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Old Miata's (1990-1995's?)... Good idea or no?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I've always loved Miatas; and the thought of actually potentially owning one just popped in my head last night, since I've started working full-time.

I'm thinking of just dropping a few grand on an older one, even if its not in pristine condition. I figure besides at this time in my life (22, full time job, no school, girlfriend, no kids), the only other time I could own one would be when I hit my mid-life crisis

How are they in terms of reliability and maintenance? Especially higher mileage ones?

I can handle basic maintenance (brakes, oil change, engine mounts, coolant, etc.) but haven't had experience with major/larger jobs (struts/suspension, anything requiring me to take apart the engine itself, etc).

Thanks
post #2 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonick View Post
I've always loved Miatas; and the thought of actually potentially owning one just popped in my head last night, since I've started working full-time.

I'm thinking of just dropping a few grand on an older one, even if its not in pristine condition. I figure besides at this time in my life (22, full time job, no school, girlfriend, no kids), the only other time I could own one would be when I hit my mid-life crisis

How are they in terms of reliability and maintenance? Especially higher mileage ones?

I can handle basic maintenance (brakes, oil change, engine mounts, coolant, etc.) but haven't had experience with major/larger jobs (struts/suspension, anything requiring me to take apart the engine itself, etc).

Thanks
I personally feel you should go for it. It's a pretty basic car, which is a good thing in terms of repairs, and is far less problematic than some of Mazda's other offerings i.e. RX-7, Rx-8.

From people I know who've owned them.....the car is pure fun to drive.
post #3 of 23
post #4 of 23
They are fun because of the weight and wheelbase, but the old ones are pretty slow. Yes, I realize the car is about handling, but the originals only had like 120 hp, this is not enough to really take advantage of the chassis in my opinion. I think the MR2 Spider from a few years ago was much, much more fun to drive, not just because it got to 60 mph more than a second faster but also because of the weight distribution. That thing just loved to change directions. This may cost you a bit more in the beginning, but it's a Toyota, and you'd save a bit on replacing things at that age of the car.
post #5 of 23
The Miata is an excellent automobile and I highly recommend purchasing one. People who don't appreciate them usually don't really know anything about quality or purpose built automobiles. Look at any automotive magazine and they constantly rave about them. Top Gear also gives high praise and they are tough critics.

In terms of problems, they are generally less problematic than other Mazda products like their rotary offerings. I would, however, avoid the 1990 as they have problem with the crank and it can snap. You can usally spot this by a wobbling crank pulley but I'd just avoid them all together. The car went virtually unchanged for almost 10 years so parts are plenty and since its RWD its even easier to work on than your average Honda. Miatas also hold resale value very well.

Here is a review of the NC (third gen) Miata from Top Gear - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMRR...eature=related

Here is a review of the NB (second gen) from Top Gear - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lro9yAKpB2c

The NB is very similar to the NA (first gen) that you are looking at.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Funny how it's CONNE of all people that posted the miata picture I fell in love with the miata after the brand new body style came out in 1996 and read about it's knack for handling in Car and Driver. I'll keep an eye out for that crank problem; it only affects the 1990 year, right? Not any future ones? As for older ones being underpowered... I am driving a 1990 full sized american sedan (Pontaic Grand Prix), which has an engine that was rated at 140hp BRAND NEW; so I'm sure 120hp in a Miata won't be much of a downgrade in the power department haha. Plus most of my driving is city/highway driving, no windey back country roads, so I shouldn't be missing too much hopefully.
post #7 of 23
Anybody remeber the old Mazada RX7 ?
I could never get comfortable behind the wheel of that freaking car.
That was 6 waist sizes ago
I don't suppose the Miata is much roomier.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonick View Post
As for older ones being underpowered... I am driving a 1990 full sized american sedan (Pontaic Grand Prix), which has an engine that was rated at 140hp BRAND NEW; so I'm sure 120hp in a Miata won't be much of a downgrade in the power department haha. Plus most of my driving is city/highway driving, no windey back country roads, so I shouldn't be missing too much hopefully.

Actually highway/freeway driving is where you'll miss the power the most. The Miata's made to be driven on twisty back-roads.
post #9 of 23
They're good, reliable cars, and lots of fun to drive. Many people have said that it is the perfect modern interpretation of the classic British roadster. They're also cheap to maintain, and have the best stock manual shifter.

Make sure you can fit into one --- they can be tight if you're tall.

--Andre
post #10 of 23
We found one a few years back for Mrs. Thomas on ebay from a local seller. 1996 model, currently has 146k miles. Reliable, and easy - really easy - to work on. In Houston we have Maz-Max which has a ton of used parts for reasonable prices. I think they ship and also sell on ebay. The crank has not been an issue.

The motor is adequate for the weight, but I wish the transmission was geared a bit higher in fifth. I think the engine spins too quickly for steady freeway driving (60 mph - 3000 rpm in fifth gear) and the six-speeds have the same top gear ratio, so there's no real upgrade there unless you crack transmissions open on a regular basis. Mileage averages 30 mpg.

Odds are you'll have to replace the water pump at some point, and it is not nearly as hard as it seems. One weekend I replaced the water pumps for both a jeep and the miata, and the jeep took easily twice as long, with much more trouble.

Handling is nice, but improves markedly with a sway bar which took me 20 minutes to install in the engine compartment.

You may have to replace the top and that can be an ordeal depending on whom you order from, and how much fab/fit work you have to do. You can also get a hard-top that is really quite good. Used hard tops are wonderful in the cold/rainy season.
post #11 of 23
It's an excellent idea - although I am biased, as I have a 1990 silverstone metallic MX5 with a black leather interior. The car is very reliable, cheap to repair, easy to work on yourself, and there is a vast array of aftermarket parts - both cosmetic and performance - to waste money on. There is very little that is more enjoyable than putting the top down on a warm spring day and taking your MX5/Miata through some tightly twisting roads. Pure bliss. Depending on where you live, there are a lot of Miata clubs around and there is also a great online presence - Miata.net and the associate MiataForum.
post #12 of 23
If you must do it, I suggest the Monster Miata.

Supercharged Ford V8 dropped into a ~2000 lbs car. I'm guessing that it throws off the weight distribution, but whew that would be hell to drive.

K
post #13 of 23
Chick's car. End of...
post #14 of 23
I've always liked the Miata - there is a limited edition that came out a few years ago (probably around 99-00) that was dark green with wood steering wheel, shift knob, etc. - absolutely gorgeous. If you could track down one of those it would be well worth whatever you had to pay.
post #15 of 23
My wife has a '92 limited edition with 30,000 miles on it (she drives a lot LOL). Fifteen years and nothing has ever gone wrong with the car.
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