Retro Rides Gathering is over for another year. This show always delivers some of the UK’s most unique and individual cars together with a huge variety of weird and wonderful modified metal. From Honda NSXs to Vauxhall Novas and everything in-between. The Retro Rides Gathering always has a club feel about it and the shared love for retro cars makes it a real stand out annual event and it’s hard to guess what will actually be there on the day.
Saying that, there is always one guarantee, there will be an abundance of happy little Mazda MX5s. With no less than five owners’ club stands spread around the site, you couldn’t turn a corner without being greeted by one of these grinning roadsters. Being an owner of a 1993 1.8 mk1 MX5 Eunos Roadster V-Spec, I take no issue with this either! I actually spent some time this year looking around them and I picked out a few of the more individual examples in attendance.
The first one that grabbed my attention was owned by Kevin Steel. It stood out in this environment as it was so close to original spec. An early Eunos Roadster V-Spec, in British Racing Green and contrasting tan leather. This was an early 1990 example and came with the 115bhp 1.6 engine.
Kevin picked the car up to break it for parts as it had been in a small bump with a high curb. He told me, “The car was being sold cheap for salvage so I bought it unseen off Ebay. Once I collected it I realised all it required were two wheels to be refurbished and a handful of suspension components. I felt it was too nice to break it.”
He went on to tell me that after spending a few hours on the drive with the spanners, the car was put in for an MOT where a small patch of rust on the sills was fixed and it was given a clean bill of health. Kevin has only owned the car since July but confessed he would soon be selling it to make way for another old Volvo, his true passion!
The only modifications the car had were the BBS wheels, the silver style bar, radio and the Nardi leather wheel. A number of simple styling choices had been easily reversed as Kevin had all the original parts to put back in the car. He said “It’s been a real surprise seeing how many people have stopped to look at it and ask me questions. I guess they are getting harder to find in original spec and not modified.”
For contrast, there was Michael Wheatley’s Mk2, so far from standard it was the other end of the spectrum to Kevin’s. Having bought the car in 2015 as a stock 1.8, Michael has spent many hours in his garage personalising the car. Upgrading the brakes, changing the wheels for Team Dynamic 1.2s, fitting a TR Lane roll bar and replacing the old suspension for a set of fully adjustable HSD coilovers was just the beginning.
Under the bonnet he has fitted a full G19 turbo kit, composed of a cast exhaust manifold, Td04 turbo, and a Fast5 Front mounted intercooler. This required a stand-alone management system and he opted for a MegaSquirt2 ecu that was mapped by Blink Motorsport. The car put out 256bhp and 218lb/ft on the rolling road.
Parked right next to Michael’s MK2, was possibly one of nicest lightly modified MK1s of the show. With lots of aftermarket parts fitted that built on the original package. The exterior the car was near standard apart from a rare set of Compomotive ML alloys and the black mirror caps and window surround.
The interior is what really set this car apart. The seats had been replaced with a set of leather Lotus Elise bucket seats and the door cards had been retrimmed with black quilted leather. Then the dash had a whole host of Jass Performance trim fitted to give the centre console a more retro vibe. Finally the steering wheel had been swapped out for a MOMO prototipo to complete the look.
The engine had also been fettled to maximise its performance without major expense. The timing had been adjusted and the head had been skimmed to increase the overall compression taking the car from 115bhp to 130bhp from its 1.6 litre engine.
At the very end of the day I spotted Andrew Law’s 1990 1.6 Eunos Roadster just as he was leaving. Imported in 2000 Andrew bought it last October and since had a small patch of sill rust professionally repaired before adding a range of modifications including a full set of Vmaxx Xxtreme fully adjustable coilovers; Gold Rota Kensei's 15x8 in et0 offset to get them under the arches; a pair of Red Sparco Sprint seats inside the cabin and a set of TRS Harnesses fastened to a GC Fabrications roll bar. He then finished it off with a GV Front Lip and a De-Cat Cobalt exhaust.
The engine is stock at the moment but Andrew told me he had plans to add a turbo in future. This one gave me serious car envy.
All these cars were spread out across different club stands and had come from all corners of the country to be at the show. They all had differing styles and approaches to building their little roadsters, but talking to the owners there was one common quality, their passion and love for these motors.