The Mazda Miata Thread

My wife and I have decided to sell our 4 seat Civic and buy something larger and something smaller. She’s picking the larger and I’m picking the smaller (as that’s what I will mostly drive).

I’ve always liked the little Miata. Reminds me of the MG’s and Austins but with nifty things like airbags and the lack of things stamped “Lucas”.

I think that’s what I will choose,. that or the Del Sol.

I don’t want to fork over alot of cash for a little runabout… so I’m thinking of something from the first few years… perhaps a 91-93. I’m spotting some nice ones in the $5k range.

Tell me about your Miata. Did you love it? Hate it? Always have a problem with this or that? Any sort of things should I look out for in a Miata of that era? Etc.

I have a '93 which I absolutely love. I’ve had no problems with the factory equipment (some of my aftermarket mods have taken me a couple of tries to get right). By all accounts, the Miata handles much better than the Del Slow. Hard to beat RWD and nearly 50/50 weight distribution.

At times I’ve though a little more power might be nice, but the car’s so just plain fun to drive that it really doesn’t matter. I did have a 8 psi intercooled turbo on it for a while, which turned it into a little rocket, but I took it off because the non-linear throttle response bugged me.

I put in a roll bar from Hard Dog, which makes me feel a little safer.

BTW, the Miata didn’t get passenger side airbags until '94.

There is one obscure issue that’s part of Miata owner lore. The car is designed so that rain runs down the back into an internal gutter, or rain rail. The rain rail drains into two small areas in the interior, one back behind each seat belt tower. These areas are in turn drained to the rear wheel wells by a tube about 1/2" diameter and a foot or so in length. There is normally no problem with this, but debris can accumulate and clog the drain tubes, resulting in overflow into the interior (this has happened to me). Special brushes to clear the drains are offered in the aftermarket. But cheaper and completely effective is to get some vinyl aquarium tubing a little smaller the drains and push them through a couple of times a year. (More often if you’re in the habit of parking under a needle- or leaf-shedding tree with the top down.)

My father owned a '97(ish) Miata, in the UK they were and still are branded MX5. I’m sure they do different spec overseas but he had the 1.8is which came out about '94, It was great little car, I was a huge fan of the popup headlights and it was awesome to throw around corners in the english countryside. Absolutely no problems with the car at all, I’d definately recommend the higher spec models, I think the (s) model had PAS, ABS, elec windows, alloys and fancy stereo compared the the standard 1.8i.

They look great (until the newest cartoon version came out) I certainly wouldn’t mind one.

I looked down on an English twit who came over to Belfast and turned all Irish, started walking in the countryside and sold his MX-5 for a Freelander :rolleyes: The roads aren’t all paved in turf!

Depends on how tall you are.

A friend of mine was selling his wife’s Miata, from the same era you are talking about, and he let me take it for a weekend.

It sure was a fun car, and I remember that you could really feel the road in it, but three things kept me from buying it (at a great bargain):

  1. It didn’t have a hard top. Convertibles are pretty to look at, and are alleged “chick magnets”, but they are not necessarily practical. They are noisy, cramped, easy to break in to, and they can leak.
  2. This was a model before the solid rear windows. I didn’t like looking out a hazy piece of sheet plastic.
  3. (the deal breaker) I am 6’3". My line of sight was perfectly even with the cross bar of the windshield. That meant that I either had to sit tall in the saddle, and get wind in my face, or slump down uncomfortably.

I would never buy one just because it doesn’t fit my needs at all (family of 4 that would only need a car for heavy shopping or trips), but they’re cute.

Something that struck me as odd (or at least amusing) is that in the US they’re sold with a Japanese-sounding name, while in Japan they’re sold as the Mazda Roadster.

I have a 94. Enjoy the car, basically use it as a commuter car, but it is also a bit of garage queen as it only has 30,000 miles on it. No real issues with it. If you get an older one, make sure the top is in good shape. I had to recently replace my top and it ran about $1000. And I got a good deal on it since I helped the guy put it on. Normally it can run about $1800 with installation.

