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Old 03-02-2013, 06:21 PM   #1
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Hi All!

I'm brand new to the forum. I'm slightly embarrassed because I'm not a mechanic and I don't understand all the tech terms. I can see right away that there are some very knowledgeable individuals on this forum.

Here is my situation:

1) I have a very nice 99 in great condition. I've owned it for about 7 years and it currently has only 55k on it. I have made no modifications to it (it has a normal stock exhaust). Recently I test drove a VW Golf turbo and loved the feel and acceleration. So I am considering a turbo kit for the Miata.

2) My background - As I've said, I'm not a mechanic. I've done brakes, speedo cables, thermostat and hose replacements, heater core, etc., but nothing too major. I mention all of this because I honestly do not know if I should attempt to do the turbo kit myself or take it to my mechanic (who is very good!). So my first question to you is whether installing a turbo kit is something that an amateur mechanic can take on, or should it be done by a professional mechanic to make sure that it's done right? How many hours would it probably take for a mechanic to do it (I'm trying to factor in the labor costs) vs. me trying to do it?

3. My next question is what kind of kit should I get and where do you recommend purchasing it? I am not looking to race the car - I just want to boost the hp to a very fun level. Flying Miata has a Voodoo II kit that looks interesting for about $3200. Is this a recommended kit? I don't want to spend much more than $4,000 for all the parts (including clutch and exhaust) and labor.

4. My final question is, what else do I absolutely have to have in addition to the kit? I'm guessing new clutch and new exhaust - anything else?

Bottom line - Can I do the turbo with a good recommended kit for under 4,000k, even if I have a mechanic do the install? And, by adding the turbo, does the car become "high maintenance" so that I am constantly having to make adjustments to make it run right?

Thank you in advance for your input!

Gary
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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Excellent first post.

Start by googling for the 'miataturbo diy turbo wiki'

then read read read.

Dann
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gelkins View Post
Bottom line - Can I do the turbo with a good recommended kit for under 4,000k, even if I have a mechanic do the install?
Probably not. Like you said a complete kit is $3200, which doesn't include exhaust and a clutch, which is another $800 easily. There's a recent thread here where FM says they charge something like $1800 for an install, and that's pretty typical for a shop to do so, most of which I wouldn't trust. They'll bust out the sawzall before coming on here to ask like an intelligent fellow like yourself would.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:13 PM   #4
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Just my 2c, but if you can handle the full-fledged heater replacement in a Miata, there's no way you can't (easily) handle a turbo install.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:17 PM   #5
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get a begi basic kit (s1 or whatever), add a clutch, injectors, and megasquirt, assmble yourself (really not that hard) and have a professional tune it/dial it in. with 220-230whp it will be exactly what you're looking for.

4k is very much possible and realistic and the car will be a hoot. Also shouldn't be too much more maint than stock.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:19 PM   #6
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No ****...if you lived near me I'd be happy to put a kit together for you and it would be under $3,500. Would be like this...you drop your car off and give me the money and a deadline, and I return your car ready to roll. Would most likely put out about 200whp, and be factory dependable. As far as passing emissions...that might be a different story.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:07 AM   #7
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Only you know your real skill level. Go read some build threads where people have documented their turbo installs step by step (often with photos as well) and decide for yourself if it seems too difficult. I would recommend reading the build thread by user Erat for a simple, part DIY/part kit install. Following his path would also give you the results you're looking for.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:26 AM   #8
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Thanks, guys, for this very helpful advice. It's encouraging to think that it may be possible for me to do it. I will check out the begi basic kit. Any advantage to this over the Voodoo II?

I wish I were closer to PA; I might take you up on that offer thirdgen. Thankfully we live in a small town so I don't have to worry about it passing emissions.

I think it would be a lot of fun to try to do it myself. I'm just a bit skittish - my 99 is running perfectly and I would hate to mess it up. But the thought of installing the turbo will probably win out in the end! Thankfully, I've got a very good mechanic in town, someone I trust could bail me out if necessary.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:49 AM   #9
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Going turbo is the best thing for a miata! Just take your time and read on here you will be fine.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:03 AM   #10
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I'm with blaen. If you can change out a heater core . . . .

Some advice for a turbo Miata:

1. You are much better off doing it yourself. Your good mechanic friend makes a living repairing stock cars. Asking him to customize and to do it at a low price isn't fair to either of you. It takes time to do this right. You don't want to rush it. Also, when it comes to maintenance and repairs, if it's not stock, someone better know the details.
2. Things like installing a clutch are good to farm out. No real customizing there.
3. Make sure it's not your only car. I think you've got that covered. A turbo Miata can be a reliable DD, but I assure you once the mods start, you're going to get the itch every six months or so to tinker some more.

