After our 9th trip to the Deals Gap weekend (and many other trips and Miata regionals) we are realizing that if we are going to stay out for extended periods we need a little more room for luggage. A few years ago when I totaled my Red '92. I stripped it for parts and was left with the body of the car. While looking at it I thought it would be a neat idea to turn the rear clip into a trailer. Although I didn't keep that rear clip, I did buy another '92 with 120K on the clock a few years later for the purpose of finally building the trailer that I had always wanted.





Project Details:
Project started on 12/1/07
Cost of Car and supplies so far (sheet metal, trailer coupler, etc) = $962
Total raised selling parts off car (front end, engine, etc) = $1095.00
Cost of misc supplies and tools (welding wire, new plasma cutter, etc) = $672
Hours spent working on it so far = Around 200



The Miata I purchased for this project definitely looks all of the $400 I spent on it. The car had some sort of transmission problem so it was parked and forgotten. It sat uncovered for a few years with the interior trashed and full of leaves and junk:






The engine was cleaned, tested for compression and sold for $300 to cover costs:



All cleaned up and ready to strip:



The ECU cover gives a good glimpse into the neglect that this car suffered over the past few years:



I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures of me throwing gang signs from my hooptie (rear suspension has been removed):



We cut the car in half with a reciprocating saw in about 2 hours. Two days later I bought a plasma cutter!:



The front end was sold for $600 to cover costs. This is what we have left to work with:



You can see the support structure underneath the car. The floor pan will be attached to the side rails. The middle rail will be cut out to give us a trunk that is twice as large as the original:



A kind soul I met in Northern Tool gave me an old rusty bent up trailer when he heard what I was working on. I thought I would scavenge the tongue, coupler, axle, leaf springs and some wiring from the trailer. As the project progressed all I ended up using the trailer for was the axle, and some of the metal frame for supports:



The hubs on the trailer and a Miata are quite a bit different. We were going to try to get custom bearings made as well as some hub adapters but it is just too much work to get a Miata tire on a trailer hub:



The stock trailer spindle:



A Miata front spindle welded on to the trailer axle and the Miata front hub attached:



The new axle/hub assembly is attached to the trailer with c-clamps and staged behind the Miata so I can see how she is going to look. The trailer is a little high so I will attach the axle to the top of the leaf springs to drop it down two inches:



The floor is now on (still needs a little welding). You can see where I placed the tongue supports. The front support will probably have to be moved back a bit since we need to cut a bit on the transmission tunnel:



The tongue and coupler are on and the wheels have been moved "up" a bit (axle is now on top of the leaf springs). The tongue needs to be a foot or so shorter and the trailer is leaning forward. I'll have to do a little work on it to get everything level:



I welded on an old chrome exhaust tip I had laying around. Of course it was crooked and stuck out too far so I had to rework it later:



Sheet metal was cut to cover the big hole where the top used to be. I will probably pay someone to finish the top and front of the trailer since I don't have enough skill to finish it myself:



I also made a sheet metal cover for the front. Both the top and the front sheet metal covers are just taped on so I can get an idea of how things will work. This is just temporary:



The floor, shelf, and sides are now covered with sheet metal. I think we will probably cover them with foam and carpet:



I wanted the lock on the trailer to be keyed the same as the locks on our blue Miata. Here you can see the pins sticking up when the blue Miata key is inserted in the trailer lock:



To get a lock to turn, the pins have to be "flat" when a key is inserted. Instead of taking my lock to a locksmith I smoothed out any high pins with a angle grinder and belt sander:



We are getting really close to starting on the interior (carpet). In an attempt to get more usable room in the trailer we took a look at the top support structure:



The structure was double walled. I cut one wall out and cut reliefs in the second wall and bent it forward. This covered the hole and gave it a little more support. Only a few inches were cut out but it made a world of difference:



The 5 inches of clearance was a problem in the front of the trailer as well. The side supports will have to be cut out:



Some work with the plasma torch and angle grinder did the trick. It took a few hours of work and I am covering up some of the smooth wall that I had already built but I am really happy we did this. We doubled the size of the front of the trunk:


This is how you stay under budget (cutting rusty u-channel in half to make angle iron):



