What happens when Flyin’ Miata gets a hold of an old Mazda press loaner and the supercharger kit that was designed for the Super20 concept? It creates an all-out targa rally car , of course. Meet "Nancy," the supercharged and rally-prepped 2006 Mazda Miata MX-5 .
Nancy started life as a test bed for NC-generation parts, but after the application of the supercharger kit and a full suspension upgrade, she got wrapped in a racing livery vinyl and Flyin’ Miata took her racing across Canada in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland.
I got to spend several days, a few hundred miles and some track time with this incredible machine. Did Flyin’ Miata ruin the balance and fun of the Miata with all of its racing upgrades, or is Nancy merely a better version of an already great car? Read on to find out.
Continue reading to find out what I thought about Flyin’ Miata’s Nancy.
Brandon Fitch is emblazoned across the driver’s side and Zach Bowman can be found on the passenger pillar, both with a U.S. flag.
The outside of Nancy is very familiar to any Miata fan, but Flyin’ Miata did make some modifications. While Nancy may be a 2006 Miata, she has been fitted with the larger smiling mouth from the later cars. Of course, Nancy is also covered from intakes to exhaust in a racing livery vinyl. The vinyl itself is white and features an aggresive black and purple design. A full set of sponsor decals that helped pay for the Newfoundland race are plastered across the door, and the traditional application of racer names and country flags are found on the A-pillar. Brandon Fitch is emblazoned across the driver’s side and Zach Bowman can be found on the passenger pillar, both with a U.S. flag.
The other noticeable distinctions of Nancy over lesser Miatas include wider wheels for more substantial rubber, and a dual-exit exhaust system with massive openings. The noise it makes is properly angry and exciting.
Beyond what I mentioned, Nancy is a fairly stock Miata as far as the exterior is concerned. There are no massive wings or body alterations. If it wasn’t for the racing livery, most would be none the wiser of what was hiding under the hood.
Much like the outside of Nancy, very little has been altered on the inside of this Miata. What changes have been made are purely functional. A full roll bar is mounted behind the seats for added stiffness and protection in the event of a roll-over, a small, steel mounting bracket is in the passenger floorboard, and a fire extinguisher has been mounted to the center tunnel.
The seats, gauges, interior trim and equipment all remain the same. With the cockpit of the Miata already being a display of function over form, there was precious little that needed modification in the process of race prepping it.
Nancy is actually the first car that FM has fitted with this new electrically driven water pump, and is being used to test its effectiveness.
This is where things start getting interesting. Rather than sticking with the bone stock 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, FM has gone the route of forced induction via a supercharger. Under the hood, the modification looks completely stock, and that is because it almost is. Mazda at one point created a concept car called the Super20 and this supercharger system is the exact same used on that concept. Sadly, Mazda decided not to create a factory version of the supercharged Miata, so Flyin’ Miata is taking care of it for the Japanese automaker.
According to the FM staff, Nancy is good for about 240 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. That torque level may not seem like too large of a gain compared to the horsepower increase, but thanks to a flat power curve, it makes the car much more driveable and responsive.
Beyond the supercharger kit, Nancy also has strengthened engine internals with stronger rods, pistons, and a forged crank for improved reliability and longevity; a must for racing applications. Nancy is also equipped with a new electric water pump.
Nancy is actually the first car that FM has fitted with this new electrically driven water pump, and is being used to test its effectiveness. It was only installed last week, so I am basically the first major guinea pig for the upgrade. A larger FM radiator is installed in the nose to help provide even greater cooling.
The fuel-injection system has also seen an upgrade with 440cc injectors.
The only other major drivetrain changes are the addition of a FM lightweight flywheel and an ACT Extreme clutch. The NC chassis is also far stiffer than previous generation Miatas so no strengthening of the frame was necessary despite the more-than 40-percent horsepower increase.
Brakes and Suspension
To make the most of that power, Nancy has been fitted with a full suspension upgrade. The stock shocks and springs have been tossed in favor of a complete FM Stage 2 suspension upgrade system. This includes Tokico HTS shocks, FM sway bars and FM springs.
The brakes are mostly stock with only the pads having been swapped for aggressive units.
The car is still incredibly willing to rev, and when you are tackling a mountain road, it feels every bit the same as a normal Miata, just with more power.
If you really like driving your NC Miata, do not under any circumstances drive Nancy. Thanks to what can only be described as witchcraft, Flyin’ Miata have managed to increase the power and performance of Nancy with forced induction, but still retain the same light, playful and peppy nature of the engine. The only difference is that it is now easier to drive at slow speeds thanks to the torque increase.
