Roadster Of The Week – Adam’s “Sharka”

This is Sharka, my 95 NA. Chances are, you’ve heard of him. I’ve been posting about Sharka on my site, and on various Miata forums for nearly 10 years now. In fact, Sharka turns 10 in July of 2010. That’s pretty old in terms of personal project cars. Perhaps I should bake him a cake or something?

(Yes, “him”. Sharka is a boy car. I did not choose this trait. There’s just nothing feminine about him. Sharka has always been more of my buddy than my girl.)

As a 95, Sharka is only a little over a year old. See, I originally purchased the car as a 97. We had 8 good years together until a 70mph rear-end freeway hit in November of 2008 that basically destroyed everything behind the driver’s seat. I bought the wrecked 97 back from insurance for a whole $400 and began shopping for a new Sharka. A pristine OBD1 NA in montego blue to transfer Sharka’s soul into. One road trip and a few thousand bucks later, I got a pristine, 33,000 mile 1995 to build up.

And from January 2009 to this very moment, that’s all I’ve been doing. Rebuilding my beloved car. Using 8 years of previous knowledge and mistakes to make him better, faster, and stronger.

Part of that rebuild has been replacing cheap and knock-off parts with the real deal. Tired 15″ Rota Circuit-8s, while cheap, sorta light, and somewhat decent looking, made way for a set of special ordered Enkei RP-F1s in 14×7 +19mm offset. 12 pound Rotas DO indeed seem heavy compared to the 8.6 pound Enkeis. And I love the vintage look of 14s.

Sharka sits on rebuilt TEIN HAs designed for an NB. The ride height is 11.5″ front / 11.75″ rear, hub center to fender lip, yet there is still plenty of suspension travel. That’s thanks to the DP6061 shock mounts in the rear and the TEIN pillowball shock mounts in the front. It might sound unbelievable, but Sharka actually has more travel with this suspension combo than with the OEM suspension.

The headlights were salvaged from the wrecked 97. A little massaging of the brackets on one side was all it took to get them straight and usable again. Moss made some strong headlights to withstand being squished between two large cars at high impact forces.

I’m also a nut for the 60s vintage Mazda logo. I have it all over Sharka. Nose, steering wheel, oil cap, and rear finish panel. It has so much more style than the “eternal flame” of the 90s or the “winged M” of the modern era.

Peering in through the back hardtop window reveals the office. I’ve put more thought into Sharka’s interior than I have my house interior. My whole house, not just one room.

Visible in this shot are my hand-polished Momo Prototipo, an AWD HVAC panel, S2000 start button, my DIY center gauge pod, and DIY gauge faces. Slightly obscured by the focus are my Hard Dog Hardcore M2 roll bar and my pair of Lotus Elise seats. More on the seats later.

As for the hardtop, it’s on there to stay. I recently pulled the soft top out in favor of running the hardtop full-time. I just love the look of the hardtop. The lack of cowl shake is nice too. I had 9 full years of leaving the top down nearly every day. For some reason, that was suddenly enough. I took the hardtop off for the spring this year, said “yuck” to the wind and noise, and put it right back on.

My door panels were another DIY project. 93 LE speaker panels, some diamond-sewn vinyl, KG Works handles, and Aerodramatics cups all go together nicely after a few days of care in putting them together. The brake knob you see is a 10-year old Voodoo model that vanished from the market for quite a while. But I believe they’re making them again. The polished aluminum vent rings come from a company called MRoad. They’ve not been manufactured for the past 9 years.

The shifter is a short-style Joyfast. The thing seems to be made of neutron star material. It’s VERY heavy and gives the most wonderful feel to each shift. I’d totally recommend this knob to anyone. Below it is a Cobra shift ring (yes, USDM here) that I bondo’d into the console myself.

My Lotus Elise seats. Ahhh… I could write (and have written) pages about them. I think they’re the perfect seats for an NA Miata. They fit pretty well in an NB also. I have the Probax models that were available on 2006+ Elise’s. They might be the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in.

I bought the seats for protection, to be quite honest. Sure, they look good and have a bling factor, but they PROTECT much better than the stock NA seats. When the 97 was destroyed, my low-back seats did almost nothing to protect me. My head went right past the worthless “head rest” and into my roll bar. Only the roll bar padding saved me from brain damage. I vowed that I’d never put myself in that position again and bought this pair of Elise seats a couple of months later. And the head rest is truly wonderful on these Elise seats.

As a whole, I’m very happy with Sharka’s interior. It is my favorite place in the world to be. Car and driver are truly one. In style.

Can’t have a car feature without an engine shot, now can we? The engine in place is currently just my low-mileage 95 NA engine. A carbon fiber Monsterflow intake, RB 4-1 header, Link ECU, high flow cat, and RB catback make it a bit more entertaining, but really, I want more. That’s why there’s a 99 engine on a stand in my garage waiting for a turbo to be bolted to it. It’s become such a cliché for these articles to have “OMG I’m SO gonna turbo it next!!!” written somewhere, but, well, I am. A FM2 was ordered back in May, 2010. I’m just waiting on Mr. FedEx.

The turbo engine will get the same powdercoated valve cover and vintage oil filler cap.

Me and Sharka have been through a lot together. Life. Death. (Near-death anyway.) Cuts. Bruises. Winning. Losing. 24 sets of tires. 9 sets of wheels. 8 suspensions. 3 engines. 1 supercharger. And more hours together than I’ve spent with most people I’ve ever known. Sharka is me, just with four wheels.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for the spotlight, Roadster Garage!


5 Responses to Roadster Of The Week – Adam’s “Sharka”

  1. Shaun says:

    Awesome! Love reading your blog and the 60’s Mazda logo’s are just immense. I’ve been trying to find some for the last two years – no joy – any thoughts?

    • Hey Shaun,

      I too searched high and low for the vintage emblems. I finally found a KG Works gift set for sale on ClubRoadster. Cost around $300, but it was worth it to me. They pop up very rarely – they’ve been out of production for 5+ years – but they do pop up.

      Ebay Australia is actually a pretty good place for finding the OEM vintage badges. The one on my rear finish panel came from there.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for your support Shaun!

    I’m sure Adam will chime in to where you can get your hands on the vintage logo 🙂

  3. Thanks for the feature Adam!!!!


  4. Jess says:

    Love the article and the car!!! Great feature on an awesome car. 😀

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