Wrapped up the purchase process and survived the Denver to KC drive last weekend. The trip was thankfully uneventful, with no rain, no mechanical issues, and gawking drivers managing to behave for the most part. I was practically counting on getting pulled over at some point for being a helmet-wearing driver in a noisy WTF-is-that-mobile with a taped-on transit permit leaving a state with legalized weed (add bonus points for being not-white when the fiance was driving), but none of the patrol cars could be bothered to leave the median as we passed them by.
The fiance and I planned on stopping every 150 miles or so for gas and to swap cars if needing some respite from driving the Exocet. The former wound up being more of a necessity than the later, as the aerodynamic nightmare of a body cuts fuel economy down to about 20 MPG out on the highway. Couple that with the Miata’s relatively small fuel tank being mounted at a slightly unfavorable angle for the fuel feed, and I don’t think I’d want to venture beyond 200 miles per tank.
Behind the wheel, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking or fatiguing as I expected. My NC had already primed me for open-top motoring in a tiny vehicle with very stiff suspension, so apart from some more intense wind buffeting and a lack of cruise control, it didn’t feel that much worse. The fiance was a bit less prepared. To sum up his first-drive impressions: “That was terrifying. Don’t get me wrong though, that is the most fun I’ve ever had driving... but I need a cigarette after that.”
As for what it’s like to drive, I’d have to say Flyin’ Miata summed it up pretty well in stating that it’s still a Miata, but with everything turned up to 11. It’s about what you’d expect: louder and more open, better handling, faster acceleration and stops, and every bit of driver feedback is more intense. At the same time, it’s still very easy to use and to feel out what the car is doing at any given moment. The Miata DNA is still alive and well in this kit.
The trip wrapped up Sunday evening just after sunset and I had the next day off from work, so I figured I’d give the state inspection and registration a shot. Thankfully, Missouri has a lot of “if originally equipped” in its state inspection language, so with the kit being “originally equipped” with only a cage and some basic bodywork, it breezed right on through. The DMV had a little trouble getting their computers to recognize the Exocet’s Colorado-issued VIN, but it eventually went through and I had plates in hand less than 24 hours after getting it home.
For autocross, I’ll still be using my NC this year and likely the next since the Exocet is nowhere near ready for D Modified (which is largely unrestricted for <= 2L displacement and ~1300 lbs minimum weight). I’ll still swap in the Exocet for our occasional test and tune and non-points days (one of which is happening later this month), but my main intent for it for now is to find some time to get out to RPM or Heartland Park and start learning how to make haste around a track.