10/22/13 10:31 p.m.

And so the story begins with my RX7 being down, a need for a summer car, and a long standing want of a early miata.

Joelle and I got back from our honeymoon at the end of May 2009 and at that point I had kind of seen one too many nice cars when out in Japan. So with my needs squared away I enjoyed randomly looking through Craigslist a few dayd after we got home.

Looking on CL for a Miata before the vacation normally would yield a few clean examples for anywhere around $5k~$6k or for $500~$1000 for cars that normally did not have a title.

And then, there it was, a rust less '91 that had two previous owners. Problem being, in my mind, was that for the price the guy was asking and the way the car looked in photos it couldn't possibly run well. So after a quick once over online I called the wife over to look at the post (normally I miss something like "Car runs, missing motor" from the excitement of finding something that I'm looking for.) to see what she thinks. She tells me that I should send out an email to see whats wrong with the car, because in the listing it mentions body damage though you could not see it in the photos.

20 or so minutes go by and my phone notifies me of an email. It is from the Miata's owner and has lots of photos. He also explains that he has only had the car for two or three days an the title hasn't been swapped over to his name.

So with the pictures in hand and a phone number Jojo recommends that we call him and ask a few more questions about the car. The call goes out, questions are asked, and the owner describes what happened and why he is selling the car. Long story short, he was/is a Honda guy that was wanting to try something new, but his mom didn;t see it that way. He also explained that the car was owned by just one other person before he bought it and that it had all its regular maintenance done on time with paperwork to prove it. So the phone call ends with him asking if we are going to stop by to look at the car that night, mind you that it was a Sunday around 3pm, an he lived 3 or so hours away.

The only problem we had was that all the banks were closed an we needed 2k if the car really was on the up and up. So we head out running from ATM to ATM trying to pull the required cash for the car. The owner called an hour or so later wondering where we were and I explained that with it being sunday afternoon that all the banks were closed and that we were 3 or so hours away but that we should be heading out shortly.

It was probably the longest 3 hours of my life, I remember going through, out loud, what I knew I needed to look for in a early Miata. AKA: looking at the rocker panels for rust, seeing if it had the short or the long nose crank, how did the top look, was the back window cracked, was the shelf in the engin bay rusted, and so on and so forth.

So we show up and there is like 5 cars at the house not including the miata, two CRXs, two DA Integras and a DC integra. Oh! an did I mention like two b Serease blocks on the driveway?

I get out of the ms3 an walk over to the owner and ask him if it was ok if I started the car, he throws me the key. After getting the formals out of the way I asked him about the paperwork he had for the car, and he responded with "look over the car I'll be right back there's a lot to bring out." So I do my normal thing and crawl all over the car an look for leaks/loose rims/dead hookers, etc etc. The first thing I noted was how nice the interior was for a car with 180k on the ODO. The carpet didn't have any missing fuzz, the seats look like they were from a new car, the only problem I saw was the "ricer" light up peddles.

With that out of the way I opened the hood an found a remarkably clean motor bay, not so nice that you could eat off of it, but for a car that was almost old enough to drink and had done 180k(keep in mind that the moon is only 238857 miles away,so ruffly only 59k left to go) yet had no random fluids or rust anywhere to be seen. After going through the rest of the engine bay and looking at the trunk I realized that the car had no rust anywhere to be seen, even in the trunk (a known area when the wrong battery is used).

At that time the owner comes back outside and was carring about 8 inches of paper stacked between his arms,"This is most of it" he said. Going through some of the papers I see mazda factory paperwork from CA from when the car was bought until about 2008, then it was paperwork from Mazda shops in MN. All the required RSM was done at a dealer all OEM parts, even the oil was changed at the dealer up until 2007, then to jiffy lube there after.

With all this paper work and the shape the car was in I mustered up the will to ask why he was selling the car. He responded by pointing over his shoulder an saying "My mom is done with all my cars, it's get rid of the Miata or my Integra." So I asked about the other cars and he responded with "They are all my projects and I still live with my mom, I need to have a running winter car so I have to stick with my Honda."

