Time Is Not Of The Essence – Vu Ho’s 1999 Mazda Miata

The first time I met Vu was at a Kinod meet in Cerritos several months back. I remembered our conversation that night about him building his first Miata. Vu told me he never built a car before, in his entire life, and was looking for inspiration. I can relate with Vu because I’m also constantly seeking for inspiration to build my own car. I’ve watched the progress of his Miata from the humble beginnings to where his car sits today. And I have to admit, even I am inspired by his Miata, with wishes to build my own NB some day.

A journey is not without its obstacles and at times, disappointments. After months of planning, collecting parts, prepping, cleaning, installing, bruised knuckles, cut up fingers and hands, countless swearing and to finally get the motor fired up and running, within minutes later, the motor let go. The culprit: oil was not coming through from one of the oil squirters. One of the rod bearings were making metal-to-metal contact on the crank, and the block went bye-bye. A heartbreak like this can set many people back, but not for Vu. He continued moving forward, sourced a used block from a fellow Miata owner and had his engine builder put the motor back together asap.

On the surface, you see a clean, white Miata rolling on old school styled, new Work Equip 40’s. Brand spanking new set of OEM headlights, Ikon Motorsports front lip, OEM side skirts, OEM rear mudguards, Car Make Corn’s retro side mirrors, Shinkai ducktail rear spoiler, and Garagestar front tow hook and their license plate holder. His suspension bits are on a whole another level with custom Fatcat Motorsports coilovers, 949 Racing endlinks, Energy Suspension bushings, Cobalt rear strut brace, Flyin Miata sway bars, frame rails, butterfly brace and Paco fender braces. I’ve sat in his car many times, and the suspension and handling of his car is on point.

The interior is a wonderful place to be especially on long, serene drives. Inside you will find Car Make Corn’s bucket seats, Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel, a bunch of Jass Performance bits, with several custom Revlimiter parts such as vent rings, shift plate and Stirling gauge faces enclosed in a beautiful retro KG Works Gauge cluster. Retromodern USA also contributed to the clean and classic interior with a light dim switch, hazard surround and button, odometer reset knob and the beautiful custom knurled HVAC knobs. Other parts to note include custom Cocomats, Cobalt aluminum pedals, LRBSpeed aluminum door panels and Zoom Engineering rear view mirror. Roll over protection comes in the form of a Blackbird Fabworx roll bar trimmed with a custom cover by Hard Dog Fabrication.

His engine is definitely worthy of mention not only because of how clean it is, but with a laundry list of parts. Starting with an NB1 cylinder head mated to an NB2 block. Engine breathing begins with an Autoexe cold air intake, through a custom bored v-tapered Miata throttle body, and to the head via a Skunk2 intake manifold. Carbon is expensed by a custom ceramic coated Maxim header, FM high flow cat, and out by a Car Make Corn’s muffler. Timing and fuel is controlled by a Maruha Dimsport Rapid unit putting down 136 hp with 125 lbs. of torque on a Mustang dyno with a couple of pulls. Plenty more power to be extracted throughout the rev range with more fine tuning. Upon closer inspection you will also see many custom parts including a wrinkle black powdercoated OEM valve cover, Garagestar water pump and alternator pulleys, and FM radiator. Other rare parts include the beautiful green Mazdaspeed spark plug cables and Maruha radiator cap. Many hours were spent in cleaning, prepping and tidying up his engine bay and the results show for themselves.

Vu’s 1999 Mazda Miata has definitely inspired me and I hope his car can serve as a benchmark to inspire other NB owners. Vu has proven and shown that time is not of the essence, but only to prove that time and patience is a virtue. And as long as one continues that onerous journey, eventually that dream and vision will come to light.

Now scroll down and check out the beautiful photos of Vu’s Miata!

