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02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/12/17 3:35 p.m.

I confess that I have never owned a Miata, but I'm considering rectifying this appalling lapse. My E39 is rapidly approaching 200k miles, and I'm giving serious thought to the idea of replacing it with an NC Miata as my year-round DD. It's a fairly radical shift I suppose, but I figure why not at least consider it (the fallback at this point is probably a Mazda 3 - my GF just bought one and I like it, and BMW has lost their way (if not their collective mind) in recent years)

So the questions will start out pretty basic: what years to seek out or avoid, specific options to look for (remember, DD, so comfort over performance; I have my 2002 to play with), expected service costs, ease of maintenance, etc.

Manual box is a must, power hardtop seems like it might be OK, but I don't know anything about how good or bad they are (or how much weight they add up high), like to keep it around $10k all in. Fly/drive is very much an option - I hate NE rust.

And...Go!

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/12/17 3:47 p.m.

For a year-round daily, I'd go with a retractable hard top. IIRC, the top only adds 80lbs to the weight of the car, and they drive very nicely. The top retracts all the way down (unlike the new RF) and they come well equipped.

For competition use, I'd pick another version, but for a fun daily up North---- check out the PRHT.

unk577
unk577 HalfDork
4/12/17 4:11 p.m.

I'd say 09' plus. Better engine internals, stronger trans. It's a set of springs/shocks as tires(wheels too) from being a phenomenal dd.

I used to DD a 09 with the appearance package, removable hardtop, and wheels/suspension. Car was a blast when I wanted it to be and compliant and efficient when I just wanted to cruise

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/12/17 4:11 p.m.

How common are the PRHT cars? I haven't seen many in my initial searching. Do they tend to command a premium?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/12/17 4:14 p.m.

Unlike the new RF, the PRHT cars look dumb with the top up But they're a guilty pleasure.

You cannot put a legit roll bar under a PRHT, so if it's going to see track use then you want a soft top. Note, Mazda apparently has a warehouse full of removable hardtops for that car. That may be a good winter option.

The newer the car, the better the factory suspension got. The engines got a bit stronger in 2009 (forged internals on manual trans cars) and the styling changed. Fundamentally, though, the car didn't evolve much at all. Maintenance, etc is all the same.

See if you can get an extended drive in one. The seats aren't for everyone and the steering may or may not be to your liking. IIRC, some cars had height-adustable seats but they all have the same bolster design.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/12/17 4:15 p.m.

PRHTs were the majority of sales in later years, but they didn't show up until 2008 (I think). They do command a premium.

It's worth noting that the 06-08 cars didn't suffer from a lot of engine failures in stock form. Not even that many in modified form once people started to figure out the tuning. The trans failures happen after 200 laps of racing speed, not so much on the street. So the 06-08 is still a legit option for a DD.

unk577
unk577 HalfDork
4/12/17 5:06 p.m.
02Pilot wrote: How common are the PRHT cars? I haven't seen many in my initial searching. Do they tend to command a premium?

What region do you live in. They are pretty common in Florida. They do go for a premium, it make a great dd. If you intend on tracking it then Keith is right, get a soft top

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/12/17 5:34 p.m.

No track - I've got a modified 2002 if I decide I want to play (though I burned a lot of that out of me quite a few years back). This is strictly DD.

So 09+ is preferred for mechanicals; just for argument's sake, what is the expected lifespan of Mazda drivetrains? I'm used to BMW, where 100k is just getting broken in. Is there a major difference in this regard between -08 and 09+?

Seats are important. I would like to get a drive in one. I'll be in GJ in a month - got anything lying around that I could take for a spin, Keith?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/12/17 5:54 p.m.

I thought 100k was when the cooling system explodes and the VANOS needs a rebuild on BMWs

The 09+ has greater strength, but not greater durability. I'd expect 150k fairly comfortably, and new engines are easy to find because it's a Duratec. I have to admit I've not seen a lot of worn out ones.

Definitely stop by if you're in GJ, but we may ruin you.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
4/12/17 6:00 p.m.

