I am REALLY tight with money. I have spent most of my life looking for bargains and never really bought myself anything nice (expensive). I've done pretty well for myself (I don't make a lot of money but I have managed to stick a bit away for retirement and what not by being frugal). Because of this I have never had a new/nice car. About ten years ago I came up with a gameplan to buy/build myself a nice car to celebrate my 45th birthday (February 26th, 2012). The goal was to finally have something nice for myself and to "get in the habit" of spending money. Most people have no idea what this means but the few tight wads like me will know what I am talking about. Even though my 45th was still a year an a half away, in November 2010 I bought a ragged out 1990 Miata with a V8 engine. This will probably be my last project car (not counting my father's 1940 Ford which my wife and I will probably have restored and customized years from now) but I have a feeling I will put away my wrenches after this thing is finished. Even though I spend my time doing one project after another I am growing a little tired of it and can see myself winding down a bit. Anyway, the V8 project will take a few years to complete but it should be really nice once I am finished.
UPDATE: I sold Sleepy and the swap car on 11/16/11. After owning the car for 1 year and 3 days I just couldn't take the horrible gas mileage any longer. Also, my bad back really made me hesitant on completing the drivetrain swap. I'm not sure what my 45th Birthday car is going to be or if I am even going to have one. I have grown used to my daily driver (Geo Metro) and might just do some upgrades on it instead of buying something else (maybe). My obsession with frugality may just keep me from getting my "dream car". Who knows?
I had struggled with the decision on whether to build a V8 Miata or to buy someone else's project. There is a huge amount of personal satisfaction in building something BUT you can really save a lot of money buy letting someone else build it and then buy it at a discount. I lucked into finding a happy medium. By buying "Sleepy" in the rough stage she is already in I can not only save money but I will be forced to buy another Miata (one with nice interior/exterior) and transport everything over to the new shell. Transporting everything over to the new car will satisfy my sense of DIY and at the same time give me a nice template to see how to built it. Also, all the little details (getting a custom drive shaft made, buying the correct amount of fuel line, getting the Ford axles mated to the Miata hubs, etc) will already be done. The previous owner/builder of the car said that he purchased the "ugly" shell for $800 and then spent around $12,000 on the parts to get it running. I ended up purchasing the car for $8,150 and will sell the old shell for scrap metal once I have put everything into the new shell. That means I got a $12,800 car for around $8,000 (plus another $165 for tow dolly rental to get it to my house). Even though I have a lot of work ahead of me I think it was still a fairly good deal.
Since I didn't build the car I am still trying to figure out what all is there. The previous owner hasn't provided a ton of info but this is what I have pieced together so far:
The car was built by the PO who put around 15K miles on it in a two year period.
LS1 5.7L (347.8CU) with aluminum block and heads out of a 2000 Trans-Am with 75K miles on it
LS1 intake manifold (vs the LS6 that would have been on that engine if it were a 2001)
Upgraded PAC valve springs
Upgraded Thunder Racing TR224 cam with a .563 lift ($385)
Street tuned to around 340-380 RWH on 93 Oct
New water pump when cam installed
T56 6-Speed Tranny from the same 75K mile Trans Am
Spec stage 1 clutch with 500 miles on it
Remote clutch bleed
7.5 Ford IRS rear with 3.27 gears
Upgraded ford trac lock limited slip diff with 5K miles on it ($225)
KYB AGX shocks
ATech Monoblock 15x7 wheels
Hankook Ventus R-S2 225/45R15's in front
BFG G-Force T/A D255/50R15 drag radials in back (24 PSI)
Hooker headers modified by Boss Frog
Two cherry bomb type glasspacks
Rear O2 sensors disabled in ECU
Boss Frog k-member
custom trans and diff mount
Half shafts and hubs modified by Martin (Monster Miata)
PRC aluminium double pass radiator with red GM Antifreeze
walboro 255lph fuel pump
ss braided fuel line w/ all AN fittings
Power steering from a ????????????
Soft Top replaced in February 2009
Fan is set to come on at 195 and go of at 190
Using a scanguage because factory speedo and temp are not hooked up