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I don't think there are too many around here who fit the description, but if you're one of those who thinks it's criminal to "destroy" a limited edition Miata rather than restore it to new, please stop reading now - I recognize your opinion but it's my car and my cash.

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I've owned a couple of Miatas in the past, both of which met untimely ends before I was done enjoying them. After a few years without one I found myself in the position of wanting another but unable to justify the lack of practicality as a DD when kids were planned in the near future. Ended up with a new MINI as a practical analog with a back seat. Didn't want to do too much modding on the MINI while under warranty. Happen to be cruising Craigslist when a '93 LE pops up for dirt cheap (I think they were asking $2100). I've always had a fondness for the LEs so it wasn't hard to convince myself that picking up a cheap Miata would be a good way to keep my hands off the MINI.

Long story less-long, the car had 200k miles on the clock, a mediocre repaint, an interior that looked like it had been in the sun with the top down for the whole 200k miles, the top was shot and it was missing the MSSS radio and one of the BBS center caps. It does, however, run and shift great, the wheels and caps that are there are in great shape and it has the original Bilsteins and a more or less perfect full red tonneau. I talked her down a few hundred bucks and drove it home 50 miles in the rain with the back window down (since the zipper was broken).

Realizing the car was well beyond having any particular value as an LE my original intent was to bring the maintenance up to speed, sell what I could of the LE bits, get it looking halfway decent (at the time thinking matte black with a cheap black interior swap) and have a cheap Miata to play with. Somewhere along the line this plan got scrapped and I've since dived into a major overhaul on the car.

As purchased (other than some serious cleanup):




Pictures do the car justice - interior was much worse and the pictures hide the flaws in the paint pretty well.

Brought the maintenance up to speed (standard stuff - had new OE parts for a TB change, hoses, etc around from my prior 2 1.6's). Tires on the car were dry rotted, so next order of business was some new shoes. With the price of tires I didn't want to buy 14's for the LE wheels only to have to buy 15's later when I got new wheels, so decided to go ahead and do new wheels with the tires.

Ended up with a set of Enkei J-Speed 15x8 +25 and 205/50/15 Yokohama S.Drives from TireRack:





Incidentally I was subsequently able to sell the LE BBS wheels and a more or less brand new red tonneau I found in the trunk to recoup some of the cost of the car...

Paint was flaking badly on the hood and cracking on the rear spoiler but seemed sound for painting over on the rest of the car. I actually ended up getting the paint off the hood with a plastic scraper... No chemicals or excessive sanding needed - it came off in chunks:





Note the glue crap where someone had replaced the "eternal flame" with a Brabus emblem - not sure what the thinking was there...

Picked up a faded red hardtop from a local junkyard for $550. No defrost or headliner (who cares about defrost - I'm in Houston) but solid structurally and the rubber seals are still nice and soft.



Sanded down the hardtop and painted it black. Went ahead and removed the soft top altogether for the time being, put the whole thing out for heavy trash.

No pics, but after finding that Fat Cat doesn't do custom revalving of used Bilsteins anymore I went ahead and picked up a new set of Bilstein HDs. Installed those with some eBay coilover sleeves (diameter was perfect to fit the Bilsteins with no cheesy o rings, sitting on the clip with the perches removed), 400lb Eibach springs front / 250lb Summit Racing rear and a set of NB top hats with poly bushings made by cutting down some Performance Suspension end link bushings.

I've since picked up a set of ISC top hats to replace the NB hats but haven't installed them yet. Not going for slammed, but wanted a decent drop - the LE may be the lowest factory Miata made but still looks like a 4x4. So far I'm happy with the Bilstein setup. With those spring rates it should provide good handling with a decent ride and hopefully be more durable than a full coilover setup (had Teins on my first Miata and the rears started leaking in under 10k miles).

Currently I've got the car apart and am getting it prepped for paint. Doing it myself to keep the cost down, but taking the time to do everything right.



Sanded off the chip guard on the lower sides and rockers. Planning to use 3M clear bra material to protect the paint on those areas. Pic isn't very current - front bumper is now off and I'll be pulling the fenders and doors off shortly - going to paint everywhere except inside the trunk and under the hood. Removed all the trunk carpet, cleaned and sanded the inside and coated it with spray on truck bed liner. Under the hood I'll do some clean up and either respray black or use the bed liner when I go to swap the engine down the road. Shaved the antenna hole by welding in a piece of a fender I picked up cheap off a wrecked Spec Miata (thanks to Gashead Motorworks here in Houston).

Picked my new color and the paint's sitting in my office... No more black - going with a Kirker Urethane base coat / clear coat in Mocha Frost Pearl Metallic. It's a color I haven't seen anyone use yet that I can recall... Unfortunately I can't find a good pic of it online - the sites that sell it don't have color samples to do it justice. It's a light tan metallic, should look good with the red on the interior (which I've decided to keep, toned down a bit with some black bits R-Limited style).

