By on April 5, 2015

Miata. The answer to everything.

Perfect commuter?

Ideal first car?

Autocrosser? Racer? Demo derby? Seriously, have you ever watched a regional level Spec Miata race?

But, with nearly a million built over twenty five years, will the Miata ever be a collectors’ item? Will your grandkids ever turn on Barrett-Jackson in twenty years to see the perfect Mazda Roadster cross the block, with Spanky Assiter screaming away?

Perhaps the limited edition cars–like the ’91 BRG, the ’94 R-package, or this, the Mazdaspeed. The first Miata to get any sort of performance bump under the hood, via turbo.

This one for sale on Autotrader, for example, looks well cared for, having lived in the sodium-free South for all eleven years and 68k. At $11,999, this MSM might be worth something someday. And if not, a couple clicks and a few bucks will bring another hundred horsepower in a shiny brown truck.

Meanwhile, my own Miata sits rusting under a cover in the garage, waiting for this interminable winter to end.

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116 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: The Greatest Car Ever...”


  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Collectors’ items? Only as much as MGBs are collectors’ items: you can always find a decent one at a fair price if you look hard enough.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      An excellent example of a comparable car, though from a different age. The MGB was the Miata of its day, and I watched my dad and older brother long to have one of those post-war British roadsters (Dad served in WWII in Europe). My brother’s first car (in 1968) was a ’58 Austin Healey 100-6, so that was pretty close. But the build quality and many of the car’s design decisions were questionable, and the electrical gremlins were legion.

      Fast-forward 30 years and I bought a used ’94 Miata. Reliable, tossable, open-air and reasonably fuel-efficient, it still was not a car for every day – I had a sedan when I needed to give my kidneys a rest. But I’ll say this for the Miata: There’s are damn few cars that are a complete and authentic expression of what they claim to be. The Mazda roadster was one.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    The Miata has always seemed like they were geared towards women to me (no offense to the author). I just can’t see me ever buying the car pictured above that’s for sale, but to each their own.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      If chicks and gays didn’t buy them, the Miata couldn’t exist.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        That’s as false of a stereotype than the one that accessorized full size truck are all owned by rednecks with small penises.

        Go to a Miata owners club meet and you’ll be surprised just how wrong your assumption is.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I’m not talking about 2nd or 3rd owners. And those don’t pay the bills for the OEM.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Take it from a Houstonian where we have plenty of gays and rednecks. Lots of the gay guys dress western and drive pick ups and country accents.
          Anyone making these types of statements about who drives what car is lacking in intelligence and/or wisdom.
          DenverMike can figure out for himself if his posts today are an aberration or not. I see he is already trying to walk it back.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        DenverMike, let’s continue with your ‘reasoning’. If guys with small wieners didn’t exist, there would be no market for big, butch pickups.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Maybe you’ve done your own survey of wieners???

          It’s a little different. We readily observe who’s buying new cars, because they get your attention and stand out from the crowd.

          You can also call it a stereotype that big pickups are bought mostly by men, but do we know that for a fact?

          We know what men, chicks and gays buy. No survey or proof needed.

          There’s likely some truth to it, but pickup drivers don’t usually expose their wieners in public. But I don’t live your life!!!

          • 0 avatar

            Of the three people I know who have Miatas–all women–one was probably around 70 when she bought hers (and I suspect she’s now had it around 10 years); the second around 60 (also had hers for about a decade), and the third was in her 30s. All three are hetero, and for what it’s worth, the two older ones are live wires.

            Really, though, before I attempt any generalizations, I would want to see some statistics. And I’d hesitate to make generalizations about car buying in the rest of the country from the Boston area (although the youngest of the three was already living in Michigan, where she teaches at either U of M or Wayne State, I think.

            Oh, and I long ago knew another woman by phone, someone I worked with but never met–in the early ’90s, who had one, and was likely in her late 20s or early 30s.

            I’ve driven two Miatas, and I have profound respect for them. If I wanted a roadster, that’s probably what I’d get.

          • 0 avatar
            jerseydevil200

            IN Philadelphia most big pickups that I see are driven by women.

          • 0 avatar
            jerseydevil200

            How in the world would you know what gays buy? Last time i checked, no one asked me the gender of who i liked to do it with while buying a car. I am not aware that statistics exist for such a demographic.

            Also, even tho I am a gay men, I have never bought a new car, and the ones i do buy tend to be older german hot rodded sedans, or mustangs. Think GTi.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        In my experience, it’s mostly purchased by middle-aged men when their wife won’t let them have a motorcycle. Obviously, the market in Denver is different.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I’m in California half the year, but what’s wrong with sharing a car’s fan-base with chicks and gays? I’ve never had a problem with it.

          We know the true Wrangler enthusiasts aren’t usually the ones buying them new.

          Chicks and gays prefer their cars new, and rarely take them to the track, off road nor modify.

          I doubt chicks and gays that buy big pickups have a problem with the knowledge most are bought by straight guys. Why would they?

      • 0 avatar
        ZoomZoom

        As a one-time Miata owner, I call BS on your stereotype.

      • 0 avatar
        philipwitak

        yeah… just like porsche boxsters are chick cars. and i suppose the $400,000 lamborghini aventadore is a chick car cuz lambo also made a $4,000,000 model just a couple of years ago. yeah.

        why does it often seem that any car which is not the most expensive, most powerful, most macho model in the lineup, automatically labeled by some as inferior, feminine transport? sour grapes perhaps, because they don’t have the benefit of driving/owning such a vehicle themselves, perhaps??

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      I honestly don’t get this. Let’s presume that this stereotype is true – that indeed my lifestyle is best served by a car that happens to otherwise be predominantly bought by women (and per DenverMike, gays).

