Opti HalfDork
4/15/18 10:25 p.m.

I had a build thread for my 97 Corvette DD, it got raped by photobucket. She served me well for a few years and I reached a point where I was bored with the car, and more power meant sacrificing comfort, which made it such a good car. I had already done this with my Z28 and didnt want to ruin the vette, so she got sold. Someone got a great deal.

Last picture of her



So I bought this little junky 91 Miata. It was going to be a drift car and he got as far as installed a sweet ass magic drift license plate some stickers and a ballin ass shift knob. He was also nice enough to "detail and buff" the paint for me right before I came to pick it up. Which means there is buffing compound sprayed everywhere it isnt supposed to be. A pressure washer has trouble taking this hardened E36 M3 off of rubber and black plastic.

It barely made it the hour drive home. Would just lose power, wouldnt rev up, wouldnt die but randomly would buck and rpms would start to drop. Limped her home, put her in the garage, drove her a time or two and proceeded to complete about it completely for like 6 months. I had been collected pictures but lost most of them on my old phone so some of the older stuff doesnt have pics, but I will document the build going forward.


First mod, drivability issues be damned. Shift knob, delrin. Ebay.


Much better. Then I did plugs, wires, valve cover gasket, sea foam, and fuel filter. Also did a chemical de cat. By that I mean the seafoam melted the cat and its components now reside in my muffler. Many rattles were had. Gauge hood was replaced with a used one, which I later realized was missing the tabs so its only held in the front and flops around, but it looks better than without one, and I later found a more complete one for 10 bucks.


The car rattle like crazy, the hardtop moved around and banged and knocked and it had a Firestone FR380 on the stock daisies. It is literally the only one Ive ever seen that wasnt separated, so needless to say I wasnt to keen to drive this thing. I did tear out the terrible aux beam led off road lights turned headlights. They were wired in with a cut extension cord.


About this time I got bit by the new car bug and bought another Miata. A 16 Club, with the BBS/Brembo package. I love it.




Opti HalfDork
4/15/18 10:54 p.m.

I started to order an AVO turbo kit for the ND and I thought it might be wiser to turbo the NA, so I set about getting it ready to become a spool bus. Its a basket case.


So I started with the terrible headlights. I ordered some Cibie knock offs from busdepot.com. They were cheap and work well. When the PO put in the led lights he removed all the mounting hardware for stock lights and butchered the stock bezels. I found the mounting hardware and proceeded to put them in the wrong sides and my headlights were sideways. Lettering generally goes right side up on correctly installed headlamps.




Got them swapped and correctly installed with some junkyard bezels, but they were beat, sooooo faded. Tried the old heat trick, got impatient and melted some texture.





Heated half of it



Melted texture and gave up



Painted with bumper and trim paint



Installed (Much Better)




Floating Doc
Floating Doc Reader
4/15/18 10:56 p.m.

Sometimes I look at car purchases as a "rescue".  I think that's where my miata was headed. 

Opti HalfDork
4/15/18 11:13 p.m.

When I first got it car sounded like it had an exhaust leak, I was to lazy to check where it was and i could smell it in the cab, figured it was the manifold and mentioned I was just gonna buy a cheap ebay header, so my girlfriend bought me one for christmas. I wanted to go turbo but figured what the hell in the mean time I can live the sweet brap brap life. It was a raceland and went right in.



Took off the GV knock off lip, HOLY E36 M3, this guy was a crazy person, the right side of the lip looked like the rest of it I just pulled screws out of it. YOU GET A SCREW, YOU GET A SCREW, SCREWS FOR ERRYONE.



Figured out I could adjust the hardtop  latches to stop the rattling, there is this sweetass turnbuckle in the latches. Hardtop is silent now. I thought this was just a sweet miata feature.



I also clean and lubed the window channels, replaced the window bushings, and stripped the paint off the windows. Yah this fool didnt tint the windows he freaking painted them. BALLA STATUS. Car is getting less and less rattley, beside the muffler that is.......sooo many ratttles. No pics of windows, they were on the old phone.


Drove it and realized the brakes were terrible. Couldnt lock up the E36 M3ty 186/60/14s. Looked under the hood and saw the master was leaking, too lazy to pull the wheels, I just assumed it was all equally terrible and order all new E36 M3. Rockauto got some of my money. Stoptech fronts and rear, cheap rotors, new lines, slide pins and a new master cylinder.