I've test driven a few recently as I have been having the same discussion. For me at least, I find the cloth seats far superior in comfort to the leather ones. The couple of leather seat cars I've driven they were simply hard. The cloth ones were OK. I've also driven both soft top and PRHTs. The PRHTs definitely were nice on the highway, you could tell a difference. It is tight behind the seats though so I can understand where Keith and others are coming from. I do not see a way for the top to fold if there was a bar there.

A few notes on the drive. I actually like the NCs quite a bit. I hadn't driven one until recently and was pleasantly surprised at how much I did enjoy it. I haven't bought one yet, but that's only a matter of time. Without pushing it, I haven't found that much difference in feel between early and late examples.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
4/12/17 7:18 p.m.

I seem to remember reading in the latest GRM that FlyinMiata and Goodwin-Racing both wrote a little something about the NC, some common issues and quick improvements as well as some year to year changes.

Might be worth a look.

Titan4
Titan4 New Reader
4/12/17 7:25 p.m.

I'll second the comment on the leather seats being hard. I had an '08 with leather and anything over about 45 minutes in the car was painful for me. Otherwise, it was great.

Claff
Claff Reader
4/12/17 7:30 p.m.

I don't usually get bugged by seats but I took my '08 with leather on a 500-mile roadie yesterday and needed to get out and stretch my legs more often than usual.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/12/17 7:35 p.m.
racerdave600 wrote: It is tight behind the seats though so I can understand where Keith and others are coming from. I do not see a way for the top to fold if there was a bar there.

It's two things. One, the arc of the top means you can't put a bar of any significant height back there. The soft top goes a bit higher as it moves so you've got an extra 3" of height. Two, there's no way to put rear braces on with the PRHT mechanism.

There's always the Transformer option. Might seem a bit goofy, but it's a way tall bar that's very strong. Shown here on a soft top, but there's a PRHT version. https://www.youtube.com/embed/7UafSdHRs_A?rel=0

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
4/13/17 6:24 a.m.
02Pilot wrote: I'm used to BMW, where 100k is just getting broken repeatedly

FTFY

I have an '06 Miata, Grand Touring trim. It's my second NC, I had another '06 a few years back as a DD. Personally, I'm not a fan of the PRHT. Adds mechanical complexity and takes longer to lower and raise. I can put the soft top down in less than 3 seconds...without leaving the drivers seat. But I'm sure the PRHT is much quieter than the soft top, which is probably nice.

It's a much better DD than the NA or NB. The suspension is fairly soft and compliant, in fact it is less harsh over bumps than my '13 Elantra. That means there's some body roll, but it still has very fast reflexes and is very responsive. Steering is a bit numb, but still sharp. Shifter is about as good as any car I've ever driven, I love it. I knock down 30mpg all day long, even mixed with rush hour gridlock. Engine has a much broader power band than the NA or NB, so it's more useful. Not a "fast" car, but quick enough to be fun. When putting it all together, the package just works. The car just puts a smile on your face as soon as you turn the key. Mazda got it right.

As far as I know, they're dead nuts reliable. Regular maintenance and it'll run forever.

Seats suck. No wait, let me rephrase that. Seats blow and suck at the same time. Worst seats I've ever had. Far too aggressive lower lumbar, thigh support is all wrong. I've gotten used to it, but definitely wish I had something better.

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/13/17 6:52 a.m.

BMWs generally only start to break if you don't give them the (significant and expensive) maintenance they require; the basic mechanicals will go on for a long time. That said, the older models were more robust.

The one complaint I'm reading repeatedly here is the seats, which is troubling. I've found BMW seats to fit me well, which was definitely part of the appeal. I'm 6ft, ~155, with long legs (34" inseam) - am I likely to have trouble getting enough adjustment? Are there aftermarket options that fit? Do the seats have airbags in them, or are those in the body?

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
4/13/17 7:01 a.m.

You'll have no problems physically fitting in the car, you're incredibly slim. I'm 5'9" and 175lbs and have more than enough room. I can slide the seat back far enough where I'd barely reach the pedals. And the steering wheel/pedals/shifter spacing is great. No complaints there.

