For a guy who arguably doesn’t have a plethora of automotive experience (I’ve only legally owned one car in my life), I tend to give out a lot of automotive advice. Things like:
“Never buy a project car.”
or, “Modify your car from the ground up.”
and especially, “Mods don’t add value to your car, so only do mods that are reversible.”
It’s that last one that has me kicking myself today, because I’ve built myself an Ecotec-powered Mazda Miata. Most mods, depending on your tolerance for wrenching, are reversible. Suspension, brake kits, even force induction, can all be unbolted and reverted to factory spec if you ever decide to sell. That way, you can sell your mods separately and get some money back. The problem is, that you’re confined to bolt-on mods. The moment you start tearing into your wiring harness, cutting up your engine bay, or start chucking OEM parts in the trash, you’re pretty much stuck.
I say this because selling the car has crossed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, it makes great torque and has a raunchy sound – more about that coming soon— but one day, I will get bored of it, and I will sell it. And who’s going to buy it? Almost nobody.
Conventional wisdom states that you should never buy a project car, and for good reason. You don’t know how it was built, what parts were used, or the level of workmanship that went into it. My car has a wiring harness from a Cobalt, a throttle pedal from a Cadillac, a power steering pump from a Buick, an engine from a Saturn, and a serpentine belt from a Mazda RX-7. Are there resources out there for Ecotec Miatas? Sure; the community is growing, but the only way you’d know the ins and outs of my car is if you built it. For that reason, the price I’d be likely to get for it would be peanuts compared to what was put into it. I’m embarrassed to admit that at this point, I’ve spent myself well into Honda S2000 territory.
Everyone knows this, it’s the reason you see ads stating “OVER $25,000 IN PARTS ALONE – MY LOSS IS YOUR GAIN.” It’s also the reason why you see people building 1000 whp, AWD EG Civics; modding cars is a slippery slope. When most people get to this point, they either accept a loss and sell or never sell and end up with a monstrous build with an equally monstrous price-tag.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it shouldn’t dismay you from your project car dreams; it’s just a reality of what we do. After all, it’s only money… right? The car is great. It’s fast, unequal length exhaust runners give it a raunchy exhaust note, and it might finally be reliable; which is good, because it looks like I’m going to be owning it for a very long time.