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aircooled SuperDork
7/20/10 1:26 p.m.

I suspect there are few here with an opinion on this. Obviously there is a fair amount of personal taste involved but I am interested in opinions. I am thinking more in the sense of an everyday car rather than a track car, but best track / AutoX version is of interest.

I know the 99 used to be the best power to weight ratio, not sure if that is true anymore. Of course 99's (at least in CA) have the pre-cat, which can be a bit of a pain (rather expensive to replace) and coil issues(?!). So I am not sure the 99's are at the top anymore.

I am partial to the 2nd gen both in styling (3rd gen is OK but not as good) and size, but I don't like the idea of having to use premium for a 5 hp(?) boost, didn't they go to premium in 2002 ish?

Anyway, I am not currently looking for one, its just something I am interested in knowing about.... discuss...

alfadriver Dork
7/20/10 1:51 p.m.

My favorite is the one I have. As it was for the previous one.

(I know this is a tangent, but I see too many people thinking of getting a car vs. actually getting it).

mine's a '99 base- 174k miles so far. great car.


WilberM3 Reader
7/20/10 1:55 p.m.

i'm partial to anything pre-96, especially here in MA since we did away with the tailpipe sniffer and rolling wheel emissions tests. 94/95 had the 1.8L and some new bracing underneath, but those FM braces i believe will really stiffen up all of em regardless. miatame on here chose a 99 for the reasons you said i think, though it was a texas car in MA now. cant say i know much about the newer 2nd gens.

i gotta say pseudosports' 90 1.6 turbo is pretty awesome to drive.

oh yea, my ex had a 3rd gen and i thoroughly loved it on the street, cant speak for really aggressive driving but it rotated pretty nicely and had pretty nice power for a stock miata. though i felt with the 6sp i was constantly rowing gears which got annoying. havent driven a 5sp 3rd gen to compare.

cghstang Reader
7/20/10 2:02 p.m.

Isn't the saying something like "NBs make better cars but NAs are better Miatas" ?

I'm with Alfa, mine is the only one I've ever driven, so it's the best

Keith SuperDork
7/20/10 2:17 p.m.

That's the saying - but most NA owners are busy stuffing as many NB parts underneath as fast as they can

Personally, I like the 01-05 models. The 04-05 Mazdaspeed with a few tweaks (such as the Flyin' Miata "little enchilada" package) makes for a really nice car with decent power, a good interior and pretty good stock handling. Swap out the 6-speed for a 5-speed and sell those soft 17" wheels for a set of good 15's, and you're golden. That's a very nice package when you're done.

That's for a lightly modified car. If you're going to modify it more heavily, then chances are you'll look at a 1.8 NA because you'll have more money left over to do terrible things to it Depending on the emissions tests where you live, a pre-96 model keeps you out of OBD-II and means you can change the computer with impunity.

And I have to say, I've become fond of Nancy, the 2006 owned by FM. They're not great out of the box, but add a supercharger, good suspension and a big fat chunk of rubber and it's a very fun car for tossing around. On our local track, you can almost drive it like an oversized Seven. Granted, that's the most expensive option. But yee-hah.

spritedriver28 New Reader
7/20/10 2:37 p.m.

I've gotta agree that the one I have is my favorite so far (even if it's really my daughters). 1990 with a few mods. PS AC, but no power windows. As an aside the I built a set of chassis stiffeners ala FM and was amazed by the change in the car's stiffness! I have an 06 Mini "S" and while it's nice I really enjoy the simplicity of her Miata...almost like my 59 bugeye...just plain fun!

nocones Reader
7/20/10 2:50 p.m.

So what your saying is there is no bad year.

alfadriver Dork
7/20/10 3:01 p.m.
nocones wrote: So what your saying is there is no bad year.

Vs. not having one, absolutely.

All of them have a degree of modifications that can be made.

All of them have an autocross class that they generally do quite well in.

All of them can take the top down anytime, anywhere.

And all of them are the "answer".

Basically, if you got a good deal on any given year, it's better to take it and enjoy the ride vs. looking for the "ideal" one. that's my humble opinion.

For the most part, you can take that to the bank for any car, too.


Tom Heath
Tom Heath Webmaster
7/20/10 3:07 p.m.

I'm partial to the 94-95 cars, but if I had to pick another it would be a crapshoot.

NC chassis cars are very tempting now that they've had some development time, but I like the simplicity of the earliest examples. All the models in between are good for their own reasons too.

I guess it comes down to your budget and your long-term plans.

Appleseed SuperDork
7/20/10 3:09 p.m.

Will love the 10th Anniversary Edition till the day I die. Beautiful.

nutherjrfan Reader
7/20/10 3:12 p.m.

threadjack; now where is the best state for a used Miata, I'm thinking possibly Florida, for us east-coasters.

jrw1621 SuperDork
7/20/10 3:12 p.m.

Here is a nice article on that subject from a reputable source.

racerfink Reader
7/20/10 3:38 p.m.

Texas seems to have quite a few, with hardtops.

aircooled SuperDork
7/20/10 3:42 p.m.
Keith wrote: Personally, I like the 01-05 models. The 04-05 Mazdaspeed with a few tweaks...

