I always wanted a fast car. But for the longest time, I was reliant on the beautiful Daddy's Dollar.
The inevitable happened sometime back in 2014 as my Saturn died on me, and I was left with one option: ride a bike to work. I had recently taken on a job in the wireless industry and was taking home some moolah that was actually worth spending. After perusing Craigslist for some time, I found a peachy 1990 Miata with a 1.6 on Christmas Day. Within 2 hours of finding it, I picked it up for $2500 and was surprisingly happy with my choice. It had awfully mismatched tires, Toyota MR2 wheels, barely functional brakes, a laughably ricer exhaust setup and no stereo. But I was in love with this piece of junk. I knew it was entirely too much money to spend on one in this condition but I never regretted buying it. Six months go by, and I manage to spend a few dollars to spruce her up. I bought a Moroso overflow tank, replaced the shift boot (both the rubber and the leather decorative boot) Mishimoto radiator, the dual fan shroud, Mishimoto 140 degree thermostat, the FM Happy Meal clutch kit and I figured out how to wire up my Saturn's stereo into the car since I hadn't had any tunes for a while. I had a lot of fun in the car. I learned how to rev match, drift, hit apexes, and funnily enough... keep up with that 600hp Mazdaspeed 6 (usually with the tail end of the Miata swinging wildly like a 18 wheeler caught in a crosswind).
After a huge rain storm, my ECU nearly fried itself and I was able to take it apart and clean off the corrosion and save it w/ Silica gel (after being left at this intersection)
About a month after the rain incident, June 2015, bad luck struck me again. Some military brat drove into oncoming traffic while he was texting and driving. As some of you have already seen in my Meet & Greet, this was the end of my little hunk of junk after she had lived a long 25 year adventure with god knows what in her past.
A guy near Ft. Hood posted an ad for a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata that I absolutely fell in love with. We agreed on a fair price, and I took her home with a gigantic grin on my face. Everything about the car was perfect. The Konig wheels were beautiful, he installed a FM exhaust (stock downpipe), Kenwood Stereo, DDM HIDs, Kobalt rear strut, Koyorad radiator/fan shroud, and deleted quite a bit of unnecessary vacuum related things and the EGR. It had an aftermarket intake (unknown brand)
I beat on the car quite a bit, and drove it between San Antonio and DFW regularly. Eventually it developed an exhaust leak because of the cheap eBay turbo manifold.
A bunch of stock parts came with the car and one of them happened to be the stock manifold (among other things like the FM cam gear tool, a tournneau cover for the ragtop, etc.). I drove the car with an exhaust leak for a while, because I was eventually going to replace the head gasket with a 99-00 headgasket per the advice of Trackdog Racing to "properly accommodate" the M-Tuned Coolant Reroute, which meant I could just have my buddy weld up the eBay manifold while the motor was taken apart. Awful idea, exhaust leak continued because the manifold eventually warped. I diverted to the stock manifold, so we got that installed and I noticed it made more boost.
I couldn't believe that all this time, the car was actually making little wastegate and BOV noises. This encouraged me to beat on the car endlessly, and seeing what the car could handle because I had caught the turbo bug and was soon addicted.
Whether by my own negligence, or just happenstance, the oil return line from the turbo cracked, and I spewed out about half of the engine's oil on a entrance ramp pull.
This bit of hooning damaged a rod bearing (unbeknownst to me at the time, but it was definitely a guess of mine that I had damaged something internal). I had the cracked line replaced, and completely went against my better judgement by not having my machinist friend tear my block down to inspect the motor for any severe damage after the mechanic replaced the line for me. I drove the car for about 1000 miles with this rattling sound that I had convinced myself was a loose heatshield somewhere. Come mid November, I'm doing about 70-80mph down I-35 when I noticed a subtle bucking from the car, single pulse every 2 or 3 minutes. I look down at my gauges and the car is absolutely beyond all saving at this point so I pull to the side of the freeway and throw my hands up in the air.
The flat bed comes to pick her up, while my friends and I discuss the possibility of just selling the car and cutting my losses. On the ride home, my buddies talk me off the ledge and convince me to just build the motor.
So here we are. My machinist started working on a spare block that I had before the MSM motor came out of the car
My machinist had my spare 1.8 block that I had bought in the hopes of doing a cute little turbo build for my 1990. I picked up the long block about 2 weeks after I bought the first car, and had all but forgotten about it. I disassembled the entire motor myself and left it abandoned for 30+ weeks without any plans to move forward. So yes, I was "that guy" who does a half assed build and never follows through.
But now, without a running car, I figured I would bring out my inner psycho and go as crazy with my car as my pockets would allow. Thus far we've tried to come a long way with our own knowledge, and admittedly up until my Meet & Greet, I hadn't bothered to read up anything about the trial and error of other people hoping to get more than 100 hp out of their cars.
I went into the situation knowing this much: My turbo had to go, I needed Megasquirt, and my transmission was a ticking time bomb. Also, I knew that I had made a questionable decision changing the head gasket to a 99-00 part
With all of that being said, I think I went after a solid bit of goodies for the build in my hopes of achieving a 500whp 1.8.
9.5:1 Supertech pistons (these are stock compression pistons, I know a lot of you guys question this setup for turbo Miatas, but that's what these MSMs came with)
Supertech Valves, Valve springs (heavy doubles)
1.8 BP block from an unknown year Miata,
MSM non-VVT head and reverted back to stock MSM headgasket
Billet gear water pump
Billet gear oil pump
GTX3076R, Tial hotside
RX7 Turbo II 5-speed transmission
Yet to buy, but WILL (because nobody likes a dude with a wishlist):
Ford 8.8 rear end whenever I find a wrecked Cobra or Thunderbird.
Custom exhaust manifold
Aftermarket Fueling system (injectors, flex fuel sensor, etc.)
All in all, I'm hoping to have a really badass Miata. I'm beyond excited and I'm not really out to prove anything. Personally I feel like I don't know anything worth mentioning about building motors.
I just have a fetish for speed and wanted to tell my story along the way. With the help of some awesome friends who share my passion for cars.