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ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
4/20/20 7:31 p.m.

Why the World Car? Because it's an Italian roadster, sold by an American company (FCA), manufactured by a Japanese company (Mazda) with an Italian engine, and is an evolution of the classic British roadster.

Almost four years ago my wife and I read a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. The concept of being debt free really struck a chord with us and we started getting drastic. Part of this was selling my 2014 Mazda6 (excellent car, highly recommended, especially with the manual transmission) and the $10,000 in debt associated with it. I used some of the equity from selling it to buy a 2002 Dodge Neon R/T. Both pictured here when I bought the Neon.

The goal with the Neon was for it to be cheap and reliable while we paid off debt and then started saving for it's replacement. And it has succeeded at that. In the past 4 years we paid off all of our debt, including the mortgage, and saved up just under 10x Challenge budget to buy my next car. And just in time too. When I jacked up the Neon to swap to the summer wheels last week the jack and the pinch weld went up, but the car didn't. surprise Rust was talking over. You can see it peeking out below the R/T rocker panels and the rear wheel well in this picture I took today.

Goodbye Neon. You were cheap, mostly reliable, tiny, occasionally sporty, and overall merely sufficient at being a car. On to your replacement.

After much research, and thinking, a few test drives, and at least one Excel spreadsheet, I had figured out what I wanted:

  • 2017 or newer Fiat 124 Spider
  • Manual transmission
  • Lusso trim level for the 17" wheels and heated seats
  • All three option packages (Convenience Group, Navigation & Sound Group, and Visibility Group). I needed the blind spot monitors from the first, wanted the Bose stereo from the second, and really wanted the upgraded lights from the third.
  • Not painted black or red

Yeah. Talk about a very narrow market. Nationally there are perhaps 8 available, compared to the 30-40 similarly equipped Mazda MX-5. I was perfectly ok with doing a fly-n-drive or drive-n-drive to go get the car, but I got lucky. Six weeks ago I found what I wanted just 100 miles from home. It was even slightly under budget and painted an interesting Titanium Bronze Metallic. I contacted the dealer, but they had already voluntarily shut their doors even before the mandatory shelter-in-place orders came out. Gah. 

Then last week while browsing cars dot com and Autotrader for other 124s I noticed that the lead picture for that car had been updated:

"Open for online sales" you say? Well, I'm on a computer and online.... Less than an hour later I had contacted a salesperson, negotiated a price, and scheduled an appointment for a test drive and inspection. That was today.

The car looked good. The color wasn't as brown as I expected. It had a small collection of used car bumps and bruises from 20,000 miles of use. But man is it fun to drive. And the turbo noises! (Those need to be a bit louder. There is an exhaust in this car's future.) I handed over a large cashier's check, signed some papers, called my insurance, and exchanged keys.

Now for the only part of the transaction that I was worried about; would the two-piece RaceRamp that I brought to look under the car fit in the trunk?

Just barely. wink

Plans for this car? Capable daily driver and autocrosser. Disinfect and clean it. Screw down the rocker panels that apparently fall off when you hit a cone. Pneumatic hood struts from Flyin Miata. Maybe repainting the silver accents around the car in copper. And as money allows: wheels and tires, an exhaust, shocks and lowering springs, sway bars, and maybe some engine parts for more power. We'll see.

I know one thing for sure. This is going to be fun!

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/20/20 7:58 p.m.

Awesome! And congrats on debt free, that must feel great. 

 

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
4/20/20 7:59 p.m.

This interests me.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/20/20 8:01 p.m.

Nice car, those are on my short list for when I need to replace my NC. Check out Goodwin racing for "bad" ideas on how to improve it, as he has great exhaust options and other good stuff for the Fiat version of the ND.

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
4/20/20 8:21 p.m.

Thanks. Yeah, being debt free with an emergency fund feels really good, especially in the current economy. Paying off the mortgage was a little anticlimactic though. The teller said "Congratulations". That was it. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate.

Oh, yes. I've read Goodwin's entire build thread, and a few others on a 124 specific forum. I'm already scoping out engine goodies from EuroCompulsion.

John Welsh (Forum Supporter)
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) Mod Squad
4/20/20 9:01 p.m.

Neat color which seems to be hard to capture in photos. I had to look at many pics to get a feel for the color.  This pic seems pretty good. 

Super congrats on all the accomplishments! 

House free too is amazing! 

spandak
spandak HalfDork
4/20/20 11:39 p.m.

