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114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone

I finally got my own MX5! :D

Sorry for the bad photos, I'll take some better ones once the weather improves.

"Maria" is a 1994' MX5 with the 1.8l engine and a pre-facelift dashboard.
The speedometer is in kph (of course), water-temperature only shows "C" and "H" and oil-temperature is measured in kg per cubic centimeter with three numbers on the scale.
The car is black/black with fabric seats, and is equipped with a (faux?) leather steering wheel with an airbag, ABS, power steering, electric windows and mirrors.
She also got an immobiliser installed at some point in time.

I bought her (that sounds kinda wrong) with two previous owners and just over 84.000 kilometers on the clock (about 52.200 miles).
The first owner was a woman somewhere in Bavaria from 1994 to 2013
After that the car went to a guy in Munich who drove it for two years before storing it when he and his wife had a child.
He never got to drive it again since recently, after two years of the car being stored, they had two more kids at once.
Because of that the car had to go.
The good thing is that he ran it on "seasonal plates", meaning it wasn't driven in winter and thus saw little to no salt (which is poured on German roads to melt snow).
I didn't want to drive a car that had been parked for two years and that didn't have "TÜV" (mandatory inspection every two years) up the Autobahn for about 800km (about 500 miles), so a colleague of a friend of mine put it on a trailer and brought it along when he made the trip anyway.

The car got some rust at the very rear end of both rocker panels as well as some other minor flaws, but then again, I didn't pay all that much for it.
And by the way, I chose not to write about money/list prices here.
The car does drive/brake/steer/shift perfectly fine, no warning lights stay on after starting the car, and I did test the most important function:

As soon as the weather improves Maria will get a proper wash and interior-cleaning, then I'll take care of some minor issues, and somewhen in early-to-mid April she'll be off to an expert to do the rust repair.
After that I scheduled a (probably complete) respray, after that I hope to pass the TÜV-inspection, and at last she'll get a roll bar.
I know I could've tried the repair and respray myself, but I chose to invest some money to have it done properly.

This will probably be the slowest build thread in internet-history, since I don't exactly have a fortune to spend at once.
Also, everything I do has to be TÜV-compliant, and that DRASTICALLY narrows down my options.
If you want, just check random aftermarket parts' websites if they have "ABE" or if they're "TÜV/TUV-compliant".

Right now I'm sitting here, with the car outside my window, and smile from ear to ear like a little child on christmas :claugh:

Until soon,


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I've done the first proper inspection (about two weeks after buying the car )

I already knew about the rust on the rocker panels, and apart from that there really aren't many flaws to list.
-The power windows are slow (some WD40 should help with that).
-The rear right indicator doesn't work (luckily I didn't drive the car from Munich to Hamburg).
-The doors have some minor dents (either one of the two previous owners fought for parking spots, or he/she parked on a golf course).
-The hardtop has a scratch on the B-pillar (probably leaned against something and fell over).
-The driver's side outside door handle needs some work (if you pull it and let go, it stays pulled).
-The paint on the front bumper is almost sub-decent.
-When it's cold the engine "clickers", an issue that gets a lot better once the engine warms up (it's probably the hydraulic valve lifters (right word?), after two years of storage).

Eventually I'll need a new softtop (but it doesn't leak yet), and I'll kick out the installed Kenwood-Radio.
That thing looks ugly, doesn't sound nice, I can't hook up my cell-phone and I don't need a CD-player or half a dozen radio stations.

Later today I'll give her a proper cleaning inside and out, and maybe I'll manage to take some presentable photos.
Apart from a lot of dirt the interior is almost as brand new (some very minor wear on the driver's seat), I even still got the "wrap" on the spare wheel, the original documents and manual, and (as far as I know) every single bill she ever produced since 1994 (tires, inspections, oil, the car itself...).

Once I get her back on the road and driving (around late April) I'll have to try to get used to the rather high seats (or do something about that, other than cutting out foam).

I still have to be careful to not hit my head on the hardtop (happened repeatedly)when getting in, and I also have to find a way to get from standing outside to sitting inside that doesn't involve kicking the hood release.

But first of all I'll get her (kind of) "baselined" (fluids, brakes, tires), then all the annoying stuff will be taken care off (rust, TÜV), and then...well, then I'll get to have fun with the car.
I'll probably go down some retro-ish route, with a few exceptions (power steering, roll bar) and a bit of cheating (the new radio will probably end up in the trunk, so it's invisible).


