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The wife and I have toyed around with the idea of a convertible for a while but I've only ever been interested in a car designed from the beginning as a top-down. Found one listed locally that needs a trans. The car is cheap (I think that I can get it for $1500) and a replacement trans will run about $500+/-. Anyone every put a tranny in one of these? Or even own one?
 

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No to both questions. However, they are fun cars and if you go big and swap in a Mustang 5.0 into it (Monster Miata) you will likely have an ear to ear grin every time you drive.
 

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Yes to both questions. As with all cars though I always pull the engine/trans as a unit...removal took about 3.5 hours if I remember correctly...you can drop them from underneath of course if you have a way to lift the car a few feet, but honestly, I would pull the engine at the same time if its a new purchase and replace all the gaskets(head gasket in particular), water pump and timing belt...I always recommend that for DOHC engines just for peace of mind.
 

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No to both questions. However, they are fun cars and if you go big and swap in a Mustang 5.0 into it (Monster Miata) you will likely have an ear to ear grin every time you drive.
I saw one at a car show a couple of years ago, the 5.0 looked quite at home. Lots of room under the hood of those little cars. A guy I'd worked with told me his wife wanted one but he tried to discourage her from buying it. She bought it anyway. He said once he took his first ride in it, he changed his mind.
 

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The wife and I have toyed around with the idea of a convertible for a while but I've only ever been interested in a car designed from the beginning as a top-down. Found one listed locally that needs a trans. The car is cheap (I think that I can get it for $1500) and a replacement trans will run about $500+/-. Anyone every put a tranny in one of these? Or even own one?
You didn't mention the year but Global tuned the suspension on the 1st gen cars. The SLA front end of those cars had
negative roll geometry.

ex-Global West GM
1991-1995
 

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I have had the displeasure of riding in a mid 90s Miata. I could not drive it because I am 6' tall.... LOML drove it. We were visiting her sister in Dayton and borrowed the car to go over to the Air Force museum. Her husband said if you put the top down just leave it down and leave the keys in it when you park it because no one would steal it.

We got on the freeway and that little gutless engine finally got it up to 60 with the engine spinning over 3K. Very rough ride as well. We had to make a left turn at one point and I had to reach over and help her turn the steering wheel because without powersteering it is even hard for me to turn.

Quality of the car was extremely poor. The interior was like sitting in an un restored TR7 actually a TR7 has better quality interior. Getting out of the car is Ok as long as it's not raining or cold because you have to reach out of the car put your hand on the ground and crawl out.


My neighbor across the street is a big Miata guy. He has a garage full of parts from a couple he has taken apart for parts.As for engines and transmissions they are easy to come by and cheap. You can get JDM engines for a few hundred usually with 50K or less on them.
(JDM is Japanese domestic market) In japan they have to swap out engines on cars at very low intervals and replace them with new engines so they ship lots of them all over the world. It used to be something like every 30K you had to buy a new engine, not sure what it is now.


Obvously I do not like the car... If it was a choice between a Miata and a VW bug I think I would walk. That said the Fiata is better looking than the Miata and they are like 23K new. LOML liked it at the Alpha dealer then I reminded her about driving the Miata and the new ones are even tighter.
 

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I have had the displeasure of riding in a mid 90s Miata. I could not drive it because I am 6' tall.... LOML drove it. We were visiting her sister in Dayton and borrowed the car to go over to the Air Force museum. Her husband said if you put the top down just leave it down and leave the keys in it when you park it because no one would steal it.

We got on the freeway and that little gutless engine finally got it up to 60 with the engine spinning over 3K. Very rough ride as well. We had to make a left turn at one point and I had to reach over and help her turn the steering wheel because without powersteering it is even hard for me to turn.

Quality of the car was extremely poor. The interior was like sitting in an un restored TR7 actually a TR7 has better quality interior. Getting out of the car is Ok as long as it's not raining or cold because you have to reach out of the car put your hand on the ground and crawl out.


My neighbor across the street is a big Miata guy. He has a garage full of parts from a couple he has taken apart for parts.As for engines and transmissions they are easy to come by and cheap. You can get JDM engines for a few hundred usually with 50K or less on them.
(JDM is Japanese domestic market) In japan they have to swap out engines on cars at very low intervals and replace them with new engines so they ship lots of them all over the world. It used to be something like every 30K you had to buy a new engine, not sure what it is now.


