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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/23 7:32 p.m.

Just a short birthday drive so I could say I did it, and a totally gratuitous photo.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/28/23 6:10 p.m.

Spoke to Coker Tire again today, asking where the tires I ordered in January are. After being promised them in March, then April, I'm now being told the end of June or early July. I really hope they show up someday...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/3/23 7:37 p.m.

Three weeks ago, Coker Tire sent me an ad saying I could get $70 off a set of 4 Michelin tires. I figured I'd call them and see if I could get that applied to my order - at worst, I could cancel and place it again. I put it off for a couple of days because I was traveling and my phone didn't work. Obviously, there was no rush, it had been 5 months since I ordered them and they were at least a month out.

Then I got the shipping notification the same week. Nicely played, Coker :) So the tires got here a couple of weeks ago. I'm now in the same time zone, so I'll take them in to work and mount them on the wheels this week. Finally! 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/7/23 6:13 p.m.

It's New Tire Day!

185/60-14 tires are so cute. And these things were super-easy to mount, far less cantankerous than stiff sidewalled race rubber being stretched on a too-wide wheel. They also balanced super-easily, with the worst wheel taking a whole 0.75 oz total. 

I was quite excited to see that they came with the EPREL label. Forum member ShawneeCreek mentioned them last year when I was shopping for Tesla tires (it's an interesting post), so I immediately geeked out. It even includes a QR code so you can see everything about my new tires: https://eprel.ec.europa.eu/screen/product/tyres/462094. Basically, they're inefficient, good in the wet and in the middle of the range for noise. Also no longer available in the EU, but my tires have DOT labels so that's all that really matters to me.

The tires are nice and soft - and mildly asymmetrical, which is interesting. But they're actually a couple of years old despite being the first shipment to Coker.

This was also a surprise. It's possible the future supply of these might be a little constrained, so if you want some buy them now. That's a nicely placed WARNING sign too.

So what are they like to drive? I don't know yet. It's stormy outside and with preparation underway for our big Miata event on this weekend, I'm not going to get behind the wheel until Friday night at the earliest. Fingers crossed.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/8/23 8:49 p.m.

Still haven't had the chance to drive the car yet, grr. But one note - I forgot to weigh the wheel/tire combo, but the shipping weight for four tires was 56 lbs. That's 14 lbs per tire. My daisy wheels are roughly 12.5 lbs (there are different variations and I don't care enough to pay attention) so that should be under 27 lbs for the complete setup. 

Nice.

newold_m (Forum Supporter)
newold_m (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/9/23 1:27 a.m.

Back in the day I had 15x6 (or might have been 6.5") TE37's with 205/50 PE2 on my NA and that combo was also around 27 lbs. Woke up the car for sure and was really good balance between ride comfort and decent grip. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/12/23 11:50 a.m.

Drive time, finally! This weekend was the Flyin' Miata Summer Camp, an event that's been going on since 1998 (well, once a year, it hasn't been in process for a quarter century). On Friday, I had the Targa Miata at our track day for a couple of exhibition drives. On Saturday, it was joined by 338 for the open house and car show. The car was pretty well known and well received. It's funny, a car that was the rattiest Miata I'd ever seen in 1999 has now become a very good condition survivor. Since the weather was absolutely perfect, 338 was rocking the Mazda factory tonneau cover instead of the hardtop. There was a lot of interest in the non-airbag steering wheel in particular.

On Sunday, a group of 30(ish) cars did a 120 mile loop up and over the Grand Mesa, escaping the 5000' heat to get over 10,000' and some cool weather. I was running sweep - if you've done that, you know that you see the biggest variation in speed :) 

The new rubber is a big win. The old tires were feeling stiff from age, and the extra compliance from the new ones made it feel like the familiar roads had been freshly paved on the way to work. Grip levels were good - they're actually a 240TW tire which feels about right. Not anywhere near the current state of the art 200TW gumballs, but probably a bit better than a 300TW like a Yokohama Fleva Flev. I didn't get much of a slip angle going on them but they feel very well matched to the chassis. I'd definitely buy them again, and I was recommending them to all 14" Miata owners at the event.

