The Tequila Sunrise Miata
and How it Came to Be
I found the paint job and then had to go out and find a car to put it on!
by Terese Mac Davis
I've had lots of Miatas in my eleven years restoring first generation (90-97) Miatas. Miatas took all my interest, passion,
and hard work, but they gave me back so much more..
Sometimes I’d keep a particular car for a while, but eventually someone would talk me out of it, and I would sell it.
For the last few years, I started keeping my eye out for one or two that I would keep and fix up, just for me! This is the
story of the Tequila Sunrise, one of my “keepers”.
I saw this beautiful Miata in the parking lot of one of our regular rest stops. It was absolutely gorgeous .. and I don’t
mean regular gorgeous, but you want to touch it gorgeous. I love bright colors and I loved this car! Being the Miata
person I am, I went up and talked to the owners, Jose and his wife.
I told the young couple how beautiful their car was and asked Jose who had painted it. I loved that paint job! He said he
had done it himself, and that he works in a family paint shop.
I asked, “How much would a paint job like that cost? Would you be willing to do another one just like it?”
He said, “Probably about $1000, and I might consider it.” I took his phone number and thought of little else. This is the
kind of upgrade that I never did. It was expensive, and I’d never get my money back out of it when I sold the car. But
then, I wasn’t going to sell the car, was I?
I called Jose and talked to him some more about the paint job. I said, “I noticed that your top was a little beat up. Would
you consider trading a new top for the paint job?” To my surprise and delight, he said yes!
Then I took inventory of the cars I had … only one red one. It was a 90 A package with 148k miles on it. This was not the
car to put that paint job on. I wanted a B package with the PW, PM, cruise control and a 1.8 engine.
I went on a different kind of hunt. Instead of looking for cars that I could restore, I needed a particular color and
package. I soon found a very nice one, (a red 95 B package with all the options I wanted, and 132k miles).
Next, I traded cars with Jose, and then I started working on his car.
First it went to the top shop and got a new Robbins top. I have a team of experts that I take my cars to if they need
something and my top guy is Martin Castillo of Castillo Auto Upholstery in Modesto.
Robbins tops are the best. Martin charges me $500 for a Robbins top, installed and out the door. In the SF Bay area,
tops run about $1600 and then twice that if you have it done at the dealership. I’m probably getting a discount, since
he’s done so many of our cars.
He’s one of the hardest working, and yet quietest men I know. It’s always fun to stop by his shop and see the fancy
hotrods and vintage cars he’s doing. He does our seat repairs too and his prices are extremely reasonable. When you
find a good shop, stay with them and develop your relationship. I had my team who between us all, we could do
On the paint job, it seemed like I was getting the better end of the deal, and I didn't’t want to take advantage of Jose. So
I went through his car and detailed it. I fixed a sticky window, found a few rattles, replaced a cracked bezel, then did a
few other little things, like replacing his missing spare tire and one of the jack parts. I touched up the paint on the
windshield wipers and put on a set of brushed stainless sill plates with a red Miata logo. Then I tucked one of my Hanes
Miata Repair Manuals that I seem to collect into the trunk. I put a wind screen on, one that stretched between the seats. I
replaced his floormats, which were very sad looking, with nice Miata aftermarket floormats with the Miata logo that I had
bought on e-bay.
It took Jose several weeks to complete the job of painting the car for me. Meanwhile, I’d taken his car back to him pretty
quickly, and he loved what I did to it.
Then came the day of the call. My car was ready! Jimmy and I drove out to his place and this was what we saw. It took
my breath away!
I slowly started adding goodies to my car. I bought a spoiler on-line. They come unpainted, so I waited ‘til I had a red car
to paint and just sent the spoiler along. The spoiler was only about $50 or $60 and it didn't’t cost much to paint, going in
with a car. Jimmy put it on, which was just drilling a couple of holes and bolting it on. I found a 4 point roll bar on
craigslist and had it installed.
I bought new wheels for both cars when they were on sale on e-bay. There are lots of Miata products available and e-
stores that sell them. The big ones are Moss Motors and MMMiata, but there are a lot of little companies that make one
thing. I also bought several of the double silver style bars and have one saved for the BlueBerry.
You can buy anything on craigslist or e-bay. When I found something I liked on e-bay, like the style bars, the clear lens
signal lights, or anything I thought I could use, I’d order a few. Each car I do needs a little something to set it off, and for
$50 I could put on a style bar.
I was still going full steam ahead restoring other Miatas, so my Tequila Sunrise always got done last. Isn't’t that always
the case? It took several years to get things done, and I’m not finished yet.
It was fun to take this car to Miata events, where it stood out from the crowd. This is a Just Miatas Fun Run. These are
all my babies, cars I’I've restored and their new owners! We get together several times a year.
Here is the Tequila Sunrise at the Vintage Car Races at Laguna Seca in Monterey (now called Mazda Speedway) in the
Miata Corral. I went to this race for years. Every time I went, I saw Jay Leno walking around and waving his hands and
laughing with his friends, acting like a regular car guy. No one ever approached him for an autograph, but he waved and
smiled at everyone.
Now I have two Miatas, the Tequila Sunrise, and the Blueberry, for my own cars. I found a few fuzzy dice here and there
and put them in (maybe a little funky, but they’ll stay for a while). I park them each in their own spot, perfectly lined up
with my kitchen window.
Room with a view
Every time I walk out the door I think “I don’t have to do anything to them! No repairs, no restoration - they don’t need
anything! I can just drive them ” and I feel light as air.
Copyright@2011 by Terese Mac Davis
We have two red fuzzy
dice and one yellow one
They're kinda cute and
will stay awhile.
Click on Photo above
to see more photos