A Mostly British Obsession

Miata Update

1990 Miata

I have done very little to this car and it has, thus far, been very reliable. It’s fun to drive–though it’s not as personable as the MGs. I put a new $150 top on a long while ago, which was a pleasantly easy and speedy operation. It doesn’t fit as well as it might behind the door glasses–but I just used the pre-punched holes and bolted it in place without any hand fitting. It’s waterproof and folds up and down as it should, so I’m satisfied.

I also have had to replace one of the flexible brake lines in the rear as a caliper was sticking. That’s it for repairs or running costs aside from petrol.

I traded the tinted side windows to a friend who put his un-tinted windows into my car, which removed one of the aesthetic issues I didn’t like. Now to find a cheap white trunk lid without a luggage rack…

The gearbox sounds like it’s full of marbles (it had no fluid in it when I bought it, filling it made no difference to the sound), but it functions perfectly and doesn’t seem like the era-without-lubricant fazed it much. The A/C has no charge–which is OK as I don’t really have a use for it. And I have a new valve cover gasket, which I’ll fit at the next oil change.

I’m just about to roll over 149,000 miles. I’ve gotten as low as 29 MPG and as high as 31 in my normal driving style. Turns out this car is fairly unusual, in that it doesn’t have power steering, windows, etc. It’s better for that, I think, can’t imagine needing power steering in this light machine, and fewer electrical items on an aging car is a good thing.

I would like to change the exhaust note. I consider my white MGB, Reggie, to have a near-perfect four-cylinder exhaust note. Slightly deep, slightly gruff, not too loud but pleasant, typical of older MGBs and MGAs. The Miata is much “buzzier” and tinny. It’s actually a bit loud, in a “kiddie-ricer-fart-can” sort of way. Maybe I can just hang an old MGB exhaust on it…


  1. Kevin Teabag

    Actually, it was fairly unusual for the early versions of the Miata to have P/S P/W and all those “comforts” which became more common in later years. I’m somewhat surprised it came with A/C which I always thought was rather silly in a ragtop. My 1999 Miata came with P/S and P/W. 1999 I believe was one of the last years you could get roll-up windows and manual steering. Damn few models were equiped that way.

  2. Don

    Miatas are very durable and forgiving cars. I’m on my third one now. Power steering is not a bad thing, nor is AC. What is a pain in the ass on these cars is power windows, which is totally unnecessary given the size of the interior. You would have to have very short arms not to be able to raise or lower the passenger window in a Miata with manual windows. The power windows in the first two Miatas I owned were the biggest issues with the cars as the cables broke constantly and they were a bitch to repair.


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