A few weeks after I had given up for a while on looking for a car an autocrossing buddy of mine, Cy Lee, PM’d me about possibly buying his Miata. He knew I was looking for such and car and wanted to sell his. He bought the car from another local autocrosser last year. The previous owner bought it and fixed it up some, doing a lot of routine engine maintenance on it, tune-up, timing belt, clutch, etc… The car is a 1990, the first year of the Miata.
Unfortunately these early Miatas had a weak crankshaft in the area where the timing belt and accessory pulleys mount. If removing these pulleys, like you do on a timing belt job, you must be careful not to mis-install the key and to torque the bolt in the end of the crank to a very specific value. My hunch is the previous owner did not take these precautions b/c the keyway stripped a few thousand miles after Cy got the car. So it sat in his driveway with the intention of putting in a rebuilt motor and using it for a “beater” car. He even went so far as to buy a motor, from a Spec Miata racer who wrecked his car and decided to get out. The Spec Miata driver put his car in the wall backwards so there was no damage to the front of the car. But there is no telling what running condition the motor is in. That is the chance you take with rebuilt motors bought via eBay or a forum. It was rebuilt in 2005 according to the seller and has just a few race distances on it.
Anyway, back to the story. So Cy decided he would never get around to doing the motor swap and just wanted to sell the car. This was first or second week in December and I didn’t want to buy the car and then be short of money come Christmas time. So I asked him if we could wait until after Christmas. And he did. Just after new years Cy messaged me again about the car. A quick check of the bank and savings account to make sure I had the money and I accepted. I paid him the same amount he had sunk into the car with one caveat, he had to deliver the car to my Dad’s place in South Jersey. Remember, that was how the last car deal went south. Cy has a truck and trailer to tow his STS Civic. He gladly accepted.
So here she is, on the trailer come to her new home. Along with the car I got the rebuilt engine, new motor mounts, and a new soft top. I may get another top and sell this one though. I understand that eBay tops do not have zip-up rear windows. And I am going to want to unzip the rear window in the summer considering the car has no AC. So we are going to have to replace the motor and the soft top. And the paint is faded, most notably on the hood. And the bottom is rusty, especially the control arms. But she would be very competitive in STS2. She is about as light as you can get for a Miata. One airbag, no AC, crank windows, no cruise. I am debating to remove the power steering or not. For now it is staying in. The only disappointment about the car was it is an open diff. I was hoping (a long shot) that it had VLSD. That may not be that big of a deal though. So a lot of the upcoming installments to this blog will be concerning the engine replacement and buildup. Stay tuned. Now if it would just get warm.