21 - 40 of 55 Posts

41 Posts
Danm. She looks beautiful. I gotta say, Maria is an excellent name for a Miata. I kinda want to rename mine :)
Also good call on paying for the rust repair. I love to DIY stuff, but man every time you see rust repair done it looks like such a specialized skill, it's hard to imagine not having a pro do it.

Thanks for sharing all the progress photos!

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
After dropping her off at a Coachbuilder's and painter's workshop on the 26th of June I finally got to pick her up yesterday.
I was supposed to get her on Saturday, but since it was pouring down all day long we agreed to delay the pickup by two days.

After the extensive rust had been removed ((almost) completely without using any filler, because filler tends not to last) Maria got her undercariage-sealant replaced and some hot wax for the cavities.
After that the doors, hood and trunk-lid were taken off and she got a new paintcoat in the original color (and without a clearcoat, according to Mazda's instructions).
The only part not painted was the inside (so the carpet could stay in) and the windscreen-frame (which was fine with some polishing) so the glass could stay in place.
Even the wrinkle-paint which is supposed to go halfway up the side was recreated.
At last, since Maria wouldn't start (dead battery) 5 employees of the place helped push her up on the trailer.
Only one person I met there speaks German, the others either Russian or Polish (can't tell).
They referred to Maria with some foreign word, when I asked the German speaking guy he said it means "toy car".
Kinda fitting :smile:

Pushing her up on the trailer we scratched one of the wheels, and back home I found one small dust particle enclosed in the paint :(
I may take care of the latter soon, and the wheels are only temporary anyways (meaning they'll probably go as soon as my bank account heals a bit).
The coachbuilder said the rust protection should last 10 to 15 years, longer if she's not seeing winters (salt on the roads).

Next up is a roll bar install (I got a TR-Lane single diagonal and found a TÜV-inspector who'll "forget that there's no paperwork" for it and let me register it.
I really think it's a smart move to install a roll bar, although I feel bad for cutting/drilling into the close-to-perfect car.

After that I will swap out the soft top along with its tension cables, the replacement comes from a company made up of former Karmann-employees (the guys who made the Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf Convertible, among others), is black vinyl and has a fixed plastic window.
I could've gotten one from Mazda (now the pattern of the vinyl slightly differs), but they charge about twice as much.

Then there's new brake discs and pads on the list, as well as new coupling-rods.

That should do it for getting the car TÜVed and registered, but that will not happen this year.
I plan on using the car on seasonal plates (keeping it off the road in winter), and there's no point in doing the whole registration-process to drive once or twice and then store it.

Over the winter I'll get another key (only got one that can't open the trunk, the original one literally broke), a new set of tires (sticking with 195 width for 15 inch wheels) and some time next year I'll need to replace at least part of the exhaust and get a new radio.
Furthermore, the immobilizer either goes or gets replaced by a (few) toggle-switches to get rid of the flashing pimple in the tombstone.


Recently I got to be the passenger in a friend's Lotus Elise, using the opportunity to test the seats.
They are alright but in my opinion not better than the Mazda seats, so they'll stay after all.

5 Posts
The project is coming along real nice so far. Some great step by step pictures and explanations of what you are doing.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Just a brief update:
The car still exists, she's in winter-storage, awaiting re-assembly.
I started university, so there's little time now.
I still want to hold my deadline (a car-meet in mid-April 2018).


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
Good lord that's been a long silence :eek:
Didn't have any time to really work on her, and when I did I couldn't because the car was blocked in by my father's Z3s.
But, at last, throughout last week I got to get a little progress.

