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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/10/20 4:41 p.m.

Ah, now we're into "I bought THIS Miata for $50!" post range :) Let's just accept that Miata values vary across the country.

Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/10/20 4:53 p.m.

What an informative thread. I have no idea why I was even looking at Miatas on CL, but noticed the same car the OP asked about, and it's neat to get so much input on a car I'd half-pondered...

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/10/20 4:58 p.m.

In reply to ValourUnbound :

Oh Lawd, I have a C7 and Miata prices are like 25%-10% of 'vette prices. It's like being on another planet! laugh

ValourUnbound New Reader
2/10/20 10:51 p.m.

Ransom said:
What an informative thread. I have no idea why I was even looking at Miatas on CL, but noticed the same car the OP asked about, and it's neat to get so much input on a car I'd half-pondered...

Did you see the one a few weeks ago that had been broken into... three? times since the posting? I think the price got to $900 or something.

Shadeux said:
Oh Lawd, I have a C7 and Miata prices are like 25%-10% of 'vette prices. It's like being on another planet! laugh

Corvette Tax is real.

Keith Tanner said: 
As always with old cars, buy the best you can afford. You'll probably get a better car if you spend $4k now than if you buy a $2k car and put $2k into it.

That's one of my big challenges. I can "afford" a lot of car. But what do I want to pay for? The easy starting point for me is the value of the C4, since then I won't need to secure additional funds from SWMBO. 

Keith Tanner said:
If you want a fly and drive, here's an NB2 for $3k in Denver. And another NB1 for $3500.

Well that opens up a whole world of possibilities. Almost literally :)

AnthonyGS GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/11/20 1:05 a.m.

I have a 94 that is "expensive" but would totally be worth it compared to that car.  I'd give $500, $750 if I were desperate to get a car.  In TX, that's a parts car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/11/20 10:02 a.m.

I don't know how I missed this yesterday, but the NB2 in Denver has a hardtop. It's on both CL and FB. On FB, he says $3500 but he's open to offers. Pick it up, flip that hardtop and you have yourself a $2500 NB2 LS with the Sport package.


ebelements Reader
2/11/20 10:26 a.m.

That car is beat to death. Look in the big cities and do an fly & drive, you'll be happier you did.

When i was looking at NAs (2011 or 12 ish) I looked at the rougher ones and then realized if I really want to enjoy one it made the most sense to buy the nicest one I could reasonably afford. It was the right call.

I think at this point buying a nice, stock (or lightly modded) car will hold its value, as in a few short years the prices on these are bound to start rising towards E30-level shennanigans. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/11/20 10:49 a.m.

I don't think they'll go that far, but you'll be able to drive for free.

ValourUnbound New Reader
2/11/20 9:26 p.m.

Hey now, Portland is a big city. Compared to the rest of Oregon...

Los Angeles is the easiest place for me to fly and drive from. I am currently in possession of the only grandchild, so finding excuses to visit is easy.

I think what I'm going to do is keep looking at cars locally for now while I get a sense of what a good specimen looks like (and move the C4). This Friday I'm checking out this car, with 242k miles for $3300. I have no intention of paying that much, but its a starting point.

Positives: fresh timing belt, water pump, battery, radiator, head gasket. Newer tires, seats, soft top with glass window (new rain rail too, I asked). He's the 3rd owner, had it 5 years. Did whatever the mechanic said needed done.

Cons: High miles. How long can the engine/trans/suspension go?  Maybe some oil coming out of the CAS (not a big deal), interior door handle broken in the same place as the other car. Is that a common break? He only sent one pic of the door cards, so I'll see if it's as bad as the other car.

Looks like it does have stock 14" wheels. I've heard that ride wise that's a plus, but tire wise... actually, never mind, looks like TireRack and Discount Tire are well stocked. Costco has nothing, which is a bummer, but oh well.

It is going to be a short nose, so that's just something I'd have to keep in mind when doing maintenance, right? Is there something I can check quickly? The miata.net article says no.

