Today, this 1999 Mazda Miata is ready for track work, with a pretty standard Spec Miata setup. But the coolest thing about it is its history. More than a decade ago, this very car set a land speed record of just over 165 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Now, it's being auctioned on Bring a Trailer for charity with no reserve. Would you rather fling this thing around a circuit, or put it back to salt-flat mode and try to beat its standing record?
The Piston Foundation, a charity that aims to bring young people into classic car preservation, will collect all the coin that comes from the sale (including BaT's buyer's fees) and use the money directly in its educational programs.
I took a few casual laps around Lime Rock Park's infield autocross course with the red-and-yellow roadster last week, which is how it ended up on our radar. But the car's real claim to fame is the land speed record it set in 2011.
Running a naturally aspirated Miata motor bored to 1.99 liters and belting out 290 horsepower (did I mention it's N/A?!), the car hit 165.296 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with then-owner Harvey Siegel's son Luke at the wheel. That was enough for the G/GT class land speed record. (In the parlance of officiating Southern California Timing Association, "G" means 2.0-liter engine, and "GT" means two-seater.)
That magnificent engine build is credited to engineering outfit Marcovicci-Wenz out on Long Island. Besides porting the cylinder head and intake manifold, the engine got upgraded rotating assembly and individual throttle bodies to pretty much double the Miata's stock horsepower output.
It's got a regular 1.8-liter Miata motor in it now, per Spec Miata regs, but the sale includes the record-breaking beast and those cool moon disc-looking wheel covers that were used on the Salt Flats.
The car felt plenty planted in my hands and sounds great as-is. If I won this auction, I'd probably try my hand at Spec Miata with it, but ultimately would put it back to its Bonneville configuration and find out what 160-plus feels like in a car that weighs about as much as a leaf.
If you'd like to learn more about Team Siegel's quest to go to 160 (hence "2-160" on the side of the car), there's a whole feature-length video on YouTube you can check out. Otherwise, keep scrolling down for more images of the car.