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MX5 buying advice #1653141
27/09/2021 08:26
27/09/2021 08:26
Joined: Dec 2005
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Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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I can't give the full explanation for why (it's the automotive equivalent of the "cross the river with fox, grain and chicken"), but MrsC and I have decided that when our appalling C4 Grand Picasso dies (could be any day...), we're going to buy an MX5 for under £2000, as an interim car.

However, there is so much choice and there are so many forums and owners' groups, I don't know where to start.
I'm guessing there is a fair bit of MX5 knowledge here, so where would you be looking?

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653146
27/09/2021 19:07
27/09/2021 19:07
Joined: Dec 2020
Posts: 26
Ross-on-Wye
B3nson Offline
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Unfortunately £2000 won’t get you much MX5 nowadays, at least not one without rust. I’d personally be looking at a MK3 with that budget.

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653147
27/09/2021 20:03
27/09/2021 20:03
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Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Thanks for the feedback, B3nson.

I'm resigned to getting something with significant added oxide - we used to groan when MX5 owners turned up at the bodyshop, as they were always so precious about them and we could see they were mostly on a one-way ticket to the crusty hill-climb in the sky.

We're absolutely not looking for something amazing or anything with heritage or anything like that. There's a significant possibility that we may abuse the poor thing with over the top spoilers and a matt-black rattle-can paint job. If we can find something mechanically sound with tatty (but reasonably solid) bodywork, that'll do us.

The whole exercise is about having something a bit interesting before we go full Elgrand in a year or so.

I'm very ignorant about the various different Marks; all I know is that MkI's had (inevitably half-failed) pop-up lights and that they all fold in half on the sills at the back of the doors.

I'll take your advice and take a look at some Mk III's...

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653149
27/09/2021 21:21
27/09/2021 21:21
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szkom Offline
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Bit off piste, but what about a z3? Not quite there in terms of classic, but you do see plenty of nice looking examples around your budget

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653155
28/09/2021 10:42
28/09/2021 10:42
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,758
highlands
jimboy Online happy
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highlands
I drove a MX5 around the NC500 a few years ago, there are plenty of pros why you should buy one, amazing grip and control ability, but if your on the large size, room can be an issue. I’m five eleven 15 stone, and if I’m honest I did struggle a bit in and out of the wee motor. It really is a toy for the weekend. In my opinion, I would not drive it as a daily. Great fun though driving


I'm an old git & happy with it,most of the time
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653160
28/09/2021 13:43
28/09/2021 13:43
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,439
S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Gripped Offline
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S. Wales. Way beyond my means
Another option for that budget would be an Audi TT. Can't remember if you've had one before. But a nice Mk1 as a coupe or soft top would be a nice little motor.

Lots on the used market.

We had an MX5 and while it was fun and grippy I found it a bit underwhelming.


Last edited by Gripped; 28/09/2021 13:45.
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653161
28/09/2021 14:00
28/09/2021 14:00
Joined: Dec 2020
Posts: 26
Ross-on-Wye
B3nson Offline
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Originally Posted by Jim_Clennell
Thanks for the feedback, B3nson.

I'm resigned to getting something with significant added oxide - we used to groan when MX5 owners turned up at the bodyshop, as they were always so precious about them and we could see they were mostly on a one-way ticket to the crusty hill-climb in the sky.

We're absolutely not looking for something amazing or anything with heritage or anything like that. There's a significant possibility that we may abuse the poor thing with over the top spoilers and a matt-black rattle-can paint job. If we can find something mechanically sound with tatty (but reasonably solid) bodywork, that'll do us.

The whole exercise is about having something a bit interesting before we go full Elgrand in a year or so.

I'm very ignorant about the various different Marks; all I know is that MkI's had (inevitably half-failed) pop-up lights and that they all fold in half on the sills at the back of the doors.

I'll take your advice and take a look at some Mk III's...


I believe the MK3 2.0 Sport is the one to go for.
MK2s rot even worse than MK1s and are a little bit softer as standard from what I remember, much more plentiful though.