      Why on earth would I be offended?

      Please help me understand.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Why would anyone be offended? I’ve owned a 1st gen MR2s and 2nd gen CRXs and was never offended chicks and gays owned them 1st. It works out great this way.

        My primary cars and trucks I bought new, but a Miata and such make perfect used 2nd cars for the enthusiast to mod, tune and have fun with on weekends.

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          I thought the TTAC audience was proud of getting something used? Or did BarkM not get taken to the woodshed?

          There is something of a known quantity about women car buyers and owners that makes it simple as a used car buyer. They tend to be more inclined to buy them new and keep them in warranty. Same as retirees. We need them in the ecosystem or else we would have to buy new!

          All you have to do when you buy a one woman owned used car is all the major mileage maintenance. As I’ve seen it, all the little stuff is usually fine, but new tires, new suspension, new plugs and wires may be required. But that can all be planned for.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        If you are buying a sports car to be flashy and show off, the Miata probably doesn’t fit the bill. It’s a car you buy for yourself to have fun in, and not for what others think. If “Chicks an Gays” buy this car, I could care less. It’s the most fun car to drive, and that’s why I bought mine. Who cares what others think?

        This old Mini ad I think sums it up.
        http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80652155/

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Honest question: Have you driven one?

      They’re not for everyone, but if you haven’t, you need to drive one before you dismiss them. I’ve owned one as my only car for 4 years, and even I know that at least the NA/NB generations (the pictured car is an NB) look pretty crappy on paper. The acceleration is beaten by today’s minivans, there’s no space, and the fuel mileage is less than you’d expect for a small, underpowered car.

      But then you drive one. If a Labrador puppy had wheels, it would feel like a Miata, and if you’re so inclined, throwing some aftermarket parts at it can have some pretty serious results. A few thousand dollars into a turbo kit can have you giving C5 Corvettes trouble off the line if they’re not paying attention, and getting them to corner at 1.0G or more is fairly trivial.

      Part of their appeal to me is that they’re loved among car journalists and track guys (for good reason), while the rest of the world calls them just another girl’s car. No girl I’ve ever met has ever been disappointed to be driven home in a “cute” convertible either, so I guess in that sense it really is a girl’s car.

      Values of the older ones have pretty much bottomed out, but I don’t think they’ll ever be real money. They’re too durable, there’s too many old guys who have pristine ones in their garage, and not enough tuner kids ricing them out and wrecking them (that’s an advantage of the girl-car stigma), to make them scarce enough to raise their values.

      • 0 avatar
        AmcEthan

        to me they are ugly little cars. all the years of them were ugly. but some people like them, far from the best, far from even great, they are not practical where i live, some people race them at our local tracks but they dont do the best on the tracks that other cheaper cars do. but people like what they like i guess. why someone would want a small 2 seater with cramped seating and no room ill never figure out. there are almost none in iowa.

        • 0 avatar
          wagonsonly

          Part of what makes them fun is their floggability on hills and maneuverability in tight quarters. If I lived in a state with straight, wide open roads, few mountains, and extreme temperature swings that made the car virtually unusable in both winter and the broiling heat of summer, I’d be looking elsewhere, too.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          Again: have you driven one?

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Iowa: America’s benchmark for amazing driving!

          Does Iowa have a single turn that isn’t because of an intersection? No wonder there aren’t any Miatas in that driver’s wasteland.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Iowa has some fantastic driving roads in the northeast corner of the state along the Mississippi river.

          • 0 avatar
            AmcEthan

            we have some great turns on one side of the outskirts of the town im in, sort of in the center of the state, but we call it the duncombe curves, recomended speed limit is 40 or 45 on them, dont have much for sports cars (or new muscle) here but the ones we have the owners seem to drive them all year long. they dont seem scared of rust i guess. i kind of trailed off there but i guess my point is that these higher performance cars aren’t really practical here. probably why they don’t sell the best here.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Iowa – hot summers, cold winters, long straight flat roads. Yeah, that’s pretty much the opposite of the conditions you’d want a miata in. I’m not surprised you don’t see them.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            “hot summers, cold winters, long straight flat roads. Yeah, that’s pretty much the opposite of the conditions you’d want a miata in.”

            I’m not sure what a flat straight road has to do with driving any car, but any modern day vehicle should at the least be able to be driven in the heat of the summer. If I can’t drive a sports car in the winter because its a light RWD car and I dont want the salt to destroy it, I sure the hell better be able to drive it in the summer. Air conditioning has been around a looong time, any manufacture that doesn’t have this figured out needs to go back to the drawing board.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        If I was only 5″ shorter and 50# lighter, I’d be all over one. Great weekend/rally car. The ‘stigma’ only helps folks who want one for personal fun reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        This is so spot on.

        I’m on my second S2000 after the first one made friends with a jersey barrier in a poor weather incident.

        In my shopping for a replacement, I test drove pretty much everything with 2 seats and a convertible top before eventually settling on finding another S2000. But the Miata was a very close second, beating out both a Z4 and Boxster S.

        The comparisons to an enthusiastic puppy are spot-on. Even with the lack of power and tire, the car just encourages you to wring it out. It revs nicely, shits smoothly, has great steering, and just feels completely balanced. I took an NB out on one of my favorite back-roads and fell in love with it; it just danced.

        I wouldn’t have kept it stock – at the price it was, It would have had forced induction within 6 months if I purchased it. However, that aside, it was perfect the way it was. Boost would have just made it more perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Wow.
      Just wow.
      I guess I must have a very firm grasp of my feminine side!!!!!

      And I like poetry and the color pink as well! Damn, I am just all wrong!!!!

