Maria

This is Maria, my 1991 Mazda MX-5 Miata. I bought her in May 2016 with 110352 miles. Maria has had three previous owners; the first two lived in Florida, and she won at least one autocross under one of them, and the third sold her to me in Kenosha, WI. After we had been together a short time, I performed Mazda's recommended 120000 mile maintenance, which included replacing the timing belt and spark plugs, and I also replaced the radiator, hoses, water pump, and thermostat while I was at it. After that, I found I had improperly torqued the bolts holding the belt pulley on the water pump, and they backed out while I was driving, making all the engine accessories inoperative. After I limped her home, I replaced the bolts and torqued them to spec, and aside from an old gasket on a timing belt cover rubbing on one of the belts or pulleys and making a rather annoying noise, it's been smooth sailing since then.

Maria has received more than her fair share of presents since I got to know her, but then again life's not fair. First was a Nardi wood "Teardrop" shifter (I don't have a picture of this, unfortunately - it feels and looks great!). Next was the hardtop you see in the photo above. I've always thought Miatas look best with their factory-optional hardtops (though they're often more enjoyable without), and the hardtop makes driving quite a bit more pleasant, cutting down on lots of noise and vibration, and noticeably stiffening the chassis. Next was a dash cam, whose power supply is fed by an extra cigar lighter wired into the driver footwell fuse box, with the connectors tucked away behind the dead pedal and wires tucked into the dash and windshield header (I hate few things more than loose wires in my car). Lastly, I got some snow tires and mudflaps (the cheap generic sheet-plastic kind). The goal was to make her look like a rally car for the winter autocross at Road America. I have a few more, but none have been properly affixed to yet; my plan for 2017 includes installing all of them.

On the service agenda for 2017, first priority is to find the cause of the engine whine (it sounds like a supercharger, and though I have been told the timing belt is too tight, all other evidence points away from it). Next, I will be getting some tires for the 14" BBS wheels I purchased last Christmas Eve. Those will be on the performance end of the spectrum, but I'm not sure what yet. Though it will have to likely wait for warmer weather, the next priority is to fix my finish panel; it shattered in a car wash but I was able to glue most of the pieces back together. To prevent that from happening again I will be using the current panel as a mold to make one out of fiberglass, which should never turn brittle and crack like the plastic did. At some point I'd like to get the passenger seat out (one of the bolts is tremendously stuck and has foiled all my attempts to remove it) and clean all the carpeting. It's not in terrible shape, but there is a lot of accumulated grit, dust, and dirt that needs to be vacuumed. I removed the center console last year to do that, but only then realized the seat was going to be such a problem, and that will have to go in at some point (with a new shift boot as well). I also removed the seat belt tower covers to drill out holes for the hardtop latch strikers and check the metal under them (which was found to have not a spot of rust at all!), so they will have to go back in once the carpets are cleaned. The previous owner of my hardtop was nice enough to throw in a power antenna (among other things) for free, so once I can make a mount for it I'll be installing that. The previous antenna and its mount were removed after I took the antenna off and went for a drive without removing the seals as well, which flew off while I was driving, so I haven't had radio reception for a while. Following all that I hope to install the manual steering rack I bought earlier this year. I've heard a lot of back and forth on whether power or manual steering is better, but I found a good deal on a manual rack so I decided to try both and make up my own mind. Somewhere in there I can install the polished stainless scuff plates as well, which look much nicer than the regular plastic ones. Absent any new problems, that should just about take care of it!

Pictures

She's always happy to see me (or anyone)!

One of my snow tires needed repair, so I put the BBS wheel/included tire on in its place.

I took this leaving the Millionth Miata Celebration Tour event in Chicago. The car in my mirror is the Miata that was seen in the 1989 Chicago Auto Show.

What was left of my finish panel after I removed it following the damage it picked up in the car wash

And here it is glued together again. With a little work around the left license plate light, I should be able to make a mold for a fiberglass replacement.