Oh, by the way:
The "old lady" that the previous owner said was the first owner has her year of birth listed as 1964.
I don't really know if that qualifies as "old"/"senior" :dunno:
But that's literally the only thing that doesn't quite match what the previous owner said.

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Cleaned her inside and out, which seemed to have been long overdue.
The previous owner had mentioned "completely ruined" paint, but apart from the front bumper it's actually alright.
After that I took some presentable photos:

That's my Labrador, "Mali".
She...doesn't really trust "that new thing" yet.

I also had to do this, but by combining two photos on the computer rather than messing with the pop-up headlights.

Until soon,


By the way:
The plates (they're always that big, and one on the front in that exact spot is mandatory) are no longer valid (they're still from the previous owner in Munich).
They're only still on the car because we had my last car in the backyard without plates for a week, and the neighbors complained about it.

71 Posts
Congrats on the new car! Looks like it's in great condition and props to you for doing the rust repair correctly so you don't have to worry about it down the line.

The noise you mentioned is what we call "lifter tick".

I'd also get some actual lubricant for the slow windows, or get new window guides made from delrin. They'll last longer and will solve that issue for the rest of the car's life.

Keep up the great work!

3,668 Posts

730 Posts
Welcome almost-neighbour! Well not really, compared to the US maybe... Your problems are all very common and easy to fix, don't worry ;) Also don't worry about TÜV, there are ways :D I have a '94 NA8, too, with turbo, flares and wide wheels, still it's legal and registered. Have fun with yours!

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Removed the hard top

Today I used half an hour of sunny weather to take the hard top off Maria.
It's a bit heavier and a lot harder to handle than I had expected.
Next time I will try to find someone to help me maneuver that thing.
I think Maria looks a lot better topless :)bouncin:)*, and I have nothing to hit my head on anymore either.

I also noticed that the sun visors will definitely have to go, with them down and (especially) the headlights up I just feel like I don't see enough out the windscreen.

The plastic rear window (I got the version with a zipper) looked alright, some scratches but no cracks or anything like that.
Unfortunately, the soft top's fabric is everything but alright:

Since the ripped spots and holes were large enough to look out of them the roof is very certainly NOT waterproof anymore, and I have to add a new one (at least new fabric, the mechanics are alright) to the "shopping list" (which keeps growing).
I'll try to get the hard top back on tomorrow to take care of the problem for now (I currently can't drive the car anyway).

Until then, it's stored in the living room, supported by a footstool and covered by a blanket (so my dog doesn't scratch it up more than it already is).

Until soon,


*I apologize for the poor joke based off the car's name and the term "topless".

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Re-parked Maria and let her idle for five minutes afterwards.
Lots and lots of smoke from under the hood :eek:

The photo was taken long after the engine was turned off.

It comes mainly out of the gap in between the left fender and the hood as well as out of the left wheel-arch, once I open the hood it's clearly coming from the exhaust-manifold.
Some day soon I'll take off the heatshield and see if I can spot a leak.
If I'm lucky it's the manifold-gasket, if I'm less likely the manifold itself needs a replacement, and if I'm out of luck the engine (block/head) itself is damaged.

As I already had the hood open I had a closer look at the little slip of paper that the guy who did the last oil-change left behind.

The oil was changed at a mileage of about 51.000, on the third of May 2014.
It was due to be changed in May of 2015 (since the car hasn't reached a mileage of ~60.000 miles/97.000km yet).
Once I change the oil, and replace it with something better than the 10W-40 that's in it now, I may just get rid of the "lifter click" that's present now, mainly on a cold engine.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Today I crawled into the interior and took a bunch of measurements for a couple of (probably pretty chaotic) sketches.
Among them:

-I measured up this plate below my radio:

Since I'm not going to use the hardtop I won't need the defroster-switch, so that will have to go.
The "pimple" on the left is the sensor for the immobilizer, I want to replace the sensor and the light with a simple toggle switch.
The square thing is the control for the electric mirrors.
I don't like it, but it will have to stay since I don't want to loose the electric mirrors.
The "main change" I'm planning is to, if I do a console delete, put the window switches where the defroster switch is, and that seems to actually fit.
I may find another place to put the radio (or to replace it with something smaller), which would give me more options in changing the console.
Then again, I'm not sure where to put the radio.
It would pretty much fill out the glove box, and placing it in the trunk is just impractical.

