A few months ago, I got to visit Flyin Miata for the first time. While it’s true that I mostly just crashed their party and hung out for an afternoon, I did actually have a reason to be there. I made some parts for their newest NA shop car known as Captain Bob and wanted to drop them off in person.
The car hadn’t been unveiled yet and was still being built up, so my own photos weren’t too spectacular. Mostly they showed my gauges and a bit of the blue vinyl wrap. As development continued, FM contacted me again for a few more parts. Bob got a custom badge and horn button set in a matching blue brushed metal finish. There’s also a matching HVAC panel to really finish the interior and set off those beautiful Stack gauges (not just the ones I made).
After finishing the build, FM was kind enough to send me photos of Bob in all his glory and answer some quick interview questions about the car. Huge thanks to Keith for all of this great info and to Travis for the gorgeous photos! It was fun to play automotive journalist for a bit.
revlimiter: What’s Bob’s history? I think you said it was a shop car that had been around for a while?
Keith Tanner: Bob used to belong to Captain Robert Rawlins, a nuclear submarine captain who happened to be Teri’s father. He owned the car for at least 15 years, possibly longer. When he passed away a few years ago, FM inherited it and named it Captain Bob in his honor.
We didn’t really have a solid plan for it because we didn’t expect it, so it did just kind of sit around for a couple of years. We turbocharged it (naturally) and it was called to take part in the recent Grassroots Motorsports test. Surrounded by the bright red NC Club, the glowing Soul Red ND and a perky silver NB, we realized that it was a really nice car that was a bit of a wallflower. We know that our Facebook fans always love a good NA, so we decided to give Cap’n Bob a bit of a makeover.
The goal was to make an optimized NA – not one that was a cost-no-object SEMA type build or that had a completely different character from stock, but one that was just turned up a bit.
revlimiter: Tell me about that gorgeous blue wrap.
Keith: After the GRM photo shoot, we decided to make the car pop. Montego Blue is nice enough when it’s clean and in the sunlight in person, but it’s a dark hole in a photograph.
Paint was going to be out of the budget and the dark sills and engine bay worked in our favor, so we ordered a sample book of 3M vinyl. We wanted a blue that would pop. We took a bunch of photos with our three finalists in the sun, at different angles, against the upholstery, etc.
3M’s “Cosmic Blue” was the winner.
It photographs with a lot of saturation but not quite as much as our most extreme choice, and it makes Bob stand out. It’s basically the blue version of Soul Red.
(side note: Anyone can order a sample book of 3M vinyl for free if they’re thinking of wrapping their car. Go here and scroll till you hit “request a sample deck.” )
revlimiter: What was done in the interior? I see an NA6 dash, NB2 seats, and some other fun things. That knob by the two center gauges is particularly interesting.
Keith: The interior got most of the rework. The goal was a stylish design that wasn’t over the top and that wasn’t trying to match a specific style like JDM or Old British Car or something like that.
My little Smurf was the inspiration for a lot of it. Our old R&D car Elvis donated the Parchment carpet and the seats. The seats are stock NB2 seats with a foamectomy (our how-to video featuring these seats!) and the center section replaced with suede for a little more butt traction.
The NA6 dash – the most attractive version, as you know – was reworked with the same suede on the crash pad and also along the top of the doors. Mike added a custom pad to the top of the center console for elbow love.
The gauges are a vintage Stack style chosen because of their aesthetics. They match well with the thin trim rings on the eyeball vents. The cluster also got extra chrome rings around the secondary gauges. The thin trim rings are from Poland off eBay and the cluster rings are from The Tuning Shop in the UK.
Now, the knob. That’s the stereo 🙂 Stereos are visually difficult, they tie the interior to a specific era and they take up a lot of room. So I wanted to disappear it, but we use this car and of course it couldn’t be deleted. There’s an amp hidden behind the tombstone and that knob is the front of a bluetooth receiver. With the knob, you can adjust volume, play/pause, skip tracks forward and back and switch over to an AUX input.
revlimiter: How about performance parts? I believe Bob had the FM2 installed already. I also see some big breaks and a lower stance?
Keith: Underneath, there’s a Stage 1 turbo system, FM exhaust, Stage 2.5 suspension kit, a Little Big Brake Kit and a butterfly brace. It’s also running our top of the line cooling parts because it’s being used for cooling testing, so they’re not fundamental to the car.
We run either a set of PF01 (silver) or Sparco FF-1 (bronze) wheels with 195 or 205 tires. The goal for the performance of this car was to make it a bit faster than stock, but not at the point where anything else has to be compromised. I also wanted the grip level to be low enough that you can play with it on the street, so the car is still lively and fun instead of simply as fast as possible.
revlimiter: Anything I missed asking about that you want highlighted?
Keith: Umm, can’t think of anything 🙂
And another billion thanks to Flyin’ Miata for letting me contribute so much to this build!