Classic turbo revival
BBR’S upgrades for current MX-5S are going down a storm – its new Heritage Collection now offers a taste of the same for older cars Words: Dan Trent Photos: Antony Fraser
BBR was synonymous with turbocharged MX-5S back in the day: now it has re-engineered its turbo kits for early models and they’re great!
History repeats and, having made its name as the officially sanctioned turbo upgrade for MX-5 buyers back in the day, BBR is back in the business of giving the original mk1 a bit of a boost.
Why now? Well, for a long time MX-5S and Eunos imports have been cheap enough to enjoy on a shoestring, so the idea of spending multiples of the car’s value on a turbo kit was really only for the truly committed. But as natural selection does its thing and the values and status of good ones are on the up, owners are once again willing to invest proper money in their cars. And BBR reckons now is the time to dust off its
original turbo kit, update it and once again offer fans of the mk1 and mk2 a thoroughly tested and reliable way of making them go a whole lot faster.
The original BBR kit was designed to be a bolt-on package for easy fitment in Mazda dealerships. Official sanction gave it a much broader audience than most aftermarket upgrades but brought with it certain constraints, not least a political requirement to keep a lid on the power so as not to rattle the Mazda mothership, and to make it possible to offer a warranty. As such it stuck to standard injectors, kept the original airbox and mounted the intercooler behind the radiator – not ideal for power but meaning it could be fitted without bodywork modifications.
Raising power of the stock 1.6 from 115bhp to 148bhp and torque from 100lb ft to 154lb ft brought about a useful increase in performance and unleashed the potential always lurking within the base mk1 package: BBR eventually supplied around 1200 kits back in the day. That was a quarter of a century ago and expectations have changed somewhat. That and freedom from OE politics meaning this new BBR Heritage Collection of turbo upgrades is rather more potent.
Gathered for Total MX-5’S delight at BBR’S Brackley headquarters are four subtly different takes on this turbo revival for mk1s and mk2s, although just to be clear, the Heritage Collection encompasses only the engine modifications and not any other upgrades these cars may feature. The black 1.6 S-limited on the gold BBS wheels with matching pinstripe has the factory airbox and 197bhp while the 1.8 R-limited has a rather more potent 217bhp. The red 1.6 Eunos S-special is the really naughty one with BBR’S Koni suspension kit and 227bhp: it’s a 2.5-inch exhaust system away from an even more exciting 247bhp. And while the 227bhp mk2 proves the second generation cars can also benefit, its combination of the