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accordionfolder Dork
4/13/20 10:39 a.m.

In reply to Bill Mesker :

Lol, yeah - I was probably a sight. I wasn't even driving aggressively and it just kept spinning tires everywhere!

*edit - NVM, have one on the way!
General callout: Does anyone have a lower steering shaft and u-joints? In typical form even this was seized and seemingly bent....

accordionfolder Dork
6/29/20 2:06 p.m.

Welcome back! I'm writing this from the future! If only I could talk to poor, dumb past me from poor, slightly less dumb present me. Though if I didn't make the mistakes would present me be as clever? Who knows!

Covid had begun to make it clear that it wasn't going anywhere and I consoled myself by spending a lot of money I promised myself I wasn't going to spend on a well and truly broken car. One that, even if fixed, would still be slow as dirt.

So spend money I did, a big round of ordering from my good friends at RockAuto started the avalanche of STUFF.

Ah, dopamine! How I covet thee.

The avalanche is already started, why stop? Can you even stop an avalanche? (maybe a chevy avalanche?) TreasureCoast, Good-win Racing, and Flyin' Miata were tapped in rapid succession. Keep in mind, at this point the car still had no motor and had never previously run. I skipped 3d chess - I'm playing 4d chess at this point, I can't even keep up with my own genius.

Enough spending money - I've got to fix the big problem areas that I noted previously.

Begin the teardown! Everyone's favorite part of this automotive game. Everything will come apart EZ-PZ!

5 minutes later.....

It only took an entire night to remove this stripped out mofo - and this car isn't even rust! I then ordered super low profile impact sockets! A 17mm wrench fits over the other end and save me from the same fate on the other side (which was equally smart). NOW I'M PLAYING 5-D CHESS. Eat my shorts Star Trek.

I rip apart the entire rear of the car. Bushings get pressed in, uber fancy upper control arms get attached. One of my favorite things, Paco Camber Locks get installed.

My least favorite job, replacing wheel bearings and pressing in extended studs happens next.

Rebuilt rear-calipers get slapped in.

Now comes time to rip apart the front end of the car.

Poop. Let's scale it back - I'm only playing 4d chess at this point. This car has been clearly whacked. And whacked hard. It appears a body shop had straightened the panels - or they only hit the front wheel hard. But either way. I had to cut the front upper arm bolt in half to get it out (new arm and bolt ordered). The front subframe is gacked - I order another one after running through the cross measurements and seeing that it's mostly straight. Fwoo..... What was the budget again? Better not to count. Enough fixing things, let's instead throw money at the problems.

I start some rust repair while I'm waiting on the subframe and misc parts to get in. I do a pretty good job if I do say so myself, 4.5-D chess it is!

**Then comes the moment. A moment we car-folk know well: "The Easy Job."

I take my new sub-frame and line one side of the bolts up. Beautiful, I get the nut started to hold it in place while I get the driver's side in......

"Wait..... What?"

I'm going to assume, with my superior intellect, that the bolts on the car side of the subframe mount should not be 1" off in each direction.

**"The Easy Job" moment intensifies. You cross your ankles. Stare hard at the pieces, measure things, bargain with your car, the equipment, and finally use an instrument of percussive adjustment.

I check measurements on the new subframe. The old subframe. The bolts on the car. "Yeah. That's bent."

**"The Easy Job" moment crescendos, and then falls silent.

It was at this time I knew I had done messed up in a structural way. 1-D chess welcomes me back to the fold. Aliens skip our planet because of the massive blunder. The universe laughs at my well laid out plan.

I am outlawed from playing chess at all - it's checkers only for the rest of my days.
I take a long/intermediate break from automotive pursuits and take up meditation.
I take a few more naps.
I think "Happy Thoughts" and take up knitting.
I consider finding a hill with a big hole at the end to roll my prolifically bent red chassis and shiny parts down.

See you Space Cowboy!

P.S. When will I learn to keep my big mouth shut?


cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/29/20 2:29 p.m.

Welp. That sucks. So what's the plan? Buy yourself a hydraulic ram from the hammer store and take up frame straightening?

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/29/20 2:45 p.m.

Frame machine time? Guys around here will normally work in a pull for $300 or.so on a Saturday 

accordionfolder Dork
6/29/20 9:41 p.m.

In reply to cmcgregor/Dusterbd13 :

Hint hint. ;)


I do it the hard/easy way

ebelements Reader
6/30/20 11:28 a.m.

I love this thread wholeheartedly—the content (I fight the urge to own another NA almost daily) and the way you've written it. Keep your head up, bud. This is one of those automotive stories that is absolutely all about the journey, and we're all here pulling for you. 

