You could make a strong case for the MX-5 being as close to an automotive ‘blank canvass’ as it’s possible for a modern car to get, and this means that there are literally thousands of tuning parts available for all four models. The majority can be broken down to distinct categories relating to specific areas of the car’s running gear, with prime examples beings suspension, brakes, induction, exhaust, wheels, interior styling, exterior styling, transmission, forced induction and for the really committed, full on engine swaps. To celebrate the arrival of summer and to perhaps inspire some of you to break out the spanners, here’s our rundown of the top MX-5 tuning parts/areas.
An obvious place to start given the MX-5 legendary chassis and handling ability, uprated suspension and associated parts like anti-roll bars and strut-braces are a relatively simple means of tightening up your car and making it corner with even greater precision. There’s an almost unlimited scope for fine tuning depending on your preference and how you intend to use the car, but we’d recommend starting with some uprated dampers and matched lowering springs, the Vmaxx XXtreme kit being a case in point. This done, perhaps consider replacing your old, almost certainly worn anti-roll bar bushes with polyurethane versions, you’ll be amazed by how much ‘tighter’ you car will feel.
Vmaxx XXtreme: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/vmaxx-xxtreme-adjustable-height-damping-coilover-mk1-p-2961.html
Anti-roll bar bush kit: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/anti-roll-bush-complete-polybush-mk1-p-357.html
An all too often overlooked element of a car’s setup, fitting larger, more performance-orientated brakes will enable you to stop earlier and will give you the confidence to push harder. The exact spec of the brake kits available depends on both the generation of roadster you own and how large a wheel you want to run, but there’s certainly a huge amount of choice available. We carry a number of upgrade packages and can supply you with stoppers suited to pretty much any type of driving you care to mention, but we’d suggest plumping for the Ultimate Sports Big Brake kit. Containing 4 EBC drilled, slotted and vented discs, a set of EBC Greenstuff pads, Hel braided lines and a bottle of performance brake fluid, the kit is available for MX-5s built between 1989 and 2015.
It stands to reason that the more air you can funnel into your MX-5’s engine, the better it’ll perform, and we carry a selection of induction parts designed to get your car breathing deeply and freely. Offerings from both K&N and Pipercross are both effective and affordable, with the latter’s Viper kit being one of our biggest sellers for the Mk2/2.5 (we’ve even fitted one to our own project car). At the upper end of the spectrum we have the TorqIntake from Skuzzle Motorsport, a beautifully designed kit which has been dyno proven to provide up to 10bhp of extra power when fitted to a Mk3.
A free-flowing aftermarket exhaust system will do more than merely provide you with an enhanced rasp, it’ll actually help your engine exhale better, boosting power in the process. The exact specification of your exhaust system very much depends on your car and whether or not you want to run a cat (we’d advise against removing it, you’ll thank us next time you take your MX-5 in for an MOT), but, as ever, there’s a huge amount of choice on offer. We’d suggest one of IL Motorsport’s stunning stainless steel 4-2-1 tubular manifolds to start with, ideally leading to one of the firm’s equally well regarded exhaust systems. Mk3 owners looking for the ultimate in exhaust systems would be well advised to look to BBK’s stunning race system and centre pipe, a product that really will make your car sound like a racer that’s escaped the confines of the circuit!
The only point of contact your car has with the road, wheels (and tyres) are another of those often overlooked areas and one which can make a massive difference to how your MX-5 drives. Lightweight alloy wheels will help reduce unsprung weight, in turn promoting sharpened handling, while the MX-5’s stud pattern (4x100 on early cars) means that some of the nicest looking wheels ever made will bolt right up to the hubs. The alloys you opt to fit to your car can make a massive difference to how it drives and how it looks, so it’s very much down to personal preference and budget. Head over to our website to browse through the dozens of different styles we stock.
Wheel and tyres packages: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/wheel-tyre-packages-c-376_184_190.html
The MX-5’s interior became plusher and better designed with the passing of each generation, though you could argue that the Mk1’s now has a certain retro charm all of its own. We stock a plethora of interior fixtures and fixings to help you liven up the inside of your baby Mazda though, most of them at very affordable prices and most easily installed within minutes. As is often the case, personal taste and preference dictate what you fit, though we’re rather partial to the dash kits available for the first three generations.
Fancy bolting on some individuality to your car? Then you’re in luck, as we carry dozens of styling kits for all four generations of Mazda MX-5, many of which completely transform the look of the car. The KG Works rear spoiler is a justifiably popular product among Mk1 owners, while our lip splitters look right at home on both Mk2s and Mk3s and add a touch of depth to the front end. Those lucky enough to own one of the recently launched Mk4s could do a lot worse than fitting a pair of the genuine Mazda side air dam skirts.
KG Works: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/works-rear-spoiler-mazda-mk1-p-2189.html
Mk2 front lip: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/front-spoiler-mk25-p-1987.html
Mk3 front lip: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/front-lower-spoiler-mk35-p-2935.html
Mk4 skirts: http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/side-skirts-black-mk4-p-3768.html
The MX-5’s OEM gearbox is one of its best features, an effective unit with a pleasing throw and shift. There are a number of aftermarket parts to help sharpen things even further though, particularly if you happen to own a Mk1 or Mk2. We’d be tempted to keep things nice and simple by fitting a quick shift kit, proven to reduce gearstick throw by 40% and heighten the already immensely satisfying shift action.
Whether or not it’s correct to turbo or supercharge a car like the Mazda MX-5 is a bone of contention and a topic of much debate amongst the Roadster faithful, but the very fact that Mazda themselves have dabbled with forced induction across all four generations proves that there’s certainly a lot to be gained from doing it. Doing so with any degree of success (not to mention longevity) will mean lowering the engine’s compression, completely overhauling the fueling and cooling systems, sourcing a suitable turbo and manifold arrangement, and possibly forging the internals. A lot of work, certainly, but you’ll be laughing like a loon when you hit the accelerator and feel the boost build.
A bit of a cheat of an entry? Perhaps, but then it’s also true that few cars have been subject to as many (or as wild) engine swaps as the humble MX-5. The exact nature of the swap depends on your budget and your level of skill, but if you’re fairly handy with the spanners and an angle grinder then the world (at least the car portion of it) really is your oyster! We’ve seen some truly amazing engines stuffed into the MX-5’s diminutive bay over the years, the GM LS V8 and Mazda’s own screaming rotary being two of our favourites. Good luck and happy swapping!