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Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/12/17 8:11 p.m.

Purchase price: 2250

So, as some of you may be familiar with the drivabeater series, you already know whats going to happen.

For those of you that are tuning in for the first time, the drivabeater series was inspired by the GRM challenge. The first, a 1987 s10, was actually a challenge car attempt that never made it, went over budget, met almost all of my vague goals, and was sold due to changing life circumstances.

Build thread here: http://www.pro-touring.com/threads/43374-project-drivabeater

The next version was supposed to be my shop truck. Then I closed shop. It also snowballed to way over my intended budget. Was not sold, though still could be. Good truck. Its a 64 el camino.

Build thread here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/project-drivabeater-20-64-el-camino-this-time/60101/page1/

So, a drivabeater is a few things. A: it handles well B: runs out better than stock C: stops really well D: looks good from 20 feet E: Built for way less than it probably should be F: is black G: serves a purpose

All my precious dricabeaters have been trucks. There were a few other builds that were tangential to the driveabeater theme, but were too compromised and nice to be true driveabeaters. Like my last miata.


So, I should outline the build objectives first, as there is nothing like a great plan that gets completely ignored after being set in place.

This is going to be a grand touring car. Comfortable, quiet, somewhat luxurious, and track-able at a moments notice. Weather that be autocross, HPDE, rallycross, hillclimb, or drag strip. Doesn't matter to me. Its going to be black on black. Its going to need to get mixed 20s mpg with the AC on. Its going to have a kick ass stereo. Its going to be safe. Its going to be an experiment in lightness, momentum, power-to-weight, and minimalist luxury (kind of an oxymoron there). Oh, and it will be my daily.

So, the reason this car, and by proxy this thread, exists is that my last car died a fiery death on Friday, March 3, 2017. My previous car was a 2002 mazda protege5 that had some tweaks thrown at it. It gave no sign of pending failure. I had driven close to 200 miles for work that day, and had loaned it to my niece to run to the parts store for belts for her truck. She called me 10 minutes later after putting the fire out. Apparently (and this is upon inspection afterwards) at 190k it dropped a valve, broke a piston, kicked #2 through the block, and caught fire a bit. My niece was fine, but the car I depended on to make my living was done for. I had to scramble for SOMETHING. Spent the rest of the weekend pounding craigslist and autotrader, becoming dismayed at the used up, hammered JUNK that is available for 2500 at tax time. Monday morning, I went to the bank to get a loan for a few grand to put me into something better. I had $2500 in cash in my gun safe, but that was all I had to spend of my own money. I didn't want a car payment, but....

Anyway, my boss loaned me her company car for the week so I would have some time. Later in the day, she called me to tel me that I would be getting one issued to me for good, as my mileage reimbursements were apparently much higher than all the other team members (i cover more area. 7 counties now, 60 odd person caseload, 122 miles end to end). This took an insurmountable amount of stress off me. It also allowed me to daily the el camino for the foreseeable future while I found something worth buying.

Well, Tuesday morning, my craigslist alert went off for breakfast. 2000 miata from California, salvage title, 85k, new top, $2500 OBO up in Greensboro. I called the guy 7 minutes after the ad went hot and scheduled a time to go up and see it. He called me later stating that he couldn't meet as agreed, and rescheduled for Wednesday. He had a thick foreign accent, but seemed honest enough for the 1.5 hour drive each way to be worth my while. There was only 2 horrible pictures on craigslist, but it already looked better than most everything else in that price range.

When I got to the sellers house on Wednesday, I thought I was in the wrong neighborhood. REALLY expensive joint. He pulled the miata from under the car cover in the garage, let me check all the wheel bearings and such on his garage floor with his jack and stands, then handed me the keys and said hed be there when I got back from the test drive. Wow. Never had one go like this before....

So anyway, I bought it. Story was that he bought it wrecked, bought the matching green body panels from local junkyards, had the frame straightened, gave it to his wife, she hated it, he parked it, I bought it. In the car were receipts for parts and inspections (including brand new cats in 2015 at 54k) and a new top in early 2016. Top has a glass window, new weatherstripping and rain rail, and professional install. AWSOME. I drove it the ~100 miles home without much incident except losing a low beam bulb on the passengers side, the radio is mostly dead, it needs tires and alignment, and had to put wipers on it. Its a very base model car. No cruise, no ABS, no power door locks, nothing. But, that's OK. The cruise is really the only feature that I want that it doesn't have, other than heated seats. I can add that, I have the technology.....