The seller says it "could use a paint job", but the pictures look a heck of a lot better than the first car, so that may not be critical.

Full album: https://imgur.com/a/UPYChrO

bluebarchetta Reader
2/12/20 2:47 p.m.

I know FL is a loooong way from OR, and there are still five days of bidding left, but check this out:


Remember the hardtop is worth $1000-$1200 by itself.

ValourUnbound New Reader
2/12/20 4:30 p.m.

That is tempting. I'll have to keep an eye on the listing. The fly and drive would be rough though. My estimate shows $123 for a flight, $250 for gas, $250 for hotels, maybe $150 for food. Looking at previous listings, I see this going for maybe 9-10k. But man, if it's sitting at <6k on the last day... I might have to have a chat with SWMBO.

ValourUnbound New Reader
2/15/20 2:54 a.m.

Aaaand now it's out of budget at $6.1k. Oh well, it was fun to dream for a couple of days.

Since I'm going to hopefully be looking at a few cars, I thought they should be given better names than "car 1" and "car 2". Therefore, I christen the first car as Alpha and this car as Bravo. I'm sure you can see the pattern.

Bravo is overall in better shape than Alpha. Not by as much as the first picture would make you think. The seller earns my award for Most Deceiving Picture for this month. I don't think he did it necessary on purpose, as it had rained that day. He did not hose it down before taking pictures, like some people.
Here is what the paint actually looks like:

As Keith mentioned earlier, that indicates a repaint as there was no clear coat on Red until later. That isn't important to me, but I do find it interesting.

Only the exterior window sweeps need replacing, unlike Alpha which requires both inner and outer.

I like that this car has OEM wheels still. They are a bit dirty, but that's fine.

Door cards are in much better shape than Alpha. There is some wear, but they aren't falling off or loose.

The seats (no pic) are in really good shape as he had them reupholstered.

Minor issues include that the shift boot is torn:

The cluster is cracked and loose. Doesn't cause an issue while driving but it is loose to the touch.

The dash is only cracked in a small place, unlike Alpha who has a large crack down the top center.

Onto the engine bay. Looking at this picture, I'd guess that the CAS o-ring was leaking but has been replaced. Or it's still leaking.

The seller claims that the head gasket was replaced due to oil leaks. All I know is that oil was certainly escaping the engine.

The shelf on Alpha that NOHOME mentioned could have been damaged by brake fluid appears clean on this car, so that's a positive. However, the brake and clutch fluids are quite dirty on this car.

The battery is AGM, but the vents are not hooked up. The seller said he had the parts store clerk install the battery, and they did so backwards. The car was towed to a shop who hooked the battery up correctly and sent him on his way. Is there any other damage that I should look for after that incident? Whoever did the final connections missed the vent connections.

The rear rotors are scored, but the fronts seem good.


Diff and axles look clean:

The rear shocks look present. 

The top has a glass window, and goes up and down pretty easily. I noticed that it doesn't sit flush like Alpha's. The seller said that was due to the glass window. Fact or Fiction?

The test drive went well, car starts, shifts, stops properly. The clutch is a lot spongier than Alpha, so maybe it needs some bleeding. The car appeared to be hunting at idle, not terribly, maybe a 250 RPM drop.

The seller sounds like he might take $2500, but he has gotten offers of $2600 from people who haven't seen the car in person yet (I was the first). Here's the full album: https://imgur.com/a/UPYChrO

Overall, I like Bravo more than Alpha on every level except for clutch feel, miles, top-down-flushness, short nose crank and idle hunting. Are those worth dealing with instead of Alpha's myriad of cosmetic issues? I don't know yet. 

In other news, Alpha's seller emailed me today saying that he might be open to $2000. I might let that cook for a bit. Maybe a real $1000 will look better than a theoretical $2200 one day.

