Our Cars: Tara Hurlin’s 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 Mazdaspeed Edition

Tara Hurlin hasn’t always been into classic cars. She did, however, fall in love with someone who lives and breathes automobiles. Now she’s married to both.

“I really got involved in the hobby when I met my husband, Jake, who also works at Hagerty,” Tara said. “I didn’t grow up around cars, but when I was little I always had an interest in certain cars based on their looks and the way they sound. Now, I not only know what looks good; with Jake being a walking encyclopedia of mechanical knowledge, I now know what the mechanics are all about. I’m hooked; I learn new things every day.”

Judging from Tara’s detailed answers below, particularly those referring to the repairs and modifications to her Miata, she’s a fast learner.

Employee: Tara Hurlin

Position at Hagerty: Private Client Services Account Executive

Years at Hagerty: 3

Classic Car: 2004 Mazda Miata MX-5 Mazdaspeed Edition

Why did you choose a Mazda Miata MX-5 Mazdaspeed? I started at Hagerty, met my husband and bought the car all within about three months. At the time I was looking for a summer driver that I could be proud of – something with performance, potential for modifications, good looks. I came across this car by accident online and went to the dealership the very next day when they opened at 8 a.m. At the time I wasn’t familiar with the Mazdaspeeds, and I didn’t expect to get a convertible!

Repairs and Modifications: The car currently has an aftermarket intercooler, a turbo back exhaust coming out the passenger side, Vibrant performance muffler, M2 Rollbar, 225/45ZR-15 Toyo Proxies on TRMotorsport C1 Wheels and Tien Lowering Springs. Later this summer or fall I’ll be installing a MegaSquirt ECU, Walbro 255LPH High Pressure fuel pump, a wideband 02 sensor, upgraded fuel injectors and a Tial Q BOV. All these parts are sitting and waiting for me to have time to install! Next year’s want list includes Xida shocks, new racing seats and possibly a turbo upgrade.

Hobby activities: I attend local events with friends around Traverse City (Mich.) who have a similar interest in these cars. I also go to several hot rod shows every year, including Relix Riot at the Gilmore Museum in Kalamazoo. That’s one that I never miss!

Interesting Car Stories: Unrelated to the Mazdaspeed, Jake and I also have a 1953 Ford Crestline Victoria that’s undergoing a ground-up restoration. The two us are doing all the work. We were on a mission to find a hot rod project to restore in time for our wedding in July (2013). All seemed well – it was definitely a project, but we convinced ourselves we could handle it. Winter came and months passed. Without heat in our garage, it was very difficult to start tearing apart the car, so when spring came we were finally able to dig in. What we found: shady patch panels, rust and bondo galore (as well as some gifts the mice had left behind). Lesson learned: When it comes to restoration, you just never know what you’ll uncover. The car wasn’t ready for the wedding, but it’s a project we’re working on together. It’s our first real restoration project, and even while we grind through rust and shovel out rodent feces, we both agree it will not be our last restoration. We’re working to save the rotting cars in the Michigan backwoods, one bolt at a time.

Favorite Drive: Leelanau Peninsula (in northwest Michigan). The curvy roads and great scenery would make any Miata driver happy.

Best and Worst Moments: The worst moment? Whenever the Miata is undergoing lengthy modifications and I’m unable to drive it. The best moment? When those modifications are complete and the performance only gets better.

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