1990 Mazda Miata convertible
- Rebuilt mechanicals
- Five year project
- Added turbo, roll cage
- 1.6 liter, 230 wheel hp/229 lb/ft torque
- Initial cost- $2,700
Taras Tarlov in sales with Fiat of Bloomington chose the Miata for low cost and plunged into a near-complete rebuilt to increase its performance.
“I can leave the Miata with the top down in the parking lot nobody does anything to it. Whereas with a Honda Civic, it would be stolen” said Tarlov. “I didn’t want to keep the car under lock and key all the time.” Growing up in Russia, he tinkered with mopeds and ATVs.
He found the car five years ago and paid $2,700 for it, and two extra sets of wheels and tires. Then, he purchased a spare engine for $50 and did a complete tear down. New connecting rods and pistons were installed, as were a turbocharger and an intercooler he built by hand. He also put in a stronger clutch, larger rear end, Wilwood brakes, a new drive shaft and axles. The suspension is modified and a newer dash was installed. Outside is a low profile light kit.
Increasing safety, Tarlov put in a roll cage. He takes the car to Brainerd International Raceway and other events, including one at the Dakota County Technical College training track. An instructor drove it and told him it handles amazingly. “I was impressed with him being impressed, and was really happy to hear that,” said Tarlov. The hours long event was punishing on the car, which pulled through unscathed.
Weighing in at 2,200 pounds with Tarlov inside and a half tank of fuel, the convertible runs on E85. Inside is quilted leather reminiscent of Porsche designs.
He has about $20,000 invested. “It’s still considered one of the best handling cars ever made. That’s kind of what inspired me to get a Miata,” Tarlov said.
[Suggest a vehicle you own or a car at your store for this feature, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-452-9800.]