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DopefishLives
The Artist Formerly Known As StratocasterMaster, I was so [H]ard Kyle could feel it in Texas and got
 
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The next four-wheeled adventure

To those that do not know, I sold the BMW 335i. It was a great car but I had an opportunity to cut my mortgage down from 30 years to 15 years and the 335i payment was a frustrating appendage that would have taken all of my fun money away in conjunction with the mortgage shrinkage. That leaves me to making a decision at the end of the year that just before selling the 335i, felt pretty clear. I fully-intended to buy a new ND Miata after the dust settled, but the fact is, that means another sizable car payment. Being without such a monthly outlay has been really nice and I'm not keen to jump back into that despite how much I enjoyed the ND as a whole. I've come to the standing that I should be looking at the 5+ year old used market, if not older for the most fun car at the lowest price point -- allowing me to avoid a payment or at the least have a tiny one for a very-short term.

Here are the heaps I'm considering, assuming one of sufficient condition can be sourced within my region.

2009-2012 Mazda MX-5 (NC)
-Not fond of the styling in the 06-08 or 13-15 models. This year also gained a higher redline, forged internals, and improvements to the interior.
-I like this generation's exterior more than the other Miatas (NA and NB).

2006-208 Mazda RX-8 (FE)
-I would consider a newer one but prefer the styling of the earlier models, despite the new ones being better in many appreciable ways
-I like the short wheelbase of the FD and Miatas, the RX-8 would be more stable at speed and sports a nice interior.
-No torques but good horsepower (~230's) and revs to the moon with a good transmission behind it.

2004-2005 Mazdaspeed MX-5 (NB)
-Factory turbo model, pretty neat but the small turbo and lack of forged internals limits power to about ~230whp without internal engine changes. The factory ECU sucks too so more power also demands a standalone in addition to the rods/pistons. The low weight and brash power delivery means the low HP numbers go a long way.
-I like this generation's interior more than the other Miatas.

Finally, I could be an absolute idiot, go even older, to something I have owned before and with which I am already intimately familiar.

1993-1995 Mazda RX-7 (FD)
-Inflated values because of the Fast & the Furious Tax
-I owned one before, loved the shit out of it
-It is old, old and a turbo rotary

Not sure which way I want to go and I haven't seen anything compelling to pull me one way or the other. The FD is my ideal but their values are silly, making a brand new ND look really shiny. The RX-8 is newer, fantastic to drive but has shit fuel economy like the FD due to being a rotary -- not a killer but given I spend two hours a day driving, fuel consumption is a consideration, after performance and fun. The NB would give me some of the things I love about the FD with better fuel economy but falls short on the looks of the FD. The NC improves on looks and engineering/chassis but is limited in power and will mean significant outlay to change (IE: Supercharger).

I'd consider an S2k as they are very FD-like but their values are over-inflated as well, generally they are beat for their age, and if I'm going to have a convertible, I don't want a power-top.

Which of these shitboxes would the 'May collective go with, and why? The longer term (2-3 years) of this is that there are a couple older cars I want to buy that are low dollar but would require some money and time to restore -- both of those would have to leave my mind if I enter into a new car payment for the next five years. I find the idea of three diverse and interesting cars far more appealing than a single better car that is new.
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Old 06-04-2016, 07:46 PM DopefishLives is offline  
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joe nathan
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i vote the rx-8 as a safer bet


the rx-7 would be my favorite. my father still has an '87 rx7 turbo which needs some fixing up
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Old 06-06-2016, 06:51 AM joe nathan is offline  
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i vote the rx-8 as a safer bet


the rx-7 would be my favorite. my father still has an '87 rx7 turbo which needs some fixing up
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Old 06-06-2016, 06:51 AM joe nathan is offline  
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Jehannum
 
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You want something classic and Japanese.

Toyota:


Mazda (13b swap, naturally):


Nissan:


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1992 300ZX: Not stock, 433 RWHP
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Old 06-06-2016, 08:51 AM Jehannum is offline  
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You want something classic and Japanese.

Toyota:


Mazda (13b swap, naturally):


Nissan:


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1992 300ZX: Not stock, 433 RWHP
1971 240Z: Toyota front brakes, 123 RWHP
1967 Pontiac GTO: not stock.
Old 06-06-2016, 08:51 AM Jehannum is offline  
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DopefishLives
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehannum View Post
You want something classic and Japanese.

I like the 240Z, too hard to find a good one in my area to start with, much the same with a 510. RX-2/RX-3 and the 70's Celica are also unobtainium here.

Truly, if going for a 70's sporting car, it'd be an Alfa:
http://bringatrailer.com/listing/1972-alfa-romeo-gtv/

That car will crest 20k though. While I have other cars, so outright reliability isn't critical, I would like to spend more time driving than wrenching, at least to start with.
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Old 06-06-2016, 01:23 PM DopefishLives is offline  
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I own a Mazdaspeed Miata. The turbo system is kind of half baked, and the car's really short gearing does not flatter it. Except for some oil and exhaust leakage issues (which are a huge pain in the ass to fix, FYI), the car is as reliable as a regular Miata of similar vintage. It's a hoot to drive, but if you're used to a 335i, the MSM will probably feel slow, rattly and cheap.

