Tag Archives: MX-5

Wanna Buy a Fiata? Many New & Used Fiat 124 Spiders & Abarth Models at Fiat Alfa Romeo, Ramsey, NJ

On my way to the pre-Thanksgiving Cars & Caffe event at Jack Daniels Porsche I couldn’t help but notice a fleet of Fiata’s on the lot of the local Alfa Romeo Fiat dealer next door. So I stopped by to take a few shots:

The front car caught my eye for sure… what a gorgeous red! And funny enough while the Mazda dealer across the highway put all of their SUV’s upfront, it was nice to see the Fiata’s in addition to the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s in this lot!

And a really pretty Abarth model…

And since it’s got a competing dealership’s name plate on it I’m guessing this is a used 2017 model.

A more luxurious version of the red Fiata with the chrome window surround (like the NC Miata Limited Edition from 2006)

Similar but different… the Fiata actually looks bigger than an NC!

Brand spanking new 2017 model Fiata…

Brand spanking new 2018 model Fiata…

This was a great opportunity to check out the Alfa Romeo Stelvio up close and personal (short of test driving it)

I love how identical the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio look side-by-side to each other.

Can you tell the difference from a photo?

Can you?

Anyway… go buy a Fiata! There’s so many of them available and with the winter around the corner I bet you could get a great deal too!

I’m sure I’ll at least test drive a Fiat 124 Spider in my automotive future… fingers crossed!

 

PS. I just realized, in case you punch in Ramsey Alfa Romeo Fiat into your GPS the address is technically in Upper Saddle River, NJ the dealership is part of Ramsey Auto Group which does have dealerships in Ramsey, NJ like the aforementioned Mazda dealer.

New Jersey Miatas and Modern Fiat 124 Spider End of Season Meet

First, forgive me for being a selfish prick and not sharing the news of the event sooner. I forgot to remember until… and of course the actual date (today) got rained out! So see you all next week…

The peeps behind this event seem to focus on two major events per year… the season opening meet and end of season meet like this one. Not sure if anything happens during the summer but I’m really glad they organize these ones. Often with prizes given away from vendors that support Miata events around the country like Moss Miata and Flyin’ Miata. (possibly others)

Anyway, I’m especially happy to see Modern Fiata’s invited to attend, and really hope to see one at the next one.

For me it’s going to be a crazy day next Sunday. I was scheduled to pick up a rental car at LaGuardia Airport in NYC and drive down to Florida for the Historics (HSR) races at Daytona International. But I don’t want to miss out on this little gathering. So I’ve re-booked my rental car for 8pm… which should give me enough time to chill down the shore, go home to park my Miata. Take public transport to the city, a shuttle bus to Hertz, and bring the rental home before leaving for the thousand mile journey first thing Monday morning.

Should be fun!

Come join us…

Day 2: Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The Ride Along

This year’s event was considerably smaller than last year’s… but the quality in my opinion was outstanding. It was cozier. I think people got their money’s worth for those that paid for track time. I got to work the merchandise area again like last year… showing up bright and early around 7:30am but the highlight of my day was around noon when I helped with aligning the cars for a big group parade lap around the famous Laguna Seca circuit. And best of all I caught a ride around the track with my buddy Daniel from Atlanta, Georgia

Cobra eh?

My office for the weekend… sold a ton of poster sets, most of the previous year’s t-shirts and we absolutely ran out of all of the current year t-shirts. Great sales day I would say!

I think my favorite car of the weekend…

The Playboy MX-5 Cup cars were literally the reason why I started my interest in Miata’s… and after one crashed into my station at Road Atlanta during Petit Le Mans I knew I wanted to buy one.

Checking out the vendor’s wears on display in the paddock

A Miata celebrity autograph session…

My buddy Daniel’s car sprung a leak after the first session on track, pissing coolant all over the place… I’m amazed he was able to drive it 2,500 miles back to Georgia after racing on track. Craziness!!!

Daniel is running meaty 245 size tires all around… wow! And I thought going to 215 was going wide, lol

Moving off the paddock to the staging area… first customer was from Las Vegas, Nevada

And while I waited for cars to show up to populate our “pre-grid” there was a parking lot of AMG Track Experience cars for me to oogle at… they were parked 11 across and 10 deep… over 100 cars!

That’s a lot of Miata’s… about 350 to be exact

My chariot for the parade laps… a 2008 MX-5 track car I first met in Duluth, Georgia on my trip to Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and VIR in Virginia.