338 has turned into a really, really nice car. The new tires and suspension (Koni sports, stock springs, FM bumpstops, FM sway bars) dealt well with the road damage at altitude. The stock 1.6 had to work pretty hard to keep up at times on the climb, but happily spun up to redline when needed with that beautiful Miata shift feel. There wasn't a single squeak or rattle to be heard - it barely even shudders over bumps. I had a passenger with me on the Grand Mesa, and he figures he'll never be in a nicer NA. I'm like a proud papa. The car has really come together. It's not perfect, it would take a repaint for that. But it's lived a life and been cared for, so it's got the best kind of real patina.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/7/23 4:10 p.m.

Unrequested update!

338 has seen a lot of use recently. It's become my go-to car for trips that don't require much carrying capacity, especially now that the peak of the temperatures are past us - no AC, you see. Average fuel economy is sitting at 32.5 mpg which is almost identical to the CRX. I'm really happy with the ride thanks to the tires, Konis and new bushings. The car feels new.

A coworker drove it earlier this week as we were driving a couple of cars to the track in convoy. He's got two NAs himself, and he was really impressed with how nice a nice NA can be. We were supposed to be talking about the turbo NC I'd been driving, but he wouldn't stop talking about 338 :) We've become far too accustomed to them being rough riding rattletraps. I did have someone ask if I was selling on Thursday while I was gassing up, haven't had that happen in a while!

It did have a bit of a squeal in the front brakes and I knew nothing about the pads, so I just swapped in a new set of R4Seseses and made sure the caliper sliders were still well lubed. The pads that came off have lots of meat but are probably some generic parts store brand. I haven't had a chance to drive it yet (I literally JUST finished), but I'll probably go bed them tonight just because it's fun.

I have so far resisted the urge to take it to the track. It's not something Dad would have done, but Miatas do like it. Maybe next weekend. Yes, I'm trying to choose between a 500 hp race-prepped NA on R888Rs and an almost stock 1.6.

Current status:

 

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/7/23 4:50 p.m.

Updates on #338 are always welcome!  

 

I love stock 1.6 Miatas, they are like happy little puppies, full of a kind of low powered yet frenzied energy.  All the same, 500hp and R888s...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/7/23 6:10 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

There's not really a wrong choice. 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider UberDork
10/7/23 7:55 p.m.

We love updates to 338. It's a fun story and just the fact it's been in the family forever is great. 

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/8/23 9:15 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

Updates on #338 are always welcome!  

 

I love stock 1.6 Miatas, they are like happy little puppies, full of a kind of low powered yet frenzied energy.  All the same, 500hp and R888s...

This is the same analogy I used when trying to decide between keeping an NA or NC in the driveway.  The happy puppy stayed.  Now it has been replaced by an ND2 because I can't keep from finding more cars to try out.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/11/23 1:14 a.m.

Drove the Targa Miata to work yesterday. Drove 338 today. 

The difference in their cornering styles on the street is really fun. The Targa digs in and carves around the corner with no discernible effort. 338 gets up on its toes and has a noticeable slip angle that's very adjustable and playful. Both fun, one is far more likely to get you in trouble with the police. The Michelin tires have just the right amount of grip to make the chassis work without requiring massive commitment. 

Also, I love the head unit on the 1.6 Miatas. The AUTO M feature that scans through the FM dial and saves the six strongest in temporary memory, so good for road trips. The fact that you can turn on the lights with one button press so it's dark at night, and a display that is nice and simple - and a perfect color match to the interior lighting - at other times. The easy adjustment of headrest speakers or bass/treble balance with secondary adjusters hidden behind the main knobs. The fact that adjusting the clock for a time change is simple and easy. The clean integration of the optional CD player (if you can find one that still works). It's a nice piece. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/2/23 5:14 p.m.