Of the options you posted, I'd take the NC Miata and RX-8, in that order. The MSM would be third.
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Old 06-06-2016, 01:56 PM RazorWind is offline  
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So look for deeper cuts. A 411 or a 280Z.

Something that has all the sports credit, but none of the collector's tax.
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1992 300ZX: Not stock, 433 RWHP
1971 240Z: Toyota front brakes, 123 RWHP
1967 Pontiac GTO: not stock.
Old 06-06-2016, 01:56 PM Jehannum is offline  
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DopefishLives
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Yea, I've read a bit about MSM (main seal leaks and crap exhaust manifold studs). People claim gearing is great on the street but works against you at the auto-X, unless you re-gear the axle. I'd be interested in LE power, granted maybe with slightly different parts; while Flyin' Miata quality is there, the design/execution is questionable to me in some ways.

Not sure if I'd be happy with the RX8 stock or if I'd want to supercharge/turbocharge it. Seems the market is pretty crap there and not a lot of people running with such setups. The Aussies like the RX8 but they seem to swap in older turbo engines like the 13B-RE from the Cosmo instead of boosting the Renesis (Fuck side ports I guess).

NC is worse because of Mazda showing the Super20. If I got an NC, I'd be building it to match that car.

Power is nice for sure and the 335i delivered it in spades but it isn't everything. The ND only makes 155bhp and I found it perfectly adequate to the car, never feeling it was 'slow'. Power delivery, gearing, weight, handling, etc all seem to dictate the sensation of speed more so than the actual presence of it. Most of the cars I am looking at would see modification and power improvements to varying degrees, however I don't have any 'hard number' or expectation, such as 300hp or whatever. 280hp in the 7 is a great balance (I know because I had it before) where as from what I've seen, 230hp in a MSM is a riot, similar power in an NC would net the same pleasure. RX-8.... who knows, 230-240bhp is said to be underwhelming by owners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehannum View Post
So look for deeper cuts. A 411 or a 280Z.

Something that has all the sports credit, but none of the collector's tax.

I only like the earliest Z cars, the detail changes that came later spoiled them (design and styling are sticking points for me). I'd likely go for an FB before a Z, partially due to my like of rotaries and also because they aren't favored by collectors, which places them in my wheelhouse. I also require working AC, those older heaps aren't going to have that, at least not easily. Now an older heap without AC as a secondary car, I can get into that since my daily would still be something fun with AC.

We have a Tahoe for family needs and hauling stuff (including broke-ass cars), the XJ Cherokee that I may give to my little brother, and of course the nuovo Fiat 500 that I presently daily. If the 500 was more engaging on my daily drive, I'd be more inclined to take the path you suggest with an old car. With just 100hp and 4.11 gears it is surprisingly quick (only 2300lbs) but still slow by today's standards. The position and feel of most things (steering, shifter, pedals) is just off, taking away from the good parts of driving it.
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Last edited by DopefishLives; 06-06-2016 at 07:58 PM..
Old 06-06-2016, 07:21 PM DopefishLives is offline  
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DopefishLives
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Razorwind, do you daily the MSM? What sort of traffic do you drive it in? What do you like most about driving it on the street? What frustrates you most about driving it on the street? What mods have you done?
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:52 PM DopefishLives is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DopefishLives View Post
I only like the earliest Z cars, the detail changes that came later spoiled them (design and styling are sticking points for me). I'd likely go for an FB before a Z, partially due to my like of rotaries and also because they aren't favored by collectors, which places them in my wheelhouse. I also require working AC, those older heaps aren't going to have that, at least not easily. Now an older heap without AC as a secondary car, I can get into that since my daily would still be something fun with AC.

It's a good thing there aren't any substantive detail changes between the S30 models then.
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1992 300ZX: Not stock, 433 RWHP
1971 240Z: Toyota front brakes, 123 RWHP
1967 Pontiac GTO: not stock.
Old 06-07-2016, 07:44 AM Jehannum is offline  
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DopefishLives
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehannum View Post
It's a good thing there aren't any substantive detail changes between the S30 models then.

Sorry, I thought all 280's were this body, didn't realize there were some that mirrored the 240/260.

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Old 06-07-2016, 08:15 AM DopefishLives is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DopefishLives View Post
Razorwind, do you daily the MSM? What sort of traffic do you drive it in? What do you like most about driving it on the street? What frustrates you most about driving it on the street? What mods have you done?

Sort of. I have an E46 3 series that I use for commuting most of the time, but I do drive this car semi-regularly. Most of my driving is stop and go commuting to work, and the MSM is mediocre at that.

It's 90% regular NB Miata, so if you're familiar with those, you're pretty much familiar with the MSM. What frustrates me the most about it:

1. that it's made for women, or japanese people or something, and at 5'11", I'm slightly beyond the upper limit of who can drive it comfortably, especially with the top up. I have to lean over to see stoplights.

