So, as you no doubt know, I’ve been into Drifting for a long time
And driving an MX-5 in drifting is like being the short kid in P.E. (also me)
Nobody cares. Despite their rising popularity, people STILL don’t take any notice of MX-5s, the little underpowered pocket rockets they are. To get noticed at a drift event, you either need a JDM as fuck Nissan, a classy as hell Toyota, or a car painted in the loudest colour you can think up with the biggest wing you’ve ever seen.
I don’t have any of these things. I appreciate a subtle, clean look; it’s a design I’ve always aimed for and I’m sure that comes across in how the car currently sits:
It’s a look I’ve spent the whole of my ownership working towards and it’s there now. To me, it perfectly suits the car, the ITBs, my personality and something you don’t see often quite like this.
But it doesn’t stand out. Which brings us to the subject of this post:
I can’t ever stop modifying the thing. And as good as it looks now, I want to take the next step. To me, a drift car should be clean, chunky and with some real presence, and the body is the prime candidate for this. The MX-5 is famous for its sleek shape, with bumpers that curl beautifully back under themselves, but that makes the car look small, puny. The next stage is to go down and out. Keep that beautiful shape and keep the class, but bulk the car out.
For years I’ve looked at all the offerings on the market and never quite found something that fits… There’s a few cars that have inspired me and helped guide my design direction, but none of them were ever quite perfect…
First off, the biggest one, is Minto’s Minty Fresh MX-5 with a Bomex rear bumper.
In my eyes, this is indisputably the best, most MX-5 bumper out there. It’s chunky, it’s fat but it doesn’t lose that essential MX-5 shape and presence. Coupled to the fat Bomex skirts, or the G-flares from the previous iteration, and some very subtle AK overfenders this arse end is absolute perfection and really stands out, without resorting to BGWs and crazy fitment.
So what’s wrong with it?
Well… sadly, there was never a good front end to go with this kit. I was talking to Minto himself not long ago and we were both lamenting the lack of a nice front end to suit :/ He ended up giving in and going for a front lip.
Another Bomex kitted car, Adam Philpotts’ gorgeous MK1. Same recipe, same problem. Beautiful rear, awesome skirts, nothing available up front to match…
So we start to look at the other offering: The ubiquitous Duce/Deueuce/Goose kit. It’s almost becoming played out in the MX-5 world right now, but there’s no denying it perfectly embodies the ‘drift spirit’. It’s wide, fat, aggressive and has that badass hovercraft look that the die hard drift lovers have been in love with for so long. It makes the MX-5 into a tiny little S-body, without losing too much of the MX-5 style that makes the car so iconic.
Next up, another one close to home: Elly’s little ‘Christian’. Again this car oozed style. It was wide, it was low and incredibly classy. This was my favourite era, in the dark metallic paint with a set of Matt’s awesome fenders on it. This was one of the cars that makes the Duce kit work so well.
Another car here that makes the Duce work so well. I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this car except that it’s what comes up if you search “PS Duce” or “MX5 Type X wing”. Again, a perfect recipe. It’s subtle, clean, low, wide and absolutely brimming with class. The type X wing and vented bonnet are incredible, and make this car fit in among the sea of S-bodies in the drift world. If anyone has any info on this car please let me know, I’d love to talk to the owner!
So that’s the Duce kit. A great looking aggressive hovercraft kit that really steps up the aggression and puts the MX-5 right into the “Drift Style”. But as with all the others, to me there’s a flaw, and that’s the back bumper. For reasons that baffle me, they departed from the low, sweeping sides and went insane with the rear end. There’s a very aggressive waistline cut that makes the car look like it’s being squeezed by an overly-tight belt, a huge great flick upwards in the middle that send the eyes off into the sky, and an edge skirting that pokes out wider than the rest of the kit and is visible behind even the widest of wheels.
Now another car that I’ve been following for long time: the Street Dancer 13B powered Miata. One of very few MX-5s out making a name in drifting over in the states, and powered by the perfect engine of course! Originally this car ran a Duce kit, but more recently he got hold of what, for me, is the holy grail of MX-5 kits: The Arios.
The Arios kit is very similar to the Duce, in that it’s a big, chunky hovercraft kit, but it’s a little more subtle. The skirts on the Duce actually hang down lower than the rest of the kit, which makes things look really strange. More importantly, the back bumper is a fat, long sweeping piece that stays low to the ground and really makes this kit work for me. These are absolutely impossible to get hold of here in the UK, and reps are nonexistent. (PS. Yeah I’d love to support the genuine manufacturer and their fantastic work but writing off the rarest kit ever is just not gonna happen)
So now we get a little more interesting still. In the UK, there’s two main suppliers selling the Duce rep kits right now since MX5 Dan stopped. EPRacing is one, and Shaz Qamar is the other. Now what makes things interesting is that Shaz actually sells the Arios style rear bumper. I have no idea where this came from, who on earth had the original bumper, or where the hell it’s gone, but that does mean that my favourite rear bumper option does exist here, and can be bought! Great, right?!
Well, with one small problem. Remember I mentioned that the Duce skirts hang lower than the rest of the kit? Well, the Arios kit is actually slightly shorter than the Duce. This means that the rear bumper from this version sits suuuuper high compared to the skirts and looks really really weird to me. It’s shown here with the Duce skirts, modelled on James’ (@that_fkn_ricer) car, another one that really caught me eye as the right way to do a ‘5!
So I started coming up with other ideas, things I could do to make myself the perfect kit… to find the rear bumper that matches up and makes everything work. There’s a couple of cool ones out there… Racing Beat, US Racing Sports, RS Aizawa etc. This piece of awesome JDM gold dust for example, the HKS Kansai, looks fantastic! But it’s a little too high and a little too rare…
So I tried something else and had a play with Photoshop. I had a dabble with using a Bomex side and rear with a rounded off Duce front bumper, removing a little of the aggressive cut and rounding the edges of the skirt section off. It looks good, but way more fibreglass work than I’m capable of! Something I think I might revisit in the future sometime.
I also tried the opposite, mating a Bomex rear bumper up to the rest of a Duce kit, and planning to do something to blend the skirts between the two designs. For quite a while this was the winner for me, it wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough that I think I could get away with it. And again, maybe something I’ll revisit as honestly, I fully expect to end up owning both a Duce and Bomex kit because I am a fickle creature!
Then, a flash of inspiration hit me. Remember I mentioned that the Duce skirts were longer than the rest of the kit? I had another good look at James’s car from the side, and wondered what it might look like if I shortened them more inline with the rest of the kit. Hey Presto!
Suddenly, it seemed to work for me… I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but I get the feeling I’m going to end up shortening some Duce skirts to match the rest. Now, just a little before this point our friend Mr. Paton was selling off his Duce front and Sides very cheap, and my lovely friends, knowing how much I was wanting one, peer-pressured me into buying it.