Building a Track Car–Goodbye Miata

It was a journey that I really enjoyed.  Transforming the 1996 Miata from a well ridden roadster to a very capable track-day car was a project that I really enjoyed.  Along the way I was able to engage several friends to help me with the task.  Doug invested a good deal of time on the maintenance items on the motor, including the radiator.  Bennett was instrumental in the installation of the frog arms and butterfly brace.  Mark was essential in to conversion of the rust-eaten body panels into the solid rust-free forms that brought the car back to the factory look.  Mark also endured the agony of constructing from scratch, the Momo Start seat mounts.  There were others that were helpful in so many ways, whether it was advice or knowledge, or help in obtaining the correct parts.


After the first track session I knew that I would have to find the “right” owner for this little pocket racer.  Being a six-footer my helmet was hard against the top and my neck vertebra really suffered after two days and eight sessions on the road course at VIR.

It is not easy to put a value on a car like this.  The base cost of the vehicle, the parts, the paint, all added up to well over $20,000.  But the reality is that you never can expect to get a return on this kind of investment.  It is not a restoration car where a collector would be happy to not only buy it for the price of parts, but also the weeks of labor.  It is a purpose built track day car that has a limited audience.  So I was hoping to get $8500 for it and maybe a bit more.

I put it on eBay, twice.  The first high bid was $6600 and the second was just over $5000.  Clearly I had to get this car out to an appropriate audience.

Back at the end of last year I headed out to IMIS in Indianapolis, IN, where I was able to browse hundreds of suppliers and race-oriented service groups.  I remembered that I spent some time talking with the folks that sold racing cars and parts –

I put my ad on their site and almost a month later I got a phone call from someone interested.  They had spotted the ad and followed the build on the Jim’s Garage link that I had provided.

I don’t think that I could have picked a more perfect buyer.  He had been doing track days in a front-wheel drive sedan and had become a driver that exceeded the limits of his vehicle and was ready to move on to something that would allow him to keep advancing his high performance driving skills.

We talked a bit on the phone and then he and I met and took a drive out to where I had worked on the Miata.  There I put the car up on the lift, described the modifications and maintenance from bottom to top.  After the tour we warmed up the Miata and he took it for a test drive.  After a very brief moment to haggle, we came to an agreeable price and a request.  He asked that Long Road Racing take a look at the car and do a compression test to ensure that there were no hidden flaws.  It was a reasonable request that I was happy to comply with.

Long Road did their inspection, all was good – so we consummated the deal and he put his own plates on the Miata.

I will miss the Miata, but probably not as much as my father.  He christened it the “Black Widow”.  He really liked it from the first time he saw it and was always anxious to hear how it was doing and how it performed on the track.  My father always had a soft spot for sporty two-seaters and owned a 1952 MG-TD when I was a very small lad.

The new owner is getting an excellent track day car that he fits far better than I did.  It should provide him with a couple of years of HPDE days before his skills outgrow the car and he looks for something with more power.  Such is the way of the performance driving bug.

I hope to hear about how he likes tracking the car.

Here are some shots of the Miata girls.  The women (and girls) who were nice enough to pose in the “Black Widow”:




This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Life and Cars, Modifying Cars, Racing, Road Racing, Sports Cars and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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