It has been just shy of a year since I got my ’09 NC2 Miata, the majority of that time, I was riding stock. Within the last few months, I’ve started to chip away at my mods list, which I will get into detail about on this post. I’ll also be updating this post as time goes on and as the mods keep coming.
-Miata Is Always The Answer-
I chose the outcast of the Miatas to build up, its never been as beloved as the two models before it, the NA and NB, and certainly not as much as the new ND. Its considered a boat compared to the rest of the Miatas, since it weighs the most (2450 curb weight).
I’ve always liked the NC, mainly because of the looks, and of course, when you think Miata, you think light, rear-wheel-drive, fun canyon carving roadster.
I would occasionally read up on them and contemplate the possibility of getting one, I knew what options I would like what year etc. The lease on my Scion FRS was about to run out (a car I never modded due to a legal dispute with the Toyota), and there was an NC2 for sale at a local dealership down the street from my place. I went to check it out and it fit the bill, 6spd manual, limited slip diff, 1 owner, clean title, well cared for, and the right price. So I got it.
So far, Its given me more “smiles per gallon” than my FRS and is and the insurance and finance payments are smaller so I can save up for the mods and upgrades.
My goal with this build will be to transform it into a clean aggressive track car ( will be hard with that big ol’ grin look). The mods I’ve done to it so far are the ones you’d expect most people to start with, things like suspension, exhaust, wheels, tires, etc… Following is a parts list with a quick review and thoughts on each part.
Parts List (Links Included):
- Mazdaspeed CARB Legal Cold Air Intake
- Mazda Sports Bar Style Grill – Got it from my local dealer, no matter how good the online price they’ll get you on shipping.
- Progress Technology Adjustable Front and Back Sway Bars
- Tokico HTS Adjustable Sports Shocks
- Progress Technology Lowering Springs
- Roadster Sports Race Exhaust
- Enkei RPF1 17×9 ET45
- Yokohama SDrive 235/40R17
- Mcguard Spline Drive Lugs
I’ll be updating this post with pics of these parts soon, I just realized I don’t have pics of most of these parts.
Mazdaspeed CARB Legal Cold Air Intake– I can’t say much about this part, I got the car with this intake already in it, so I can’t compare to stock. Although, it does look very nice under the hood, and I love the fact that you can see it through the grille (see the first picture). You cant hear much induction sound from the driver’s seat, but you can from outside the car. Here is a Miata.net member Croc999’s input on this part.
Mazda Sports Bar Style Grille – This is purely aesthetic for me, as I don’t like the chrome trim and mesh on the stock grille. But others disagree and prefer the stock over this grille. I prefer the clean look of this design. Installation is a 4 out of 10 and took approx 2.5 hours.
Progress Technology Front and Rear Sway Bars – My first mod to this car was the sports grille, then followed by the Race exhaust, simply because I’m a race car driver… Only kidding, but in all seriousness, in retrospect, I would have gone with the Progress tech sways as my first upgrade. They made a night and day difference in the handling of this already nimble car.
When I first installed the sways I was on my stock sports package suspension, and even then the handling was greatly improved. I was able to keep the comfortable ride quality, the car was now a lot more responsive to steering input, and significantly less body roll. If I was looking for minimal mods to get the most out of my Miata, this would be on the top of the list. Best bang for your buck, kind of upgrade.
I have the front sways set to the middle hole and the rear sways set to the soft setting or the hole furthest from the bar itself.
According to the Goodwin Racing, these sways set too aggressive can cause you to spin out, so I set to the recommended setting for daily driving.
Installation was a 5 out of 10 for the front alone and took approx 2.5 hours. There is a lot of crap in the way of getting the front sway bar on. Youll have to remove the front wheels, one underbody panel, unbolt the stock sways from the end links, and unbolt stock brackets, the hard part is getting the new sways in place, again, a lot of crap in the way, and the weight of the sways bars tires out your arms after a while. After installing these beefy sway bars my end links now look like twigs. Next upgrade for sure. See picture below.
Rear sway installation is 1 out of 10. You’ll have to remove 6 bolts, took approx 30 min. Make sure to pay attention to orientation, these can be installed backward. I found out the hard way, my installation took 1 hour if you know what I mean. SMH.
Tokico HTS Adjustable Sport Shocks – I went with the Tokicos because I wasn’t ready to fork out $1600 dollars on coilovers, and I didn’t want to spend $900 on some cheap ones either. So I went with some high-end adjustable shocks, they ran me $700, at the same time I also got the sway bars and lowering springs. All in all, cost me about $1300, still under the coilovers price tag. They get the job done well, for daily driving and the occasional track or autocross event.
When I first installed these, I set them to the recommended 3.5 turns from full stiff in front and 4.5 turns from full stiff on the rear. The ride quality with these settings will depend on the road you’re driving, but it’s on the rough side for daily use. These settings will also get you some nice handling characteristics. There are times that when driving that I wish I had set them softer for the daily 90-mile commute, but I can live with it for the handling.
