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Thread: Thoroughly modding Minnie

  1. #1
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    Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Well I'm bored and our connection isn't bad, so I'll get this party started! I will be pretty much copying over what I've already written elsewhere, my apologies if you have already read it but this way I won't leave anything out (I am older and somewhat forgetful, you know?).

    Those of you with short attention spans or who are easily bored will want to skip this first post, as I'm going to give some of my background. You may want to skip the whole thing altogether!

    I came about my gearhead status a little later than some do. Not quite sure what caused it. I did help my dad work on cars when I was younger, but that was mostly of the routine maintenance variety of repair. While I was in college I became more interested in motorcycles, I was never allowed to have my own but could ride my grandfather's on the back country roads (without a license no less) when I visited them. Then my senior year, Mazda came out with the RX-7. I was familiar with the rotary since my sister had owned an RX-2 (which she used to race and generally humble much bigger cars with), but the styling of the 7 was wow! As it worked out, I was able to buy one the following year, which I still have. That started my journey to where I am today.

    I am definitely a Mazda fan. Probably get that in part from my dad, although he was a Buick fan (no accounting for taste). Over the years I have had quite a few, both performance and pedestrian models (Millenia S, 2nd/3rd gen Protege, 1st/2nd gen MPV, etc) but never seemed to be able to get into a Miata. One of my brothers had two, a '94 (IIRC) and a '02 SE in titanium. I drove both and they had what I liked about all Mazdas in general, my RX-7 in particular, and had the cherry on top of being a convertible.

    Five years ago I was driving home from Cars & Coffee with my wife when we saw a Miata. After admiring it, she told me if I sold the Protege I could get one. I know she didn't think I would ever sell that car but she underestimated my desire. I immediately began plotting, worked out a deal with my oldest son for the Protege and then began looking for the Miata. I knew I wanted something in the maroon color range, when I first saw a 2000 SE (Mahogany Mica for those who live under a rock) I knew that was the one.

  2. #2
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    After chasing a couple of cars (both found on eBay, one was in northern Ohio and the underside looked way too rusty, the other in Florida and was way overpriced), I happened upon the $9.95 Miata for sale (Miatamart) site. There was a very nice 2000 SE with low miles and a JRSC under the hood. I immediately got in contact the seller. He had just listed the car a day or so before. Did some back and forth with pictures and such, I told him I'd like to look at it and then I got the loan. On 18 September 2010 the wife and I drove three hours to West-by-god-Virginia, crawled around the car, took a test drive and then bought it. Drove the three hours home in the evening dark, top down the whole way, hatless and without ear plugs (left them in the other car), grinning like an idiot. When we were almost home we stopped to get something to eat and my wife started laughing at me because my hair was sticking straight up. I didn't care, I had too much fun.

  3. #3
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    In any event, I don't regard what I do as a build. Call me old-fashioned, but to me building a car involves tearing it apart and putting it back together. I will be doing that to my RX-7, but not to this car. What I have done so far, and will continue doing, is to make modifications and improvements to bring it to where I can say it's mine. If I can provide a gem or two of knowledge to someone along the way, all the better. I have done a lot in the past five years and will slowly document all that. I tend to be more of the get the job done type than the take a picture every stage of the way to preserve it for others type. You'll have to deal with it, I'm not changing because I doubt any of you are cute enough (well, YY might be).

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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Ok, time for a little bit about the car when I brought it home. The guy I bought it from had picked it up from some sort of wholesaler in FL. Not sure how many owners there were in between, but he somehow managed to track down the original owner. He had bought the car new and after having it a year had the JRSC installed (possibly most or all of the other mods, I'm a little hazy on that). As a result of the previous owner's interest he had all the papers that the original owner had held onto, which was nice. Unfortunately I guess he didn't have the SE extras, more on that down the road.

    As mentioned the car had the JRSC (Jackson Racing Supercharger) which was the M45 Eaton. The rest of the supercharger install included a DDM Works cold air intake box, JR timing controller, Walbro 255lph fuel pump with restrictor pill, and finally the piece de resistance, a small black box (I can't remember the correct name right now) which basically fooled the ECU into thinking the air temp was cooler than it was so that extra fuel was added. So yeah, the resistor trick that you can buy on eBay. But hey, it worked just fine. The only other engine-related upgrade was a Brainstorm axle-back dual exhaust. For dress-up there was a stainless panel (sort of an air blocker) bolted on top of the front bumper attachment point, the 'charger outlet manifold was polished, there were a ton of stickers on the radiator frame and cross-over tube, and a very noticeable set of yellow silicone hoses EVERYWHERE.

    Suspension was a set of Bilstein PSS coilovers with 15 X 6.5 Alpha wheels wearing General Exclaim UHP tires (they were actually pretty decent). A set of matched JR sways front/rear (adjustable tubular front), braided stainless steel brake lines with some drilled/slotted rotors and unknown pads (calipers were painted yellow) finished that off. Interior was stock except for a Hard Dog Ace rollbar, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a nice cloth boot cover, and a trunk lid storage holder inside the trunk.

    The car was way too low. On certain bumps I would hear a scraping noise, thought it was the tire hitting the fender liner (it was) but mainly it was the right "frame rail" hitting the ground. That wasn't acceptable to me.

