Single-seat Miata speedster is Italy’s modernized ode to MX-5
More than three decades on from the launch of the Mazda MX-5, people are still finding ways to modify and improve the iconic roadster—and the latest, from Italy, revives an idea that Mazda itself explored in concept form not long after the car’s launch: a single-seat barchetta.
As only fitting for a project that has an Italian name—barchetta, if you remember your pretty 1990s Fiats, means “little boat” and generally refers to a roadster without a windscreen—an Italian company is responsible for this new creation.
Gorgona Cars, based in Rome, led an enormous parade of MX-5s at the Italian national MX-5 meeting last week with its Concept NM (for “naked monoposto”) and has already, and entirely unsurprisingly, begun collecting expressions of interest.
On the face of it, it’s pretty clear what Gorgona has done. This is a first-generation, or “NA” Mazda MX-5, from which the shop has lopped the windscreen. It then covered the passenger seat, welded the bottom half of each door, and fitted an aero bubble behind the driver’s seat.
Predictably, there’s a little more to it on all fronts. The rigid tonneau, for instance, actually surrounds the driver rather than just closing off the passenger compartment. It incorporates both that bubble behind the driver, and the cover and wind deflector over the instrument cluster. The panel has been designed to integrate with the looks of the original car, including the subtle but important curve to the car’s beltline.
The car also has a flat bottom and a diffuser, both to the benefit of the aerodynamic profile, while Gorgona has fitted a front splitter, and later (and presumably more aerodynamic) side mirrors.
As you might expect from a car with welded door seams, the shell is now significantly more rigid than the original’s ever was. MX-5 owners will be familiar with the shimmy on poor surfaces, but with significantly more metal now occupying the biggest hole in the structure, much of that behavior should have disappeared.
There’s a roll bar under the aero hump, further chassis bolstering under the car, extra welds throughout, and there are reinforcement bars for each subframe. The company claims a startling doubling of rigidity compared to that of a standard, original car.
And a reduction in weight: With some optional lightweight components, Gorgona claims a dry weight of only 1830 pounds. Call it no more than 1984 full to the brim with fluids.
With all this work, the original engine might seem a little disappointing … but the shop has not neglected that aspect either, which is why it now packs the 2-liter, Skyactiv-G four-cylinder you’ll find in the modern MX-5. The result is 181 hp at 7000 rpm—more than 50 hp above any standard NA—with the new car’s six-speed manual and limited-slip diff thrown in for good measure. An optional power kit lifts output to 225 hp.
The effect, combined with bright yellow paintwork and a set of racy Enkei RPF1 wheels, is stunning. With a power to weight ratio cresting 200 hp/ton even without the power kit, the speedster boasts far greater kick than the original.
Even with a projected conversion price of 70,000 Euros (~$69,800) plus VAT—call it around £74K with VAT in the U.K., not including the donor car or import costs—we can’t see Gorgona struggling to find enough customers for a limited run of the hand-built car. Perhaps its next conversion could be a full coupe model …
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