The longer hitch ball and some stainless washers will help me raise the trailer up to get it level:



I started having a problem with my welder mid way through the project and my welds really started looking horrible. I ended up solving the problem by fixing something in the trigger but not until I had welded like this for a couple of weeks. Will the trailer fall apart the first time I take it on the road? I guess we will see:



Almost ready to enclose the trailer:



An inside view of the back:



An inside view of the front:



Using my $300 plasma cutter to chop off the sides (note the burn on my bald spot from the 27,000 degree molten metal):



The sides are now off and the top is enclosed:



I ordered an 80" x 72" peice of ozite stretchable carpet for the interior. I measured each peice I would need and cut them out of newspaper to scale. It was clear to me that I barely have enough carpet to do the job. The black line around all the newspaper patterns is the amount of carpet I have to work with:



I flipped the carpet over and made a pattern for my first three peices. It almost looks like a vehicle accident investigation:



Before laying the carpet I need to do a little more fabrication. The mounting brackets for the hardtop have been removed and need to be filled in. I'm using my $125 Harbor Freight (Chicago Electric) Mig welder to weld a plate over/in the hole:



Needs ground down and bondo'd:



I REALLY wanted to do something fancy with the gas cap lid (i.e. flip a switch and have the lid open up and a beer bottle pop out) but I never could come up with anything that would work. Here is the lid hole:



I ended up just putting the lid back on and welding it shut (I did something similar with the antenna hole). Yes, this is what it is supposed to look like - the welds are INSIDE the hole, not on top of them :



As soon as we cut the door jams and some of the other metal off the front of the trailer it started to fishtail badly when pulling at speeds over 40 MPH. It seems that the front end was too light. To fix this we decided to lengthen the tongue and add a cooler basket:



After the basket was completed we thought a handle (to help move the trailer around when not hooked to the car) would be a nice addition. It took me 4 hours to make this one - UGH!:



We spent two days putting a trailer hitch on the new Lava Orange MSM and doing the wiring. This is the first official picture of the new setup. We were really worried how it would look having an M2.5 with an M1 trailer but I think it will be ok when it is finished:



We welded (and used 1 bolt on both sides as a backup) a hard dog hitch designed for an M1 on to the Lava. The factory tie down baby teeth are where I am hooking my saftey chains. The wiring (for now) goes through one of the drain plugs in the trunk floor:



So far our costs were around -$1100 for the project (we had sold $1100 more in parts off the car than we had spent building the trailer). I couldn't figure out how to close in the front/top so I paid someone to do it. The bill ended up being $1100! The finished product looked nice but I wish I had done it myself for cost savings and experience. Oh well, I'll do it myself the next time:



I found an old can of red metallic paint and practiced with my spray gun a bit. We didn't do much body work on the trailer (it was only 5 days until Deals Gap 2009) so just a rough sanding and we looked like this:



A body shop gave me 7 half empty cans of white paint (all different colors) that I mixed together. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would look nice on the trailer:



I didn't have a very clean place to spray the trailer but I hosed down the slag that made up the floor of my "junkyard" behind the house and started spraying. Even though I didn't have a clue what I was doing I think it came out looking ok:



This will probably look pretty good once it has been painted Lava Orange Metallic:







There are very few Miata trailers out there. Here are some other examples I have found:


This is from Syndey. You can see it here: http://www.mx5.com.au/nsw/albums/Sydney/Conc04HTML






This is a fiberglass trailer that looks like a Miata. I have heard that a company used to sell these but this is the only picture of one I have ever seen:



This trailer is in the Netherlands:









This is Mike Bradley's trailer (MOTM 2/05 - http://www.miata.net/motm/2005/bradley.html). I spoke with him and he said that the trailer had been turned back into a Miata after these pictures were taken :(









This is Marty Martin's '04. He owned a car dealership and body shop and had this built. It took two months to complete. The builder had a sheet metal shop cut/bend the top and front sections (one peice) for $150. The tool box is large enough to hold two sets of golf clubs. The axle was removed to make the floor deeper. Other than the beer trailer, I believe this is the only other example of a Miata trailer in the United States.