Miatas at Myrtle Beach II - Making It Something It's Not

by Alan J. Claffie

Earlier we described the Miatas at Myrtle Beach II weekend coming up. It's going to be the first serious road trip for our car since getting it in November, but that's not the biggest hurdle it has to overcome.

That weekend, 'Skippy' is going to become a show car.

This shouldn't be happening. When we were shopping for our Miata the emphasis was to get one more or less on the cheap. We weren't too interested in leather-interior'd M editions or any of the special paint models made throughout the first generation. All I was on the lookout for was no rust, good service history, and a car that could pass inspection (ha!). Cosmetics were pretty low on the priority list since this car was going to be an around-town bopper, daily driver on dry days, use-it-up-and-get-another-one car.

What we ended up getting was a rust-free, well-maintained car that also happened to look fantastic. The suspension work gave it an aggressive low stance on racey aftermarket wheels, and while the Montego Blue paint wasn't original, it was darn near flawless with just one door ding.

It's not all sunshine and happiness as the interior is pretty ratty, but a pair of cheap seat covers masked the worst parts pretty easily.

Fast forward to MAMBII and its car show. I wanted to do as many events of the weekend as possible, including the show. We were encouraged to do so as I inquired about how serious it was going to be: the entry fee goes to charity and the worst that could happen, one miata.net poster said, was that we'd have people wanting to talk Miatas approach us and, well, talk Miatas.

So that sealed it. Plans were hatched to make sure the car was freshly waxed before leaving so all it'd need once at the show was a quick detail and a shaking out of the floor mats.

Ran into a Chesapeake Area Roadster member who will be one of the show's judges, although he won't be judging the class our car will be in. He said the judges won't really be looking at what mods and doodads people have put on their cars, but how well the cars have weathered the years and miles. This was good news for us and our mostly stock car. I asked if opening the hood was mandatory, and he said yes. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

The big problem, aside from just a lack of any attention paid to the underhood area in general aside from maintenance and repairs, was that the gasket between the cam cover and the cylinder head leaks and needs replacing. It's not something that has to be done Right Now as the amount of oil leaked is just a trace amount. But it discolors the cam cover to the point where it's all that can be seen when the hood is opened. On the plus side, it wasn't as tough to clean as I thought it was going to be. Add in another quality hour or so cleaning up around the top of the radiator, the firewall, the left wheel well, and the cowl, and we've got something better than, well, what we started with.

As I write this, we're six days and change from leaving for the beach. There's still lots to do to make a beater into a show car. Today we cleaned up the door jambs and a couple wheels. Still to go before we leave for a nine-hour ride that will completely nullify all the cleaning done before leaving is the other wheels, wiping down the interior, vacuuming the carpets, and maybe - just maybe - the application of tire shine. I'm kinda hot and cold on the stuff - it looks great, but it also gunks up the bodywork and wheels. We might save that for after we get on the show grounds itself, or we might do without altogether since the stuff I applied a month or so back still shines pretty well.

Next time out, we'll go over the fun with electronics we're going to need on this trip.

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