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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Parts list: Current as of 5/31/17 for those of you who are curious. The car's story is below the parts list.

-Kirker single stage white paint (link)
-House of Grafx stripes & meatballs (custom dimensions) (link)
-Chaparral 15x7 +38 wheels (with 20mm H&R Trak+ spacers)
-OEM hardtop
-DIY fender winkers made from spare parts (link)
-Universal bullet mirrors on the fenders w/ convex lenses (link)
-Genuine Garage Vary panel w/ reverse light deleted (link)
-Corvette C3 lenses w/ JDM ASTAR brand LED bulbs retrofitted (link)
-S2 Racing front bumper (link)
-Rear bumper cutout
-Front & rear red tow hooks
-Complete LED conversion w/ modified OEM flasher (prevents hyperblink)
-Amber underglow wired to blinker circuit (total ricer move, don't care lol) (link)
-Center exit dual tip exhaust
-Antique Vehicle Ga. license plate (vehicles >25 years qualify)
-Dodge Challenger fuel cap (link)

-Custom upholstered tombstone, center console, & crash pads/upper door pads (link)
-Diamond stitched door panels
-Discontinued (?) Moss Motors teardrop speaker panels
-Pioneer Bluetooth head unit
-Kicker 6.5" door speakers
-DIY switch plate below radio (link)
-Customized IL Motorsports center console (link)
-Completely DIY gauges & cluster (link)
-Eclipse vents with retrofitted bezel chrome trim rings
-04 MSM seats (link)
-OEM EUNOS (JDM?) steering wheel
-Bandana used as shift boot
-Miata stitched floor mats

Motor/trans/cooling (including non performance parts)
-1995 OEM rebuilt 1.8 swap on 1990 1.6 chassis/wiring
-1990 1.6 5 speed OEM trans
-Race clutch (good up to 250 HP)
-Open diff (until it blows)
-1990 1.6 OEM ECU
-Minor shaved/tucked bay (link)
-LRB Speed upper radiator cooling panel
-Yonaka radiator & fan shroud combo (link)
-LRB Speed lower radiator cooling panel (link)
-DIY spark plug cover (link)
-Protege valve cover, powder coated wrinkle red/prismatic gold (link)
-Shaved intake manifold, powdercoated prismatic gold (not installed yet) (link)
-OBX header, new catalytic converter, Racing Beat muffler, center exit dual tip exhaust (link)
-Garage star windshield cowl cover, tucked/hidden clutch & brake booster lines (link)

Parts deleted / nominal weight savings
-AC system & belts
-Cruise control
-Spare tire
-Power steering (FM depowered rack)
-Windshield wipers/motor

Suspension & wheels
-Dunlop Direzza 205/50/15 tires
-Silver Chaparral wheels, 15x7 +38
-H&R 20mm spacers (effective wheel offset 18mm)
-Tien Basis coilovers
-Autocross alignment
-Poly bushings w/ zerk fittings
-OEM swaybars

And the "soon to come"...
-Coolant reroute (being installed currently)
-Flow Force 660 CC injectors (purchased, not installed)
-NB throttle body w/ TPS (soon to come)
-DIY PNP Megasquirt (purchased, not installed)
-BRP MP62 supercharger kit (purchased, not installed)
-DIY front splitter for S2 bumper, plus DIY side splitters & rear diffuser (have materials, need to make)
-Shaved intake manifold (being installed currently)


A long time ago, there was a guy, fresh out of high school, working at a fast food joint, and driving a sweet 4.6l V6 powered Ford Aerostar in the classic 90’s faded red color which he hauled all his skateboard buddies around town in. He loved that van.

But bad times hit, the old horse had to go, and his folks handed him down the epitome of all soccer mom vans – their ‘97 Ford Windstar. Something like this, but imagine in baby blue.

Don’t get him wrong, he was thankful for the car. Never put down a gift horse, as his dad taught him. But he was getting older and it was getting to the point where he needed something of his own. He really wanted an older VW Bug, but all of the ones he found in his price range were either old rust buckets or half running paperweights. So the plans of a chopped-top, flat black, pinstriped and smoothie-wheeled Beetle went to the wayside as he kept working marginal hours at his fast food job to afford a car in the $3,000 range while still going to college. Two years of hard work and saving up brought him to “that day.”

“That day” was a normal day, browsing Craigslist, sadly contemplating the boring sedan on his screen. He remembered sitting in his dad’s old Triumph TR250, watching the road go by through the rust holes in the floor pans as an eight year old little kid.

This is him as a kid in the driver’s seat, with his little brother standing next to it.

Maybe it was nostalgia, as the car had been sold long ago, or maybe it was just how cool he thought that car was. Regardless, a switch flipped and he typed in ‘Miata’ into the search bar. The first result was a bunch of grainy pictures of a stock, two-owner, 1990 white model with 78,000 miles. He met up with the guy in the next town over and bought it the next day, not knowing a thing about Miatas…or stick shifts...or cars at all, for that matter.

That was five years ago, and that guy was me. Since then, it has gone a long way from the peeling 90’s paint and trashed soft top. Of course, since I bought it when I was young (19), it went through a bit of an immature stage…the remnants of which still reverberated for much, much longer than I’d like.