-Considered putting the door-speakers not onto the doors but into the lower center console (similar to what the Jaguar E-Type does).
I measured the diameter of the speaker-cover, found a piece of rubber from the kitchen that has the same size, and went to see if it would fit (judging from the diameter alone):
Passenger side:

Driver's side:

Judgign from the diameter it's possible (although it's a close call with the screw under that rectangular cover), but I realized that it would be problematic as long as there's a radio in the tombstone.
Not just physically, but also with possible audible interference from being that close to the radio.
And it can't be placed much lower, because you'd run out of center console to cut into.
So I'm not going to do it, but maybe one of you guys may end up considering that relocation.

-At last, I sketched up a plan to replace the (pretty useless) light in the passenger footwell with a cigarette lighter/power outlet, so I have a better place to plug in a cell phone or a GPS than the stock cigarette lighter behind the steering wheel.
I know that that will not look nice, but in that case form follows function.

What's left to do today:
-Getting a "shopping list" together to make the passenger light replacement
-Finding a retro-looking radio that I can connect to my cell phone
->Or figure out a way to listen to music from the cell phone without a classic radio


Sorry about the dusty interior

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I removed the footrest since I'm pretty much never using it and since it's protruding a bit too far towards the driver's seat.
The result looked like this:

Unfortunately the two screws that hold it down aren't attached to the footrest but to the floor of the car.
And since I didn't want two "toothpicks" sticking into the footwell I had to re-install the footrest for now.

While crawling around in there I also noticed that my gas-pedal doesn't look like the other pedals.
Is that always the case?
Or was something changed about my car?
And if there was, what are the pedals supposed to look like?


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Long time no see

So, about a week ago I borrowed my father's dealer-plates, allowing me to drive (briefly) with expired TÜV.
The plan was to visit a few workshops and get approximate costs for rust repair and paint.
Also, I FINALLY got to drive the car : 3gears:
My father accidentally went sideways on a curved downhill onramp (to a large country road, I'm not taking Maria on the Autobahn), but, against all expectations, I didn't lose the rear end once.
So that was a success :cool:

Coming from a Mark IV Golf I have to get used to the very direct steering (even with power steering), I still tend to "over-correct" a bit when trying to go in a straight line especially on bumpy roads.
Oh, and the headrests hardly touch my head :dunno:

In the small village of didn't-read-the-sign a driver in front of me missed her desired exit in a roundabout, stopped, and backed up (slowly, at least) into me.
No dent, small scratch, seemingly no real damage done.
Still, I guess "25 minutes" is the shortest time anyone has ever driven a Miata/MX5 accident-free.

The main results of the day are:
-Rust repair is going to be very expensive
-A duct-tape-patched roof can keep out rain quite well
Because yes, it rained for most of the day.

At one of the workshops I got the first chance to see Maria from underneath, and a mechanic there (once we got around the German-to-Russian language barrier) welded a tiny hole in my muffler.

Also, I now got a (relatively) completelist of repairs/problems:
->Rather soon:
-I got bad rust on all four corners, but only the fenders not the chassis/rocker panel itself
-I need either a new exhaust manifold, or an exhaust manifold gasket (that's where the smoke came from)
-All pads and the rear discs are done (or rather, done enough to fail TÜV)
-I'll get a roll bar (TR-Lane, most likely)
-Get a new key (my current one doesn't work for the trunk, and the "main" one got a crack almost all the way across)

->Not so soon:
-I need a new soft top (vinyl or fabric, not sure yet).
-New tires (the ones on the car are 9 1/4 years old, but still work decently)
-Tear up the center console/tombstone to get rid of the current radio and the immobilizer

->Maybe in the future:
-I will get new seats (maybe ones from the Lotus Elise)
-Find a way to get rid of the dead pedal, it's mainly in the way

On the 24th of July I plan on leaving for the alps (over 3000km in a car I've hardly driven), I HOPE that I get the worst stuff fixed by then and get fresh TÜV.
Alternatively I can either try to get my father to borrow me his weekend-car, or stay at home (and pay for most of the trip regardless).


Oh, and I also went and bought a DJI Mavic Pro.
Because the suitcase with my current/previous drone doesn't fit in the MX5's trunk.

