These 5 Miatas were answers to questions nobody asked
Who doesn’t love the Mazda MX-5 Miata? For more than 30 years it’s been the little car that could.
Lightweight, rear-drive, 50:50 weight distribution, and a top that drops in seconds—it’s affordable fun across all four generations.
Want to learn to drive stick? Miata is the answer. Fancy a first foray into circuit driving? Miata is the answer? A dose of drifting? You get the picture.
But did you know if you’re after something radically retro or ready for a full-on track attack Miata is also the answer—with a little imagination from these crazy kits and bespoke builders.
Chris Wollard’s Chrome Spaceship
On display at the recent Hot Wheels Legends Tour in Arkansas was Chris Wollard’s Chrome Spaceship. The riveted aluminum body panels, massive rear fins, and rocket exhaust-like tail lamps evoke 1950s concept cars like Harley Earl’s Cadillac Cyclone. But instead of the nuclear or jet power promised 70 years ago, the Chrome Spaceship runs on Miata momentum. Beneath all that shiny metal is a 1990 MX-5 (somewhat given away by the gray hard top). We suspect that it doesn’t drive quite as dreamily as it looks.
Simpson Design Italian exotica
Houston’s Jim Simpson is a former Ferrari apprentice who’s been customizing cars since 1978. His range of Miata-based kits have the look of some of the most exotic Italian classics ever penned by the likes of Michelotti, Bertone, and Zagato. In the catalog you’ll find the Italia 3 SWB modeled on the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, the Italia Classic based on the Ferrari 275 GTB, and the Italia 3 GTZ inspired by the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. The Swift SD is derived from Michelotti’s 1957 Lotus XI, and the Manta Ray is a Bertone-Michelotti mash-up of 1950s and 1960s styling. All built from fiberglass shaped on hand-made bucks from Simpson’s designs, the cars are made to order with prices starting around $25,000 plus the donor Miata.
Mills Exotic Vehicles Exocet
Imagine an Ariel Atom that’s just, well, a bit less atomic, and you’ve got the MEV Exocet. Claimed to be the cheapest and easiest to assemble kit car in the world, the Exocet is essentially just a spaceframe chassis to which you bolt the running gear from a Miata. You can use the NA, NB, or NC as a donor which means it will fit engines from 1.6 to two-liters, and there’s even the option to add a supercharger. Bodywork is minimal and there’s no weather protection, but the Exocet is half the weight of a Miata and costs a fraction over $6000 for a kit. Pay a small sum for the donor running gear and you’ll have a lot of fun for relatively little outlay.
Blackwell Sports Cars SPR1
There’s something a little TVR-ish about the Blackwell Sports Cars SPR1, and you could probably build one long before the much-delayed new Griffith eventually appears. The SPR1 uses a Mk1 NA Miata as the base car, and the fastback coupe bodywork is bolted and bonded to the original chassis. If you crave more power than the Miata’s four-banger can offer then Blackwell says you can add a turbo, while some builders are said to have installed V-6 and even V-8 engines. Self-assembly could cost as little as $7500 including the donor.
In a way the Miata has always been a time machine, giving drivers the spirit of the Sixties in a modern package. Should you wish to go a little further back there’s the Tipo 184, designed by Ant Anstead as a tribute to the Alfa Romeo 158 Grand Prix racer which won the first ever round of the Formula 1 World Championship at Silverstone in 1950 with Nino Farina at the wheel. The single seater sports car looks pretty sensational and is a total hoot to hoon. “It’s a brilliant, seat-of-your-kecks, plenty fast enough, sausage-shaped package of sheer fun,” said Steve Bennett in his review for Hagerty. Kits cost $25,000 plus taxes but could prove to be money well-invested; Anstead’s first attempt at an Alfa Replica, based on an MG, sold for $100,000 at Barrett Jackson in 2021.