Here we goooo…

We were supposed to do maybe 2 or 3 laps, but that was turned into a full 30 minute session with many more laps than just a few.

The Corkscrew!

Thanks Daniel!

The famous starter stand…

One of my favorite flag points at Laguna Seca, Flag Point #8

Love the way Daniel has his car set up. Great noise from the exhaust. Comfortable racing seats and a good roll cage which I hope he’ll never have to use at his track days.

Love seeing a Miata with diplomatic plates… I’m guessing a child of a Consul to the USA?

Doing some quick shopping at the Laguna Seca Souvenir shop

Wonder why no Fiata’s showed up for this event…

And the day ended with a delicious dinner with a bunch of Miata owners… HUGE thanks to Rick Weldon for letting me be part of this event… I am forever grateful!

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Canada: Montréal, Québec

I failed once again to meet any local Miata owners in Québec on my visit to Canada for the Formula E events on the streets of Montréal. Can’t say I was surprised. After all I had failed to meet any Miata owners on my previous trips to Mosport, Ontario as well. Just like on the last trip to Bowmanville I also failed to see a Canadian-spec Miata at the local dealership in Montreal as well.

However, I was very much impressed with the Amount of Mazda dealers in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and there surely are plenty of Mazda’s on the streets of the city… they just aren’t the little Roadsters. So here are some pix from my experience.

The closest dealer with easy public transport system access was Mazda Gabriel St-Jacques… I took the Metro, walked over to where it should have been, didn’t see it and walked around the block lost between a highway and a hospital. But on the second pass I found it! Lots of construction on the streets of Montreal, the orange flowers (orange cones) are in full bloom this summer!

At first… no Miata’s to be seen on the lot!

Oh putain…

But that’s no different from the Mazda dealer I visited in Ontario. So I went in to have a chat with the staff and see if I can get a Canadian-spec Miata brochure at least… surprise! they didn’t have any. The receptionist managed to find a 2016 spec sheet, and sent me on my way. I also visited their parts department to inquire about the Canadian-spec window washer fluid bottle, which is a different design, and much bigger than the American-spec. They didn’t have any in stock… no surprise there. But they could order one for $137 bux… YIKES! However, a stripped down version without a motor (which could be transferred over from the original on the car) was only $66 CAD… phew!

The staff were super helpful it’s just a shame there wasn’t any Miata’s on the lot I could sit in and look around.

I remember reading a Miata.net post that complained: Do they want to sell cars or not? It appears if you want to buy a Miata in Canada it’s a long term process with possible multiple visits to the dealership, ordering and waiting for the car to arrive.

I was so focused on looking for a new ND on the lot that somehow I missed this colorful combination of used-Mazda’s a yellow RX-8 which is probably my favorite color for this rotary car and a red NB… How do you miss something so bright? Glad I spotted them on the way out of the dealership.

Initially I didn’t even see any Miata’s on the streets of Montreal… but then I was proven wrong Thursday night where I spotted half-a-dozen, mostly NB’s in all different colors roaming around downtown Montreal… I suspect they drove in from the suburbs to get a front row view of the fireworks that were scheduled to start after dark on that night. The next day I saw a beautiful NC3 PRHT in white with the top down that came up behind me and left too quick for me to snap a shot of it. Here’s a few Miata’s I did spot on the streets of Old Montreal:

Ironically there were far more Porsche’s on the streets of Montreal than Miata’s.

I even spotted a right-hand-drive Nissan Figaro… twice!

Anyway… while the Miata community of Quebec is very hard to spot, other Mazda’s are all over the place. Tons of CX-5’s and Mazda3’s roaming around. Even used for official city business:

The older Mazda’s make it seem obvious why people hide their precious Roadsters… the rust isn’t kind in this part of the world:

I suspect the salt use in the winter eats right through the metal.

Anyway, I had such a blast in Montreal for the Formula E event even though I completely failed to make any contact with the local Miata community… and I even researched several Quebec MX-5 Clubs and sent them facebook messages asking for help.

Maybe I’ll get more lucky in the future…

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

I have tried and once again failed with another attempt to fix the metal to metal clanking sound coming from the rear of the car. It has appeared out of the blue once we swapped my OEM shocks to a set of Bilsteins from a newer Miata. Since then I have greased the rear sway bar bushings. Replaced the rear sway bar end links. Replaced the bushings on the rear sway bar that I had greased before with OEM parts and still the noise persists. So after much research it was suggested that the exhaust hangers may be faulty. They are rubber and after 10 years of use I’m sure they would have lost some of their rigidity.