...Especially since I've been where you're at more than I care to mention. It's surprisingly comforting to know I'm not the only one out there buying cars way past their expiration date, gleefully throwing piles of parts at them, and then losing my ass (and some automotive self confidence) in the process. Most would chalk that up to a learning experience and never repeat that risk-taking activity. What those people will never know is that when it DOES work out, the victory is sweeeeeet.

accordionfolder Dork
6/30/20 7:23 p.m.

In reply to ebelements :

Misery loves company! But seriously, thanks for the comment! You always kinda wonder if anyone is reading the random things you fire out into the internet, glad you are enjoying the ride as much as I am. Here's to hoping for the sweet, sweet payoff at the end of this one too.....

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/20/20 1:18 p.m.

Well, last we left off I found out that my car was Pretty Dang Bent™. I, as a general rule, have quite a bit of free time to engage in self loathing and regret. I took full advantage of that time and speculated on various destructive and constructive avenues: Pushing the car and all parts off of a cliff was considered strongly, but TN is fairly flat in the middle so it was eventually internally vetoed. I mulled getting the frame straightened (I may still do so, speedster project anyone!?) - but this car's intention had started to take shape: I wanted a low power, cheap to run track car that wasn't exactly a push-over on track, but I could still happily drive ~3 hours each way and get in/out of like a normal car. I have a supercharged exocet for the crazy and wildly impractical side of the spectrum. I eventually decided I didn't want to have to deal with more hidden alignment problems, etc. So the little tomato Miata was relegated to a parts car. Not a bad thing to have around really. Around me I've seen with regular frequency older na6s with blown motors or shot clutches that had decent bodies for fairly cheap. That is what the red miata, mostly, was after all.

So continuing down my path of pain for the probably a slow, over-funded track car I created my WTB thread for a straight, preferably NA6, car. https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/cars-sale/wtb-nanb-miata-roller/171961/page1/

The fates finally stopped laughing at my failures long enough threw me a proverbial bone in the form of AaronT's offer. Initially I was wary of having to go too far with the current state of the world, but eventually asked for some pictures and was greeted with a car that looked even better than my red one! Fantastic! I'll take it! (queue fates giggling)

Thus I planned a covid-centric snatch and grab of a non-running miata (Has this become a hobby? A diagnosable illness?). I was heading from Mid-TN to Aeshville, NC - not a terribly long trip, but not exactly a short jaunt either. If you weren't already aware, I'm a tow-dolly enthusiast by necessity. I don't have a dedicated truck, and don't want to make room to store another vehicle and trailer. So I use a tow dolly. My example is 500lbs empty, can be stored vertically, has surge brakes, and is very easy to pull. I've even pulled my Exocet with my MS3! DELIGHTFUL.

So I pack and plan for my NC bound snatch and grab. I pride myself on my efficient cannon-ball runs to pickup parts/cars and I don't dissapoint with this trip. I get there early, that's probably good because upon entering his street I'm forced to look up.
Up, up.
Up, up, up at a network of streets at what have to be a 20% grade.


Funny thing about tow-dollys are, unless you're a trailer reversing god (I am not), empty or full they're nearly impossible to backup.

I'm picking up a non-running car w/ engine and transmission. My imagination begins to run wild. Picture this: A silver miata careening down these narrow streets smashing into cars and houses left and right. There's even a pool at the bottom. A silver Miata submerged in a pool wouldn't be ideal.

I knock the cx-9 into manual mode because it's hunting for gears going up the neighborhood slowly - I don't know where I'm going. Then I spot my prize, a wee silver miata: Grandpa spec. It looks great! AaronT and his SO pop out - cool people as all the members I've met in person are. We shoot the bull at a distance and then plan getting the car in. Fortunately the landing where it was situated was fairly level and I positioned the car and dolly a slight down hill from it and swing it out and up/onto the trailer.

A short time later I get on getting on and scoot back towards TN. The section of i40 between NC and Nashville has a hilariously twisty bit for an interstate - but I set the CX-9's cruise and jam. I passed a pack of motorcycles in the twisty bits that found that situation hilarious.

A pair of squished together mazdas passing a pack of motorcycles through the twisties.

Home by 3pm! Groovy. I jump the car off and drive it off the towdolly. It's lower radiator hose is blown and it has a small crank wobble, but it beats trying to push the dang thing off of it.

Until next time! さようなら




accordionfolder SuperDork
8/20/20 7:52 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

Verily! I do love the symmetry/similarity of the pictures of dragging back NA6 miatas when I was glancing back from the first post to this one....

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/21/20 2:17 p.m.