I had a Mk1, drove it all over Europe and to the Nurburgring, bloody loved it!

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653164
28/09/2021 16:34
28/09/2021 16:34
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,730
Surrey
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Emjay Offline
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Hi Jim, I have had a Mk3 (the 2.0 sport-tech) for a number of years. Happy to go to PM or chat over the phone

Quick thoughts:
Being low down so you get the sensation of speed without risking the licence, although I miss the turbo of my old 20VT.
It is a drop down into the seats, so you need to be fairly lithe
It is not straight line exciting, great for corners, but round here you don't take corners at speed - too many cyclists and horses round
I do like the "tin" top and it copes roof down at decent motorway speed without too many issues or feeling buffeted by the wind (I am shorter than you, though)
No mechanical issues in 10+ years of ownership (coupe paranoia is a thing of the past)
Reasonable MPG - did a bit over 240 miles mostly at decent motorway speed on 26 litres
I find the seats comfy - did a 5 hour drive last weekend and no discomfort at all. Mrs J does not find it comfortable though - she is diminutive, which may be the issue. Only think you can adjust is rake of the back (and not by much). Steering wheel lifts up a bit. Not great for those with longer legs.
Reasonable storage for a small car (no spare wheel)
Mrs J does not like the visibility - she feels she can see out of other vehicles better.
If you find yourself down this neck of the woods, I'd be very happy for you to give it a spin.


Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing? (John 7:51)
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653166
28/09/2021 19:37
28/09/2021 19:37
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 16,540
Corridor of Uncertainty
Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Thanks, everyone! There's life in the old forum yet!
Although I've always admired the Z3, I suspect it's likely to cost more to keep it roadworthy than the Mazda. We did own a Mk1 TT, which MrsC still misses, but - again - it feels (perhaps wrongly) that it would be a more expensive endeavour. Though you have got me thinking...
One of the reasons we are looking at the MX5 is that as long as we get one that has had any welding done properly, it should be a pretty economical car. We also can't promise not to do bad things to the bodywork in terms of painting it, and it feels a little less sacrilegious!
As I'm roughly the same size as Jimboy (a few inches taller even), it might be that it's too much of a squeeze.

Personally, I prefer the look of the Mk3, despite it being less popular with purists, so I'm looking closely at those. I expect our budget won't stretch to the lower mileage or better condition examples, but as I've already mentioned, cosmetic bodywork tattiness could be a positive advantage!

Emjay, thanks for your contribution; I'd love to have a catch up, covering lots of subjects - MX5s included!

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653171
28/09/2021 21:52
28/09/2021 21:52
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szkom Offline
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I wouldn't discount the Z3 based on cost of maintenance. We had a 5 for a number of years that was actually pretty sensible in terms of parts cost (our local BMW dealer was competitive). By contrast the late 90s mazda 323 I had used to be quite pricey on parts - I once was quoted £500 for an ignition amp. The point is that BMW tended to have a lot of carryover parts around that time so the pool of parts is quite good. There won't be too many bits that are Z3 specific.

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653172
28/09/2021 21:55
28/09/2021 21:55
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,684
Lightwater, Surrey, UK
DaveG Offline
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Lightwater, Surrey, UK
Not quite an MX5, and a bit out of your budget, but I have Mk4 ND "Fiata" - the Fiat 124 Spider built on the MX5 Miata Mk4 ND chassis but with a much better body design (all different external panels) and a Fiat multiair 1.4 turbo engine. Mine has a "phase 2" tune up to around 200hp shocked and is lowered with uprated antiroll bars.