The plan was to just pull the wheels off the car and have the tires removed, so that the alloys can be restored while I work on the car without needing it to roll around.
The tires had over ten years on the clock, so while they were perfectly fine regaring wear and didn't leak or anything either, I chose to go and get a new set just to be sure.
On my Golf I'd probably have used them for another year or two, but on the MX5...nah, better go for a new pair.
Also, 15inch summer tires (staying away from track-tires or semi-slicks) don't exactly cost a fortune.
Looked at a few brands, at the end of the day I chose to go with Hankooks.
I just don't think I'll drive that "spirited" that I need the grip-bonus from special sport-tires, and the Hankooks are better if I do end up in the rain/on wet roads.
Proof for the age:

Looking under the car to find positions for the jack and the stands I was greeted by Cobwebs and (after cleaning those up) bad news:

I don't think that that dent is meant to be there, and neither is the blank spot without underside-protection.
I guess someone used a lift or a jack wrong and left that "evidence".
The exhaust looks bad, but it doesn't leak (except for the exhaust-manifold), so it'll stay.
It seems like someone wasn't quite precise enough using the spots meant for a jack, crumpling the metal fold under the rocker panel:

I had to remove a bit of surface-rust there, and re-sealed the spot.
Eventually I put some wood on the stands, and used the front suspension for the forward stands and part of the chassis that has two overlapping layers of metal for the rear ones:

After that I squeezed all four tires into the back of my Mark 4 Golf, which worked without removing the rear seats or the trunk-cover.
Photo from the way back (bedsheet too small, thank god the back of the rear seats is black carpeting):

That I'd had the rear seats out of the car until the day before...yeah, bad timing :dunno:
I had a local workshop pull the old tires off the NB-wheels, since I had no reason to ditch those as well.
I'm going to see if I can get a few Euros for the old wheels, since they are still okay for road use, and too good too throw away.
So for now, they are parked in a corner of the garage:

After easter I will clean up the wheels and prepare them for paint, they won't look perfect but good enough for now.
Originally I planned on having them powdercoated, but that'd have left them in a clearly different color from the center caps.
Side-question: Who glues big weigths onto the OUTSIDE of alloy wheels??
I know the Enkei-NB-wheels aren't original for this car, and I do restore it to original condition, but I think NB-wheels are close enough.
Something that grabbed my attention was this little "JIL"-stamp on each wheel, does anyone know what that means?

Back inside the garage (with a heater, luckily, we are having temperatures around freezing) I had another look under the car, to see what else needs to be done.
The rubber on the rear left damper was shredded, but it doesn't leak so I remvoed the rubber to make it look more intact (it'll get a proper cleaning later):

These bushings in the rear suspension, right below the rear damper, look a bit rough on both sides but I'll see if I can get rid of the rust and restore them/their surrounding, since I really don't want to take the rear suspension apart.
Also, they don't seem like they need replacing yet.

At last I decided not to drill holes into the front bumper to hold the number plate (why are European plates so big? And why do they have to be on the front?), but instead will glue magnets to the inside of the plastic bumper to hold the number plate.
That way the bumper stays intact and I can take the plate off for meets or photo-shoots.

So this is the way I left the car, up on stands without wheels and with the cover halfway-off, if everything goes well I'll be able to work on it some more around next weekend.
I wanted to have it on the road by the 22nd of April for a car-meet, that deadline is getting a little hard to meet :(

The shopping-list now contains new tires, new brake-discs and pads all around, new brake-fluid and coolant as well as new end-links at the rear (and maybe at the front).
Add to that a whole bunch of new screws and bolts (I broke almost two dozen of them taking the car apart).
Also, I didn't get to take the heat-shield off before I ran out of time, so I don't quite know if the exhaust-manifold leaks or its gasket.


830 Posts
That's going to be...challenging to say the least. You'll have to remove them, strip the paint and rust, and refinish before reinstalling with new bushings.

Or pick up a used set that isn't rusted and call it a day. Good luck!

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #30 · (Edited)
I went and put each wheel onto the front-left hub, spun them to see if one might be damaged (all 4 are fine).
The discs are supposed to come off the car, but they're absolutely rusted stuck so I soaked them in WD40 and will try some rust-removal with a wire-brush.
If anything else fails I'll try to "knock them loose" with a hammer, since they're going to the trash anyways it doesn't matter if they get damaged.
Three brake-calipers were just fine, one was a little bit seized so I tried "un-seizing" it with a trusty old screwdriver.
It worked, but...the caliper bit off a piece of the screwdriver.

