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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 12:03 p.m.

(note - it's not April 6th, but I'm thinking about it today)

There's been a lot of fuss about the 30th anniversary of the Miata this year - but this is the month where the oldest Miatas actually turn 30. Production started in April 1989.

On April 6th, 1999, my parents bought a 10-year-old Miata that was languishing on a Hyundai lot. According to the VIN, it was Miata #338, built 4/89. It needed a bit of attention - new shocks, lots of polishing, etc - but it didn't take long before it was ready for cross-country road trips. Heck, cross-continent ones. It's been to Texas, to Newfoundland, to Colorado and a bunch of places in between. 

20 years later, it's still in the family. It's still a time capsule. The only modifications are a set of H4 headlights, some Konis, FM sways and a set of frame rails. It also has a rare factory Mazda tonneau cover. Otherwise, it's just as it left the factory 30 years ago. Even the muffler is stock. I had the chance to drive it last summer and thoroughly enjoyed getting back to basics, right back to where all this started.

Happy birthday Miata #338!

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
4/4/19 12:19 p.m.

Awesome picture, and story!!

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/4/19 12:29 p.m.

Keith, since I first began considering Miata ownership, your posts have been incredibly valuable to me.

I have to say, this is one of my favorites of all.

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/4/19 12:37 p.m.

A stock Miata is a wonderful thing. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 1:29 p.m.

Totally self-indulgent post follows, as if the first wasn't enough.

That's my 1990 peeking in on the corner of the picture. I've owned it since 1993.

My father - who passed away recently - loved 338, and took it on a 4000 km solo road trip to Newfoundland just a few years ago when he was in his mid-70s. He and my mom both owned early MGBs so they dig little convertible sports cars. Dad kept a journal on each of his trips and noted whenever he had to put the top up. Not down, up laugh

Here's 338 in 2008 - Mom and Dad drove it 3500 km round trip to work as crew on the Targa Newfoundland race team that year. 

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
4/4/19 3:57 p.m.

I'd love an early Miata. Are they hard to find? 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
4/4/19 4:16 p.m.

Awesome. I hope to have a car that catches my fancy so much that I hang on to it that long. Who knows, maybe it's one I've already got - the pickup and the MR2 show no signs of leaving any time soon.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 4:36 p.m.
Mazdax605 said:

I'd love an early Miata. Are they hard to find? 

Depends. Do you want one that's ratty or one that's good? The prices of the good ones have been rising for a few years, but there are lots to choose from right across the spectrum. Just be prepared to pay for a good one if that's what you want, or spend a lot of time and money restoring an abused or neglected example.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/4/19 4:44 p.m.

The more I drive my crappy 1994 the more I think I'd like an nice-ish early 1.6 car with a hard top. Keep is stock and just drive it. How many Miatas should a guy who doesn't like Miatas own? 

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
4/4/19 5:34 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
Mazdax605 said:

I'd love an early Miata. Are they hard to find? 

Depends. Do you want one that's ratty or one that's good? The prices of the good ones have been rising for a few years, but there are lots to choose from right across the spectrum. Just be prepared to pay for a good one if that's what you want, or spend a lot of time and money restoring an abused or neglected example.

Just a decent one would suit my wants  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/4/19 5:49 p.m.

I still have #8869 which I bought used in 1993. 

It has just under 100k miles. It is near stock w/ only 15" Panasports and some GAB 8way shocks that were added in 1994.

I also enjoy the "pureness" of its "Miataness"

Mine is a factory lightweight, a true base model.  Left the factory with steel wheels, no AC, no PS, no radio. Sadly, also no lsd. 

This year it will need the factory soft top replaced. 

 

Caveat: The private seller that I bought my Miata from was the type of guy who wanted "the newest, the latest, the greatest". He had bought the Miata right at launch.  He was selling the Miata to get a just released Honda DelSol. He at least got the Nitro Green. 

I think I got the better half of the deal. 

Pic from summer of 2015

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 5:50 p.m.

"Decent" means different things to different people.  I think a quick peruse of eBay and CL will let you know what's out there and how it matches up with your expectations. They're not hard to find, but you may have to pay more than the bare minimum.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/4/19 6:26 p.m.

The fact that there is a decent Mazda anything that's 30 years old is amazing. Then the fact that there are enough good ones that you can pick tells a lot about how many people loved and cared for these. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 7:06 p.m.

The Miata did benefit from the demographics of early owners - they tend to be secondary cars, and in northern climates they tend to be put away for the winter. They're also not a car that appeals to those who are all about the horsepowers. This means that the supply of very clean cars stuck around longer than you'd expect for, say, Cameros. As time went on, the resale value dropped far enough that they started to fall into the realm of the First Car or the Track Rat or the Beater and the supply started to suffer. 338 was beginning down that path when my parents bought it, in large part due to the VIN. But there's still an appreciable number that remain secondary cars and the pride of their owners.