So with that I drove the car for about 20 or so minutes (drove around the block, and up and down the highway) and got back with a smile. The car didn't have any weird sounds/smells, hell the car didn't even have any slack in the steering wheel, some thing I hadn't had in one of my cars since my KIA some two years before. With that I happily handed over the 2k, didn't try to haggle at all, it floored my wife cause we can't go and buy anything anywhere with out me trying to get a deal some way.

3 hours back home went off with out a hitch.

V All from the day I picked up the car V

After about a year it looked like this

At this time it was on kyb agx that I had sourced from CL along with a radiator that did not have the shape of a racoon in it (thus the tape). Along with that buy came mazdaspeed tow points not bad for $150. Flying miata sways were then put on order a week later. Kept the car in this shape for about 2 years, until the 1.6 died at the track after 2 sessions of ripping around the track. Things you learn to late, dont let your father drive your car at the track. He shut it down hot and it developed a tick from the head that did not go away under normal mazda FSM recommendations or oil change, it eventually crappie flopped in the car and it was stored for me to build a high comp 1.6. So I put my time into my FB rx7 that i had just recently put a new 13b into. More info, dont buy a new block for a car that is slightly rusty in Minnesota. What look like just a little rust in it was way more than what I had thought in the 3 years that I had owned it. Underbody spray does a awesome job hiding missing tubs... normal FB rust in the bins and on the drivers side all most the way up to the strut mount, all the way down to the lower control link mount . So the the running 13b in the rusty rx7 came out and all the 1.6 items i had including pistons and rods were sold off to help fund the project. Its bin 15 months and it turns over, working on finishing the fuel system. Now for some photos!

Start of the project

Motor out and sizing up what I have to work with

Clearancing based off of Ford Mod motor swaps. The first cuts, and hammer time!

Reinforcing the subframe

Looks like crap, had to do a bunch of spot welds TRYING to not warp the subframe....

Eventually replaced with this

Buddy of mine welded the bar on used as the engine mount point

Showing mods to the firewall/frame rails

Stitch welding the engine bay

After painting the bay

Engine mounted

What the engine is connected to, all mazda factory parts no custom parts needed. Fc NA transmission with a miata tail end to it. other than that its just a junk yard sourced NA8C Torsen type 2 with 4.1 final drive 1.8 rearend swap and driveshaft. FC NA racing beat flywheel and Clutch Masters clutch.

From under the car when it was out to get the exhaust done, motor is crooked from not having all the bolts in the mount. fixed once all bolts were put back in.

So where does it sit now, waiting on the last of my fuel system to show up and then it will be on the road. The fuel regulator I had didn't go as far down as i needed which facilitated me an-6 the fuel system. What follows is the list of all that I have into it. Any questions I will be more than willing to help with, I'm tired of all this skunkworks crap with the rotary community especially when it comes to swaps. Other than the exhaust, powder coating, and the welding on the subframe all the work has been done by me, with the occasional helping hand from friends and the wife.

And a vid of it running

mndsm MegaDork
10/22/13 11:25 p.m.

Grm, meet Erik. Erik, grm. Erik and I go way back. I've pushed this car many times. Joelle aka Jojo is his wife.

ValuePack SuperDork
10/22/13 11:47 p.m.

Helluva first post! I about pissed with glee when rotary entered the equation.

Bonus points for gold rimmed Subaru background content.

mndsm UltimaDork
10/22/13 11:51 p.m.
ValuePack wrote: Helluva first post! I about pissed with glee when rotary entered the equation. Bonus points for gold rimmed Subaru background content.

DA T Subaru is the fancy. I'll let Erik tell the story lol

rewedmiata New Reader
10/28/13 3:26 p.m.
10/28/13 4:50 p.m.
rewedmiata wrote: Joelle and I got back from our honeymoon ...So with my needs squared away ... ... with the occasional helping hand from friends and the wife. And a vid of it ...

Sorry, Epic post and all, but I just could not get past this collection of phrases without smiling!

rewedmiata New Reader
10/28/13 4:58 p.m.


rewedmiata New Reader
10/28/13 5:00 p.m.