So I researched the ones to buy. OEM ones on eBay are nearly $20 bux apiece. There are two different kind and a total of five of them in use on our system. One on the pipe under the car, and four holding the exhaust manifold in place. Part # LF46-40-061 of which you use three of, goes under the car and on the back of the muffler closest to the rear of the car (tail pipes). Part # N3H2-40-061A are nearly twice the width of the other hangers and go on the front of the muffler closest to the differential.

But I was not going to spend $100+ bux on OEM hangers, they’re just cheap rubber, I don’t get why they cost so much. Even online part stores like Quirk or Tasca wanted over $10 apiece and something like $13 for the fat ones. No thanks!

The aftermarket hangers from Flyin’ Miata were $8-$9 apiece. The same ones on eBay could be had even cheaper from Kartboy and COBB with various offers for around $40 for a set of 5 with free shipping. But it still seemed excessive for what they really are.

So I started doing more research and found Advance Auto Parts sells Walker Insulators Part # 35119 for just $3 bux and with their generous 20%-30% discounts, it was just $11.55 with tax for the five I bought initially and $5.28 for two more that I bought to double up one of the muffler hangers to replicate the fat design of the OEM.

Everything looked so great, but after a test drive the noise is still there… Fuck me!

Here’s some pix:

A set of five from Advance Auto cost less than one OEM hanger!

The fat OEM hanger on the front of the muffler closest to the diff.

I used a lot of soapy water in a spray bottle to loosen the rubber, for whatever reason the 12mm holes on the OEM hangers were so loose that most of them just popped out with little effort.

new one on the right and old one on the left

the new hangers are 10mm so it took effort to put them on.

but with soapy water sprayed on both rubber and hangers it worked.

and then I had an idea to double up the rubber on the back hanger, it fit just right and introduced more rigidity I believe.

Although the brand name on Advance Auto web site and what I picked up in the store didn’t match, these seem to be good quality product, Made in India.

While inspecting the bottom of the car I noticed my X-brace was bent upwards in a place closest to where the exhaust pipe goes. So I took it off and straightened it out in a vice grip.

Oh how I wished this would have solved my clunky problem… it would have been so awesome especially how cheap the parts were compared to the new OEM end links and even OEM bushings. But fuck it didn’t work… the problem persists and it’s going to drive me crazy until I find the culprit!

Sunday Fun Day Cruising Skyline Drive in Ringwood, New Jersey to High Point State Park and Warwick, New York

Today was a fantastic day to go for a cruise… the weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too sunny… not too much traffic on the roads. So my friend Bill and I headed up Skyline Drive in Ringwood, New Jersey towards Wanaque Reservoir, up Greenwood Lake Tpk to Warwick Tpk to Clinton Road in West Milford, down to Route 23 and then up to the High Point State Park. From there we came back down to Route 94 in Hamburg, New Jersey and headed up to Orange County New York where we turned off on Route 17A and down Route 17 back into New Jersey.

Unlike the many trips to Bear Mountain New York this trip was far more laid back, slower speed and through much more residential areas. Bill and I joked we would do a Foodie Tour visiting the many Ice Cream parlors along the way. But the joke turned into a much tastier reality. Because instead of ice cream parlors we actually visited the source for the ice cream at the various Farms which featured proper Ice Cream Shacks and Barns where the fresh ice cream was Oh Sooo Creamy! We stopped for a root beer float in Orange County New York and then again in Sussex New Jersey for some Frozen Blueberry Yogurt. It was so amazing.

And of course I took a million pix:

Lots of cool cars out on the road today like this fat ass Porsche Cayman… obviously a ton of bikes too!

and some good looking British Midgets…

This ’69 was fully restored by the owner who was proud to point out he’s done a cross country road trip in it all the way to Reno, Nevada wow!

The 2007 Copper Red twins

At High Point State Park at the Northwestern tip of New Jersey

tractor man

The ice cream in this place was amazing. I got a blueberry frozen yogurt and it was finger lickin’ good!

Welcome to New York… again

Welcome back to New Jersey!

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Big day  working on my friend Bill’s Miata today.

We were planning on changing his spark plugs to NGK Laser Iridium plugs as well as put in his new rear end links and replace the license plate light bulbs to the new LED ones I ordered online from Taiwan. The day started early for Bill with a trip to Ramsey Mazda to help diagnose an air conditioning leak… which they spent many hours looking for but couldn’t find.