Kits mentioned are great starts. It really does transform the car.
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Old 03-03-2013, 02:29 AM   #11
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Installing the hardware is part of the job but you will want to include a proper engine computer (ECU) in your budget. Boost requires a ton more fuel and the stock computer can't do that well - even if you bolt on the various band aids available.

+1 on trying this yourself as long as it isn't your only transportation. It's not something a beginner will be able to do over a weekend and count on getting to work Monday morning.
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Old 03-03-2013, 03:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gelkins View Post
I think it would be a lot of fun to try to do it myself. I'm just a bit skittish - my 99 is running perfectly and I would hate to mess it up. But the thought of installing the turbo will probably win out in the end! Thankfully, I've got a very good mechanic in town, someone I trust could bail me out if necessary.

It's not your daily driver is it? Don't turn your DD into a project car, that's definitely a bad idea.

Doing it yourself for under $4k is doable if you do the work yourself. But I still wouldn't even let a mechanic work on it if it is your only DD.

Edit: I should probably read before I start commenting, but hopefully the 3 comments in a row all saying the same thing will stress the importance of this point!
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Old 03-03-2013, 03:07 AM   #13
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Before this car the biggest automotive project I had undertaken was changing the water pump on our GM pickup. I do somewhat miss the convenience of an engine bay with space for you feet as you sit on the fender, and being able to simply go under it to access something without requiring jack stands.

With this car, I have now done about everything that can be done to it without removing the engine, and/or accessing the internals of the transmission or diff. I first did the clutch. Then the next winter I combined my supercharger installation with a timing belt/water pump/hoses refresh. This winter I installed a new suspension and suspension bushings. Take your time, follow the instructions, and have the Factory Service Manual available, and you will be fine. I recommend both hard copy and PDF copies of the FSM. These cars are pretty straight forward to work on.

As others have said, if you do it yourself you know that the person who did it had a vested interest in your safety and in the quality of the work. Plus, if there are any issues, and there are issues with bone stock cars from time to time, you will know the car and how it differs from stock.
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Old 03-03-2013, 03:28 AM   #14
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Personally, that's why I am going to turbo my car. Part of the reason I bought this car was so I could learn to work on it. Well it's been a year and a half and I haven't had to do any actual work on it (I did do shocks and sways but that was my choice not a necessity). So I am going to add a turbo both to learn to work on it, and because I know it will make things break faster.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenuge26 View Post
Personally, that's why I am going to turbo my car. Part of the reason I bought this car was so I could learn to work on it. Well it's been a year and a half and I haven't had to do any actual work on it (I did do shocks and sways but that was my choice not a necessity). So I am going to add a turbo both to learn to work on it, and because I know it will make things break faster.
Same here.

I've 'built' a couple project cars before, but this Miata will be the most in depth and hands on that I've ventured. Part of the reason for boosting is because turbo = fun, and part is to see if I can do it. These cars seem very straight forward and less complicated than others... seems like the perfect platform to use to learn more about how things work.
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Old 03-03-2013, 08:05 AM   #16
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My kit adds up to about 4k Works perfect
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbofan View Post
Only you know your real skill level. Go read some build threads where people have documented their turbo installs step by step (often with photos as well) and decide for yourself if it seems too difficult. I would recommend reading the build thread by user Erat for a simple, part DIY/part kit install. Following his path would also give you the results you're looking for.
Turbofan, I looked for Erat's build thread. No success. Could you paste the link? I noticed links to a couple of build threads (great close-up pics btw), but are these applicable to a 99? I'm assuming that it's not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Thanks!

Last edited by gelkins; 03-03-2013 at 10:28 AM. Reason: some clarification
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gelkins View Post
Turbofan, I looked for Erat's build thread. No success. Could you paste the link? I noticed links to a couple of build threads (great close-up pics btw), but are these applicable to a 99? I'm assuming that it's not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Thanks!
Here is Erat's build thread... Definitely a good read!

https://www.miataturbo.net/build-thr...ta-ever-62679/
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:55 AM   #19
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wait, are we in here all suggesting it cant be done for 4K?
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Old 03-03-2013, 10:56 AM   #20
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The question was asked whether my Miata is a DD. No, it doesn't have to be. I have a truck I can use to get to work if need be.

As I think more about this, more questions come to mind. With the car nearing 60k, it may be good to do the timing components - something I think I would get the mechanic to do.

So, is the following the right sequence?

1. Order kit, timing components, clutch (recommended clutch????), and exhaust (recommendations preferably under $400???). Any other essential items? (mr_hyde suggested ECU, injectors and megasquirt)

begi or VooDoo II???

2. Mechanic does timing belt and clutch

3. After he's finished, I begin the turbo install. Hopefully I can do it in a full week. I should add that I have basic tools, nothing highly specialized. Any special tools that I need?

4. Mechanic fine-tunes it and I'm good to go

Is this the right order? Am I leaving out anything?

Thanks guys! This forum has inspired me to give it go!
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