Timo Main moneypit monkey

Oops, I bought another NA Miata

Oops, I bought another NA Miata

It’s about four years since I sold my last NA, which I swore would be the last one I would ever own. Same thing with the one before that, and the one before that. Oh yeah. And the one before that. Clearly I’m good at sticking to the resolution of never ever buying another NA Miata.

This one came about in a somewhat roundabout way - the Miatas at Laguna Seca “hey, it’s only a few weeks until the registration opens” email dropped. I asked my wife if she wanted to go as we had attended before but had to skip last year and she said “yes, but I don’t think we should take the ND”. Ah well, guess that means I have to go shopping then.

The parameters were simple - I wanted to start out with a nice example, ideally unmolested and straight. Finding somewhat bent ones with welded diffs for cheap isn’t hard out here, but the nicer cars either got snapped up quickly or the people who were trying to sell them couldn’t be bothered to actually, like, do any selling. Oh, and it would be nice if I could find a white one.

On a hunch I followed up on a CL ad with no pictures that appeared to be written by a literate adult. Car and owner sounded good over the phone - between the owner I bought it from and the previous PO who was a friend of the seller, together they had owned it for 22 years. I decided to take an unusual risk, grab cash and make a Sunday trip into the wilds to look at said Miata.

Got lucky that I managed to find a U-Haul car trailer locally as the local U-Haul was close to out of any type of trailer other than car trailers.

So what do we have here?

Home But Dusty, first picture

Home and dusty, second picture

Dusty engine bay

A rather dusty 1990 base model Miata, that is. Power nothing, no AC either. 113k miles on the clock with a documented timing belt change at 106. It looked bone stock at first glance other than the rims, but it’s got a couple of aftermarket accessories that I’ll probably remove, plus what feels like a proper LSD - well, the seller does live on a dirt road and thought it would be rude to not demonstrate the LSDness. Heck, it has an unbroken air guide and undertray!

It has had a good quality respray so no flaking paint on outer surfaces. Roof looks OEM and serviceable, but I suspect it’s been replaced at least once. Minimal lifter tick on startup, revs little the happy little 1.6L it is, decent oil pressure.

So what’s the plan?

First, do a bit of catch up maintenance - it needs surprisingly little, but the gearbox tells me it wants MTL, the shifter will want a rebuild, the window regulators want attention, the tired glow worms in the front want replacing and it needs a good clean. Oh, and I need to check over the brakes as they look and feel like they won’t be long for this world. Standard stuff I’ve done a bunch of times on Miatas.

Second stage is going to be getting the car trackable and add some reliability mods:

  • Rollbar is high on the list. Really liked my Blackbird Fabworx GT3 so I suspect there’ll be another one ordered soon
  • New radiator - the old one is slightly bent and while it doesn’t leak I don’t trust something like that on the track. I’ll probably go oversize for N/A with something that’s good enough to track even with a turbo.
  • 1.8L brake conversion. Because I want to, and because there is likely more power in its future.
  • Suspension - it doesn’t feel like it but at this mileage I expect it to want bushes and shocks. Looks like I’ll be turning to FM for that - probably going to keep it simple and put Konis with lowering springs on it.
  • Spruce up the interior a bit and hopefully source a hardtop
  • Do something about the ugly Momo wheels on the car
  • Put in the Momo Prototipo that’s been hanging on my garage wall since I sold my last Miata

Third stage will involve boost. I’m pretty sure I want to go turbo after having owned a turbo NA (badly built by a “forum expert”) in the past, but do it right this time. As I don’t want to piece anything together, this is likely going to be another expensive call to FM.

The alternative third stage would involve a high compression 1.8 swap and ITBs, because who doesn’t want less power for more money?