I put together a quick list of Miatas under $5k that I could look at. There were more on Facebook that I disregarded due to damage or stance or other things I didn't want to deal with. Note that the ratings are compared to each other, not objectively.  We'll see if I can line up another look-see in the next couple of weeks.


ValourUnbound New Reader
2/15/20 8:48 p.m.

At least some people have the right idea about pricing. 

This showed up for a few minutes before being removed. 181k miles, dent in the passenger door.

Vigo MegaDork
2/15/20 8:53 p.m.

Trying to contact you through the forum didn't work. What exactly is the C4 you're talking about? Feel free to msg me through the forum or vigo327@gmail.com

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/20 10:26 p.m.

Bravo has a Bilstein/coilover setup. That may or may not be good depending on what's going on with those spring rates, but it's been owned by an enthusiast. Also, those gauge hood clips break every time you remove them. 

ValourUnbound New Reader
2/16/20 12:57 a.m.
Vigo said:

Trying to contact you through the forum didn't work. What exactly is the C4 you're talking about? Feel free to msg me through the forum or vigo327@gmail.com

You have (e)mail.

Keith Tanner said:

Bravo has a Bilstein/coilover setup. That may or may not be good depending on what's going on with those spring rates, but it's been owned by an enthusiast. Also, those gauge hood clips break every time you remove them. 

Thanks! That's good to know about the Bilsteins. 

Also, looks like there are decent gauge hood replacements for a bit less than OEM, so that's useful info.

ValourUnbound New Reader
3/1/20 1:44 a.m.

Small update:

There is hope. In the past two weeks I have seen three cars that were perfect for me. Less than $4k, near 100k miles and not too bad cosmetically. 

They each sold in hours.

The first was this red 1990 for $3850 with 108k miles, located an hour away from me (including traffic). I contacted the guy 3 hours after the posting, and he already had two people coming to see it that evening.

The second was this blue 1995 for $1500 with 181k miles, less than an hour from me. Paint looked decent (though the car was wet...) but there was a dent on the passenger door. For $1500 I thought I might be able to deal with it, but I thought I'd wait overnight to think about it, maybe research how bad a door replacement was. It was gone before dinner.

The third one was this morning. I woke up, saw a CL alert and immediately sent an email. I told my wife and we started feeding the baby, packing the car, etc. It was a red 1992 with 98k miles for $1000. The only bummer was that it was an auto. This is the only picture I could find since the posting was already deleted. New tires were the only listed maintenance. I called the guy 10 minutes after sending the email, he told me his phone had been ringing since he posted it at 4am. It was 9:30 when I called, and he said he had people coming to look at it at noon. My biggest problem? It was four hours away from me. He said he would call me if it hadn't sold by 4pm. The car was sold at 12:20.

The cars are out there. I just need to be patient and maybe get a bit lucky.

Rodan Dork
3/1/20 8:46 a.m.

Right here on GRM:  1993 Miata

ValourUnbound New Reader
3/9/20 4:49 p.m.

I have appointments to see a BRG (Hotel) today and a black 1996 (Golf) tomorrow. The BRG is oddly low priced so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

Short nose problems? [nvm, looks like all BRGs should have big noses] 

Missing a 0 in the price?


I'll just have to find out.

Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/9/20 5:01 p.m.

In reply to ValourUnbound :

Good luck! Seems like you've been pretty diligent; surely one of them will work out.

ValourUnbound New Reader
3/10/20 12:14 a.m.

I think I did this backwards. Anybody from the PNW want a C4? Luckily they both fit.

More pictures from the ad. 

103k miles. Less than $3k.

Besides the exterior scuffs/scratches and a couple odd dings on the hood (facing out?) I could not find anything wrong with it. The driver seat shows some light cracking and the bolster has wear, but no nasty gashes. The gauge shroud isn't cracked. The interior door handles are not broken. It has 4 year old Toyo Eclipses on stock wheels with tread left (hey, at least they aren't bald). The AC still has R12 in it. The undercarriage tray is still present. There's some tonneau cover stuff in the trunk. I'll have to lay it out tomorrow and see what all it is. It passed DEQ last week and has 2 years of tags left (that's $213, so I'll take it).

