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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everybody!

My name's JR., I'm from Canada, and I am building a track car against my will.

Well, not really-- but I really didn't mean for this to happen, I swear! Sure, I've always wanted to be that guy. You know the one I'm talking about-- that proud, slightly irritable fellow in the dirty coveralls, wrenching away in his driveway and spending his weekends at the track (note: this is pretty much how I picture you lot in my head-- quintessential car dudes). But until last weekend, that was all just a pipe dream. I never thought I'd try pulling it off. I used to attend track events locally with my Subaru: run a few laps and call it day. I realized pretty quickly that having your daily driver fill in for track duty was, though fun as hell, not really the most sensible (or practical) thing to do. So I let slip to a buddy at work (let’s call him Chris) a few weeks ago that I was in love with the idea of tracking a Miata. I should have known how this would end...

So I get a call from Chris last weekend. He says to me,

"JR., I've found this beat up Miata on Kijiji. It's nearby, and there's no list price. Wanna check it out?"

Needless to say, it was a trap. Chris was well aware of both my chronic inability to manage disposable income and my inexplicable desire drive recklessly around a racetrack in a Miata. There was nothing I could do.

So a few hours later, good judgement be damned, this glorious thing is sitting in my driveway:



So there it is. This is how it started. My name is JR.. I am building a track car against my will, and I'm absolutely thrilled about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Fine peoples of ClubRoadster, this is where we stand:

In the minus column:

I am not mechanically-inclined
I have no technical know-how to speak of.
I have a limited budget.

In the plus column:

I’m balls-to-the-wall committed to making this happen.
I have access to engineers, smart people, and possibly even machinists and their fancy machines.
At least one of us (Chris) knows what the hell is going on.

The mission:

To build a road-legal (for the purposes of driving to the track) track toy. No, I don’t know what type of event and class I want to participate or compete in, I’m open to suggestions. No, I don’t care what it looks like. Yes, I’m open to forced induction of some sort eventually. Yes, I’d like to get a cage in there eventually. And yeah, I’m perfectly cool with driving a stripped Miata on coilovers and a stock 1.6 as the rest of the project develops. I hear these things are awesome on stock power anyways.

So before we start, here’s a disclaimer.

This is a learning process for me. I know [next to] nothing about engines, suspension, tires, and all those other fancy things cars have. Any and all input, guidance, and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome. I ask that you bear with my ignorance. I’m working on it. I’m doing a metric ****-ton of research to try to wrap my head around all of this. As we make our way through this build together, I will make stupid mistakes. I will ask stupid questions (or make potentially incorrect assumptions). Once in a while, I may even demonstrate a complete failure to grasp the most basic of automotive principles. Please note that when this happens and you decide to put your rage and embarrassment into writing, I will point to this disclaimer and tell you that I had warned you about exactly this sort of thing happening, so there.

Also, I talk a lot, I know. Deal with it. Cliffs Notes are for pussies.
 

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If you haven't read up on it, the short story about a reliable track turbo setup is that it won't come cheap unless you can do fab work yourself. Stick with the easy stuff for now, weight reduction, maintenance, cowl intake/afm delete with Megasquirt (maybe not so simple, but you seem eager and this is a key part of going turbo anyway) is a good place to start. You'll break your rear end soon enough if you're ragging on it so budget for that. Post updates!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So, it’s a 1990 Miata. 250,000km. Red. Paid all of $600 for it. It runs, I’m told. Needs TLC the ad said. At that price, I wasn’t going to argue.

Turns out, we may have gotten pretty lucky. It runs great, for one. Drove it home without a hitch. Pulls nicely in all gears, and not even a suspension clunk. Got the Carfax: three previous owners. Some dude bought it new, kept it for two years. Then some old fellow had it for five, then some lady had had it for the rest of the time and only put 3000km on it in the last 3 years she owned it. The guy we bought it from had traded his snowmobile for it, had only had it for a week, and didn’t know anything the least bit helpful about the car. Whatever. It’s not pretty though. See for yourself:















Looks like it has a new rad. Chris says it may have come off an automatic.