So, heres what 2250 buys you in greensboro at tax time on a Wednesday.

[URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170307_195247_zpsswza9mr9.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170307_195429_zpsuabjgnr2.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170307_195631_zpsyqa2uvqq.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170308_081223_zps3cx6h4go.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170308_081232_zpsn7g3xyad.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170308_081246_zpsn8j8ydgv.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170307_200201_zpsvtsh1aro.jpg.html][/URL]

Upon cleaning it up some, I found that someone had already done sound deadening throughout the trunk, it also had a new radiator, all the plugs, wires, hoses and such are original, and the top of the head is absolutely spotless. This thing runs MUCH stronger than my last miata. Its a riot. I also found that whoever hung the front clip on it needs to be shot. I pulled measurements on the frame, and its square and straight again far as I can tell. But they didn't do much in the way of making the fenders, hood and bumper line up properly. Or at all. I mean honestly, they put the fenders on with self drilling, self tapping sheet metal screws and a couple of factory pieces of hardware and sent it out the door. It was bad.

So, I did what everyone does the first day they get their new car legal. Cleaned it up, and stripped it down. [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170308_093213_zpskimrvhm6.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170309_190642_zpsh6rnyfbg.jpg.html][/URL]

What I found when I got in there is that the car had taken a hit to the drivers side front fender that cocked the whole core support sideways, as well as buggered the mount for the drivers side fender. I also found a bent hood hinge, and general piss poor attention to detail. But no rust, or even much missing cad plating. Just as one would expect for a California car. Biggest thing wrong is this:


Sould looklike this: [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170309_191248_zpsin0uhek3.jpg.html][/URL]

And this wasnt fully reworked properly: [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170309_190624_zpsbsfaby6z.jpg.html][/URL]

I also figured this would be the perfect time to do the timing belt, since I had the least possible amount of things in my way right now. It will NEVER be any easier.

Instead, im doing body work first. I justified this by telling myself that im saving cleaning afterwards by doing it now, as there wont be any oil/fingerprints/solvents/etc from the timing belt job to deal with.

Its probably more because I hate green.

So heres how I got that side reshaped.


There were other hammers, dollies, pry bars, clamps, etc used that I didn't take pictures of. I essentially beat everything back to where it needed to be. To do this, I had to gut the drivers side of the engine bay. And the radiator (new one by the way, appears to be not but a year or two old). I then proceeded to clean up and mask off everything on that side while prepping it for paint (using a brown SOS pad).

Found this in the process [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_152002_zpspuloa8uc.jpg.html][/URL]

My only guess is that it was either to make more power while passing California visuals, or as a stock class autocross cheat. Dunno, but its well done.

Taped up, masked off, scuffed and ready for final wipe-down ans color change.


Wipe down with papaer towels and this [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_164759_zpsamegcjuf.jpg.html][/URL]

Spray with this [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_164751_zpsavve9xpx.jpg.html][/URL]

End here for the day [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_170604_zpst3xx20ln.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_170612_zpsr6kkzcns.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_170618_zps9fxb04q2.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_170623_zpsoll3ay0o.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170312_170848_zps3rbhoddl.jpg.html][/URL]

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
3/12/17 9:40 p.m.

I love reading your stuff so I'm gonna drop some tips on you:

1) When using Photobucket, choose the link titled Direct.
See those smiley faces on the grm page when you're posting? The row above them is a row of icons. The second to last icon is a camera.
Place your cursor where you want it, click on Camera then paste in that Photobucket Direct link. This will give you pictures w/o the line of long url.

2) In that same row of icons, the third one in is a chain (link). This is how you hyperlink a url. Place your cursor where you want it in your posting and click the chain then paste in your desired link and some words to accentuate the link.
Sample: This will take you to ebay

3) How to single space or create a list.

have to hit the space bar twice at the end of each line before starting the new line.

4) Also notice the bold and italics icons above the smiley faces. When using these, click on the icon first and then put your words between the two brackets.
It should look like this when you are typing it:
...]words to be highlighted[....

