OrangeRazor New Reader
Dec. 19, 2010 7:13 p.m.

For those that read and commented on my MSM thread, thanks again, but after another couple of Miata test drives, I've decided to go another direction.

At a local dealership, there sit 2 Miatas in the pre-owned selection that are both within my budget, both in reasonable condition, and that I (of course) both want. In terms of Miata-dom, however, they couldn't be more different.

In the red corner is a base model NB, a '99 with 72,000 miles which at first appeared a bit overpriced until I looked at it's condition. It is VERY clean, although it appears to have been driven by someone who didn't like the stock steel wheels, as they have been replaced with some cheap alloy meshies. It is entirely bare bones, no power NOTHING, but mechanically it is very sound and I was even able to negotiate a free set of new tires with the car should it be my ultimate choice.

In the blue (actually gray) corner, a 2006 NC Grand Touring MX-5 with 47,000 miles that is WAY underpriced considering how good a condition it's in. Absolutely nothing is needed, and it is as feature-laden as I could hope for while still being a lightweight roadster. I particularly like the "intelli-key" doohicky. It is in very reasonable condition and I could see myself having quite a lot of fun in it.

I think it ultimately boils down to philosophy and finances. Obviously, the base NB is less expensive (a cool $4500 less) than the NC, but I could tell there were a few things I'd like to work on the NB to make it top notch. The NB is more tunable and probably less expensive to maintain overall, but the NC is far more comfortable and easier to drive in day-to-day situations.

At the moment my stingy, pure-sports-car-driver self is leaning towards the NB, but my practical, relaxed, lazy self has always wanted a really "nice" car that's still exciting to drive on the weekends. I'm kind of stuck.

Thoughts and comments? If/when I finally make the purchase I promise to take loads of pictures and post 'em!

Thanks!

tl,dr: Base NB Miata or GT NC Miata? Which one and why?

Dec. 19, 2010 7:27 p.m.

The NB needs less out of the box than the NC. I've said it a gazillion times: stock NC suspension sucks! Mine had Mazdaspeed springs and sways (Eibachs are the same but 1/2 price) and it was the sweetest handling Miata I'd owned up to that point that wasn't a track rat-and it was number 7.

I'd go with the NC. The aftermarket has really embraced it in the last 2 years, and it will eat miles on a long trip like no NA or NB ever could. Of all my former Miatas, the NC is the only one I'd ever buy back in a heartbeat.

mw HalfDork
Dec. 19, 2010 7:35 p.m.

If it's going to be a dd, I'd get the NC. All those options really are nice on a daily basis. Also the NC is very capable with suspension tweaks as mentioned before. If it's more of a toy that will be getting more extensive mods, than get the nb and boost it!

EvanB Dork
Dec. 19, 2010 7:55 p.m.

I really love the NB, especially the 99 style. I have to say though, the NC can be made to look very good, it just needs a bit of lowering and red taillights. The only thing I don't like about it is the higher beltline which makes it feel more enclosed.

peter New Reader
Dec. 19, 2010 8:06 p.m.

Having driven the NC in both street and Cup setups, I agree with JD that the stock NC suspension sucks. It's still obviously a Miata, but it's feels like a dumbed-down sedan version of a Miata. Personally, I'd have to add the cost of the suspension tweaks to any NC I was considering purchasing.

Which leads me to my point: $4500 difference between NC and NB gets you a cherry NA, or a heck of a lot of mods for the NB. Heck, you could get a full turbo kit in there for less.

My NA as a daily driver made my drive tolerable, and as a single young buck, I rarely regretted the choice. The only thing it doesn't do well is long highway trips. I imagine the NB is similar.

Keith SuperDork
Dec. 19, 2010 8:47 p.m.

I'll bet if you asked everyone at FM you'd get a different answer. I've come to really appreciate the NC. The first time I drove ours, I was shocked at how bad the stock "sport" suspension is. The shocks are very poorly valved. But a good set of shocks and springs with adjustable sways (I would suggest the FM springs/sways and Tokico HTS shocks based on my my experience) will transform the car. It rides better and handles better. With our supercharger, our NC has really turned out well.

One thing to realize is that the NC is faster than it feels, while the NA feels faster than it is. The NB is more like the NA in this respect. We took a couple of cars to Hallet earlier this year, our 1999 and our NC. Both are set up to be fast track cars that are comfortable on the street - the NC was driven 900 miles to the track, for example. Despite being a more comfortable car on street rubber, there wasn't much speed difference between the fairly hard-core NB and the more relaxed NC.

For mostly-stock use (assuming the stock suspension), I'd go with the NB. The fact that it's a base model means you get the rare manual steering rack (nice on an NB, only available on 1999 base or 2003 Club Sport models) but you're stuck with an open diff. But if you're looking at modifying the car down the road, the NC has more speed in it.

Dec. 19, 2010 8:50 p.m.
peter wrote: My NA as a daily driver made my drive tolerable, and as a single young buck, I rarely regretted the choice. The only thing it doesn't do well is long highway trips. I imagine the NB is similar.