We ran some injector cleaner through it and cleaned the throttle body. It wasn’t dirty-- not 250,000km dirty anyway. Oil is fresh and topped up. It looks like this thing has been maintained pretty well. Plan is to take care of the basic stuff first: change the plugs, plug wires, run a compression test, change the oil and filter, transmission fluids, coolant, etc.

Started pulling things out and found it's had some sweet chassis weight reduction done, courtesy of winters in Ontario :roll:







And the two bolts for the driver's seat pulled right out of the floor with the seat.



$600 is still looking like a pretty good deal, rust and everything considered. Tomorrow we keep stripping it down and start on the little things.
 

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Have fun. Get yourself a case of KROIL, or PB Blaster. You'll need it.
I lived in Toronto until I was nearly 30, and when working on cars there every nut and bolt was rusty.

I sure love it here in SoCal. Rust-free cars are so much easier to wrench on.
 

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JR if you want the Theory and options for wrenching a Miata I highly recommend this book on Amazon.

http://tinyurl.com/Build-a-High-Performance-Mazda

Comes in kindle edition.

Its more of a summary of what you can do to a Miata with good pointers.
You can get the same information on the net, but you'll have to scour 4 forums and filter the non important stuff and that could take weeks or months.

Or via the book a comfy weekend on the sofa.
 

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You got a project on your hands. I don't know readily available cars are in your area, but for how cheap miata's are I would just try to start with a clean slate. That of course, if there is such a thing as a rust free example up north. I'm fortunate enough to have rust-free cars in Florida. If you keep it and restore it I have lots of respect for sticking through it. I'll be following this one.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you haven't read up on it, the short story about a reliable track turbo setup is that it won't come cheap unless you can do fab work yourself. Stick with the easy stuff for now, weight reduction, maintenance, cowl intake/afm delete with Megasquirt (maybe not so simple, but you seem eager and this is a key part of going turbo anyway) is a good place to start. You'll break your rear end soon enough if you're ragging on it so budget for that. Post updates!
Thanks for the tips, Brontosaurus. The plan right now is to do exactly that. Weight reduction and maintenance, wheels, tires, and suspension before we move on to the bigger stuff.

Have fun. Get yourself a case of KROIL, or PB Blaster. You'll need it.
I lived in Toronto until I was nearly 30, and when working on cars there every nut and bolt was rusty.

I sure love it here in SoCal. Rust-free cars are so much easier to wrench on.
I envy you bud. This thing is pretty bad, though not as bad as the pictures make it out to be. I've been lucky so far though, I haven't had to resort to PB Blaster yet (knock on wood).

JR if you want the Theory and options for wrenching a Miata I highly recommend this book on Amazon.

http://tinyurl.com/Build-a-High-Performance-Mazda

Comes in kindle edition.

Its more of a summary of what you can do to a Miata with good pointers.
You can get the same information on the net, but you'll have to scour 4 forums and filter the non important stuff and that could take weeks or months.

Or via the book a comfy weekend on the sofa.
That looks like a great resource, and I'm in full-research mode right now, so I took your advice and ordered it on Amazon today. Thanks buddy.

You got a project on your hands. I don't know readily available cars are in your area, but for how cheap miata's are I would just try to start with a clean slate. That of course, if there is such a thing as a rust free example up north. I'm fortunate enough to have rust-free cars in Florida. If you keep it and restore it I have lots of respect for sticking through it. I'll be following this one.
Thanks for the advice sfl_miata. Miatas don't usually go for any less than $4000-$5000 around here for the same model year. In reality, this car is in great shape, apart from the cosmetic stuff, and it's pretty much stock to boot! And I got it for a fraction of that price. I'd be willing to wager that those more expensive ones are just as rusty, too. No car is spared in the North ;)

Today we did some more minor maintenance stuff. Changed the spark plugs, plug wires, and PCV valve. Took apart the soft top so that we can get that rear window fixed.





