Magazine article Insight on the News

Souped-Up Coupe Du Jour

Magazine article Insight on the News

Souped-Up Coupe Du Jour

Article excerpt

The Mazda Miata has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1989, in keeping with the philosophy that a sound concept doesn't need embellishment. It's interesting to note that since the mid-eighties, half a dozen would-be competitors have come and gone. Remember the Pontiac Fiero? The Nissan Pulsar? The soon-to-be discontinued Toyota MR-2? All were based on the same two-seater idea, but all nevertheless failed to attract enough buyers to support their continued production. Only the Miata has persevered.

Many observers contend that part of the Miata's success has been its consistency. Mazda hasn't modified the four-cylinder engine for high output or offered fat tires and racy suspension options. Instead, the Japanese manufacturer has kept the Miata pure: a fun car that's a pleasure to drive in the fashion of the old British MGs.

That's why Peter Farrell's prototype Miata, with its bulbous, hand-built fenders and supercharged engine, represents something of a paradox. This car is a wild engineering exercise built to test the marketplace: Does anyone really want such an outlandish mutant?

In fact, Farrell's business - Peter Farrell Supercars, located in Manassas, Va. - already offers a full line of high-performance parts for a number of vehicles, including Mazda's RX-7. Those inclined can even buy a turnkey RX-7 "Supercar" capable of 175 mph and five-second 0-to-60 mph acceleration.

In stock form, the Miata is a decent performer but no road warrior. It 1.8-liter mill makes all the right noises, though, and will get you to highway speeds in a reasonable time frame: 0-to-60 takes 8. …

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