Something else has been lurking in the garage.

So if you read the last post you might recall that I said something else has been lurking in the garage. Here are a few hints, can anyone guess what it is from these pics?

A parking lamp.


A door handle.


A head light.


A tail light.


Ok before I reveal what’s there a couple of other things.

First I cleaned up the garage because with all the snow we had and the fact that I could park Wall-E (That’s what we call the Land Rover) in there meant a whole bunch of melted snow falling off the cars and making a mess of the floor. But once we had a nice day I got out the mop and hose and it cleaned up real nice. Gotta love the epoxy floors.


With it being nice and clean it was just crying out for something.

But before we get to that there was another diversion that plays into this.

The pic below is from High Plains Raceway which is East of Denver on I-70 and then you take Hwy 36 at Byers. About a 50 minute drive. We took a trip out on a Sunday to see what it was all about and it’s pretty cool. And it got me thinking we have this empty spot in the garage and there’s this nice track.


Ok so why is all this important and relevant. Well as you probably recall Destinee was a big help and a bit part of building of the Cobra.

And she should rightfully get a chance to drive the Cobra. But there’s a problem, she doesn’t know how to drive a stick. And the only stick we have is the Cobra, but I’m not so sure teaching her how to drive a stick in the Cobra is a good idea. So what to do. Well we needed to find a stick to teach her to drive, and we had gone to the track and that looked like a lot of fun also, so what should we do. Hmmmmmmm. I know let’s buy a…….

Drill Panels-0012



Yep a Miata. Didn’t see that coming did you? ¬†After some thought, it made sense to me, in the weird way things make sense to me. There are plenty of them, so the older ones are pretty cheap, picked this one up for $2400, it’s a 97 with 190K miles on it. They handle pretty good, they’re rear wheel drive, they’re simple, they’re pretty robust and there’s a lot of aftermarket for them. And they’re pretty fun to drive. So we now have something for Destinee to learn how to drive a stick and we can make a track car out of it. Made more sense than just buying a stick for her to just learn to drive a stick.

As you can see the tear down has already started.


And Destinee is right in there taking out the front suspension. I’ll explain in a moment why she’s doing that.


Here’s the front with the shock and spring removed.


Here’s the front shock and spring and the front anti-sway bar that have been removed.


The empty hole where the front suspension was.


And the hole where the rear suspension was.


All of that was pretty easy. Then came the hard part. What you are looking at is the rear differential and it needed to come out as well. It was a bit interesting getting it out, ok now it was a major PITA getting it out. The Miata has this interesting C channel that goes from the back of the transmission to the front of the differential. You can see it in the pic below on the right side. What you’re looking at is the right side of the diff, the hole on the left side of the pic is where the axle goes into the diff. The black part is the axle seal. Oh yea the Miata has an independent rear suspension. To the right of that you see a brownish area, that’s the front part of the diff and then above and below it you see a silvery piece that goes forward to the transmission. That’s the C channel or as Mazda call’s it the PPF (Power Plant Frame). It’s a PITA because even after taking out the 2 bolts from the bottom that hold it in there are some press bushings that getting pressed into place when the bolts are put in. So how to get those out.


The first one is on the bottom and in the pic below you can see it partially out. It has a small lip that you can just get a tool under to try and pry it out. Took me almost an hour to get to this point. But it finally came out. Once it was out of the way I had to wiggle a spacer out and then lift the PPF up and over another bushing set that’s on the top of the diff.


Here’s a view looking from the back of the car towards the front. The diff is out and you can see the silver jackstand holding up the PPF. If you look at the top of the C channel, the C is backwards in this view you can see the other bushings still attached to the top of the frame.


And here is the diff carrier and diff out of the car.


Here is the carrier disassembled and cleaned waiting for new seals and a new diff.


And here it is waiting to go in. Got this off of EBay.


Here’s one of the rubber suspension bushings being pressed out.


So why all of this well cause we’re putting in all of these goodies below. All new suspension polyurethane bushings, new anti-sway bars, new springs, new adjustable shocks, new ball joints, new tie-rod ends, the sorta new Limited Slip Diff. There’s also a roll cage on its way and some frame braces. Plus there’s a few other things we still need to get ordered. Should be fun, stay tuned an I’ll let you know how it goes.



  1. Bill Beesley
    Apr 27, 2015
    • admin
      Apr 27, 2015

      That’s a pretty common “upgrade” but I think we’re going to keep this one on the more docile/cheap track.

  2. Jack
    Apr 27, 2015

    Randy and Destinee –
    That’s very cool! You’ve probably heard that “spec Miata” = “wreck Miata”, since there are so many situations where under-experience mates with over-aggressiveness. But it’s not all bad, and you avoid the problematic race groups. Plenty of opportunities out there including Auto-X, Driver’s ed, etc. Look into the local BMW club if you haven’t already.
    Let me know if you want to chat about different groups and options

    • admin
      Apr 27, 2015

      Actually we’re looking at starting out with HPDE through NASA. No not that NASA the other one, National Auto Sport Association. I figure that get’s us out on the track, with an instructor, in a not so competitive environment until we get comfortable with being on the track, etc. Plus I can then later on take the Cobra out there.

  3. John
    Apr 27, 2015

    I am guessing that a turbo or super charger coupled with a short throw tranny are next for this “project”; of course, after Destinee has properly thrashed the existing tranny and clutch pack!?!

    • admin
      Apr 27, 2015

      Hmmm there might be a turbo in the future, maybe after the engine swap/rebuild. The current 1.8L has 190K on it and is a bit tired but I think it will do for now.

  4. Rich
    Apr 27, 2015

    Cool! Keep the updates coming on the Miata! What is Destinee going to call it?

    • admin
      Apr 27, 2015

      So far she’s been calling is “Squishy” not sure why, you’d have to ask her. BTW how’s your build going?

  5. JohnQ
    May 7, 2015

    Brilliant! But of course, Destinee and you need something worth throwing into gear and racing! Awesome and I like they way you think.

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