I agree with everything that Emjay says for the "modern 2 seat convertible" experience, it is very low down. The power in mine means it is far from underwhelming, and it's a real hoot around twisty country roads. It leaps away from a standing start and feels incredibly light and nimble compared to a Coupe, if you can remember what that's like? The rear of the seats can be lifted up with spacers to improve the sitting/driving experience for shorter people (I'm OK at 5'7" but wifey is only 5')

Attached Files
20210928_215421.jpg (119 downloads)
20210928_215440.jpg (119 downloads)

1996 Portofino 20vt & 2000 Pearl White Plus
1985½ & 2016 2017 Fiat 124 Spider + XF Sportbrake
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653176
29/09/2021 07:53
29/09/2021 07:53
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 16,540
Corridor of Uncertainty
Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Thanks szkom, I appreciate the input. I've had quite a few BMWs over the years and although you can keep them running on a reasonable budget, the kind of cars we have the budget for will likely need some bigger ticket items fairly soon. That doesn't mean I'd turn down a special deal on a Z3 if one presented itself!
DaveG, your Spider is lovely, but sadly not in our league. The fact that you echo much of Emjay's thinking does encourage me!

I'm starting to get car-hunting fatigue: so many photos of so many MX5's!
The phrase "needs a little TLC", combined with a looming MOT and no mention of sills or welding had started to trigger a little twitch!

Is there an MX5 version of this place? I can see there are many owners' clubs, but not all are created equal (as we know!)

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653181
29/09/2021 12:38
29/09/2021 12:38
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 4
Brackley
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barchetta_ms Offline
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My 'other' car is a MK 3 Toyota MR2 - a good fun drive and a nice alternative to the MX5 - rust is less is of an issue if nothing else. A good place to check out is mr2roc.org

Last edited by barchetta_ms; 29/09/2021 12:39.
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653183
29/09/2021 17:15
29/09/2021 17:15
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 3,924
The Faringdon Folly
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oxfordSteve Offline
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The Faringdon Folly
I was looking for something with 2 doors and no roof a few years ago when I was getting mobile again.

Was about your budget too, £2-2500 ish

Looked at a couple of Mk 2 and a Mk 3 MX5 and both we obviously rust traps, which surprised me - especially the Mk 3.

There was a local MR2 (mk 3), but that went before I had chance to take a look and they seem to be getting scarce.

I discounted the Z3, as in my eyes they are fugly, but there was a local Z4 (2.0) with 140K miles that I got for £2200, which was a bit shabby, but no rot.

I've now had it 2 and a bit years, and all it has cost me is a wishbone, brake hoses and 4 tyres.




Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653187
29/09/2021 18:16
29/09/2021 18:16
Joined: Dec 2005
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Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Sooo difficult!

BMWs. We both love them (or some of them) and I've had a reasonable ownership experience with several, the best being the black 3.0 Z4 coupé that I've owned in my head for a number of years. However, with almost all BMWs, if something important does go wrong (and on a car that will definitely be at least 15 years old that is a strong possibility), it is almost certain to cost at least 50% of the value of our theoretical car to fix. This isn't to say that you can't be lucky - like Steve - and spend next to nothing, but it's a numbers game. Once I'd bought the 545i and made it sound hilariously like a roaring behemoth, I almost immediately realised I was expecting it to die messily and ruinously every single time I drove it. Coupé paranoia taken to a new level. I sold it within weeks and never miss anything about it (ok, apart from the sound).
So, Bavaria, it's a no from me (this time).

The thing with the MX5 is that it's almost a rite of passage for a budget-restricted petrolhead - you've either had one or thought about it at some stage. Bit like a classic Mini (tick), a Jaaaaaag (tick), a Land Rover (tick), an Alfa (no tick... yet), etc (insert own list of "must haves". Fiat Coupé goes without saying)

However, I've never really desired an MX5. In the late 80s, I had a Triumph Spitfire 1500, which was exactly the car the MX5 was designed to embody (ironically, the thing they share most is crippling rust in the sills). But I loved it and spent more time fixing it and fussing over it than most cars since.

The MX5 appeals in that it offers back-to-basics fun (but strangely, no transverse rear leaf spring suspension unlike the Spitfire...), but for me there's no hook.

