Thursday, December 8, 2011

In The Garage: 1991 Mazda Miata

The first snow has fallen so its time to add a convertible to my fleet. Like my last three vehicle purchases, this one doesn't run and hasn't for at least a year. Full plan inside.

One of my favorite past times is conceptualizing project cars. Think of it as bench racing for the junk yard crowd. For a few months I've been kicking around the idea of true roadster project. Not what passes as a roadster today which is anything with a soft top. A true roadster with no top, no windows except a tiny windscreen and no radio. This project appeals to me because I've never owned a topless car and I can do it cheap. Since I don't have garage space for it, anything not water resilient will be gutted from the interior.

Water cooler discussion of the roadster project included many great donor vehicle proposals. Everything from an AMC Rambler American, Ford Falcon, second gen RX-7, Fiat Spyder, and more were proposed. While a Miata was mentioned a few times, I wasn't thrilled. A Miata was already a bare-bones convertible so the conversion seemed almost too simple. Not much of a project at all. Plus, a running Miata can easily cost a four figure amount of money in metro Detroit which was my entire budget. I was ready to sit back, wait for the cold weather to depress drop top values and pick up a cheap, running, manual trans car for four or five benjamins confident I'd buy something other than a Miata.

Then bad idea instigator and co-worker Pat Caherty sent me a post from GRM's classifieds forum selling this car. Other than being a Miata it fit all my requirements: cheap, nearly running, not completely unpresentable, manual transmission, and cheap. While some interior pieces are missing I planned on gutting those anyway. The carpet has already been replaced with bed liner which I wanted to do also. The only downside is the rust. Don't let the pictures fool you, the rockers have evaporated near the rear wheels and the undercarriage has a distinct red tint. Never mind, for just a few hundred dollars I'm not complaining.

So now that its in the fleet, I've put it in cold storage for a few months. My plan is to gather parts like plastic seats and begin the transformation in March. That should give me a few weeks build time to be ready for the spring driving season sometime mid-April. I'm also considering rolling on new livery. At the moment my favorite idea is a 787B tribute but I'm open to ideas.


  1. Nice purchase! I'll have to think on proposals for the livery...

  2. Update, with a little fuel it started right up. It needs brakes, an alternator, and sway bar links to be road worthy.

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