Required Items to get rotary into car

*Stock Items


NA FC transmission minus tail section

Miata 5sp transmission tail section inc shifter

Miata speedo gear

NA FC clutch slave cylinder

NA6c/8c PPF

NA6c/8c rear diff/axles


12a front cover

*Modified Items

Motor modds

GSLSE oil pan, modded to flip 180 deg

Miata 1.6 oil pickup modded to shorten and centered in gsl-se oil pan, machine base to fit under oil pan

B&M Oil cooler and lines

Body modds

Clearance frame rails on firewall

Transmission tunnel by remote shifter, grind down or fold down ring around hole @ center towards the motor

Heat shielding for brake/ fuel lines

Move brake / fuel lines to outside of sub frame/ remove from transmission tunnel

Modified stock or tubular front sub-frame

Preparations for use of front motor mount, used a 1 ΒΌ solid bar on the front of the subframe Gas tank needs to be clearanced, I used a peace of wood shaped like a wedge between the tank and the ppf

Transmission mods

NA FC clutch fork modded for clearance of the tunnel


1 1/4 aluminum sway bar brackets and bar clamps

Urethane differential mounts

Plate steel for fab work

High flow fuel pump

FPR for high volume low psi, related to carbs used.

Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/29/13 11:01 p.m.

I approve of anything with spinning triangles in it.

Great build.

rewedmiata New Reader
11/12/13 9:15 p.m.

Fuel System

JtspellS Dork
11/12/13 9:27 p.m.

Kick ass!!!!

rewedmiata New Reader
12/3/13 11:12 p.m.
Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/18/13 11:31 p.m.

What engine cradle did you use for that?

Curmudgeon MegaDork
12/19/13 1:58 p.m.

Cool! If I ever get tired of thrashing the rotary (currently undergoing boost transplant) Jensen it could become a rotary Miata, I got all the big things figgered out already.

Cody_D New Reader
12/19/13 3:43 p.m.

Awesome project, that's a nice looking Miata.

rewedmiata New Reader
12/22/13 3:19 p.m.

Brett it is this one without mounts V8 Roadsters Subframe

rewedmiata New Reader
4/27/14 10:41 p.m.

Spring update, got new emulsion tubes swapped in. Got new brakes all around (11 inch wilwood kit bp10 pads and 1.8 hps rear) and a proportioning valve.Got all my gauges to work, just need to figure out a bulb/led solution to the vdo gauges in the the cluster since the lights that came with them stick out to far for the gauges to fit in the housing. finally rewired the fuel pump, no longer requiring me to jumper the diag ports to keep it running. Rewired most of the stuff I did last minute last year thus fixing the random short i had. Stuffed in the new seat (pita). Now photos!

Now issues, the wilwood kit is to big for my rpf1s. One of the 1/8 npt to M10x1.0 fitting stripped since the rear brake hard line i had to replace had a non oe fitting on it that striped it. So waiting on 15x8 +35 PF01 and 225/45r15 Toyo R1Rs and a replacement fitting for the valve to show up. Other than that its clean up time. Reloom my new/modified wiring, start finding all my lost tools that are scattered in/around the car. Probably find a better radiator shroud and fans.

accordionfolder HalfDork
4/28/14 12:21 a.m.

This is awesome! Love the updates, new brake parts are so satisfying.

The first and fourth picture on your latest post aren't showing up. Copy pasted the url says I need to be logged in.

edit pictures are all viewable now, looking good!

Brett_Murphy GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/28/14 4:20 p.m.

Whee. I still want to do this to a Miata.

rewedmiata New Reader
5/5/14 11:40 p.m.

Looking a bit more complete, brake line fitting also showed up. Swapped the front studs out for ARP extended units. Also started getting the interior back to one piece, worked on getting the other seat in. Got the a/c delete tube back in place after getting the grommets in to protect the wires going thru the holes.

