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Old 03-25-2008, 08:08 PM   #1
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Talking new to the scene, any suggestions?

Hi everyone. I've recently become more involved with performance cars, as opposed to just looking at them, and bought a new VW gti. As my interests in customizing grew, so did my interests. I think I'd like to have a small project car that was considered an excellent handler with the ability to scream down the road when desired. If the project is relatively painless, I'd love to transition to autocross experience.

Many people have suggested a modified Miata so my attention now is to figure out what generation/years are considered better than others and what is the best thing I can do to make it move. My budget is about 10grand total and I've been leaning towards a 1999 that has a roll bar, LSD, and eibach ground control suspension w/adjustable gas shocks. There's also a 2001 6-speed possibly available. However I'm still unsure as to what are the most recommended years to get. My goal is to have an adequate amount of creature comforts (power windows, dual airbags, what not) but still have it easily/cheaply customizable for autocross (in case I bump/scratch body paneling, add in forced-induction, other aftermarket performance stuff).

So to my question:
What years are most recommended (I'd like to aim for about 230 rwhp +/- 20)?
What kits would be the easiest for a novice to get involved with to achieve power ratings stated above?
What accessories would be required/strongly suggested for performance enhancements?

I've just gotten into the interests and feel a little overwhelmed about trying to compare jackson-racing, FM (BEGi vs. Hydra?), megasquirt, superchargers vs. turbos, what's CARB, yadda yadda yadda. Hopefully all you guru's with the experience can guide me into the right direction in becoming part of the performance miata family. :-)

Thanks for reading and any suggestions/kind replies you have!

Owen
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:24 PM   #2
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welcome, first suggestion is to read alot before you spend your money. Depenging on where you live you may or may not have obd2 emissions testing. That would influence things(stick with 90-95 in that case). The cheapest route would be a 94-97 with a Torsen dif and all the other features that you want that come along with a torsen. You'll need to invest less money to make the power you want later. People here will say turbo and begi. That's what I'd say as well seeing as how that's the way I just went recently. I'm sure others will have better and/or harsher suggestions.
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Old 03-25-2008, 08:42 PM   #3
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My suggestion would be: read.
Then read some more.
Then, right when you think you know your ****, go read some more.
All the info you need is available in one capacity or another; you need to go get it. Most of your questions would be covered to great extent over at m.net.

A lot of time and effort has been put into developing the DIY stickies at this forum so go through that stuff first. And supercharger is a four-letter-word. Wrong forum.

For better or worse, this really isn’t a good place to ask general questions. Again, you’d probably be better off doing searches at m.net.

When you’ve started the TURBO process and you get stuck and you have SPECIFIC TECHNICAL questions, these guys will kindly provide a wealth of useful info. If not, you WILL get hazed post haste.
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Old 03-25-2008, 09:12 PM   #4
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Gizmoto; it looks like at least you've read some before asking. Please place your location under your Avatar first (not to stalk you but as one of the previous posters said: because your final choice of year may well depend on where you live ).

Second; how mechanically inclined are you? Would you consider yourself a DIYer? If that is not the case, then you will have to consider one of the really good turbo vendors for the Miata community.

Finally, with regards to engine management; save yourself some grief and read some more.

Anyways, welcome to this forum. Many guys willing to assist you if you read. I think you've already gotten a couple of good advices; if you want to avoid overspending you have to first know what you want.

Good luck and welcome.
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:14 AM   #5
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thanks for your advice so far. I guess getting overly-excited, it's easy to have too many questions that one wishes was answered in 1 easy thread. Many other questions haven't even been thought of and I suppose I posted the thread to have them asked to me before I start going in head-deep and then realized I didn't ask the right questions, or even worse get stuck going down a dead end road.

JD:
So it seems N.C. has obd2 testing for cars 1996 and newer. I'm still trying to find info on how that affects adding forced induction. My roomate knows a place that does shady inspection passes so I shouldn't worry too much about obd2 or not. I did like the fixed light NB's but as you said, perhaps a 94/95 model would be great for affordability, technology (1.8, lsd), and emissions headaches.

Ultimately, I want the least amount of work/problems. It seems every every iteration of the miata has a turbo kit that could suffice power goals I'd like to see so perhaps I'll just research which years happen to be the best for me in terms of affordability (cost and availability of parts), inherent mechanical improvements (lsd, engine sizes, air bags, 5 spd vs 6 spd), least required work (injectors, clutches, fmu, e-manage, ecu, as well as many other abbreviations I'm trying to understand). I have very little experience and want to ensure I get maximum bang for the buck in terms of driving pleasure:sweat.