Congrats!

Ramseys stuff has been really helpful for my wife and I as well. Financial peace is a great feeling and owning a fun car outright is awesome!

Happy motoring!

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
4/21/20 7:08 a.m.

In reply to ShawneeCreek :

Congratulations on being debt free. When I paid off my first home  (1983) I kept making "mortgage" payments into a retirement savings plan and a savings account. It's worked out really well after all these years.

Opti
Opti Dork
4/21/20 2:33 p.m.

I will be following this closely. I bought an ND a couple years ago and loved it at first but have really tired of it and I'm not sure why.

I was cross shopping a 124 abarth and wondered if maybe having some whistle ponies would have kept my interest longer.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise Dork
4/21/20 2:37 p.m.

Congrats! Beautiful colour.

 

My neighbor has been shopping new 124 Abarth last two weeks. Locally he has gotten $12K off MSRP. 36K asking, 23-24K final offer from dealer. 2019 models. If he gets it at 21.5-22, I know he will pull the trigger. 

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
4/26/20 3:16 p.m.

Alright, I've almost had this car a week now. It's time for modifications. I added at GRM die cut to the back window along with a sticker from my local sailing club.

Then I did some light cleaning and poking around just looking at things. Pulled the wiper arms up to clean the windshield and thought to myself, "I wonder if I should replace the blades?" I took a closer look and, yep, I should do that. They are date coded September of 2016, making them original to the car.

The engine bay is full of interesting things too. The coolant expansion tank has a little foil heat shield on the side that faces the turbo. The ECU is mounted between the front of the engine and the air filter box. The canister oil filter is below the cool side of the turbo which means part of the intake has to be removed for each oil change. And there are vacuum lines everywhere. Check out the one that goes from the brake booster, over the engine on the firewall, towards the strut tower, and back over the engine. Weird, but probably something to do with left hand drive versus right hand drive configurations. I pulled the little engine "cover" off for this picture.

The car is still fun to drive, but in the half a dozen times I've driven it I've been nearly run over twice. I guess I get to relearn my hyperactive defensive driving because I'm apparently invisible to other drivers.

-Sean

CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter)
CrustyRedXpress (Forum Supporter) Reader
4/26/20 4:29 p.m.

Congrats on the lack of debt and the new ride!

We had an NC Miata during most of our accumulation phase-still miss it some days. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
4/26/20 5:28 p.m.
spandak said:

Ramseys stuff has been really helpful for my wife and I as well. Financial peace is a great feeling.

My wife and I only owe on her Honda.  There really is peace in not owing everybody.  
 

Congratulations on the sweet ride!

John Welsh (Forum Supporter)
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) Mod Squad
4/26/20 6:57 p.m.

In reply to ShawneeCreek :

You have a sailing club!?? 

 

Sailboat racing has been a giant part of my life for 25 years now.   Less so in the past 5 years but now that Jane is nearing 6 yrs old, this was to be the year of getting her out for some Weds night races. 

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/26/20 7:11 p.m.

Invisible to other drivers is why my last dd nb got painted petty blue. Cant miss me! 

 

Still got hit 5 times by people who didn't see me.

John Welsh (Forum Supporter)
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) Mod Squad
4/26/20 7:13 p.m.

First off, I like the car color but let's face it, from a distance it is generally the color of pavement. Sort of grey/brown. 

It has been long known that the gray colored Miatas are the most dangerous for the same reason.  The other cars just don't seem to see you. 

Like riding a motorcycle, you have to be diligent and believe that the other doesn't see you. 

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
4/26/20 7:18 p.m.
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to ShawneeCreek :

You have a sailing club!?? 

 

Sailboat racing has been a giant part of my life for 25 years now.   Less so in the past 5 years but now that Jane is nearing 6 yrs old, this was to be the year of getting her out for some Weds night races. 

Yeah. I just started getting involved with them late last year with some introductory sailing lessons on the river. I'm hoping to do more this year. They have two nights of races most weeks on the Saginaw Bay. One for bigger boats and the other for smaller ones. We'll see once the world settles back down.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/26/20 7:24 p.m.

Invisible to other drivers is a big part of why our ND went to another home. Glad you're liking the car. I still think they're better looking than the ND. 

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
4/26/20 7:24 p.m.
Dusterbd13-michael said:

Invisible to other drivers is why my last dd nb got painted petty blue. Cant miss me! 

 

Still got hit 5 times by people who didn't see me.

