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Old 06-27-2014, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default Miata closet....

I just came out!!

*long post warning

Name's Derek. I live in South TX (though Im from the Midwest).
I build computers, work on cars/trucks, race RC cars (recently), and just bought a new house so I had room to do projects and things.

I haven't always looked at a Miata platform as...well...a manly option...
My first car was a 69 GTO, Ive had multiple muscle cars, lifted 4x4's, and various cars that were larger and faster. I picked up an 04 Cavalier a few years back as an A to B type of car. That didn't stay stock long since I like to wrench. I ended up supercharging it, building it from bumper to bumper (intercool to fuel pump!), and it has been an ongoing project and is currently ungoing its 2nd engine swap.

My 4x4 NISMO eats gas like a fat kid and a fresh box of cupcakes, and has not been ideal for a dd. I am tired of not having a car to drive for fun after work and on weekends to cruise/race, etc. So I decided to look for a 2nd project.

Small enough to fit into the garage without taking up a lot of space, and cheap and easy to work on, the Miata seemed to fit the bill! I have really loved seeing the V8 swaps, and am considering that or a good clean turbo build very soon (keeping it under 250whp). Just enough to cruise with style, enjoy the back roads, but low enough to not really need to swap motors if I don't go the V8 route.

So yeah. Long(er) story short, I picked up my 91 BRG SE yesterday.
Interesting story on it. I saw it on eBay a few days ago. It didn't make the reserve price. I noticed it happened to be only a few miles from my house. Then saw it on CL that same night it ended at auction. Called the guy. Set up a test drive after work, and loved it.

it had 174.9K miles. Original everything (paint, leathers, etc).
5spd. I believe a short shifter was installed. It has the Nardi shifter (box and all), and was all loose and not installed right (with the set screws). Has a cheap ebay fake suede shifter boot, but looks good. I noticed an aftermarket black shifter ball (with green 1-5/R) on it. I put that on instead. Not a big fan of wood grain. I knew I could instantly work on this and drive it too, and enjoy the **** out of it!

The guy I bought it from only had it for two months. With him it sat in the garage, got it inspected, and that's literally it. Bought it to sell it apparently. Guy before him, did all the following mods back in December/January and he only owned it for 2 months. However, sadly, that guy (in his mid 30's) died after acquiring the Miata due to a late diagnosis to cancer.

Heres what he put on it (all brand new):
coil overs, wheels/tires, header/full exhaust, replaced the engine (though I have no paperwork to prove this, it is clean and runs flawlessly).

It also came with: 2 new speakers for the doors, a leather tonneau cover for the vert top, SE badge (#3660), and front spoiler (still in plastic).

The ONLY bad: rear window is missing

Since yesterday after acquiring the car, ive had the fenders rolled in the front, detailed the interior, and made sure everythings running/functioning. It has cruise, dash all works, and the clutch engages beautifully.

I will raise the front a few inches very soon, get a hard top for it, and go through all the parts to get a parts list currently on it. Then Im going to either turbo it (250 or less hp goal to the wheels), or just do a V8 swap. I also want to track it, so I need a spare set of wheels/tires and a proper roll cage (its just got a pretend bar on it now).

She gets a lot of looks and Ive already had two trucks try to race me (wtf lol)

*My truck gets too bad of fuel mileage to be a dd anymore (06 NISMO 4x4).
*My 04 Cavalier is currently undergoing its 2nd motor swap, and has a ported blower and a huge list of mods (including meth, rear disc swap, and anything you can imagine down to the fuel pump and rear view mirror having auto dim/digital compass haha). And all while looking nearly stock!
*This will be my dd/weekend cruiser/track car. I will baby her enough to keep her in like-new shape, but I love to drive and I will take her on back roads and give her the threshold testing she needs for pushing her limits. I cant stress enough how much I simply love to drive!

On to the pics.






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Old 06-27-2014, 07:23 PM   #2
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Any idea what coilovers?
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:21 PM   #3
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Hey Schuyler, Im not sure yet.
Im going to go through the parts to see what exactly this thing already has.
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:32 AM   #4
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Thanks for joining, BRGSEinTX!
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Old 06-28-2014, 03:34 PM   #5
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Thanks Braineack!
Been reading through a lot of the turbo posts and see you come up a lot. when you gonna get that 1.8? :P jk (or maybe you have now?)

