The Miata Project Begins

miata

When Craig and I met, we were both pretty into cars.  I was deep into my old turbo legacy wagon (I love station wagons) and Craig had  (at the time) pretty fancy BMW M3.  We did a number of autocross events (driving around a course of cones in a parking lot). When I realized that my poor old station wagon didn’t make a good race car, I eventually decided to sell it and bought an ’86 corvette.  We did a track school and Craig did a number of track days afterwards.  When we bought our house 8 years ago, car stuff got put on a back burner. We finally have the time and money to start tinkering again.  After Craig and I did high performance driving schools the last month, the bug has bitten us again.

miata

miata

The real issue with taking a “high performance” car to a road course style racetrack is cost.  On a car like Craig’s  2015 Mustang(heavy and high horsepower), you burn through part of a set of tires and brake pads, and replacement tires and brakes for a car like the Mustang are pretty expensive.  Factor in the wear and tear on the car, the fees to use the track, and the cost of track insurance (unless you feel confident that you won’t put your daily driven new car into a wall), and you’re up near $1000 for a single day of driving.  It’s crazy expensive.   That’s where the Miata comes in.  Miatas are fairly cheap, their parts are cheap, they’re tiny and super light so in addition to the wheels and tires and brakes being tiny and cheap, the car goes through a whole heck of a lot less of them.  Add to that – they handle phenomenally.  They even have entire racing series devoted to them.

miata

miata

miata

Anyway, we were on the lookout for a little Miata to pick up.  We have an older subaru that we rarely drive anymore, and found this white one with a hard top and roll bar on Craigslist.  The guy wanted either cash or an automatic all wheel drive sedan in trade.  Luckily, we happened to have a sedan matching that description just sitting in our driveway collecting pollen.  Craig set up the meeting and we went from there.  The Miata was/is a basket case, but it runs and drives fine, and most of the stuff that’s wrong with is cosmetic or something that we would want to replace anyway.  The guy couldn’t believe the deal he was getting, and we were happy not to have to deal with listing and selling the car and dealing with a whole pile of weirdos from Craigslist and not pay any tax (in WA, you only pay tax on things you buy, and since no money changed hands, no taxes).  It worked out well for both of us.

miata

The worst part about this car besides the mismatched wheels with backwards tires worn all the way down to the steel belts is the “paint.”  The previous owner had sprayed the entire body of the car with a coating called plastidip.  In theory it’s a pretty great product.  Applied skillfully and thick enough, it is a rubbery coating with a smooth matte finish that is “easily” removable.  Applied by a lazy college student that didn’t seem interested in doing masking off or prep work of any kind, it’s not that great of a finish.  He used about half as much as he should have, and as a result, it wasn’t thick enough to peel off on most of the car.  Additionally, it had a really rough texture that managed to collect mold and mildew.  It was pretty awful.

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miata

My favorite part of the car was the “CRUSH ON THIS” sticker on the passenger window.  Unfortunately it spent less than 5 minutes in the driveway the night we brought it home before the sticker was removed.  No worries though, I rescued it and it’s on the vacuum cleaner now.

CRUSH ON THIS

The wheels and tires are horrendous. The rear wheels are off of a celica and the bolt pattern doesn’t match the Miata, so the previous owner put spacers on with a different lug pattern to take the wheels.  So the rear wheels stick out way too far.  The fronts aren’t much better.  They’re an appalling basket weave design, and the tires are mounted backwards on them.

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miata

The entire suspension will need to be replaced.  The kid put $400 eBay coilovers on it, and they are awful.  Based on the state of the rest of the car, numerous other suspension items will need to go on as well.  I have a feeling we’re just going to need to go through and replace most of it.  Following that, we can get it aligned and then put on the new wheels and tires we’ve ordered.

miata

miata

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