Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 8:54 a.m.

Went to the Carlisle import/kit car show August 14 and 15. 

On Friday, I spotted a green TR7 coupe on a trailer in the vendor spaces and got to talking with the seller, who has an auto museum in Philadelphia. As we talked about other cars, he mentioned he had a 3rd gen Miata without a motor but in otherwise good shape for $800. All of the ancillaries that were pulled with the motor were boxed up, etc. 

I took his info, but was a bit skeptical. The pics seemed too good to be true - nearly perfect paint? on a car outside? Even the headlights weren't milky from sun. I explained that this would be a car for the wife and I'd have to talk with her. 

After seeing the photos she was very interested and approved the buy. So we arranged inspection and likely pickup for 8/23....

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 9:02 a.m.

Initial photos from the seller:

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 9:13 a.m.

So I pulled $800 out of the bank, loaded up the tow dolly, and headed out, prepared to walk away from the sale if things weren't at least close to as pictured. After all, it *is* an automatic... It looked like the interior was pretty well beat on - though I think it's actually an issue with some of the materials' reaction to certain hand lotions / etc. I saw that on the door pull for the Phoenix as well. 

Greased the hubs on the tow dolly, checked tire pressures, grabbed straps & tire inflator and off we went.

When we arrived, the seller was there, with signed title & photocopies of owner's drivers license front & back for title processing. The car looked great!

Turns out the seller bought it in 2008, with 1000 miles on it. Then something happened in 2017. Possibly engine run with no oil? and the engine and transmission were pulled to repair / replace. For much of the past 3 years, it's been stored inside, and all of the removed boxed parts were kept inside. 

In the *very* short term, I'm going to borrow the nose & driver's fender so I can drive the Phoenix while finishing those and painting them.

 

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 9:16 a.m.

As picked up yesterday:

Also included - the auto transmission, stainless exhaust center section, powerplant brace, driveshaft (SO LIGHT!) frame braces, and lots of engine ancillaries, hoses, plastic, etc. 

The engine bay is pretty much a blank slate. 

 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/24/20 9:20 a.m.

Nice!

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/24/20 9:27 a.m.

Is this a candidate for the 2.5 swap that's had articles written?

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 9:29 a.m.

So - now for some brainstorming:

The wife wants creature comforts like AC. (AC hardware is with the car). She's never driven an automatic Miata, but enjoys driving the manuals. Still not 100% sure what "fun car" will mean for her:  Beach trips? Drives with a girlfriend? both likely. Autocrossing or Challenge participation? Maaaaaybe.  Fun with more Smiths at more motorsports events? I hope so.

Easy answer: find a wadded up NC1 manual with lots of body damage; transplant engine & transmission. Enjoy. 

But I'm open to other answers:

  • Find a wadded up NC1 with FM supercharger setup? Prolly a pipe dream. 
  • Send the shell out to FM or someone else and have a swap done? It's an option. 
  • Get a 2.5 and mate it to the auto box?
  • Find 2.5 and manual conversion stuff?
  • Other powertrain options.....? (Here's where you all shine)

 

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 9:33 a.m.
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) said:

Is this a candidate for the 2.5 swap that's had articles written?

Beat me to it. Maybe. The biggest thing holding me back (besides time and money...) is that it is something I will "own" the problems of.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 10:04 a.m.

Really nice find Greg, amazing what you find that is not advertised! Here are my thoughts.

  • Easy and cheap - stock 2.0 and automatic
  • Easy but more complex - manual conversion and 2.0 (computer may be the biggist issue here)
  • Still easy but much more satisfiying - 2.5 and manual conversion (again, may have issues with the electronics)
  • Any other engine swap - not easy, not cheap

Answer probably depends upon budget and when you want it on the road. The first two options have you back on the road in a few weekends of work and for the cost of finding parts, a 2.0 and automatic are probably quick and easy to find since they are not in demand. Here is some good info to read on the auto to manual conversion process. https://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=637138

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
8/24/20 10:15 a.m.

