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Considering getting an NA. Help me decide.

 
Old 09-16-2018, 07:22 PM
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Default Considering getting an NA. Help me decide.

For background, I currently have an NB stat started out in rough shape. If I had known what I would ultimately do to the car, I would have paid a little more to get a straight body and a clean title. After a sketchy smog, I had to return the engine to stock to pass a smog referee visit (California...). Now I'm at a bit of a crossroads. The car is feeling well sorted, but there are definitely lingering issues from the fact that it started out as a couple inches shorter than it rolled off the factory floor. My next two mods are going to be a little more involved (bushings and engine swap), and the engine swap is definitely not going to make it easy to pass OBD2 smog in 2.5 years.

I'm thinking of just scrapping the NB, picking up a 90-95, and going from there. I figure some of you fine folks have faced similar decisions before, and others have wrecked cars and swapped all the parts over, so I'd love to draw on your collective wisdom. My questions:

1. I've completely lost track of all the little things I've done over the 4 years of owning my car, but there have been countless little projects. Will I regret throwing all that out to start over?
2. I've got a complete drivetrain and suspension setup that can go in the hypothetical new car. I could probably get away with just a tub, but I don't want to take on an endless project. In a new car I'd want a straight body and clean title. If I go this route would I be better off finding a car with a blown head gasket or something, pick it up super cheap and start with paint and bodywork? Or find a really good condition stock car (which seem to be in the $5k+ range)? Or find a car that's been modded and sell off all the parts?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:50 PM
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Boy... Its hard to say. I guess it depends on what you find for how much $$$. You can get NA6s for under $2k with bodies in decent shape. That may be the way to go if you already have engine, powertrain, suspension, and maybe brakes to swap into it. If you got a NA8 you could potentially drive it while building the other engine then sale the original 1.8 to offset cost or keep it as a spare.

Its going to be a tough call and I think it will all depend on the NA you end up buying....


Edit - I guess you could swap EVERYTHING from your NB into the NA then sell the left overs... if so I'd go cheap as possible on a strait body and have it wrapped or painted later.
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:10 PM
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If you are scrapping the nb, I would personally buy a clean na with a blown motor or non running condition for cheap. Usually about $1k-1500. And then swap over all the nb stuff. Make sure it's a clean body, decent paint and no rust. Not some kids blown up drift machine.

to score these deals you gotta watch craigslist like a hawk. And get an app for your phone to automatically notify you if any miatas are listed for under 2k
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:26 PM
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I would plan to swap over everything of value on the NB and part the rest. That includes the upgraded bits like the suspension, diff, seats, rad and wheels, and there are stock things like brakes and possibly front subframe and steering components that could all come over.

In my initial investigation it seems that the people that are selling cars with blown motors also have poor paint, which makes sense because otherwise they would be worth fixing. I'll keep my eyes peeled though.
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:35 PM
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High level, it's a question of weight vs flex.


Buy a clean roller, and pick the best of every generation

Here are some random considerations:

More NA's built means body parts are easy to get
Some NA colors are single stage paint
Flip up headlights make for less engine bay space
NA carpet is nicer, but everything else is nicer in a NB
NA6 dash is really light weight
The plastics in an old NA are getting old and brittle
NB subframes are more desirable for suspension geometry
NB soft top frames are lighter
NA seat rails are lighter
NB2 seats are the tallest
wheel clearance on an NA is not as good. Plan on rolling fenders.
NB has returnless fuel
NB had more complex evap system
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:44 PM
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Interesting about the solid stage paints being single stage. I had no idea! Is the thinking then that if I find one that looks faded I can bring it back to life, or is the consideration more that those should be avoided?
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:54 PM
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I'm no paint genius, but my NA has single stage paint, and while it's a bit more work to maintain, you can do quite a bit to bring it back to glory. Once clear coat goes, it's a lot of work to bring it back.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:07 PM
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Do 25+ year old cars get SMOG exempt in CA? I'm not too familiar with your laws. If so, I'd get an NA for that reason solely. Swap all the NB stuff you want over (including dash if its to your preference). A good paintjob to fix crappy paint is a bit expensive though.
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:24 PM
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I would never pick an na over nb ever, for any reason....ever
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:31 PM
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Funny, I would never pick anything but a good condition NA6
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Old 09-16-2018, 11:38 PM
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The fact that you have a donor NB, and are doing a non-miata engine swap makes it an interesting conundrum.

​​​​
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by 18psi View Post
I would never pick an na over nb ever, for any reason....ever
I have a strong personal preference for the NB appearance, but I've kind of worked myself into a corner and am displeased with the smog situation.

Skycalvin - 95 and older cars only have to do sniffer tests, rather than OBD2 plug in computer reading tests. Much easier to pass if the engine is clean burning.
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Old 09-17-2018, 09:54 AM
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Is there any reason to avoid an automatic?
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:12 AM
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More work... most autos only have two pedals
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Old 09-17-2018, 11:52 AM
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If you're replacing the drivetrain, autos can be a really low mileage, well kept example. Just a little more work to add the pedal.
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:07 PM
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Around here, people seem to pay good money for straight bodies and good paint regardless of whether the car is running right. You could do ok for around $2k, but any less and you’re probably getting a mess.
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 18psi View Post
I would never pick an na over nb ever, for any reason....ever
ditto
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Old 09-17-2018, 06:30 PM
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no to be picky, but the answer is always 01-02 NB2
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Old 09-17-2018, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by curly View Post
Funny, I would never pick anything but a good condition NA6
Ditto
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by borka View Post
no to be picky, but the answer is always 01-02 NB2
That is so annoyingly unhelpful. Why do you think that's what I bought in the first place?
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