Thursday, January 21, 2016

El Cheapacabra is Dead. Long Live El Cheapacabra!

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 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!


  1. Ah man that sucks! That was a super cool project.
    I am glad no one was hurt. Damn BMW drivers, always looking at themselves in the mirror.
    Next one will be even better.

  2. Dang, you have my sincerest condolences at the loss of a friend. Glad you walked away. Looks like you were "lights on" at the time of the accident, so the other driver has even less of an excuse (as if there was any to start with!).

    I checked ads up here in the Great White North, but it looks like all the NA Miatas have gone into hibernation.

    At one point, the MythBusters TV show used to use a lot of NA Miatas as abuse victims (it always bothered me, cuz the cars looked rust-free to my jaded eyes). Since they are closing up shop, maybe they have a couple still kicking around. If nothing else, you could have a great conversation with Adam or Jamie.

  3. Sorry to hear about the bustification cflo - a horrible fate for a $600 NA Miata, or any Miata for that matter.

    SD CL seems to hold promise for your search.

  4. Time for a scenic road trip? The Canadian dollar lost a ton of value last year. This low mileage (66k) 1990 Miata is $4,000 US. Located in the beautiful province of British Columbia.

    Being over 25 years old makes it easier to import, but you should expect lots of paperwork regardless.

  5. Sorry to hear that, Jefe... was looking forward to seeing it on the track.

    Turn it into art.

    Or sell it for parts?

  6. So is that number 2 wrecked Miata on here with G's kid messing his up also any Vegas odds on what make will get wrecked next ? Glad your okay so was it a gal or Guy in Bmw......?

  7. Missing DT yesterday 1/21/16 was there mail or did anyone else miss the mail ?

  8. This could go cheap if you willing to plug and play !

    1. At first I thought, 'yeah, that looks alright', but then I scrolled through the pictures and then I felt dirty.

    2. Yes that could be a good donor.
      In contrast to the cars that are rare to see as manuals, a auto is Miata is strange sight.

  9. A little roach killer and steam cleaner with good donor car....!


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