Live on the Limit – Performance Radiator R&D, Part 2 – Design Plans

It’s true what they say, failing to plan is planning to fail, especially when it comes to pushing your vehicle to the limits. As we covered in the first post, the MX-5 Miata is designed for being pushed to the ragged edge, and driving so close to a vehicle’s limit requires some preparation. Surely, Mazda put some extensive engineering behind the Miata’s cooling system, but even still, it can have some trouble keeping up once you put the hammer down. When it comes to our radiator design, we plan to improve the NC’s endurance.

Our plan is straightforward and parallels the sports car formula’s simplicity that makes the Miata so successful. We start by ditching the plastic end tanks. This means of end tank construction is ideal for huge production runs because of Mazda’s ability to churn out thousands while reducing production costs, but there are drawbacks. Plastic wears out over time, especially when there’s a constant and extreme fluctuation in temperature. Over the years, this can cause cracks and leaks, which, it’s a known fact that coolant works best when it stays in the system.

We plan to swap the plastic end tanks for a full aluminum construction, TIG-welded to the core. This construction is much more robust and better suited for constant heating cycles. Also, the aluminum end tanks help create a more rigid radiator that can resist chassis flex. We’re opting to retain the factory locations for the inlet and outlet, and mounting fixtures for ease of installation.

The end tanks are only part of the equation, and the factory core was in desperate need of an overhaul. Given the tight space in the front of the Miata, our engineer, Dan, wasn’t able to make many adjustments to the height or length to the planned design, so he focused on other aspects to improve cooling. Core thickness became the main focus in that case, and Dan is planning on adding about 18mm to the width of our new design. With the extra thickness, that means plenty of space to add a second row of internal coolant passages for a more efficient radiator.

When it comes to the fins, the plan is also reasonably simple. We’re already planning on retaining the same louvered design to add even more heat dissipation power to the new core. Other than that, the plan is to pack as many in the same space as we can. Dan is making precision adjustments to the fin design that would allow for some serious fin cramming. Coupled with the increased core volume, we anticipate plenty of additional cooling power for the Miata.

So far, our plan has only made it as far as our fitment prototype to ensure proper fitment. With the design finalized, our first run of production samples are on the way to our R&D facility, so make sure that you stick around for the first look at our new NC Miata radiator.

Thanks for Reading!

-Nick

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