Obvously I do not like the car... If it was a choice between a Miata and a VW bug I think I would walk. That said the Fiata is better looking than the Miata and they are like 23K new. LOML liked it at the Alpha dealer then I reminded her about driving the Miata and the new ones are even tighter.
Wrong on virtually every count. Compared to a vintage mustang the quality of a Miata is far superior(no surprise being almost 30 years newer, you could say the same of any 90s car). Acceleration from the 1.6(or 1.8L depending on year) is not very impressive...but the car has no trouble reaching highway speeds in a decent amount of time(though 70mph you are turning almost 4000RPM). It is EXTREMELY EASY to turn the wheel without power steering, regardless of speed. The cars had 14x6 wheels and weigh less than 2500lbs...again, no surprise....its easier than a manual steering vintage mustang to steer...not to mention more precise with the rack an pinion. I am 6'3" myself...and my Miata has a hardtop I never remove(I personally dislike the fact that the Miata is a convertible because I can't stand cowl shake, so I just always leave the hard top on). Room for tall(or otherwise large) people is the real weakness of the car...headroom isn't all that bad really, but I really feel squeezed between the console and the door panel(legroom issue). Just like Mustangs, there are modifications you can do to get more room....but stock its just not very roomy. As for the driving experience....a Miata may not have great acceleration, but what it lacks in acceleration it more than makes up for in handling, braking, and a transmission with almost perfect spacing in the gears(for the 5 speed...no one wants the automatic)...its a driver's car for sure.

As for engine swaps...the Miata DOES NOT have much room in the bay...it is very tight with ANY v-engine, almost no room for anything when you swap in a v6 or a v8. Its one of those cars you truly are better off in all ways with a turbocharged 4 cylinder that makes as much power and torque as whatever v8 you want to swap in...if you can fit it, because unfortunately it also has a very low hoodline and even most(but not all) 4 cylinders you would want to swap in are too tall to fit without a horrid looking scoop.

Obviously...I do like the car enough to own one, but Elcam84 is right...the car is certainly not for everyone...it took me days before I was comfortable with the lack of space.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The car is a first-gen and an automatic. Though I personally prefer a stick the the wife would NEVER drive it. We live in north Ga. and cruising the Tennessee mountains is one of our pleasures. And we've always wanted to do it top-down. We'll probably go take a look. And, by the way, I'm 5'4" and the wife is 4'9"!!! LOL
 

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The car is a first-gen and an automatic. Though I personally prefer a stick the the wife would NEVER drive it. We live in north Ga. and cruising the Tennessee mountains is one of our pleasures. And we've always wanted to do it top-down. We'll probably go take a look. And, by the way, I'm 5'4" and the wife is 4'9"!!! LOL
What the heck, they are cheap fun if you like em. I’ll post some pics of the one with the 302 when I get back home.


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Wrong on virtually every count. Compared to a vintage mustang the quality of a Miata is far superior(no surprise being almost 30 years newer, you could say the same of any 90s car). Acceleration from the 1.6(or 1.8L depending on year) is not very impressive...but the car has no trouble reaching highway speeds in a decent amount of time(though 70mph you are turning almost 4000RPM). It is EXTREMELY EASY to turn the wheel without power steering, regardless of speed. The cars had 14x6 wheels and weigh less than 2500lbs...again, no surprise....its easier than a manual steering vintage mustang to steer...not to mention more precise with the rack an pinion. I am 6'3" myself...and my Miata has a hardtop I never remove(I personally dislike the fact that the Miata is a convertible because I can't stand cowl shake, so I just always leave the hard top on). Room for tall(or otherwise large) people is the real weakness of the car...headroom isn't all that bad really, but I really feel squeezed between the console and the door panel(legroom issue). Just like Mustangs, there are modifications you can do to get more room....but stock its just not very roomy. As for the driving experience....a Miata may not have great acceleration, but what it lacks in acceleration it more than makes up for in handling, braking, and a transmission with almost perfect spacing in the gears(for the 5 speed...no one wants the automatic)...its a driver's car for sure.

As for engine swaps...the Miata DOES NOT have much room in the bay...it is very tight with ANY v-engine, almost no room for anything when you swap in a v6 or a v8. Its one of those cars you truly are better off in all ways with a turbocharged 4 cylinder that makes as much power and torque as whatever v8 you want to swap in...if you can fit it, because unfortunately it also has a very low hoodline and even most(but not all) 4 cylinders you would want to swap in are too tall to fit without a horrid looking scoop.

Obviously...I do like the car enough to own one, but Elcam84 is right...the car is certainly not for everyone...it took me days before I was comfortable with the lack of space.