It's just the seat itself I don't like at all. Lumbar bolster is bigger than I'd like (I like none at all) and is pretty hard. Not sure how to describe it, but thigh bolstering isn't quite right for me. The leather is fairly hard. Lateral support is OK, but I don't track the car. It's just not a very comfortable seat for long trips, my commute home often takes 1hr 45min. To me, a good street use seat is very supportive and gives you a soft yet reassuring "hug". The NC seat sort of feels like sitting in a doctors office waiting room plastic chair. Yes, it has airbags in the sides. I know people do "foamectomies" on them, removing some parts of the foam. It's beyond my skillset to do that.

GroupSects
GroupSects New Reader
4/13/17 8:33 a.m.

Seat wise I like the ones in my 07 w/leather. I did a couple of applications of leatherique when I first got it and it softened them up considerably. I've gone 800+ mile DC to FL trips and back several times without an issue. I'm 6'2" with a long torso and the NC was one of the roadsters I fit in comfortably. IIRC 06-07 the seats are different than 08+. I think the 06-07 have narrower bolsters but sit lower, 08+ has height adjustment but at their lowest are higher than the earlier ones. I like the ones in my 07 and did not like the ones in a 14 club, former autox co-driver had the same opinion.

PRHT cars are quieter, but not really that quiet in my experience. I think some sound deadening in the wheel wells/trunk/behind the seats solves a lot of that. If I lived somewhere with a real winter I'd probably go for one though. On below freezing days my heat never really gets turned down. Seat heaters are optional on the cars with leather and are pretty nice for balancing out top down driving on a cold day.

Things to look out for wise the only issue that I can think of is the vinyl tops tend to tear where some straps are located. For a preventative you can just cut the straps with no issues. If they're already torn it's new top time. Canvas tops don't have any problems at all.

Maintenance wise everything has been easy thus far apart from replacing a rear wheel stud. I've only had to do the normal stuff since I've owned it, fluid changes, brakes, etc. Parts wise everything is readily available and reasonably priced.

chrispy
chrispy HalfDork
4/13/17 8:51 a.m.

Having spent too much time window shopping and gathering intel for my next DD (purchase at least a year away), it appears that the 2013+ Club is close to being the "perfect" NC.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/13/17 9:22 a.m.

A friend recently asked me to help sell her 2006 Miata. She's the original owner and the car has a little over 40,000 miles on it. It's red with black interior and located in Connecticut.

As soon as our schedules line up, hopefully this weekend, I'm going to go over and take some pictures.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/13/17 10:20 a.m.
chrispy wrote: Having spent too much time window shopping and gathering intel for my next DD (purchase at least a year away), it appears that the 2013+ Club is close to being the "perfect" NC.

In stock form, yes. I don't know why it took Mazda so long to get it right, there's nothing technical on that car that doesn't exist on the 06. Had the 13+ Club appeared from the start I think the NC would have received a lot more love over the years.

dherr
dherr Reader
4/13/17 10:32 a.m.

Really no reason to limit to one particular year. Find the color and options you want and then just replace the stock springs/shocks and swaybars and you are done (okay tires too). The club does offer the LSD, which is hard to find on most NC's but other than that it is really just a matter of your personal preferences. As has been said above, it puts a smile on my face every time I drive it!

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/13/17 10:46 a.m.
Woody wrote: A friend recently asked me to help sell her 2006 Miata. She's the original owner and the car has a little over 40,000 miles on it. It's red with black interior and located in Connecticut. As soon as our schedules line up, hopefully this weekend, I'm going to go over and take some pictures.

I'm right next door in NY. Send me the pics when you have them and let me know what she's asking. Any history on the car would be helpful as well. Thanks!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/13/17 10:53 a.m.

IIRC the Sport cars came with LSD most years. I'm not as well versed in the nerdy minutae of the NC as I am in the earlier cars, but both our 2006 Sport and our 2015 Club came with LSD from the factory.

dherr
dherr Reader
4/13/17 11:07 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

That may only be for 2006. My 2008 Sport definitely does not have an LSD.

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