On Sunday I took the MX-5 along to a informal meet up in St Neots with a number of other owners, organised via the popular Pistonheads forum. Following the standard ‘cars and coffee’ format, the idea is to just turn up in anything you like, be it a top of the range supercar, grand tourer or a modified hatchback.
What struck me most even in this small gathering was the variety on offer. My rather filthy MX-5 (which I apologised profusely for) looked relatively at home surrounded by cars such as a Dino recreation, Ferrari 458 Italia, Honda NSX, Aston Martin V12 Vantage and Ford Mustang GTR. With each car you could see that the owner had applied their own style and identity to the cars, either by attacking the options list, or aftermarket parts like custom exhaust systems.
The first car that struck my eye was the Dino recreation, I really do have a soft spot for these. A lot of people scoff at these recreation cars, but why? For most enthusiasts, the look of the car is key and the Dino is an iconic shape. This particular model was built in America, and uses a rare official Ferrari colour Verde Medio. The builder even placed an official Ferrari sticker inside the door sill indicating the colour code. While the interior does show some of the original donor car controls (it being a humble Toyoya MR2 underneath), it had been sufficiently hidden so as not to distract. One option was the Daytona style seats with matching horizontal green leather detailing – an interesting addition, and again something that gives the car its own identity.
Another car you could hardly miss was the Toxic Green Lotus Elise 220 Cup. This is in essence a road going Elise Cup racer, with some of the more track orientated bits removed, and the safety features like airbags put back in. According to Lotus, you can re-spec the car back into a racing car though and take it back to the track. The owner showed me around the car, and mentioned the exhaust system is a hand built example from a company in Scotland, it being nestled away underneath the huge rear body diffuser.
Like any Elise, the interior is sparse and driver focused, but the owner had plans to look into replacing several of the body panels with carbon fibre in a bid to lower the weight a fraction more. While not a massive benefit, it was more the strength aspect that appealed, something which combats the inevitable weakening of glass fibre over time.
Lastly one of the other cars that garnered a lot of my attention was a lovely example of a Honda NSX in Imola Orange. I find the NSX is becoming more and more rare on the roads, especially good examples such as this. The owner hadn’t had it in their possession for a great deal of time, and did describe some work required by a specialist to treat some of the more common ailments, one of which was the coolant bottle disintegrating! Otherwise, this is the kind of model I would yearn for, a proper manual with a t-top and the original pop-up headlights, partnered with a V6 engine.
The owner had finished it off with a custom exhaust system, which produced a very fine burble on idle and a non-offensive sound under throttle. I got chatting to another owner as the car drove away and we remarked at simply how timeless the design is. It’s certainly a great example of a car that has aged gracefully, and even today it looks modern, sharp and clean.
Take a look at a further selection of shots below, and more to follow from future meets. Someone mentioned an owner showed up one day in a tank – so that’s something to watch out for!