We have seen countless modified Mazda Miatas over the years in many shapes and sizes, but none have been quite as weirdly spectacular as this mean creature built by Tommy Reichelderfer in Covington, Georgia.
Reichelderfer grew up around British roadsters, and worked his way through a string of Miatas before this last project began. Somehow the idea of combining the Miata with his obsession with rat rods, hot rods, muscle cars, and a new-found interest in drifting came about in 2010. Now, after countless hours of bending, tweaking, and fabricating the project appears to be almost finished.
This menacing contraption, whose original name was Piper, began its life as just another average Miata. Then Reichelderfer started tooling away at it. Believe it or not, all of the work other than a bit of wiring, and the welding of the exhaust has been done by Reichelderfer himself.
Photo: David Choe
He is an engine builder by trade, but has learned welding and fabricating in his free time. According to him this mainly involved a whole bunch of experimenting and trial-and-error.
Although it may look like one of those over-the-top ratty show cars, the entire build was remarkably purpose-driven.
“The idea from the time I got the car was to go V8 and lose as much weight/simplify the car as much as possible, but I didn’t know at the time how it would end up looking,” says Reichelderfer.
It wasn’t until the 350ish horsepower Ford 302 engine was fitted and he was out terrorizing the neighborhood without any front sheet metal that he started thinking of the naked hot rod look.
It wasn’t long before Reichelderfer got the idea for a ’32 Ford front end while thumbing through his usual hot rod magazines. There was some concern over it looking a bit goofy at first, but after a bit of messing around with grille and light placement the entire thing came together perfectly.
Photo: David Choe
Reichelderfer says there’s still a bit of work to be done before he will be happy with the car, but as it stands the grille and open nose will stay permanently, as will the bare sheet metal. Rather than applying a clearcoat, he simply chooses to occasionally give the mean machine a quick sanding with fine grit sandpaper. Even in the sweltering Georgia heat and humidity there have been no signs of rust, and he intends to keep it that way.
I’m always impressed when an essentially back-yard project can be completed in such a purposeful and unique fashion. Tommy set out to build a killer lightweight Miata with big power, and he hit that nail square on the head. At the last weigh-in the car had shed a respectable 180 pounds, all while packing nearly four times the power of a stock unit.
The fact that it looks like the coolest “Zero F%$#@ Given” drift king Miata we have ever seen is just bonus points at this stage of the game.