These tips will make your postings much cleaner and even more enjoyable.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/12/17 9:56 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

In high school and college i did significant amounts of creative writing. Was even published a few times.

But i flunked out of the English department despite being voted the best writer on campus. You know why?

Editing. I sucked at it then, and am even worse at it now. Especially with all the hyperlink/insert/url stuff.

And i was a violent drunk that had a tendency to pick fist fights over Shakespeare. But i flunked because of editing. I was kicked out of the department due to Shakespeare and hemmingway.

Ill try to do better, but ain't making any promises.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
3/12/17 9:58 p.m.

In your other build thread, the budget breakdown posted on March 12th is pretty much unreadable.

If you go back and edit it by just hitting the space bar two times at the end of each line of the buget, it will transform the entire post.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/12/17 10:00 p.m.

Agreed. Didnt remember to do that when i copied from my word processor. Usually I remember that one at least....

Ill fix it tomorrow morning if i get the chance to before work gets nuts.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
3/12/17 10:05 p.m.

I'm not trying to criticize or place demands.
This board software has some odd quirks from the rest of the Internet and I just thought maybe I could lead you to the "magic keys" you maybe weren't aware of.

Woody MegaDork
3/12/17 10:08 p.m.
John Welsh wrote: I love reading your stuff so I'm gonna drop some tips on you: 1) When using Photobucket, choose the link titled Direct...

There's an even easier way to use Photobucket on GRM. Choose the third link from the top, the HTML. Copy that and paste it directly into the text of your post. No need to bother with the little camera button. I only use that for hotlinking.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/12/17 10:08 p.m.

Fixed it from the phone. Now that i know, it would have bugged me all night.

And i know thay youre not being critical. Im not living up to my own low standards of editing in some regards, and you're helping me not be a lazy ass.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
3/12/17 10:13 p.m.

Thanks Woody. I learned something too!

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/15/17 8:07 p.m.


Purchase price: 2250

Timing belt kit and lower radiator hoses: leftover from last car

Black paint: 15.37 from bowers implement

Pcv, hub nuts, oil filter: 27.50 oreillys

Belts, thermostat gasket, plugs: 45.19 advance

Front hubs, amazon: 44.80

Radio harness 4.50 amazon

Air filter 12.14 amazon

Thermostat 7.80 amazon

Upper radiator hose 11.60 amazon

NGK plug wires 29.98 amazon

Valve cover gasket 8.82 ebay

Project total: 2457.70

So ive been busy. Got the whole engine bay painted and reassembled, then tore into the timing belt job. First, engine bay pictures:

[URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170313_192658_zpsrktfnedn.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170314_083830_zpsw3xlkzuq.jpg.html][/URL]

I then proceeded to get on the maintenance side of things. I called the numbers on every single scrap of paper that came with the car, and those receipts are the only history I have on this thing. I also tried to contact the previous owner and left a message, but got no response. So we can assume that other than regular oil changes and cheap tires, it really got nothing done. Which means we can assume that the timing belt is 17 years and 85k old. Probably needs changed. With the help of a thread, and the factory service manual, I dove in.

Now, I have a friend that runs an engine shop. When I had my last miata, I had asked him about components and who he bought them from. He was able to get me a full kit (water pump, belt, pullies, seals) for cheap. I have no idea what brand these are, but they're what he uses on brand new rebuilds, so ill trust them. My last miata was VVT. This one is not. I had nit used the kit on the last one, and forgot to give it to the buyer, and luckily enough it was the same except for the intake cam seal. So score!!! I also used the flyin miata tool kit I got for the last one. Not sure it made the job easier, but I was glad to have them. Especially the crank tool. That crank bolt is a PITA. Anyway, I was glad I chose to do this. When I got the belt covers off, I found a leaking exhaust cam seal, crank seal, and water pump. It also showed me that this thing had religious oil changes. There is some staining on the aluminum under the valve cover and top of the head, but no buildup anywhere. Incredibly good shape. This is not a bad job. Not nearly as bad as doing the belt in a mazdaspeed protege or DOHC neon ACR. Hardest part, other than the crank bolt, is the water pump. Purely because ypu have to remove the cam gears, power steering pump, and stand on your head.

