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Thursday 16th December 2010

Driven: BBR Mazda MX-5 Anniversary Edition

(PH contributor Adam Towler in roof up 'Open Season' shocker. Boo!)



Twenty years ago Mazda UK decided that it wanted to offer an MX-5 with a lot more performance. It sought an external contractor to turbocharge the car, and well-known tuning and race preparation firm BBR secured the gig, supplying 150bhp conversion kits that were fitted by Mazda main dealers. Some 1,200 cars were eventually converted in this way, the results amusing, thrilling and occasionally worrying buyers and journalists alike.


Since then, many firms have provided both turbocharger and supercharger kits for Mazda's little wonder, with varying degrees of power increases, prices and ability. It always seems a tempting option: teaming the definitive low-cost, rear-wheel drive roadster with the kind of power to kick the rear end out at will and make overtaking a less fraught activity.

But now BBR is back with a 20-year update on its original kit (for mk1 or 2 models, and 1.6 or 1.8-litre cars). The Brackley-based company has released a conversion that consists of a Garrett GT25 turbocharger (running at 8.5psi); a cast alloy exhaust manifold; a front mounted, air-to-air intercooler (the original kit had this item behind the radiator for cost/ease of fitment reasons); BBR's Interceptor 2010 engine management computer with 3D mapping and external pressure sensor; larger fuel injectors; stainless steel downpipe; new cool air induction and a modified sump, coolant/oil piping and uprated hoses and fixings.


This is enough to see 221bhp at 6,900rpm and 175lb ft at 5,100rpm on a 1.6-litre car, the conversion set up with the emphasis on providing a smooth, linear, power delivery (further power increases are available if desired). You can choose to fit the kit yourself, in which case you're looking at £3,995 worth of damage to your wallet, or you can get BBR to fit the kit for you at £4,995. Moreover, BBR is offering complete, 'Anniversary' turnkey cars, and it's one of these that we're sampling today.

For £7,995 they'll source a mk1 MX-5, strip it down and give it full re-spray, trim the seats in leather and fit the turbo kit. Beyond that, there's a list of options to choose from, including a big brake kit (£545 for 255/251mm discs), a limited slip diff with longer final drive (£1,295), larger wheel/tyre packages, a mohair hood with glass rear window (£695) etc. The idea being that the final product is tailored to your requirements.


This pearlescent white demo car has everything on it, so you're looking at around £12,000+ for something of this nature. Strong money, but I have to say that nestled in the back of BBR's workshop this MX-5 stops me in my tracks when I first see it: the combination of the fresh paint with black details - wheels, mirrors, new front splitter and rear wing - plus the lowered ride height and stuck on number plate looks fantastic. It's simply impossible not to break out into a wide grin as you walk around it.

It's also impossible not to register that it's turbocharged from the moment you pull away. Just like any original mx5, there's a delicious honesty and purity to the car, and even on the lightest of throttles there's a clearly audible hiss from the turbo and a giggle of excess pressure being released as soon as you lift off. Lag seems minimal, and the little engine has an enthusiastic, gruff voice that hardens instantly as the boost joins in, a little like you'd hear from the original Mitsubishi Lancer Evo engines.


At anything between 2000-4500rpm this MX-5 surges forward instantly, easily keeping ahead of other traffic, overtaking in a relaxed manner and constantly surprising other motorists. You can leave a 30mph zone in fourth gear yet pile on an additional 30mph with no fuss and in very little time. But venture into the upper reaches of the rev range and you suddenly discover what 221bhp in a car weighing this little means: the BBR MX-5 flies and you're soon working the wonderful gearbox to locate the next cog. As a comparison, this little roadster would have absolutely nothing to fear over keeping up with a Porsche Cayman S, or the latest band of high-powered hot hatches.

BBR has resurrected the variable rate spring specification from its 1990 conversion - softer than many other spring kits - and together with Spax adjustable dampers on a soft setting and a sensible wheel/tyre combo this MX-5 corners flat and hard yet with real delicacy and a decent ride, while traction is surprisingly good even in slippery, wintry conditions. The car might show its age in certain areas, but driver feedback and fun exceed most moderns.