    As purchased:

    Underhood shot:

  5. #5
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    The day after I bought the car (that would be 19 September for anyone who suffers from attention-deficit disorder. BTW you are probably not married if you do) I did a few small things. Put the wiper arms on correctly (PO had apparently painted them and didn't put them back on the right side), did a massive stickerectomy under the hood, set the tire pressures and generally just drove her. I only had a couple of days to do that before having to go to Dubai for a work-related conference. Talk about separation anxiety!

    Over the next couple of months I did quite a few small things. Replaced the god-awful yellow hose kit with a black one, replaced the chrome gas filler door with a stock painted one (forgot to mention the car had one of those when I bought it, the wife liked it better than the painted one. Guess I need to sign her up for M.net). Put in a cargo net. Changed all the fluids using the magical Motorcraft synthetic in the tranny (I really like it), I found the oil filter was barely on there so it was a good thing I did that. Raised it by 13mm which corrected the majority of the grounding issues. Did my first autocross a few days later and had a blast. Got a performance alignment at a place in Cincinnati run by a guy who has been around for years, he didn't give me my final specs and I didn't think to ask for them, but he told me I had toe out in the rear (which went a long way to explaining the tail-happiness of the car. Besides my heavy right foot around corners that is). Installed some Hella Supertones but wasn't happy with them so switched to my usual Fiamms. I went all out and bought a stock hanger for the driver's side one so it would look stock.

    When I was messing around with the horns, I discovered the driver's side headlight was missing a plastic spacer for the post that located the bottom of the light. Bought one of those to correct that issue. Someone along the owner's road had installed a bra which used snaps and they were still on the car, so those came off (and I found that the two at the front of the hood had been put on with screws that were just a bit too long, so I had two bumps from that). Flipped the passenger seat stopper around to get that precious extra inch of legroom.

    One thing I did that merits some attention was install a factory 6 disc changer. Ha, I can hear you say, you couldn't get one of those in 2000 on a Miata. True enough, but you could get one on a 626. I was looking around eBay and noticed the plugs in the rear of that unit were the same as on mine. After some research I found out the bar in between my stock radio and cassette player was just plastic. So I bid on and won a radio. Guaranteed to work, but upon receipt I found that wasn't the case as the CD player wouldn't. There was a CD stuck in it for one thing. I got in touch with the seller, who told me to keep it and reimbursed me my cost (in other words, a stand-up person). I messed around with it and managed to get the CD out, found the eject button was messed up so using some plastic steel and silicone built that up. After that it still didn't function. On to the next step.

    For anyone who doesn't know, Mazda uses modular radios. This means you can swap bits around to get where you want (for instance, my wife's RX-8 came with a single CD player. I bought a beat up 6 disc unit, changed over the CD player and voila!). I knew this was the case with vehicles after 2001 but not earlier. I was able to find a 6 disc radio from a 2000 Tribute on eBay (listed for parts as it had a rattle inside). When it showed up, the rattle turned out to be 36 cents in loose change (someone's kid probably got a whipping for that one). Swapped out the changer unit and the faceplate, put it in the dash and it worked like a champ. Sure it doesn't play MP3s or have a slot for a memory stick, but I don't have to juggle CDs all the time either. Plus since it's factory with Mazda all over it, I don't have to worry about someone prying it loose. Here's how it looks:


  6. #6
    ✨ Senior Gearhead 3K+ SmileyFace's Avatar
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Great ride, nice clean and orderly engine.
    Mario E Ordonez
    SmileyFace is a 2014 MX-5 Miata NC dressed in Black Mica and Coco cinnamon leather seats.

  7. #7
    Original Gearhead Joe Morreale's Avatar
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Glad to see that one of the first things you did was a decalamectomy. (?) The previous owner must of had some kind of affection for yellow with not only the nasty looking hoses but the hood rod as well. Didn't he notice the car wasn't yellow? The polished, or is it chrome valve cover is really trick but cleaning must be a bitch. I noticed how pristine your DeNardi shift knob was. That's a real tell tail sign of a low mileage car. Congratulations. How much boost does the JRS give in it's present state? Never had one but I'm assuming that the six pack cd holder is in the trunk. Is there much wiring involved in the entire process?

    Looks great and must have just the right amount of power to be right in between fun and trouble. Having the linear response of the supercharger just gives you such a great feeling of power with no power surges like most turbos.

    Yeah I'm jealous. WU says nay to more power. She screams that I drive too fast now and more power will just get me in more situations.
    2001 SE British Racing Green - FM frame rails - FM solid sway bar - FM clutch- Mishimoto 53mm radiator - Koni SRTs - Complete MK Turbo kit with intercooler - 3'' custom exhaust - Custom door panels - Custom "shorty" console

  8. #8
    Original Gearhead pdexta's Avatar
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Nice looking car, I'm jealous. I know I'm biased but the 99AE/00SE's are my favorite miatas. The appearance, options, colors, everything was so well done. If that was mine I think I'd be trying to track down some stock chrome 15" wheels for it.
    Scott
    2000 SE Miata ♦ 6sp, MS3X, GTX2860, E85
    2004 G35 Sedan ♦ 6sp, Uprev Osiris

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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    So all the horsepower stuff was done for you. You lucky dog!
    99 Emerald Mica, 01 Header, Ground Control Springs w/Bilstein HDs. Thompson CAI, High Flow cat w/Borla Exhaust, Fab9 COP's
    Good Judgement Comes From Experience
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  10. #10
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    Re: Thoroughly modding Minnie

    Thanks for the compliments. Just know this is how it looked 5 years ago, it's much different today. Stick around and you will see just how different.

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