I suspect I would agree with you. I did forget about the Mazdaspeeds...

I guess a better way to look at it might be:

What are the things you like least about the various years (makes for a shorter list I would guess)?

It kind of seems like (to me at least) that there are a lot of good things spread throughout the line, but they don't seem to exist all at once (stock at least). Good for those who like to mix and match though.

P71 SuperDork
7/20/10 3:43 p.m.

There is no "wrong" or "bad" year for a Miata. We ended up with a 93 B-Pack, which is about as wrong as you can get (1.6L, PS, PW, PM, small brakes, etc) yet all that stuff plus the hardtop it came with makes it an excellent daily driver. The ABS makes it killer at the autocross, especially on the rough surfaces we have to work with up here. I love it. If I had to buy another, I'd look at all of them. There's a Black/Red LE up here that's sweet, I love the M Editions, and the 90 base model/manual everything I test drove still haunts my dreams.

I think they're kinda like Pokemon, you gotta eventually collect them all.

DeadSkunk Reader
7/20/10 3:50 p.m.

They're all good (mine's a base 99). You should buy based on your budget and get the best maintained, lowest mileage one you can find. FWIW, I'm glad mine doesn't have leather when the top is down. Get a hardtop if you can. I use my car year round here in Michigan so the hardtop is nice to have. Personally, I like the look of the NB models that don't have the side skirts , and I'd stick to 15" wheels for weight and ride reasons.Otherwise, just go get one and begin enjoying !

Nitroracer Dork
7/20/10 3:50 p.m.

What ever year you find with the least amount of rust.

I've owned 1.6 and 1.8 NA. The smaller engine would wring its heart out, very fun to rev. By comparison the 1.8 could chirp third but wasn't as lively.

jrw1621 SuperDork
7/20/10 3:52 p.m.
P71 wrote: 90 base model/manual everything I test drove still haunts my dreams.

Haunts in a good way or haunts in a bad way?
My '90 (number 8869 ever produced) has no PS and no AC and I like it that way!

Keith SuperDork
7/20/10 4:04 p.m.

You can definitely mix and match. My Targa car has parts from 1990 to 2005 in it, chosen because they're the best ones for that particular application. Not necessarily the ones I'd choose for a street car though.

What I don't like?

  • the weak diff on the 1990-93 cars. Of course, Janel's "street" Miata has one and I haven't bothered to change it even though there's a Torsen sitting in my garage. But it is something that I'd prefer to avoid if I were shopping, and since there's little price difference between a 1.6 and 1.8 these days I'd pony up for the later car for this reason alone.
  • the styling of the nose of the 1999-00 cars. Too blobby to my eyes, and the headlights aren't all that good. The optics of all other Miatas are better.
  • the rear end ratios of the NB 5-speeds and the 2004-05 6-speeds.
  • the manual steering in the NA models
  • the 1994-97 dashboard. The 1990-93 model looked much better and was lighter, even if they do always crack in certain areas.
P71 SuperDork
7/20/10 4:10 p.m.
jrw1621 wrote:
P71 wrote: 90 base model/manual everything I test drove still haunts my dreams.
Haunts in a good way or haunts in a bad way? My '90 (number 8869 ever produced) has no PS and no AC and I like it that way!

GOOD way!!

fastmiata Reader
7/20/10 4:24 p.m.

NA's will be the lightest car and yes, the manual steering is to die for unless you live and park in the city. My 2nd miata was a '90 base model and I could hardly disguise my glea when I found it. My first miata was '94 R and duplicating its handling has been my goal with every miata I have owned since then. My biggest disappointment was the '95 M which had horrible seats and showed its weight in daily driving. '99 sports are good cars but I just dont like the styling and headlights. My current DD is '92 A package car but the only thing stock on the car is the body. Everything else has been modified or changed out based upon my history with miata. Since the post asked for the best base for autoX or track car, I would go with early NA ie 1989 .builddate

kevinSC1 New Reader
7/20/10 5:00 p.m.
fastmiata wrote: My first miata was '94 R

Mine too

I've only had it a few months, but I've been enjoying the heck out of it.

P71 SuperDork
7/20/10 5:01 p.m.

I dunno, I find the power steering to be just as communicative and much easier to drive at the limit on a rough autocross course. Seeing as how I always seem to beat the manual steering cars there must be some nugget of truth to it.

JoeTR6 New Reader
7/20/10 11:31 p.m.

I had a 1990 Miata for 18 years. Two years ago, I sold it, bought a MazdaSpeed and added basically the same mods Keith suggested. I still don't know which I'd rather own; it depends on my mood. The MazdaSpeed is better when the road is straighter and speeds are higher. The '90 is more fun in the corners (it just feels more alive). Both are entertaining to autocross. Maybe you really can't go wrong.

mtn SuperDork
7/21/10 12:32 a.m.
Appleseed wrote: Will love the 10th Anniversary Edition till the day I die. Beautiful.


If one were to get a 10ae and swap in a 5-speed, would it still be legal for stock classes?

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