Several decades of service, and a rusted out brake-caliper takes it out :|

Put in an order today for new discs and pads from ATE (part of Continental), relatively cheap but good quality.
I also chose Hankook-tires which I'll buy, but I hold off on that because they'd arrive within a week and just be in the way.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Coming home from University on thursday I went into the garage, thinking I could use an hour or so to "just" pull the brake-discs off the car.
Yeah, my brakes had a different schedule in mind.
Starting at the front-left brake, soaking the disc and hub in WD40 the day before had helped a little, and after I'd attacked the rust on the brake-caliper with a wire-brush I was able to remove the caliper and the pads with relatively little trouble.

(Some of the images are a little out of focus since I used a GoPro for some them, wanting to protect my cell phone and my DSLR from the dust).

I put the caliper and the pads aside, grabbed the brake disc, gave it a good pull and...nothing.
No sound, no movement, not even some rust-dust raining down.
Okay, no problem, the old discs are headed for the trash anyways.
So I went one "level" less subtle, and grabbed a hammer from my parents' tool-supply.
Managed to get a little bit of momentum for the 2-kilogramms hammer (4.4 pounds) in the restricted space under the car, and hit the disc a couple of times.
Sound: Somewhat like a rifle.
But the brake-disc couldn't care less.
Went to my father, asked him to give it a try.
Frequency and noise increased, the brake-disc still didn't care.
Looking for a solution I remembered my science-classes at school.
Heat causes metal to expand.
It's how they put the "tires" on train-wheels, I bet that that works the other way around too.
I had no welder or anything like that handy, and I didn't want to put an open flame (fuel, thermite, whatever) underneath my valued car in a wooden garage it shares with one of my father's favorite cars.
So I went to the kitchen, looking for an appropriate weapon to attack the brake with.

A small butane-torch, meant for dishes like Crème brûlée.
But it was the best I could find, so I decided to give it a try.

Felt about as appropriate as using a minigun to get rid of a few sparrows, but the brake-disc finally budged a tiny little bit.
Held it on the disc for a bit longer, until the disc visibly heated up, and then gave it another beating with the hammer.


That whole ordeal had taken almost two hours.

Side note: I was a little surprised that the disc isn't screwed to the car, but only held on by the caliper and the wheel.:dunno:

On Friday a new project came up at University, making me decide to reschedule my plan for restoring the car.
I looked up and called a few sandblasting-places in my area, asking for offers and business-hours.
Loaded the wheels into my parents' minivan, convinced my father to drive (I'm not insured as a driver of that car, so my parents don't let me drive it myself), and drove across town.
The employee at the place I had chosen was absolutely sure that the wheels were powdercoated and not painted, so she took one to "test" it and show me.
Apparently, a layer of powdercoating would've made the whole process a lot more time-consuming and expensive.
Came back out around 15 Minutes later, without the wheel, picking up the other three.
I had been right, the wheels were painted :D
Took about an hour for them to finish sandblasting the wheels inside and out.


Matte white, all scratches, dents and corrosion gone, and they were cleaner than they had ever been or will ever be again.
I probably SHOULD have had the wheels clear-coated the way they were to preserve that unique look, because I actually quite liked it.
But then again, I got no use for matte-white 15 inch wheels.
And no budget for another set.
The wheels were finished by 12:55pm, at 1pm the place would have shut down for the weekend and I'd have had to pick up the wheels on monday.
Good timing :mrgreen:
Went from there straight to the workshop I (relatively) trust with stuff I can't do myself, and dropped off the wheels and the hubcaps.
The painter will pick them up there, paint them on monday or tuesday (trying to match the color of the hubcaps or paint them along with the wheel if he can't), and I'll be able to pick them up at the workshop on Wednesday.
Powdercoating the wheels wasn't an option since powder-coating plastic is difficult (the powder sometimes doesn't "stick" to the plastic properly) and could even destruct the caps (since the process heats up the plastic to over 130° Celsius (266°F).
And I did not want two-tone wheels.
On the way back home I grabbed a new, larger wire brush attachment for the powerdrill at the hardware store, at home I ordered the new tires, and the rest of the day/night went with working for the project my University threw in the path of wanting to restore the car.

