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Old 05-05-2016, 11:32 PM   #1
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Hi all,

Six months ago I bought an '04 MSM as a reward for winning a big business deal. I've put about 3K on it, and just hit 60K. I'm on the north shore of Boston. I used to work in the car biz, sales then general sales manager at Charles River Saab, years before GM croaked them ('01-'06 or so). I like to think I was one of the good guys in the business, and I think (hope?) most of my customers would have agreed! I've been out of that for 9-10 years now. I had been driving a modified '97 Saab convertible since new, which died of a cracked oil pan last March at 187K. That car started down the slippery slope of performance enhancements with a cat-back exhaust and eventually had an ECU reflash, custom turbo, IC, downpipe, springs, poly bushings, and limited slip. It was replaced with a leased Ford Explorer for work as I need to tow sailboats (I'm now marketing & sales for a racing sailboat builder). The MSM is a nice anti-SUV, which I was desperately craving. My 16 y.o. daughter got her learner's permit in February and is learning to drive a manual gearbox in the Miata:



I've been taking care of the necessary power bolt-ons for the MSM after devouring the Mazda-speed.com forums. So far: Joe's MAF relocation intake with MBC, eBay IC, and currently the car is in the barn on jack stands, soaking up PB Blaster and waiting for a warm day in MA to install a new Flyin' Miata downpipe and eBay FM catback. While I have the underside apart I'll drain the gear oil and put in the Ford unicorn tears. I've got tools and I'm not afraid to use them! I'm looking forward to wearing out these tires so I can put something better on. I did pick up a $200 set of D-Force 15" spec Miata wheels which I might use, though 1 or 2 need to be straightened. They were intended as winter wheels.

A high-value, fun, quick, reliable road car is the goal. My girlfriend doesn't understand the car addiction but she humors me, as long as I don't do anything too racecar-y. No plans for track, probably no autox. I'm a divorced single dad with 2 kids, so budget matters. I'm $1300 into mods and $9500 into the car, or 14% of the purchase price on mods. With these bolt-ons, others have shown WHP and WTQ in the 190s. I'm not looking to make too much more power, but I would like to safely tune out the hesitation in the stock MSM ECU and maybe break into the 200 club. I don't need to be pushing 250, the low end of in between will be fine.

Because I'm "frugal" I've just today picked up an Xede piggyback from another member here, for a whopping $225. I know it's not state of the art, but I really have a tough time justifying the cash for a Megasquirt 3 at 10% of the cost of the car. So I'm going to be looking for some help with the Xede, once I add a wideband and plug it in. There doesn't seem to be a lot of info out there on the ECU boards. But if I can get even 60% of the MS performance for 20% of the price, I'll be quite satisfied. If it sucks or I can't make it work, I'll flip it again. I have a buddy about an hour away just finishing installation of his own AWD dyno in his garage, he's offered to help me with tuning.

Stand by for questions!
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:40 PM   #2
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Oh, and here's our cat, Dodger. (I guess that's sort of a thing here?)

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Old 05-06-2016, 03:01 AM   #3
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The car looks great, the parts will work well, and that is great that your daughter is learning to drive a manual!

Just stop thinking of car parts as percentages of your cars purchase price. Just modify what needs to be modified to make you happy. The stock ECU in my former 04 MSM made me very unhappy, so I sold it. The car was so much fun when the ECU wasn't being stupid, so I hope the Xcede does the job, but I still think you should just get an MS3 and do it right the first time.

Welcome to the forums.
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:21 PM   #4
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This afternoon I put on the eBay Flyin' Miata cat back exhaust. Saved the FM downpipe until I can put a wideband in at the same time. Chatting with a recently early retired GE Aircraft engine engineer buddy of mine this AM, he happily agreed to let me to use the lift in his garage to install the dp and wideband.

I had been running Joe's intake with the manual boost controller set at about 10-10.5 psi. I turned the MBC down a bit with the exhaust in case I had any boost creep. My first impressions on a 20-25 minute drive at 9 psi are that the exhaust really mitigates the open/closed loop transition hesitation. It's still there, but just barely. If I hadn't bought the Xede already, I probably wouldn't bother, assuming the dp reduces the hesitation even more or at least doesn't bring it back.

My local shop has a Mazda factory tech who's a proper Miata enthusiast. He's got a fully built 1.8 ready to go into his NA, with a Megasquirt. His boss is a Ford musclecar guy, who wants to do a Ford V8 conversion on an NA Miata. I love these guys! They think I have at least half a brain unlike most customers, help me out when I'm in a bind and will even loan me tools. I stopped in on my exhaust test drive and the Miata guy recommended a tuner nearby in southern NH. His opinion is that the piggyback should work fine for my rather modest goals. If I can make the Xede work and get a bit more power, it's a nice return on a $225 gamble. If not, it's a low amount to risk, even if I wind up tossing it in the bin.
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