Aug. 12, 2009 6:30 p.m.

So I went to go look at a Miata today...

I forced myself to walk away before I bought without thinking, but the car is wow. 92, red, 143k, $1500.

I was hoping you guys could tell me why I shouldn't buy this thing and race the ever living snot out of it. I already have 3 cars and don't need another one, lol.

I did snap some pics, so enjoy some miata pron.

Sorry for the sidewaysness, but dats extreme picture taking yo.

I checked everywhere for rust, that I could get to. The car is lowered so much of the underbody was not very accessible, but it looked cancer free as far as I could see. Can anybody tell what brand these are? They look after market and adjustable to me, and they are very stiff.

It also has a Magnaflow exhaust in good shape.

Wheel wells and side skirts are rust free and not bondo. ( I did the taping test, my knuckle hurts )

Interior was in poor shape though.

The steering wheel is ripping, the radio and speakers are gone, and there is no top. There are brackets for where the top connects though. Also the carpet is soaked from the rain, but may dry out, seeing as there is no top. There is a knock off brand racing seat for the driver's seat, which is in decent shape. All the gauges and lights work.

Also, if someone has a carfax hook up and could run the VIN for me, I would so so so let you drive the car next time you are in bellingham.

Its JM1NA3511M0200347 on the door tag.


So good points: 1500 bucks delievered to my door Runs hard and strong, no smoking, no knocking, nothing Possibly aftermarket adjustable shocks Magnaflow exhaust Racing seat Everything works No rust

The bad: No top No radio (personally meh) Wet carpet (not that kind) Left back-up light lens needs to be replaced Plastic piece in-between the tail lights is cracked The paint is in rough shape at best, and there are small dents and scuffs all over

So WWPD? (What Would Per Do)

Thanks a bunches.

RexSeven HalfDork
Aug. 12, 2009 6:32 p.m.

What Miata pr0n? All I'm seeing are red X's.

NINJA EDIT: Now it says all the pics have been deleted or moved.

Aug. 12, 2009 6:35 p.m.

Sorry, took me a second to get the pics right, should be working now.

May I suggest a preview post button for the forum?

Keith SuperDork
Aug. 12, 2009 7:11 p.m.


  • them's not adjustable shocks. Them are stock (and by this point, totally blown) shocks with an eBay adjustable spring on them. They're set to be as low as they will go. I suspect the reason the car feels stiff is because it's probably sitting on the bumpstops. Big room for improvement there. Stock sway bar in the rear at least.

  • there's only one spot to really watch for rust on Miatas, and it isn't the wheel wells. It's right in front of the rear wheels on the back sill. The rust starts inside the sill and eats its way out. I can't tell if that's a bit of grass on the sill in one of the pictures or if you have perforation, but your penultimate picture shows the area to watch.

  • that VIN is for a 1991, not a 1992, and it's got a short nose crank. Take that as you will, but since the car's basically due for a timing belt change it'll give you a good chance to check the condition of the parts in question. You can confirm the crank by looking at the pulley on the crank. Four slots is a shortnose, eight is a long nose. By the way, that's the 347nd 1991 Miata made.

  • that's a generic magnaflow muffer welded into a muffler shop exhaust system. Check out the crush bent piping.

  • I'm sure you noticed the cracked tires.

Is it worth $1500? Depends. Check that crank nose to make sure the pulley isn't visibly wobbling and it isn't covered in orange rust dust, and it could be a fun little car. Put some suspension under it and a set of RA1s (there, we easily doubled your purchase price) along with a rollbar, strip out the interior and it would be a riot to drive.

Carson Dork
Aug. 12, 2009 7:16 p.m.

Are those even Michelin tires on that beast?

Those are aftermarket coils for sure, and those shocks are the stock units. They last about 60-70k miles. I'm going to guess they'll last a LOT less miles on those springs.

What do you want to do with the car? A driver? I think you'll be better off finding a nicer one for maybe $2000-$2500 than to repair this one. Dedicated track car? Might be worth it, but I'd definitely budget for a decent set of shocks, at least.