It seemed like for each ‘stage,’ I got it almost right and then went something went wrong. You know, it’s interesting, really – I’ve been influenced by old, old vehicles my entire life. Of course, there was the TR 250. My neighbor has a really nice older Charger and the roar of a V8 has always been a part of my childhood. My dad and I also worked on replica Whizzer motorbikes when I was younger, running them until the cheap motors popped and a new one came in the mail. Then he got into motorcycles, and eventually got a genuine 1947 Whizzer his friend sold to him as a rust bucket with a seized engine, so my dad did a complete nut and bolt restoration on it.

I’ll try to get more pics of the thing, it’s actually really neat.

So because of my background of older things, I had always pined to draw from their influences. I couldn’t let go of the founding fathers of automobiles; yet here I was, driving a Japanese import, the likes of which I swore to never drive when I was younger. I tried to mix new and old. I really did. Yet I was still young back then, and always managed to mash up new and old in some sort of terrible way - hence me almost getting it right, and then a few bad decisions would throw the whole thing off. Case in point…

I realized not too long ago that I just needed a blank canvas again. To start fresh. Although throughout the years I had always been thoroughly enjoying the car as it was meant to be...

It just wasn’t sitting well with me, knowing that it could be living out its true potential.
On a whim last year, I tore the whole car down to bare metal, stripping off ye olde paint and giving myself the blank canvas I’ve needed for so long. I thought it would be a weekend project – prep Friday, prime Saturday, paint Sunday…but what resulted was a nearly yearlong learning process in the world of rolling restorations.

Chapter 1 – a reboot

I wasn’t happy with the way the car had turned out before I started taking the paint off, nor was I happy with myself. Let me clarify. I was completely happy with how I was coming along as an emerging adult: 24 years old, starting my student teaching, finishing college, graduating in May 2015 with a degree in secondary English education (which means I’ll be teaching high school literature), a successful two-and-a-half-year long relationship with a wonderful woman (which is still going strong – she’s ahead of me and teaching middle school now), a strong interest in science and astronomy, and a steady job suitable for a college schedule (the job, mind you, is not the same fast food gig). I have two best friends, and of course, a car which I bought under my own financial power. I have a strong dislike for the typical younger attitude of today and much prefer quiet nights with my girlfriend and our cat, or hanging out with my two best friends and talking smack about each other while playing Tekken 3 on the arcade machine.

It was my online persona that was lacking, really. I know it sounds silly, but in today’s digital world, your online presence holds almost as much weight as your physical presence. As I said, I was young when I bought the car, and young when I joined CR. I was trolled left and right because let’s face it, I was kind of dumb. As I matured in reality, I still had ripples from the younger frame of mind from “those days” of sitting on hoods and it showed just a tad too much for my liking. I asked the mods to change my username and shed the tired old screen name that I’d used out of force of habit since 6th grade (I know right!).

I also took a bit of a break from forum posting as I worked on restoring the Miata. With that aside, I’d like to present the fruits of my labor. This experience has been one of the most fulfilling experiences outside of school that I’ve ever had – from trying my patience in the garage to looking back at the car every time I park it, I am glad I put myself through this.

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Chapter 2 – a blank canvas

As I said, one day on a whim I decided to strip the car back to bare metal and start fresh. This would be the first time since the 90’s that the car would have a good paint job; before the tear down, it had the famous 90’s peeling paint under a coat of spraypaint. As it was indeed my DD and I lived away at college, the paint stripping process took about three long months of blistered fingers, chemical stripper burns and 60 grit sandpaper.

One of my best friends came by the first night of the strip-down and learned how to use an electric sander.

Obligatory selfie...

First night’s progress. It was about this time that I realized this was gonna take a while.

Over time, it started to look like a mash up of old green primer and bare metal. I made friends with a guy named Big Dan who works at an auto paint store and his advice was my lifeline. Although I did all of the work myself, I can’t discount his advice.

Crusty old bodywork...

Finally got off all that Plastidip from the hardtop. My friend Chris, who sold me the top, had put on a thin layer and I was cursing him the whole time hahahaha.

More progress shots...

You may have noticed the new wheels I’m sporting in these pics. During all of this prep work, I managed to sell my XXR 531s to my friend Chris (chorne1787 is his name on here), which he turned into track wheels with some big fat 225s. Then another friend of ours, Lee, who drives a great looking mariner blue sold me one of his two sets of Chaparrals. Here’s these guys’ great looking rides:

Chris (in the middle of a V6 swap here):


Anyways, the Chaps had a million coats of paint on them: they were originally silver, then primered, painted blue, and clearcoated by their first owner. Lee shot them with white and clear when he bought them, and then I gave them two coats of bronze. This makes for eight coats!

The bronze looked great, but it did get changed up later on.

Primer time for the car came around and I wound up using Spraymax’s 2K epoxy primer in beige. It comes in aerosol or by the gallon – I used about five aerosol cans. I am absolutely not one for free advertising, but I also give credit where it’s due and I wholeheartedly recommend the product if you’re doing a DIY paint job like I did.

