A Mostly British Obsession

They Got Me

1990 Mazda Miata

This is my “new” “cheap” ($2,000) “winter car.” I looked at all sorts of interesting older machinery, but in the end I showed a bit of sense and avoided several cars which needed work (lots of work, generally) to be decent transportation. This machine is a 1990 Mazda Miata with about 145,000 miles and all of the assorted dings accumulated in 20 years. Runs well, overall it’s in OK condition, and everything seems to work.

The previous owner used photos of a different car in their CL ad (people do this?), and glossed over a ton of stuff. The carfax was clean, though, and the car drove fine, so as usual I threw caution to the wind. From their description: “The exterior is perfect except for two small dings you can barely see.” This discounts all the other dings, but does account for the twin, long, painful dents at the front, one on the passenger fender, and one on the bonnet, where a ladder fell onto the car. Barely see these? Do people really not notice stuff like that?

1990 Mazda Miata

Car has A/C but no other options (so no power steering, power windows, or the like, which I’m happy about). Aftermarket wheels (fine), tinted windows (Arizona) and a cheesy roll bar which is coming out soon. Also has a trunk luggage rack, which I generally detest–this one has not changed my mind. Car was in an accident at some point which warranted a new driver’s front fender, but didn’t damage the bonnet or warrant an accident report (at least nothing that showed up on a carfax). The headlight pod on that side needs a bit of adjustment, you can see it’s sitting slightly proud. Car has been repainted the original white, not a bad job, but some over-spray to clean up on some rubber trim.

I’ll be replacing the top (rear window zipper has come adrift, and it’s cheaper to get a new top than to repair the window), adjusting the headlight pod, removing the “style” bar, bleeding the clutch (the fluid looks lethal), and maybe seeing what a paintless dent guy can do for a limited amount of money. Interior is pretty decent and doesn’t really need anything other than some massaging of the stereo install–the surrounding radio trim piece won’t fit into the space available in the Mazda console, so the installer left it in the glove box; I can use a Dremel to trim the trim and make it fit, I think.

It’s a fun car to drive and handles very well, and while it doesn’t feel more powerful than my MGB I’m sure it would beat it in a stoplight drag. Most importantly, it should also get about four times the gas mileage of the truck while being considerably more amusing to drive. And I look forward to being able to drop the top quickly on days when it’s not raining.


  1. Kevin C.

    Cherie and I have owned a 1999 Miata since new. They are simply great little cars that pack a lot of fun for the money. 145K is not real high miles as these cars can easily go well over 200K before an engine rebuild if maintained properly. Moss Motors has a catalog for them now w/ lots of replacement bits and add-on doodads. Sounds like you got a very good deal.

  2. Kevin C.

    BTW, welcome to “chick car” world.

  3. Peter

    I have a 1990, my 3rd, interrupted by a hip replacement. My partner has a 2001, a softer quieter and not as much fun to drive less cockpit roomed car.

    Lots of new parts



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