Aug. 12, 2009 7:18 p.m.

Woot! Thanks Keith. I've never gotten a look at a Miata suspension before, so now I know. (And knowing is half the battle)

I checked the area in front of the rear wheels when I was tapping the rest of the sill. It felt solid to me. I didn't check the crank, if I see the car again I'll look.

Does this sound like a decent purchase? Farther craigslist searching has revealed this: which seems to be a better starting platform, but is 300 miles away.

Aug. 12, 2009 7:19 p.m.

Autocrossing is the plan. Track days too, when I'm not poor or working.

Keith SuperDork
Aug. 12, 2009 7:23 p.m.

The Craigslist car is interesting. It's fairly modified, so the value is going to depend on how well it's modified. It looks like it might have a tubular turbo manifold, so I suspect we're looking at a full custom setup. Impossible to say much more from the photos, but the owner did have a nice sense of style. I'd call him up and ask a whole bunch of questions, but it appears a bit more promising from the start. I suspect the owner will be able to answer your questions, too.

I'm really curious about the "locked differential". I'm hoping that means it has (good) a viscous LSD or (better) a Torsen, but it could be something like a welded diff for all I know.

Aug. 12, 2009 7:26 p.m.

Alrighty guys. Thanks for your input. I think I'm going to pass on the red miata then, unless somebody comes up with a better reason not too, and work on the 'street fighter'. I'll be sure to post on here what comes of that. If anybody is interested in the red one, PM and I'll give you the guys number.

Salanis SuperDork
Aug. 12, 2009 9:12 p.m.

Yeah, those springs are e-bay POS. They are also installed several different shades of wrong (upside down, with the original spring mount still in place, and not isolated on either the top or bottom. That car isn't even riding on the bump stops, it's riding on those crap sleeves.

My car came with crap coil-overs like that... only installed slightly less badly. They were the first thing I tore out. And suddenly made the car pleasurable.

ReverendDexter HalfDork
Aug. 12, 2009 9:18 p.m.

Is this car owned by a drifter by any chance?

Wait, no, the tires aren't stretched.

smog7 Dork
Aug. 12, 2009 10:04 p.m.

generally, what should one look for when buying a used na miata? I mean which are the best years? prices to expect? mileage?

Keith SuperDork
Aug. 12, 2009 11:07 p.m.

Have a look at this to get you started:

You'll need to log in to post.

Also on Grassroots Motorsports

Modern Day Track Junkie

4 hours ago in Articles

Christina Lam went from the sidelines to full-on track enthusiast in 8 simple steps.

2017 Audi A8 L

5 hours ago in New Car Reviews

When it comes to luxury sedans, Audis are usually front-runners. The A8 L is the biggest and maybe most comfortable ...

Slight Project Pause for Our BMW M3

7 hours ago in Project Cars

Few things slow down our project car progress more effectively than a broken arm.

Grassroots Motorsports Experience Ticket Renewals Have Been Sent

1 day ago in News

Check your inbox for our Grassroots Motorsports Experience renewals.

First Drive: Turbo ND MX-5

1 day ago in News

We hit the track with Flyin' Miata's latest power adder.

Project Turbo Miata: Fire Fighting

1 day ago in Project Cars

We transfer the fire system to our new Miata.

Vintage Views: GMC Syclone and Typhoon

2 days ago in Articles

All-wheel drive, turbo power and a Q-ship’s stealth.

Classic Motorsports Mitty Presented by Hagerty Celebrates Porsche

3 days ago in News

Gearhead heaven? We think it looks something like this.

Meet the Rebels Who Started the Cannonball Run

3 days ago in News

Relive those desperado days through movie excerpts, and hear the real facts and wild stories from the legends themselves.

This Weekend at the Mitty: The Ultimate Auto Festival

6 days ago in News

Gates open this Friday for the Classic Motorsports Mitty at Road Atlanta.

ND Miata Turbo Kits Now Available!

6 days ago in News

Add 70 horsepower and 70 ft.-lbs!

What's the Plan, Man?

1 week ago in Articles

Thoughts on our racing plan for the year.


Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More