      This just to pitiful a thought pattern to want to attack it. A very difficult way to proceed through life.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        I made the first “feminine” comment, so I’m probably mostly responsible for all the flaming going on here. Let me say Ive ridden in 2 Miatas, one with a 302 Ford engine. The 04 with the 1.9? was nothing to write home about, I never drove it but the guy that owned it (a former co worker) had bought it for his wife. He attempted to impress me on 7 Hills Road and to be honest I just wasn’t. Maybe it would have been different if I would have been behind the wheel.
        At least the 95 with the 302 had some get up n go. This car was owned by a man I met at a local road course that I ran my modified 280z turbo. The 302 would slightly pull me on the straights but I would eat its lunch in the curves and braking. I know, heavy motor.

        The comment I made was in no way meant to be anything other than it was. Just an observation.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      80% of 1st and 2nd generation Miata buyers chose a manual transmission. I don’t know their demographics, but it sounds like a cool group to me.

      Besides, it’s a pretty rough and noisy car.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Miatas sell far more manuals, by percentage, than Corvettes. Which one is a guy’s car?

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        My wife can maneuver my standard shift truck with a 15k lb load hooked to it as well as back it up. If someone can’t figure out how to drive a Miata anything they probably don’t belong on the roads in the first place. The cars are so small they can practically drive themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I would not want a red MX-5, and I can see how a cute little car may appeal to women. But anyone who dismisses a “chick car” as having a stigma clearly has self-esteem issues and ought to look at the owners of lifted pickups that don’t carry anything but fragile egos.

      My pet peeve: My respect to hardworking people of all careers, but since when did hairdressers and secretaries make enough to buy $60k Porsche Boxsters?!

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    they made millions of them so i dont think they will ever be collector unless its one of them BRG special editons or the rare coupes

    there’s a few things wrong with them…they pretty much all have uncharismtic engines

    i’ve owned a few coupes but all 2+2 and all on the larger side

    driven a few of the smaller coupes like Integras and Supra where the back seat is purely for bags

    they largely impractical as an only car

    and thats where the Miata fails…

  • avatar
    Spartan

    The Miata is the answer for enthusiasts on a budget. Personally, I never understood the internet’s love affair for these cars. They’re slow, underpowered, the interiors are terrible and they are useless in the winter.

    They drive well, but I’d never own one. However, to each his own. For $11K, I’d take that money and buy a Z4 or an S2000.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      If it were possible to find a Z4 or S2000 for that money, I’d agree with you, but at least in the case of the Stook, $11k won’t even get you a ragged out example. These days the bidding pretty much starts at around $15. $11k gets you a creampuff, low-mileage turbo Miata. In some parts of the US, $5k will get you a clean non-turbo one.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The Miata also feels substantially faster than it is. That’s a good thing when you’re trying to have fun around town, because you ‘ll have a smile on your face at legal or close to legal speeds. In a S2000 you have to be going to much faster to have the same amount of fun. Also, you are getting am older, higher mileage, (and likely abused) S2000 for the price of a like new 2-3 year old Miata. That was the main reason I bought a Miata over the S2000. I didn’t want to be out $15K+ and need to do a whole bunch of work to it right away.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Absolutely. I’ve had a 1000cc sport bike and don’t regret it; 0-60 in 3 seconds is exciting. The problem is that anything below 100 MPH felt like you were standing still. A Miata feels lively and entertaining at normal-human-being speeds and lets you have fun without too much stress. On the bike I was always either stressed because I couldn’t wind it out, or because I was winding out and was worried it was going to kill me.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        @ MBella

        I have an older (04), high mileage (99k) and likely abused (3-5 track days a year + autocross) S2000, so I resemble that remark. It needs some work but is in good shape overall. Being an AP2, I’d be surprised if I couldn’t get $13k for it, even with the rear interior mostly gone and a rollbar installed.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I made the same call picking a Miata over the S2K. Both great cars. But the Miata only had 15K miles on it. An S2K at that the price I paid would be closer to 80K miles, and be older. Plus, I was living in the city at the time and parking outside. So, the folding hard-top on the Miata made sense for me. Nothing to get slashed, or to rot out and need replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      @ Spartan

      $11k for a Z4 gets you the 2.5i non-sport which has the dog slow 2.5l and crappy 5-speed, combined with BMW maintenance costs. For the same money you can get a very decent NC that will walk it in the straights and embarrass it in the corners, and it a much better car overall.

      $11k in S2000 money can get you a high-mileage AP1 of questionable provenance, though they are relatively bulletproof so you can probably iron out the kinks for minimal outlay. Having owned an early AP1 a few years back, they’re good, but the price jump to AP2 is completely worth it. The twitchiness is real though. I might still have the AP1 if it was as stable as my current AP2 is. An NC versus an AP1 is more of a judgement call based on the histories of the individual cars in question, but all else equal I’d say the AP1 wins, especially an 02-03.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As a parent of two boys, I would require their first car to have a little more meat on the bone so to speak. I am sure I am not alone in that respect.

    Greatest car ever? Probably not, in the top 20 for sure.

    If performance fun for the dollar is the measurement I would think the Mustang, due to all its variants would take this award.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      I’d like to second that. The Miata is not a great first car for anyone in their teens or even early twenties. I owned one in my thirties and nearly killed myself with it. Had I had one when I was 18 I would not be here to write this comment.

      Part of the charm of the Miata is that it is playful and encourages being taken to the limit – and that is not something you want inexperienced drivers to do.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      One of my car buddies has a fleet of cheap, mostly salvage-title Miatas. He sent each of his kids to college in one. One even got wrecked (not the kid’s fault), kid didn’t get a scratch. I can think of worse things for a kid to drive. They are not fast, and they can only do so much damage with one. Certainly a much safer car than the ’84 Jetta I terrorized Maine with in college.

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    It took the first 15 or so years of Miata production to equal what the Mustang sold in just ’64-’66, and I dare anyone to say the ’64-’66 Mustang isn’t collectible.

    • 0 avatar
      AmcEthan

      the 64-66 mustang isnt collectable. they made so many of them that they are common classics. at car shows here in town, out of 100 cars, we see at least 30 64-66 mustangs. also why they dont have much value.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        64-66 Mustangs are collectible, just not very valuable. Partly it’s the availability of new and used parts that makes collecting/restoring them worthwhile, even if not profitable.

  • avatar
    Windy

    I would never argue that the Mazda was not a nice little sports car calling the greatest ever is I think a stretch too far.

    I am 6’6″ and there are quite a few cars that are more than a little uncomfortable for me to drive. For a car to be listed as one of the greatest I would like to be inclusive of folks at both ends of the vertically challenged spectrum… I am not asking for the majorly over weight to be included as that I think is a step too far and asking for a 2 seater sports car that Andre the Giant would have found to be comfortable if frankly imposable.

    Folks have been getting taller for a long time as nutrition and health care have improved and allowing a bit of a stretch for taller folk would be nice how about comfy for folks up to say 6’3″ with a BMI of less than 30 as a starting point? One of my neighbours does drive a nice used Miata as her commuter car and as she is just 4’6″ I helped to modify it so she could both reach the pedals and see out. So problems do exist for folks that do not fall with in the standard ninety percentile group.
    It would be fine if the needed modifications came as an extra cost option. I accept it is a bit easier to make modifications for the shorter than the norm among us. It is obvious that fitting in tall folks in comfort requires decisions to be made early in the design process, but making provisions for things like moveable peddle boxes as an extra cost option could be offered for folks that can not afford a basketball star’s super car

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      @Windy. I can only agree with two of your obvious conclusions:

      1. Folks come in different sizes. There are plenty of car companies who cater for the very large and the very short but this car is designed for people between 5’2″ and 6’2″ which comprises about 90% of the population. Obesity can be a problem with narrow sports seats but wider seats would just be incompatible with providing lateral hold for those not overweight.

      Anyway, complaining that Miata doesn’t accommodate obese people is like criticizing a Ferrari 458 for not being ADA friendly.

      2. The Miata is not for everyone. Its mission is to deliver a very focused and connected driving experience and thus makes the necessary design compromises to fulfill that primary mission (much like all other great sports cars). For those looking for something more comfortable and practical there are plenty of other really great options available(Ecoboost Mustang being one of them)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_Miata

      Windy, at 6’6″ you are taller than 99.9% of the American male population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and taller than essentially 100% of the total population. You should be grateful that anyone makes a car you can fit in, let alone a small, lightweight sporty vehicle like a Miata.

      The same goes for your female friend – the Census figures I could find only go down to 4’10”, and the percentage of people that height for women is too small to measure, and for men it’s listed as zero. My wife is 4’10” and she can easily drive my Miata – how much smaller do you have to go?

      Frankly, I think it’s silly to expect mass-market car companies to accommodate folks on the extreme ends of the height or weight spectrum when it comes to niche products, particularly when that would mean compromising the compact size and light weight that makes the Miata what it is by putting in a longer cockpit or taller windscreen. That also goes for things like moving pedal boxes that add weight and complexity and require additional crash testing to serve only a vanishingly small percentage of the market.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        This. Don’t ruin all the cars by making them one size fits all. That is how we’ve ended up in the current carscape. Making everything a jack of all trades has killed off RWD in everything except sport coupes (which are also dying outside the big 3 coupes). Before long, you won’t be able to buy a sporty car that didn’t start as a FWD B or C segment cat. That is depressing.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I drive the roadster done right: 2001 BMW M Roadster. 315 HP NA inline 6, retro interior, green over tan leather. Alpine head unit with Bluetooth audio. I expect it will go up in value as the numbers were limited in 01 and 02 with the S54 engine.

    • 0 avatar

      I prefer the later, Bangle roadsters. They are styling masterpieces. But yours is certainly a really nice car, and I’d agree with you about the value.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I would submit that the S54 engine is a little too much for the Z3. But like you, I own an ’01 Z3, but with the M54 B30 engine. I am 6’3 1/2″ tall and I can fit in the car comfortably . . . even with the top up. That was not the case for either the S2000 or the Miata.
      Back in the day, I also could fit comfortably, as a driver, in an MGB, a Triumph TR4, an Austin-Healy 3000 or a Porsche 356 Super C.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The Miata will never break auction records but it may well be collectible some day like other mass produced classics such as the Citroen 2CV.

    • 0 avatar

      Certainly if they ever stop making it. The later ones are better looking, and all of them are distinctly better looking than your average post-millennium hoi polloi sedans.

      There are plenty of cars that get shown at car shows that aren’t catering to high end cars, many of which are quite good looking. I’m sure if there still are such shows in 30 years, you’ll see Miatas at them.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I would never had believe my $500 Sprite would be worth over $20,000 today. So why not Miata?

  • avatar
    Prado

    Perfect commuter? Hell no. In a congested urban commuter environment, the Miata sucks. Glad mine was a second car.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    But, but, it’s small! Small cars are bad! Four cylinders are bad! Turbos are bad! Low cars are bad!

    No, you want a good, decent sports car, get yourself a V6 Camry. Maybe even a used Lincoln MKZ or a Honda CR-V. Those are some Great Cars.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      There will never be a shortage of people who will criticize the Miata for not being a Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        it could get there. Go gather 7 of your closest friends to make up the weight difference of 1400lbs and do an engine swap. Done. Oh yea, make sure it has hyper aggressive styling. Wouldn’t want to look girlie.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I am a true lover of the Miata.
      My question is why isn’t there a better option or choice for perfect car.
      To me, there has to be a rear seat and some storage capability.
      With all the great minds and memories here on TTAC, somebody must recall a better 4 seater, small like a Mazda3 hatch…but a convertible as well.
      Were there no sporty, affordable, small and fun 4 seat convertibles produced?????
      At least here in the USA or North American market???

      The G6 and Eos seemed OK…but not exactly sporty. Maybe, though.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        240SX, which is why it’s the answer to “too big/tall for a Miata”.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          The 240SX is/was an awesome car. It’s not its fault that affordable, nicely-preserved examples have been as rare as a T-Rex at a vegan restaurant since the late 90s.

          Its popularity among the tuner kids is what killed it off. Up until now the Miata’s girl-car stigma has saved it from a similar fate at the hands of owners who modified them and drifted them into trees to extinction, but I predict that with the dearth of cheap RWD sporty cars, its day will unfortunately come, too.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          Having owned a ’90 240SX coupe in college and an NB Miata as a young adult, the 240SX absolutely murders the Miata in joi-de-vivre. Partly it’s the stiffer chassis (it has a roof), and partly it’s the steering feel (it has more), and partly it’s the torque (they both have agricultural motors that hate the redline, so that down-low grunt lets you scoot around at low revs).

      • 0 avatar

        The RX-8 would have been that car but for the shortcomings of the Wankel. (For my article on the gas mileage problem, email me at [email protected]) The RX-8 had the space, on top of wonderful driving dynamics.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Wow…I forgot that I also craved this car.
          Still think the rotary AND a battery would have been a perfect combination.
          The poor torque of the gas engine would have been taken care f by the eclectic…. The Rotary making up for the poor gas upper end.

          perfect match

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          I think that the RX-8 is another well-kept secret. I considered one instead of my Miata, and while the low resale prices and 4 door practicality, combined with a balanced chassis and unique engine were really attractive to me, the running costs would’ve been far higher than the Miata’s, whose sole big-ticket expense in my 4 year ownership has been needing a new top at 15 years-old. Other than that it’s been oil, tires, brakes, shocks (which I used as an excuse to upgrade the suspension), and an alternator rebuild, with parts prices being in line with what you’d pay for an economy car.

          But for those who want more performance and better high speed touring capability and can tolerate the fuel consumption and maintenance expense, I think the RX-8 could be a very rewarding choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_Miata

        Depends on how new a car you want. The Triumph Vitesse, based on the Herald sedan, was a fun little car in its day (1960s). Think of it as a larger, more civilized 4-seat Spitfire.

        The 2-litre version, introduced in 1966, was advertised as the “Two-Seater Beater” with its 0-60 time of around 12 seconds, and top speed of 100 mph, not bad back in the day.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        The perfect car could never be a convertible here or in much of the world. As it is, our Mustang sits 5+ months out of the year due to the weather. A convertible anything would be in the same boat or worse.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    We still hear people complaining that the Miata is underpowered, the same way we keep hearing that the Subaru BRZ is underpowered. Or the way the original Lotus Elan or any of the post- war British roadsters were underpowered. A lot of people just don’t get these cars and others like them.

    These cars are all about “less is more” and “lightness is its own reward.” To me, the Miata to get is the base model (of any generation) with the skinniest tires.

    But to call the Miata a perfect car at least to me, is going a bit far. As others have said, the Miata clearly has issues in serious winer weather and I wouldn’t want to commute to work in any major metropolitan area in one. But I suspect it will become a minor classic one day.

  • avatar
    brn

    I really don’t want to knock the Miata as it’s a fine car, but this article is silly.

    “Perfect commuter?”
    For me a perfect commuter is a car that requires little effort or thought to get from point A to point B and does so with comfort. The Miata is the opposite of what I just described.

    “Ideal first car?”
    An ideal first car should be practical. Again, the opposite of the Miata.

    I also live in the North and have to deal with snow. A poor environment for the Miata.

    $12K for an 11 year old car is a good deal? I would disagree. If you’re an enthusiast and want a “fun” second car (not while commuting), this might make sense. For anyone else, not so much.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Hello all! Ive been a Mazda dealer tech/shop foreman for 33+ years, and one of the 4 Mazdas in my own family is a ’99 NA Miata.

    Concerning the power: Nobody, but nobody ever has their valves checked and adjusted. Mine wasnt slow by any means, but adjusting the valve clearance(part of the 60K service) to the middle of spec(they were all too loose) changed the whole character of power and delivery.
    Concerning the fuel economy: around town I routinely achieve 24-27 mpg, steady highway(65-75 mph) it runs about 30-32 mpg.Not bad AT ALL!

    The keys to driveability are the aforementioned valve adjustment(shim over bucket type), replacing the timing belt, replacing the fuel filter many swear doesnt exist, lol, and replacing the spark plugs and airfilter at 15K mile intervals.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      So you managed the same mpg that I mange in my 288hp, 4000lb Taurus?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Both the Miata and Taurus serve their purposes. I respect the Miata for being a fun little car. My intent was not to insult your vehicle. Please don’t insult mine.

      The only reason I commented was that you emphasized your MPG experience. I am surprised that your MPG experience with a small (teeny?) car is about the same as my experience with a large (behemoth?) car.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    The Miata is so compromised in so many respects that it’s easy to come up with reasons why “not to”.

    I’d argue that the compromised nature of the car is exactly how and why it succeeds so wildly. For every shortcoming you can think of, there will be different perspective on it that makes that shortcoming an advantage.

    I’m lucky enough to have a wife who not only tolerates but encourages some of my irrational indulgences, which was how we ended up with a very lightly used (4k miles) three pedal NC years ago.

    The so called “women and gays” aspect meant the car was something she felt comfortable with immediately.

    The tiny trunk helped keep our Costco shopping under control.

    With a third car in the garage we had no qualms driving our main rides waaaay out of warranty.

    Life changes though. Medical issues made the three pedal setup unusable for her, even on the good days when she could get into it. When summer rolled around it was no fun being in the Phoenix heat with the roof down, and less with the roof up.

    In the final analysis, the reason we no longer have it is that we bought it too well when the market for Miata’s was at it’s lowest – 2009. If it had been worth a lot less, there’d have been no point in selling it.

    One day, I’ll have another one. Probably a cheap base model. Three pedal. And I won’t give a damn if anyone thinks I’m gay, a hairdresser or just a very, very ugly lady because I’ll be smiling all the time.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’ve never been a Miata fan…but my taste in cars has always trended larger.

    I don’t think I could even FIT in one, for starters…

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Interesting responses. The review is off target re commuter car unless you live/work in an area with nice back roads and little traffic. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is no fun and the economy doesn’t make sense. That said, I’ve owned two of these cars, NA, NB Special Ed. I autox’d extensively. If any of these self-styled enthusiasts checked, Miatas win their class routinely and others in modified version. And as noted, the Spec Miata series is probably the biggest car racing class in the US regardless of sexual preference. If you want a “chick car” buy a 3 series BMW. Oh, I owned a Z4 3.0, a decidedly unsuccessful competition car at any level. And I had a Cayman S, a Mini S, RX-8, etc. any serious, knowledgeable sports car enthusiast will tell you that the Miata is a terrific sports car. Part of the joy of less power, is that you can drive it ” like you stole it” without getting in serious trouble with the gendarmes. Try that in your Stingray, Camaro, Mustang and see how long you have a license. To top off this missive, Miatas are damn near unbreakable and will run forever with a minimal amount of routine maintenance. In the Spec Miata series, you’ll most often see race cars with original engines that are way north of 100k miles. Yeah, not the most practical car you’ll ever own, but otherwise amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Not to mention the limited power really makes you hone your technique. Momentum driving really tests you as an operator and is a lot more fun than mashing on the loud pedal to make up for your lack of talent in the corners.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I picked up a first year model with 75k miles, totally corrosion free and in really nice shape for 4 grand a few years ago. I doubt it will ever be “valuable” but in 20 more years probably similar to my 67 Camaro convertible, another mass produced but widely loved car.

    The nice part of the Miata is that it’s modern enough to be totally non-fussy. Anytime you want to go for a ride, no matter how long it’s been sitting, it starts and goes just fine.

  • avatar
    gmcd

    Had one for 3 years and am old enough not to give a damn about what anyone else thinks. When the sun shines and I can head off into the hills – nothing better. The combination of balance, enough speed to get you heart beat elevated and surprising comfort for all day driving is just right.
    Agree with some commentators tho’ about urban commutes – you have to be super defensive around other drivers cos of the visibility and my “boring”
    Camry is better for city commute.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I’ve had one for 11 years now and just don’t get the chicks and gays thing. I make it a point to notice other drivers, and by far most have middle aged women (about two thirds) and middle aged men with beards. I have never seen a young girl driving one. As for sexual orientation I did not notice or care.
    At 6’4″ I can make myself fit As a second car it’s great and leaves my wife and I wanting nothing else. As a commuter or with the top up, or long highway drives, forget it.
    Added bonus its a 92 and requires no care, it’s pretty much disposable at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The demographics skew about two-thirds male, so the chick car stereotype is not supported by facts.

      On the other hand, very few people buy Miatas, so they aren’t exactly popular with men, either.

      The “chick car” stereotype probably speaks to the latter point. It would seem that a lot of sports/sporty car buyers who don’t buy Miatas really dislike them. The styling probably explains much of it.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        I’ve noticed that a lot of people here go straight to “it’s a chick car” whenever they are digging into their bag of metaphors for a zinger. I don’t think they mean that it’s literally a car that is mostly purchased/driven by women. It probably means that they do not like the car, and therefore it must appeal to people who are different from them. What’s more conspicuously different than gender?

        If I had to nominate one “chick car,” it would be the Tahoe and the large German SUVs (X5, Q5, M-Class). The ones I see are predominantly driven by women.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Compact crossovers are invariably “chick cars” based upon the registration data. The majority of CR-V’s, RAV-4’s and the like are registered to women, although those are slim majorities. The VW Beetle has also skewed heavily toward women.

          But the numbers are probably somewhat inaccurate because there are women who are driving cars that don’t have their names on the registration.

  • avatar
    wagonsonly

    Ask this question of ten people and you’d likely get ten different answers. My garage has had a Miata (NB SE), a Boxster (2001 base), and a Geo Metro ragtop (3-cylinder LSi), all three-pedal convertibles. Of the three, I understand why people love the Miata – but I’d also rank it third. Despite front wheel drive (and being a Geo Metro), the Metro ragtop lets you play all day, pretty much at the limit; you can drive it at 11/10ths and not get into trouble, and the mechanicals don’t mind at all. It’s also dead solid reliable and not maintenance hungry. The Boxster is…a Porsche. There really is no substitute. It’s both beautifully refined and tractable, and willing to scoot when you want it to. The Miata splits the difference between the two – and I understand why people love them – but splitting the difference seems, to me, like too much of a compromise.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    It’s funny but i just sold my 1991 Miata BRG. Owned it for a few years and loved driving it. I had the hardtop so i could use it in cold weather. Has a great heater and makes a great winter car if you have snow tires. I used the car mostly for summer drive with the top down and driving back roads on the North shore of Long Island. The car is well engineered and very simple to keep up. I like small cars and drove into NYC for 45 years before i retired but i would never drive in with a Miata. On the highway at 70-75 MPH the RPM is over 4,000 and gets very loud with the top down. Only reason i sold the car is my wife has a bad back and after an hour of sitting in the car her back acts up. Both my wife and i own VW GTI’s and at 79 years of age two car’s are enough. Of course if i come across a nice original English Mini i would buy it on the spot. For the record when i put my BRG up for sale i received many calls and quite a few people came to look at it. I did get my asking price and made a nice profit.

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    As a self-proclaimied diesel, manual wagon hater, I absolutely hate to write this, but in we’re looking for the best car to do everything and do everything well, the greatest car ever made is probably the BMW 330d Touring of the E46 generation.

    It’s not as fun as Miata, but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.

    It’s not as quick as, say, Mustang V6, but it’s still darned quick.

    It’s no minivan, but it still fits family with all the stuff family needs.

    It’s no Miura, but it’s still gorgeous to look at.

    And while it’s no Prius, it does get similar MPG to one, when driven gently.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ve seen Miatas at track days, they’re the perfect beginners track car but I’d never use one as a commuter. The best “Miata” I ever saw on the track was a Festiva with a Miata engine at a Chump car race, that thing could hang with the BMWs when it wasn’t in the pits.

    Where I live Miatas tend to be dropped a few inches, custom wheeled, and rarely ever driven as ones main car.

    I myself like Miatas but if I’m getting an old roadster (that’ll require a custom rollcage) I’d rather get something with a carburetor, something British, I don’t drive forgery’s. Plus from what I can tell the factory roll cages (if there were any) weren’t that great.

    People that bash on modern car “sound enhancers” need to know that Miatas were some of the earliest examples of such technology, Mazda really wanted you to think you were in an old Triumph.

  • avatar
    mikey

    In my way of thinking, I love all, and any vehicle, that enables true open air driving. A Wrangler, a Miata, even a Chrysler 200, or an old rusty Sunfire, all cool in my books. Whatever “floats your boat” I am the original TTAC, “anti import” guy. That being said, I would be very comfortable with a Miata. But ???. A drop top BMW gives me a …fill in the blank !

    I had a fire breathing 425 h.p. 6 speed Camaro SS, and 4.0 Litre convertible Mustang auto {chick car eh ? }. One of them had to go. My Mustang gives me a buzz, every time I drive it.

    I guess I needed to get in touch, with my feminine side.

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      “Chick car eh ?”

      Nah, even my wife wanted a V8 when she bought her Mustang. If your gonna get one, might as well get something that can make you smile.

  • avatar
    waltercat

    Nice coincidence – I was just preparing my ’03 Miata to come out and play, now that spring has just about arrived. My purchased-new ’03 is just about identical to the one in the accompanying photo (red, black top, black cloth) and it remains the most enjoyable car I’ve ever owned – light, responsive, pretty, well-made. If you don’t like it because it is inappropriate for most winter driving; or doesn’t seat four; or can’t do a 13-second quarter mile; or it’s not very good for trips to Home Depot – sorry, you don’t get it. I have a big quiet sedan that I use for long trips and when I have company. I have an SUV that’s perfect for foul weather or hauling two-by-fours. I keep the Miata for cherished blasts down country roads.

    By the way – someone said “underpowered.” Compared to what? It’s not a Challenger Hellcat. That’s beside the point. It is notably quicker than any MG, Triumph, 4-cylinder Alfa, or just about any other small sports car that I’m aware of. If you really need smoky burnouts – well, there’s a whole lot of cars that will better suit your needs.

    And finally – someone said “ugly.” Man, I don’t get that.

  • avatar
    Mark_Miata

    I think one of the proofs of the essential goodness of the Miata is how it is still around after more than 25 years, and as essentially the same kind of car. With only three generations of change during that time (really 2.5 as the NA and NB are very similar under the skin), that’s pretty good niche marketing.

    The key thing is that the Miata gives people what the old British roadsters did – sporty top-down driving pleasure with a boot large enough for a week’s trip – without the reliability hassles. It also doesn’t cost a lot to buy or to insure.

    All the cars that tried to play in the same niche (small affordable 2-seat roadster) are gone or have gone upmarket. Here is a list off the top of my head:

    Mercury Capri (the Australian-built one from the early 1990s)
    – Craptastic quality and FWD
    Geo Metro Convertible
    – Everything you get with a Capri only worse and with vibration
    BMW Z-3 (the early 4-cylinder ones)
    – Price/performance/reliability inferiority
    Toyota MR-2 Spyder
    – What’s that? You want to carry luggage?
    Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky
    – What’s that? You want to carry luggage with the top down?

    The Honda S2000, Porsche Boxster, Audi TT, Nissan 350/370Z, and the BMW Z4 were all more upmarket. I suppose there might be others, but I can’t think of any, aside from perhaps the Alfa Romeo Spyder, which was a dead man walking when the Miata was introduced.

    IIRC, Automobile Magazine said that the most likely competitor for a new Miata was a used Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I think one of the proofs of the essential goodness of the Miata is how it is still around after more than 25 years, and as essentially the same kind of car. With only three generations of change during that time (really 2.5 as the NA and NB are very similar under the skin), that’s pretty good niche marketing.”

      That’s what the Kool-Aid drinkers on Miata.net always point to in reference towards their favorite car’s superiority, but if you look at the actual sales numbers, it’s pretty obvious Mazda is keeping the Miata alive despite their sales numbers, not because of them. For instance, in 2006-2009, the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were doing nearly double the volume (combined) of the Miata, and the Solstice alone outsold the Miata handily in ’06, ’07, and was only ~200 units short in ’08 (all from goodcarbadcar.net).

      However, GM discontinued the Solstice/Sky and Mazda kept the Miata. What does that mean? You can debate it, but it’s hard to argue the Miata’s superiority lead to it staying on and the Kappa twins dying, given that it was outsold nearly 2:1. It’s more likely that Mazda considers the Miata an essential part of its lineup, and other car makers are not as dedicated to the idea of having a 2 seat roadster.

      Not trying to take away from the Miata, but I just get so tired of hearing “well, Miata is still here and X car isn’t, Miata must be better” when the sales numbers don’t necessarily support that “fact.”

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    The only real difference between the Mazda MX-5 Miata and a BMW Z4 (avatar) is that the former is actually worth the money….

    ===================

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    At this stage of the price devaluation curve I would argue that the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Redline are better investments than a Miata of the same price and do it in style.

    Here is one for $11,900 for comparison to the Mazda noted above in this article. Copy and paste while getting your checkbook!
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pontiac-Solstice-GXP-CONVERTIBLE-/231520074800?forcerrptr=true&hash=item35e7abfc30&item=231520074800

    Not only that..they will reliably embarrass all the owners of the Greatest Car Ever.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    After some consideration I do have two cars on my list;

    1. As an affordable vehicle of it’s time and great performance and driving pleasure the Datsun 510, 1600 comes to mind. It drove and handled as good as any Euro car of it’s time (discounting exotics).

    I actually had the opportunity when I was 17 to sit in the navigators seat in a rally tuned Datsun 1600. What a blast on the dirt.

    2. The first real muscle car that actually steered around curves. Yes they did exist. The Phase III, Ford Falcon GTHO. It was reputed to be better than Ferraris in it’s time in history. HO stood for handling option.

    It would also have to be one of the cleanest and best looking muscle cars made as well.

    Here are some pix;

    The ever handsome GTHO,

    http://cms.traderclassifieds.com.au/Portals/0/ACP_MediaGallery/58925/9134.jpg

    Datsun 1600 Rally Car,

    http://datnut.dfrag.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/nlramsagoberon0319-700×466.jpg

    I would own anyone of them if I could.

    3. If I could state would have to be the Datsun 240Z Fairlady. Now that also was a great vehicle. Great engine, with triple DCOE side draught Webbers and moderate engine work.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    My problem with the Miata is that it’s pretty one-dimensional; awesome on a narrow, twisty back road, but all but useless everywhere else. I know it’s “not supposed to be a Mustang” but I still have a problem with something that slow in city/suburb/highway driving, it’s just not fun for me. My S2000 is not a rocketship, but it’s got enough power that if Joe SmallD tries to keep me from passing him on a back road I can usually do something about it, as long as he’s not in a Corvette or V8 Pony Car. Try that in a Miata and you’re going to be stuck behind him as long as he wants you to be.

    • 0 avatar
      LUNDQIK

      If the question was: “What’s a fun, reliable, 2nd (key word here) car, with a droptop?”, then “Miata” would be an excellent answer.

      While I appreciate these cars (and I have driven both the NA, NB, and NC) – I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one. And I tried, I really did. I was asking that same question last fall and ended up with a Saab 9-3 convertible.

      The Miata was just too small and noisy for me. (I wanted a toy car that could be used as a commuter a couple days a week too – as getting out on the weekend – with young kids – is tough to do on your own.) Its just not meant for the highway. Its better with the hardtop – but I think the Germans and the Swedes do “all rounder” convertibles better.

      Truly, the universal answer is: Lincoln MKZ.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      And what harm does being stuck behind a car that’s going faster than you cause? If he’s faster, he’s not in your way. If you’re going faster, the lack of power won’t keep you from passing him. I occasionally share a race track with cars and drivers that are both slower, and much faster, than me. This in no way upsets me or keeps me from having fun on my drive.

      I’d submit that being worried about being able to outpower Joe SmallD implicates you as Chris SmallD. Drive what’s fun, and for me, and many others, the Miata is fun. I know that minivans can outrun me in a straight line. I call it “getting through traffic in hard mode.”

      If you need a powerful ride to feel powerful, you’re not.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “And what harm does being stuck behind a car that’s going faster than you cause? If he’s faster, he’s not in your way. If you’re going faster, the lack of power won’t keep you from passing him.”

        You’ve never run across someone who wants to go 30 in a 35, UNLESS you try to pass him, and then he wants to go 50 in a 35? I see it all the time, rednecks and idiots who want to keep others from passing, and as soon as they do so, they slow back down to their original 5-under speed. Think opening scene of Christmas Vacation.

        In this case, a 116hp Miata has little opportunity to do anything but submit, but in a faster car, you can usually get around them.

        As for my D, well, I can tell you it gives 100% satisfaction to its #1 customer…me. :D

  • avatar
    slow kills

    I am very skeptical of this claim that a Miata is ideal for a demolition derby.
    If the Miata was available with a fixed roof, I’d surely own one. If I want wind noise, and weather protrusion, and messed-up hair, I have a motorcycle.

  • avatar
    BTEFan

    This gay loves his Miata. My husband and I own a 1993 LE edition so it might be worth something someday. Right now it’s a blast to drive, it handles like it’s on rails due to the BBS wheels and Bilstein shocks it has. The Nardi shifter is in storage due to the lack of them used and the red leather is worn, but it’s a car that we both love to drive and friends love to ride in. And thank goodness for the trendsetters, whatever their demographic, if it wasn’t for them changing up their cars so often, the thrifty enthusiast wouldn’t get the deals we do.

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