MrRobogoat New Reader
7/13/19 7:28 p.m.

My Miata ownership started in late 2017, but seems unlikely to stop anytime soon. Recent events have me car shopping again, but I feel confident that the result will still involve a Miata under my care. I should have started this thread a while ago, but the surest way for me to guaruntee I'll be rid of a car is to post about it on the internet (or put stickers on it). Which actually is what happened to the car the Miata replaced, a '99 Forester that receieved an H6 bolted in (but not plumbed or wired), along with a new transmission, driveshaft, and removal of the various subframe spacers. While I did all of that work, the car sat outside and got rustier and rustier, which ended up killing my motivation on the project -- after the bodywork I've since done, I think I'd feel a little more comfortable taking it on, but then again we wouldn't be here, because I traded the Forester and parts -- valued at $900 -- plus cash to get this Miata.

Not too bad, eh? The previous owner had even worked on shining up the paint a fair bit, and the original owner had garaged the car, so it was non-rusty for being in the north east. It also only had 98 thousand miles on it. Let's have a look at the other side:

Meh, still beats a rusty non-running Forester! These were taken not long after I hauled it home, and the tires were chunking, the brakes mushy and lumpy, and the right rear felt like it had a blown damper. PO said that the original owner had sideswiped a gaurdrail, and the car had gone to auction. The next owner bought the car and had intended to swap over a fiberglass bodykit onto the car, but ended up selling both to them (the guy I traded with). The car at this point also did not have a soft top, though the frame did come seperately. I took delivery for the last weekend in September of 2017, and picked up registration on the way home. I had new 15x7 Advanti Storm S1s with Dunlop DZ102 tires waiting to go on, so set about doing the brakes -- the front calipers were leaking fluid on both sides, so received new calipers, NAPA semi-metallic pads, and rotors. The tires then went on, the top came off, and I took it for a loop.

I am going to pause here for the time being, but leave you with this picture of the Miata parked next to the other vehicle I owned at the time:

MrRobogoat New Reader
7/20/19 12:28 p.m.

I daily drove the car for a few weeks, but then got rear ended 5 minutes from my house by a young lady in a Volvo S70. The bumper cover and license plate panel were cracked in the incident, and I hit my head decently on the roof of the hard top (I am 6' 3" and into small cars in general, even though I never fit. If there was a 4 wheeled vehicle that required putting it on one leg at a time I'd probably try to buy one.). Went through her small insurance company and received a check for $1800. A while later, while I continued to drive the car less and less (the visibility with the hard top on and the lowness of the car made my 40 minute winter commute home in the dark very miserable, not to mention being too tall), and a guy parting out a '95 M edition that had been in a front end wreck. So, on a Saturday in early January I roused myself with the sun to drive out to Springfield (2hrs by highway) armed with a set of sawzall blades, my angle grinder with diamond wheel, and the warmest shop wear I owned. We commenced disassembly at 8am or so in the seller's unheated carport, and by 10:30 I was at a nearby cafe eating pancakes, my car stuffed to the gills with a quarter of a Miata. For just over $200 I got the entire passenger rear quarter panel with all internal structure due to a generous cut several inches inside the panel boundaries, the rear bumper cover, bumper support beam, license plate panel, and passenger door (complete minus doorcard). It took a couple tries to tetris this all into the Mk4 Golf I was driving, especially since the hatch did not open at all (unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the car loaded up).

From there, I proceeded to start cutting off the wrinkled metal on the car. There is nothing quite like taking an angle grinder to the panel of your car for the first time, with no cut lines!

Starting out, and through the early stages, I held the motivational platitude "I can't make it worse than it is now", and decided that instead of removing the entire panel by cutting all the spot welds, I would do most of the spot welds and butt weld the old and new panel together along a seem 2" or so removed from the trunk and cabin of the car, and due to the location of the crumpling. You can see very faintly the marked line in the above image. But before enlarging the opening, it was time to cut out the structure of the new panel, and start trimming it to fit onto the car. Here's all the metal we cut out of the quarter panel, some of it very sturdy stuff.

Note all the metal dust on the floor -- I'm really glad I converted over to using diamond cutting wheels, as the amount of dust and time changing wheels would have been ridiculous on this project, not to mention the reduced risk of the wheel exploding. We also used some Hazard Fraught powered metal shears where possible, since they are much more pleasant from a dust, smoke, and noise standpoint. Anyway, the cuts got smaller and smaller as I trimmed more than removed bulk metal, until bam! The new panel overlayed over the old:

Still a sloppy fit, but this felt like some really good progress! Things slowed down a bit here, as it got really fiddly trying to get the panel to fit right. This takes us up to early March of 2018, so about 6 months of ownership. Definitely regret not taking more pictures of the process, but it's always easier to just keep working than take a photo break every 15-30 minutes...

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