Other then that though, fun car to drive, top is easy to take up and down, handles well, inexpensive. You can certainly drive much funner cars–but not for the same amount of money and with as little issues.

good luck! is a good web page for information about the different miata years.

We’ve had two (I crashed the first–too fast on an off-ramp covered with pea gravel) and you couldn’t ask for better cars. We both love ours. It’s a’96 M-series.

Don’t have one, but it’s one I’ll always stop when I see one and sigh, “I wish I had that car.”

I always think ‘I wish I were driving the MGB now.’

Same here. :slight_smile: I’ve admired Miatas since they first came out, car/racing people speak highly of them, and when I’m ready to replace my current car (around the end of next year, hopefully) my first test drive will be a Power Retractable Hardtop Sport MX-5. I also plan to try out a Civic Si coupe, and a Saturn Sky – though the latter will probably be just for fun, as a) it’s significantly more expensive and b) I’m not crazy about the idea of a soft top being my only car.

Owner of a '95 Miata (roughly 81k miles, original top) here:

Definitely check out, as mentioned up-thread. You’ll find there all kinds of great information: common annoyances and how to fix them, easy and/or cheap ways to fix stuff, advice on tires, etc.

Some specific tips I’ll mention:

The car is very light: tires will make or break your driving experience. Go for lightweight ones and make sure they’re well balanced and are equally inflated. I had two tires (front passenger, driver rear) that I had to have patched due to punctures, and neglected to bleed off the extra air: when I hit about 50 mph I could really feel that 8-10 psi difference!

Top maintenance: if you have a plastic window and it gets scratched/hazy, visit your local boating repair place and pick up the stuff they use on plastic boating windows to clean those up. Works like a charm. Also the marine grade goop/glue stuff (UV resistant, dries flexible, available in many colors) is great for fixing up an older top.

When putting the top down, have something soft like a towel to put under and over the window. Helps keep it from getting scratched.

Don’t have a hard top but want one? There’s a place that is making carbon fiber hard tops for the Miata: unfortunately I’m not at my usual computer at the moment else I’d dig up the link for you. If/when I pick up a hard top, it’ll probably be a carbon fiber one if only because of the weight savings.

Be sure to test drive the car for a decent distance: I have no problems with the proportions of the car, but my father can’t find a good place to put his right leg. I could probably drive that car cross-country with no problems, but my poor Dad’s leg would be cramping even before he left town.

And lastly, I must admit to smiling inside when I fill up at the gas station. Nothing like watching the person filling up their SUV/large pickup/van keep glancing over to my total. :slight_smile:

<< I stopped to think and forgot to start again. >>

My sister had a Miata (93?) and I often drove it when my car was broken down/intertwined with that drunk asshole’s BMW.

I loved it. It was a manual, which is a biiiig plus for me, and driving around with the top down on a warm spring day always brought to mind images of cruising around the Italian coast. Or something like that.

My boyfriend also owned a Miata, and he says with an LSD (limited slip differential) it has excellent traction for a rear-wheel drive car. Its shortened gear shift gives it a Viper-esque feeling minus some of the power of course. They make many performance parts available if you want to fix it up in the future. It also gets excellent gas mileage depending on the driver and has a very dependable motor.

WRT the Del Sol, it has less room than the Miata, it’s not as quick or sporty, it gets worse gas mileage, and the Miata, IhisO is all around a faster and better car.

ETA- he doesn’t recommend getting an 89 or 90 because of the motor’s tendency to lock up and not work due to early mechanical problems (something about a crankshaft snub or something to that effect).

My wife loves her '06 Miata, although for longer drives it starts to wear, as it is stiffer than you standard sedan and it can be cramped, esp. if you are taller. With any small car of course you have the small trunk, which is fine, except for the few times you are out in the car and you see something you want to buy and you recall, “How will we get that home?”

Ah ha!
This is just the stuff I was interested in. Sounds like, for several reasons, the 94 or above is what I should look for. The rightisde airbag is a big selling point for me around here (they give blind people driving licenses… or so it seems)

I’m not worried about long range driving. The longest trip I might take in it would be 5 hours down to Portland. But even still that chances of taking that car would be slim as 3 people would likely be going.

