Last week I wrote that 917ís were legendary vehicles, with
some engines producing more than 1,500 BHP and performance figures such as 0-100
kph in 2.1 seconds, 0-160 kays in 3.9 seconds and 0-340 kays in 13 seconds in
1972. Some early 917ís were designated as 917 PA. The question was what did
the letters PA stand for?
This was simple - they stood for Porsche Audi.
So to this week. Take a look at this photo. It was taken in
1959. The driver is Tony Brooks. What is the make of the car? Clue - the company
is still producing road going vehicles today.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Mazda MX-5 SE
I have always liked the Mazda MX-5 series. I had one as my
personal drive car for two years in Australia, and it never let me down in the
100,000 kays I racked up in that time. The only downside was a lack of grunt as
the chassis/roadholding was just superb. I modified mine by lowering it slightly
with beefier springs, free-flow exhaust and inlet systems, larger diameter wider
wheels and low profile tyres. Since then, Mazda have done all this themselves,
and now the version with the huffer and puffer has been released Down-under, and
our man on the spot, John Weinthal has just finished a week of going Zoom-Zoom
with the little red stormer. John describes the car as a serious contender for
the enthusiastís dollar. Here are the words from Weinthal.
"Mazdaís seemingly everlasting MX-5 two seat
convertible now has the option of an engine with the power enthusiastís have
"The MX-5 SE develops 121kW. Thatís a 30 per cent
boost thanks to intercooled turbocharging and substantial engine and other
modifications to match its new urge. This 1122kg hotrod has the same power as
the 1420kg Alfa Romeo Spider reviewed last week. It is 1kW less than the AUD
83,000 supercharged Mercedes SLK Kompressor which is more than 200 kg heavier
than the AUD 47,500 Mazda. This is a serious competitor for the intelligent
assumes that the Mazda is a good car in itself - a more than satisfying drive,
well built, reliable and, above all, good enough to weld a smile to your dial.
It should also be practical and equipped with enough gear to lift it above the
status of a car solely for masochists and Mazdaphiles.
"A rain-free week in the Mazda showed that it meets all
those criteria and then some. It was sheer joy. It has none of the quirks and
compromises that make some of its ilk suitable, at best, as a second car. It
even has heritage. It is little brother to the famed Mazda rotaries and is a
product of the only Japanese company ever to win the Le Mans 24 hour race.
"The MX-5 is strictly a two seater, but its two
occupants have room to spare and can carry luggage for more than just a dirty
weekend. The hood is the simplest and fastest to raise or lower should rain
threaten or when security demands. It has none of the extra weight or
power-sapping complication of a power hood. One simply undoes two clips and
flips it back. To raise it the operation is reversed, rapidly and effort-free
from the driverís seat. The hood even has a heated glass window.
"There are power windows and mirrors plus remote central
locking but air-conditioning is a AUD 1950 option. Black leather seats add AUD
1000, however the standard black cloth with red inserts look more than sporty
enough and are every bit as supportive. The MX-5 SE has two air bags, ABS
anti-lock brakes, an engine immobiliser and excellent halogen headlamps.
"The standard MX-5 develops 107kW and costs AUD 40,530
with a six-speed manual gearbox or AUD 42,000 for the marginally less powerful
automatic model. There is no auto option for the MX-5 SE.
"Apart from the turbo and associated mechanical
upgrading which includes a limited slip differential, the Mx-5 SE has a six
stacker CD player, body kit with front fog lights and other trim niceties.
"But this is all detail - stuff you can learn from the
brochure or in the showroom. The delight of any MX-5 is in the driving. Smiles
are inevitable from congested shopping centre car parks to byways, freeways and
your favourite twisty hill country. The super brisk turbo-charged SE surely
enhances the experience. The chassis is brilliant. It is never fazed by the
extra Zing - or, as Mazda would have it, Zoom.
"My ONLY query concerns the terrific looking 17 inch
five spoke wheels and 40 profile tyres. No doubt they contribute to the
excellent handling and ultra-responsive steering but they also give a much
firmer ride than the standard MX-5ís 45 profile 16 inchers. I have no comfort
problem with the firmer ride, but I suspect the car might over a period. There
is some body jarring which, with an open car particularly, may well lead to
premature rattles and general loosening up.
"Fuel consumption is largely up to the driver as always,
but even more so with a turbocharged car. Thump it unnecessarily and you will
not go as far on your 48 litre tank of premium unleaded. Driven for sensible fun
this MX-5 SE will go up to 30 per cent further and still delight.
"It makes you wonder why you would pay more for
mid-range two-seater fun."
(In Thailand, you will pay around 2 million baht for a normally aspirated
version, which is half the price of an SLK Kompressor Benz, so you are still
doing well. If you judge your car on carrying capacity and load per baht, then
do not buy an MX-5. If you judge your car on fun for baht, you will not find
better. Dr. Iain.)