dherr HalfDork
1/26/20 6:33 p.m.

So a few years ago, we purchased a clean 1991 NA Miata with a hardtop for $3,000. I was shocked that it had zero rust and was in really solid shape, had around 120K miles on it and had recent maintenance including timing belt and a new radiator. The negative was that it was automatic, but we had purchased it as a second car for our kids to drive, and a fun car for my wife to drive when she wanted a convertible. The car served us well for over 20K miles of relatively reliable motoring including several trips down to ECU for our son to get to college and back.

So now that our kids are out of college, we are at phase two. Car needs paint, has a few dents and dings but is still rust free and generally in very good condition for the year and mileage. I had posted about what to do with an automatic Miata and got your feedback on the options. While I would love to stuff a Kseries in this car, realistically I have decided to upgrade it to a 1.8 and 5 speed. So I started searching for a suitable donor car and in typical Grassroots fashion, decided to see how cheaply I could do the swap. Several weeks later, I found a guy selling two M-Edition 1994 Miatas for $1,000. I called him up, confirmed their were truly M-Edition cars and were complete and had him deliver them to our home.

One car was really rusty but complete and the 2nd car was wrecked on the front corner, but in much better condition. Overall, I knew I could pull the Torsen differentials out of both cars and get my money back, but what I was hoping was that the wrecked car was a runner. After going over it, pulling the bent fender away from the front wheel and reattaching the MAF that was dislocated in the accident, I checked the fluids and charge the battery. Fingers crossed I hooked everything up and it fired right up. Turns out it was wrecked back in November and towed to the storage facility in December, so all was recent and there was a bunch of maintenance records and the title in the glove compartment. Looks like I found my drive train. Car runs and drives great, have driven it around to test the transmission and all seems to be good.

So the plan is to part out the 2nd car, and update the 1991 to a 1.8, 5 speed, Torsen diff, larger brakes and the M-Edition interior.  Now that I have the runner, I have moved the parts car into the garage to start the stripping and figuring out what can be resold. I'll also swap out the springs/shocks for something better.

Once this car is stripped, I'll cut it into pieces (it is extremely rusty, rockers, fenders all missing their lower sections. But the front end will be saved as it can be used to fix the other car. My plan is to put the 1.6 subframes into the wrecked car, so it is a roller and put the 1.8 entire drivetrain including subframes, into the silver car.  I will be basically making the 1991 into a 1994  as I'll install the wiring harness as well as the drivetrain so that everything works, including the new dash. I will have to spend some money on maintenance items, I need to have the M-Edition leather seats repaired and I'll get the car repainted, but overall this will be a low cost conversion and a solid car once it is done.

I may have a buyer for the wrecked car. 



Vigo MegaDork
1/27/20 7:55 a.m.

This is gonna be cool! 

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/27/20 8:26 a.m.


dherr HalfDork
1/27/20 9:02 a.m.

I should be pretty good at removing the body from the subframes after this project. At least I get to practice on the parts car first.

dherr HalfDork
2/9/20 7:19 p.m.

So have been spending the last two weeks tearing down the parts car, turns out it is a 1996 M-Edition and not a 1994. Car is pretty stripped, just need to pull the harnesses and see if I can cut out the windshield without breaking it and I'll have this one hauled away. Sold the Torsen, axles and drive shaft, have a decent 5 speed and a core motor in anyone wants it. I'll also have a full harness and ECU for the car (1996 ABS M-Edition so has all the options). So the next question is why did I cut the nose off the car (other than to make it super easy to pull the engine and transmission?

For the other M-Edition, that I will be using for the drivetrain for the automatic 1991, it is basically a pretty solid car, only real rust is at the back of the rockers on both sides, but this is not terminal by any means. The reason it came into my hands was due the the accident that blew the air bags. Bent the drivers side fender, frame rail and inner fender and messed up the drivers side pop up headlight, but not enough to mess with the subframe or suspension as far as I can tell. Seems to drive just fine.  So it looked like what was on this parts car were the perfect repair parts for the 1994. 

So once the parts car is out of the garage, the next steps will be to pull the entire drive train out of the 1994, pull the entire drive train out of the silver 1991 and basically swap everything over. I'll be selling the good 1.6 and auto transmission, and the 1994 will be available as a "roller" with all the body parts to fix it, but minus an engine and transmission. So great car for the Challenge or for a project. AWSX1686 has first dibs on it, but if he does not take the roller, it will be advertised on this board first. 


Greg Smith
Greg Smith Dork
2/9/20 10:11 p.m.

Christopher is looking for a computer for testing. He still is tracking down a no spark issue in his 94 from the past 2 Challenges? Maybe you have one available for loan? 

dherr HalfDork
2/10/20 8:11 a.m.

Sure no problem, have Andrew or yoursefl stop over any day but Wednesday  when you are in the area and you can borrow it.

dherr HalfDork
2/16/20 5:53 p.m.

Finished stripping the parts car M-Edition this weekend. Tried really hard to save the windshield for the other car, even used a hair dryer to soften the seals, which worked to a degree, but it cracked on the bottom corner, so that ended that thought. Everything worth saving is in boxes, the chassis is a roller, I'll pull the daisy's and put back on the scrap honda wheels it had on it when I got it and have it hauled away for scrap. I would have saved the suspension, but the subframes are rusted and all of it is in poor condition. The other car is in much better condition!


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