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Christina Lam went from the sidelines to full-on track enthusiast in 8 simple steps.
I realize that this debate has been going on for a while but I'm in dire need of helpful input. I've been driving a 2000 Ford Taurus wagon for almost 4 years, and at 21 years old I've been itching to get something a bit more enjoyable as a daily driver. My desire was to purchase a rear-wheel, 2-door sports car, specifically looking at the Toyota MR2. However most of them around where I am seemed awfully sketchy with regards to previous owners. Then I came across THIS little beauty of a Miata and I my desire for an MR2 vanished. However, not long after that, I saw THIS MR2 which sparked my original desire.
I've contacted the owner of the Miata, and other than the passenger window not functioning for unknown reasons the car seems to have been well maintained and in good condition. The low mileage and the additional hard-top also make it sound like a pretty reasonable deal and I'm seriously leaning towards getting it.
I have not contacted the MR2 owner yet so I don't have anything but the CL ad to go off of, but for the argument let's say it has no significantly detrimental issues.
I'm not really looking for a fast car, just something more enjoyable and fun than my Taurus. The MR2 seems like it would be more fun and it is slightly faster than the Miata. However, the Maita seems safer and more mature. Am I being utterly stupid for questioning the Miata, or is the MR2 actually a valid option? Or is either choice bad and I should be looking down a different path?
Here's some more info:
I have never driven either car, and other than a drving a MKI MR2 I have no prior experience with them.
Currently, the $3500 range is about where I'm at regarding budget, but I can wait a while to increase it if the consensus leans that way.
I'm about 6'3" and ~160lbs (a twig).
I'm going to be keeping the Taurus for when I need a car with more storage capacity, the Miata/MR2 is for saving gas and for enjoyment.
I apologize for my long-winded whining.
Of those two, I'd definitely go with the Miata. I don't remember the MR2 ever coming in that color from the factory (thankfully) and I doubt that they bothered to paint the engine bay, frunk, door jambs etc. which would put me off.
Get the Miata. It looks super clean and the hard top is worth $600-800 on its own.
I've never owned a Miata, but I have driven them a time or two. Personally, I prefer the MR2, though it does have drawbacks. I like the fact that it's mid-engined, and it's extremely reliable. I think it's a better looking car than the Miata. I've put about 35,000 miles on mine over about 2.5 years' time.
But the SW20 is probably always going to be at least 300-400 pounds heavier than a comparably optioned/modified Miata. These days, the NA Miata seems to have the edge in autocrossing, so don't assume the MR2 will be much (if at all) faster. The Miata also has more parts availability.
If it's an option, go to a local autocross and see if you can at least be a passenger in both cars, if not drive them. At your height, though, the Miata could be more cramped than the MR2.
The MR2 you linked to looks like a mishmash of parts and cheap/questionable mods, which would make me very hesitant about that particular car. Since it has a turbo engine cover, I wonder if it was a turbo car that blew an engine and got a non-turbo replacement. I agree that the paintwork looks...questionable at best. Looks as if the wheels were painted while on the car along with the lugnuts, and the painted rub strips and filler panel between the taillights (Egads, those taillights!) makes me wonder how much masking was done. I also distrust previous owners who install tacky, chromed plastic, taped-on badging.
I've also owned multiples of both, and given the choice of those two, would say the Miata hands down. That particular MR2 looks beat. It definitely did not arrive in this world wearing that shade. If you really wanted it, wait a while and offer his half that and I would imagine he'd take it. If you wanted to travel, they aren't all that difficult to find.
The trick is going to be if you fit in a Miata. I'm only 5'9" and I had to carve away foam out of the seat. There are no such issues in the Toyota. The engine in the Miata is also going to seem more sports car like, where the MR2 is a Camry motor. The 3sgte version is obviously in a different league.
And handling, you can throw the Miata around at will, while throwing the MR2 around usually involves hitting non-movable objects. They are very, very different. I love both, but for very different reasons.
Just reading your ad, it seems you are describing the Miata as what you want more than the MR2, but you need to see if you fit, and if you actually like them.
That MR2 is beat hard. It's led a rough life with a questionable respray.
I like my MR2 more than the miata's i've had. It's more Porsche like in the handling vs the miata which is more playful and tossable. But mine is a turbo too and I do like the extra HP.
For 6'3" tall guy you will probably be a lot more comfortable in the MR2 vs the miata.
Don't have enough experience with the MR2's of that vintage to really comment on them, but the price on the Miata is pretty decent given it comes with a hardtop. I'm about the same height as you and about 40 lbs. heavier. I'd say I fit in a Miata (after seat foam modification), but much taller/larger than me and its likely to be uncomfortable. Of the two, just at first glance, the Miata seems a lots cleaner and less sketchy than the MR2.