I'll try to get some more posts out to get this caught up to the present day, but not at the sacrifice of my FANTASTIC QUALITY! (/sarcasm)

I managed to pick up a sooper clean little car for 500 bones. It even fired right up, though it was a very long in the tooth short nose crank 1.6 w/ a bit of a wobble, a shot battery, and a bit of an over-heating problem: but it's better to have a car running prior to tearing into IMO. Then at least you know on the "next" first startup after you've broken the poor thing that it **should** work. The top was shot and I could hear water sloshing in the frame rails, the drains appeared plugged. There was no rust so I'm assuming this was a recent thing from living outside after AaronT picked it up.

Well, first things third - I fixed the exploded lower radiator hose, upper radiator hose, radiator cap, Topped off the coolant, and......

and then the wife, the dog, and I went for a lovely cruise!

That's right - it was a rough runner and the brakes were fairly sketchy after all that sitting, but it was a miata at heart - nearly impossible to kill. I had a battery daisy-chained in the trunk (safety 3rd!) and it occasionally died (the idle not set correctly and really old plugs/wires I believe), but we still had a great time cruising about on the mid-TN country in my newly acquired wee miata. What a fantastic little creation the Mazda Miata is. When you drive a completely stock one you're quickly reminded just how good they are in that form. Now it's not something I'd trust to drive far, or for a very long time - but it was nice to have an easy win after the setbacks of the red car.....


Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/22/20 5:36 a.m.

Great writing!

I'm relieved to see that you gave up on the red one. I'm sure it had more surprises in store.

Overall, this thread reminds me of several of my boat purchases. And my first Miata.

So, speaking as someone mired in Miata crankshaft hell, what is the plan here? Swap? Rebuild? Demolition derby?

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/22/20 10:56 p.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:

Great writing!

I'm relieved to see that you gave up on the red one. I'm sure it had more surprises in store.

Overall, this thread reminds me of several of my boat purchases. And my first Miata.

Thank you! It's hard to give up on a car when you've started spending money (and you've named it! Now the thread makes much less sense to anyone who can read katakana, lol), but I think cutting bait was the right move on this one. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/22/20 10:58 p.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) said:

So, speaking as someone mired in Miata crankshaft hell, what is the plan here? Swap? Rebuild? Demolition derby?

The goal be: Miata that drives in circles on race tracks reasonably well, but I don't mind driving up there and that the wife and I can still take out for fun! Right now that's looking looks a box stock NA6 engine with some fun suspension bits under it!

In reply to accordionfolder :

The Japanese ebay 1.6scomplete engines look like a potential way forward. I was afraid of getting in a mess with one. Also, I couldn't stomach the idea of going down in displacement


accordionfolder SuperDork
8/23/20 10:25 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

My Exocet is also a 1.6, so I have a miriad of 1.6 engines and gearboxes about the garage. If it was an na8 car that would be tough to go down in displacement, but since they're all NA6 chassis it's pretty natural.  The 1.6 is a lively, spirited, and cheap to run little animal in the Miata. Easy on the brakes, and great at teaching you to conserve momentum since once you've over slowed that skinny pedal isn't going to help you!


You've got to be careful with those later model 1.6s from what I'm remembering, the sensors on the head, etc don't match up to the old 1.6. We never got that 1.6 in a Miata state side.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
8/24/20 8:35 a.m.

Great thread. I have a 1.6L SM that I use as a track day car.  Has the original 220k motor with 170+ compression all the way across.  Towed it on the same dolly you have for many track days. Without much more than some 15x7 wheels and some SM7 takeoffs, you can surprise plenty of "faster" cars. I've got maybe 30 sessions on my latest set of brake pads and I can barely measure the wear. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/24/20 10:22 a.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) :

My old track car before I went crazy and built the exocet was a "kinda spec-miata" 1.6, caged creature. It, hilariously, still had a/c, p/s, cruise, and a full catted exhaust, but was gutted and caged internally. I'm kinda building a softer version of that this time:

In reply to accordionfolder :

Yeah, I was afraid of all that BS, So I decided to rebuild. 

Agreed, 1.6 is a fine engine for these. I came up on spridgets. No heat, no radio, no power, and they were still fun. 0.2 liters is not a deal breaker. 

Watching with interest.

AaronT New Reader
8/25/20 9:34 a.m.

I'm happy to see the Silver Bullet running again and delivering smiles! 

After reading your description of getting to my condo I realize I should have given you better instructions for how to get up the dang mountain. There are 3 ways to get from the state maintained road to the my place and the side you came up is the steepest. Fortunately you were pointed down the less steep side. Winter snow and ice can be an adventure. The requirement for a house with a garage and a sports car friendly driveway is making our house search a bit more challenging given the topography and number of gravel driveways in Asheville.