Rafa, I would consider myself a huge DIY fan but still very green and probably would enjoy getting the most power out of as many stock components not included in a 'kit'. I still have to re-research oem power limitations to get a better understanding of what walls I'll reach along the HP/torque climb.

Chucker, thanks for pointing out m.net forum and to search there for more info.

If anyone else has any advice, I'd be happy to absorb more and be pointed to any threads, direct suggestions, etc. Otherwise you won't hear from me for several seasons after deciding what year to buy. (it'll take a while to exhaust learning how the car operates while trying to keep at it's limitations I suppose)

THANKS GUYS!
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Old 03-26-2008, 01:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmoto View Post
...Ultimately, I want the least amount of work/problems....I have very little experience...


Either buy a car already setup and running the way you want it, or buy a 94-95 and give Flying Miata and BEGI a call.
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Old 03-26-2008, 01:48 PM   #7
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I'd fine a 94 with a torsen and BOOOOST it.
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:08 PM   #8
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Thumbs up thanks for the starting point

cool, so 94/95 is probably where I'll start, with considerations for 99+ if any really cheap deals show up as well. The general price I'm seeing is about $4600, ac/power, some w/leather.

I haven't done any extensive research but this is what I'm guessing:
$4500 vehicle
$1000 LSD
$300-600 roll bar/cage
$600-1100 suspension (would you guys recommend mazda's offerings or are there much better bang for the buck choices?)
$3000-4000 turbo kit and necessary additions

That should stick me near the 10grand limit. Now's the matter of being patient, finding deals, and stage out the project. :-)
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:19 PM   #9
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I assume you've read the FAQ, but if not...
https://www.miataturbo.net/forum/showthread.php?t=4288
Read it, know it, live by it!!!

I HIGHLY recommend you ride in a boosted Miata or two before deciding on a power goal. Your new GTi (1.8t?) makes about 150whp and weighs 3200lbs... your Miata with 230whp at 2300lbs will be an enormous jump in performance. Even the base Begi"S" kit will bring your Miata up to 150whp and still be 900lbs less than your GTi.

There is a growing number of guys in NC... just ask around or put the word out in the "LOCALIZE" forum and see if there are dudes near you who will take you for a ride. There's no education quite like standing over an engine bay while the owner walks you through the entire setup to give you a real good understanding of the parts.

It sounds like you've got some money... and enough money to do it right the first time.

If you're going to source an early model NB, it's probably going to have some miles on it, so be sure it's a good candidate for boost... maintenance records and overall condition of the machine will tell you how well it's been cared for. If there's any doubt, pass... there are so many used Miata's for sale, it makes no sense to buy one if you're not 100% positive THAT CAR IS THE ONE!

If you've got $5k to spend, then you just need to decide on FM or BEGi. If it's less money, then maybe a step by step approach to a build. You're absolutely going to want a quality ECU. I'd seriously consider Xede or Hydra. Don't forget also to budget for installation if you're not going to do it yourself. Also don't forget a clutch... plan on $300-$400 for a unit to hold 200+whp. If the wheels/tires are stock, they're not going to respond well to double+ stock horsepower... at least some wider/stickier tires are in order.

Don't hesitate to ask questions if you don't find what you're looking for online, but PLEASE be sure to exhaust the search button on this forum and at miata.net... or PM a moderator or high-post count guy before you open your *** in a new post that's been discussed 100 times already.

Welcome to mt.net... we're here to help!
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:33 PM   #10
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I don't think your budget for the vehicle is realistic. Since you've got the time to shop, there's no reason not to specify an LSD equipped car. Torsen swaps should be the domain of 1.6 guys who don't have a choice. Buy a car with one... if you can't find a car with one, then wait until you do. It's just more pain than it's worth when you've got the time.

$4500 isn't going to get you an early NB in any kind of shape to be boosted. It's going to be a high-mile thrashed POS. I saw that black '99 on CL and I would jump on that **** in a heartbeat if I was in the market. That car plus a BEGi S3w/Xede for $11k total would be an absolute beast.

