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1999 Mazda MX-5 "Miata"

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by tonybelding, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    #1 tonybelding, Sep 17, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
    First a quick-and-dirty (literally, I hadn't even washed it yet) snapshot. . .

    [​IMG]

    This one was made in May 1998, but it's a 1999 year model with 67,000 miles. That makes it an early second-generation car (or NB1 to Miata fans).

    This is not some random Miata. I searched for a couple of weeks before I found exactly what I wanted -- mostly one without all the options I didn't want, like the sport suspension, a bunch of owner mods, or those ugly "tupperware" body panels a lot of dealers bolted on. Also the mileage is considerably lower than the 12,000 mi/yr average for US cars. These cars are not uncommonly good for 200,000 miles if properly maintained and not abused, so it's got plenty of life left.

    It appears to run good. Even so, I've got a long list of little things that need attention on the car. Considering it cost me all of $6,900, I think I can afford to fix it up the way I want it.

    One big advantage for this car is that it's about as complicated as a block of wood. I mean, there's the straight-4 up front, where it belongs, and there's a manual gearbox, and it drives the rear wheels. Anybody who's ever worked on a Model A Ford would be familiar with this layout. The local mechanics here in my town -- within walking distance -- can work on it, as compared with shipping my Esprit 120 miles to the Lotus dealership. I could even work on it.

    Compared with the Esprit that I've owned for the last three years, this car obviously lacks the addictive, rumbling, always-eager power of the twin-turbo V8. Instead the MX-5 has more of a squirrel-and-treadmill affair under the hood: a normally aspirated 1.8L straight-4. So I've gone from 350 HP to more like 140 HP.

    The Esprit was fun to drive fast. The Miata, with the top down, is an entirely different experience. It's much more fun to drive around town, and drive at moderate speeds. I can hear the rear tires when they grab! The shifter is excellent too. At the same time it's only 2,300 pounds, so it's something like 800 pounds lighter than the Esprit, and it feels peppy.
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    A bit of a letdown compared to the Tesla you had on order!

    But still, have fun with it.

    Note: 'Doug' drives a Miata too...
     
  3. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Oh yeah. . . The Tesla is still my dream car.

    And the Miata, it isn't going to impress anybody. But then, that's not what I got it for. It's something I can tinker around with, really.
     
  4. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    No plans to drop in a pack of lithium and an AC motor? :biggrin:
    I've always thought a Miata could make a good conversion candidate, if there was enough room for batteries.
     
  5. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    #5 WarpedOne, Sep 17, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
    There should be plenty of room for batteies under the front hood. With motor right in front of differential this could be a really nice conversion.

    Tony? :)

    Edit: Like this one.
     
  6. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I couldn't help thinking of that, and I wouldn't be the first to do it. I'm wary of trying anything like that right now, because the technology available for home conversions is lagging. Most of them are still using lead-acid batteries and DC motors with no regen, and they are getting maybe 40 miles range if everything goes well.

    I'm sure better components will trickle down and become more available and more proven, so I'll keep that idea in the back of my mind.

    If I had set out from the beginning with a conversion in mind, I probably would have sought out an early S1 model Lotus Esprit. They were a lot lighter weight and cleaner looking than the later ones. Then it could have a "mid-battery" layout like the Tesla and would be very cool IMHO.

    For now, I'm just going to get the Miata shaped up nicely: new soft top, new stereo, new shocks, new belts and spark plugs, etc. Then we'll see what comes further down the road.

    This brings to mind what Jay Leno once wrote about automotive technology. . . The best cars tend to be the last of their kind, not the first. The best steam-powered cars ever made were the last ones made before production stopped, because they were the most refined and perfected.

    I see the Miata somewhat in that light. As the age of gasoline enters its twilight, the Miata begins to look like a technological dinosaur, but it's a highly refined and perfected dinosaur. That's why Mazda's been able to sell 800,000 of them. It's a good place to pause and rest briefly before the revolution comes.
     
  7. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Actually AC and lithium are available for conversions, you just have to be able to pay for them. A nice AC/lithium conversion could be done for a lot less than a Tesla.
     
  8. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    I haven't seen it. I've heard the buzz about them, I know some people are excited, but I haven't seen a completed, working demonstration made with them yet. And this is one instance where I don't want to try and be first.
     
  9. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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