Hi Uncle Bob,
This is your nephew Patrick out here in Cali. Mom clued me in to your project and I joined the forum just to lend support and enthusiasm. I always wondered when you would build a car.
So, is your donor a 3 cylinder or 4? This is probably a bad idea, but that Miata rear clip looks so cool, you could use it, put the motor in front turned longitudinally, and fab a driveshaft from a lengthened halfshaft. I saw this setup on a mini rock crawler with a Honda motor and trans mounted sideways and I thought it was super-cool. Of course you would have to weld the diff in the Geo trans unless you were going AWD too, but you have that new welder so.......
Like I said, probably a bad idea bad idea.
Anyway, good luck. I will be watching. Let me know if there is anything I can help with.
I know you said you wouldn't do this anyway, but the reason us rock crawlers will use a transaxle going out to diffs is that we don't need high speed, just slow goin. Most Honda powered transaxle buggies won't go much more than 65mph. Remember, there's gear reduction in the transaxle for the 3 or 4 gears PLUS the differential. If you then run it out to ANOTHER differential you're getting a lot of gear reduction. Great for acceleration and turning big tires, not so great for street use...
Cool sounding project. Take that fancy new welder, talk to the guy that has that chassis shop and see if he'll give you some scrap tube and steel to practice with. Then start welding scrap together to practice. DON'T start welding on your chassis until you can get good, solid welds that the chassis guy likes. It's worth it to take the extra time to get your welding up to par. Unfortunately, I see way too much scary looking welds on this and many other sites.