I really wanted the Azzurro Italia blue of the Prima Edizione cars, but they only sold 124 of them, and they were automatic only. Who knows, this car may get a brighter repaint eventually.

​​​​​

John Welsh (Forum Supporter)
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) Mod Squad
4/26/20 7:25 p.m.

Cool. 

I looked up their website.  If life gets back to normal come. To. Lake Erie and I'll get ya out on some fun stuff in the 24'- 40` range. 

 

Red Miatas aren't much better but better than gray.  If I had a gray Miata I would outfit similar... 

I'm not saying Orange is right for you but even little things like a windshield banner can improve your contrast from a distance.  GRM has a windshield banner in their store

jronald
jronald New Reader
4/26/20 8:39 p.m.

If you get around to them sooner than later, still sitting on a set of Ankeny Penske's (8300s) I had built for the STR ND. I've been low key looking at 124s and figuring if this goes on a few more months, the NOS 2017/18s may finally be firesale'd

 

Take everything from goodwin with a healthy dose of salt - 4 years later and no NDs (or ND2s) are making his power claims. 

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek HalfDork
5/6/20 7:35 p.m.

Purchased goodies are beginning to arrive. First up is this piece of plastic and rubber.

The Spider (and MX-5) does not have a traditional glove box in the passenger side dashboard. Instead it has a lockable central cubbie between the seats. It's nice and deep and holds the removed cup holders and owners manuals nicely, but my sunglasses and other small items get lost in it.

Incidentally, the storage area is bigger on the 124 than the MX-5s because it can't be optioned with the CD player that would take up a good chunk of the bottom. Now, see those two slots on the back wall? Those match up with the tabs on the plastic piece I ordered. After a little bit of insert tab A into slot B we get this:

Beautiful. I don't quite understand why it wasn't delivered from the factory like this. The shelf is strong enough to hold what will fit up there and the rubber top surface should keep things from sliding around too much. And I can still get the cup holders in and out of the space below it.

Next I got a touch up paint pen from Mazda (cheaper than from Fiat / Mopar). This, of course, meant that I had to wash the car first. It's been a while since I've done that. The rusty Neon never really rated that level of care. Results:

Again, really hard to photograph the color properly, but here is how it pops in the sun on the mirror:

And here's a little bit of what needed touched up on the driver's quarter panel:

And then on the passenger's quarter panel there are nearly a dozen little dents, some with scratches in them. The best that I can figure is that they are repetitive door dings from the PO's other car in their garage. They are all over the place on the panel, but nowhere else on the car. You can see a few in the picture below in the reflection of my arm.

I'll have to talk to a paintless dent repair place once the world opens back up again.

The car is especially on good, sunny, convertible days like today. And it's nice to drive a car that gets compliments from strangers again. I like spreading the smiles around.

-Sean

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/6/20 7:58 p.m.
ShawneeCreek said:

 

The car is still fun to drive, but in the half a dozen times I've driven it I've been nearly run over twice. I guess I get to relearn my hyperactive defensive driving because I'm apparently invisible to other drivers.

-Sean

When I drive my Porsche 924 (about the same size, maybe even a bit lower) I'm always amazed at how many people pull out in front of me or lane-change into my lane without seeing me. And that car is freaking GUARDS RED. I'm convinced people just don't even think to look for anything lower than an SUV these days, because a bright red Porsche isn't exactly being stealthy lol. 

Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/7/20 4:05 p.m.
John Welsh (Forum Supporter) said:

First off, I like the car color but let's face it, from a distance it is generally the color of pavement. Sort of grey/brown. 

It has been long known that the gray colored Miatas are the most dangerous for the same reason.  The other cars just don't seem to see you. 

Like riding a motorcycle, you have to be diligent and believe that the other doesn't see you. 

I got hit in my 2009 Competition yellow one. There's no accounting for the other driver. 

Good thing I learned road etiquette from the book "The 10-speed Commandments". which is, amazingly, still available. https://www.amazon.com/Ten-Speed-Commandments-Irreverent-Complete/dp/0385238037
 

My favorite (paraphrased, because I can't find it in the listing) Always yield the right of way to anything larger or moving faster than you. Another is Always ALWAYS expect that the other vehicles do NOT see you.

There's an "invincible young adult" corrollary - if I'm moving faster than everyone else, I don't have to worry about them. Don't believe that!

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/7/20 4:08 p.m.

What happened to the neon? Still around? Wanna part out and send stuff to me via the challenge?

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