Project TMB Build Diary 1: The NB

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Sometimes life throws you curveballs.

No matter what you are doing/working on, there comes times when the best thing to do is pivot and take a different direction. For instance, in my professional life, my business had an opportunity to change location to a larger facility that would allow it to grow, for about the same price I was paying monthly for the location I was in. That was an opportunity that was just too good to pass up, so I took the chance and (as of this writing) it has paid off. I had something similar happen with my personal projects as well; an opportunity presented itself to me that I could not resist and as a result of that, I had to pivot on the turbo Miata build. 

Allow me to explain, but first a bit of backstory.

The NA

The last update for the NA was at the point seen in the picture; the engine/transmission was back in the frame, most of the other mods were done and what I had left to do was to start the long process of wiring everything together. Since I decided to use a BP4W cylinder head and intake manifold, that required adding a cam sensor, crank sensor, as well as changing the connector for the TPS. I also needed to change the throttle cable to one from an NB, as the NA cable would be too long. There was still a bit of work involved but I had everything on hand to wire it up, I even ordered a MS3Pro PNP to complete the setup. Nothing was really holding me up except for the time that would be needed to put everything back together. My goal was to have the NA running by the end of the summer this year (2021).

Then I came across the deal.

The NB

In my down time at work, I like to peruse Facebook Marketplace. I used to do a similar thing on craigslist, but the deals on there seemed to dry up locally. One day in early May, this popped up on FB Marketplace for $6,000 or trade for a motorcycle. It is a 1999 10th Anniversary NB Miata that had been setup for drifting. It had suspension upgrades (extended ball joints, BC Racing Coilovers) a custom roll bar (more on that later) and NRG Prisma seat. Since it is a 10th Anniversary it came factory with a six-speed transmission and a Torsen rear differential. The most important thing was that this car had no rust. No bubbling panels, no rocker rust. I shot the guy an offer, he accepted and I became the owner of another Miata! 

I wish I could say all’s well that ends well but….

Sometimes Things Are Too Good To Be True

You know how sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan? When I went to pick the car up, the interior was GUTTED. No carpet. No door panels. No HVAC controls. 

“But that is ok” I told myself, “I can just put it all back in, he kept the interior”.

Time came to drive it home, and that is when I realized I might have a problem. See, the roll bar setup was custom and welded in. The seat was on a fixed mounting setup. Under normal circumstances that isn’t a problem. But when the guy you are buying the car from is shorter than you and everything was built around that fact, issues arise. I was able to wedge myself in and have enough room to move my feet to shift gears when I noticed, the six-speed wasn’t as smooth as I would expect. My five-speed feels bolt action smooth, but no bother, just another thing I can fix later. Then I noticed that the rear diff was welded. But he said he had a spare diff in the trunk, he obviously didn’t weld the Torsen, right? Another problem, don’t care will fix it later, I got an NB! 

I finally got the car home and was able to give it a good going over. And that is when all the things I overlooked in my initial new toy afterglow became readily apparent. The six-speed leaks fluid like a sieve and shifts like a dump truck. The Torsen is DEFINITELY welded. I don’t fit. Exhaust has a massive leak. Windows are tinted and I hate it. 

But I got an NB! 

-R