The difference between my NAs and my NC on the 12ish hour Knoxville to DC trip-in the NC I wasn't stiff and sore at the end. Suspension tuning had nothing to do with it. ANY Miata I've owned immediately got sways, most got shocks and springs too.

OrangeRazor New Reader
Dec. 20, 2010 8:46 a.m.

Although whichever car I purchase will technically be a "DD," I don't actually get the chance to drive around except on the weekends. I'm currently stationed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and since I live on post all I have to do to get to and from class is walk or take the bus.

This car would only see operation on the weekends (possibly including a few longer weekend trips) for the next year and a half or so. It actually wouldn't be driven daily until I get to my first base in Omaha, Nebraska in about...2 to 2 1/2 years, give or take.

Thanks again, and if you guys have any further input, shout it out!

Osterkraut Dork
Dec. 20, 2010 9:30 a.m.
OrangeRazor wrote: Although whichever car I purchase will technically be a "DD," I don't actually get the chance to drive around except on the weekends. I'm currently stationed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and since I live on post all I have to do to get to and from class is walk or take the bus. This car would only see operation on the weekends (possibly including a few longer weekend trips) for the next year and a half or so. It actually wouldn't be driven daily until I get to my first base in Omaha, Nebraska in about...2 to 2 1/2 years, give or take. Thanks again, and if you guys have any further input, shout it out!

1A8?

OrangeRazor New Reader
Dec. 20, 2010 11:01 a.m.

In reply to Osterkraut:

Yup!

Klayfish Reader
Dec. 20, 2010 11:31 a.m.

I've never done any track time with a Miata, but I currently have an '06 NC Grand Touring. Funny enough, it's Galaxy Grey and has about 40,000 miles on it. And I picked it instead of an '08 MS3. I've never had an NB to compare it to, but I did have two NAs.

I read the comments about how poor the NCs stock suspension set up was. I have nothing to argue against that for track use, since I've only done street driving with it. I do agree my NC feels a bit less go-kart like than my NA's, but I still think it's pretty nimble. My commute is 25 miles of mostly country back roads, some get a bit twisty. I have a blast every time...but of course I'm only going at 7/10ths of the cars ability, or less.

Nobody will mistake the NC for being "fast", but it's decently quick. The shifter is downright awesome. I like the fact that the GT has traction control, etc...not that I drive it in the snow, but even on a cold rainy day, it's helpful. Overall, it's a MUCH more comfortable daily driver than my NAs were. I get about 31 mpg each and every tank. I will say however that I absolutely hate the seats. They are very uncomfortable at first, especially in the lumbar. I couldn't stand it when I first got the car. I'm used to it now, but I still don't care for it at all.

I say go NC, unless you really want the true go-kart experience for daily use.

amg_rx7 HalfDork
Dec. 20, 2010 11:53 a.m.

I've owned an NA and a NB MSM.
I've driven the NC twice.
Get the NC

phinz New Reader
Dec. 20, 2010 12:06 p.m.

NC. After having an NA for 15 years (JD's now) and two NCs, the NC wins in a landslide for me.

z31maniac
z31maniac SuperDork
Dec. 20, 2010 12:15 p.m.

Having only driven a MSM before (No experience with NAs or NCs), anything that is going to be used remotely often on the street, I'd go for streetable over track focused everytime.

It took my building two different E30s with poly everything, coilovers camber plates etc, but I definiely know that "comfort" makes a lot more sense in something that spends 90%+ of its time on the road.

I wouldn't do all the other crazy stuff again unless it was a dedicated play car, in other words, have something nice and stock to drive everyday.

nderwater HalfDork
Dec. 20, 2010 7:30 p.m.

For a daily driver I'd happily drive a NC PRHT... though with my own money I'd buy an S2000 first. For a project car to add forced induction or track day mods, I'd get the earlier Miata.

Feedyurhed HalfDork
Dec. 20, 2010 8:01 p.m.

All good but I say NC. 'nuff said.

SolarYellow510
SolarYellow510 New Reader
Dec. 20, 2010 11:00 p.m.

I got my very nice '99 thinking I'd replace my old, beat E36 with it. Not going to happen. About the only way they overlap is RWD. The '99 beats the crap out of me on longer trips, but is magic in ways the BMW wasn't, even with $15k of mods. An NC might pull off the E36 replacement.

OrangeRazor New Reader
Dec. 24, 2010 3:46 p.m.

Well, it would seem the decision was kind of made for me. A couple days after I looked at it the NC was sold. Whoops. That's what I get for waiting. So...this thread is now about how much I like my new-to-me '99 Base NB Miata!

I've been trying to upload pictures that I took shortly after I brought her home...but none of the image hosting sites are cooperating. So far I'm very happy with it, although the threat of a snowstorm forced me to buy a couple of 80 pound sandbags to throw in the trunk. The lack of a limited slip could be a problem.

Thanks everyone for the input!

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