I realized over the weekend that I havent’t made a $200 miata update in almost a year. And after seeing how nice AestheticsInMotion’s car is in person at the oppo meet, I decided to finally post an update on my pile.
As of the last update I’d found an old early 2000's miata turbo kit in a relative’s basement. Well it turned out that it’s actually a 1.8 kit, so for now my cheapskate miata turbo dreams are on hold.
The actual turbo is pretty neat, never put hands on a variable vane setup before, amazing that people were pushing close to 300hp on this little thing back in the early 2000s. Shown for reference below next to a Garrett GT28 housing. Both on the hood of the Miata which has doubled as a workbench area for for me over the past year.
So, with the scope of the project shrinking a bit, I decided to give her a proper shake down at a local autocross. I picked up a cheap set of NB wheels off of craigslist to get rid of the 50lb 18" chrome wheels that came on the car, and replaced the three (!!) wheel bearings that those wheels had trashed.
Upon arriving they informed me that zip-ties and bungees were not enough to hold a battery in place. So I took a quick trip to the hardware store and improvised this
There was no way I was going to fit my marine battery into the stock location, so I traded off a little of the already limited trunk space for a proper mount.
Once I got out there the car was a bit of a handful. The wet ground wasn’t helping, nor were the 8 year old all season tires, but the car was really slide-ey. And not repeatably so, it would react differently through the same course when given the same inputs. Still managed to do alright with a raw time squarely middle of the pack, but the car was fighting me the whole time. On the way home, someone flagged me down to inform me that my wheel was wobbling. Turns out, two of the wheels I’d bought had a pretty bad bend at the hub causing almost a quarter inch of toe change per rotation. The only thing I can think, is that the guy I bought the wheels off sideswiped a curb somehow without any curbrash. In any case, that explained the unpredictability when driven hard. I put the two stock daisy wheels with the most tread back on and the car felt a lot less sketchy at the next event.
The next order of business was taking care of the clutch hydraulics. There was an internal leak somewhere that would slowly bleed off pressure while I had the clutch depressed. For the most part I could drive around it, but it wasn’t exactly great for traffic (or in the grid at events). Thankfully parts for the Miata are real cheap, so I got a new clutch slave and a new master cylinder for around $40
At this point the car had mostly become my daily driver (Sort of, I ride a motorcycle every day, but it became the car I’d use most often when a car was needed) and aside from the terrible fuel economy it actually didn’t have many issues! Seriously though... 22mpg highway... on a light weight 1.6l 4 cylinder :/
I ended up taking it to cars and coffee a few times for a laugh along with the (at that point) three other friends from the BRZ scene who I’d convinced to buy cheap rustbucket Miatas.
I continued to drive and autocross it for the rest of the year. At the last event of the season I gave it a little too much clutch kick to clear a pivot cone and the diff finally gave out. Actually I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did, the service records I’d found in the glove compartment indicated that a “chunk” had come out of the diff during it’s last service. Gave me a reason to finally put in the LSD that had been gathering dust.
I probably should have replaced the subframe while I was there, but I didn’t particularly feel like fighting every single suspension bolt being seized on that day. Diff went in without much issue and performs pretty well (for a VLSD), but I haven’t had the chance to have it out on track yet.
A few weeks later a seal blew in one of my front brake calipers. They had been feeling pretty mushy for a while, but I’d assumed it was air trapped somewhere in the system. I came out after work one day to find some fluid on my tire.
Rather than bother with a rebuild, I just bought a new set of front calipers for right around $100.
They took the squishy feeling brakes right away, in hindsight, that seal was probably on it’s way out the whole time I’d owned the car.
The next thing of note that happened is that I found a great deal on a hardtop, unfortunately it was two hours away and sold before I could make it out. On the bright side the guy offered me a hell of a deal on a Hard Dog roll bar and some knockoff CCW wheels (which I mostly wanted for the decent tires)
I had to make a few of my own backing plates to mount it all up, but should be good to do some real tracks this year!
That’s pretty much everything from the past year or so ( year and a half since I bought the car)
Clutch Hydraulics $40
LSD and spare rear subframe $250
Set of Stock Wheels $20
2x Federal 595 tires $80
Extra exhaust $70
Plug Wires $25
Front Brakes $104
Roll Bar and Avid 1 wheels with Toyo T1-R Tires $300
This is the first time I’ve actually added it up, turns out I’d been under estimating my total out of pocket by around 30%. I was hoping to get it track ready for under $1k (kind of an arbitrary goal set at the beginning) , but I don’t think I could find anything better for $1300