If you’ve ever thought that you oughta’ boughta’ Miata, then perhaps today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe rotary roadster will be the catalyst that makes you finally pull the trigger. That is of course if its price doesn’t blow it.
I think we can all agree that it’s the pop-up headlights of the first generation MX5 that make it the marque’s most desirable edition. There’s just something about that juxtaposition of sleeping and surprised in its expression when the lamps are lowered or raised that is quietly rewarding.
Today’s 1990 roadster, in Corvette red and sporting 17” wheels the way an 8th grade girl wears high heels, of course has those no you see ‘em, now you don’t headlights. It also has a Wankel.
Since it’s first major push here in the US back at the dawn of the ‘70s, Mazda has been known as the world’s most avid cheerleader of Felix Wankel’s diabolical triangular piston gasoline engine. Because of this advocacy, it’s somewhat of a surprise that a rotary engine never found its way under the hood of the MX5 in Mazda’s factory.
That was because of Mazda’s fear such a car would cannibalize the already anemic sales of the RX7 which had fallen under the shadow of its beloved little brother.
Not giving two shits about RX7 sales, the builder of this tidy custom has created what Mazda feared to do- added Wankel's wunderkind to the legendary roadster. And now, it could belong to someone else who has pined for such a mating of formerly mutually exclusive elements.
Finding a rotary under an MX5’s shapely hood may seem like finding an actual shrimp in your cup-o-ramen rather than one of those sea monkey-looking things, but it should be pointed out that this Wankel is the 1146-cc 12A and not the more common and 162-cc larger 13B.
Now, in the RX7 the 12A put out 101-bhp and about as much torque as a kitten’s fart. The original reciprocating four that Mazda deemed as MX5 worthy was capable of 15 more than that - both in ponies and analogous cat poots - so hopefully the Holley carb and claimed $4,500 that went into making this Miata hum went towards giving its two triangles bigger balls.
At least behind that 12A the car maintains its legendarily smooth 5-speed gearbox, and one would assume the rear end and assorted suspension kibbles and bits. There’s 140,000 miles on the platform, 1,000 of those being added since the conversion to rotary power.
Along with the aforementioned pop tart lights and too big wheels, the tidy looking car sports what appears to be a clean top, a lightly worn interior, and a spoiler on the trunk that’s kind of garish and probably lacking in actual function. If the thought of a rotary-powered MX5 is making you sweat a little in anticipation, don’t worry, the ad says this car’s A/C is as cold as your ex.
Okay, This red rocket certainly looks presentable enough, with only minor issues that one might want to address, and it has the undeniable draw of being that melding of MX5 and Wankel power that - like simultaneously having sex and watching football - may be a dream come true. But is the cost of obtaining that dream - $4,100 - too steep?
What do you think is that price too high for this MX5 that only does spin cycle? Or, for that $4,100 is the answer still always Miata?
H/T to Shep Patterson for the hookup!
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