I guess I only took two photos of the primer, and even then they’re partial coats in the pictures. But this is an idea of the color. The whole car, of course, got this treatment.


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Chapter 2 - continued

During this point, I managed to build a splitter (here's the link to that) and install some NB foglight buckets. I have always wanted foglight holes in the bumper (it’s rather unnatural how bad I’ve always wanted that), and when lp_yang first showed off what he did, I had a facepalm moment. I'd considered it in the past, but I never thought it'd look as it would. Anyways, he used double sided tape, but I plastic welded mine in for a permanent fix. I didn’t want to outright copy what he did, however, so I put on some of my own DIY touches. More on that later – for the meantime, here’s what I managed to do with the bezels and splitter.

Signs of what’s to come…

No turning back!

Mocked up with tape – plastic welded before paint.

Finally, the day came. After twenty-five years of shoddy paint, it was actually going to get a ‘real’ paint job. My dad’s close friend, who has been building hot rods from scratch since the 50’s offered to paint the car for free, provided I bring the paint. He and I spent Memorial Day together painting, and after showing me the ropes on the air gun, he let me finish up the paint job. We painted it outside because "son, people have been painting cars outside since day one." I learned a long time ago to always listen to the old hot rod guy, and you can't really beat those words of advice. ;)

First coat down...nevermind the overspray on the tires...

Here’s the finished result.

I really wish I could dig up some photos of some of my dad’s friend’s work. He has some awesome hot rods he’s built over the years. This is his latest project, a 20’s Model T if I recall correctly.

Again, I’m not one for free advertising but the paint I used – a single stage, pure white urethane from Kirker – turned out great. Kirker even wound up seeing some of my pics on my tumblr and asked me for my address. Not only did they add my car into their virtual car gallery, but also sent me some stickers and a free shirt!

So the car had been painted, but the finish was rough, something I didn’t expect. I thought it was just a paint and done thing – but what I had failed to mention is that this entire ordeal was a learning experience. Every step of the process, I headed in blind and learned as I went. The day after Memorial Day, I wetsanded the car with some 1200 and 2000 grit (by hand, no block…oops), which levelled out the surface and brought out some shine. But it was scratchy! I fussed with a buffer, wetsanded with 3000, and buffed again. I couldn’t get the swirls out. Finally, I reached out to the community and another local guy, who had gone to school for paint and body, showed me what to do. Turns out I had been using the right buffing technique the whole time. The culprit? The sponge I used to wash the car with. It was a Scotchbrite yellow sponge with the green brillo pad. :fp: We buffed the car to an amazing shine and I was satisfied.


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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Chapter 3 – earn your stripes

I have always been a fan of racing stripes. I love them. As I was prepping the car, I had House of Grafx cut me a custom vinyl stripe in red for $70. It is a 10” main stripe, a 1” gap, and 1” pinstripes – pretty much the same dimensions that Sharka wears. I feel that Adam really hit the nail on the head with those proportions, as most other stripe jobs I’ve seen on Miatas looked too skinny. His car was a big influence on my tastes when I first got into these cars, so this is kind of my nod of respect to him; a thanks-for-pointing-me-in-the-right-direction kind of thing. I referenced the revlimiter page that he wrote up for his stripe install, and since it was an easy job it only took me a few hours, just like he said on his page Adam is a wizard and I am not, it took me three days. I feel that the car has certainly earned them and I fall in love with the way it looks every time. They’re a big testament to the grueling hours I’ve spent working on the paint under the hot Georgia summer sun (in an apartment parking lot, mostly) and can’t help but smile.

Here’s where I first started. Nevermind the loose-fitting splitter cables, as this was before I added the splitter bracing to the frame.

And an after shot, complete with terrible IG filter.

I found my twin!

Chapter 4 – the wheels roll on

So with the new red stripes, I had to nix the bronze color on the wheels, ultimately going with silver thanks to this awesome Photoshop job by delzx5 on CR...

I didn’t want to add another coat of paint to the already existing eight coats, so I stripped it all off with chemical stripper, and then got reacquainted with my old friend 60 grit.

Here’s a pic of the wheels on the car sporting the raw metal finish. I like the look, but unfortunately they were too scuffed after removing the thick paint on top.

Once all the paint was off, I gave them a nice coat of silver using some wheel restoration paint.

These looked great – a huge upgrade from the XXRs. Yet I missed the actual fitment of the old 15x8 +20 as compared to the new 15x7 +38. I thought about another set of wheels, but I just put in all that work on the Chaps. So I sat on it for a while, and decided to order some spacers: hubcentric 20mm H&R Trak+ spacers, to be exact. I didn’t want any of the junk eBay ones, of course. Only problem was that the OEM lugs went above the spacer itself and created a gap between the back of the wheel and the face of the spacer, preventing the wheel from seating properly against the spacer. So out comes the hacksaw, yet again in a hot Georgia parking lot. A few hours later, I had cut all 16 studs down about 4 threads. I put some blue Loctite on the OEM studs, bolted down the spacer, and then fit the wheels onto the new studs provided by the spacer itself.

