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Thread: Hi, my name is Loren. I own a Mirage.

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    Still Plays With Cars Loren's Avatar
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    Hi, my name is Loren. I own a Mirage.

    Hey, y'all.

    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.



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    Senior Member Cobrajet's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard!

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    Moderator Eggman's Avatar
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    Hello Loren and welcome to the forum. Thanks for sharing.

    Have you installed a roll bar? I scanned through your thread but didn't notice it.
    Last edited by Eggman; 05-01-2018 at 09:08 AM.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 49.9 mpg (US) ... 21.2 km/L ... 4.7 L/100 km ... 59.9 mpg (Imp)


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    Still Plays With Cars Loren's Avatar
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    No roll bar. Autocross is a low-speed motorsport. I rarely exceed 60 mph. Typically never get out of 2nd gear, which is right about 55 in the Mirage. I trust that the car is sufficiently built that I'm not going to die in a simple 60 mph rollover. (I am wearing a seatbelt and a helmet, after all.) I'm actually more concerned about my investment in the car than I am about getting hurt.

    Besides, the point of the car is that it's LIGHT. Adding 200 pounds of rollbar would negate some of that!

    Rather than adding a roll bar and planning for a rollover, I opted to correct the suspension to make the car much less likely to roll over. Photos below show what I'm talking about. This is the car at full suspension load the day after I bought it, in January after putting the coilover kit on it, and about a week ago after a lot of custom suspension mods.

    Before: (people were literally afraid to watch this car autocross)


    After Initial Lowering: (with grippy tires, it could still lift a front tire)


    After Suspension Geometry Correction: (little bit of typical FWD rear wheel lift, but the front stays planted and stable)

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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren View Post
    ...a big rear swaybar, and sticky tires...
    What wheels/tires and swaybar are you running?


    ...I managed to get about 4" of air under the FRONT tire...
    After looking at your pictures, I think I would have been running for cover if I was a spectator.


    My biggest gripe with this car...
    ...it doesn't get GOOD ENOUGH fuel economy for the amount of power that it has.
    ...I expect 50+ mpg out of it.
    ...I typically get 36-38ish around town... maybe 44-45 on the highway
    You can get 50+ mpg out of these cars, but only under the right driving conditions. If you do a lot of stop/go city driving, it's going to be tough. With the traffic in your area, it's going to be a challenge. These cars do the best when you keep them moving and you limit your freeway speed. You aren't going to get 50+ mpg rolling down I-75 at 80mph..or riding the clutch in a traffic jam. Another thing that hurts the fuel economy in these cars is running the air conditioner. I know that's tough not to do where you live...but it's probably costing you close to 10%.


    I live in Florida, right between Tampa Bay (not the city, the actual bay!) and Clearwater.
    I travel to Safety Harbor every once in a while...so you can't be too far from there.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.5 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.9 mpg (Imp)


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    Administrator Daox's Avatar
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    Welcome to the site Loren! I love the work you've done with the car. I especially like your rear sway bar, its very similar in design to my own sway bar I made.

    Custom Mirage products: Cruise control kit, Glove box light, MAF sensor housing, Rear sway bar, Upper grill block

    Current project: DIY Nitrous oxide setup for ~$100

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage DE 1.2 manual: 45.4 mpg (US) ... 19.3 km/L ... 5.2 L/100 km ... 54.6 mpg (Imp)


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    I spent a good half day reading your posts Loren. Amazing what you're doing with your Mirage. A true inspiration to what I'd like to do with mine.

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage DE 1.2 manual: 43.9 mpg (US) ... 18.7 km/L ... 5.4 L/100 km ... 52.7 mpg (Imp)


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    Still Plays With Cars Loren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Fuel View Post
    What wheels/tires and swaybar are you running?
    The entire setup is listed in the first post here: http://drivefast.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2932

    Wheels are Advanti Storm S1 15x7, 35 offset. Tires are 195/50-15 Dunlop Direzza ZIII. The rear tires rub on the fenders very slightly. (I'm trying to solve that by adjusting the ride height and suspension travel so that it just doesn't go there, but I really ought to try rolling the fenders a bit) There's room on the inside to run a more negative offset wheel, even a 38 would probably clear. The fronts don't rub the fender, but they do rub somewhere on the inside a little bit at full lock. (generally not a problem) To fit the 205's that I really want to run (the class I compete in is limited to 205's... so that's what all my competition is on) I'll need to roll the rears and maybe run a 5mm or 1/4" spacer in the front. But, for the moment, everything is peachy.

    The rear swaybar is a custom piece. Hollow bar. I forget the dimensions. It's in the thread.

    You can get 50+ mpg out of these cars
    As mentioned, I know how to play the game. I was hitting 47 on my drive home when I bought it. (I picked it up 3 hours away) Haven't touched that since! The environment that I drive in is a factor. But, I also swapped the 165 LRR tires for 195 super-sticky tires within a week of buying the car. That's probably at least 3-5%. And the thing I often forget to correct for is that the 195's are also 3-4% TALLER than stock. So, I'm actually covering more distance than the car's computer thinks I am. I could probably add 3-4% to the 45 mpg that I sometimes see on the highway now... and that would put me in a reasonable place.

    BUT... I have to work REALLY hard and put up with this underpowered POS... just to get barely 50 mpg? Not a fan of that. On the flip side, while I personally feel a little disappointed when I see 36-38 mpg driving around town... it's really EXCELLENT, it's just that I want more. My other car is an S10 with a big thirsty V8 that gets 11 mpg no matter how I drive it. (okay, I can get 14 on the highway if I try) So, really... it's about managing expectations, I suppose.

    For the pseudo-sports car that my Mirage has become, I really shouldn't complain. All of my friends who drive cars that get 18-24 mpg in the city just roll their eyes when I complain about "only" getting 36!

    I travel to Safety Harbor every once in a while...so you can't be too far from there.
    I live in Safety Harbor! Right around the corner from Philippe Park. But, nobody knows where that is, so I tend to reference Clearwater.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daox View Post
    Welcome to the site Loren! I love the work you've done with the car. I especially like your rear sway bar, its very similar in design to my own sway bar I made.
    Thanks! Every bit of info you had out there about the rear swaybar back about August, I read and considered. It really is the simplest way to go. Sort of like the one you can order from the Phillipines or wherever, only without the complication of bends, and with beefier brackets.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2of9 View Post
    I spent a good half day reading your posts Loren. Amazing what you're doing with your Mirage. A true inspiration to what I'd like to do with mine.
    Glad you enjoyed.

    PM me if you have any questions. It's really stunning how cheap a lot of these mods can be if you have access to an angle grinder, a drill press, and a welder! Of course, you do have to take the time to research and understand what you're doing, and do some math and careful planning. The only thing I spent significant money on (besides wheels and tires) is the coilover kit.

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    Senior Member Top_Fuel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren View Post
    The entire setup is listed in the first post here: http://drivefast.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2932
    Holy smokes!

    There's so much info to digest in there I'm going to have to grab a beverage and re-read it a few more times. Love the videos!!!

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 51.5 mpg (US) ... 21.9 km/L ... 4.6 L/100 km ... 61.9 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Subcompact Culture's Avatar
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    Hey, Loren! Glad you found your way to Mirage Forum!

    - Andy



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