The most fitting cheesy cliche

He drives an automatic NC1 soft-top Miata that he bought almost 5 years back. It’s been trouble free aside from somewhat extra-routine mainenance and was kept stock aside from an adrenaline-inducing K&N air filter for the first few years. His longtime friend and mechanic works on a manual NC2 from next door to the shop, and one day I happened upon four discarded Bilsteins w/ sport springs sitting in the back of the shop. A very reasonable price for the struts was agreed upon and my dad had them installed in place of the old and soft, yet viable stock units. However, the aforementioned other Miata owner beats on the car and the sport package pieces he ditched for coilovers were worse for the wear. While the car handled sufficiently well afterwards with the still-mild struts and Potenza S-04s, the rear shocks leaked and chronic clunking ensued.

Fortunes changed a few months ago, I found what is usually a $1,200 suspension kit comprising of shock mounts, Koni shocks, and H&R sport lowering springs on Tire Rack for about $300 with free shipping. My dad was eager to get some fresher suspension in the car and he was thinking of trying autocross, so this was a perfect opportunity to prepare the car and eliminate an irritant.

But that obviously can’t be the only thing. Anyone who is anybody knows that the sway bars on a 2006 to 2015 MX-5 are puny and almost useless boulevard-cruiser-grade hardware; while good replacements can be found in a sporting version of the NC’s chassis-sharing sister, the RX-8, some thicker adjustable ones were sourced new from Flyin’ Miata for convenience and adjustability. I managed to score some high quality Sankei 555 front end links at my then-current job for 10 bucks apiece and sourced some Moogs (Thai-made but more than serviceable) for the rear on Rock Auto. I didn’t see a need to splurge on end-links which were mostly cheap insurance. Lastly, I picked up some Bosch Icons, Pentofrost A2 coolant to replace the original stuff, a bit of correct Aisin 0T4 for a rolling ATF change to ensure that the slushbox doesn’t seppuku-ize from my workplace to use every last bit of employee discount. That was rounded off by three 5qt jugs of M1 EP bundled with M1 filters for just $90 at Advance.

Of course, there will be complications, though the ones this car suffers can hardly be termed as such. Yesterday, we were going to take the car out to some windy roads to get a “before” impression as a reference point for the feel of the car after the work was completed. Traffic was a predictably harrowing sight and, upon turning home, we were greeted with a tire pressure warning light. A quick walk-around betrayed nothing. A quick 75-mph return down the express lane produced an unusual ride, and a neighbor notified us that the tire was flat-as-could-be pulling up to the house. For the second time on this car, a valve stem had sheared right off for no good reason and took the Schrader valve and most air in the tire with it. The jack was deployed, the wheel removed, and a VDO clamp-style TPMS ordered quickly. I took it in today to be fit on the car and the tire seemed structurally fine. Maybe the car just senses that it’s being given amounts of attention and feels too free to act out.

I have to wonder: does anyone else live vicariously through someone whose car (despite being the subject of some fun-making) leaves actual room in the budget for modifications by requiring so little in repairs?