I have been riding on this setup for about half a year now, including DD, frequent interstate, and hard driving/autox and am happy to report that I feel 100% confident on them. Final fitment is 15x7 +18 with 195 tires; 205 width tires soon to come.



I think the old 195s I had on the XXRs look a bit like rubber bands on the new setup, so when I wear these down, I’ll be going up to 205s or maybe even some 225s.

Around this time, I entered a car show at the local Shriners’ Temple and wound up winning $50 at a raffle! It was my first time doing anything like this, and the people there were really nice. Mostly older guys with hot rods, but a few donks/bubbles/what have you showed up and there was a Chevy V6-powered Miata there too.

I’m not religious, but I thought this was just too good not to share!


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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Chapter 5 – all lit up

I love LEDs. You could say I’m obsessed. Wiring is my meditation believe it or not, and LEDs are just too dang cool. As a result, I have managed to swap out every exterior light, save the headlights (which are the awesome e-code/H4 combo), to LEDs.

First, the front. I snagged some TSIs off my friend John who was moving to Japan, so on they went. I swapped out the faded lenses for crystal clear Lexan ones I made, then utilized some cut-to-fit mirror scraps I had laying around and made a reflective housing. In went some 1157 amber LEDs from Super Bright LEDs (fast shipping by the way). However, I cut the power wire to the parking light and capped it off so the TSI lights are only on/off with no dim function. You’ll see why later.

Crystal clear...

Of course, here comes the hyperflash. I didn’t like the idea of running four load resistors – aka bandaids – so I followed the tutorial on and modified my flasher with a beefier resistor. It is such a cool feeling having LEDs flash normally! It’s like the floodgates of opportunity opened up.

Here’s one of my favorite things about LEDs – they’re just too dang versatile. Check this out. Remember the fog light buckets I installed? Well I had these DRLs laying around that I bought at Walmart a long time ago. Turns out they have a perfect friction fit:

So I hacked them up, cut out the old H3 bulb (which was too bright and ran way too hot, by the way), enlarged the hole a good bit with a Dremel, and notched in some slots that can accept an 1157 housing. I bought some spare 1157 sockets off eBay and spliced them into the wiring of the blinkers. Now instead of splicing the parking wire on the new socket to the existing parking light wire which I capped off earlier, I opted to run it to an independent power source and install a switch in the cabin. I then fit the hacked up fogs into the NB buckets, installed some switchback LEDs which flash white/amber, and twisted the whole shebang together. Now, when I flip the switch in the cabin, the white LEDs turn on and they look like normal driving lights.

But when I flip the blinkers, the lights have a second function:

(This is a more recent picture where I've swapped out the TSIs in favor of the OEM turn signal housings. Regardless, this example shows what it all looks like when the white lights are on and the blinker is activated.)

Later on, I am going to buy some clear oval side markers for the bumpers and wire them with LEDs to flash in sync with the rest of the system.

EDIT: For people doing research, I'd like to add that as of 7/01/2015 I changed the LED bulbs you see in this post to some other ones I found on Amazon. They are made by a seller named JDM ASTAR. They are bar none the absolute brightest LEDs I have bought. They are absolutely not washed out in the daytime, and at night they light up entire sides of buildings.

The side view mirrors got an upgrade too. I was bumming around Pep Boys looking for a Haynes manual when I came across the infamous mirrors. They look good, and for $20 they can’t really be beat. But the visibility is turrrrrible. I remedied this by buying two 100mm convex mirrors off of eBay (which revlimiter kindly linked me to). I also had these little red LED arrows laying around, so it kinda clicked and I got to work.

First I removed the old mirror and taped in the LED arrow onto the metal inside. Then I made a new base out of black plastic and cut out an arrow for the light to shine through.

I removed one of the tightening screws and ran the wire through that hole. Then I drilled a small hole into the plastic stem and ran the wire through that. Here is a picture of the prototype; instead of a broken stem, imagine a small hole drilled into it and the wire running down it, exiting out the bottom.

Finally, I scratched the reflective housing off the base of the mirror into the shape of an arrow. Double sided tape was my mounting solution and I wired the whole thing up.

Had to remove the fenders to run the wiring…

Here’s the test fire hooked up directly to the battery.

So later on, I removed the mirror and scratched off even more of the reflective housing to let the full shine of the LEDs through. I’m thinking that eventually I should spray some clear coat on the back of the mirror to give the arrow a frosted look so you can’t see straight through the glass. But then again, I’ve also thought of buying a new mirror, not carving the arrow out, and taking a 100mm LED COB red angel eye to circle around the mirror itself. As you can see, there’s a gap between the mirror’s edge and the housing’s edge that would fit this perfectly. I dunno, I can never leave things alone...

The screws got a little rusty – that’s the only thing I can complain about some $20 mirrrors. Gotta find some stainless hardware sometime.

But yeah... they’re not Runabouts or some other crazy expensive mirrors. But you know what, I made them and they’re unique. I’m proud of them, so I’ll stick with them for the time being. :D

Yes, my passenger side window tint is purple in some light. Drives me nuts. I’m gonna professionally tint the hardtop soon and have them take care of the old tint as well.

