Some of you may know me from my Yaris days. Some of you may have heard about "that guy who autocrosses a Mirage". Guilty as charged!
What do you need to know? Well, I'm 50 years old and I still play with cars. I like to think that I play "smarter" than I used to. I live in Florida, right between Tampa Bay (not the city, the actual bay!) and Clearwater. Half a mile from the bay as the crow flies.
I've been a "car guy" since about the time I started driving, and I've learned a lot along the way. I don't mind sharing my experience and my experiences. I was reluctant to join this forum (even though I've USED this forum as a reference) simply because I didn't want to commit to having to keep up with another forum. But, I'll try to at least keep up with parts of it that interest me.
I've been autocrossing since 1995. First in a 1994 Saturn SC2 for about 5 years. Then in a 1996 Miata for about 6 years. And since then I've had a 1976 Triumph Spitire, a glorious 1990 beater 1.6 Miata, several other Miatas (I was flipping them for a while, and lost count), a 2007 Toyota Yaris, a 2007 BMW Z4 Coupe, a 2001 Miata, a 1991 S10 4.3, a Ford Festiva (I was half-owner), and now the 2016 Mirage. Every single one of those vehicles was autocrossed at least once. The Saturn, Miatas, Yaris, FASTiva, and Mirage autocrossed A LOT. I've run at least once every month since 1995, and every other week for the past 3-4 years. It's kinda my thing, though not on the same level as your hardcore SCCA national-championship-chasing autocrosser. I'm strictly local, I do it for fun.
I started playing with hypermiling when I bought the Yaris. I know how to play the game, but because I autocross, I can't play the game "long term". (I can get 40+ on the way to an event... and then 9-11 DURING the event, it tends to wreck the average a little bit!) I used to play for "tank averages", but almost every tank includes an autocross any more. Lately, I just look at trip averages and always strive to improve.
The Mirage? After shopping new ones that were advertised at $9995, but actually closer to $12,500 after dealer fees were added and various discounts that I didn't qualify for were removed, I bought a used one August of 2017 with under 30k miles on it for $6800. ($8,000 all-in) I bought it simply because I like quirky little cars, and I really like LIGHTWEIGHT cars. It is the lightest new (or newish) car you can buy in the US right now short of a Smart car or a very used early Lotus Elise. Sub-2000 pounds? Yes, please! I figured I'd give it a shot and see how I could do autocrossing it in mostly stock form. (because it's fun to take a car that's in the SLOWEST class and beat ANYBODY in a higher class... cheap entertainment)
So, I did just that for about 3-4 months. I put adjustable shocks on it, a big rear swaybar, and sticky tires... and it was fun. Surprised a lot of people. In fact, my overall finish position in the Mirage at any given autocross is lovingly(?) referred to as "the line of shame". People are always asking where the line of shame is, and striving to stay above it. Even mostly stock, the car was regularly finishing in the top 1/3 of the results.
Sometime in December, after getting the suspension pretty well tweaked in and starting to get really comfortable with it... I managed to get about 4" of air under the FRONT tire (not uncommon for a FWD car to lift a REAR tire... but when the front tire comes up, now you're on two wheels and well on your way to scuffing the paint your side mirror). I'd gotten 1/2" to 1" on the front before, and that wasn't too scary. But, this was different. I had control of it, so I wasn't really scared of it... but, within 4 seconds of that happening (I have it on video... 4 seconds from "son of a *****" to "well, alright") I decided it was time to go full modified on the suspension and get control of that situation.
I won't go into the details in this intro. But, I made significant modifications to the front suspension, and the car handles AMAZINGLY well now and is very stable. And it's even still fairly comfortable on the street! The line of shame is now in the top 20%, and aiming for the top 10%. With no power, this pretty much requires driving flat out and almost never braking!
My biggest gripe with this car? Well, it's sort of that it's so underpowered. But, really... it's more that it doesn't get GOOD ENOUGH fuel economy for the amount of power that it has. I used to get better MPG out of my similarly modded Yaris, and definitely got better out of the stupid Versa with the CVT that I used to have as a driver's ed car (I'm a driving instructor by day). If I'm going to drive something this slow, I expect 50+ mpg out of it. And I typically get 36-38ish around town... maybe 44-45 on the highway. THAT is my disappointment with this car.
But, it's a hoot to show up at an autocross with 3 cylinders and 74 horsepower and leave the drivers of cars with 3-5x as much power scratching their heads! That is what I was hoping for when I bought it... and with a bit of time and effort, I'm definitely not disappointed with what the car is capable of in spite of its lack of quick acceleration.
Anyway. Happy to be here among small car loving friends.
Don't expect me to read every single thread that comes up. I'll likely try to keep up with the performance sections of the forum. But, feel free to PM me and let me know if there's a new thread that you think I should look at.
Oh, and if you're interested in details of my Mirage, They're All Here. First post is kept pretty current with the latest setup. The rest is an ongoing blog full of nonsense and lies, and maybe the occasional good idea.