But there is progress!!
: 3gears:


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Yesterday I finally finished peeling the brakes off the car.
Each one put up a fight, so I did not get to finish 3 brakes in half a day but had to stretch it over two days.
The rear calipers were silver and held ATE-pads, so I guess they already had been swapped out at some point.
Didn't change a thing about the discs being completely seized onto the hub.

You can also insert a correct size bolt into the threaded hole in the brake disc to remove it.
I tried that on one of the rear brakes
First result:

I kept inserting the bolt, the crack worsened a bit and then the bolt fell out.
It had "eaten" the thread out of the hole.:smile9:

At least the crack in the disc had managed to gain about a milimeter of space in between the disc and hub, so (I'd like to say it was me, but it wasn't) my father managed to knock it loose enough to pull off.
The rear right disc cracked in three directions at once, so that was no help at all.
Instead I went back to the butane torch, heated the disc up and got it loose enough to take it off (after a decent kick).
The front right one wouldn't budge at all (for some reason the front brakes were worse than the rears), I tried the bolt (which ate the thread immediately), so I "refueled" the butane torch and heated it up to the point of being too hot to pick up with gloves afterwards.
I "threaded" a screwdriver through one of the holes and the plastic grip started melting when it touched the metal.
But the brakes are off! :mrgreen:

By the way, those were the rear pads.
Not that worn down.
But they still get replaced.

Also, I'll get new end-links, because three of them are DEAD so I replace all of them.

Taking the brakes off I realized that one of the rear wishbone-bushings has a small tear in it.
I HOPE that the TÜV-engineer won't notice, if he does I'll fail the TÜV-inspection.
If that happens I'll tear out the rear part of that "powerframe" (wishbones, anti sway bars, differential, all that), have it all sandblasted and repainted, put in new bushings and re-install it before repeating the process in the front.
But that might mean no driving in 2018 :cry:


5 Posts
Hey man. I am about at the same spot as you with my own miata!

I liked the updates a lot. Can't wait to start my own (but it doesn't let me quite yet).

Keep up the good work :D

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Started removing rust from the "frames" of the brake-calipers.
Putting the circular wire-brush on a powerdrill rather than the old battery-powered screwdriver was an improvement, but it still takes forever.
And the rust-dust gets EVERYWHERE. :evil:

The university keeps giving me new projects/assignments, so I keep having to delay the schedule.
I might not be able to get the car on the road before the end of May or early JUNE :smile9:


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Oh crap, it's already June.

I'm way behind schedule, but very gradually I start to see some progress.

Today I had a few hours with both nothing more important on the schedule and some good weather, so I worked on two of the brackets that hold the brake-calipers.
Unfortunately I didn't get to finish them, because after about two and a half hours my pollen-allergy "cooperated" with the rust-dust to keep me from continuing :(

I guess my father hid the powerdrill (he doesn't really trust me with that thing) somewhere, so I went and got the powered screwdriver only for that thing to quit within seconds claiming excessive heat :dunno:
So all I was left with as far as powered tools was the small angle-grinder.

My "assistant of the day":

Next time I get to work on the car I'll work them over with the wire wheel and -brush to get to the corners the grinder couldn't reach, soak it in rust-neutralizer, de-grease it and paint it (most likely with Hammerite).