As for the taillights, well those were much easier than all of the custom work/wiring I had been doing up front. It was just a matter of swapping bulbs, really. But I’m not going to post those up because the OEM taillights are no longer on the car. ;)

Chapter 6 – curiosity strikes

I’ve seen some roundels here and there, and they really started to grow on me. It really wasn’t long until I decided to call House of Grafx and have them me up another set of vinyl – this time two 18” roundels. I requested that the outer circle’s line thickness was 3/4” and the font was century gothic in bold print. They happily obliged – again, great customer service and products. As the paint is already white, we opted to just have the black vinyl cut to keep costs down.

Around this time, I finished my mild wiretuck in the engine bay as well. I deleted the charcoal canister, washer reservoir, airbag sensors, replaced the pipe on the valve cover with a breather filter, relocated the coolant reservoir inside the front bumper, rejigged my Randall intake with an enclosed cone filter my girlfriend bought me some years ago (“Don’t you car guys like something called a cold air intake? Well I bought you one”), bumped the timing up to 13 degrees along with the new timing belt/water pump/etc., rerouted the driver’s side wire loom through the fender, and painted the bay semi-gloss black. I think it came out pretty nice.


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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Chapter 7 – a new rear end

EDIT: I have since redone the C3 lights with much brighter LEDs and a cleaner wiring harness. Don't follow this method. The method a few pages later is much better! (Seriously, the lights in this post are garbage. The better, more quality LEDs are in this post).

Well, the day came that I felt as if I was “over the hill” with modifying this car. You know, for so many years I’ve been striving so hard to achieve a picture that I haven’t even painted yet. Even while I was painting the car, I really didn’t have much of an idea of what it would look like. All I knew was that I wanted it to be white. So now the car’s been painted, the stripes were applied, and even some wild roundels appeared. I kinda wanted a finishing touch.

So I had just missed a once in a lifetime group buy. You guys know which one. I was kinda bummed about that. However, I somehow stumbled across a website called Nengun Performance that just happened to have “that” for sale. They told me they were the only set they had in stock and that they would no longer be in production afterwards, and according to them, these were the last set to ever be actually produced. I don’t know if that was true, but whatever – I pulled the trigger on a genuine Garage Vary finish panel.

For those of you wondering about their authenticity coming from Nengun, I can attest they are the real deal! Build quality is top notch and fitment is on point. Great job, Garage Vary. Nengun was also on point with communication and very reliable as a seller.

Test fit confirms proper fitment. These came in before the stripes were installed or the wheels were refinished, but I never got around to installing them until after all of that happened.

I skipped out on buying the lights because I wanted to do the Corvette C3 retrofit. A seller on eBay sent me two brand new, reproduction reverse lights. Check it out!

Keeping with the LED setup, I bought four sets of red halo lights from superbrightleds: 120mm, 100mm, 80mm, and 60mm all in the COB (chip on board) option. Not only are the COB setups brighter, but also are seen as a continuous ring instead of individual LEDs. Also, I bought a trailer light splitter so that I can have the brake lights and blinkers consolidated into the same circuit.

EDIT: Again...don't go with this setup. It's too complicated and I'm running a new setup with bulbs and an actual reflective housing. This new setup is located a few pages later on in this thread...

Stock photo for reference:

I cut open the C3 housings and got to work.

I wound up cutting a donut shaped piece of Lexan to serve as the backing plate for the outer red section of the C3 housing. I painted it red, and on the inner side I glued down the 120mm, 100mm and 80mm LED rings. The painted side of the Lexan faces the inside of the light’s housing because I want the unpainted side to serve as the anchor for my double sided tape to grab on to. (20 –lb rated double sided tape is how I mounted the lights to the panel, as the 1974 lights did not have any outer screws to mechanically mount to a surface.)

Following smac’s idea, you can see I used a dark colored spraypaint cap as a divider between the outer red ring and inner white circle. These caps are 66mm in diameter just for reference. I used red RTV silicone to make it both light and water tight (as both smac and I were having problems with light bleed; smac, if you are reading this, I recommend just smothering the silicone everywhere, you can peel up problem areas once it has dried). So to re…cap…pun intended lol!...thus far I have a 120mm LED ring and 100mm ring serving as both brakes and blinkers. There is also the 80mm ring flipped upside down which serves as the taillight. These three rings exist under the red lens. Then there’s the spraypaint cap acting as a divider.

Now this brings me to the inner circle of the taillight, which I want to have two functions: (1) a continuation of the blinkers & brakes, and (2) the reverse lights. So on the inner side of the divider, I stuck down a cut-to-fit white LED strip. I found these at the auto store – they have two rows of LEDs and are pretty dang bright. On the remaining space, I stuck down a red cut-to-fit LED strip from SBL.

Next I cut a 66mm diameter circle out of the cut-to-fit mirror I had laying around. I Dremel’d out a hole in the middle where I superglued a 3157 white LED bulb down. Why a 3157 bulb? Well it has a flat base which made it easy to superglue down, plus the metal prongs which serve as connectors for its intended socket can actually be bent, twisted, and henceforth soldered to the wires running off of the white LED strip. So after I stuck down the white LED bulb, I stuck down the 60mm red LED ring around it, ran the wires through a second hole in the base, and soldered these wires to the red LED strip inside the center circle. Then I connected the 120mm and 100mm ring’s wiring to the 60mm ring/red LED strip.

