Video: What to know before buying an early Mazda Miata

https://www.youtube.com/embed/PqaWWj5AMxo

Are all first-generation, NA-chassis Mazda Miatas the same? Absolutely not.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most important changes that happened during the production run–plus the many special editions released–from 1990-1997.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/18/22 9:12 a.m.

Is the Miata a classic? Well, I do have Antique tags on mine... laugh

shadetree30
shadetree30 HalfDork
11/9/22 3:47 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I dunno, but it IS the answer...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/9/22 5:45 p.m.
shadetree30 said:

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I dunno, but it IS the answer...

That is very true. 

billbrewer59
billbrewer59 New Reader
10/16/23 12:39 p.m.

     Not sure about this one. I drove the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley in a nearly new MX-5 Miata back in 1991 and it was a nice little Japanese car. Later, I drove a 1999 NB Miata and it was a good little car. In 2014 I drove a customized turbocharged NB with a custom fastback hardtop, front & rear spoilers and Lotus Elise seats. I have driven several other Miatas as well. Each time I think that it will be great fun and that I'll want to sell my old British iron for a dependable modern sports car and each time I come away slightly bored and uninvolved with them. No one I know of has ever had that response to a ride in my 1953 Morgan or 1960 Triumph TR3A. Maybe Miata is the answer, but I didn't ask that question.

Warlock
Warlock New Reader
2/5/24 12:07 p.m.

In reply to billbrewer59 :

Relative performance.  For all that the Miata was intended to capture the feel of a '60s sports car, it's more powerful and handles better than most of the British and Italian roadsters of the time.  As are most '90s and up grocery-getters...a product of more powerful engines, stiffer chassis, better suspensions and fatter tires.  So you when you hammer the TR3 around a back road, you can push the car all the way to the limit and enjoy working up a little sweat without offering up your life and your license, even if you've just been passed by some kid in a Kia sedan.  But if Mazda (or anyone else) reproduced an exact replica of a (relative to current cars) floppy, cart-sprung, skinny-tired '50s sports car, few would buy one.  The answer, of course, is to buy the Miata (which is more fun than a Kia) and don't sell the TR...because it's good to be able to go work up a little sweat when you want. :)

MDR58
MDR58 New Reader
2/5/24 5:48 p.m.

In reply to Warlock :

I agree , love both my '93 LE and '60 TR3A for similar reasons...Hard to compare them,they have different personalities, both pleasing in their own way! Problem is one doesn't replace the other , so I guess I need to keep both. (They share the same collector plate here in B.C.)

tadavis50
tadavis50 New Reader
2/5/24 11:14 p.m.

Another reply to billbrewer59, Warlock, and MDR58:  

Hi - I'm the original owner of 97 Miata M Edition, bone stock and original except for the shocks.  I've also got a 60 TR3A, as well as a 67 Healey 3000, a 59 Bugeye that I autocross, and a 60 Bugeye that I vintage race.  Also a 2022 Toyota GR 86.  In the past I've had a 73 MGB-GT, 73 Triumph GT6, 67 Sprite, another 60 Bugeye, and my first new car - a 75 Spitfire.  Also in the past a Porsche 356A, two Carrera 4 964s, and a Carrera 4S 993.  So I feel somewhat qualified to discuss a driver's comparison of the Miata vs. the TR3A or some other little British car.  Bottom line - They are all good for what they are and when they came from.  Each has its own personality and driving characteristics.  When I bought the GR 86 I had to sell something, so I sold the MGB-GT and thought about selling the Miata, but I couldn't bring myself to do so.  It's such a sweet, beautiful little car!  So I'll keep my current stable for now and drive them as much as I can - which is the point.  Have a fun old or new sports car (or 2 or 3 or ....) and drive it.  My only major regret - selling the Porsche 964s and 993 when I did.  They're worth a LOT more now than when I sold them.      

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/8/24 9:20 a.m.
MDR58 said:

In reply to Warlock :

I agree , love both my '93 LE and '60 TR3A for similar reasons...Hard to compare them,they have different personalities, both pleasing in their own way! Problem is one doesn't replace the other , so I guess I need to keep both. (They share the same collector plate here in B.C.)

Pictures of the ’93 LE? :)

One of my favorite NAs. 

leec
leec New Reader
6/6/24 5:38 p.m.

The main reason the 1.6 "feels" peppier than the much better 1.8 NA is the weak 4.3 diff, as compared to the 4.1 diff with a Torsen as found in the best NAs made, the R package version. I've owned and road raced both. Why the 99s went back to the 4.3?  Raced them too! Yes I've had street and race MGBs, , and not in the same league build quality wise and it took a lot to prep them to do the 24 at Daytona and the 12 at Sebring. So I too know a little about them! Miata is the answer. All cars have progenitors, thanks BMC, but I don't miss you.

MDR58
MDR58 New Reader
6/6/24 6:05 p.m.

Some comparison pics of  '93 LE and '60 TR3

 

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