Budget Fun: The Miata Remains King
Have you ever gotten so deep into a project car that you just take a step back and reassess your entire life? How did a bushing refresh turn into a full restoration? When will I ever drive this thing again? That's how I felt about my current BMW 2002 project, something detailed on an older post. Now don't get me wrong, the 2002 is still my dream car and I'm determined to make it absolutely perfect. But realistically, that's probably a few year long project. While I owe a lengthy update on that project, and explain why it reached that point, that's not what this post is about.
I enjoy driving my cars, I'm not really much of a builder. That isn't the most popular opinion, but I'm not the best wrench in the world, and I get more satisfaction out of the perfect downshift, or a well timed apex. A rolling shell can't give me that same satisfaction, not right now at least, and so I found myself wanting something to drive again. Enter the new project car, a 1990 Mazda Miata, my new drift car.
I actually owned a Miata a few years ago. It was my first real drivers car, but was short lived. A short nose crank failure had me selling it not even a year after purchasing it. For this project I wasn't actually going to get another Miata, I thought I was mostly over them. I'm a tall guy, and I don't fit too well in the cabin. What I really wanted was a 240sx, having driven a few in the past, I knew I liked them. But my searches were fruitless, and totaled rolling shells were commanding absurd premiums in my area. I was starting to give up on the search, when a friend sent me this video.
What struck me about this drift day, was despite being low powered and having such a short wheel base, it just looked like fun. It's hard not to smile at a group of smiling Miatas sliding around the track over and over. At the very end of nearly 10 minutes straight of abuse, the tires still have plenty of tread and the oil temps were completely fine. The Miata had no problems handling the abuse. And that got me thinking.
The next day I had found a steal on a 1990 Miata not too far from me. I got a truck and trailer, and dragged it home. Here's the quick run down, the car is pretty much bone stock. Though it is a 1990, it has a 1993 engine in it, which means the short-nose crank woes are taken care of. The previous owner put in some aluminum door cards, which he sticker bombed. Otherwise the car was unmodified, even the fenders weren't rolled. Some of you may notice it has a hard top, which was the main draw for me. Though we don't have to talk numbers, I basically bought a hard top and it came with a free Miata.
The plans are pretty simple. The car was abandoned mid-timing belt job. So I'll be finishing that, getting it running and adding some basic track oriented modifications to get it sliding. The aim is to have a well setup, budget drift car. If Noriyaro's video taught me anything, I don't need crazy power or a wild setup to just have fun. Plus, every dollar I spend on this project will take away from the 2002 in the short term. Given I really want that done as well, the Miata is going to stay pretty simple.
You can expect updates here, as well as a recap on my first drift event in June. I'm new to drifting as an actual driver, so it'll be a learning curve to be sure. I'm looking forward to sharing this new project with you all.