I realize that may be confusing to imagine, so here’s a rudimentary wiring diagram to visualize all of this. Note: all of the grounds, regardless of the light’s function, have been wired together.

Why so many lights serving the same function? Well I feel that redundancy equals brightness, really. Plus I have a lot of these lights already laying around from other LED experiments…I’m kind of crazy about LEDs for some reason. Anyways, here’s a picture of the back of the finished light. This is before I covered every possible leaking point with silicone to make it watertight, but you get the picture.

While I was wiring the lights, my dog helped out by filling in the reverse light!

First he laid down Lexan as a backing plate...

Then he gave it the first coat of filler...

And then sanded it down.

I didn’t get a pic of the skim coat but it came out nice and smooth.

Test fit, pre-paint:

I painted the whole panel with leftover paint from the car. So far I’ve wetsanded with 1200/2000 but haven’t laid a second coat down or buffed yet. In actuality, I have to go back over the filler and give it one final skim coat to get it just right. But the issue is that it’s become rather cold as of late and I’ll have to...chill out...until summer comes and the conditions are better for painting.

Ultimately, this is the result as far as how it all looks.

Taillight: single light ring; only the red outer ring lights up with only the 80mm LED ring.


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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Bump for a disappointing thread so far. Post pics already!
I know, I hate putting placeholders but I've got a ton of stuff to put into place chronologically. :whistle:

Chapter 7 - continued

Brake light/blinkers: the whole shebang lights up; both center circle and outer ring illuminate red. In the outer circle, two additional LED rings flash (the 120mm and 100mm rings). In the center, a 60mm ring and additional strip of LEDs light up.

Here’s a demonstration of both the taillight and the arrow flashing in the mirror.

The trailer light splitter allows for the consolidation of the brake and turn signal circuits. When the blinkers and brakes are both on, this is what it looks like. (Please note that the photo below is actually a Photoshop intended to show only the blinker/brake function – not to show the actual intensity or output of the LEDs themselves. The actual output is much, much brighter. I just didn’t have anyone around to step on the brakes for me and flip the blinker.)

Here’s a photo showing the actual output of one of the blinkers at night. Note that the mirror LEDs are also bright enough to illuminate the side of the car next to mine.

Reverse lights: center circle lights up in white. They’re basically headlights for the back of the car - crazy bright little things.

Reverse lights & taillight on.

Like I said, I used 20-lb rated 3M double sided tape to mount the lights to the panel. This is because the 1974 C3 lights do not have mounting screws, unlike some C3 lights from other years. I prefer the cleaner look without the screws, really.

So as an aside, I would like to share a dumb moment I had while assembling these lights. My main form of adhesive was industrial strength super glue. In order to get an instant bond, I used an activator after applying the glue. So when the activator mixes with the glue, an exothermic chemical reaction takes place between the two, right? So imagine if the superglue, unbeknownst to you, has ran down whatever surface you’re trying to bond and has come into contact with your skin (say, a finger). No big deal, you’re used to superglue on your fingers. But what really gets you is when you find out that this glue is on your finger AFTER the activator has set the glue, instantly bonding your finger to the surface while simultaneously giving off large amounts of heat.

Needless to say, I suffered a pretty serious chemical burn on my left ring finger. What makes it even worse is that it’s not like touching a hot iron and you pull back and the pain starts to subside – instead, I had to wait till the reaction was completely done giving off heat until things started to get better even though I was no longer touching the glue itself. Plus I ripped off some skin in my surprise when I jerked my hand back. I never thought to take any pictures, but man it was the pits.

Here are some finished pictures. Around this time I discovered Instagram as well, hence some of the editing.


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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)

So this is where I am today. It’s been tough, stressful, fun and rewarding all at the same time. Is there more to come? Of course – nobody is ever really done with their cars or projects, no matter how modified things get. I just felt that the GV lights were a good stopping point for the time being, as things here at school are heating up. My classes are almost over, but I’m still looking at 5am – 4pm every day for student teaching, plus working my part time job. I’m not complaining though; teaching really is a labor of love and it has its rewards and setbacks just like building cars does. Next year holds big promises for me, and I’m trying to keep things on track: I graduate in May and then I’ll be looking for a position at a high school. I’ll be proposing to my girlfriend too, and I’m really stoked about that! Those two things combined mean a nicer apartment – maybe even a house to rent. Regardless, I’m looking forward to having a garage of my own. That way I can buy a second car (any suggestions?) and store the Miata for some down time. I’m thinking engine rebuild, heavy preventative maintenance just because I can, and maybe even one of those fancy new Rotrex superchargers. As for right now, I’ve got some odds and ends to tend to, but all of it should be small potatoes compared to the extensive overhaul I found myself in this last year.