It's quite likely that 338 will be moving on to a new owner this spring for the first time in two decades. Dad's gone and it was always his car more than Mom's. I'm really really really tempted to adopt it myself, not that I need a third 1990 Miata. But at the moment it means more to me than my own red 1990, which was my first car but which has been sitting for 8 years.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 7:22 p.m.
Mazdax605 said:
Keith Tanner said:
Mazdax605 said:

I'd love an early Miata. Are they hard to find? 

Depends. Do you want one that's ratty or one that's good? The prices of the good ones have been rising for a few years, but there are lots to choose from right across the spectrum. Just be prepared to pay for a good one if that's what you want, or spend a lot of time and money restoring an abused or neglected example.

Just a decent one would suit my wants  

Not 100% sure yet, but my decent '90 might be for sale soon as my garage might overflow with too many NAs otherwise. Not stock, though - got a rollbar, FM stuff on it, NB2 seats.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 7:25 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

The more I drive my crappy 1994 the more I think I'd like an nice-ish early 1.6 car with a hard top. Keep is stock and just drive it. How many Miatas should a guy who doesn't like Miatas own? 

One more than you have, clearly.

Those things have a way of worming their way into your consciousness. Every time I think I'm done with them and sell "the last one I'd ever buy", I buy another one a few years later.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/19 7:27 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

It's quite likely that 338 will be moving on to a new owner this spring for the first time in two decades. Dad's gone and it was always his car more than Mom's. I'm really really really tempted to adopt it myself, not that I need a third 1990 Miata. But at the moment it means more to me than my own red 1990, which was my first car but which has been sitting for 8 years.

Completely irrelevant opinion from someone on the Internet - I do think you should adopt your late dad's car. Not many of us get to share a hobby with one of our parents that way.

Danny Shields
Danny Shields GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/5/19 6:07 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

 

It's quite likely that 338 will be moving on to a new owner this spring for the first time in two decades. Dad's gone and it was always his car more than Mom's. I'm really really really tempted to adopt it myself, not that I need a third 1990 Miata. But at the moment it means more to me than my own red 1990, which was my first car but which has been sitting for 8 years.

Keith, you are the ideal custodian of your father's car. But keep your first car, too. Sure, it is a responsibility to store another car and keep it protected and maintained. It isn't easy, and that is why cars like that are so rare. But there is no one better equipped to look after those special Miatas. Some day you will look back and be glad you did.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/19 6:44 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It also has a rare factory Mazda tonneau cover.

 Are they actually rare? I have one that came with my 90, but I’ve only put it on once. Though I’ve not looked to see if it has a Mazda tag or p/n. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/5/19 8:13 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

If you could tell me that this is a non-AC car it would keep me from writing a bad email to you. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/19 8:21 a.m.

Lucky for you, Seth, it’s a Canadian car so it doesn’t have AC. Or an airbag.  

Pete Gossett said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It also has a rare factory Mazda tonneau cover.

 Are they actually rare? I have one that came with my 90, but I’ve only put it on once. Though I’ve not looked to see if it has a Mazda tag or p/n. 

The Mazda ones are smooth, without pockets for the seat headrests. There are some aftermarket ones with pockets that were a lot more common, although I haven’t seen either in the wild for years. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/5/19 8:28 a.m.

Ohthankgod. I'm hoping I can hold out for a while before I fall for an early car that I keep shiny and stock. 

Rodan
Rodan HalfDork
4/5/19 8:38 a.m.

I'm also in the "keep it" camp.  Having the ability to keep something your dad cherished like that is priceless.  yes

Besides... you've got plenty of room in that big ol' shop! cheeky

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/5/19 9:50 a.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

Ohthankgod. I'm hoping I can hold out for a while before I fall for an early car that I keep shiny and stock. 

Of course, it WAS a dealer-installed option and I think I have all the parts I need to retrofit it...

My big ol' shop is already jammed full and the cars are showing neglect. I'm tempted to do a purge and get rid of a lot of stuff that I'd like to keep but realistically will just end up getting scrapped by someone else. Still, if there's one NA I'd want to keep, this would probably be it. It has no value as a collector car, as it has led a full life. While it is clean and complete, it's had a bit of sill rust repair done and the rear end got a respray after being viciously attacked by a garage door. It's a true driver that's also 2000 miles away over an international border. We'll see, I've got a few months before it could be put up for sale anyhow.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/8/19 8:41 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Keith, can you tell if this one is aftermarket or Mazda? I don’t see any tags on it. 

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