So apparently a 1.8 swap is necessary for anything 250rwhp ballpark (especially as efficiently in comparison) from what Ive been seeing (after wading through all the bs bashing and stuff :P)

Ill keep searching, but Im looking for all the info on the swaps. Im currently swapping another motor in my jbody (cavalier) and Ive done everything myself. So what I'd do is start scouting for 1.8's in my area. Apparently parts Miata's are fairly cheap here in south TX. Need to find out what years swap, direct bolt, parts need upgrading/swapping (like can I keep my a/c compressor and not have to drain the system type thing), does the tranny bolt up to a 1.8 from my 91, etc etc. Including wiring harness modifications (if any).

I was hoping to be able to enjoy my new car without a swap..and it looks like a basic turbo set up isn't going to give me the kind of noticeable difference Im thinking Id like for a weekend cruiser (which a v8 swap would do, but that's a whollllle new ballgame and will need my other project to be done so I have room in the garage).

Seems like a lot of good info on the forums if you have thick skin and common sense!
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Old 06-28-2014, 07:50 PM   #6
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Before the engine, you will want to make sure that you have a 1. 8 rear end in the car. The stock 1.6 rear ends fail at stock power.

Welcome to the forum. Check out the DIY FAQ.
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Old 06-28-2014, 07:57 PM   #7
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^ sixshooter, thanks for the info. Im going through peoples 1.6 and 1.8 builds to see what people are doing.

Basically I need to figure out how to identify my engine as a 1.6 or 1.8, and the rear.

SUPPOSEDLY the guy who put the parts in also put in a new engine, but theres no supporting documents. If he was building it and put all these new parts in, theres a decent chance he knew about Miatas and knew to put in a 1.8?
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:18 PM   #8
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Is that a style bar?
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Old 06-28-2014, 11:01 PM   #9
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thirdgen, unfortunately yes, if you're talking about that black bar behind the head rests. Its only held in by two bolts (seat belts).
Im already looking for full rear bar replacements I can have welded in. I have a chance to get a full cage but I don't want the bars up front.

I also found out the coil overs are Super Stable...basically from my research they're cheap to avg quality mostly made for Hondas...I wasn't even able to find any online for Miatas lol. But, they are brand new. I don't know if the allen screw on the top is for dampening adjustment or if they're just not adjustable period..only height adjustable. And I cant raise them yet since I don't have the correct wrench..mine is from a different set for a different car.

The sway bars are stock too..so Id like to upgrade those. As are the brakes.

But, the rear diff has no markings..no way for me to tell unless you can tell by the bolt pattern (like on Jeeps, d44, d60, etc). Ill check later online since my gf is over and Im done working on it for the day lol

Heres some more tinkering basically..just trying to get to know whats in it

front springs


rear springs:







And the exhaust is pretty nice, clean welds too. But I cant stand raspy exhaust. The can after the muffler has to be the culprit, but I also pulled this little sleeve out of the end by the tip. Sounds slightly cleaner, but still too raspy under throttle for my taste. Ad idle or cruising speeds, it sounds really throaty/solid though!
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:33 AM   #10
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Your engine is a 1.6, easily identifiable from the pictures.

Your heater hose, lower rear radiator hose, and transmission are not shielded from the exhaust heat. Beware, the rubber hoses can become brittle and rupture if they are left that way for extended periods of time or if the car is ever driven particularly hard. Your front left brake line is pretty close to the header as well and would do well to be shielded to prevent fluid boiling if driven hard.
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Old 06-30-2014, 10:34 AM   #11
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Welcome!

My fairly stock little 1.6 does just fine at almost 250rwhp!
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:36 AM   #12
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Most roll bars simply bolt in, not weld in.

Here's m.net's guide to identifying what differential you have, as well as a page with more information on the '91 miata.. As far as I know, you cannot simply identify by the housing. You could potentially figure it out by looking at the options the car came with and determining the package it was equipped with, but that all assumed it is still rocking the same diff it began life with. Looks like in 91 the diff was an option on it's own, and not included in any packages. Though my NA knowledge is limited, so anyone feel free to correct me.

Differential Spotters Guide
1991
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:49 AM   #13
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what's the joke wiring go to?
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Old 06-30-2014, 12:38 PM   #14
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Here's FM's swap guide. Towards the end under hypothetical plans are the four most common and economical swaps.
http://www.flyinmiata.com/support/in...sc/1.8swap.pdf.
Replace the word Hydra with Megasquirt every time you read it. There is far more support for the latter on this forum.
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:57 AM   #15
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damn I didn't see my notifications of the responses, thanks for the replies guys!