It was a very wet start to the day. I had to run some errands before meeting Bill at the dealership (to also pick up my rear sway bar bushings) and it was tough to get around with multiple highways flooded. But we managed to meet up, went to have delicious Korean BBQ for lunch and the day suddenly cleared up and became sunny!

So here we go…

I first vacuumed and then blasted the top of the engine with compressed air to clear any debris from the area we were going to work on…

and there was some debris, especially from the underside of the engine cover that left a fine sand-like crap over the wiring

I’ve done the spark plugs on my car at around 50k miles so it was interesting to tackle Bill’s car which has over 100k miles on his and presumably these were his original spark plugs…

Getting to them was easy, instead of unplugging the coil packs I just moved them upwards and out of the way

Most of the holes were clean except for the one next to last, which had a visible amount of oil in it

Shiny new plugs… while undoing the old ones we quickly were faced with them being stubborn and not turning as freely as you’d want them to… so Bill went ahead and sprayed them with PB Blaster… and while they soaked we moved on to doing some other repairs

So we proceeded to changing Bill’s rear end links. I had him using my old take offs as a temporary solution to see if there would be any issue. The shop that did his suspension install used some cheapo aftermarket ones and we quickly discovered that one of the end links had it’s ball ripped out of the housing. So it was nice to see that the OEM pieces held up and we replaced them with new ones.

After this we took another crack at turning the spark plugs and all were loose except for the very first one closest to the front of the car, so we blasted it again and moved on to installing rear sway bar bushings on my car hoping that would stop the clunking… spoiler alert… it didn’t! But now I have new bushings in the back. Oh well!

My old bushings looked fine. We lubed them up with Mobil 1 grease not that long ago. But I was hoping against hope that they were the culprit of my clunking noises. Now I’m not sure what it is. We put on new end links, new bushings…  what could it be? Bad shocks? But bad shocks would surely show wear. I am stumped!

Back to finish the spark plug change:

With enough lube all came out effortlessly. In fact they came out with much less effort that I did on my car doing the dry swap.

The hole that had oil in it was showing clear debris left when the spark plug was removed, so I cleaned it out nicely before installing the new one

All done! Started up no problem. No engine noise. No vibrations. Perfect!

After a short test drive we proceeded to the last job of the day… changing the pesky license plate bulbs on the trunk lid… one of Bill’s burned out and that was the reason I ordered a bunch of them from Taiwan to replace mine as well

I already knew how to approach this change. Pulled out a bunch of fish line and started working my way along the backing of the light unit. The rubber piece that touches the metal trunk lid was very much stuck to it. So the reason for using the fishing line was to break it loose and then the light unit slides to the left and pops out by pulling on the right side of it. And so that’s exactly what I did.

All the plastic tips in tact, nothing snapped or broken. Nothing brittle

Interesting observation the soft top Mazdaspeed spoiler has a little area cut out for the Mazda logo… who would have thunk?

I asked Bill to bring his new ramps so we could change the rear end links, and they fit very nicely into his trunk. Taking up all the space!

The LED’s look perfect!

What a difference a couple of hours make. It was a perfectly sunny day for Bill’s drive home… I had an awesome time working on this car looking forward to another excuse to do something else in the near future. Thanks Bill!

Mazda Car Wash Day and Detail Clinic

This weekend Chris hosted a car wash & detail clinic day.

I joked that I was preparing for this day by not washing my car for at least two weeks… and several road trips on some rainy days for Motorsport events like the visits to Lime Rock. But in reality every time I do wash my car it seems to rain the next day messing things up. All the pollen in the air, the dust, and it’s a pain in the ass to keep the car clean. I don’t think I’ve ever actually detailed my car, until this weekend!

Chris has a collection of various detailing products that were put to a good use. One of my favorites was the one that turned my headlights that have started to get cloudy to bright and clear again.

Some pix:

This yellow RX-8 was my favorite Mazda at the event… I love the color. I think my next MX-5 will be some shade of yellow!

Yea, please don’t suck Mazda!

Good to see Bill show up with his 2007 GT soft top… I think in the past I’ve assumed it was the first model year NC but I was wrong.

Isn’t that yellow gorgeous?