2. Because it has a manual transmission, driving it in traffic is kind of a drag. Unfortunately, my commute is often the only driving I do in a given week, so it's that or look at it in the garage.

3. The stock ECU tuning is kind of wacky, and has this huge lean spot right at ~3000 RPM that goes away really abruptly at 3500. This makes the boost lag even more apparent. Also, they reduced the redline from 7000 to 6500, which makes #4 seem worse...

4. The six speed gearbox sounds cool in theory, but isn't as good as the 5 speed from a driver experience perspective. It's stronger, and the MSM actually has a unique version with shot peened (or something? I'm not sure) gears, but it doesn't shift as smoothly, and the gears are really short, so you spend a lot of time shifting. I had the engine and trans out of the car a few months ago, and I seriously considered swapping in a 5 speed. It's not so bad on the road, but it definitely doesn't feel optimal. The real proper solution is a taller final drive from an Australian MSM. Obviously neither cheap nor easy.

5. The upgraded suspension it comes with is not terribly well tuned. The shocks are REALLY stiff, causing it to jack down and ride on the bump stops over rough roads. It feels about right on smooth twisty roads, but it'll rattle your fillings out otherwise. The stock 17" Racing Hart wheels are really heavy, and make this worse, as do the prescribed 40 sidewall tires. The Racing Harts look cool though. Homeless people fuckin' LOVE them.

The only modification I've personally done was to install Flyin' Miata's lightweight flywheel and clutch. The car had BEGI's little replacement throttle body pipe when I bought it. Apparently, you need this to keep the stock one from blowing off under boost. If I had it to do again, I'd just do the FM clutch, and have the stock flywheel resurfaced, but mostly because the FM flywheel costs $300 and I can't tell much of a difference.

Having now owned the car for a little while and used it for what might approximate normal use, I'd say that, if what you want is a stock turbocharged Miata, this is the car for you. Otherwise, for the premium you pay, you might do better buying a regular one that's already been modified, or doing mods yourself, as really getting it dialed in would require you to remove an awful lot of what makes the MSM special in the first place. Luckily, I'm more the former than the latter, so the shortcomings don't bother me enough to do more than complain about them.

Edit: Regarding number 4, I had to switch to the Ford Unicorn Blood transmission lube to get the gears to not grind. Reverse is hard to get into, as is 5th gear, and this is apparently just how this gearbox is. I had an NA with the 5 speed before this, and that gearbox was spectacular, so I was sort of disappointed by the MSM's, given how much more it costs.
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Last edited by RazorWind; 06-08-2016 at 07:42 AM..
Old 06-08-2016, 07:34 AM RazorWind is offline  
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DopefishLives
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I'm 5'11" as well but can't recall how the NA/NB suited me when I was last in them. Both times a passenger, so not a great experience for gaining perspective either.

To my knee's dismay I prefer driving a manual, even in traffic, since I want the experience of shifting when traffic is absent. I can appreciate that though, the G8 was great for my commute due to not having to shift in stop-n-go, but when I got to the fun part of my commute, the automatic wasn't as exciting unless I I managed to drive aggressively enough for the ECU to go into PAS-mode (Performance Algorithm Shifting) in which it would hold rev's and aggressively downshift with braking.

#3 and #4 are the complaints everyone seems to have. My FD had a shit ECU but the tuning stock was good. It was just a matter of the ECU wasn't responsive enough to keep up with a modified engine or the expanded needs of a modded motor. Later generations sold outside the US circumvented this with a better ECU from the factory. It shocked me to see how badly tuned the MSM was given Mazda's largely positive history with turbocharging and advanced turbocharging techniques through the late 80's and early 90's.

I can't speak for the 6spd, the NC and FE both seem to get that right from what I can remember back in 2006 when I was last in them. The FD had what I believe is the same 5spd as the NB and it was a brilliant transmission.

If I were to go NB, it'd definitely be a MSM. The fact of the matter is the stock turbo setup suites my interests, just need the supporting mods around it, primarily ECU. I never really liked the 17's on NA/NB's and was surprised Mazda stuffed them in there, suffice to say I'd expect some suspension changes and am okay with that. The real draw of the NB is that it is light and small and I love the interior and how closely it echos my old FD, just in a lighter, less-expensive to enjoy wrapper.

NC/FE does seem to make more sense from a 'it is a better car' standpoint. Wife still thinks I should just get the ND if it is what I like the best overall (and she likes that it is newer). One of the locals at the AutoX has an FD and just procured an MSM; I'm going to see what their thoughts are on it coming from the FD and also see if I can go for a drive in the MSM to get a feel for it. I may just have to find a second-hand NC or RX-8 through a dealership to give those a fair shake as I don't know any owners.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:31 AM DopefishLives is offline  
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DopefishLives
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So it seems the chassis code for RX-8's is actually SE3P, I was just being a twat with the whole FE thing. *shrug*

NC's and RX-8's are surprisingly difficult to find in my area at a reputable dealership that would allow me to test drive. ND is still amazeballs, although a challenger has appeared for 2017:

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