Ran a compression test too:

1. 190
2. 195
3. 195
4. 185

Still trying to figure out what that means exactly, but at least they're all close, right? The plan is to start taking care of that rust in the floor pans tomorrow. This week I should be able to bring the rear window out someplace to get fixed. Thanks for the words of advice dudes, keep it coming!
 

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Jesus Christ! Look at all that rust! :eek:
 

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Oh my that looks like a project! But in a good way:phillyb:
Ill throw my 2c in here as well, after you get the maintenance done and all the rust out and replaced with new sheet metal, get a roll bar. Then track it just the way it is, get a metric ton of seat time during this summer, use the winter to upgrade basics suspension etc. Its amazing what you can learn from a bone stock miata and sometimes its more fun that way too!
 

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Hey fellas I am JR's helping hand on this lovely tetanus infected project! LOL Besides the floor needed some repair the rest of the car is in rather good shape considering its age and milage. From what I have seen so far from this forum has a lot of great and easy going members, which is not found often.
I am a mechanic by trade and have spent most of my time on cars running the 1/4 mile with the occasional pay per lap days, so this is also going to be a new learning curve for me as well in regards to suspension spring rates, proper weight distribution and how to make it withstand long periods of up punishment.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Jesus Christ! Look at all that rust! :eek:
wow lots of rust but I see a good future for this car.
Hah, yeah I know. The pictures make it out to look worse than it -- bah, forget it! The pictures show it like it is :p
Oh my that looks like a project! But in a good way:phillyb:
Ill throw my 2c in here as well, after you get the maintenance done and all the rust out and replaced with new sheet metal, get a roll bar. Then track it just the way it is, get a metric ton of seat time during this summer, use the winter to upgrade basics suspension etc. Its amazing what you can learn from a bone stock miata and sometimes its more fun that way too!
Thanks for the advice man. I'm trying really hard to source a roll bar locally right now, but no luck yet (contact me if you've got one for sale!). I hear you though, I'm slightly disappointed I didn't get to drive it around as much as I wanted to when it was completely unmolested. Ah well!
 

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Okay, time for a small update!

Did some more stuff removal. Discovered what all the rage was about with the goopy junk in the doors. Some of irritation I've read about on various forums makes some sense now, hah! Anyways, because it was cold it wasn't too hard to peel off for the most part.



This is how it sits now. Roof is gone, so are the door cards, all the trim around the windshield, and a few other bits and pieces.





And the pile of excised Miata bits keeps growing! Though I don't have any numbers for you (and this process has been well-documented by others anyways), I'm surprised by how much all of this stuff weighs!

Here are a few more closeups of how bad the rust was before we started tearing into it:





We picked up some sheet metal, put the car on jackstands, and started cutting out the rusty floors. I use the term "we" quite loosely. Chris did the heavy lifting; I just ate chips and took pictures.





Also pictured above: chips.



Couldn't take any pictures of the new Flintstones-style floor pans for you guys because it was getting too dark. I'll try to snap some tomorrow.

The plan is to get the floors done this week. We intend to rivet the new sheet metal in and seal everything up with panel bond.

Next step is probably going to be to order some (read: a lot of) polyurethane bushings for all those suspension bits. We're going to be taking off the control arms and various other pieces to take them in and get them sand-blasted as well.

Also, sorry about the yellow in all these pictures. The car shelter is yellow, and it makes everything look a little seasick.
 

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. I'm trying really hard to source a roll bar locally right now, but no luck yet (contact me if you've got one for sale!).!

If you read through the million pages of the rollbar thread I'm pretty sure there is a company in Ontario that makes bars for Miatas. CSC racing maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
sub'd. This build looks promising
It's encouraging to hear that we're not the only ones who think this could work out! Thanks for your support Electokillz!

If you read through the million pages of the rollbar thread I'm pretty sure there is a company in Ontario that makes bars for Miatas. CSC racing maybe?
I remember reading a fair bit of negative feedback about these guys, something about catering mostly to the muscle car crowd and a bit of an attitude. Might be worth another look though, thanks man.

Also, breaking news:

 
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