Cooper_Tired Reader
April 11, 2016 11:14 p.m.

I came to the conclusion at the beginning of 2016, that this year would finally be the year that I bought something interesting as a DD. I love my Mazda6, but after 7 years and 100,000 miles, the experience has grown stale. I've kicked around several options; (Speed6, FoST, S197) but at the end of the day, I don't want another car payment.

I've long had a soft spot for Miatas, and on paper they make a great DD. I'd convinced my self that I HAD to have the extra 2 doors and 3 seats of the Mazda6 because of our two daughters. However in 3 years, I've hauled both kids in the 6 exactly twice. My wife's Flex handles kid duty. After the wife finally convinced me to 'put up or shut up', I started casually scanning Craigslist and found that I could pick up a decent NB for about the $5,000 max I'd be willing to spend.

So fast forward to Wednesday, and I see this pop up under 'Nearby' on Craigslist.

 photo image_zps4nkhyycs.jpeg

The listing is basic, but states its a 5speed, 55k miles, well maintained and runs well. I immediately text the seller, and find the car is in a small town near Lima, OH. Its about a 2.5hr drive from my house.

I head down to run through the pics with Dave (84FSP) and he, being an enabler is coaxing me to leave that day.

Thursday rolls around and I hear back from the seller to verify the car is rust free, and to answer a few general questions. I set up a time to drive up there to check out the car ASAP as I don't think its going to last. I have no available co-pilot, but I figure its better to get ahold of it first, then worry about a return trip to pick it up.

Friday rolls around and the seller texts me to tell me to bring cash, as there will be no banks open at the time. He also tells me that he is not in the area, and that I'll be dealing with his brother, whom was unmentioned at this point. I start to get a little nervous, but he explains that the car sale is part of an estate.

I run a car fax and the car comes back 2 owners 1 - 1999 to 2005 and 2- 2005 to present.

I review the cars option combination and verify that it should have the Torsen rear.

After getting pics of the title, and verifying with google maps the address given is wher the car was photographed, I roll to the credit union to grab a cashier's check, and try to hammer out the rest of the workday. Dave sends me an IM and lets me know he cancelled his plans, and he is ready to roll out when I am.

We hit the road around 5PM to head north, just in time for the temp to drop below the 40's As we head further north, it starts to snow.

It would seem fitting that I would be heading to buy a used Miata in the dark, in the snow.

We get to the sellers house around 8PM and check the car out.

It turns out that the most recent previous owner was a doctor in this town and used this car as a weekend cruiser and to drive to their lake house in Canada (verified this when I later found a bunch of Canadian change under the seats). He passed away in November and his kids are in from out of town to help settle the estate. They knew very little about the car, other than that he had a local shop maintain it (had receipts), kept it in the garage and covered, and that he bought it from the estate of a friend of his that had passed away in 2005.

The good: It appears to be rust free; the rails are solid, the underside looks like it was undercoated. It was a sunday driver and parked in the garage covered when not in use. No major wear, some maintenance records, newer tires, fluids look good. Everything seems consistent with a 55k mile car. Receipts show coil pack, plugs and wires were changed about 3k miles ago. Car drives, tracks and brakes really well. Its my first time driving a Miata, and I really dig it.

The less good: Its pretty dirty. The previous owner started having health issues about 5 years ago and the car didn't get driven much since then- I suspect that was about the last time it was washed too. Some of the panels were re-sprayed at some point - the sons settling the estate didn't know anything about the repainting. I found no obvious filler or rust repair. The color match was really good in natural and artificial lighting. The only real evidence was over spray on the black trim. The interior was pretty dirty and the seats had really nasty wool covers.

During the test drive, the CEL came on - hooking up the scanner indicated it was a P-0420, which google quickly said was cat or o2 sensor.

I make an offer, and the seller accepts. Dave and I pack up, and drive the 2.5hrs home.

We finally get back home around 11:30PM, in the rain/snow mix

Saturday was a penance day, and I worked around the house all day and night, but did manage to get the car titled in my name and plates

Sunday was more house work, but I snuck out and did a quickie clean on the interior and exterior. It needs a real detail, but it is a great 10 footer:

I found these gems while cleaning out under the seats:

(note the nasty seat covers)

I was also really excited when I found this: (because I dig things like this)

I got really excited when I saw the hardtop listed on the window sticker. I grabbed my phone to send a text to the seller to ask if they came across one anywhere in the garage, or knew what may have happened to it when I found this tucked in the owners manual:

Damn....

It was still cold later that evening, but the missus and I were able to crank the heat up for the first voyage with the top down, heading to Findlay Market to meet up with Mr and Mrs. 84FSP

My face isn't really showing it, but I'm loving the open air driving.

And finally, a pic of 84FSP and I with the car since it was too dark Friday night:

I've started DDing the Miata and I'm loving it so far.