At some point I found some ebay/gc sleeves/exteneded top hats in a junkyard for 200 bucks and they were installed. Got mad lows, #stancenation. Car drove like E36 M3, went back up, still need to go up more. Want to get to about 12.75 and 13 from the hub to fender, front and rear. need about another 1/4 to half inch up.


Got her ready for brake surgery



These things are so small, seem okay though, nothing crazy found yet










Opti HalfDork
4/15/18 11:22 p.m.

Leaky Master



Fronts went well, Slides were seized on the right front but we got it apart.



Left rear went together great



We had a calamity on the right rear. It was the most seized slide pin ever. I beat the E36 M3 out of this caliper trying to knock it loose. I was yelling MOUTAINTOP and pretending to swing Thor's Hammer while I yelled "BY ODINS BEARD." This tom foolery just resulted in broken E36 M3 and a new caliper.




We got it back together, adjusted the rear pads (and then a few more times), and started on the master.


Coming apart



Booster looked like E36 M3 but still worked. I always so "paint it black and put it back." So I knocked the loose stuff off and shot some black at it. Its not great but if you dont know its been crappily resprayed you dont notice it.





Opti HalfDork
4/15/18 11:32 p.m.

Bought some used 6UlLs. 15x8.




They are kinda scratched up and I didnt notice til after but one has had a terrible lip repair performed so I might, clean it up and repaint them, but mounted them for now.



Rubbed like crazy with my new found lows. So thats when I raised it up. Still rubbed like crazy.


Borrowed my buddies fender roller. Only cracked the paint a little, did poke a little hole in the right front fender. PSA, remove bolts/screws holding fender liner prior to fender rolling.




How she sits now








Bought me a battery. Good deal at Pepboys if someone needs a miata battery. 139.99 then a 25% coupon online. Payed 105 and got a 3 year free replacement warranty.



After the last test drive, it barely rubs with a passenger when Im doing dumb stuff. I also found a sweet leaking radiator and some tore up bushings, so a poly kit and ebay rad are the next purchases.



Antihero HalfDork
4/15/18 11:42 p.m.

For cheese factor......that katana gear shift is awesome, its so bad i would have left it lol

Opti HalfDork
5/1/18 9:01 p.m.

I mentioned that there was rock hard buffing compound in every crack on this car, well that included the tail lights. I even tried pressure washing them, still this stuff wasnt budging. The front markers were plastidipped and the rear markers were covered in red overspray So I decided to remove the lettering and sand them all smooth and buff them up.




Started at 400 and worked up to a 3000 pad from a headlight rest kit, followed by some polishing compound. Front one has bee sanded smooth and the back on has been polished.



One side sanded and one side buffed



Left one is done, nice without the terrible plasti dip



Left one is done. nice and smooth and no overspray




Woody MegaDork
5/1/18 9:04 p.m.

Thread title FTW.

B13Birk Reader
5/1/18 9:08 p.m.

Love it! I just got a 93' miata and im ready to ruin it too. Mine has almost 100K in road course miles (it belonged to a driving school) Its holding up so far! Best of luck. Ill be following along. 

Opti HalfDork
5/1/18 9:34 p.m.

Next was to tackle the suspension. A few of the bushings had some play in them, so I decided to replace all of them. I thought about the harder rubber bushings but they are more expensive and harder to press in, so I ordered up a black Prothane kit, and while I waited for it to come in I started tearing down the suspension.


Front suspension torn apart. I also noticed the outter tie rod boots were torn and the rack boots were destroyed, and the rack was leaking. So all new tie rods and a rack rebuild kit was ordered. Ill probably get it apart and never put it back together, but thats for another time.



They were filthy,  cant be putting dirty parts back on, so out came the pressure washer.



Now that I wont get super dirty working with them its time to press the bushings out. Everyone talks about burning them, or making a press out of all-thread, or doing it the right way with a ball joint press or vice, I aint about that life, takes too long. I have always removed bushings with a big hammer. Way faster, but you do sacrifice some feeling in a few fingers for a couple days, once you smash the E36 M3 out of them, but thats the price you pay.


My sweet jig,



Then you just hit the E36 M3 out of it two or three times and it flies out,

One some bushings you have to get more creative, to apply force in the correct direction.



Voila! Fronts relived of their terrible bushings. The arms were still too ugly so they got wire wheeled while I tried to figure out to finish them.