If we can find one in good enough mechanical/structural condition, I reckon we'll still go for it, but to my surprise, the most intriguing alternative suggestion so far has been the Mk3 MR2 (by Barchetta_ms - hmmm, that's an idea!). MrsC has a bit of a thing for the MR2s, but I've always dismissed them. Until now...

They seem to be reliable, not rot-prone, mid-engined and... a bit different. Here comes another evening on AutoTrader/eBay/FB Marketplace...

As I said, it's so difficult! Keep the advice and suggestions coming...

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653190
29/09/2021 18:53
29/09/2021 18:53
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The Faringdon Folly
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oxfordSteve Offline
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MR2 mk3 would have been my preference, definitely preferable over an MX5 at the same price point.
I did read something about the cats breaking up and being sucked back through the engine in some way and lunching them though....quite how common that was I am not sure. Pretty sure there is zero luggage space if you worry about that kind of thing.

You could be a bit more grown up and go down the A4 or Saab 4 seat cabrio. And if you aren't scared of rust, and SLK?




Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653195
29/09/2021 23:06
29/09/2021 23:06
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Brackley
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barchetta_ms Offline
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The cat breakup is over reported as an issue and is easy to prevent if you are overly worried about it
Luggage space is actually not as bad as reported either - you can fit some squishy overnight bags in the lockers behind the seats and a few odd and ends on with the spare up front
But hey, I'm biased smile

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653205
30/09/2021 12:48
30/09/2021 12:48
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 16,540
Corridor of Uncertainty
Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Despite some diligent searching, MK3 MR2s seem fairly rare in our budget, certainly with mileage under 150k.

The pre-cat issue sounds very similar to that on E51 Elgrands with the 3.5 engine. There, the 2 front cats break up and the debris clogs the rear ones. This causes back pressure that forces the (highly abrasive) bits of catalytic converter back into the engine. This is actually quite common according to the Elgrand OC. Removal of either set of cats is the cure.

Last edited by Jim_Clennell; 01/10/2021 18:03.
Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653246
02/10/2021 14:55
02/10/2021 14:55
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 6,767
In the coupe.
magooagain Offline
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In the coupe.
Hi Jim. I sold this 10th anniversary edition a couple of months ago! Rhd in beautiful condition with no rust anywhere.
29,000 miles!
Shame,as you could of had it!

Attached Files
image.jpeg (57 downloads)


Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653247
02/10/2021 16:25
02/10/2021 16:25
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 16,540
Corridor of Uncertainty
Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Thanks, Joe, but I've no doubt your lovely example was worth a lot more than our budget. It does look very nice - hope the new owner is enjoying it and doesn't mind "volant à droite"!
Was back in France for the first time since the pandemic kicked off a couple of weeks ago. I really miss it!

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653248
02/10/2021 17:12
02/10/2021 17:12
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 6,767
In the coupe.
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In the coupe.
Another £1,000 to the budget would have bought it Jim!
I'm just at a stage of getting rid of a few things I don't use much! And as you know it's an individual assurance for each thing. I've sold off three vehicles at profit and saved on 3 per month assurance payments.
Makes a big difference and gives me some idea what I can live on without pensions kicking in,which is another 3 years for me.
We've just been offered nearly twice the uk book price on our rs200 rhd Clio from a French Renault main dealer in px for a rather smart looking lhd Traffic Van!

Last edited by magooagain; 02/10/2021 17:14. Reason: Glad you got back to France Jim. Grows on you eh!


Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653253
02/10/2021 20:02
02/10/2021 20:02
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 16,540
Corridor of Uncertainty
Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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Sounds like you had collected a few vehicles. You don't happen to have an Elgrand you don't want?!

Re: MX5 buying advice [Re: Jim_Clennell] #1653284
05/10/2021 07:33
05/10/2021 07:33
Joined: Dec 2005
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Jim_Clennell Offline OP
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It's frustrating! Very hard to find anything for our budget that addresses the corrosion issue.
As usual, I get distracted and start looking for other stuff within budget.

Chrysler Crossfire anyone...?

Thought not...


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