(Below photo credit to Andy Carter in Macon, Ga)

Here are some of the most recent photos – the only difference is that I swapped out the TSIs for the OEM clear markers instead. I really liked the TSIs, but I think the OEM units look better and much less busy with the new paint/theme.

And my favorite picture so far...

Well guys, thank you all for reading this, and thank you guys for helping me out over the years on this forum with both basic stuff and inspiration as well. There are some awesome roadsters on here which really lent a big hand in some of the stuff I’ve done. See you guys around :icon_cheers:

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thank you all! It's really nice to finally see it through. This last year, car wise, really was one of the most demanding things I've done (aside from academia, etc.). But it's certainly not done, I've still a pile of parts to go on that are just waiting at the house:

Roll bar & padding
Side skirts to match the splitter
DDM radio surround with plenty of cool switches
205 tires
949 alignment bolt kit, coupled with the FM alignment specs
Racing Beat muffler
Aftermarket header (unsure of the name)
Maybe even a homebrew Elise style diffuser, just gotta figure out a mounting solution

All in due time! :icon_cheers:

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Yeah I'm really stoked on my plan for the interior. It's a ways off into the future, but I've settled on a revamp that should suit it nicely. It's already pretty custom at the moment, and I really oughtta find some photos, but I can't leave things alone and the last interior revamp was years ago :sweatdrop:

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Car looks great, really like your lighting solution for the vette lights. Think I might copy it as it seems like a much neater job than what I currently have.
Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would have gone with the light units that Carbon Miata makes for their modified GV prototype. I talked to them a long time ago and they said they'd sell a set - either the red ring and reverse light (option 1), or red ring and amber blinker (option 2), my choice. Both could be easily adapted; either option 1 could run through the trailer light splitter and combine the brake/turn and reserve the middle strictly for reverse, or option 2 would leave you to wire as-is for a center that blinks amber and then you'd have to adapt a bright strip of white LEDs much like I did for the reverse.

I originally thought that the Carbon Miata lights would be harder to adapt and the dimensions wouldn't fit right between the different sections of the C3 light, so I went with the halo rings. I was way wrong. I spent one day until 3AM chasing electrical gremlins: if I stepped on the brake while the taillight was on and the blinker activated, the brake would stay illuminated even after taking my foot off the pedal, and other way-weird things. The combination of the trailer light splitter and load equalizers (which keep the LEDs from blowing out) was a circuit I've never messed with before despite my relatively high comfort level in wiring.

Not to mention, all said and done the LED rings wound up costing almost as much as the Carbon Miata units. The only downside to the CM units is that they are made of individual LEDs, while the COB units I have appear as a continuous ring.


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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
So today had more bad news than good. We'll start with the good - I got my Racing Beat muffler installed. It's the universal one they have on their site. I picked this one because it was half the price of the Power Pulse models and I wouldn't have to hack up or cut off any nice piping.

Straight through design with beautiful welds.

Much bigger than the other muffler, which was a Magnaflow, but we made it fit!

I don't have any pics from outside of the car, but it's not much different. Same polished tips, same center exit design.

Anyways, the sound is very nice. The straight through design means there's no more annoying raspberry pfffffft pitter-patter on decel that comes with chambered mufflers. It's also very quiet, so I may remove the presilencer (also a Racing Beat; the Power Pulse connecting pipe, to be exact). I want to install this header first though and see what that does before I make any more moves exhaust-wise.

Anyways, on to the bad news...
-Right rear caliper is leaking. Anyone know why this would leak 2x in 6 years? It's been replaced once already. Odd that this wheel's caliper leaks so often, even after a replacement caliper was installed, while the others stay fine.
-Needs four wheel alignment & eccentric bolts replaced. Will be doing this shortly.
-Front wheel bearing is going out. Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh
-Also, I bent my splitter pretty badly on a customer's driveway yesterday. I sometimes take deliveries at my part time job, and the customer had a bridge in his driveway going over a small creek. The bridge was kinda janky and caught the splitter. Nothing major, already removed it and will be straightening it out soon. The material is very resilient. I think I might just run without a splitter for the meantime though until I install the side splitter skirts I got for free a little while back.


Until next time!

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Front wheel bearings? :dunno: If so I just did mine(cleaned and repacked) and it wasn't bad at all so if you are just straight replacing them then that much easier. :) Muffler looks great! So no popping on decel? That sucks, I love all those popping noises! :icon_cheers:
Thank you! Yes, it's the front one on the DS to be exact. Not expecting it to be much of a job, but it's just another thing to add to the list. :fp: As for the exhaust, I'm going to try and liven it up a bit as it is actually too quiet. It feels much nicer to drive with though. Plus my old exhaust made this annoying sound that sounds like a kid making a raspberry noise with its tongue on decel at low RPMs. I'm hoping maybe the new header I have waiting to go on will liven things up, and if not I may sell off the RB presilencer I'm running. My exhaust guy is pretty cool with me coming back so often. :icon_cheers:

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Discussion Starter · #34 · (Edited)
Today and yesterday were a couple of satisfyingly accomplishing days. I managed to replace my 24 year old alignment bolts with the new design which 949 Racing sent me out. They had been creaking pretty badly so out they went.