I was told the timing belt was replaced at 60k and valve cover gasket at 80k, as well as some other minor service.

The radiator is olive colored, so that's on the list. There's a slight squeak occasionally when revving that I'll have to investigate further. I'm thinking some accessory pump/belt or such. The stock radio backlight doesn't seem to work (maybe there's a button? I didn't look. It's this one). We'll see what all comes up as I drive it, although I don't have work for another month or so until I have to go to work every day. Then again, I have more time to fix it now... hmm. I guess I'll be volunteering to do all of the errands from now on. 

AnthonyGS GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/10/20 2:16 p.m.

In reply to ValourUnbound :

You did good.  There is BRG registry and one guy makes a neat number plaque for them too if I remember correctly.  Yours is quite clean compared to many I have seen.

ValourUnbound New Reader
3/11/20 3:34 a.m.

The car is now registered to my name and the story I was told about the car is looking to be accurate.

I was told by the man I bought it from that he had recently acquired it from a long time client of his. He (we'll call him Ryan) claimed to be an auto technician downtown (business card seemed legit). Supposedly a couple (we'll call them Michael and Jan) in Illinois found out that they could not have children, so the Michael told his wife that she could go buy any car she wanted. Enter Hotel the Miata (don't ask where Charlie through Golf went) (also I'm looking for a new name). Jan drove the car in summers and stored it during winters. After a few years, they moved out here, where Ryan started taking care of it. Fast forward to last week, the prices on the storage unit where the car was located were being raised, and she chose not to keep the car. Ryan then took "ownership" of it (yay title skipping*) with the intention of handing it down to her daughter. Well, his daughter is two years away from driving and his wife didn't really appreciate the thought of sending their daughter around in a 30 year old tin can. Ryan of course said he would have kept it except for his G37 convertible. Hence he listed it for sale. He told me that he wasn't too sure about what to list it for and settled on $2800 rather than posting it higher and (my assumptions follow) deal with having to lower the price until it sold. What doesn't make sense here is that it is very easy to see what NAs are posted for on CL and FB and then all you have to do is list it a few hundred below the cars that have been up for weeks. Now, he would have had to follow the market for a while to see that 100k mile cars with decent paint sell around $4k just about instantly, so maybe I just got lucky.

*Oregon appears to be pretty loose on title skipping. I would imagine it has to do with the lack of sales tax.

I found the car after it had been posted for 2 hours on FB and messaged Ryan right away. Surely the car had been sold already, I thought. I had seen it happen before. It was an agonizing 17 hour wait until he responded the next morning. The newborn allowed me to be awake and thinking for more of those hours than I really would have liked. Come the morning I arose to see a message from Ryan, saying that he could show the car at 6pm. Hallelujah! Next I had to figure out how to get across town (a two hour affair) and back, preferably in daylight. I suppose I must commend the just started Daylight Savings, for without it I would have been looking at the car in the dark. I also needed a co-driver. Luckily my dad was ready to go on short notice and before I knew it I was setting off.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my investigation of the car showed no major flaws. I've had cardboard under the engine for 24 hours and it still clean. I'll make another post later about everything that is "wrong" with the car, but for now, I'll focus on what I've found out about the car through what was inside it and how these verify the story I was told.

Contents of the trunk:

- some sort of wind deflector (right)
- factory tonneau cover (center)
- some sort of pad thing (left). I have no idea what this was used for.

I'm kind of excited about the tonnaeu and will probably try to put it on tomorrow. I'm thinking I'll lay it out over the car in the sun for a few minutes before trying to attach it, I've read they get stiff.