BBR are positioning the car as a part-road, part-track day proposition, and considering the performance, the rear-drive factor, reliability (a two year warranty is included) and cheapness of servicing - and repairs, should you stack it - it seems an ideal candidate. It may be towards the expensive end of the tuning market for these cars, but the BBR MX-5 is a brilliant package that's simply enormous fun to drive.





Adam Towler
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Author Discussion

BBS-LM

Original Poster:

3,842 posts

111 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
I Never new Mazda did a Turbo version of the MX-5, dam. Sign me up.

youngsyr

7,984 posts

79 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Looks and sounds great from the article, but £12K is still very strong money for a very old second hand car, even if it is tuned with a few nice parts added.

You could pick up an Evo VIII MR for that kind of money.


whythem

683 posts

64 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
£8K for a future classic which can keep up with a cayman, not bad. Seems like an excellent package.

TommyBuoy

788 posts

54 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Mmmm, pretty much a 'new' MX-5 with modern day power and the same tactile controls for £12K top spec - is this what Mazda should have done on their own...

By the way, not usually a fan of MX-5's, but this could go on the list of cars to change too scratchchin

Chandan

18 posts

57 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
I've been in a Jackson Racing Supercharged one, which was running about 170bhp, and believe me it flew!

Still a nice looking car in this day and age!
Advertisement

Jonny671

27,706 posts

76 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
BBS-LM said:
I Never new Mazda did a Turbo version of the MX-5, dam. Sign me up.
Back in the day they did, very cool.

I'd love a BBR turbo but £5k to have it done eek

Captac007

84 posts

98 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Yes you could get an Evo for £12k

I've a Mark 1 G reg MX5; the original and the best. Also have a Porsche 996 C2
The MX5 is by far the most fun.
Fantastic handling feedback, especially when shod with Yoko S306
Project car for £600, £95 fully comp insurance,
and by next summer will be fully back to its original best.
Brilliant!
Andy

idge

77 posts

52 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Thats some serious BHP/Tonne and it's pretty special/exclusive. But I like my MX5 as "honest" as it is.

Beefmeister

11,999 posts

117 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
The best thing about this car is this:

article said:
For £7,995 they'll source a mk1 MX-5, strip it down and give it full re-spray, trim the seats in leather and fit the turbo kit.
For £8k you have the power and a rejuvinated MX-5, then you can add the other bits later if you want.

LSD, bigger wheels and brakes, suspension and glass rear screen is all you'd need, which could be done bit by bit yourself, probably for much cheaper.


Benjc

677 posts

135 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Jonny671 said:
BBS-LM said:
I Never new Mazda did a Turbo version of the MX-5, dam. Sign me up.
Back in the day they did, very cool.

I'd love a BBR turbo but £5k to have it done eek
The only Mazda developed Mx5/roadster/miata turbos were the Australian MX5 SP and the US Mazdaspeed Miata.

The BBR turbos were standard MX5 with kits from BBR fitted and covered by warrantee by Mazda UK.

To be honest the performance figures on this kit are weak and it's bloody expensive.

Go to www.flyinmiata.com to see how it's really done.

rallycross

5,958 posts

124 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Spax shocks on a conversion of that price is a shocker.

At the very least you'd want AST, Bilsteins, Leda or something that works on an Mx5 from Japan, but Spax must be one of the cheapest things they could find.

Jonny671

27,706 posts

76 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Benjc said:
Jonny671 said:
BBS-LM said:
I Never new Mazda did a Turbo version of the MX-5, dam. Sign me up.
Back in the day they did, very cool.

I'd love a BBR turbo but £5k to have it done eek
The only Mazda developed Mx5/roadster/miata turbos were the Australian MX5 SP and the US Mazdaspeed Miata.

The BBR turbos were standard MX5 with kits from BBR fitted and covered by warrantee by Mazda UK.

To be honest the performance figures on this kit are weak and it's bloody expensive.

