Timeormoney New Reader
April 8, 2010 5:49 p.m.

Since I have already owned 3 e30's; I was thinking that I need to buy one of these miata's everyone is raving about. I drove a spec miata and really liked it, but that was a race car; and I can't afford track time anymore. So which year/option package should I pick for strict street shenanigans?

So the ultimate question is, which is the best miata? It should be commute capable, fun capable, inexpensive and eventually LS1 capable.

April 8, 2010 6:02 p.m.

42 (Hey, you wanted the Ultimate Answer...)

You can't go wrong with any Miata, really. Any of them will meet your qualifications. Some like the 90-93 1.6 versions better - lighter, more rev happy. Others prefer the 94-97 1.8s - stiffer (they have a LOT more bracing), bigger motor, though with a higher final drive they're not much faster than the 1.6 - though available with a Torsen, vs. the VLSD of the 1.6 models.

The NB (second generation, 1999-2005) is even more refined than the later NAs, and definitely faster. My first EVER drive in a NB was a factory stock 2001, down to its original tires, for a fun run at an autocross. My time was 0.6 second slower than my BEST run in my E Stock 90 with Konis and R-compounds. The newest NB is 5 years old now, so you may be able to get a good deal on one, though probably not as cheap as an NA (90-97). I've stuck with early 1.6 Miatas because I've found them to be the cheapest. As much as I, as a child of the 80s, believe that all real sports cars have pop-up headlights, for a daily driver I'd probably prefer a NB.

But like I said, it's a Miata - it's all good! And they're all LS1 capable - just talk to Keith when you're ready.

Appleseed SuperDork
April 8, 2010 6:57 p.m.

I think the early NBs are what you want. Best head design, possible 6 speed (if you like that sort of thing,) and can swallow an LSx more easilly than an NA.

Timeormoney New Reader
April 8, 2010 7:06 p.m.

In reply to White_and_Nerdy:

Thanks for the low down on the years and explaining the NA/NB thing to me. I kept seeing that in posts and never really new which model years had the cutoff.

Any easy way to tell which cars come with a limited slip diff? That is the one option that is a must for all my future cars.

Somehow having the old m6 and a newer miata just seems like a cool combo.


RossD Dork
April 8, 2010 7:26 p.m.

Lots of good stuff here: GRM Article.

mtn SuperDork
April 8, 2010 8:26 p.m.

Ultimate miata? There are a few of those. At least for me.

In chronological order.
1993 LE. Beautiful interior, it was the R before the 1.8.
1994-1997 R package. Hard to find, but dominating E-stock for years.
1999 10AE. In my opinion, the best color, a cool interior, a 6 speed (actually, that is a detriment) and the sport suspension.
1999 Sport. Same suspension as above without the goodies and had the 5 speed.
2003 Club Sport. No AC, no nothin. Two ways to get it: With a softtop, and with a hardtop (no soft top). Good news is that its pretty easy to make if you want to go that route for Solo (from what I've found).
2004-2005 Mazdaspeed. Enough said, although it wasn't everything it could have been.

Can you tell that I want a miata badly? Really though, there is no wrong way to do it. If its going to be DD, I'd go NB just cause its a little newer, and a little nicer. Bigger trunk too, IIRC.

unevolved Reader
April 8, 2010 8:28 p.m.

94-97 R-package if you're looking for out-of-the-box fun.

If you don't mind modding, any 94-97 with a 1.8 and Torsen should do you just fine as a blank canvas.

M2Pilot Reader
April 8, 2010 9:30 p.m.

I thought that now the answer is '58 Pontiac.

Slyp_Dawg Reader
April 8, 2010 11:59 p.m.

might not be the best, but... spend a little bit of money on a '94-97 with a LSD, and spend a bit more money at Flyin Miata. I'd be tempted to do the full tubular control arms, poly bushings, swaybars front and rear, and the Afco coilover kit, plus one of the Hard Dog Sport rollbars, harness bar and harness optional of course. unless you buy a factory-pristine example, that should still come out under $10K and would be quite fun to drive when the road got a bit twisty. well, more so than a stock Miata is anyway

Woody SuperDork
April 9, 2010 1:57 a.m.
mtn wrote: 1993 LE. Beautiful interior 1999 10AE. In my opinion, the best color, a cool interior,

No and No.

Just my $0.02

mk2mer New Reader
April 9, 2010 7:31 a.m.
White_and_Nerdy wrote: You can't go wrong with any Miata, really.

That's it. I've got to drive one of these things to understand what the fuss is about. Everytime I see one, I think "girl car" but, apparently, I'm missing out on something.

I have to admit, it is a bit irritating that "Miata" is the pad answer to any automotive question.