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Yesterday I set up a "party tent" in our back yard (Maria doesn't get garage-privileges from my parents), put her on stands at the rear and started disassembling the rear end.
I booked a rental trailer for Monday to get her to the coachbuilder to do the rust repair and to have her painted, and he said if I deliver the car disassembled it speeds up his work and I save a few (hundred) bucks.
Also, in the process, I'm considering to deleting the mudguards.
This is what Maria looked like yesterday when I called it a day:

I broke three (completely rusted out) screws, and when the little plastic clamps that hold the mudguards to the bumper got...stubborn I "solved" that problem with a small disc grinder :evil:

"On the side" I finally found a place for the hard top (which does get to be inside a garage) by putting two sizable bolts into the garage wall and letting them stick out far enough to work like the Frankenstein-bolts on the back of the car.
Feels pretty securely, and looks like this (warning: crappy cell phone picture):

Taking out the trunk-liner I first thought that I'd found yet another rust-spot, but it turns out Maria carried quite a lot of some strange tiny metal balls in the trunk.
I got no idea where they come from: I said, the car is supposed to be headed for the coachbuilder's workshop on monday.
He says he needs 2-3 weeks for the rust removal, metal work and paint (so it will be 4 weeks, because they never stay on schedule), meaning the car will be back in the week of the 17th of July.
On the 24th of July I want to leave for the alps, so re-assembling the car and fixing (largely replacing) the brakes will be a bit stressful.

Today I'll put the rear wheels back on, put the rear end back on the ground, put the front on stands and continue peeling the car apart there.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The day started with re-erecting the tent and getting some water out of the way so that I had a relatively dry floor to work with.
I started by peeling the carpet off the parcel shelf, just because I wanted to start with something that wouldn't turn into a fight with rusted-into-place screws.
Sounds good, doesn't work.
The carpet is held in place by about half a dozen small plastic pins (a flat plastic wedge saves the fingernails) and is also attached with two screws (one behind each seatbelt-tower).
The left one went out just fine, no problem at all.
The right one...different story.
It already showed some wear, and nothing I tried got it loose.
So I took out the passenger seat, climbed completely into the car, and "attacked" the screw with a hammer and a center punch.
And that worked, at last.
With a few good hits I got the screw loose enough to undo it.
The result:

I'm not going to write down what I said during that ordeal, just...imagine a few not-too-harmless curse words at an increasing volume :scream:

I removed the carpet along with the seatbelt tower covers, and the door-gasket had to go along with the door sill covers.
That left the car like this:

That was the rather relaxed part of the day.
Then I removed the rear part of the soft top, and had another go at the rubber piece at the edge "above" the end of the soft top.
That thing did not move an inch

I got a piece of advice in another forum, to unscrew it and use a heat gun.
I had already removed a few screws, so I figured that a heat gun (putting out around 450°Celsius/840°F) should do the trick.
It didn't work at all, and it took me quite a while to notice that there was another (approximate) half dozen of screws holding the rubber lip on the car :fp::smile1:
I removed all of them, took out the actual rain rail and FINALLY got the rubber piece removed.
I'd spend over an hour, partially with a second person.
Doing it the right way, and all alone, took about 5 minutes :oops:
The rubber left behind some "slimy" adhesive, which I got rid of (after some advice from my father) with nitrous-based paint thinner/solvent.

After that I removed the door cards, and met the Enemy of the Day

That black goo holds on the plastic sheets inside the doors, I got some of it onto my arm and learned what a cold-wax hair-removal feels like...
My Mark IV Golf had a metal plate inside the door, maybe that'd have been a bit much, but that nasty sticky stuff was really annoying.
I'd rather fight another ten rusted out screws.
Eventually I wrapped the doors with cling wrap to get the sticky stuff out of the way.

After that I had to take care of some other stuff, so I only got to do some more work on the car in the late evening.
See, in Germany a rear fog light is mandatory.
Mine broke off when I tried removing it because both bolts were rusted stuck in place.
And a quick question to Google showed that buying a whole new fog light assembly was too expensive.
So I dug up a thread cutter kit from the basement, drilled out the rusty bolts (after sanding them down to where the core rust stopped), and cut new threads into them.
First one's a bit off center, second one's much better, for the first time I did alright.

Tomorrow afternoon I want to finally remove the front bumper, finish up some small things on sunday, and get it to the coach builder on schedule on monday.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Yesterday I finished the disassembly with a 4-plus hour fight to get the front bumper off, breaking three bolts and cutting off another two.

Today started by peeling the badges off the rear finish panel, which I decided to get painted as well after polishing didn't work out.
The left one (reading "MX-5" on my car) was glued on and came off easily with some...persuasion from a heat gun and with me wedging a small knife underneath.
The right one (reading "Mazda") turned out to be bolted to the panel with some Mazda-employees having "molten" the rear of the pins to hold the panel in place :twisted:
Got one pin removed with the trusted small angle grinder, the other one with some, well, scratching with a screwdriver.
After that I pulled the rear seats from our minivan, loaded it with the bumpers, finish panel and the new pieces of metal, hooked up the trailer, and (with some help from my father) got Maria onto the rented trailer.