My turn…

Tackling the headlights…

This is what they looked like before, very cloudy on top…

and this is what they look like after:

as compared to Bill’s car:

and compared to Chris’s car:

and even without washing or detailing Chris’s car looked the best:

To end the day we had the bright idea of attempting to adjust Bill’s new Tokico’s… and then Chris dropped one of the brace nuts into the engine bay… that was the last time we saw it. Even though a lot of time was spent looking for it, it was never found. Luckily the Advance Auto nearby stocked just the right size bright and shiny new ones which I went to pick up to finish the job.

It was a great and very educational day…

Thanks Chris!

NER SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock on Father’s Day Weekend

Thanks to Jamie Dzencelowcz the chief starter for inviting me to work on the start stand for this NER Club Racing event at Lime Rock over Father’s Day weekend.

For some odd reason everyone I met was very surprised to see me there, which was odd… my guess the rumor mill is churning based on something I said at some point or something someone else said about me. But frankly I don’t give a shit. I paid my dues this year, I’m perfectly allowed to be at any SCCA event. That said it was a very much welcoming atmosphere at the track. I wanted to get more experience working start, and I got precisely that. I was glad to find out that the Driver’s will put on a paddock crawl again. And they did a fantastic job. And the quality of racing was good too. We had a mixed bag of weather. It rained one day and was fine the next. We had plenty of incidents of bodywork flying off various cars on the front straight. So that was good to see too, some action.

Most importantly though I had a blast doing what I like. I especially enjoyed doing lap charts for the bigger groups. It’s basically recording the position of every car as they crossed the start finish line every lap. As a blue flagger it’s something that I’ve always done in my head anyway, keeping track of the leaders and the backmarkers so that I could blue flag them on the appropriate laps. But now there’s an official record on the Start stand. That was amazing. And I was somewhat impressed with myself that I managed to memorize the look of a lot of cars from a distance. Something I struggled with during PWC weekend where I made a few mistakes pointing out the wrong cars even though I always thought I had knew those cars very well already.

As always it’s super neat to see cars from bird’s eye view, especially the winners when they come in to pick up little checkered flags to do their victory laps.

Love the Brasil colors on this E46 M3

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

This father’s day my friend Bill and I decided to fix another issue both of our NC Miata’s were having… my rear stabilizer links were making a clicking sound ever since we installed the Bilstein shocks. His Miata seemed to have aftermarket end links where one of them was ripped out of it’s socket because of possible incorrect install to his massive Flyin’ Miata rear stabilizer bar. So Bill ordered the parts online, came over and as soon as we got the car up on the RhinoRamps it started raining… so we went to the Diner for breakfast. On the way we also stopped by at CarQuest to pick up some more new end link nuts because the old ones on my car were showing signs of wear and I didn’t want them to get stripped. He paid $3.30 apiece at the Mazda dealer… I paid $3.30 for a box of 4 Dorman aftermarket pieces. They looked the same.

Fast forward to some better weather and replacing the end links turned out to be a rather quick job. We did Bill’s car first. Taking them off was easy. But placing new ones on seemed to look weird because they went in on an angle when attached to the stabilizer bar… I was worried if we fastened them in this condition, it was possible that they might fail again.

Luckily we had my car nearby to see exactly what they were meant to look like in correct condition, as installed from factory.

So another idea was to take mine off. Replace them with new ones. And use my old ones as guinea pigs on Bills car to see if they would last. If no failure happens after a few weeks of driving we’ll go ahead and replace them with the new ones. So that’s what we did.

Ironically though, the clicking didn’t stop once we installed new end links on my car. Turns out they were not the problem I was experiencing. Instead it appears that the actual stabilizer bar was bending in such a manner that it was making noise when the chasis of the car twisted on various road conditions, particularly when going onto uneven surfaces, like up a driveway or into parking lots, or hitting pot holes.

I was disappointed that the problem didn’t get fixed, but as we were tinkering under my car I discovered that my differential was covered in fluid and grime. It turns out that the last time I did Castrol Syntrax flush to replace the Mobil 1 75W90, I did something wrong. It’s possible I didn’t tighten the bolts enough. Or that I overfilled the differential. Or that my car didn’t like the Castrol product. I was so concerned about it, I ordered another jug of Mobil 1 since it was proven to work well for a good 20k miles, and did the flush later on in the day. So far after the test drive the car feels smooth. There’s no whine at cruising speeds. And all is well. What I’m concerned about now looking at the old Castrol that I drained from the diff, is a bunch of small aluminum shavings. That doesn’t seem normal to me.

But I guess time will tell if there’s a bigger issue.

Today was a very productive Sunday!