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Hi Richard

Sorry to hear about your predicament. There's a couple of ways to skin a cat as they say.
Yes an exhaust place would be the easiest and quickest route, but easily the most expensive, how much can and are you willing to do yourself?

I am unsure of the rules around imported American cars in the UK (you say you have a Miata) - I know that Japanese cars of this age don't even need a cat to pass the test, and UK registered ones before 92 don't but unsure where the cut off point is.

If it were me, I'd probably do something like you have suggested and just get a new downpipe, cheap cat bypass pipe and cat back exhaust. Use it as an excuse to get something nice.

Costs if you can fit yourself, £300ish for a nice catback if brand new or £100ish used, £100 for a nice manifold if you buy used or £400 for a nice new one... and £50ish for a cat bypass.
 
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