I found someone who restores Miata head units. It's not cheap, but it basically makes it brand new internally and ensures that all the lights and such still work. Almost all of mine do, only one side of the LCD is dark at night. He can also retrofit bluetooth. Now that's an interesting idea. He had absolutely nothing good to say about the original CD players, so we agreed to disagree on that :) He also feels that an AUX in is pointless. Right now, I'm listening to audiobooks via an iPod classic plugged into a cassette tape adapter so we definitely disagree on that one!

I've noticed recently that 338 has a bit of a stumble at times. Leaving a stop, you need to blip the throttle to get it over 2000 or so or it'll bog down. Same coming off a corner sometimes - and it seems to be getting worse. I could drive around it but I shouldn't need to. I started thinking about it and realized I hadn't looked at the plugs for a long time. And heck, putting in a set of clean plugs with the right gap is super-easy. So I pulled a set of NGK ZFR6F-11 plugs out of my plug bucket, cleaned them, gapped them and popped them in. Stumble solved, the car is now smooth through the range. Well worth the minimal effort, and a reminder that even Miatas need normal tune-up things. We're so used to looking for problems like cracked cam angle sensor wiring or failing airflow meters that we can forget about the basics. See also my previous whoopsie with the ignition timing.

The plugs I pulled out were Bosch Platinums. No idea who installed them or when, it probably wasn't I because I've always used NGKs as far as I can remember. There's a very slight chance I might have installed them when I built the engine in 2002. But they definitely seem past their best.

I also noticed whilst pulling plugs that the sticker on the shock tower brace looked a little rough. This brace dates back to when Flyin' Miata was known as The Dealer Alternative and "Flyin' Miata" was just a brand name of parts - like Cobalt is to Moss Motors. The company started Doing Business As FM in August 2000, which means this brace was probably added pretty soon after Dad got the car. Probably on the trip to the big Miata World event in Dallas in 1999.

Don't call that 800 number, we gave it up a few years ago.

When we were cleaning out the office a few years back, someone came across those stickers so I grabbed them before they could be thrown out. And now my pack rat tendencies are completely justified, as I was able to restore the brace by replacing the sticker with a brand new one! It is unlikely that my wife Janel will view this as a win overall.

As you may have seen elsewhere, I hosted a round table discussion of some of the original Miata design team. I learned that Bob Hall has the license plate P729 on his own Miata, and both he and the others very much appreciated my P729 LWS plate.

Also, the long term test Miata that R&T had, kept for 50,000 miles instead of the usual 30,000, and which was purchased by Dennis Simanaitis is VIN 100348, just 10 cars behind little 338 in the production line. As far as I know, he still has it. And I still have the magazine with the test reports of his car :)

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/8/23 6:06 p.m.

Unnecessary update!

The M5 is down in my shop getting some maintenance and repair. So in the meantime, 338 has taken its spot in the garage. This is good because it makes the car more accessible and I'm more likely to drive it. So I have been! It's also so cute to see it sitting out there.

I'm not sure if this decision was because I've been driving it at night or because it bugged me, but I decided I could do better than the GE Nighthawk LEDs that were in place. Partly because LED lighting has come along since I got these some time ago, but also because they're built in two sections and it looks a little weird.

My local Miata shop stocks a few different LED upgrades, including the Holley Retrobrights. These look just like a proper normal incandescent headlight but with LED output. FM's testing team chose these as the best out of a bunch of ones that we tested, although I wasn't involved. So I decided what the heck. The shop gives me a good price :)

That looks so much better. The current fashion for NA Miata owners is to put in halo lights, but I'll leave that to the OG halo car - the E39 M5. These just look correct. Plus they're good optics. Installation took about 2 minutes per side using a single tool, as it should.

