12-03-2018 – Laurie Southern
Project Yata: Living The Low Life

I did it. You can finally stop whispering it in my ear. I lowered my car. After buying Project Yata almost a year ago, I reckon the single most-asked question in my life has been; “When are you going to lower it?” My answer was always the same. “Soon.”

The never ending list of issues to sort with a project car had become fairly sizable over the winter months, and I always told myself that I’d treat the car to some coilovers once that list was somewhat tackled. In stepped my annoying friends.

A short and frighteningly convincing conversation with Aaron later and I had a rather exciting package arrive at my front door. It was happening. I didn’t even have time to open the box and have a look, as later that evening I’d be off to get them onto the car. With my friends’ help, of course.

You know you’re in for a good evening when you arrive at the unit to find an S2000 already up on ramps.

The debate of how to modify the suspension is a hot topic among MX5 drivers. Having spent a huge amount of time around these cars for the past couple of years, I’d heard the good and bad of all of it. Eventually, as you can see, I settled on BC Racing coilovers.

I intend to abuse the car on track at some point in the near future, so ‘fully adjustable’ was high up in my priorities. That rules out shocks and lowering springs. Next on the list was ride comfort. Living in the UK, particularly the North, we’re no stranger to potholes and bumps. After all of the spine-breaking horror stories, cheap ebay specials were no option either. With 32-click adjustment functionality and a spring rate of 6/5kg/mm, BC Racing hit the spot.

Huge bonus when you open the box to find the packing peanuts are in convenient bags, not instantly strewn across the floor.

I’m 99% certain I stared in awe at the sheer beauty of them for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Just look at them. Another great thing I’d heard from happy BC customers is that they survive the elements much better than most. I don’t fancy having to free up seized coilovers any time soon, so that’s also a winner.

Unboxed and appreciated, it was time for the fun to begin. Aaron was kind enough to invite myself, Billy and Steve to his unit for an evening of installing. Soon, the boat land.

It’s at this point that I’m going to hold my hands up and say it’s pretty amazing having friends that know what they’re doing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not skilled with a spanner. At all. My mechanical knowledge is on par with most but I’m somewhat lacking in the DIY department. That’ll have to change soon.

With that said, installing coilovers is one of those jobs. I’ve seen many a mechanic shiver at the thought of it. Still, that’s what your mates are for though right? The car was jacked up and the rears were done in record time. If you’ve ever worked on an MX5 you’ll have had enough snapped/stuck bolts to be just as surprised as I was. I’m going to put that down to my ability to find a clean example when it comes to buying Japanese rust boxes, but we’ll save that thought for later.

It was only when the rears were on the car that it hit me just how happy I was to finally be addressing the stock suspension. I’ve owned the car for about a year now. It’s been long overdue, and plenty of people have reminded me of the fact. How pretty are they?

A couple of smaller jobs may as well have been ticked off the list whilst we were at it. The front number plate plinth on the MX5, both in Japanese and UK spec, is pretty hideous. It had to go. Upon removing the plinth we ran into the usual MX5 plate relocation issue; holes in the bumper and paint fade. Most people are left with two holes, I however have to deal with four. I get the impression a previous owner or garage ‘missed’ when they first tried to apply the plinth. I’d be replacing it with an offset bracket custom made by Dom Pashley at DPFabs. I can’t recommend his bracket enough, it’s properly stable and weighs next to nothing.

As for the paintwork, Steve couldn’t help himself. Before I’d even had chance to inspect it properly he had the DA in hand and set to work on hiding the difference in colour. Of course the paint behind the plinth was a lovely Mazda Red, not the slowly-going-pink hue the rest of the MK1s are these days. You may remember me talking about Steve’s paintwork when I featured his car last year. He’s a bit of a guru.

It would be rude to address the front plate and not swap the rear out for a JDM panel too. I’ve actually had the panel sat in my living room since shortly after buying the car. Again, I’m lazy. With the UK panel, the plate lights sit in a recess on the panel itself. The Japanese spec is slightly different, and the body would require some cutting to create inserts for the lights to sit in. Here you can see the results of mine and Billy’s efforts upon realising we didn’t have a pen to hand. “Just rub the dust away in the right shape”. We’re nothing if not consistent.

It’s not Friday night without ordering pizza, is it? As if we needed an excuse to go for a jaunt in Billy’s turbo MK1. More on that car in the coming months.

With the rears done and dusted and the car sporting some pretty hot boi rake, it was time to tackle the front. The looks Aaron was giving me suggested they weren’t going to be so easy. Perfect opportunity for me to annoy him with my camera a bit more.

Judging by the lack of swearing from the wheel arches I think I can safely say it went swimmingly, albeit with a little BFI (Brute Force and Ignorance). Watching someone hit your car with a big hammer is always cringe inducing, even if it is for the better.

The aforementioned pizza definitely helped in applying weight to the car…

A few ride height issues were evident when all four corners were done and the car was lowered on the ground but on the whole the night went rather smoothly. I said it earlier in the post but it’s pretty special having friends that just want to help out. I’m not sure whether they did it from the goodness of their hearts or just because they’re sick of seeing my car on stilts, but they did it with me nonetheless. It’s nights like this that make it all worth while, and proof that friendships made through cars are usually very good ones indeed.

With initial ride height set and the car back on the ground, there was only one thing left to do. Drive it. Oh, and move on to the next chapter of the list – wheels. I know you’ve been thinking it all along, I don’t really like them either. Stay tuned though, as that’s about to change fairly soon.

Huge thanks to Aaron, Billy and Steve for letting me use their space, know-how and patience on such a job. Until next time.

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