Getting that car out of the parking space has been great for me, I no longer have guilt about not working on the project and it freed up that parking spot for the NB I picked up.

accordionfolder SuperDork
8/25/20 11:56 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

Understood on that front! Glad you're enjoying the thread!

In reply to AaronT :

It's always a good transaction when buyer and seller are both happy! Plus that NB you got looked fantastic! NBD on the directions, it wasn't a big deal once I got moving - but when I pulled up to the entrance it was a bit of an ".... E36 M3" moments. Pulling something along that you can actually back up is always a bit scary. I've had more than one panic attack while trying to get gas since if I mess up too badly, I'm probably just going to have to completely unhook the car and drive it off which isn't a fast process. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
9/9/20 6:16 p.m.

Hello again!

Remember that time I put a ton of shiny parts on my red miata? The name sake of this thread? The 'mato miata? I pretty much rebuilt the entire suspension, braking system, and did a bunch of legwork getting it ready to engine swap?

You wouldn't think with a 2100lb curb weight an NA6 could crush your hopes so completely, but here we are.

Our silver savior placed the roadster balm on my proverbial wounds. Reminding me of the open top joy and got me moving again (literally and figuratively!).


Let's take stock first I suppose. It's a solid little car, but it is coming on 30 years now. He's sprite-ly for his age, but a lot needs refreshing before we take him out to the track. The brakes are a suggestion. He overheats on imperceptible gradients or the hint of a headwind. His battery is shot. He emits some odd odors. The soft top is more for keeping water in then out. And his crank wobbles.

But really - who doesn't have a wobbly crank and a few creaks in old age? We'll get him into fighting shape in short order!

First things first - we've got to strip all the shiny new parts off of our well intentioned version-0 car. I'm pretty fluent in Miata at this point, so the strip down goes quickly. I make sure both cars remain roll-able, which means I have to get creative when swapping around suspension parts at various points. I'll try to be more specific about what parts are being put on this time. In addition to getting all the shiny bits off of our tiny red terror, I also steal it's decent soft top adding insult to injury.

We'll start in the rump. I've got a fuji 4.1 LSD diff that I'm putting in. Not the best, but it's what I have on had so it'll do. New axles and control arms with poly bushing go on the lower side. A nice 5x racing 3 position rear sway bar keep us from leaning. Brand "new" refurbished brake calipers and OE style brakes lines are put on the back. I'm using Hawk black pads - I've enjoyed them on the past miata. The shiniest bit is the Paco Motorsports adjustable upper control arms. I love them since I use Paco Motorsports camber locks on the lower cams and they're a pain to adjust, but with the upper arms once you get the toe where you want it - the camber is adjusted by tightening/loosening the upper arm! VERY NICE! New timken bearings pressed in the rear with new no-name rotors and extended studs finish us out.

Onto the front! I've rebuilt the front calipers and greased the slide pins. Hawk black pads. Racing Beat tubular 1.25" front bar. Paco Camber locks up front too. Poly pushings pressed in. Flyin' Miata blue print front hubs will do fine for now along with new OE style brake lines. I've gone with Feal Coilovers from Goodwin Racing w/ their Road Race spring rates. Advanti Storm S1's wrapped with 205 Federal 595 RS-RR tires complete our shoes - though these things run wide. I didn't measure but they look visually closer to a 225 (and they're taking up the whole of a 8" wheel). 

Looking mean for a little guy!

Next time! A big box from Flyin' Miata:

Gunchsta HalfDork
9/10/20 8:09 a.m.

This is a good thread. I love your writing style and the perseverance. 

I've never owned (nor driven) a Miata. They look fun. It seems if I hang out here long enough one will fall into my lap eventually. 


And like you (and other posters in this thread) I relish in taking bad cars, throwing tons of money at them, and eventually selling them at a blistering loss. I've tried to convince myself it's not what I like doing, but it's what I like doing. 

accordionfolder SuperDork
9/10/20 3:15 p.m.
Gunchsta said:

This is a good thread. I love your writing style and the perseverance. 

I've never owned (nor driven) a Miata. They look fun. It seems if I hang out here long enough one will fall into my lap eventually. 


And like you (and other posters in this thread) I relish in taking bad cars, throwing tons of money at them, and eventually selling them at a blistering loss. I've tried to convince myself it's not what I like doing, but it's what I like doing. 

I appreciate the kind words! It's a fun thread to write, it should be getting more interesting shortly.

You should try to pick one up! But like ... passively ... just wait until one of the REALLY good deals pops up on here and get one. The cheaper the miata, the better it is! And the more you have to fix! .... wait...

And I've always considered GRM the Wayward Cars House of the internet, this thread has really re-affirmed that anecdotal evidence!

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