I haven't been out for a night drive yet, but I can say they light off faster than the GEs. It's only noticeable if you have one of each in the car, but it was interesting. Their pattern is a little less pronounced and don't have the spiky hot spot in the middle, which should be good.

I have quite the collection of 7" headlight options. A bunch of e-code H4 upgrades with bulb wattages all the way up to 130W, Nighthawks, Trucklights (including a heated set) and now the Retrobrights. I may even have some old sealed beams kicking around, but those are never going back into a car!

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) Dork
12/8/23 8:11 p.m.

I was gung-ho to get them after reading of your success. yes Then I saw the $400+ expense... frown  My Outlaw Bug will keep using its Hella driving lights for high beams...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/8/23 8:26 p.m.

In reply to Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) :

If I'd had to pay anything close to full retail, I would not have made the change. Sometimes, being in the industry has perks. 

Caprigrip
Caprigrip Reader
12/20/23 12:32 a.m.

Keith - just fyi I loved reading this thread.   Very sweet memorial to your dad and a great real Miata that we can all relate to.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/20/23 12:18 p.m.

Glad you enjoyed it!

I learned yesterday that while I can fit all my hockey gear in 338, it feels a little abusive :)

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/4/24 2:19 p.m.

More time in the life of 338. Between the good mechanical condition of the car and the fact that it's got the primo spot in the garage, I'm looking for excuses to drive it. One nice thing about where I live is that it is possible to take a little sports car on summer tires out fairly frequently over the winter months - and since we don't use salt on the roads, it's not a problem for the car either. For example, Janel wanted to go to one of her quilting shops on Jan 1 so that was an excellent excuse to take the red car.

The new headlights work well. They don't have a super-aggressive pattern like the cutoff with a kink on my old e-codes, but I'm happy with them. Those e-codes actually had a bit too much contrast between the lit and unlit areas at times.

338 has also been helping with product development. We have a new shock tower brace and one of the fitment challenges is dealing with the big Canadian washer bottle. So 338 got pulled in to help with checks on that. It's good :)

Janel and I have also been making plans to do a little more traveling this summer, and either the trips are an excuse to take 338 or 338 is an excuse to take trips. Whatever, doesn't matter. She'll probably want me to retrofit AC though. And maybe it's time to revist replacing the soft top. More on that later.

It does have one problem that's bothering me right now, the windshield is pitted. Suggestions appreciated.
https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/polishing-a-pitted-windshield/261954/page1/

I'm heading north to visit family, so I'll leave you with a picture of my first Miata very shortly after I got it 31 years ago. A car that sparked a career, but nobody had any idea at the time.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
2/4/24 2:37 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It pains me to see a Miata out in the winter because OMG Mazdas dissolve like Alka-Seltzer but, I suppose, if it's around in good shape this many decades later, it turned out okay...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/4/24 2:47 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

That's my original Miata. It did develop the characteristic sill rust about 20 years later, but not badly. I only winter drove it for about 3 years and it got Crown rustproofing. Hey, at the time you could still walk into the dealership and buy a new 1.6 to replace it :) It still looks pretty good.

This was later that same year, going to visit my parents during spring break. A year later, the car had a hardtop - which is now on 338.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/29/24 4:45 p.m.

The FM parking lot doesn't always look like this, but some days it does. Most of my trips in to the office are in the little red car these days just because I'd rather drive it than not drive it.

That is all. Here is your moment of zen.

Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter)
Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
2/29/24 4:51 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

And then, right at the top of Vail pass, we stopped. Vail is the second of two high passes I had to get over.

Ah poop. It must have just happened, and I got stopped about four car lengths past the off-ramp that would let me turn around.

I once spent the night at the top of Vail Pass when they closed the road due to snow. I was in my 914.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/29/24 5:02 p.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie (Forum Supporter) :

That sounds...cramped. I've spent a bit of time in 914 seats (in another vehicle) and I don't recall them being terribly heavily padded either.

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