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May 2014 Ride of the Month

May 2014 Ride of the Month

By Nicole James

Photos by Joe Lambrana


Watch out folks, the 80’s are making a comeback! Stores have become filled with florescent neon’s, obnoxious floral patterns, and leg warmers have officially made a comeback. With this 80’s craze underway, Car Street Journal could not find a better car for our May Ride of the Month then the 8-bit Miata and its proud owner Bryan Young.

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The ’91 Mazda Miata began its journey into the 8-bit would as being the faithful daily for Mr. Young. “I was buying parts and saving for another drift car build I was working on. As the build dragged on by either money or procrastination, I was driving the Miata every day. I grew too really like the car and how fun it was to drive in stock form.”

“When I first got the car, it was meant as a fun car for my Fiancé and I to share. Well, my daily car at the time blew a rear main and I couldn’t drive it anymore. So I started taking the Miata and that is when I started driving it regularly. The car had no top at all so I had to brave the elements everywhere I went.  Last winter it was raining on my way to work so I got permission to park my car in the warehouse to dry off. When I left to go home, the weather seemed like it was not going to rain anymore, but it was really cold. I stopped at the first street light and it was like someone hit full blast on a giant ice machine in the sky because I was getting hailed on and ice was piling up in my car! I wanted to go home so I held my head up, one hand on the wheel, arm on the side or the car, and drove home in the hail like a boss. Did not care who saw me. People were giving me thumbs up as I drove down the street! It was awesome.” Bryan said.

What helped seal Bryan’s love for the Miata even more was the potential it had to be an amazing drift car. Bryan saw some videos of another Formula Drift driver who owns a Miata as a fun drift car, and was inspired to say the least. “I learned his car was almost completely stock! So I copied what info I could get about his car and applied it to mine. After drifting it, I realized just how much potential the car really had. After the second event at the IFO, I decided this is the car for me and started selling off everything from the other car project.”

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In regards to the entire project shift, Bryan realized his heart just wasn’t into the original project. “I really liked drifting the Miata.  After those events, lots of research, and with the proper build, I felt I could be competitive with it too. My heart was into this idea and I know now I will see this through with no delay.”

So how did the 8-bit come to be? According to Bryan, ‘8-Bit’ is a retro style more than just a number for processing power. It is associated with the 80’s and early 90’s video game art, music, cars, movies, Walkmans, cassette tapes, synth and chiptune music. All these things remind Bryan of the days when he and many other kids running crazy with friends, playing video games till the middle of the night at sleepover parties, playing pranks on the neighbors, running around outside on your bike and racing friends with a Walkman clipped to your belt playing Metallica. Comic books, arcades, all the things we grew up with that sparked our imagination in ways our parents never understood. 

Bryan really became ‘8-bit bry’ as he got into his 30’s. “I just was attracted to the style, technology, movies, and synth music of that decade. There are some things that should stay in the 80’s, but being raised in the 80’s I feel it is the nostalgia that attracts me to it with taking what we like most from that era, and reinventing some of it as well as appreciating it’s originality for the style.”

One of the most eye catching things about this 8-bit Miata is the pixelation. “The pixelated design came about after my friend Paco, made an Instagram video of my car at one of the IFO events. He made it based on what he knows about me and my love for retro video games. The idea evolved into an idea Paco had about ‘8-bitifiying’ the Miata. We took a roll of one inch black vinyl, played some 8-Bit video game sound tracks, then put the decal on the car while swapping gaming stories. Four hours later we got something better than we even imagined.”

The 8-bit Miatas engine is stock with a good tune up like spark plugs and a quality oil change. “I did have help with fabrication work from Kyle at Bad Apple Motorsports with the custom straight pipe exhaust and a properly welded differential. Other than that I had an alignment done by Adam at Network Alignment. The rest was done in my garage with the help of friends and my Fiancé. We did the roll bar, steering wheel, bucket seat brackets, a cheap cone air filter, and tie rod spacers. I drift with 195/50/15 in front, and 185/60/14 in rear. Other than replacing blown front shocks that rocked the car like a boat with one used and one new cheap OE standard ones when I got the car, I replaced nothing else. The rear shocks are still the same from when I got the car as well as OE front and rear sway bars.”