This is Maria's current condition:

End links and a new exhaust manifold gasket should arrive by the time I get home on monday.
So once they arrive I'll continue by installing the new brake-system.
Discs and pads are new, the calipers are restored/reconditioned and supposedly as-new, and I've restored the brackets.
After that I fill new brake-fluid into the car an fix the exhaust-leg.
The new tires have already been put onto the restored wheels (which look like they just came from Mazda) and are waiting on the tire-rack in the garage.
Once that is all done the to-do-list actually shortens.
I have to drain the oil, make sure there's no metal in it, maybe flush the system, fill in new oil, put the engine-bay back together (we removed all sorts of things, like fuse-boxes and most of the intake for paint/rust removal), install the new softtop along with the new tension-cables and then, finally, put Maria back together :D

I'll get her through TÜV without the roll bar and then try to find someone to sign off on the roll bar, if that doesn't work I'll drive her (for now) without a roll bar.
I don't really want to buy one with TÜV-required paperwork, since those cost A LOT more (as in, twice as much).

All the rust-removal was a little frustrating and killed the motivation, but now it seems like I'm making some progress.
And that's despite small setbacks like some brake-fluid spilling when I drained it, needing me to repaint part of the engine-bay.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Had a major falling-out with my father, which has consequences on the project.
First of all, I've decided to move the car out of my parents' garage (which my father claims is his alone).
I've been essentially unable to work on the car alone, and recently my father developed a habit of taking ALL keys to the garage with him when he was away (for a day or on vacation), costing me a lot of potential work-time.
I'll go into my grandmother's garage for now (where he had stored one of his cars, but since it's her garage she told him to move the car).
It's a bit of a tight squeeze, and I'll have to work mostly outdoors, but I'll have the luxury of working on the car whenever I want.
Furthermore, 99% of the tools I used so far where his, and his...behavior regarding me using them also changed gradually, for the worse.
In the end I'd lost any interest in working on the car because I knew I'd have him "chewing my ear off" over everything I supposedly did wrong.
So I took a bit of money out of the restoration-funds and bought my own basic tools, and will expand my own equipment over time.
Not really happy about either change (and a little sad that I can't work on the car WITH my father), but...all things considered, I think this was the most sensible option, short of putting everything on hold until after I graduate and move out (in about two years).

In more positive news, as I wanted a break from rust-removal (which, in part, was what started the falling-out), so I ordered a few parts for other things I have to do before the car can be assembled:

One rear light's gasket was completely shot, the other one was...barely alright, so I replaced both.
I also replace the exhaust manifold's gasket on teh engine-side which was leaking exhaust-fumes and to save on separate shipping I threw a plastic clip I snapped on disassembly into the order as well.
Another package will arrive early this week, containing 4 new endlinks for the anti roll bars.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #39 ·
We currently have a record-breaking summer(-heat) in Germany.
So I made use of the good weather, and went into the nicely shady garage to get some work done :p

First of all I removed the old anti-roll-bar end-links, since I want to get everything I replace off the car before I put the new/restored stuff on there.
That operation was also the first time I got to use my new (finally owned, no longer borrowed) tools.
I started out by soaking all the bolts in magic potion (also known as WD40), which was supposed to make them easier to unscrew.

The first one went alright, the second one too.
That is, after I figured out that I had to turn the steering to full lock so I can access the lower bolt:

The third end-link's bolts weren't bothered at all by my request to please loosen, so I went and borrowed some tools from my parent's "armory" after all.
Three extensions got me an about 27 inches long lever, and that shortened the fight drastically.

The fourth one took some more persuading, and there wasn't enough distance to the wall to use the long extension-combination.
Also, on that one, I, for the first time, slipped off a tool.
Hit my hand on the undercarriage really nicely, so I'll remember that day :scream:*insert appropriate cursewords here*
While removing the end-links I also noticed that my rear anti-roll-bar will need some sandblasting and fresh paint.
It's structurally intact (as far as I can tell), but it really shouldn't look like that:

Glove-less photo to operate the cellphone's camera)

After that I finally finished up rust-removal on the brake caliper brackets (do these things have a shorter name?).
I know it would've looked even better if I'd have gotten them sandblasted, but I didn't have the budget for it.
I finished up the rust-removal, decided to paint them silver (rather than black), got a can of Hammerite-silver and went to work.

I let them sit over night to dry, and the result looks pretty decent:


Side-note: Does anyone know what this hole in the bracket is for?

