Zerex Asian coolant.
Got home, dad helped me to jack up the car, and provide all the mismatched tools in his collection to get the job done. I wasn’t trying to rush things instead focusing on doing it right the first time. Everything went like clockwork. I noticed that I didn’t actually have to remove the throttle body and could just lift it to the side to get to the thermostat, neither did I have to undo the brace that sits on top of the shock tower. Didn’t drop any bolts into the abyss while removing the thermostat, and before you know it everything was back in place. Remarkably uneventful install. While the car was still jacked up we filled a bit more than a gallon of distilled water, ran the engine for twenty minutes, then flushed that water out and put in the Zetex. Lowered the car, ran the engine at about 2,500 RPM until the heater started blowing hot air out of the vents. And then went for a drive to fill up the car and see how it goes. It goes perfectly! For a brief while the heater started blocking cold again, which was weird, but then it became hot and even extra hot with a little more driving.
Tomorrow I will top off the coolant to the appropriate level, and the car will be ready for my first big Road Trip to Watkins Glen for NASCAR training next weekend.
I’ve started the year off with a spirited drive in the Mazda!
Unlike last year, the snow has held off this January and it’s the perfect time to take the MX-5 for a spin around the neighborhood. So far, my little red sports car has been keeping me preoccupied with ways of personalizing it to my liking as well as fixing the little issues it came with from the previous owner.
I thought all that black plastic behind the seats looked very monotonous and plain, so I added a little chrome to it. Originally it was meant to feature a #MarshalCam patch but instead of super gluing a piece of cloth there, I thought a trunk badge would do better. I love the way it looks now. The eBay bought badge arrived at 6pm on New Year’s Eve and by New Year’s day it was on the car!
The other problem was a bit of an annoyance that seems to happen quite often on these cars. The plastic sun visor crack at the base with time and that was a problem for me on the passenger side. Luckily Miata.net forum members are an enterprising bunch and suggested a simple temporary fix.
The official vehicle of Grand Prix Road Trip: my Mazda Miata MX-5 got it’s first modification. No it’s not a power adder or stiffer suspension, just a little piece of compliance so I wouldn’t have to drill holes in the front bumper to mount the license plate.
I saw Jessie from SponsorAFlagger.com had the same mod on her BMW when we worked together at Watkins Glen, and since then I figured I’d do the same if a car I owned had a similar tow hook on the front bumper. None of my Crown Vic Police Interceptors or the Chevy Impala had such a feature which is most common to Japanese or European cars, so I’m glad it worked out perfectly.
Anyway…. I first saw the ad for this plate bracket on Miata.net but it was advertised at about $80 which seems quite steep for what it is. Researched it further on eBay and Amazon and found a much more reasonable deal for $48 while other cars were listed for $38 or so… so I decided to make an offer and one was accepted for $40 while I was in Portugal marshaling. So I quickly PayPal’d them the money and was hoping the item would arrive in time for my NJ inspection to make the car road legal. The item never showed up when the tracking said it would. I reported it as lost, but it must have been delayed in the Christmas traffic. Because after I had returned home from the inspection station having zip tied the front license plate to the honeycomb grille, the bracket showed up. And I quickly put it on the car:
Zip tied plate and the Godspeed bracket ready for install.
The tow hook hole mount, screws right in.
And voila! The finished look.
Now to move on to the next solution… I put the windows down for a moment when it was raining outside and now my driver side BOSE speaker is buzzing. Miata.net forums describe it as a common problem but one that isn’t very cheap to fix.
If anyone has any suggestions, please get in touch with me. And if you see the car on the road, go ahead and honk. Say Hello!
The search is over! I am now a proud owner of a new to me Mazda MX-5 or Miata as it’s called here in America… Zoom Zoom!
I have to confess this has been the longest and most frustrating time I have ever had buying a car. Normally, and quite frequently I would show up at a public auction just hours before they started, poke around for a few minutes with each prospective car I was interested in and then start bidding on it to a point that I could afford. With the Miata, no car I looked at I could actually afford, which was a little shocking to me! I had sold my four door family sedan thinking if anything I would add a little money to it to get the little sports car, and in the end I more than doubled my budget to buy it. But boy am I happy with what I got, because after four or five months of searching I bought exactly what I was looking for: a red copper mica, PRHT hard top convertible with big alloy wheels, and leather heated seats.
2007 Mazda Miata MX-5 Grand Touring PRHT
Now, I can’t wait to start driving it… and it being December… I may see it parked every time there’s snowflakes on the forecast to use the SUV’s in the household. But the idea of going to a race track with a little sports car and watching similar fields of MX-5 races tear up the track… is simply awesome. I love watching Miata’s race, and with large fields of 20, 30 even 40 cars… they never disappoint!
A little background on the car… it was originally sold by a dealership on the California coast about half way between Santa Barbara and Monterey. The second owner bought it and moved it to Nevada just outside of Las Vegas before driving it home to Long Island New York. With only 30k on the clock it is the lowest mileage car I have ever owned and it will take some time to get used to. For example the check engine light came on on my drive home, turns out it’s a thermostat issue. Now while the Jeep or Chevy thermostats cost me less than $10 to replace, this one is listed at $30 and has about 3 hours of work because a lot of things must be removed to get to it. Fun! Even the air filter is double the cost of the last one I bought for my Ford. Go figure… hope the expenses after the basics are minimal.
…driving it in the rainy weather before Christmas caused the BOSE door speaker on the driver side to buzz. I wonder what will go next?
Happy Holidays everyone! And keep wishing for good things, because if you believe it hard enough, you’ll get exactly what you want!