Contents of the glove box: 

I did not organize this neatly, so I'll just go in an order that makes sense to me and you all can try to follow along.
- Tire rotation receipt from Les Schwab, 103,027 miles, May 2019. Customer is listed as Michael.
- A 6 page print out from Moss listing out the specifications for a 1991.
- Warranty brochures for Bridgestone and Yokohama (hidden) tires. The Bridgestone is dated 1988 and the Yokohama has no date, but the diagrams tell me it is not recent.
- A letter from Tom McGann Mazda in Wisconsin about how to properly store an AGM battery. They recommend removing it from the car and to put it on a trickle charger every 60-90 days. It looks like Mr McGann passed away in 2003 and now the location is a used car lot.
- An emissions warranty from the dealer with a very generous 3 months/4000 mile period. This form was signed by Jan on April 6th, 1991.
- A pamphlet telling you to service the car at a Mazda dealer.
- A card telling you to use Mazda Genuine Parts. On the back it talks about Mazda Genuine Motor Oil and lists the intervals for normal and "Unique" driving conditions, along with decreased intervals for cars with turbos. There is also a note that Rotary engines are designed to consume oil and that you should check it and [b]never[/b] use synthetic oil in rotaries.
- The original window sticker! I always find these fun. This one is in less than great shape, sadly. The paper covering the left side lists the dealer markup on the car, $3000! I believe it was attached to the inside of the window with double sided tape, which has now attached it self to the window sticker. I attempted to peel it off but it started taking the paper with it, so I left it on. Thankfully it is only adhered at the top and bottom so I can flex the paper to read everything. The final sticker price was $24,883. The only options after the BRG special addition were a hard top!!!!! and ABS. After seeing this I immediately contacted Ryan to see if he had ever heard anything about it or if he could find out something. Considering the other materials in this car I find it hard to believe that the hard top just wandered off. Another interesting thing I found was that at the time of printing, the city MPG range for two seaters was 9 to 49 and the highway was 14 to 52. I'm thinking the CRX was the high end with who knows what at the bottom. ZR1? Some Ferrari or Lamborghini? Maybe a Viper...
- A warranty from The Protector Corporation for a paint shield. Only 3 years, otherwise I would have some words for them. Signed by Jan, applied April 6th, 1991 at the dealer
- A pamphlet for the Miata Audio Anti-Theft System. The code is written on the back.
- The security system manual. Ryan told me that it kills the battery if left on for too long, so he turned it off. He mentioned that he was surprised to see how good the wiring/switchgear looked, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that it is the OEM (dealer installed) system. I'll look forward to playing around with this. I'll wear earplugs and do it... not when the baby is sleeping.
- DEQ report/car registration, dated 3/4/2020. Transferred this to my name with no issues.
- 1991 Mazda warranty book. If this has ever been opened I would be shocked.
- The owner's manual. I don't really know what to look for right now, but gosh darn it one day I will look in it first instead of Google. Edit: I started flipping through it. Apparently it is recommended that you store the antenna in the trunk when leaving the vehicle unattended. I didn't know antenna theft was ever a problem.

How does all this junk verify Ryan's story? Well, really all I have are the emissions and PPF warranties which both state that Jan bought the car in 1991, and the Oregon title that I had was in her name. As far as the buying it for the daughter story, idk. Surely one would talk to one's wife before buying a car for child, especially two years early. 

I've yet to find anything fishy or disappointing in or about the car, but I'll keep my eyes open.

The next post will go over all of the flaws of the car, such as they are. I better go find some!

AnthonyGS said:

In reply to ValourUnbound :

You did good.  There is BRG registry and one guy makes a neat number plaque for them too if I remember correctly.  Yours is quite clean compared to many I have seen.

Thanks! Oddly enough it already has a number plaque. I figured it was stock, but I guess not! I suppose the initials of the previous owner should have been a give away.



TurnerX19 Dork
3/11/20 7:03 a.m.

Antenna theft seems odd. Hard top theft on the other hand is rampant in my neighborhood for NA cars.

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