Moving on, I briefly researched what prices I'd have to pay to get the screws I need from Mazda.
Deciding that I'm not going to pay Porsche-prices for Mazda-parts (sorry, but I still work on a budget) I went to a wholesaler aimed at construction-workers and carpenters, and got what I needed for a fraction of the original's prices.
-Galvanized screws for the end-links, which were shortened and bevelled, bevor a dot of Hammerite re-sealed the cut against rust:

I couldn't get the needed screws for the brakes in a galvanized version, so I went with normal ones and painted the heads with Hammerite.

Adapting and painting the screws was something I did not get to do in the big wooden garage where Maria is stored (and which is decently cool inside) but in the old brick-wall garage where my father usually works on his cars.
And in there I got to work in a cozy 32-35° Celsius (about 95°F), which is VERY hot for northern Germany, especially indoors.:sweatdrop:
And the appropriate outfit (proper shoes, a overall (meant for carpenters, I think), long-sleeve pullover and gloves) didn't exactly help^^
There is a photo from me working on the screws (I'll spare you the sight, it ain't pretty), and my mum says it looks like I just about passed out any minute...

Early next week I'll be back home (escaped from the heat to the baltic sea's coast), and then I'll finally get to put in the new brakes and end-links.
After that I can put the wheels back on (with restored lug-nuts and bolts) and then the car will be at least roll-able again (after an eternity on jackstands).
After that Maria will move to the brick-wall garage, I'll put in the new exhaust manifold gasket, assemble the rear end (which looks like a big puzzle), wire up the lights, put a few odds and ends in the engine-bay back into place, replace a bunch of fluids, and then I can (theoretically) DRIVE!!!
I'll lack the front bumper, the door cards, the roof, the passenger seat, half the interior, the rear bumper and a license plate (and TÜV), but I'll be able to DRIVE!!!!
: 3gears:: 3gears:: 3gears:


I'm honestly a little bit worried about driving, because I'm worried that all that waiting gets my expectations up too high.

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Big progress:

Finally got to work on the car.
First off, a tool-replacement.
My father's trusty old Bosch powered screwdriver had (literally) bitten the (rust-)dust, so from now on a much more modern replacement from DeWalt suffers in our workshop (with a decent power-increase).

When I got into the garage I first had to save Maria from a ruined rocker panel (or undercarriage).
My father had moved the car a few inches, which was supposed to be possible (the Jackstands she's standing on are standing on small rolling boards), but I was still greeted by this sight:

Whops :confused:

So I fixed that, and went to put in the new anti roll bar end links with the adapted screws, marking the turning-point from disassembly to assembly :jump:

That also means I got to throw away this box full of rust:

At last I de-rusted the rear wheel-hubs and coated them in copper-paste so they don't re-start rusting too fast:

Now I got to do the same on the front, then I can stick the new discs and the restored wheels on there, and the car will finally touch the ground again after being up on jackstands since April :mrgreen:

I'll move it to a different garage, and then take the wheels back off it to actually install the brakes properly.

Started on the 7th with this condition:

De-rusted the remaining hubs, coated them in copper-paste (which is why they look like they're rusted even worse than before)and put the new rotors on:

The went to put the new wheels on there, and put the car down on the ground.
Doesn't look to bad, does it?

Couldn't resist throwing this together on the computer :mrgreen:

And then, at last, rollout!

No brakes and not under own power, but Maria saw the dailight again!
The restored and powder-coated 15" wheels look awesome, I'm glad I went with them.
Also, to see her go from "little more than a shell on jackstands" to "rolling and turning" is a good motivator after a whole lot of rust-removal (which really made me loose interest in the restoration).

Pushed her up the driveway into a different garage, the main workshop, which from now on will be her home until completion.

Maria is sitting a bit high at the moment, which might come from getting new anti roll bar end links installed while up on jackstands, plus from just having the axles hang down for months.
The wheels will come back off soon (I do need brakes, the parachutes Mazda used to store the headlights in aren't quite enough), but for now they're on there.

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