My immediate plans are to:

  • Change all the fluids (they looked good, but better to be sure)

  • Change the timing belt

  • Diagnose and fix the damn chirping that goes away with the slightest pressure on the clutch pedal

  • Diagnose and fix the CEL

  • Diagnose and fix the slow moving drivers side window

  • Fix the passenger side top latch as it doesn't want to lock down

  • Give it a proper detailing

  • Make sure all the top drain lines are clear

After those items are complete, I plan to just enjoy the car. Mrs Cooper doesn't know how to drive a manual, so she's going to learn in the Miata. This summer we are both going to auto cross the car. We will likely do a few small modifications down the road. I've got Keith's Miata project book on order from Amazon, so we'll start there. I tried to convince her that Miata projects make great date nights. I'll keep working on that

I'll use this thread to document some of the projects as well as the exploits of us being newbs to auto crossing. If anyone has any suggestions or tips, I'd love to hear them.

jr02518
jr02518 Reader
April 12, 2016 12:39 a.m.

Congratulations, you are going to enjoy this car. My reference point is a 1995 NA, the build to date is one of running the car in "E" Street with the SCCA. I have installed Koni adjustable shocks, solid Racing Beat front bar with the sway bar mounting blocks and Bridgestone RE-71R's. The 195 50 15's will be available in May, will work on you stock rims and you will find the grip nothing short of epic.

Have fun and keep it on the stock springs.

April 12, 2016 1:05 a.m.

That looks like a very nice original car. Congratulations! NBs are the pretties Miata and Green is the prettiest of the NBs. So you got the prettiest of the prettiest. Shame about the hard top though.

IndyJoe HalfDork
April 12, 2016 8:27 a.m.

Nice Score, Congrats!

A word of warning you may not have noticed, both of the previous owners died while owning this car.... Be careful. LOL !

stuart in mn UltimaDork
April 12, 2016 8:37 a.m.
Cooper_Tired wrote: - Diagnose and fix the damn chirping that goes away with the slightest pressure on the clutch pedal

Hopefully that's not a bad clutch throwout bearing.

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 12, 2016 9:55 a.m.

More likely it's slight movement of the slave cylinder against the clutch arm. Put a dab of grease on the end of the slave cylinder. Takes longer to turn the front wheels to gain access than it does to add the grease.

Cooper_Tired Reader
April 12, 2016 10:16 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: More likely it's slight movement of the slave cylinder against the clutch arm. Put a dab of grease on the end of the slave cylinder. Takes longer to turn the front wheels to gain access than it does to add the grease.

I'll give that a try! Thanks !

Cooper_Tired Reader
April 12, 2016 10:20 a.m.
IndyJoe wrote: Nice Score, Congrats! A word of warning you may not have noticed, both of the previous owners died while owning this car.... Be careful. LOL !

My wife made the same observation!

I'll make sure my life insurance docs are all up to date!

Thanks for the compliments. I'm enjoying it so far. It's made my boring commute more interesting

I've been driving it every day. Just made it through my first tank of gas. Pulled 27.5mpg. I have a feeling that will lower a little once the temp comes up and I start lowering the top

dropstep
dropstep Dork
April 12, 2016 12:15 p.m.

That looks just like the miata i seen in lima a few years ago. Only one ive ever seen in person.

Cooper_Tired Reader
April 12, 2016 12:28 p.m.
dropstep wrote: That looks just like the miata i seen in lima a few years ago. Only one ive ever seen in person.

It could've been.

It had kind of odd custom plates on it.

84FSP HalfDork
April 12, 2016 12:32 p.m.

Glad you got this done! The 84FSP garage is at your disposal lest we wake the Foxbody from it's slumber...

Cooper_Tired Reader
April 12, 2016 12:47 p.m.
84FSP wrote: Glad you got this done! The 84FSP garage is at your disposal lest we wake the Foxbody from it's slumber...

Thanks man! Couldn't have done it without you.

Next time no picking up mannequins though...

Cooper_Tired Reader
April 14, 2016 6:57 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: More likely it's slight movement of the slave cylinder against the clutch arm. Put a dab of grease on the end of the slave cylinder. Takes longer to turn the front wheels to gain access than it does to add the grease.

Just did this when I got home from work, and it seems to have shut it up.

I'll find out for sure when I drive it to work tomorrow.

Started trying to diagnose the CEL.

Hooked up the OBDII scanner 84FSP let me borrow and found that the rear O2 sensor is showing no voltage. I'll start there

Got to looking under the car today, and I think exhaust may be one of my first upgrades.

Anyone have a recommendation?

Keith Tanner MegaDork
April 14, 2016 11:57 p.m.

All of mine start with the letter F.

When reading codes, read the number and not just the description. The factory Miata manuals will give you much better diagnosis and troubleshooting info than a generic description will if you need it.

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