In the end, the most expensive thing will be the ECU... Xede+Injectors are $1600 and you're going to want it with a '99+.
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:44 PM   #11
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gozmo, you must be talking about the black 99
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/car/601457183.html
i tried to buy the roll bar from him...would not sell without the car, lol
your budget is reasonable, id say you are on the right track...
you dont have to go with a 94/95 to hit 250ish, this car could do it...
i would rather have a 94/95, but i dont care for ac/ps/pw/pl/cd/cruise or anything for that matter, i dont even have airbags, lol
if you can score that 99 miata for less than 6K after your taxes, i would have to advise you to go forth and do it. thats as good a starting point as you can get...
you have the roll bar, torsen II, GC coilovers, adjustable shocks (even though they probably suck since he does not mention what they are, lol) but the may be Konis, which would be excellent...

also, lower your goal to 200-220rwhp for starters, later you can upgrade and spread your cost

if you decide on another car, try to look outside the raleigh area, people seem to be insane on miata prices there, only one reasonable that i saw was this guy, so i asked if he'll sell me his roll bar, lol

good luck, feel free to ask for advice at any time
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:57 PM   #12
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All very good points, thanks! I've actually been doing a curiosity search just on autotrader and cars.com and have come across some 1994's for under $4000. Something to look into.

samnavy - I agree, a 99' won't get me where i want on the budget but the one you and zabac have seen seems to be a nice package. It's on the top of my list for choices. (94/95 vs. 99 arghh! haha) and it may come down to a comfort level of spending less up front (94) and adding major upgrades 1 season at a time. To be honest, $6500 cash isn't the easiest for me to come by. ;-)

My idea about turbo is going where lots have suggested, Begi/FM. After looking through their sites a little slower, I'm probably thinking to initially go for a sub 200hp vehicle. On the 95, FM is estimating the voodoo2 kit to put down about 180 w/intercooler. I think that can keep me w/stock everything till I feel more comfortable with the system. And like you said, plenty of power:weight.

As for the GTI, it's 2.0T that other's have shown about 180+ at the wheels. The REVO/Unitronic/APR ecu flashes are extremely popular and add roughly about 50hp 70lbs for a measly $600. (so that's about 18lbs/hp stock, 14lbs/hp chipped vs. about 22lbs/hp stock miata and 12.75lbs/hp voodoo2) I'm not sure if those numbers look better flipped but you get the idea. Adding a person affects the lighter car more if I imagine yes? No worries though, I still WANT a miata as I've always longed for a rag top that is renowned for handling (moreover than speed) and this would be wonderful and affordable project for me to get my hands dirty in automotive mechanics. My gti is still under warranty so i'm not as apt to dive under the hood for another 3 years. ;-) (it seems I may have my 2 projects lined up for the next 5 years though, haha)

I've glossed over the thread you pointed out but will read it again to see if I get a better understanding this time. I've been doing more digging in m.net as previously suggested to get more general questions answered. Thanks again for your help.

LSD, LSD, LSD... I guess this would be the first main item I'll be looking for on a purchase to minimize costs down the road.
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Old 03-26-2008, 05:15 PM   #13
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My extremely strong recommendation is not to Voodoo. The FM Voodoo kit is the exact same hardware as the full FMII kit, with the Voodoo Box instead of Link/Hyrdra/Injectors. The hardware is good ****, the Voodoo itself has the potential for issues.

Do a title search for Voodoo and you will find that most guys need to run the Voodoo at it's maximum capability to get a safe AF at the kits base boost of 7-8psi. It also requires you to cut/splice the OEM wiring harness and overall it's a fairly limited device. There is no room to upgrade with it, and it's retarded expensive for what it does. For some people, it's the way to go, as it's super easy to install and tune... but I don't think you're a candidate based on your power level requirements and DIY mindset.

If you're headed in the direction of a 94-97, then the only way to go is Megasquirt. A DIY Bell S2 w/MS is exactly what I would get if I had a 94-97 and was starting from scratch. Find one with Torsen and some basic suspension mods already done... and you can come in well under your $10k mark with all brand new quality components.

The thing to always consider with an NA is the mileage. The motors are strong... VERY STRONG, but boost is a different animal. You'll absolutely need to verify the compression numbers of any car you buy to ensure the motor is boost-worthy.

