Miata Cold Air Induction
RACING BEAT COLD AIR INTAKE SYSTEM
Last updated: 05-August-98
WHAT IS THIS THING?
The Racing Beat Cold Air Intake (CAI) system as offered by Crazy Red Italian is an affordable performance modification for the Mazda Miata. The package comes in two versions, one for 1.6liter ’90-’93 Miatas, and one for 1.8 liter ’94-’97 models. It works with cruise control but is incompatible with strut tower braces. The CAI replaces the stock air filter and airbox — the large
black plastic box behind the driver’s side headlight — and the air intake snorkel which comes off of the airbox.
The Racing Beat Cold Air Intake (CAI) system as offered by is an affordable performance modification for the Mazda Miata. The package comes in two versions, one for 1.6liter ’90-’93 Miatas, and one for 1.8 liter ’94-’97 models. It works with cruise control but is incompatible with strut tower braces. The CAI replaces the stock air filter and airbox — the largeblack plastic box behind the driver’s side headlight — and the air intake snorkel which comes off of the airbox.This system, which is delivered as a kit, comes with the excellent K&N Filtercharger lifetime cone air filter (with roughly 10 times the intake area of the stock unit), a cast aluminum ‘elbow’, a vaccuum tube, bracing, hardware to hold it all together, and an excellent set of instructions.
There are several reasons to get a CAI system for your car. When your car is running, it needs three things to make it “GO”: Air, Fuel, and Fire. The CAI system improves oxygen-rich cool airflow to the engine thereby making the ‘breathing’ better, and the whole combustion process more efficient.
The result? Better performance. This performance increase manifests itself in more low-end torque, more power for passing & downshifts, and a nice swooshing sound that comes from under the hood during acceleration.
The package is inexpensive (under $200) and gives lots of ‘bang for the buck’. Installation is fairly easy, requires no permanant modification to your car, and can be completed with basic tools. Besides all that, it looks great in your car.
David DeNuzzo (“Crazy Red”) and Frank DeNuzzo (“Crazy Pa”) worked very hard with me to try and get the kit to me before I went on vacation. While it didn’t arrive in time, their help was greatly appreciated. I’ve ordered several things from Crazy Red, and each time have been impressed with their willingness to go the extra mile for me.
This is a fairly simple installation if you do not have cruise control (I don’t have cruise control). If you have cruise control, it adds a couple of steps and some more time to the install, but it is still quite managable. It is a completely ‘reversable’ installation — there is no drilling, cutting, or other permanant modification of any part of the
vehicle. The entire installtion process took me about an hour, and that included stopping several times to double-check the instructions and clean up a little bit. If I had to do it again, I could probably do it in about 30-40 minutes.
The first thing to do is to read the instructions that are included — read them twice. Nothing in there is very difficult, but it’s good to read and have some idea of what you’re doing before you approach the car.
Next collect your tools. You will not need anything special; just 10 & 12mm sockets, a socket wrench, small flat-head screwdriver, phillips-head screwdriver, a couple of towels for cleaning the engine compartment and setting parts on, 10 & 12mm closed-end wrenches, and (probably most important) extenders for your socket set. Extenders of 4″ and 8″ are almost mandatory for the install.
Gather the kit, your tools, some towels, and an empty box (for the parts you remove) and head out to the car.
Broadly speaking, the installation process is this:
- Familiarize yourself with the engine compartment (5 minutes)
- Remove wires that cross over the airbox. (5 minutes)
- Remove the airbox and airflow meter assembly from the car (20 minutes)
- Remove the airbox from the airflow meter (5 minutes)
- Install the CAI onto the airflow meter (5 minutes)
- Install CAI into the car (15 minutes)
- Reattach necessary wires (5 minutes)
The instructions suggest disconnecting the battery, but I decided to live dangerously and leave it connected. No problem there as long as you’re careful.
First, open the hood of the car and take a peek into the engine. The area where the work will be done is just behind the driver’s side headlight. I suggest following the diagram in the instructions and locating and inspecting all the mentioned parts.
You begin by removing the wiring that is around the stock airbox (airbag wiring, airflow meter cabling, etc.). The stock air intake snorkel is loosened, the air tube removed from the other side of the airbox, and the airbox/airflow meter assembly is unbolted from the car.
Once it has been unbolted and examined (to make sure it will come out cleanly), the airbox/airflow meter/snorkel assembly can be removed. This is a slightly tricky part — you’ve got to use both hands and it’s somewhat awkward.
Examine the gaping hole left in the engine compartment, and clean up a few loose bolts, plates, and other remnants from the previous air system before proceeding.
You can then go sit down for the next step. Remove the airbox from the airflow meter and attach the airflow meter to the aluminum elbow. The K&N Filter is attached, the braces configured and attached, and then it’s back to the car to install the new assembly into the car. There is one step in the process when you’re installing nuts onto two bolts that you cannot see. This is the trickiest part of the installation, but it’s not bad even if you drop the nuts (like I did).
Wiring is replaced, everything is checked and tightened down, and then the hood can be carefully lowered. Reattach the battery (if you disconnected it) and you’re ready to go.
Take a look at the engine — notice how nice the unit looks in the compartment. Now fire it up. Be a little disappointed because you won’t hear anything different while the engine idles in your garage.
However, take the car out for a drive and you’ll immediately see that the car exhibits a noticeable increase in power between 3,000 RPM and redline. The engine seems to move more evenly between the gears. Intake growl is present beyond 3,500 RPM and the exhaust note is a bit louder
and deeper too, however I don’t mind one bit. The sound gets you on every shift — the car sounds more aggressive and sporty. It makes me smile every time I press down on the pedal! Throttle response is improved, and some people report a 7-8 HP gain and that torque is noticably improved. I have not yet filled up my car to check the impact (if any) on milage.
This is a nice-looking, inexpensive, easily-installed performance modification for the Miata. I would recommend it highly for those Miata owners who want to beef up the performance of their car for a reasonable price.