Best part of dating a dancer, is her balance bar makes an awesome hanger to paint stuff. For the first time I didnt have to be bent over to paint stuff, sooo much easier.



So i thought about POR, but its expensive and super nasty Im told. Rattle cans generally arent durable enough. I was just gonna shoot some rustoleum but it takes forever to cure and is kinda soft, atleast when Ive used it. Then I thought about putting some hardener in it and seeing if it helps. So off to tractor supply and I pulled out my old Earlex airless sprayer, that I used to spray plastidip with. This has all the ingredients to be a complete E36 M3show.


Worked OK. Got it ALL over me. I didnt realize how hard the wind was blowing so it blew all over me. No big deal, you just cut it with acetone. So I go to clean up and acetone does nothing except smear it around. Gun is covered, arms and legs are covered. Im boned, I scrub and scrub with acetone and its not doing a thing, so I got to the garage and find some gasoline and it comes right off, you barely even have to scrub. I think its because of the hardener but for future reference if you add hardener to rustoleum, acetone wont help, but gas works awesome. Finish came out ok, Got some crazing and sags. Could have been because my mixture was wrong or my sprayer wasnt set right, or it might be the best I can hope for with this setup, Im gonna try some different stuff with the rear arms.




Opti HalfDork
5/1/18 9:55 p.m.

Then it was time to start on the rear suspension. I was still waiting for the bushing kit and new ball joints to come in.

Rear suspension came out so easy. I love working on these cars. I think I used like 2 sockets and 2 wrenches



The car is at my girlfriends house and most of my tools are at my house, I didnt see a way to remove the bushing in the knuckle without a ball joint press, or taking the axle out of the knuckle, and i really didnt feel like stopping all my progress to go get some tools. I just pushed it with my thumb and boom it popped out. I got so lucky, no way it will happen on the other side.


Oh but it did



Now its time to get the bushings out of the arms. Rear arms were gonna be harder to support while I beat on them,  Im definitely going to have to drive home and get my ball joint press. I tried a hail mary with a 5 dollar harbor freight clamp.



IT WORKED!!!! I was able to press out every single bushing on the rear arms like this.



Pressure washed them and wire wheeled them. Im waiting on a nicer day to paint them, its been raining and really humid here lately,


Still waiting on new ball joints, and steering parts to come in from Rock Auto. My Prothane kit came in, so Ill start putting those in. I still havent ordered a radiator, because the PNP Speeduino ECUs became available again, and I wanted to get one before they sold out. So in about 10 days I should have my 240 dollar stand alone and a GM IAT sensor. I still need to buy a TPS solution, I was just gonna buy the PNP FM kit, but I thought someone had figured out a DIY setup that didnt involve rewiring a sensor, but I havent found it so Ill probably just order the FM one.


Also noticed my crank pulley wobbles a little, so before I start driving it again its gonna get a TB and WP kit and figure out the wobble. Still need to order a radiator to


Opti HalfDork
5/1/18 10:10 p.m.

In reply to Woody :

Im gonna add some whistle ponies, because I want to make sweet turbo noises, and I dont know anything about tuning, so I just assume Im gonna blow E36 M3 up. If I manage to get it tuned right, Ill just end up grenading a rear or trans. It still has the 1.6 diff and I am not known for mechanical empathy, I blew up numerous 10 bolts in my Fbody. Plus I love going to the drag strip. Youll notice the shoe polish numbers from the strip on the ND. I took it to the drag strip pretty much right after buying it.


If I could put this little turd in the 12s, the butt hurt would be strong with a few of my friends.

Cousin_Eddie Reader
5/2/18 4:32 a.m.

Are you from Fort Worth ?

Opti HalfDork
5/2/18 5:52 a.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie :

Sure am

Cousin_Eddie Reader
5/2/18 6:05 a.m.

I thought I saw a Tarrant County sheriff car in one of your pictures.

I'm out in Weatherford and also a Miata guy.

I'll keep an eye out for your car.


mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
5/2/18 7:05 a.m.

As someone with a deep irrational dislike for early Miatas, how do you like the Volt? I like our gen 1 so much that I keep wondering if upgrading to a gen 2 would be even better. Can you charge it from zero overnight on 110V? 

And we should have a Texas GRM get together. 

Opti HalfDork
5/2/18 7:32 a.m.

My house is actually in Weatherford, and I worked out there for years, so Im very familiar with the area.