Bryan’s favorite mod to the car is the roll bar. “I feel more optimistic about surviving any unfortunate accidents. Plus it gives that performance look that separates it from the average Miata. I personally feel it should be required for any open top car involved in Motorsports.”

While Bryan doesn’t have one particular modification that drove him insane, What drives him crazy is the cars suspension. “The car is not forgiving and very unstable when drifting from all the body roll. I have to be faster than the car to keep it from spinning or gripping and shooting off in another direction. I just accepted it and got used to it.”

According to Bryan it took about a month from when he decided to drift the car, for all the parts to be installed. His future plans for the car include suspension. “That and a cage plus other requirements for legal tandem battles in Pro-am. I am thinking I might try a round or two with my current engine, but I’m thinking the stock 1.6 will not keep up. I have a 2JZ sitting in my garage sooo…..naaa I’m just kidding haha! I’ve got a 13B-REW waiting to get swapped into the Miata.”

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Something Bryan has to have in his car at all times is faith in it. “I feel you have to believe in your car 100%. Learn how to listen to what your car is telling you. Every car is letting you know what it can do all the time so you need to know how to understand what it is saying. It’s like every car has its own language and seat time is how you learn to speak with it. Once you get it, you can correctly respond with the input devices like the steering wheel, shifter, ebrake, and pedals. You are then one with the car. You can then push the car past its limits without fear.”

“I was never taught how to drift or race.” Bryan said, “I read books, watched videos, and practiced on racing games with whatever steering wheel accessory I could get my hands on. As games became more into simulation, I got more advanced with the wheels I used. Then I got into drifting and modifying wheels to accommodate that sense of control. I just tried to make it real and make rules for myself to follow like never touching a wall or another car and finishing the race.  If I break any of those rules, I know in the real world it would mean the end of my race, so I followed that. In turn I learned to utilize practice time. Pacing myself to learn the course without wrecking. I was teaching myself patience and discipline behind the wheel to try to learn the car and course without incident as much as possible. This I felt helped me in learning to understand a cars behavior quickly. I will not say what I do is the best or only way to learn. It is just what worked for me. Everyone has a way they can be taught or self-taught, you just have to find what works for you.”

“My Dad is responsible for getting me into cars.” Bryan said, “his stories of street racing his ’65 Pontiac GTO 389 Tri-power all over Tucson and Southern Arizona was pretty amazing. When I was a little kid, anytime we went on a road trip, he would let me sit on his lap and steer the car for miles. Teaching me the basics like using the turn signals, what to look for as a driver, etc. When I was tall enough to reach the pedals, he got me driving the family car, an ’82 Ford Fairmont, down dirt roads around the town I grew up in.”

That old ’82 dairmont was the first car Bryan got to drive legally. “I bought my first car just after my 17th birthday. I spent the summer working 10 hour days 6 days a week in a construction equipment yard to save up for my own car. At that time I knew nothing about cars except how to drive. I wanted to buy an older Cavalier convertible, but my dad wanted me to look at a few cars he thought I might like. He drove me to the used car dealership and asked me to drive an old BMW with the crown shift pattern. I didn’t like it and I wanted to leave. He said if I test drive one more car for him and I didn’t like it, we would go straight to that Cavalier I wanted. So I got in the car my Dad suggested. Came back 60 seconds later, walked into the office, slammed my money on the desk, stating “I want this car”. The ’85 Toyota MR2. My Dad smiled and took care of the rest. That drive home following my Dad driving my own sports car is still one of the best memories of my youth that I will always cherish. I still thank him to this day for making me drive that car.”

The Toyota MR2 Bryan got was also the first car to turn his head. “Where I grew up, it was like owning a rare super car. No one had one, the girls loved it, it got looks everywhere in the town’s 5 mile radius, and it was red. Yeah. Bright Blood RED. That also got the local cops attention. We had a few run-ins. but I won’t go into those stories though.”

With more love for the classics, Bryan says his dream car is a ’98 McLaren F1. According to Bryan, not one automobile to this day has changed his mind to even think twice about it.


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