They say third time lucky, but for Mickey, it was third time or nothing...
Mickey Abreu | 1990 Mazda Eunos Roadster
We're living in strange but exciting times. It was roughly 2.5 years ago when the world was plummeted into the COVID nightmare that ravaged modern life. Through all of the devastation and tragedy, for some of us in the UK, COVID allowed us to focus and hone-in on what we value dearly.
For life-long car enthusiast, Mickey, this provided time to contemplate what car he fancied tinkering with next and, after deciding upon wanting a cheap drift car, the search was on to find a car that fit the bill.
"At the time it was peak Coronavirus where everyone was still locked-up indoors due to the restrictions. I found myself looking to buy a cheap drift car and wanted something different for my YouTube channel.
My car at the time was a twin turbo BMW 335i which was pretty difficult and expensive to modify. I remember speaking to my Dad and arranged a viewing on a rust bucket Mk2 NB Mazda MX5.
Luckily enough, my Dad mentioned that there was an abandoned Mazda on someone's drive around the corner from where I lived, but wasn't sure whether it was a Mk1 or Mk2. I went on Google Maps and funnily enough, it was a Mk1 Eunos Roadster which had been imported to the UK in early 2000.
I went there the following day before returning the next day to reach an agreement and tow the car home. In all honesty the car didn't start, it had head gasket / over-heating issues, was full of rust and the window had been left open for years, so let's say the interior wasn't... pretty."
Despite all of its flaws the car was just what Mickey was looking for at the time and so none of this really mattered. It must be the charm of these plucky little motors that put a spell on Mickey, as they have so many other car enthusiasts throughout the UK. Their strong aftermarket support, fair price demands, and pop-up headlights (I'm not drooling, you are) make them exceptionally good cars to modify.
Yet despite having a whole host of aftermarket parts, forums and examples available, a model in this sort of state generates many, many challenges:
"In all honesty there were loads of challenges and obstacles we faced with this build. The hardest, came across a six month time-frame where the car went through a horrible period in which it was painted three times with each time, being a different colour.
At this point the car was pretty much finished and just needed to be painted. So much time and money had gone into the car and we had just finished sanding and priming it ready for its final spray job.
Everything was prepared. The car's body was pretty much immaculate and every panel was straight so I ordered around 3 - 4 litres of a stage 3 candy apple red paint. I had agreed that it should be done by a professional under the correct conditions as I had heard that the candy colours can be a pain to spray.
Long story short, the car was painted in a beautiful candy apple red but the job was nowhere near professional. Once I received the car there were loads of shiny silver coarse parts where the bodywork hadn't been sprayed and the car was several different shades of red. The painter tried to fix all of the uneven spots and even sprayed over the parts he had missed, but that just made the colour mismatch even worse and I obviously wasn't very happy so he offered to spray the car once again.
I had to wait around 2 - 3 months as he was busy. In this time I asked him if he wanted me to re-sand the car but he simply replied, no, that it was fine and that he would sort it out.
The time came and the car was sprayed in a shiny metallic purple with blue flakes which had a much better outcome than the candy red but over the next 2 months I started having issues. The paint would start to bubble and flake-off easily and the painter was reluctant to tell me the paint code.
When summer hit this year, I finally found the time to re-sand the car and took it to a professional, making sure the car went into the spray booth and oven cycle process. I was even there to help him mask the car and prep it for paint."
With such a negative and disheartening experience, Mickey was almost tempted to abandon the Eunos project, but after already pumping time and money into the build, felt compelled to see it through. Thankfully he did so we can all sit here and marvel at the juicy, purple Japanese goodness beaming in the images below:
Mickey has shown that perseverance is a virtue needed in swathes when it comes to restoring and enhancing an abandoned 90's Japanese sports car. Fortunately, the project became a family affair with Jose's Dad firmly prepared to lend a hand at all stages throughout the build.
"I got into cars by spending hours in the garage with my Dad when he would take me on drives in his old Mk4 XR3i Ford Escort which he had built over 25 years ago."
All of this added knowledge becomes invaluable and a great source to go to for an additional opinion or advice. Yet the extra pair of hands didn't come cheap.
"I would have to buy my Dad a bottle of wine pretty much every time he worked on the car; but trust me, all of the fabricating and work he did on it was definitely worth it!"
So whilst Mickey was running up his bill on Echo Falls, his car was transforming into an eye-catching show-going masterpiece. The wooden details in the cockpit are a great touch and provide a classic feel heralding back to its 90's conception.
Pair these wooden accents with the tan leather interior and chrome wing mirrors and you really do have a superb match between vintage detailing and modern exterior flared styling. So with all the work carried out on the car, what's Mickey's favourite feature?
"The wide arches and custom fender cuts. When installing the wide arches we had to pull a few magic tricks out of our sleeves as
the Rocket Bunny kits are notorious for having awful fitment on the MX5. Credits to my Dad for helping me fabricate the custom vents on the fenders and bonnets."
I may have failed to mention but this car is a full driveway restoration with almost everything on the car being changed or refurbished. An incredible feat and an embodiment of the now somewhat cliche'd phrase, 'built not bought'. It's an example of what the car world used to be. Enthusiastic friends & family mucking-in together to create something rather special.
So, we've established that the MX5 looks great, but what's it like to drive?
"The car is absolutely rubbish to drive but that's what makes it perfect. The shakes, the bumps, and squeaks never fail to put a smile on my face. On long drives the car's interior gets red hot as - like an idiot - I removed all of the insulation. On the other hand, the car does get loads of attention and it's always nice to see other people appreciating what me and my father have built. In summer, with the sun gleaming down, the roof is dropped, and the smell of petrol is pumping through the air, nothing beats that feeling!"
Sadly with autumn now in full swing, dropping the roof to feel the wind in your hair may become an occasion that's few and far between. Overall Mickey's MX5 is a stunning build that, as I said before, embodies the notion that all of us petrol heads love - bringing a car back from the brink of death. The wide track, killer stance, aggressive yet sleek exterior vents, plus classy vintage interior render this MX5 one of the best.
"The build of this car was just something I always dreamed of doing, especially with having my Dad by my side helping me, it has given me memories I will never forget. The sweat and tears were definitely worth it!"
Between 130 - 150bhp
16 x 9 ET25 Stuttgart ST5 Alloys
Stretched 195/45/16 Tyres
Straight Through Exhaust
Upgraded Spark Plugs
Upgraded Short Shifter
SC Project Rear Silencer
Shiny Metallic Purple Respray
Rocket Bunny Wide Arches
Custom Bonnet Vents
Custom Fender Vents
Rear GV Panel
Custom Rear Lights
Custom Rear Bumper Cut
Aftermarket Front Headlights
Wooden Nardi Steering Wheel
Wooden Gear Knob & Handbrake Lever
Tan Leather Bucket Seats
Gold Rear Roll Bar & Side Impact Bars
Vibe Speakers All-Round