Lightly mod­ded RS Limited

Total MX-5 - - CONTENTS -

James Peach al­ways wanted an MX-5, but when he bought his RS Limited didn’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate what he’d got. He does now, though…

James Peach is one of a new gen­er­a­tion of MX-5 fans who un­der­stand that mas­sive horse­power isn’t the only path to hard­core driv­ing plea­sure. Words and pho­to­graphs: Brett Fraser

If you’re of a cer­tain age then you’ll re­mem­ber when the MX-5 was way too un­cool for younger car en­thu­si­asts. Too slow. Weedy out­puts. Im­age is­sues – too mid-life cri­sis for some, too hair­dressery for oth­ers. Fron­twheel drive hot hatches were the way to go, un­less you could af­ford the in­sur­ance on a Subaru Im­preza Turbo…

But times change. MX-5S – es­pe­cially the more af­ford­able mk1 – have edged their way into youth­ful con­scious­ness. The drift­ing scene prob­a­bly helped. The Fast & Fu­ri­ous movie fran­chise cer­tainly did, in­tro­duc­ing new gen­er­a­tions to the thrills and de­lights of rear-drive han­dling. And, of course, some­times you can’t be told that some­thing’s good, you have to find out for your­self: which can take time.

James Peach reck­ons that he al­ways wanted an MX-5: I can de­tect in his voice that the 22-year-old won­der­ing why I even both­ered ask­ing what trig­gered his in­ter­est in the lit­tle Mazda road­ster and if he’d en­coun­tered any stigma from own­ing it. ‘Ac­tu­ally, a big group of my mates own MX-5S,’ he states. But then, with a smile, he con­fesses that they are all aware, and un­daunted by, the MX-5’S ear­lier rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a bit soft.

‘We’ve loosely fash­ioned our­selves into a club, the Hair­dresser Squad, and we’ve even got stick­ers. As yet there aren’t enough of us to af­ford our own stand at shows, but we tend to tag along with other clubs to some of the events, such as Japfest. And we at­tend the lo­cal MX-5 Own­ers Club monthly meetings.’

James’ car is a 1994 mk1 Eunos RS Limited.‘i bought it four years ago from some­one in Soli­hull,’ he says, ‘but al­though I’d al­ways wanted an MX-5 – my sis­ter had one and it was great – I wasn’t fully aware of what I was buy­ing, as I hadn’t paid much at­ten­tion to the limited edi­tions. That I bought one of the best mod­els was a happy ac­ci­dent.

‘It was in good con­di­tion with no vis­i­ble rust and had done about 100,000km, but the RS’S hall­mark car­bon-kevlar Re­caro race seats were miss­ing, re­placed with reg­u­lar tomb­stone items: I found a pair of the Re­caros a while later, in Wales. The roof was knack­ered but I had a garage so it wasn’t a prob­lem – I tend to drive around with the roof down any­way un­less it’s pour­ing, and now that I have a sec­ond car and don’t have to use the MX-5 as my daily driver, I’ve got rid of the roof al­to­gether. I do have a hard-top, though, for the win­ter.’

As tidy as James’ car was ini­tially, it couldn’t es­cape rust’s hun­gry jaws.‘it was in­evitable,’ he sighs. ‘I had the sills on both sides re­placed and the off­side rear whee­larch sorted out. I got Deep­car Au­to­bod­ies up in Sh­effield to do the work and to paint the re­paired sec­tions.’

These days a ju­nior tech­ni­cian with Cotswold-based Rennsport, an up­mar­ket Porsche re­storer that also spe­cialises in be­spoke mod­i­fi­ca­tions to clas­sic 911s, James was quick to per­son­alise his MX-5. He slammed the sus­pen­sion, cranked up the neg­a­tive cam­ber, and fit­ted fat BBS al­loys and a chromed style bar over the back of the cock­pit. It looked fab­u­lous but for James wasn’t quite right.‘i de­cided that what I re­ally wanted was some­thing more track­day in­spired.’ These days the RS rolls on light­weight (4kg) Enkei RPF01 wheels wrapped in Nankang NS-2R semi-slick tyres, and is sus­pended by Meis­ter R ad­justable coilovers.

Un­der the bon­net the guts of the en­gine are stan­dard, but it’s fed by a

K&N in­duc­tion kit, and vents its ex­haust gases through an HKS stain­less steel 4-2-1 man­i­fold that feeds into a Pow­er­flow cat-back ex­haust sys­tem. The en­gine bay also fea­tures a Honda Civic ra­di­a­tor that’s half the width of the stan­dard item, al­low­ing space for a cold air in­take right at the front of the car.

For the present James has no plans for fur­ther en­gine up­grades.‘i want to get out there and drive and en­joy it,’ he in­sists, ‘not fuss over a big spec list: that’s what the MX-5 is all about, don’t you think?’ Frankly, we couldn’t agree with you more, James.

Above: James’ first batch of mods re­sulted in a smart-look­ing car, but he then de­cided he wanted bet­ter driv­ing dy­nam­ics

…that’s echoed on the cen­tre con­sole

Chromed mir­rors add a retro touch…

Above: Note half-width rad and po­si­tion of cold-air in­take

Be­low: Mo­tor­sport tow hooks from Jass Per­for­mance

Above: RS’S stance sug­gests a real sense of pur­pose

Be­low: James likes the thin rim of wooden Moto-lita wheel

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