With that we were off to the coach builder.
I had to stay in the passenger seat, I don't have the needed license to tow a trailer that large/heavy :(

We unloaded the car, went over some details with the coach builder, and, well...

For atmosphere:

Rust-removal, repair and the re-paint is said to take three weeks, two at best, so I'm calculating with four.
Now all I got left to do is to is order a roll bar (I chose the TR-Lane Single Diagonal) and hope that the semi-legal way I hope to get it registered will work, and I'll have to order a ton of small parts and pieces.

As for the rusted out water-tank frame, I'll get a new frame and try to restore a small brace that I can't find online rather than having to fabricate it.


These small mysterious balls...

...which I found in the trunk a few days ago may be ammunition after all.
I found out that the first owner's hometown has a "hunting club" (something rare in Germany), so maybe she or her husband transported material to make birdshot-ammunition in the trunk.
I don't think that that's legal, but I don't really care :dunno:

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Visited her at the coachbuilder's workshop today to see how the work is progressing and to take some photos for myself and for the car's history/documentation:

The tarp is on the back because the car has been outside without the soft top being properly installed.

While the car is there they:
-Remove the rust
-Clean the surfaces around the rust
-Weld in new metal (partly pre-fabricated, partly custom fitted)
-The "edges" get zinc-covered/galvanized ("better"/more long-lasting than filler)
-Add/re-do cavity and underside-sealing
-Repaint the outside of the car except for the windshield-frame

With everything done I'm supposed to be able to pick Maria up and take her home on the 17th of July :hello kitty:

So far they're about 40% done with the rust-removal, and it seems like the chassis is intact save for some surface rust.
No welding will be required for the chassis itself :D


Oh, and I got to figure out if they speak Russian or Polish with each other, it's one of the two

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
The car is at the coachbuilder, but that doesn't mean I got nothing to do.
I picked all sorts of small rusty bits out of the parts-box and tried restoring them, wanting to save a few Euros here and there.

First off I grabbed two curved plates that are supposed to help the front bumper in place.
Both were covered in rust and both had a snapped screw, but I still wanted to save them.

I got my hands on a small angle grinder, a wire brush and this wire brush-ish disc that mounts on a powerdrill:

I cleaned the surface-rust off the part with the snapped screw, along with cutting away the remains of the snapped screw.
A center punch and two drill-bits (and a new thread cut into the metal) later I also had a new hole for the new bolt.
Going through my father's extensive...collection of washers and nuts I failed to find one that matched the one Mazda welded onto the plate.
So I took a relatively matching one, put it on the end of a screw, and started sanding it down with my grandfather's old bench grinder.

This is my father "modeling", by the way, so I could take the photo.
Messed up the first one, more careful on the second try.
Getting close:

I accidentially heated the nut up a bit too much so it looks discolored, but still works just fine.
After that I sanded a few milimeters of threads off the new bolt to make it match the OEM one, stuck it through the plate and secured it with the modified nut.

At last I removed the bolt again, and sanded down the head of it (mainly for looks).

Doesn't look too bad, does it?

I removed the remaining rust and repeated the process on the other plate, worked just fine :thumbs:
The same process, minus all the bolt-and-nut-modifying also restored two "straps" that hold the front bumper in place:

Those are twenty Euros each, so about an hour of work saved me fourty Euros (45 USD).

Next up I grabbed the smaller one of the two metal straps that hold the wiper fluid tank in place.
I had originally thrown it aside as "rusted beyond saving" (to put it nicely), but since restoring the other parts had worked so well I decided to give it a go anyways.
This was the part after just using a normal wire brush:

And some very careful use of the angle grinder later:

I bent it back into shape, and there you go, another thirty-five Euros saved :jump:
I know about a hundred Euros isn't much on a full restoration (which this is shaping up to be), but to me it makes a difference.
Also, I like to think that there's some skill involved in restoring old parts rather than buying new.

The last part that needed some TLC was the bracket that holds the rear fog light.
I really don't like it, but the German TÜV demands me to have one.
And a new one (only the entire assembly is avaliable) is another 70 Euros.
So I used a screw driver, the two wire-brushes and the angle grinder to go from this:

To this:

That was on Sunday.
On Monday I used paint-thinner to de-grease the cleaned parts, and then (partially because I was too lazy to invest in some proper paint) used Hammerite-paint to keep the bits from rusting again too soon.

Not going to lie, I'm a little proud of myself.


I'm just not going to talk about getting Hammerite all over my hands, or burning myself on sanded down nuts.
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