The MX-5 Miata of the Month from

September 2005

Chris Daniels

Congratulations to Chris on the selection of his 1991 Miata as the September Miata of the Month!

Finally The Dream Realized

I wanted a Miata from the moment they came out, but in 1989 I was just out of high school so there was no way I was getting one. Through the years every time I would see one I would think, “Man I have always wanted one of those.” Then the fateful day came last October when my buddy Cliff came by my work in a beat up old pink Miata right when I happened to have some extra cash kicking around. I asked Cliff about the car and he told me that the poor thing had sat under a tree for 4 years under a tarp and that it had 180,000 miles on it. Before that it had been white and in an accident and totaled. It was then rebuilt as the pink Miata and it appeared to have been in another accident and then abandoned under the tarp under the apple tree in the field where Cliff found it.

He paid the lady who owned it $450 and did a lot of work to it to get it on the road. I asked Cliff how much he’d sell it to me for? Cliff didn't really want to sell it since he planned on fixing it up himself but I talked him into it. Ipaid him $1000 for the car knowing it was October and I had the whole winter to fix it up. Quite an ambitious project for someone with no mechanical ability to speak of and no tools.

Originally I had planned to just do the bare minimum needed to get it going and to just paint it black with the least amount of bodywork. Then what I like to refer to as the “madness” and what my family and friends called the “sickness” set in. I got online looking for parts and found and in turn saw what others had done to their Miatas and suddenly just a plain old black Miata wasn’t good enough! I had to change everything even the interior!

I kept the car in my mother’s garage, a 20 mile round trip drive from my house. My son and I went out every Sunday and many Saturdays from late Oct. till the end of March to work on it. Up until Mid- February, when my buddy Cliff lent us a salamander heater, we worked in the garage with no heat, and I live in Maine! By the time the “madness” had run its course hardly any part of the car was left untouched, replaced or modified. We spent hundreds of hours in the garage and hundreds more on the Internet searching for help and tips or scouring for parts and made countless trips to the parts stores for fasteners or tools. I spent over $200 just in nuts, bolts, screws and washers. In the end thanks to the “madness” I had nearly bankrupted myself and alienated my girlfriend who came to think of the Miata as the other woman in my life.

Finally in late March the car went to my paint and body guy who is a family friend. Two months later I got it back and it was amazing! My son and I began frantically reassembling the car. We couldn’t wait to feel the wind in our hair. Especially since the only time we had driven the car was the one time after I bought it on a cold October day with the top up to drive it out to my mother’s garage. Yes, I did all this never even having driven my Miata or any Miata for that matter. The love was just there. Then disaster struck!

In high hopes of finishing I took a four day vacation to work on the Miata in hopes of getting it together in time for a local cruise night. We worked on it from morning till 9 - 10pm at night Sun, Mon, Tues, and on Wed I had the car on jack stands in the front and ramps in the back doing the rotors, pads and painting the calipers. Once I had finished that all I had to do was the rears plus the rear shocks and put the new wheels and tires on. Except for a few details she was all done and ready to drive. Well I was having trouble getting the passenger front brake caliper piston to go in far enough to fit over the new pads and rotor. I thought if I turned the car over and pumped the brakes I could get it to go in all the way.

Bad mistake.

Stuck my foot in the car to depress the clutch and start the car, I forgot the car was in gear. You can imagine what happened. Car lunged forward, crashing off the jack stands, the front of the car slamming the concrete floor. Front bumper was broken off the car but suffered no real damage, both front fenders were bent and damaged, small damage to the rear bumper, drivers side door was damaged and my new paint job was ruined six ways to Sunday. I thank the powers that be that I was working alone that day and shudder to think what might have happened if I wasn’t. The car had to go back to my body guy and it was gone for another two weeks and cost me another $450 to fix the damage I did.

After we got the car back we finished putting it together and on Sunday July 10 th after 9 months, all the hours of blood, sweat and tears and thousands of dollars we finally drove the car and we drove the wheels off it! We put about 200 miles on it that day! I can't believe how torquey and peppy the thing is even with a motor with 180,000 miles on it. The thing literally ZIPS along and goes around corners like it's on rails. Sometimes it's kind of scary just how fast I can go around corners in it and more scary that I want to keep doing it. It’s more fun than I even dreamed!

That Sunday night my girlfriend took a brief ride in the car and she loved it. So much so that the next day she called into work sick. We went on a cruise down the coast and she enjoyed it so much she even admitted that I did the right thing and that it was all worth it.

As I knew it would be all along.


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