Mona’s New Shoes

Hmmm… What could be inside?

The title of the post kind of spoils the box contents. I suspect the post thumbnail further spoils it. But it’s still VERY exciting to me! Just humor me and pretend to be surprised.

SSR you say?

Oh myyyyyy

I’ve been searching for just the right set of wheels for Mona since buying her in Dec 2018. SO many hours spent pouring over online ND pix and looking for wheel specs. Finally, I pulled the trigger on some SSRs.

Not just SSRs, but NEW SSRs. I’ve never been able to buy new ones, so this is quite the experience for me.

Yeah, I could have afforded them before. I just never found the right set to buy, you know? Vintage SSRs are, honestly, much more exciting to me. But SSR recently started bringing back a few of their older designs. And they just happened to be in nearly perfect ND size.

A plan formed.

SO minty and perfect!

SSR Formula Mesh

SSR Hardware

These are SSR’s re-release of the Formula Mesh wheel. Mine are 16×8 +39 on all four wheels. 16s should fit on the ND with no problem as that’s the stock wheel size on the Sport and Club packages. Mona is a GT, so she came with 17s and the smaller brakes.

Which turned out to be a good thing…

See, I ordered these with the SL disk. SL stands for Super Low disk. This gives the LEAST brake clearance but the most options for lip sizes. It has just 3mm less clearance than the NR disk (normal) and 20mm less brake clearance than the HP disk. HP disk SHOULD have been my choice, but it would have needed to be built specifically for me… and the wheels you see above were in stock and ready to go.

But they can fit, right?

Brake clearance.

A bit of casting flash was ground off the front calipers. That was all that was needed in the front to make things clear. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I moved to the back.

The back has far less brake clearance. The calipers are enormous and no amount of grinding or tweaking would make the wheels spin.

Enter the spacers.

5mm spacer.

5mm spacer.

5mm spacer.

These are hubcentric 5mm spacers. 54.1mm on the vehicle side for the Mazda hubs, and 73.1mm on the wheels side for the SSRs. They’re very beautifully machined and really blew me away.

If you need spacers, look up ebay seller premierautoacc. These were extremely inexpensive for the quality and machined perfectly. They slide into the wheel center bore and over the Miata hub with absolutely no slop.

And the back wheels now spin!

Mocked up.

Rubber applied.

Once the wheels were mocked up and confirmed to actually spin with the spacers applied, I ordered some rubber. Bridgestone RE71s were the very first sport tire I used on Sharka 20 years ago when I bought him. I went through three sets of them before they were discontinued. When the RE71R came out, I was bummed that the 14″ size wasn’t available in the US. However, 16s are available! I didn’t even consider other tires. The nostalgia of running RE71s again was too strong.

I opted for the 225/50/16 RE71R. They’re extremely meaty and should make for some fun back road romps. Huge thanks to Keith (Keith’s Wheel Alignment in Albuquerque) for getting these put together quickly.

Excitement was building quickly, but the mock up made me realize that the gold meshies wouldn’t work too well with Ramona’s white Hot Wheels livery. I never planned for her to keep the stickers forever, so out came the heat gun and rubbing alcohol.

Started here.

Now we’re here.

With the grey wheels, greyish (in need of Bleche Wite) tires, and grey paint… she’s really quite blah. No offense to fellow grey ND owners. These cars just deserve a LOT more color than Mazda gave them. The white stickers helped break up that sea of grey, but wheels would also help.

Millions of thanks to my wife who did one half of the vinyl removal while I did the other. We got it all removed in about four hours. That’s including all adhesive clean up afterwards!

And then I had to roll some fenders.

I rolled fenders for a good 3 evenings, carefully flattening the lips to allow clearance for the new rubber. Slow and steady is how you prevent cracked paint. I wish there were photos of the process, but they’d be pretty boring. I prefer using a hammer to a fender roller. Imagine pix of a guy sitting inside the wheel wheel carefully tap tap tapping away at the inner fender lip.


Before and after – rear

Before and after – front

Success!!! Even on stands, the car looks amazing!

The new combo fills out the wheel wells so much nicer. The before/after pix really show how sunken the stock 17s were.

Now for some proper photos.

Gold SSR is always the answer.



I’ll be honest, I was extremely apprehensive as to how mesh wheels would look on an ND. I couldn’t find anyone else running a similar wheel. And… well… they weren’t cheap. It would have been an expensive mistake if they’d looked poor or like a bad match.

I’m so happy I was worried for nothing.

They even look good at night.

Hard. Park. Crew.

Yeah, snow.

In my top 3 fav ND pix of all time.

I’ve wanted “SSR Meshies” for the last decade. I’ve found many posts on many forums of myself talking about them. Finally having them is
extremely satisfying. They look so proper on Mona.

Now to design some new stickers for that bland grey paint…

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  • Larry Hopper says:

    Very well done. Keep up the good work.

  • BW says:

    I feel like I’ve never seen spacers like those before!

  • Jim says:

    Great wheel choice; great write up!!!

  • Mike says:

    Mona looks great with the new shoes!

    Out of curiosity why did you opt for grey if you think itโ€™s bland? Was it the best of available option? Or just to have a neutral canvas to work your magic on?

  • Stoly says:

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  • Ivan says:

    Nice golden wheels !
    Thanks for Story
    I also went for golden ones, but mine are cheaper Japan Racing brand JR6 (actually having more ND suitable ET 30 and better brake clearance)

  • John says:

    Great story and accompanying images.

    I went for silver SSR FMs on my ND and the size I purchased was 16x 7.5 +45 NR.
    This rim size nicely clears the brake calipers front and back plus no spacers required.
    My 225/50R16 tires clear the inner guards and luckily no need to roll any edges.

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