Christopher’s Miata started out like most of my projects. I saw a good deal online and decided I had to have it. In this case, it was probably more like an okay deal, but nevertheless I decided to get it. So what all was in this “okay deal”?

  • 1994 Mazda Miata (Roller, no engine or trans.)
  • Mustang 5.0 V8 Engine
  • Mustang T5 Transmission
  • Miata Hardtop
  • Various other Miata parts.

I can’t remember the exact price for the package. I think it was about $2300 though.

So, sometime in March of 2017 I grabbed my friend Kyle and tried to head up to somewhere near Pittsburgh to get this car. I say tried because I intended to use dad’s tow dolly, but after putting new tires on it the night before it didn’t want to move. The new tires were a slightly different size and I didn’t have time to fix it before we left, so I decided to rent a U-Haul car trailer. Fortunately there was one available in the next town over, not very far out of the way.

The trip to pick it up was mostly uneventful. This was my first time pulling a full size car trailer, so that was a bit of an adventure. I did miss one turn, and to turn around Maps routed us through this tiny little town on some VERY narrow roads. We made it though! The guy I got the car from was very friendly, and we had it loaded up in no time.

Loaded up and ready to go home!

The engine and transmission I sold to my friend Justin, and the hardtop I put onto my first Miata (#3 – Frankenstein) which I still had at the time. It took me about a year till I really got around to messing with the the car itself. When I bought it, of course I had grand plans of putting the V8 in, and all that, but I quickly realized that that was out of my skill set. Instead I decided to put the engine and transmission from Frankenstein in it, and just make a regular old, low-powered, Miata. (Frankenstein had previously suffered an unfortunate injury that made it not worth fixing. No one was harmed, but that’s a story for offline.)

Big Red, Black Betty, The ZHPiece of Junk, and Christopher’s Miata
May 2018.

Putting in the engine was pretty easy. Though I ran into running issues. It turned out that at some point water had gotten into the ECU and was causing it to go into a sort of limp mode. It wouldn’t go over 2200 rpm, and just kinda bounced there. Trying to drive while this happened was not pleasant… This is issue was stumping me, and I was pretty sure it was electronic, so I sent it to a local shop known to be very good at finding electrical issues. They traced it down to the ECU, opened it up and gave it a cleaning, and it has ran fine since.

In May 2018 I took it to the Carlisle Import and Performance Nationals / NICOFest. This is my favorite event of the year, and I never miss it. I spend the weekend doing both autocross, and also attempting to drift. The open diff and overinflated tires yielded mediocre results, but I learned a lot, and it was a ton of fun! I learned how to initiate drifts with the handbrake, and prior to the event figured out a cool trick to make a drift brake for about $0.05. More on that in another post to come.

Autocrossing at NICOFest 2018
Autocrossing at NICOFest 2018
My brother James, helping me swap on some junk tires for drifting.
My brother James, helping me swap on some junk tires for drifting.

My brother Christopher turned 16 in October, and I had told him that I would set him up with a good deal on a Miata if he wanted. Naturally he did want, so I agreed to sell him this one for $1000.

Since he’s gotten his permit, and then license, he has been enjoying driving it as his daily driver, as well as some other adventures… More on that coming in part 2!