Go to www.flyinmiata.com to see how it's really done.
Basically an MX5 turbo though, Mazda covered it, Mazda dealers fitted it.

MrV

2,692 posts

115 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Beefmeister said:
The best thing about this car is this:

article said:
For £7,995 they'll source a mk1 MX-5, strip it down and give it full re-spray, trim the seats in leather and fit the turbo kit.
For £8k you have the power and a rejuvinated MX-5, then you can add the other bits later if you want.
Its not really rejuvenated though is it the engine/gearbox etc is all going to be untouched

I like the idea but I think the price is far to strong for what in reality is a resprayed 5 with a turbo kit fitted to it

I would rather have one like this for 3k

http://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/2148822.htm

hornetrider

49,508 posts

92 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Numbskulls!!!!

Did you go to BBR and not drive the st hot off the press newly Cosworth supercharged Mk3???? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

youngsyr

7,984 posts

79 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Beefmeister said:
The best thing about this car is this:

article said:
For £7,995 they'll source a mk1 MX-5, strip it down and give it full re-spray, trim the seats in leather and fit the turbo kit.
For £8k you have the power and a rejuvinated MX-5, then you can add the other bits later if you want.

LSD, bigger wheels and brakes, suspension and glass rear screen is all you'd need, which could be done bit by bit yourself, probably for much cheaper.
£8K is still top money for a re-painted, 15+ year old car, with fancy seat covers and a turbo bolted on.

I guess the warranty is nice to have and it may hold its money better than a DIY FI job, but it's no secret on how to get a reliable turbo on the MX-5 and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than £8K all in.

£12K for the full spec is just ridiculous.

ManOpener

2,884 posts

56 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
V8 E30 or MX5 Turbo?
Which would be the most fun, but undoubtably fruitless, way of wasting £10k?

sideways sid

453 posts

102 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
I'm sure its a great car, and a nicely done conversion but £8-12k takes you well into Boxster S territory....

Benjc

677 posts

135 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
Jonny671 said:
Benjc said:
Jonny671 said:
BBS-LM said:
I Never new Mazda did a Turbo version of the MX-5, dam. Sign me up.
Back in the day they did, very cool.

I'd love a BBR turbo but £5k to have it done eek
The only Mazda developed Mx5/roadster/miata turbos were the Australian MX5 SP and the US Mazdaspeed Miata.

The BBR turbos were standard MX5 with kits from BBR fitted and covered by warrantee by Mazda UK.

To be honest the performance figures on this kit are weak and it's bloody expensive.

Go to www.flyinmiata.com to see how it's really done.
Basically an MX5 turbo though, Mazda covered it, Mazda dealers fitted it.
Mazda UK and the Mazda Car Company were two very different things.

One designs, delevops and manufactures interesting driver focussed cars that appeal to the masses, the other sticks tat on them once landed in the UK to flog them.

The same time Mazda UK were selling the BBR turbo kits Mazdaspeed in Japan were using the Jackson Racing MP45 superchargers to warm up the cars. I know which I would have preferred.

Anyway what is more important is that this system is pretty much the BEGI kit that has been stamped with a BBR logo as a marketing ploy.

http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?p=4897123...

All IMHO, of course.


Edited due to eating a club sandwich while typing leads to errors.


Edited by Benjc on Thursday 16th December 13:11

Neil G60

618 posts

111 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
youngsyr said:
Looks and sounds great from the article, but £12K is still very strong money for a very old second hand car, even if it is tuned with a few nice parts added.

You could pick up an Evo VIII MR for that kind of money.
You could pick up a Evo for that money. But the roof doesn't come off an Evo and you have to service it ever 500yds. Such a different car in every way.

What you will get is a well thought out and engineered car based on a highly-regarded classic designed for use in the UK. With a warranty. I think it's a great concept.

Edited by Neil G60 on Thursday 16th December 13:22

BoRED S2upid

10,916 posts

127 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th December 2010 quote quote all
whythem said:
£8K for a future classic which can keep up with a cayman, not bad. Seems like an excellent package.
EFA
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