2.5 plus whatever transmission your wife thinks would be best?  It doesn't seem like you need this thing back together ASAP so why not spend a little time looking for deals on whatever makes her happiest?  2.5 + five speed manual sounds nice to me but do not pay any actual attention to that as I'm completely out of my depth here.

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 4:24 p.m.

The GM Ecotec 2.4 intrigues me:
https://drivermod.ca/2016/03/29/miata-engine-swaps/

I don't have any familiarity with it, and a stock 2.0 isn't *that* far down on power..... but hm. http://speed.academy/mazda-miata-2-4l-chevy-ecotec-swap-pt-1/

.......aaaaand after the long term review https://drivermod.ca/2018/04/19/two-years-later-the-ecotec-miata-swap-reviewed/ it's not something that would win brownie points with her. 

 

So 2.0 or 2.5 and transmission TBD. 5, 6, or auto... we shall see. 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
8/24/20 4:41 p.m.

Ignoring costs and not doing a lot of research, a Honda K20 seems more appealing vs. an Ecotec.  Seems more Miata-like vs. the sorta-truck-like Ecotec.  But from what you've outlined, a stock 2.0 or a 2.5 Mazda/Ford seems like the easy button to get the car you want per shared requirements.

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/24/20 5:19 p.m.


it's hungry

sevenracer
sevenracer Reader
8/24/20 9:03 p.m.

A 2.5 and whatever transmission your wife prefers would be my vote.  A friend of mine did a 2.5 swap with cams and a tune and he loves it.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/25/20 7:58 a.m.

I already suggested over text, but I'll suggest here for everyone. 1UZFE. Keep it automatic and you can just find a cheap donor car LS400 or whatever. "Easy."

AaronT
AaronT New Reader
8/25/20 12:04 p.m.

Another vote for 2.5 swap. I think it's just about plug'n'play as a swap can be.

If I were a betting man I'd guess the plastic, pressurized coolant expansion reservoir cracked and caused catastrophic overheating.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
8/25/20 1:21 p.m.

To do the 2.5 swap you'll still need to find a 2.0 because several parts are needed for transfer to the 2.5. It's still the best option, you'll have a near stock Miata with extra grunt. There really isn't any downside to it.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/25/20 2:25 p.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

To do the 2.5 swap you'll still need to find a 2.0 because several parts are needed for transfer to the 2.5. It's still the best option, you'll have a near stock Miata with extra grunt. There really isn't any downside to it.

While other engine swaps sound more exciting, you are engineering all the rest of the pieces. The 2.5 keeps the steering, exhaust, cooling, transmission, drive shaft, etc.... so beyond the 2.5 and getting the oil pan, intake and a manual transmission and PTF from a 2.0, this is the easiest swap other than keeping it 2.0 and finding a wrecked 2.0 manual car for all the parts.

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/27/20 10:37 a.m.
AaronT said:

Another vote for 2.5 swap. I think it's just about plug'n'play as a swap can be.

If I were a betting man I'd guess the plastic, pressurized coolant expansion reservoir cracked and caused catastrophic overheating.

I'm told it ran out of oil. But <shrug> who knows for sure? A backstory is just a story...

2.5 sounds attractive, but for now, I'm looking for totalled 2006-2009 manual 2.0s with low miles. 

https://www.copart.com/lot/46144640/salvage-2007-mazda-mx-5-miata-pa-philadelphia looks attractive....

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/28/20 12:05 p.m.

I see it sold, are you headed back to Philly to get it?

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/28/20 5:42 p.m.

https://www.copart.com/lot/44660490/salvage-2008-mazda-mx-5-miata-me-lyman maybe. $1200 to ship (but then i can have it dropped at my driveway).

$0 bid so far.

43,000 miles (which would put it right near the Phoenix in drivetrain miles at this point) I wonder how low a bid would win this?

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