But honestly... I don't see how you can pass up that '99. Here's a damn stock '97 w/more miles for the same price: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/car/618252234.html
Think about buying that '99. It's ready for the track as it sits... enjoy the car for a year while you do your homework. You can source every single part you'll need used in that amount of time... good advice.
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Old 03-26-2008, 06:23 PM   #14
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oh man the temptation! haha
Alrighty, I'm going to contact this dude to see if he's around for the weekend and see if he can take me for a spin. I am going to look at a 95 for $4750 (negotiable too). It has leather and power but woman knows nothing else so I'd like to see if there's LSD on it as well and see if I can bring her down to 4.25 by citing several sub $4k's w/in 100 miles. If no LSD, i may as well be adding another $600-1000 down the road and w/roll bar suspension, it's going to be the same price as the 99.

Just wanted to add, this has been a fun learning start and I'll update anything new for the weekend shop-around.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:23 PM   #15
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Just for a reality check... the Torsen is nice... really nice, but it's no stronger than the standard 1.8 7"open dif. With some 215 series tires, you'll still have great traction off the line and light'em both up whenever you want. The corner exit is where the Torsen really makes it's money.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:52 PM   #16
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as sam says, the torsen (which the 99 has) is not stronger than the open, but man, once you learn how to steer with the rear end, you'll never look at the open diff cars the same again, its an awesome feeling, well worth the extra dough...
the 99 is priced very good, unlike anything else i see in the raleigh market...
im sure you can get it for less than $6K
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Zabac View Post
as sam says, the torsen (which the 99 has) is not stronger than the open, but man, once you learn how to steer with the rear end, you'll never look at the open diff cars the same again, its an awesome feeling, well worth the extra dough...
the 99 is priced very good, unlike anything else i see in the raleigh market...
im sure you can get it for less than $6K
Hi Noob. Why don't you start a thread on the Meet and Greet section?
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Old 03-30-2008, 12:22 PM   #18
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99 got sold for asking price of about 6500 I believe. oh well
95 I saw yesterday - has some paint-overs where you can see the rust flaking. It was on the back driver's rear panel near the door area and front lower fender of passenger side showed a repaint. Antenna didn't move, brakes weren't responsive, driver's power window was about 4x slower than the passenger's. Additionally didn't want to budge anywhere below 4500.

I've opened a newbie thread to continue the basic questions on stock miatas.
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Old 03-30-2008, 12:25 PM   #19
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out of curiosity, does anyone have any opinions on this 99 for sale by binkoba?
https://www.miataturbo.net/forum/showthread.php?t=17855

Not too much information on the turbo itself was discussed but perhaps anyone w/a keen eye to detail could identify anything interesting in the pics? Any insight would be a welcome. :-)
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Old 03-31-2008, 05:17 AM   #20
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$3500 - '94 with Torsen (any A/B/C/R/M package car with a manual) (buy the nicest car you can find for $3500, don't spend less)
$500 - heater hoses, CAS o-ring, valve cover gasket, aluminum radiator
$1k - Konis and GCs (450/300 is a nice starting spring rate, potential for revalve/respring to RACE valving/700#fronts later for full-blown track car)
$1k - wheels/tires, either 6ULs and spend more for tires or find a deal. There's a guy selling a set of RP-F1s with fresh Toyo RA-1s for $1k in the FS section right now. If you plan to break 200whp I would HIGHLY recommend r-compound rubber; my 220whp car is a downright handful on street tires.
$500 - fresh brake pads/discs/fluid all the way around. I use Hawk HP+s, ATE Superblue, and NAPA rotors.
$1000 - rollbar + racing seat/harness for driver's side. Drive a car with a race seat and you will understand.

You have $2500 left; spend it on a BEGi-S kit w/ the GT2560R upgrade and an MSPNP+LC-1+injectors. Get used to that power level (about 160whp), and then start upgrading the kit from there, in this order: clutch (lots of options, Clutchnet, ACT, etc), charge cooling (eBay FMIC setup or water/methanol injection or both), exhaust (go 3" or go home, ranging from a couple hundred bucks for a muffler shop to weld one up to the $450+ stainless-steel Enthuza Turbo 3" exhaust that oozes badass). The BEGi-S w/ GT2560, 3" exhaust, charge cooling, and an MSPNP+LC-1+injectors is capable of 250whp, which is approaching the reliable limit of the motor and transmission. A 220whp Miata will stomp on STIs, Evos, E46 M3s, etc.

If you want to track the car, make sure you get the biggest radiator available (2" or greater), an oil cooler, and an oil temperature gauge.

Last edited by Savington; 03-31-2008 at 05:29 AM.
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