Anyway, heres proof. [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170313_192836_zpsmj1yo7ra.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170314_181949_zpsikbnzvmn.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170314_181604_zpsdw37rx0y.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s54.photobucket.com/user/dusterbd13/media/2000%20miata/20170315_201017_zpswmcd5ojv.jpg.html][/URL]

I thought about doing the valve cover in wrinkle red, and still might. But no parts store in town had a can, and I want to get this thing on the road sooner rather than later.

Up next is a debate im having with myself. When I bought the car, I swore it had wheel bearing play. I ordered the parts as soon as I got it home. But now it has none. So I was either imagining it, it only happens at certain spots in the bearing, or they magically healed themselves. I have the parts. I have access. But cant determine if I actually NEED to. I know I need to flush the brake and clutch fluid, and re-lube the calipers. Just because. But, so I need to do the bearings? I dunno....

Up next is audio and interior cleaning. Because I kept the infinity reference 5x7 speakers and pioneer HD radio head unit from the protege that started this whole thing. So, paid for!

I also need to locate a drivers side hood hinge, or get mine much straighter. Also, some cruise parts, some different wheels, and give it an alignment. Needs paint at some point too.....

Blitzed306 HalfDork
3/15/17 10:37 p.m.

I'm going to do all these things to my beater miata, But only after I see how yours turns out

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
3/15/17 10:39 p.m.

Which wheels do you think have bearing play? If it's the fronts, one thing you can check is how tight the hub nut is. In SM lots of people undertorque them, which lowers rolling resistance but makes hubs noisier and wear faster. The drilled out airbox makes me think that someone maybe prepped this car for auto cross, and they might've also backed off the hubs for "free horsepower".

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/16/17 5:54 a.m.

I will definitely check that. And yes, its the front hubs.

And thanks for watching guys. I know that there is absolutely nothing new or unique in this build.

pres589 PowerDork
3/16/17 7:41 a.m.

Your ability to keep costs down while making huge improvements is not nothing; I like all of your build threads. Even if I never own any of the same cars as you.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/16/17 7:46 a.m.

In reply to pres589:

Thanks! I try to make things applicable to everyone else's projects. I know that most of my junk is not the normal stuff. The miata is actually the most common build I've done.

Skervey HalfDork
3/16/17 8:22 p.m.

Looks good man!

wheelsmithy Dork
3/17/17 8:19 p.m.
Dusterbd13 wrote: I know that there is absolutely nothing new or unique in this build.

I respectfully disagree. I'm looking forward to the cruise control retrofit, as well as all your super tidy (ahem, OCD, ahem) wiring and detail work.

Also, if the past is any indicator, the build is likely to escalate quickly. I am watching intently.

(google result for watching intently)

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/17/17 9:24 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

I may have accidentally bought a parts car today.....

Hard s suspension, konig helium wheels, roadstershop exhaust, cruise.....

Ill find out later this week if my offer was accepted.

In otger news, I made the alignment much worse today. Still scratching my head on just what i berkeleyed up. But it fits with this week. Whole week has been a lot like putting your nuts in a vise and smaking your pecker with a hammer. Just an absolute train wreck.

So thanks for the words of encouragement. I needed that tonight.

patgizz UltimaDork
3/18/17 9:09 a.m.

on wrinkle paint: i spray whatever color i have then hit it with the finished desired color on top. years ago i got a deal on some red that looked like pepto bismol for 99 cents a can. i used it on everything then hit it with gloss black afterward to get gloss black wrinkle paint.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/18/17 9:58 a.m.

Great tip!!! Never thought of that.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/18/17 11:43 a.m.

I think the rear subframe is bent. All the eccentrics are now maxed out to get me to zero toe. Really going to need the parts car.

ClemSparks PowerDork
3/18/17 12:36 p.m.

Well. Now I want a Miata again.

Not that I ever didn't want another one... but a new craigslist saved search/email alert will be the result of my reading your thread to this point ;)

ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual)
ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual) Reader
3/18/17 1:13 p.m.

Front and rear eccentric bolts are wear items; New bolts may solve your alignment issue.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/18/17 1:14 p.m.

You're welcome. I think.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/18/17 1:30 p.m.

In reply to ManhattanM (fka NY535iManual):

These appear to have never been adjusted before. They are also the full cam bolts, not the wobbly kind. I need to get this on a lift and look real close before I put any more money in it.

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