Doing the Pike's Peak Hillclimb. What should I drive? "Miata."

Thinking about doing some autocross. What car? "Miata."

Need a commuter car. What are some good options? "Miata."

What's a good first car for a high-school teen? "Miata."

Looking for a tow vehicle. "Miata."

Need a good vehicle that'll pull my boat, haul deer to the check in station, hold 42 different shotguns for duck season and still be comfortable enough to get me to work on Monday without being too fuel-thristy. What should I consider? "Miata." Oh, and here it is (shamelessly hotlinked, mind you): ...... or here.....

How many of you luddites that won't drink the MP3 Kool-Aid have succumed to the be all that is the illustrious Miata?

GTwannaB New Reader
April 9, 2010 1:19 p.m.

I will say for a commuter I thought the factory hardtop to my old NB was a good addition. It definitely improves visisbilty due to the larger rear window. Hardtop removal is simple with two people. The NBs also come with glass rear windows and defrosters on the soft tops - very necessary in my opinion.

volvoclearinghouse New Reader
April 9, 2010 1:53 p.m.

>I have to admit, it is a bit irritating that "Miata" is the pad answer to any >automotive question.

Actually, I have a better answer:

Volvo Amazon.

I am a bit biased; I rock a '68 2 door as a semi-daily driver and have a collection of other years and tons of parts. But after owning this one for about 10 years now, I can say without equivocation that I wish I'd bought one as my first car.

The styling is classic. They are unique, and I've never heard anyone say they didn't like the looks. The interiors are rugged and simple, and the stock seats are comfortable and supportive. A/C can be had, and a nicer radio is easily installed. The gearboxes are some of the most rugged I've ever come across. Toploaders, in fact. And even the automatic units aren't bad to drive. The drivetrain is completely conventional, but well-developed. It makes decent power, and can be faily economical to run. Plus they practically repair themselves, they are so easy to work on. Spares aren't hard to come by, the cars themselves can be had for about what you'd pay for an older Miata, and talk about a blank canvas! You can adapt an Amazon to do just about anything.

Need a rally car? Amazon. Need a daily driver? Amazon. Need something to haul 3 other people? Amazon. (you can't do this with a Miata) Need something to haul a small boat or lumber? Amazon Wagon.

Disc brakes are standard after 1964, and having crashed one pretty severely, I can say they are amazingly well-developed in that regard. Many people claim that older cars are "deathtraps", but I feel perfectly safe in my Amazon. 3 point belts, unibody, collapsible steering column.

I honestly can't think of anything bad to say about the Amazon. They made them for 10 years, made about a half-million of them, and something crazy like 11% of all of them ever made are still plying the roads in Sweden. There's absolutely no good reason to buy a Miata over an Amazon, unless you absolutely must have a convertible. Then again, there's always the sawzall route...

Trans_Maro Dork
April 9, 2010 10:56 p.m.

I think part of the "Miata" thing is that it really is a common sense, simple design.

I've never had one but it's pretty hard to argue with the ease of service that comes with a front-engine, rear-drive 4-cylinder car and there aren't many of those still being made.

Unit repair is a fantastic idea, imagine simply removing the differential to service it rather than bracing the engine, removing the transmission and gutting it just to get to the diff.

It's the same reason I love my TE72 Corolla, my MG Midget and my Trans-Ams.

An enthusiast can still work on these cars.

The Miata is simply one of the few platforms that are available new, are still simple to service and meet an enthusiasts needs.

The 240SX was in the same boat, so is the S2000


CLNSC3 Reader
April 10, 2010 4:10 a.m.

Somebody commented on miatas being "girl cars" which is all I hear from most of my friends who are not into cars. However, I really can't see how any enthusiast could NOT love miatas. If you don't already love them take one for a spin on some back roads and you will see the light. I have only driven bone stock miatas, but I must say even in stock form they are great cars.

One of my friends was talking trash about miatas about 6 months ago, he ended up driving his step-mothers then buying it from her about 2 weeks afterwards. Now I have him out racing with me!

Would I drive one daily? No. Would I love to have a miata as a track car? Yes.

billy3esq SuperDork
April 10, 2010 10:27 a.m.
GTwannaB wrote: I will say for a commuter I thought the factory hardtop to my old NB was a good addition. It definitely improves visisbilty due to the larger rear window. Hardtop removal is simple with two people. The NBs also come with glass rear windows and defrosters on the soft tops - very necessary in my opinion.

+1 on the hard top being a very, very nice addition.

-1 on the glass rear window soft top being necessary, unless you're going to park it outside when the back window will get frosty. Mine is garaged (and I have a hard top), so it's never been a problem. They are nice, but not usually necessary.

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