Photographer:  Nico N. @nico.mx5

Writer: Kevin Truong
Owner:  Vu Ho
Location:  Laguna Hills, California
Instagram:  @normalguymx5
1999 Mazda Miata
Engine mods:
1.8L NB1 Head
1.8L NB2 Block
Maxim Header – ceramic coated
Flyin Miata High Flow Cat Midpipe
Autoexe Cold Air Intake
Skunk2 Intake Manifold
Car Make Corn’s Exhaust
Mazdaspeed Spark Plug Wires
Maruha DIMsport Piggy-back ECU
Flyin Miata Brake Stopper
Flyin Miata Strut Tower Brace Bar
Power Steering Delete
KAinjection AC Bracket
Windshield Fluid Bottle Delete
Mishimoto Silicone Heater Hoses
1.8 GarageStar Water Pump/Alternator Pulleys – powder coated black
1.8 OEM Mazda Crank Pulley
Flyin Miata Aluminum Radiator with Dual Slim Fans – powder coated black
Cappuccino Windshield Fluid Tank as Coolant Overflow Tank
949Racing Coolant Reroute
Mazdaspeed Coolant Cap 1.3 Bar
Moroso Air-Oil Separator
949Racing Solid Mount and Mazdaspeed Engine Mount
Braided Clutch Line
New OEM Clutch Master and Slave Cylinders
New OEM Brake Master Cylinder
Mazdaspeed Oil Cap
GarageStar Radiator Cooling Plate – Wrinkle Black
GarageStar Cowl Cover – Wrinkle Black
Injectors Clean and Balance
New OEM Timing Belt and Tensioner
New OEM Fuel Pump
MiataRoadster Magnetic Oil Drain Bolt
Oil Pressure Sensor
New OEM Knock Sensor
Transmission and Differential mods:
5 Spd NB Transmission
Rebuilt Rear Axles
Energy Suspension Polyurethane Differential Bushings
Exedy Racing Clutch
Fidanza 8.3 lbs Flywheel
MiataRoadster Magnetic Grain Bolt (Trans and Diff)
MiataRoadster Shifter Rebuild Kit
Nardi Wood Deep Corn 350mm Steering Wheel
Works Bell Short Steering Hub
Works Bell Rapfix Quick Release
Vertex Single Stalk Extension – lightened
JassPerformance Key Surround
JassPerformance Radio Surround
JassPerformance Shifter Surround
JassPerformance Blank Plate
JassPerformance HVAC Plate
Revlimiter Retro 5-spd Shift Plate
Revlimiter Vent Rings
Revlimiter Stirling Gauge Face
Painted Gauge Needle
KGWorks Gauge Cluster
Aluminum Needle Cap
RetroModern Light Dim Switch
RetroModern Hazard Surround and Button
RetroModern Odometer Reset Knob
RetroModern HVAC Knobs
Cobalt Aluminum Pedals
Original CocoMats Floor Mats
LRBSpeed Aluminum Door Panels – powder coated black
Custom Leather Wrist Watch Door Pulls
Car Make Corn’s Seats
Car Make Corn’s Seat Brackets
Zoom Engineering Rear View Mirror
Miata Roadster Tall/Angled Short Shifter
GoMiata Leather Shift Boot
VooDoo Hand Brake Lever and Shift Knob
JassPerformance Hand Brake Button
Royal Clover Wood Key
Zoom Infinity Gold/Black Key
Blackbird Fabworx Roll Bar
Custom Hard Dog Roll Bar Cover
Airbags Delete
New OEM Headlights
Ikon Motorsports Front Lip
Car Make Corn’s Side Mirrors
Shinkai Ducktail Spoiler
GarageStar Front Tow Hook
GarageStar License Plate Holder
OEM Small Side Skirts
OEM Rear Mudguards
Front Babyteeth Delete
Work Equip40 15×8
Volk MTE37 15×8
SSR/Watanabe 15×7.5
FatCat Motorsports Custom Valved Bilstein Coilovers
949Racing Endlinks
Energy Suspension Polyurethane Bushings
Cobalt Rear Strut Tower Brace
Flyin Miata Sway Bars Front
Front Swap Bar Support
Flyin Miata Frame Rails
Flyin Miata Butterfly Brace
PACO Fender Braces
SS Brake Lines
Porterfield R4-S Pads
Flyin Miata Brake Booster Brace
Soon – NB SPORT Brake upgrade
How did you get in to Miatas?
I had a 1990 Miata in 1995 and had a blast with it until I had to sell for some cash for college.  Went on to an S2000 in 2000 and then to another AP2 S2K in 2005 but lost it in 2007.  I went without a convertible for 10 years and made up my mind to get one in 2017. The only car that made sense for me during the search was the NB1 miata. So here I am with one and a whole new world has opened up to me with all the miata enthusiasts on Instagram. What a great community!
How long have you owned the car?
Since July 2017
How long did it take you to build?
I took me six months to get all the parts and 3 months to install all of the parts. Then I did a 15 minute test drive and the engine gave out.  Took me 1 month to find an NB2 motor and another 3 months to put everything back together.
What is your intent with the car?
To create a car that gives me the sensation of speed to get the adrenaline pumping without being dangerous.  At first it is for canyons, autox and some track days and I guess that is still true.  Now I really want to learn how to drive correctly with on track lessons to become a better driver. Once I feel that I can handle the car, I would like to enter to one of those city to city rally, like the old school Carrera, Tour De France and Mille Miglia.
The funny thing is that the car is constantly changing because there are so many options out there for the miata. Who knows in a couple of years what this car will look like.  I hope that it will remain the same in spirit.
Is this your daily driver or weekend car?
Weekend car and will not be a garage queen.
What are your future plans/goals with the car?
Interior needs a little more love.  The car style is where I want with the Equip40 but I will need to get new modern aero bits to match the MTE37.

This is my first project car and before this project I own two screw drivers and no hands-on experience in wrenching.  Big thanks to my cousin John (@johnhoindigo) for his vision, guidance, time and tools to help me get the car to where it is now. Thanks to Carpassionchannel and Gearheads YouTube channels for being there as a safety net when I forget how to reinstall parts.  This happens more often than I can remember. Thanks to Spirit Road and Car Make Corn’s USA for opening my eyes to so many cool products.  Thanks to Kinod (Pete and John) for being so welcoming and giving me an opportunity to see all variety of Miatas for inspiration. Thanks to all the nice and helpful people on Instagram for your comments and suggestions.  Last but not least, thanks to my family for support when things didn’t go well with installation and encouragement to keep pushing forward. Someone once said, “You only stop learning when you die” and I’m always learning new things with this car and will probably need some of you to help me out in the future.