Now working on redesigning the throttle bracket to keep it from flexing, and more wire clean up/mounting the brake lines since the OE holders have succumbed to age. Slowly coming along, still need a alignment and to swap in the ARP studs in the rear. Now its just a bunch of little things.

rewedmiata New Reader
5/18/14 9:59 p.m.
rewedmiata New Reader
9/18/14 5:49 p.m.

So with about 2k on the swap the only issues that have sprang up are one busted heater core, and one bad alternator, and belt squeal. Heater core will wait till this winter to get replaced, just by passed it at the track. The alternator was a different story. I thought the intermittent belt squeal was just from having mismatched belts on the car, so I bought a gilmer belt setup. In the act of swapping that on I found out that my alt was not a s5 unit but a s6 unit, and that it had about 1/4 inch worth of shaft play. Next issue was that the s6 had a different shaft diameter than the s5, so instead of trying to find a FD alt and then try and bore out the pulley I just found a s5 alt. In stalled and no issues since :)

mndsm MegaDork
9/18/14 6:04 p.m.

I was wondering why Taya asked me if I had an s5 alt the other day.

rewedmiata New Reader
5/15/18 3:15 p.m.

Necro Bump, Updates!@!!

So I was hit in the rear while waiting for our normal Wed night car group back in April '16. Apparently the gentleman did not see me and decided to then attempt to drive off, so i decided to jump from my car and in front of his (employers) 2500hd. Long story short his bumper pushed in my drivers side tail light location and pushed me up on to the curb ever so slightly. Thus starting the wonderment of insurance on a modified car, thankfully I keep all my receipts :) Case in point I just a bout filled the trunk with just the items that i had bought for the aforementioned swap, So with the green light to go and get it fixed after having it inspected via there company insurance adjuster. So after that joyous news I had my trusted body shop and a buddy that does frame repairs inspected the car for any issues related to it twisting or bending the chassis. So after 2 sets of people running threw the car with measuring tapes and plum lines that the only damage to the car was the taillight, finish panel and a small dent under the drivers taillight the decision came down to how much to paint. I know the old photos are down but ill just reinforce that it wasn't really a looker even when i took delivery of the car, thankfully I had a pile of parts that tipped the scales over to a full repaint. So my old broken front bumper was replaced with the mariner blue junk yard special, my doors that i had bought about a year before and a new trunk lid were set aside for paint along with the rest of the car being stripped down to bare metal to inspect for any other wonderful miata surprises. All in the since my last update there have been a few other items replaced/upgraded over the years.  So then the fun of having my summer car being down for over a month to have all the little dings that were around along with the fitting of the "fantastic" carbon miata doors being installed along with the other items mentioned. So they say pictures are worth a thousand words, and with my appalling knowledge of the English language ill save the rest for a later date.


Updated Miata Parts list via vender


CCP Fabrication: Fiberglass Trunk

Garage Star: Frame rails, license plate relocation bracket

DIY Miata: Door Bars

Jetstream: Flush Headlight Kit

Carbon Miata: Fiberglass doors

Miata Roadster: Vented Acrylic corner windows

Enkie: PF01 15x8 +35

Toyo: 225/45 R1R

ARP: Extended Stud Kit

Tien: Mono Flex

Flying Miata: Sway bar kit

SafeRacer: Spec Miata Sway Bar End Links

Hardog: Hard Core Double Diagnal

Mazdaspeed: Tow Hooks, Steering wheel

Corbeau: FX1 Pro

V8 Roadsters: Mountless Front Subframe

Willwood: Front 11 inch BBK, Back NA8c LBBK with hand brake

Garage Vary: Front Lip

KG Works Style by RSpeed: Duck Tail Spoiler

Vitaloni Sebring Mach I Mirrors

Robbins oe replacement top




The day of getting it back and reinstalling the headlights, Ah cutting up fresh bumpers and paint.

Sizing up ware the replacement mirrors would go go CAD

First wash after all was said and done


Edit, I forgot the fan controllers i had died on the way home from the body shop and were replaced in short order by a Dakota Digital Programmable Dual Fan Controllers PAC-2750. I hot wired a fan and relay to the head light switch to get home, always an adventure!

Our Preferred Partners