GV, Im hoping my stock 1.6 will hold up just the same!

I plan on doing a swap if necessary, but the power/weight its at with that turbo set up will be plenty for my intended use. I see a lot back and forth on multiple forums about the 1.6 vs 1.8 debates, and to be honest I've met a few Miata people that say the 1.6 is just fine on boost. But for now I want to take what pros the Miata has and just improve on the cons (primarily power). Im not new to motor swaps, so that doesn't concern me if the stock motor goes. Ive already changed out the plugs, oil, and ran a compression test. She's holding at like 160 across the board except one is around 150.

Im currently looking at different brake upgrades, but don't think Ill take the much bigger, more expensive plunge just yet. I need to replace my pads and rotors and have been eyeing the 949 supermiata stage1 setup with upgraded front pads, stock rears. having the steel lines is a nice upgrade too that I find very worthwhile. The downside is I don't see much on the specifics on their site...rotor sizes, for example. Plus Im not sure if the 11"+ upgrade kits will allow 15" plus size wheels comfortably...or if they require certain offsets to clear the bigger calipers. I wish they'd include that on their site. Maybe Im being dumb and its still not big enough to concern myself with wheel size

Schuyler, thanks for the info. Apparently the torsen was included with any 91 NA with the leather interior? I don't know how well that holds up though cause I hear a lot of whats fact and whats not. I do know I have nearly every option including power steering, ABS, speakers in the tan leather seats, etc. Even cruise control which in 91 to me was kind of neat haha. I already purchased a 1.8 rear diff and driveshaft from a 94 R package. I need the half shafts though...but ill wait to see if I really need it. I have yet to get underneath to test if its a limited slip though. I guess you can rotate the driveshaft and see if both wheels rotate in the same direction as you spin the ds. Which sometimes isn't necessarily a tell tale sign? I just know with 250ish to the wheels, the rear needs to hold up.

My other concern is clutch. Ive been looking online and I don't see al ot of clutch/pressure plate/slave (throw out bearing) packages. Im used to that all coming in a kit. What clutch is good for street driving but can handle heavy back road hooning? Also how easy is it to drop the trans on these cars to replace the clutch? My 04 Cavalier is a bitch since its FWD...but the upgraded clutch was replaced by me when I had the motor out.

Braineack, I have no clue and that's bothering me too. There is an aftermarket deck in it, that im assuming is whats killing the functionality of the seat speakers...? The door speakers are blown and the driver side doesn't even work. But the PO threw in a new set of replacements. Theres also this weird thick blue wire/loom in the passenger wheel well that goes up into the engine bay somewhere, it doesn't look OEM.

Monk, thanks for the reading material. Ive been trying to read what I can while at work during the week since I cant log in to this site (or most forums) from work (gov't firewalls ftw). If I do any replies or anything its through my phone and I cant stand forums on smart phones.

Hopefully this weekend I can get the head back on the cavy, and get her driving again. My rule is only one vehicle on jack stands at a time My truck sucks too much gas to not be putting the cav back on the road anyways, and the cav is a quick little sleeper that's far too fun to not have on the road picking on big ol V8's Im hoping the same for the Miata once she's all set up!
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Old 07-10-2014, 04:05 AM   #16
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oh and sixshooter, yes I plan on going through and trying to thoroughly protect anything exposed to heat. the brake lines will be stainless steel soon once I decide on what brake kit to buy
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:07 AM   #17
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<250whp on the 1.6 will last for quite a bit on the street, but if you're going to track it I wouldn't want to run much more than 200-220whp on the track with the stock internals. If you end up going with a 1.8 swap, you can throw some cheap rods in it and it will hold ~300whp just fine.

Basically 250whp is the limit of the stock con rods, and close to the limit of the 5-speed. That's fine on the street, but on the track you'll want to stay away from those limits.

Find some time to read curly's build thread.
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Old 07-11-2014, 04:39 AM   #18
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Yeah I already read through his build twice 2nd time at work yesterday when I had some downtime haha

track time would be limited. but eventually Id like to prep it for being able to handle the drive out to a track then a days worth of racing.

Do you know if people run transmission coolers on our cars at all? I notice driving around my center console seems to get pretty warm. And with a turbo going in, would an oil cooler fair well on these too? One thing Ive learned from my boosted jbody set up is cooling is key to any boosted car. Im even considering a radiator upgrade since Im in south TX. But Im not trying to go for a full replacement yet, just have fun with the cars current potential
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