I'm glad someone likes it but it was a total turd to have to deal with for a day. The one he had was a 96 ish with just under 60K on it. The interior quality was crap. It aged so badly that you felt like you were sitting in an unrestored MG or TR7. Turning the wheel from a dead stop is not easy at all (my neighbors is just as hard to steer as the one we had)

I did sit in the spider version of the Fiata a couple years ago at the Alpha dealer... I could not drive it. My legs were up against the steering wheel to where I couldn't turn the steering wheel. And no there is no room for the seat to go back as its already against the back of the car. If I was 10 I would love a Miata for a toy.

Brother in law got the car from his dad who bought it new thinking he would like it but didn't. Then BIL kept it to drive to work instead of the diesel dually as the Miata was cheaper to drive. Never locked the doors and always left the keys in it.... But for every drivers seat there is someone that will sit in it but I would make sure anyone looking at one make sure and drive it for at least a day as it has allot of issues compared to a conventional car.
 

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I have had the displeasure of riding in a mid 90s Miata. I could not drive it because I am 6' tall.... LOML drove it. We were visiting her sister in Dayton and borrowed the car to go over to the Air Force museum. Her husband said if you put the top down just leave it down and leave the keys in it when you park it because no one would steal it.

We got on the freeway and that little gutless engine finally got it up to 60 with the engine spinning over 3K. Very rough ride as well. We had to make a left turn at one point and I had to reach over and help her turn the steering wheel because without powersteering it is even hard for me to turn.
I've only driven one, I am just shy of 5'11". Not sure if I sat in the car or wore it. Getting in was like pulling on a pair of boots. It did have a fun factor though, I pulled out into the road and hammered on it through the gears, little engine wound tight and barely broke the speed limit. And it went around curves like a go cart.
 

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I'm glad someone likes it but it was a total turd to have to deal with for a day. The one he had was a 96 ish with just under 60K on it. The interior quality was crap. It aged so badly that you felt like you were sitting in an unrestored MG or TR7. Turning the wheel from a dead stop is not easy at all (my neighbors is just as hard to steer as the one we had)

I did sit in the spider version of the Fiata a couple years ago at the Alpha dealer... I could not drive it. My legs were up against the steering wheel to where I couldn't turn the steering wheel. And no there is no room for the seat to go back as its already against the back of the car. If I was 10 I would love a Miata for a toy.

Brother in law got the car from his dad who bought it new thinking he would like it but didn't. Then BIL kept it to drive to work instead of the diesel dually as the Miata was cheaper to drive. Never locked the doors and always left the keys in it.... But for every drivers seat there is someone that will sit in it but I would make sure anyone looking at one make sure and drive it for at least a day as it has allot of issues compared to a conventional car.
You must have driven one with non-functional power steering then...non functional power steering is never any fun, regardless of the car(unless someone takes the effort to actually de-power the rack). I am not sure what you are comparing the interior quality of the car to? Its on a par with the rest of the cars of the 90s(miles of plastic just like today)...a 91 Miata interior aged much better than say...a 91 Mustang. It was never a luxury car, so I am not sure what your expectations are. It was after all built in the spirit of the MG or TR7...so finding similarities is unsurprising.

As for leg room mods...no, you can't move the seat back(not without major surgery at least) but there are other things you can do...at least to the early ones with a real throttle pedal...less with the newer ones with the floor mounted drive-by-wire pedal.

In the end I think it comes down to what you are used to. If you are used to driving larger cars with more room, you simply aren't going to like a Miata. If you are used to driving smaller cars, the Miata wont bother you at all, and if you drive a large variety of cars...you will adapt to it in a few days
 

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A lot of interesting observations on the Miata...... that's for sure.
I dunno about the "went around curves like a go cart" comment. As a stock passenger car they're OK
but nothing spectacular. (and really mild compared to some of today's stuff)
I had no problem getting around the Monster Miata in the photo and leaving him for dead back in the mid 90s.

ex-Global West GM
1991-1995



736490
 

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A lot of interesting observations on the Miata...... that's for sure.
I dunno about the "went around curves like a go cart" comment. As a stock passenger car they're OK
but nothing spectacular. (and really mild compared to some of today's stuff)
I had no problem getting around the Monster Miata in the photo and leaving him for dead back in the mid 90s.