The volt is the girlfriends. She loves it. Sunday she told me she hasnt put gas in it since Christmas. I think it works exceptionally well as an appliance, and its not completely terrible to drive with the electric torque. I like to get rolling to about 15 then floor it and spin the tires. It does charge over night. She probably plugs it in around 8 at night and when she leaves in the morning its fully charged. Its got about 29000 miles on it and shes had 2 recalls performed and the charging cord replaced, but the cable on the new one is upgraded to prevent the damage hers had. Shes had no problems with it besides that. She gets about 50 miles of full electric which is enough with plenty of headroom for her daily commute

Professor_Brap Reader
5/2/18 9:28 a.m.

I love this tread, I feel like I went through the same thing with my last Miata....... Minus mine was lowered on Ricelands with cut springs..... 

pres589 PowerDork
5/2/18 11:32 a.m.

Cool thread.  Giving me ideas for basic maintenance I need to do on my daily driver (not a Miata).  

Stefan MegaDork
5/2/18 12:48 p.m.

Love the thread.

You know there are like books and stuff to help you with some of this stuff, right?




Keep up the great work, we're all living vicariously through your updates :)

Opti HalfDork
5/2/18 1:45 p.m.

I appreciate the info, but im not really the learning through reading type, Im more of a try and fail in a glorious whirlwind of auto parts shrapnel type.

Rodan HalfDork
5/2/18 6:39 p.m.

Great thread!

Seeing this stuff reminds me how lucky I was to get an NA that was completely stock, and in pretty good shape.

I ended up replacing almost everything anyway, but it was nice to be able to drive it over the years it's taken to get where it is.  My only remaining suspension project is the bushings, which I've continually put off because of the PITA factor.  I only hope mine goes as well as yours.  I'll be cheating and pulling all the arms of my NB parts car to minimize down time.

Looking forward to watching your progress! yes

Opti HalfDork
5/2/18 9:50 p.m.

So I got home from work today, and I wanted to work on the miata. I looked outside and it was windy as hell and pretty humid. Sounds like good painting weather to me. So I got an actual measuring cup and mixed my paint and acetone and hardener. 5 to 2 to .5. Painted between wind gusts, and put a really light coat on first and gave it a chance to tack up then went back at it. Seemed to apply way better this time but I made a boo boo and put on too think a coats and it made a ton of orange peel, but Im getting the hang of painting rustoleum through an airless sprayer. We will see how they look after they cure.



I got it laid on and left it to dry, hoping the pending storm would wait long enough for it to dry a little so I could move them into the garage. So I grabbed my front arms and started poking holes for my zerks for the poly bushings.


Still need to tap them, couldnt find my tap holder.


But I did finally get my delivery or round polyurethane things.



When I was sitting hear uploading pics going through my gallery I found a exhaust video of the miata. First time noticing how much smoke came out when revving. I think its time to leakdown and compression test this motor. I was planning on boosting it with blind faith that it wasnt hurt, but I dont think I can ignore the smoke. I figure worst case scenario, I can toss a MLS gaskets and some head studs at it and while the heads off it will give me a chance to practice head porting. We'll see, ill try and test it this weekend.


Opti HalfDork
5/6/18 9:54 p.m.

Well the ND hit 10K miles yesterday.



Got a little time on sunday and SWMBO wanted to work on the miata, so I put her to work. She tapped all the holes for the grease fittings.


While she was doing that I started pushing bushings in, and poking around the rest of the suspension looking at other things.


Found the sway bar bushings and end links in the rear are shot.




Went ahead and popped it off and found some more damage on the car. So Ive found other damage on the car it all seems pretty easily fixable but its in weird places. Im not too concerned because it aligned fine and I wasnt even close to maxing any adjuster out. Example right rear sway bar strap.



Probably just gonna roll sans rear bar for now and get a rear subframe when I get the torsen.

We got all the bushings pressed in and the new ball joints in the arms.




I still have to put everything together. Shouldnt take long. These cars are so easy to work on.  I did get the rest of my Rockauto shipment though. It contains inner and outter tie rods, boots, and a rack and pinion rebuild kit. That will be my next project, rebuild the rack and pump (still need to order the pump kit) and some new lines. Still need to grab my compression tester and see if the motor is hurt.


Im glad I went with poly simpy for how easy it was to install them, once I put it back together Ill get some actual driving impressions though.





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