James Barone Racing
The Miata of the Month from

February 2011

Phil Daost and his Briata


Congratulations to Phil on the selection of his Briata as the February Miata of the Month!



Yep, Walt Disney said it, and given this affirmation, we started our saga the day I drive my M edition right off the showroom floor in August , 1996.

My dream: I had always wanted a classic British sports car. But with limited funds for a classic, and even less mechanical acumen to keep one running, I decided the only way I'd ever own one would be to create my own.

And so, my British Roadster Inspired And Thuly Accessorized - aka "BRIATA" - was conceived!!

My plan: to take a new Miata, with its already beautiful 50-60s European inspired design and add my own touches of "Anglofication". Knowing the drive-train was virtually bulletproof, I decided to concentrate on interior and exterior mods.

The first step: In my opinion, all British classics should have wire wheels. And Dunlop has manufactured them in India (the 'ol Brit colony of course) for decades. With 15x7 chrome wire wheels, I was off to the races!

Next all classics need a rich interior, so two-piece European MX-5 seats were sourced and shod with the finest Scottish hides in sun tan with contrasting black piping. Then came a custom wood shifter and hand brake handle, a matching Moto Lita steering wheel, a custom E-type inspired center console, and coco mats to match. A funny note: The name MOTO LITA was coined to have an Italian ring to it to compete with the likes of MOMO and NARDI. MOTO LITA is made in Britain!

Third, on my list was a distinct exterior. Yes, this car needed some retro recalling revision. And Simpson Design was the perfect fit. Jim Simpson is a car designer, fabricator, and restorer, and creator of the stunning "Italia" roadster from a Miata chassis. So I traveled up to his shop on Whibley Island., Washington, and he had the goods to make my vision come true - adding his retro style European dual head and tail lights, chopped rear bumper,and Ghibli inspired chrome side louvers, and an awesome fiberglass cowl induction/louvered hood. All this cold air induction came in handy when I later added a Sebring supercharger to complement the sweet four banger. To showcase its throaty growl, Ed Hanson, the Picasso of custom exhausts, designed a big Flowmaster muffler system with four Monza-style center exit exhausts. (with the Flowmaster, it roared with the car's nickname, "Quadzilla", the result!)

I thought my dream car was completed until one day at SOCALM car show in Los Angeles 2005, I was approached by five Brits from the MX-5 club in England who told me I needed one more element to make it a proper classic: right hand drive. I used to be a mailman and used a RHD Jeep on my route; which was a blast to drive. I loved the idea, RHD it would be!

Easier said than done, I found out, I was told I couldn't get such a conversion registered or smogged. But remembering Mr. Disney's adage, I proceeded anyway.It took two years, I imported a RHD front clip, steering and dash from Australia. It's a beautiful conversion, and so much fun to share with others.

Provenance is everything when it comes to classic cars. For example, the one-off "BRIATA" logo was envisioned and sculpted by none other than Joe Portas, the Knobmeister himself (as well as the beautifully engraved Pollo Rampante wooden shifter). And, the most legendary Voodoo Bob Kruger personally blessed said Pollo--now that's provenance! Thank you Miata.net for choosing Quadzilla as the Miata of the month. Being the Miata of the Month is tantamount to being the Playboy bunny of the month--in my book!

My license plate reads: M MY WAY. M in European car parlance means "modified". And MY WAY, a tribute to Frank Sinatra, who loved classic cars. I'm sure he'd like our Briata and hope Miata.net dreamers will enjoy also.



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