ex-Global West GM
1991-1995



View attachment 736490
Not sure how much that proves honestly. Early "monster Miatas" were all SBF kits using what amounted to a hacked up factory crossmember. Your curb weight was essentially equal, and the handling the Miata is "famous" for is thrown out by any v8 swap, back in the early 90s there were far fewer(if any) aftermarket suspension components available for the Miata...and I am sure even then, Global West had some nice aftermarket pieces for the Mustang...just cant tell from the picture what exactly the Miata was running(a stock 302 with a stock Miata suspension probably wouldn't be very impressive against a 350HP SBF with some well developed suspension pieces just as an example...making it a very apples to oranges comparison). For the time, Miata handling was very good for any factory car(especially at the price point)...these days a stock 91 Miata isn't going to show well against even a stock 2019 Mustang base model...no surprise there with almost 30 years between the 2...but compare it to most other factory cars of the era and the difference is night and day until you step up. I think people keep trying to compare a 91 Miata to cars like a 2019 Mustang in handling(fail) or a 66 mustang in interior materials(fail). The only accurate comparison you can do is between cars from the same time period and stock(not modified) examples...compare a 91 Miata to a 91 Mustang to a 91 BMW to a 91 Corvette....even then its pretty apples to oranges, but at least its the right time frame. I guess its the problem will all car comparisons...its all very subjective once you get out of the segment of the market the car was made for...and that segment in 91 was very small indeed...what else was there? a 91 Mercury Capri? Maybe the much more expensive Corvette? I can't think of any others off the top of my head.
 

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I have a 1991 with some mild mods--coilover suspension and some urethane bushings here and there. Car was a lot of fun even without a power adder or engine swap, something you can truly throw around for fun on the streets.
 

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I have a 1991 with some mild mods--coilover suspension and some urethane bushings here and there. Car was a lot of fun even without a power adder or engine swap, something you can truly throw around for fun on the streets.
Even with a mild kit like the Penske shock based Spec Miata racing kit (when I built my SM it was a Bilstein package) it’s pretty racey. It‘s one of the reasons the class is one of the largest classes ever in club racing. Even though a tuned stock internal engine is around 130 hp for either of the NA models it will still do 120 on the track. It’s a fun car to drive.
 

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I had a gen 1 - 5 speed several years ago I picked up cheap with over 200K miles on it. I fixed it up and ran autocross with for two seasons, driving an hour on the highway each way every week to the "track". I taught both of my daughters how to drive a stick in it (one didn't even have her license yet), let my oldest daughter drive it around, and I generally drove it REALLY hard, having a blast regularly.

That little car was great, tons of fun, cheap and easy to maintain, and one of the preferred cars in the autocross crowd. I am 6'1" 200 lbs. and had NO problem driving it, there is a ton of legroom. My daughters still talk about that little car fondly, we wish I hadn't of sold it.
Not too sure how fun an auto trans would be, the 5 speed makes it really zippy.
 

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You must have driven one with non-functional power steering then...non functional power steering is never any fun, regardless of the car(unless someone takes the effort to actually de-power the rack). I am not sure what you are comparing the interior quality of the car to? Its on a par with the rest of the cars of the 90s(miles of plastic just like today)...a 91 Miata interior aged much better than say...a 91 Mustang. It was never a luxury car, so I am not sure what your expectations are. It was after all built in the spirit of the MG or TR7...so finding similarities is unsurprising.

As for leg room mods...no, you can't move the seat back(not without major surgery at least) but there are other things you can do...at least to the early ones with a real throttle pedal...less with the newer ones with the floor mounted drive-by-wire pedal.

In the end I think it comes down to what you are used to. If you are used to driving larger cars with more room, you simply aren't going to like a Miata. If you are used to driving smaller cars, the Miata wont bother you at all, and if you drive a large variety of cars...you will adapt to it in a few days

It did not have power steering and I checked when we got to the museum.

As for the interior I'm talking about the quality of it not the design. The materials were extremely poor quality in when I compare it to a TR7 its the condition of the interior especially considering it is a northern car where interiors hold up much better than southern cars which have to deal with extreme heat. The Miata interior just degraded so fast that it was no better than an aged TR7 is today. It wasn't as bad as a Yugo though.

I rebuilt a VW baja bug at one time and my foot got caught between the brake pedal and the tunnel and I nearly had to run off the road to avoid rear ending another car. Those cars should never have had standards cause there just isn't enough room for 3 pedals and 2 feet.. The only picture I have of the VW was a partial where you can see it behind another car.

I dug up a picture I took before we left the house that day. You can ID the year better than I can from that.

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