I’m also not to worried about trunk space as we’ll have the bigger car before the Miata.

It’s also good to know about the Del Sol. I’ve only driven one once and rather liked it, but I did find the rear window a bit too close.

We’re going to check out a bigger cars for the wife this weekend,. after that, I think I’ll be a Miata owner.

Oh, Hakuna Matata, thanks for the link the Miata website. That’s the kind of info I was looking for.

I went car shopping today and was dead set on the Miata…until I found one of these in a lot near my house.

The Toyota Sera.

It’s a really cool little car. The one I found is a 1991 and it’s in the price range I was expecting for the Miata - well, just a touch higher. But affordable.

I have two issues with it. One, it is right-side drive. It’s automatic so shifting souldn’t be a big deal, but I don’t know how weird that would be when everything around you expects you to be on the left side (think drive-through type things).

The other concern is parts. They didn’t make a ton of these.

I don’t know. I really like it.

The Sera does look intriguing. You’ll miss the top down motoring experience, of course. Where do you live that you’re accustomed to LHD but finding RHD cars available?

My biggest concern specific to the Sera is the reliability of the door mechanism in general and the soundness of it on the car you intend to buy in particular. Certainly parts will be a hassle. Miata parts are readily available and there’s a thriving aftermarket of parts and accessories, as your glance at will have shown you. And with a 12 year old car, the community is a valuable resource for tips and advice.

The Wikipedia article mentions that the large glass area can cause problems with high interior temperatures due to greenhouse effect.

If you do test drive the Sera, please tell us all about it!

This year, we had to get a 4-door sedan to accommodate booster seats our toddler twin grandsons.

So, I had to give up my beloved 1991 Miata, and gave it to my son, who likes it as much as I.

It’s a little tricky in snow and sleet, but other than that, the Miata’s a sensual pleasure to drive. It’s a handsome little car as well. On nice, early summer evening when driving through downtown, I’d hear calls from people on the sidewalks, “Nice Car!” and other such compliments.

I bought my used Miata in 1994, and it had 160,000 miles on it. Other than a new top, I didn’t spend anything else on it except for a battery, oil, lubes, brake pads, etc.

If you you can get a good one for $5K, I’d say you’d be crazy not to buy.

One problem though…

Every so often, you’ll come across a hot chick who’ll want to take a ride with you in your hot little sports car, wedding ring notwithstanding.

Perhaps you should look for a Nash Rambler, instead. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

I decided to pass on the Sera. After some searching for parts I decided the hassle wasn’t worth it.

Canada. I’m not sure why there are so many RHD cars around. In the last few weeks of looking I’ve ran across quite a few.

In fact, I’ve a bead on a Miata that happens to be RHD as well. Really nice little car, low kms, at a great price.

The RHD Miata was fun, but it needed work. I passed.

Today I signed the papers for a 1990 ragtop red Miata with 145k Km. The thing has been reworked under the hood it all looks brand spanking new. Not just cleaned and Armor All-ed but new hoses, cables, belts, etc. The clutch and transmission are tight. It has new brakes and tires as well.

OMG what a punchy little machine. I haven’t driven any other Miata that felt so perfect.

My wife commented on how this car and I “bonded”. She said it reminded her of when I used to drive my old MG.

Perhaps true. This one responded to everything just right. The clutch felt perfect, the brakes were not too touchy, and when you gave it gas it fucking jumped in every gear. (This is going to be a car when I sing the Mazda Vroom-vroom-vroom song alot.)

The paint is in good shape. It has a couple minor dings here and there but for the most part it looks brand new. I think some things on the inside have been replaced. The carpets look too new to be 1990.

I got a great price on it and they took my Civic for a fair trade in. Which is good because the Civic, while it HAS been a good car, I think has some major problems in its very near future (ever have that feeling with a car?)

Now I have to find a hardtop for it. I have a line on a red hardtop already, but I almost think I want a black one.