And so the cat explodes. Thus time to revamp the entire system.

Well, the NB had been stalled for a pretty long time. After a good bit of DDing it, it started to get really down on power. It mostly happened when warm, and got much worse at higher RPM, so I assumed it was the pre-cat that had failed, given the already-present CEL for catalytic efficiency.

I don’t think I quite grasped the level of damage in my original estimate. Here’s what I saw when I unbolted the midpipe.

Awesome. Luckily, I’d already wanted to convert the car to Federal emissions. So swapped in a Federal 99-00 header, and started her back up. The problem still existed. After thinking for a bit about it, it became clear why. When this cat had failed, it had shot its dust and pieces everywhere behind it, clogging the secondary cat too.
Alright, at this point, I didn’t want to buy another stock exhaust. With the TT plans in mind, I knew a 2.5 exhaust was in my future, but also wanted something cheap. I went online, and discovered this $300 special. I had pretty low expectations, but after a few weeks, it arrived. The car drives great again, although, I have to imagine I’ll want a different rear section, solely for visuals…
Now that it’s a working car again, time to move on with some track prep, as the season is beginning shortly.

2000 Mazda Miata – ES? NASA Time Trials? Spec Miata? Track Toy?


So, my girlfriend wanted a beater, I wanted something I could hit the track in (at purchase time, there wasn’t really any plan for it), and something we could take to small, local autocross lots without really worrying about safety concerns or tire cost.

Of course, this swiftly scope creeps for me, as with everything else I seem to do. I, of course encourage the purchase of a Miata, and ideally wanted something we could turn into a competitive autocross car.

We browse craigslist, and found a killer deal on a 72000 mile 2000 Miata. Great. Pretty quickly we went out, negotiated the deal, and picked it up.

So, we quickly realized there were a number of things that needed addressed with this particular car. First, it had a recurring check engine light. Failing cat. Okay, great, it’s a California car with two cats, we’ll pick up a stock header and swap that on, along with the requisite midpipe, O2, and ECU changes (total cost was rather small for this, I still haven’t gotten around to most of it).

Second, the early NBs had a really terrible center console. With nowhere to put even a drink that would keep it standing up, the first order of business was to swap on an NB2 center console. These are typically well over $100, but lucked into finding one a friend had, who was building an Exocet, so that swap happened pretty much immediately, and the car is substantially better for it.

That, along with my typical 1980s Alpine head unit install for bluetooth audio, made this a pretty decent daily driver.

Now that we’d gotten this thing in good daily driver shape, a few things happened. First, I’d ended up selling my C5 Z06 somewhat unexpectedly. So we needed a new plan for next year. Ally decided she was going to pick up a new ND MX-5, so that made this car no longer a daily driver, and resulted in her having 3 cars. I was down to one (STX 128i). I both wanted a beater, and figured this was definitely down the road of scope creep far enough, so I decided it best to just buy her out of it and continue building it out with my own money.

In the prior month or two, we’d already tracked down an OEM Torsen diff (found crazy cheap on eBay, still waiting to get around to installing this), along with some Koni shocks. They went on the car, along with some RE Suspension bump stops, a Flyin’ Miata 1in front sway bar, and the Racing Beat reinforcement blocks, as well as some Improved Racing adjustable endlinks.

I’d also picked up some very cheap OEM 15x6s, and takeoff Bridgestones from some local autocross friends as something to play around on. This stuff went on, and the car became a hell of a lot better to drive around.

Somewhere along the way of all of this, I’d swapped Hawk HP+ pads onto the rear, along with *TWO* valve cover gaskets (don’t buy an Amazon replacement for $9), replaced the shifter boots and bushings, done an oil change, and replaced the plug wires after one disintegrated upon removal to do plugs.

Of course, the next step was to actually get this out to an event…due to some parts availability issues for the BMW, we decided to bring this out. It wasn’t particularly fun or fast, given the stock alignment and open diff, and quite old tires, but was used to do a good test (results to be posted separately), and shake the car down.

With that, we decided we probably didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time competitively autocrossing this thing, especially with the ND arriving soon to be used for the 2018 season.

And that brings me to today. I’ve picked up a Hard Dog roll bar to put in, the ES suspension and wheels/tires are going away to eventually be replaced by a Whitener Racing setup, used some Hawk contingency to pick up some Street/Race front pads for track duty, and now am looking forward to getting back out on track, for the first time since 2011.

The winter plans include taking care of that, getting rid of this CEL by finally swapping the Federal setup on, along with getting the Torsen in and an alignment done. Hopefully, it’ll be ready to go come the end of winter, and I’ll also have acquired a hard top by then.