The MX-5 Miata of the Month from

March 2005

Moti Almagor and Blackbird

Congratulations to Moti on the selection of Blackbird as the March Miata of the Month!

My love story with sports cars and race cars began as a child when my father, a driving and racing enthusiast himself, took me to the first auto show I've ever been to and first ever to take place in my country of birth - Israel. I remember the 2 main attractions of the show very well to this day - a white Lambo Countach and a midnight blue Ferrari 512BB... I was 4 years old and these two cars were the coolest ones in the world.

Years go by and I learnt more about cars from magazines my dad was subscribed to, with growing affection to sports cars, mainly the Lotus / Caterham Super 7 and the Lancia Delta Integrale. When I was 12, the Miata came out and I thought it was a really cool car to have when I'll grow old... day dreaming to myself... there's something to be said about cars in Israel - the tax on them is 110% (!), yup that's not a typo, it is one hundred and ten percent tax, with an average pay check of $1k a month of normal labor (still true today), buying a car like a Miata is a dream.

Fast forward and I'm done with my military service in 1998 after nearly three years in the Israeli air force, where I learn a lot about mechanics and something that I would find later to be very useful - aerodynamics. So I get a job and start saving for my first car, looking into buying a nice car for a young guy with Ferrari dreams on a Fiat budget.

Remember that 110% tax? Well, used cars aren't cheap either and my job is just a base salary one in a warehouse. One thing leads to another and I meet someone that works with me there and we're both dreaming and breathing sports cars. In fact, the guy (who's probably going to read this, I owe you a big one, Golan!) is slowly "showing me the light" and I realize that this is the right time in my life in Israel to buy a Miata, it's uber expensive and there are only 110 of them that were sold between 95 and 98 (98 NA), which is going to make it a nightmare to find one.

Almost a year has passed since I finished my military service, I have saved almost enough money to buy a Miata working double shifts in the warehouse and have been looking for one for almost 4 months. Then, one day, when I'm almost to tired of finding one, I see a guy pulling into a parking lot that I was standing at with my friends and started walking towards the guy.

The conversation was pretty short - "Hi, do want to sell your car?", "no, not really", "I'll give you 10k over blue book value if you sell it to me" (worth $2500 in Israeli currency), "you're kidding me, right?", "no, what's your phone number?"... to make a short story even shorter, the car was mine 2 weeks later, and I ended up paying $2450 over the value of the car. It was impossible to have it any other way.

Anyways, here I am, driving an automotive dream in Israeli terms, people are looking at me as if I was driving a Mclaren F1 here ;-) ... so what's next? Making it fast of course!

So I start reading here on the forum and in different websites and I find the guys at Flyin' Miata to be really nice and helpful and above all - very patient - big thanks to Bill Cardell and Ken Hill, god knows how many spelling mistakes I made in my emails at the beginning of our relationship.  A note for the ones of you that are thinking about spell check right now - it was invented for those who know the language but not sure about spelling, not for those who don't know the language. 

After talking to the guys at FM and reading on the forum, I set my mind on an FM IIkit. I realized it'll take me a long long time to save up all that money in my job in Israel and right about that time that I had my Miata (a red 95) for almost a year, I came across a business opportunity in Los Angeles and decided to go for it, this should shorten my way to the turbo!

So I leave my car with my parents and relocate to CA, starting to save up for the kit faster than before. Being in the US puts me even closer to the aftermarket, so aside of the turbo kit I buy a bunch more Miata goodies - shocks, springs, wheels and what not, everything that's needed to build the fastest Miata in Israel (until then a JRSC equipped one).

The days to go back home to Israel are getting shorter and I have a little container full of parts waiting to be shipped to Israel but something inside doesn't let me ship it. Time to do some search inside - I could have the fastest Miata in Israel, or I could stay here and actually race it legally. The only way to race in Israel is in illegal street races, there's no autocross and big race tracks don't really exist. Staying in the US wins. I take a flight back to Israel for a short vacation, sell my Miata for some amazing $2300 over BB value at virtually no loss over 2 years of ownership and come back here looking for another 95 Miata, only this time a black one, since I learned that black cars are always faster ;-)

When I come back to the US, I buy the Miata that you see in the pictures, known in the Miata world as "Blackbird", a fast street car project that went totally out of control.

Within two weeks under my hands, the Bird turns from a bone stock 95 to a fire breathing monster, remember, I already have all the parts "in stock".Here I have to say thanks again to Bill C. and Ken H., because I'm pretty sure that I have been a royal PITA for them, calling 3-4 times a days with questions that I can't really explain in my then less than basic "technical" English - it took me a while but I did learn a lot of the technical terms commonly used and improved my English as well.

 A very short while later, after the build-up of my Blackbird was 'finished' (or at least I thought so  at the time haha) I go to my first track weekend at Sears Point with NASA. The car performs flawlessly and I get totally hooked on the racing bug... So hooked, in fact, that within the next few months I go to a track day whenever I can almost and gain experience and speed.

I realize at that point that I can make a few simple changes in the car to make it go even faster. With my background in aerodynamics, while not pretending to be an engineer or anything, there are a few simple things to be done and the Blackbird will improve it's on-track performance. Who knew it will spark such an interest (for good or for bad, mostly bad at that time...) ! I start with a nice wing, and as one thing leads to another, the car you're looking at probably one of the most aerodynamically developed Miatas around. I apply my knowledge in theory to the sheet metal and the thing works!!

It's a constant development with the Blackbird, the more I know the more I realize how much more I need and want to know, but that little Blackbird is still around and well known here in Southern California to be one of the fastest car in any track day I'll go to.

Check out my home page to see the work in progress - you can see some of the past projects as well as the latest stuff.

I am fortunate to be a part of the great online community of the, to be able to give advice to newbies just like the advice I got when I was a newbie, to get advice and words of wisdom from forum members who know more, and there's ALWAYS someone that knows more :-)

But most of all, I encourage you to think out of the box and be safe.

 Moti Almagor

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