Activate hover mode first.

Out with the old...

In with the new!

Auto part Vehicle Car Rim Wheel

949 included a sticker in the bag too. Can you spot it?

While I had the wheels off, I snapped a pic of my spacer setup for those of you curious about running spacers and wondering about long term use. They're H&R 20mms and holding up fine after a year of use. You can see here I initially had to cut my OEM studs down a few threads, but I don't see myself swapping out my Chaparrals for a very long time - I love them.

Before I took it in for an alignment today, I bought a new set of tires. 205/50/15 Kumho Ecsta ASTs. TONS of rubber compared to the worn out 195 Hankooks. Sidewall's a tad soft, but they fit my budget, suit DD duty, and look pretty mean. Can't complain!

Then the alignment tech applied FM's alignment specs, slightly tweaked because the new 205 tires scrubbed a little. The tech is an older guy who runs autox and really knows his stuff. It was a painless alignment, as opposed to previous ones ("you're gonna need a camber kit, so I can't do this," etc. :fp: ).

Their 24 Hours of Lemans car was in the shop's showroom too, complete with a beer can catch can!

Later this afternoon I got around to some much needed maintenance. New spark plugs went in and I cleaned the ground to my tach so it didn't bounce around so much. Feelsgood.jpg

I love how my dad always has some abstract tool to make life easier. It's nice when I get to come to my folks' house to work on things.

Also, I grabbed a picture of the new muffler peeking out. Unfortunately the rear hanger ripped already so it hangs much lower than it would usually... for now anyways. It'll be tucked up about three inches here in a few days.

Happy Miata is happy!

Until next time. :icon_cheers:


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Discussion Starter · #36 · (Edited)
Hey guys. I'm in the middle of some progress as of late, and I've got some bad insomnia (winter break from student teaching has my sleep schedule all out of whack) so I figured I'd share where I'm at right now.

Not too long ago I replaced my heater core. I finished that job last month but finally got my interior buttoned back together. I would post pics of the interior now, but I'll be picking up a roll bar and some sweet Mazdaspeed seats with the red inserts next week, so I'll hold off for now. I am so excited for those seats and the roll bar though!!

The heater core swap was straightforward, but a pain taking out the dash...

The old core was leaking hot coolant onto my feet and was looking pretty nasty.

I reinforced the solder on the new core with red RTV silicone just because I'd rather not do this job again for a while.

I also reconfigured my audio system while I was at it. I originally had two Aura bass shakers, one behind each seat and the amp in the trunk. I moved the amp behind the passenger seat and stole that bass shaker, moving it behind the driver seat so I can have two shakers working in tandem. This way I can have everything and the passenger has nothing! Ha!

I had some help from my buddy Snoopy too.

So like I said, I managed to finally get everything put back together but I'm waiting on the new goodies before I snap some pics. I actually have a whole interior overhaul in the works and the seats/rollbar are just two pieces of the puzzle.

Tomorrow though I get to drop in this header I have laying around. I'm not sure of the brand; I picked it up locally in pretty rough shape so I've been doing some work on it lately.

How I originally got it...

I then sanded off the surface rust before getting this nasty little leak welded up.

Then it got treated with high temp header paint...

...and then wrapped in some good quality header wrap. Can't remember the name brand at the moment, but I got it from the parts store.

Should be fun trying to wrestle that thing in. Heard it can be tough. We shall see!

Also bought a stubby antenna off of eBay. Wouldn't normally mention this sort of thing, but I lost my old antenna during the repaint and it has kinda been an eyesore ever since.

One final thing - I always tell myself I'll never paint the tire letters on every new set of tires I buy. But then I do it anyways. :fp:

Also got the exhaust hanger fixed - just a simple S hook was all it needed. Now the muffler's nicely tucked in there instead of hanging down and swinging around.

Thanks for reading - until next time! :icon_cheers:

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
The other day was a bad day. I couldn't get the header to fit thanks to a rounded off bolt holding a bracket to the bell housing, meaning I couldn't get the bracket out of the way. Then I got word that the MSM seats had been sold. I guess that's life though. Still guaranteed the roll bar so that makes me happy. I'll be picking that up soon.

On the other hand, I managed to pull off the old purpley tint and redo the windows, so it wasn't a total loss. I might take a stab at tinting the hardtop window when I have a free day. Here's a couple pics of the fresh tint from yesterday evening.

I miss my splitter. It's still bent up. :/

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
The tint looks nice! You made the splitter out of polymetal, right? I was thinking of doing the same, because we've got some scraps at work. I can point you to a supplier that has it in a couple different thicknesses if you want something more sturdy or different material. Also, those AST's should last you a while. That's what I always ran on the NB, and they lasted forever despite my lack of alignment :lol:

Yep, polymetal. Good stuff, and durable even at the 1/8" thickness. I think I'll be able to salvage the old one though, as the bend isn't tooooo bad. But I'll keep your supplier in mind, I might actually have a need for a 1x5' sheet soon!

What are you majoring in? I saw you said student teaching.

Secondary English education - fancy for high school literature teacher. Should have my own classroom/job by August if all things go well.
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