Have been collecting parts to go on once everything's done. Thus far in my pile I've got a pair of wing indicators (fender turn signals) from the UK along with chrome trim rings I need to install, a RoadsterSport 3 exhaust from Good-Win Racing, a Riceland header (we'll see how it stacks up to the RB header I had previously - I may upgrade), a set of Aerodramatics interior door pulls from Phat, OBX fuel lid, a set of KG Works type 2a mesh TSIs I picked up in the FS/T forum, an eBay R-Package front lip to replace the one that was missing when I bought the car and a few other goodies. Also have some minty black OE trim pieces to replace the trashed red plastics and complete the R-Limited look.



Picked up a set of brushed Raydot convex mirrors and ordered a pair of NA manual mirrors from Alex at 2ndChanceRoadster. Last weekend I finished modifying the Miata mirror bases to work with the Raydots and provide what I think is a better look than the sheet aluminum base plates some folks use along with full adjustability without removing them from the car. I'll be posting a how-to in the DIY section on it soon - took lots of pics during the process.

Painted the bases black to match the bases on the Raydots and used some 60 grit sandpaper to give the ring between the plastic base cover and Raydot base a brushed look to match the mirror itself. Going to install the mirrors with the bases horizontal rather than vertical as the are used with the stock mirrors.



I've also picked up along the way a set of '95M seats and today put in my order with Leatherseats.com for a set of full leather "Ecstasy Cobalt Red" seat covers for them. Having the center sections done in a 2" horizontal stitch pattern similar to this:



Seat covers are going to end up costing me more than I invested in the car itself (after the sale of the wheels and tonneau), but what the hell.

That about brings things up to speed... Will keep posting progress. Hoping it all comes together when "done" - the project's really snowballed beyond my initial plans.
 

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I've also picked up along the way a set of '95M seats and today put in my order with Leatherseats.com for a set of full leather "Ecstasy Cobalt Red" seat covers for them.

Seat covers are going to end up costing me more than I invested in the car itself (after the sale of the wheels and tonneau), but what the hell.
I absolutely love the direction you're taking. Can't wait to see the mocha paint against the LE red and black interior. It'll be tasty and unique.

I feel your pain on the re-skinned '95M seats. Question: What made you go with that Ecstasy red instead of Carmine Red? I have the Carmine Red seat covers from Leatherseats.com and they match my '93LE interior pretty much perfectly. How does the red you chose compare?

Anyway...subscribed for updates. Hope to see your car in person some time when it's done!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I absolutely love the direction you're taking. Can't wait to see the mocha paint against the LE red and black interior. It'll be tasty and unique.

I feel your pain on the re-skinned '95M seats. Question: What made you go with that Ecstasy red instead of Carmine Red? I have the Carmine Red seat covers from Leatherseats.com and they match my '93LE interior pretty much perfectly. How does the red you chose compare?

Anyway...subscribed for updates. Hope to see your car in person some time when it's done!
I have samples for both... Carmine Red is just a touch more burgundy than the Ecstasy Cobalt Red. They had a Dark Cobalt Red as well that was closer to the Carmine color and actually seemed to be a closer match than either Carmine or Ecstasy Cobalt to the underside of the leather covering the zipper on my existing seats (which should be close to original since it's hidden from the sun), but it's the regular leather rather than the premium they offer and the regular leather just feels crappy compared to the "good stuff". I felt the difference in material quality merited the $400 price increase from having to go full leather to get the premium leather, at the expense of precision in color matching.

Carmine and Ecstasy Cobalt are both very close, and I think either would be equally fine with the interior since there are a few slightly different shades of red already in the LE interior (between the carpet, plastics, seats). Honestly I doubt you'd be able to differentiate the two colors if you didn't have them right next to one another.

Carmine Red (left) and Ecstasy Cobalt Red (right) w/ and w/o flash:


On the plus side, folks who aren't quite as particular about materials have the Dark Cobalt Red option available for them and it seems they'd get the best match for $400 less by going with standard leather/vinyl.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's my understanding that they have vinyl to match the standard leathers but not necessarily the premiums. That said, I haven't actually seen the Dark Cobalt Red vinyl, so would definitely want to see a sample of the vinyl with a sample of the leather before committing to it, were I inclined to go in that direction. I didn't include the Dark Cobalt sample in the pics, but it's similar in shade to the Ecstasy Cobalt but quite a bit darker - similar in brightness to the Carmine.

On another note, mk2tmr2's presence reminded me I didn't post a pic of the fine custom center cap logos I got from him! ;)

 

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Discussion Starter #11
so far so good, don tlet us down lol :) If you get board of the rear bumper lip you can ship it this was for xmas :)
The ends of the lip are cut to fit around the mud guards that were on the car and I won't be putting the mud guards back on (actually already tossed them in the trash - they were in pretty sad shape), so won't be using the lip. I'm still torn on whether to do a bumper cutout or not, but even if I don't I'll have to get a new uncut lip.

If you've got mud guards you're welcome to it for $20 to cover the shipping to Cali... I've got so many boxes around here right now I'm sure I have one it'll fit.
 

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Please please please post up what you had to do to those Raydots to make them work with the OEM bases. That looks fucking excellent.

Also I am liking this build so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Unfortunately I came down with a horrible chest cold and didn't get anything done this past weekend. On the up side, the postlady finally showed up today with a small box o' love from das Vaterland...

 
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