Ask the Miata owner for info on any recent maintenance that has been done. With a 20+ year old Miata at 90k on the clock, the following will likely be needed if they haven't been done: Timing belt/water pump, cam cover gasket/cam sensor "O" ring, belts/hoses, suspension refresh all around (stock units last about 60K), possibly a radiator (if its brown or olive drab, it needs to be replaced) plus whatever normal maintenance items like tires and brakes are needed. Its also likely that the trans fluid, diff fluid and shifter turret/bushing will be due for a refresh. The window likely needs a new regulator. If you do your own work, figure on about $1000-1500 in parts to bring all those items up to speed. These are all things that will need to be done to put a 90K Miata into "like new" condition, but you should still be able to drive any enjoy it while you finish the projects over time. (Only the timing belt and radiator will leave you temporarily without wheels if they go) Just check it carefully for rust, especially in front of the rear wheels. If there is any paint bubbling there, assume it will be rusted through in less than a year.
Not sure what the MR2 will need, and I doubt the owner knows, either.
You're tall, so again, you have to drive both of them to see how you fit in both of them. It could end up being that the one you fit in is the one you will own. The MR2, from what I hear, is a good sports car, especially if you want something different. It may be one of the most affordable mid-engine sports cars you can buy. I am not a fan of beige sports cars, however.
Just keep in mind that doing a water pump and an timing belt on an MR2 will cost considerably more than on a Miata, either in time if you do it yourself or in money if you have someone do it.
Miata has a much better aftermarket, the one on the SW20/SW21 is pretty limited these days.
I love the mr2 since I bought mine and it definitely has a different feel, but the miata is the logical choice for ease of parts and maintenance. However, the mr2 has more room and is surprisingly comfortable for a bigger guy like myself. The big problem is finding a clean MR2 of that era. The one you linked is likely a turbo (given the raised vents and cd storage bin) that was ragged and put back together on a budget. Miata is the easy button of you want to get in and drive, the MR2 will be more time and money overall, but I never dreamed of owning a miata!
I know of a very clean and modded MR2 locally to me here that the owner was asking $4000. Id look for another option on that car in particular as stated above it looks like a mishmash... I got a '91 Turbo swapped car for $3700 with a fresh rebuild on OEM parts, needed some suspension work. It runs great and I love it to death. Miata does go a long way on a budget, but I myself prefer the road less traveled ;-)
Non turbo W20 MR2 I would go with Miata every time. It's just not worth it. So much more support and aftermarket for Miata and you get nothing extra from the non-turbo MR2 other than the mehish "wow" factor of mid engine that adds nothing to the car. Turbo cars even are way overpriced and usually in poor condition.
Is Magneto trying to level that car for the photo or something?
He's trying to block his license plate because he thinks someone is going to do something with it online when everyone can see it on the road, lmao. Equally ridiculous IMO.
When I was trying to decide between a Miata and MR2 maybe 7-8 years ago...it came down to availability and price. there were wayyy more miatas available in my price range, aka more to choose from. Also because of that similar milage/condition miatas were less expensive than a comparable MR2.
I had budgeted around $5k tops and got a miata with a rollbar and hardtop and eibach/konis for $3700.
You probably cant go wrong with either as far as fun is concerned.
The Miata ad is deleted so I have no input. I love MR2's but would definitely go over that one well if you decide to try it. Parts/upgrade will be your downfall, there's a small aftermarket base and good forums for knowledge, but in general the Miata will win on availability. (I'm really not a fan of that color either.)
I'd also be suspect of the MR2's 1.5 million miles in the ad.
Putting aside the debate as to how beat the MR2 in the ad is, the two cars are very different. I've owned each as well. The MKII MR2 is much more of a GT style car, where an NA Miata is akin to a large go-kart. They both have their strong points, but they're quite different in personality. Which style do you want more?
Don't let your height block you from the Miata. I fit into them just fine and I'm only an inch shorter but 10lbs heavier. I loved mine and really long for another.
At my height/weight/leg length, I find I fit into the NA's way more easily and better than the NB's. My legs/knees get caught between the steering wheel and door panel on the NB's. On NA's, this isn't a problem as the door panel is pretty much flat. Removing the door panel pull/handle(not pull-open handle), and going to a slightly smaller diameter steering wheel helped even more. I never did a foamectomy to the seat, but I did pull out the back padding from the flip-up portion of the seat. It helped, but the little bar that runs along the bottom presses into your back and is very uncomfortable-so don't do that.
That being said, it was the most fun car I've owned.
i have driven a friends miata, currently 6'2" 235lbs.... and bang for the buck is a heck of a ride.... he swapped on uase mazdapseed miata suspension for $200 and lour own labor..... so cheap to mod man...
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