Sunday, March 09, 2008

Mamma Mia!

Here, gentle reader, is an unasked-for update on my recent automotive acquisition.

I've decided that this car should be personified as a female, since it's both pretty and curvy. This is my first vehicle that I've a assigned the feminine gender.* I took Michelle's suggestion and decided to name her "Mia." This name is not only a truncation of "Miata," but can also be pronounced using the Japanese syllabaries, the kana.

I installed a stainless-steel Buck Diamond grill in the car's "mouth" to protect the otherwise undefended radiator, intercooler, and associated plumbing. You can see this new part in the following photo. For comparison, notice how you can look right in at the intercooler in a stock MSM.

In this next pic,** you can see the huge wheels and ridiculously low-profile tires that came stock on the 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata. (The 2005 MSM came with wider-spoked but otherwise similar wheels made by the same manufacturer.)

The wheels are 17 by 7 inches, and the tires are 205/40R17. The tires are rather worn and should be replaced soon. I'm planning to put some 215/40ZR17. The new tire size will put a little more rubber on the ground and add a bit more protection for the wheels. The speedometer error should go from about +5% to +2.5%. The new tires also have a slightly higher speed rating.

Incidentally, you can make out the Rex in both pics above.

I seem to have solved the shifting issues I mentioned earlier using a 3-stage approach. First, I replaced the shift knob with a stainless-steel aftermarket part massing about 400 grams from TWM Performance. The momentum of the weighted knob helps smooth out any notchiness in the transmission. It's not a huge effect, but it is noticeable. I next replaced the fluid in the tranny with Redline MTL, which also seems to have smoothed things out a bit. Lastly, and most importantly, I've simply become accustomed to Mia's foibles.

Here are photos of the interior of the car with the red-stiched Mazdaspeed shift knob and the stainless TWM part:

One more bit of Mia(ta) news: In preparation for the SCCA autocross school I'm going to next weekend, I've had a performance alignment done, using camber, toe, and caster parameters taken from If I only knew how to drive, I'm sure it would make a huge difference.

* I usually personify inanimate objects and animals of unknown gender as male, which I don't find surprising, given my own masculinity. What I do find unexpected is that Alison also personifies these things as male. Hmm.

** I apologize for the lighting in this photo. The sun was setting as I took this shot today, and I did the best I could.***

*** It would be more accurate to say that my autofocus, autoflash camera did the best it could.

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