The car is still incredibly willing to rev, and when you are tackling a mountain road, it feels every bit the same as a normal Miata, just with more power. When you are being lazy and just cruising around town the extra low-end torque means less shifting and shuffling of the gears to get where you need to go. The boost builds in a linear fashion and you are never caught off guard by a spike in horsepower to unsettle the car.
When I was carving up Pikes Peak, the car felt like a perfect companion. Power felt natural and the curve was very linear of progressive. Never once did I worry about a boost in power sending my sideways or unsettling the car. It behaves very much like a naturally aspirated engine. It is a perfectly tuned system.
When you move to more common driving circumstances like highway cruising, the extra power means you don’t have to downshift for passing maneuvers. Around town you can hold higher gears at lower speeds, again making for less shuffling of the gears.
When you head out to the track, the extra punch of the supercharger, grip of the wider tires and the compliance of the suspension mean that you can dominate cars that are far more powerful than you. During my track time, I managed to best all the customers’ V-8 cars. The track is setup more for handling than pure speed, but it still says a lot that I was able to outrun 400+ horsepower Miatas with just Nancy and her supercharger.
More than being tuned for a very linear power curve, Nancy’s ECU also comes with a few bonus goodies including a rev-matching function. When you are above a certain rpm and you slam the brakes before the clutch, the car will deliver a near-perfect throttle blip for your downshift. The system is not as exact as the one I used in the Porsche Cayman S , but it easily on par with the Nissan 370Z.
Price for something like Nancy is an odd thing to discuss as it can vary wildly depending on if you already own a Miata or if you buy one used. There are also costs involved depending on if you choose to have the kit installed, or if you do it yourself. To keep things easy, I am only going to cover the cost of buying an entirely new Miata and a full Flyin’ Miata supercharger kit. For the cheapest soft-top Miata you can buy along with the full kit you are looking at $31,620. If you want a decked out PRHT model with all the options, like the one I tested a few weeks ago, it will cost you $38,665 after the kit. Overall the pricing on this is very reasonable considering the level of performance you get.
It may seem a bit sacrilegious to mention a Mustang in the same breath as a Miata, but with Nancy’s increased horsepower rating, the Mustang has suddenly become a potential competitor. Sadly, there are a large number of people who are looking for simple thrust and open-top motoring.
For those buyers who fall into that category, the lower price and higher horsepower of the Mustang will be an appealing option. The Mustang also has four seats, and a larger trunk, making it a far more practical choice.
The power soft top is a complicated item that could break, while the Miata’s manual soft top is the pinnacle of quick and easy soft-top designs.
Obviously, the Mustang also can’t hold a candle to the handling ability of Nancy. If the pleasure of driving is your main goal, the Flyin’ Miata-prepped Mazda is the obvious choice of this group.
Gallery Ford Mustang Convertible
The Porsche Boxster is a surprising option for comparison to Nancy, but when you consider the power and handling prowess of the little Miata, there are very few choices on the market.
The Boxster has a very similar power output of 265 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque for the base level car. Nancy does have a weight advantage of a few hundred pounds though, so the slightly higher horsepower of the Porsche doesn’t mean as much.
So performance is about equal, but the Porsche does take the crown in practicality. Thanks to its mid-engine design, there are two trunks on the Boxster, meaning it can hold more luggage than the Miata.
That extra space and mid-engine design does come at a price. The cheapest new Boxster you can buy today is $51,400. A far cry from the under $40k price of a new supercharged Miata.
Gallery Porsche Boxster
I am a firm believer in naturally aspirated cars, especially when it comes the Miata. Most turbochargers and superchargers are tuned in a way that alter the real feel and performance I expect from a handling-focused tool like the Miata. Nancy changed my mind however, and made me rather upset that Miata never put the Super20 into production.
The same complaint could be had about certain suspension upgrades. When the car sticks too well into the corners, you lose some of the playfulness and fun that make Miatas so great. Flyin’ Miata has managed to find the perfect balance of power and handling that keep true to the real idea of what a Miata should be.
The most impressive and important part about Nancy is that she feels like a normal Miata in every way, just better. She might even be called perfect.
- Massive 42-percent power increase
- Instant torque everywhere in the rev-range
- Surprisingly affordable upgrade
- Suspension performs well without battering passengers
- The racing livery is cool, but it attracts the attention of officers
- The exhaust can drone at cruising speed with the top up
- Stock Miata seats are not bolstered enough to keep up with handling abilities