Since the day the Miata showed up, I couldn’t stand the questionable styling additions the previous owner had made. Immediately I had to give my two cents (and several more dollars) how to fix the issue at hand.
The wheels were by far the biggest crime to the exterior of the Miata. They were 16 inch universal “rims” that were utterly horrible. The tires were also cracking along the sidewall, so their days were numbered. Originally we had settled on getting a set of Enkei RPF1 wheels in 15×8 since they look great and were readily available from Tire Rack. However, a quick search of our favorite local classifieds pulled up a set of Miata specific BBS wheels. For the Miata crowd, the wheels were the 1995 M-edition variant, which are 15×6. Not as wide as I had hoped, but they certainly look the part and are relatively light. They also came with the matching center caps to complete the late 80’s/early 90’s mesh look. Interestingly enough, the tires that came with the wheels are Toyo R888, which are a dedicated track tire. These will be swapped out soon enough for a more street friendly tire, but plenty fine (and fun) for now.
It wouldn’t be a typical upgrade for us if we got everything correct the first time. In this case, the BBS center caps wouldn’t clear the lug nuts. Fair enough, so we went to the auto parts store and bought a different set…which didn’t work either. Another set of lug nuts were procured that are known to fit the BMW’s with similarly styled wheels. No dice, they were too tall once again. On the fourth set we finally got it right. For those wondering, NAPA part #641-2042 will clear the center caps correctly. The one German thing we added to the car is also the thing that caused the most headaches. Natürlich.
With our sweet set of wheels finally mounted, it was time to give the Plain Jane exterior of the Miata some attitude. In the theme of the OEM plus, I was really digging the Miata R-Package front and rear bumper lips. They’re not Fast and the Furious outrageous, but add a sporty touch to each of the bumpers. The front lip even has built in brake ducts. Whether they actually work is another story.
According to the message board armchair authorities, Mazda no longer sells the OEM R-Package lips, but plenty of other companies make acceptable reproductions. Of all places, Amazon sold both pieces we needed, so 150 bucks and change meant they were headed our way. The lip kits include the hardware you need as well, so it’s more or less ready to rock right out of the packaging.
The front lip went on without too much trouble. There’s a few centering marks on the lip as well as the car, so use those to temporarily tape the lip into place. Out comes the drill to punch several holes into the bottom of the bumper. Once the holes are drilled, you can place the bolts and nuts on the inside of the bumper and secure the lip into place. As I had read on the reviews of the front lip, the end holes on the sides of the lip are a bit fiddly. You’re supposed to use the stock bolts to secure them into place, but the threaded tension rod makes it a tight fit. My solution to this was to get longer M6 bolts and nuts at the hardware store. The 25mm length works fine, but 30mm makes it even easier. Once the front lip was installed, I noticed a small gap on each side. I’ll probably have to go back with and extra set of bolts and new favorite tool for the Miata, the power drill.
For the rear end, it was the same procedure as the front, but there were less fitment issues. The stock mud flaps had to be removed because the rear lip shares the same lower mounting holes. Not a problem since the flaps made the Miata look like a car that someone’s mom uses to haul around awkwardly shaped patio furniture. Don’t worry though, we saved the old mud flaps in case we have a change of heart and want to enter the Dakar Rally.
All in Good Fun
For a rainy Saturday’s work, I’m very pleased with how the look of the car has changed. Car’s like the Mazda Miata can be very hit or miss since there are just as many ways to make them look bad as there are good. In this case, I’m a firm believer that clean and subtle will set this Miata apart from the crowd. Also, it has to look presentable for when someone complains on Nextdoor.com about the small noisy car driving through the neighborhood. Hey, some of us can only watch our daytime talk shows without disruption.
Here are the links to the parts we used for those curious: