Richard Hart, bei old friend and transplanted neu Orleanian that lives an Durham, north Carolina, adhered to my automotive advice recently. He bought a low mile, first-gen 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata, from a freund of a friend, bei older gent who"d owned ns car due to the fact that new, maintaining and garaging the continuously. This was good news, crucial even, since ns owner lived an Queens, neu York, where cars that live on the street don"t gain no respect.

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Richard and I schutz been friends due to the fact that my 2nd day von college und I knew his automotive history, a thrifty companies littered through older cars, occasionally ones I"d uncovered or was passing along, the belastung one of these gift a 1975 244 Volvo sedan, which just a couple of years bei had become too needy, too reliably unreliable, for him und his long-suffering wife, Sally, to bear. Sorry around that, guys.

In his past, there had actually been Darts und Valiants and Opels und not too long ago bei old mercedes Fintail. But richard always remembered ns MGB he daily drove zum a couple of years an the "80s, ns way he loved its sporty, rorty nature and top-down possibility, as anyone with a pulse must. But it ist fair to say that he was not a devoted gearhead, anzeige no discernible bandwidth, mechanically speaking, und little of the true obsessive"s willingness kommen sie spend money ~ above nonessential maintenance—essential/nonessential being a well line bei many alt cars and in issue on which the wrong side is too quickly chosen. Also with his youngsters grown up, another MGB, which he craved, wouldn"t do. Yet a Miata would. They"re cheaper zu buy and for someone seeking practicality, in altogether an ext reasonable proposition. Punkt least that"s what ich kept informing him. Wie man it comes to alt cars, I"m not afraid zu proselytize. Especially for the NA Miata, the zuerst of the breed, which transforms 30 this year. (Here"s our original review.)

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So richard bought this one, which was good, due to the fact that it spared me or mine son, Ike, who found it, the trouble of having to buy it ourselves. Since it was auch nice zu let pass by. Low miles—80,000, or much less than 3000 a year—crank windows, factory hardtop. No rust, no accidents, no mods. Its initial red paint blieb shined und its schwarz cloth interior had actually no tears or severe wear; the timing belt, ns only expensive maintain item, was freshly done.

Last month, i delivered ns car kommen sie Richard an Durham, steering 650 miles or so in a day, v a stop an rural Virginia to lunch with bei old freundin of this magazine, die veteran journalist, curator, und hot-rod government Ken Gross. Die visit reminded me the there is a reason Ken"s niceness zu sein the stuff of legend. Und after 10 hours on die road v the zuerst Miata, ich remembered why ich liked the back in the day, why die MX-5 itself is a legend and bei indisputable classic. It easily earns a clues on my list of 10 all-time ideal cars.

DRIVING FUN. Famously inspired by the Lotus Elan, ns sweetest handling, most chuckable confection of the 1960s, the Miata zu sein above every a hoot kommen sie drive. It"s a Denali XL next to in Elan (though actually only about 500 pounds heavier) but safer and less likely to shred a half-shaft coupling or snap a lightweighted wishbone mid-corner. Die Miata"s steering feel ist as great as it could be über 1990, und especially dafür when an manual, non-powered steering form like this car"s. The MX-5 was born with what I"d nominate as the most pleasant hand-operated gearbox ever, a creamily positive, brief throw, dream machine with the all-useful 5th speed weil das highway cruising that is deshalb one des its many best features. Handling zu sein companionate, ride zu sein excellent von sports-car standards, thanks zu all independent suspension, through delightfully predictable roadholding, to add a satisfaction willingness kommen sie slide und just enough free-revving power in its original 1.6-liter formula kommen sie get that arbeit done.

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ECONOMY. Cheap kommen sie run, cheap to repair. Mazda and in army von aftermarket companies make finding components easy und when used parts will do, they"re plentiful, together we uncovered out when the car arrived and it turned out the motiv that lifted the left headlight was dead. New? $314 from ns Mazda dealer (sure, notfall too cheap, but readily available). Perfectly an excellent used native a guy down the street with a wrecked Miata bei his backyard? $50. Twenty-nine miles über gallon punkt 75 mph was notfall going zu win any type of economy prizes, and is worse von some systematic percentage than a neu Miata, however it wasn"t bad. And if freundin want zu buy a new Miata instead, a ausblüten joyous machine, far better but much less simple, freundin won"t hear me object.

CONVERTIBLE TOP. erste off, Miatas don"t leak, a principle that renders MG owners otherwise cackle or cry. Second, there hasn"t been a hands-on convertible oberteil easier zu erect or take down, do this one simply die best in the business. It"s long-wearing, v a zip-out behind window zum breezy top-up usage on a too-sunny day. And three cheers zum the optional hardtops. Prefer Miatas themselves, they are a coherent unit des currency—handsome, easy kommen sie remove, easy zu install, und always easy to sell, say, if sie ever need some von your money rückseitig but don"t want to give up the car. Also, uneven many of its historical antecedents, there"s no need zu do something with ns Miata"s soft top to make die hardtop fit.

CHEAP zu BUY. NA Miatas found ns bottom of the market, price-wise, several years ago und are on their way zurück up, yet on a dollar-to-smile basis they"re ausblüten incredibly affordable. Great Miatas needing work kann be had from $1500 to $4000, car purporting notfall to need arbeit from around $4000 ~ above up. Expect kommen sie pay $1000 extra zum the hardtop, und less zum cars through uninspiring automatically transmissions. Walk shopping through $6000 and you should be nice certain von going home in a an excellent car. If freundin don"t, it"s most likely because sie didn"t schutz someone that knew cars inspect it out zum you. Avoid: rust, accidents.

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RELIABILITY. Whatever works bei a Miata and if that doesn"t it zu sein A) a rarely occurrence und B) easy to set right. The plastics are hard-wearing, ditto die switches und cable-operated controls. Die bodies don"t rust, except bei cases whereby repaired bodywork has actually been poorly prepared. The gauges and electrics work, always, together do die wipers and a echt heater and defroster. The oily bits don"t leak. The doors open und shut properly. The door locks function. Can you call I"ve owned some alt convertibles? These jene concern me. Together does die fact that trunk remains dry. And for those deswegen inclined, Miatas room straightforward and easy kommen sie work ~ above yourself. Nor auch expensive for you zu hire who else to work on.

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Six mainly later, richard is still pinching himself—the Mazda hasn"t broken once. "No better, smoother, cheaper thrill 보다 hugging a edge from a foot off ns ground punkt 30 mph," that writes in this morning"s e-mail. I"ve own a couple of Miatas bei my day, and, though i don"t own one now, i guess I"m blieb crazy about them after all these years. Would ich buy another, even if only to salt it away? Absolutely.

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