If you’ve been following our sporadic Project Car posts, you’ll perhaps remember (through a foggy haze of regret and clove smoke, no doubt) that the DT stable is full of various cheap fun vehicles, but the cheapest of all was El Cheapacabra, my $600 ugly red 1990 Mazda Miata. Well I have some sour news for you, Jack. El Cheapo was killed before his time last week, slaughtered by an inattentive E46 driver traveling the opposite direction who turned left in front of me, with the ensuing 35 mph wreck enough to tweak it beyond repair. I had about 1 second to react, which meant all I could do was lock up the brakes and swerve slightly to the right to lessen the impact severity and turn it into more of a glancing 45-degree blow. But the Miata is toast. What now?
Despite the little guy perishing due to no fault of its own, all of the parts I added will live on, as I search for another early 1.6L NA Miata upon which to bolt them. There were no major injuries in the crash, so I thankfully still have all of my driving, blogging, and Craigslist surfing facilities about me. Now the whole idea behind El Cheapacabra was to have a reliable yet scruffy trackday car ready to go at a moment’s notice, for the express purpose of maximum seat time for my wife and any other prospective Lemons racers (or guys like me who just wanna go fast). With the other driver deemed at fault and insurance payout on the way, it’s time to put on my NA hunting cap and look for the next great deal.
A few days ago I test drove a red ’91 with black interior, cosmetically this car’s twin, but with pretty much all of the modifications that were on my original project plan: roll bar (required for track days), Falken Azenis RT615K tires (even the same size at 205/50R15), some cheap but decent coilovers, stiffer anti-roll bars, Racing Beat stainless exhaust (same system I installed), and up to date on all maintenance. It drove really well, ran smooth, and was a good deal at $3000. I wasn’t in a position to buy it immediately and so the first prospective buyer nabbed it up.
Looking at this photo makes me sad, but won’t another high-revving twin cam 1.6 cure me of the no-Miata blues? If you can help in any way – with leads on cars for sale, or maybe there’s a little-used MX-5 sitting in your garage – please post away in the comments below or send an email to email@example.com. I’m looking for a 1990 – 1993 car, manual of course, hardtop or not, and budget is ~$3k to $4k with the parts listed above, or in really nice original condition. Less if it’s a neglected beater like our little buddy El C. was. Located in the Los Angeles or greater Sothern CA area would be preferred. This whole ordeal was a true bummer, but I’m looking forward to upgrading!