One small detail I like about these shocks that I can hear them actuating, it adds to the raw driving experience.
I also tried 2.5 turns on the front and 3.5 turns in the rear, big mistake for daily driving. 1. turn. makes. a. huge. difference. It was simply too stiff, I felt like my car was going to break into pieces when drove over a rough patch of road. But the handling, the handling was sublime. The car was very flat, almost no body roll and more grip then I knew what to do with (given I also had the sways and 235/40R17 tires). These are setting that I will most likely be using on a track day or autocross event. See Progress Technology Lowering Springs for installation notes
Progress Technology Lowering Springs – These lowering springs are relatively mild, rates are similar to stock in front and approx 25% stiffer in the rear. These springs are advertised as “The Right Heights For Your 2009+ Miata” which really got me, btw. I would describe the ride heights with these springs as great for an aggressive daily driving stance, I don’t have any clearance issues at all, personally, I would have liked them to be 1/4″ to 1/2″ lower. After installation, give the suspension 1 month to settle to its final height. they settled approx a 1/4″ lower after that month.
Installation Tokicos HTS Shocks and Progress Tech Lowering Springs Notes
Installation is a 6 out of 10 for the front and a 4 out of 10 for the rear. Having a spring compressor for the front made the install a lot easier, here’s a link to the one I got from Amazon. You will also need a ball joint removal kit for the front, which I borrowed for a $45 deposit from Oreilys Auto Parts, I got my deposit back after I returned the tool, thank God for Oreileys.
Some folks have had issues with shearing or breaking off the threads on the top end of the Tokico shocks when tightening or torquing the spring retaining nut on the new setup. I avoided this issue completely by counting the number threads that pass the top of the spring retaining nut with the stock shock and spring setup. Then when assembling the Tokicos and Progress tech lowering springs, I used my spring compressor to compress the springs enough to be able to hand tighten the top nut and leave the same amount of threads sticking past the top of the nut, then slowly decompress the springs and you’re set.
I recommend getting a friend to help you with the front shock or spring work. Installation took approx 4.5 hours. The Tokicos that I got from Flyin’ Miata came with recommended settings and torque spec sheet which made the installation a lot quicker. Thanks for that specs sheet, Flyin’ Miata!
The rear installation took approx 2 hours. I did the rears by myself using a jack to decompress and compress the rear spring and shocks into place, here is a link to a more detailed explanation from bills webspace of this method. The rears are significantly easier than the front shocks and springs.
Roadster Sport Race Exhaust – I’m using this exhaust with stock headers and mid pipe. The exhaust produces an aggressive sound, with light burbling on idle, high pitch growl near redline, and an occasional pop during deacceleration.There is not much drone on city streets, but a lot of it on the highway (2.7K RPM to 3.6K RPM). This exhaust is loud.
The baffle highly improves this exhaust, it kills most of the highway drone and brings the dbs’ to the perfect aggressive daily driver kind of level.
Installation was easy; make sure to use dish soap to get the exhaust into and out of the hangers, it’ll save you a lot of time and struggle.
Enkei RPF1 17×9 ET45
These particular wheels are favorited amongst autocross and track day enthusiasts for their lightweight, rigid build structure due to Enkei’s MAT Technology manufacturing process, and a wide array of sizes and offsets. This is a safe wheel setup that will require fender roll, I have had no issues thus far. They will also give a little bit of wheel poke for that aggressive track look.
These wheels look right at home on Yoko2.
They weigh in at 15.5 lbs, 1.5 lbs less than the stock 17 lbs wheels. The only thing with these wheels is that they are very common on Miatas, not much originality going on here. Maybe I’ll get them sprayed a nice contrasting color at some point.
I got these installed along with a fender roll at California Wheels, in Campbell CA, they do good work at a reasonable price, and they didn’t scratch my wheels!
I found these wheels for a great price on Goodwin Racing for $229 per wheel with free shipping, other sites have them for 240+ a wheel.
Yokohama S Drive 235/45 R17 – When looking for tires I was looking for a set that would double for daily driving and the occasional track or autocross event. The tread pattern couldn’t be too aggressive either since I’m also going to be using them in the rain. The Yokohama S Drive fit the bill.
These tires are considered Ultra High-Performance Summer tires, they have a treadwear rating of 300, a nice tread pattern, and they won’t break the bank, coming in at $117 per wheel. I’ve had these tires for approx 2K miles and they have been great for daily driving.
At first, I wasn’t too sure about the sidewall height, I thought 40 would be too thin, but it is the size Goodwin Racing recommended to avoid any rubbing issues. They turned out very nice and fill the wheel well just right.
I have yet to push the tires to their limit but have pushed them on the freeway on ramps as well back roads (when safe to do so). The only feeling I get is that they can do a lot more then what I have done with them so far. I also have -1.5 degrees camber in the front and -1.0 degrees in the rear.
I’ll be updating this post as I slap some more parts on, feel free to hit me up any questions!