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Eric W

1991 Mazda Miata Base

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Posted (edited)

Thank you, John & Harriet Cole.

 

John, for taking care of this Miata for so long, and Harriet for allowing me to be the next caretaker.

 

Maintenance records back to February 16, 1991, sold in Springfield, MO, with 158 miles showing. For the first 60,000 miles or so, it's just periodic maintenance. After that, there started to be more things needing upkeep, including, right towards the end, another timing belt & complete transmission replacement.

 

The neighbor who was helping with the sale said that John had bought this at retirement as his hobby car. So it wasn't ever driven very much, as 3700 miles/year for 29 years shows. John knew exactly what he wanted, and he kept it that way. This is the BASE model.

 

No power steering.
No power windows.
No cruise control.
No alloy wheels.
No ABS.
No radio, speakers, or antenna.
No leather-wrapped steering wheel.

 

Defined as much by what it doesn't have as by what it does.

 

Here are the photos when I looked it over & made a short drive this past Saturday.

 

107k miles and 29 years on that engine.

 

Ok, so it's not one of the multiple sub-30k mile first-generation Miatas that you can see on the Miata-specific forums. Not sure where those are hiding anyway (hiding way out of my price range, for sure).

 

I'd been looking at NA (first-gen) Miatas for a couple of months now on the c-list. I could spot the good ones - reasonable prices, and 50-100k miles. They'd appear and be sold the same day. With a full-time job, I just couldn't ever get to any of these - and I was looking out at a 500-mile radius. They do show up fairly regularly - once or twice a month. Then there's the next tier -  100-150k examples, nearly all with some modifications.

 

Last week I had the idea to see if there's a website for a local Miata club. And there it was, an ad placed just the week before. But with key descriptions like "new transmission 2019", "new air conditioning compressor 2017" and "like new, always garaged & babied", and a very reasonable price, I thought for sure it would be gone. The local Miata club members must already have their cars. I left a message with the seller, and made sure I got out there within a couple of hours of him calling me back.

 

Anyway, I didn't want to post anything until the money was exchanged, open title in hand, and car in my garage. Ok, not the usual AACA restoration story, and I'm sure there's more to do here than it would at first appear. But hopefully it's not nearly as much as I've done on my 1950's-vintage cars.

 

There was a Miata advertising campaign recently, something to the effect of "when you were you" that featured memories of bad things that you did to that first-generation Miata, and reminding you that it's time in your life (30 years on) for another one. Made me think of the two Miatas I've had before this one. I'd bought my first one in 1996, a 1993 lease return, and it was my daily driver for about 3 years.


I had some epic adventures with that one - 2000+mile road trips with the destination being the Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap. I'd never been there before, and what little was on the internet back then made it out to be one of the ultimate places for a car like this. It was. I also have a photo of it at the Southernmost Point on Key West at about 6am, when I could pull right up next to that marker and get a picture with nobody else in the shot. And the bad things - at one point I installed a used Sebring supercharger kit which overpowered the brakes, clutch, and fuel injectors, and proceeded to drive it right into dropping a couple of valves. Pulled the head in the apartment complex parking lot, bummed rides to work for a few days, and sold that supercharger on to the next kid.

 

A couple more years without one, then I found a Black & Tan '94 via eBay. I was living in Connecticut then, and realized that a car like that is great in the summer, if you can afford for it not to be the daily driver. Which I could at that time. I drove that one all up route 7 - all over the state, actually, and up into Vermont & New Hampshire. It made the move with me out to Tucson in 2005, but I sold it not long after because I got into another project in the garage that needed the space. I only put a couple thousand miles on that one, replaced the coilover shocks & timing belt, and replaced more cosmetic interior parts than I thought I would.

 

14 years farther on, and here I am with the earliest Miata I've ever had. When I told my wife it was a blue one, she wasn't very keen on it. She'd seen too many that have faded to "light" blue. But this one makes the cut.

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Edited by Eric W
extra carriage returns in the text (see edit history)
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Wow, another Marriner Blue! We had one in Saudi in the late 90s! Actually was originally a white California car somebody imported, then drove into the ground - layshaft noisy as , hand painted with spray  cans, cracked wheels that leaked etc. We replaced the gearbox, had it painted Marriner Blue, replaced the wheels. Great little car. Wife secretly drove in thinly populated areas (not legal for women to drive there then). When we came home to Oz I found that it was uneconomic to convert LHD to RHD, as that involved replacing a big part of the firewall. Main downside of the early NA6 engine was the short nose crank and damage to the harmonic keyway leading to loss of timing.

Good Luck!

jp 26 Rover 9

94 Miata

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Posted (edited)

Greetings from another NA base model owner!

 

Beautiful car! You did well. I really like the blue.

 

107k miles? It might take you a while to wear that out....

 

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Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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We have a three owner April 1990 RHD Mariner Blue MX5 with 34,000 miles. Immaculate, with all books and history.

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Attempted to clean the rims today. The paint isn't in so great shape, and they won't really clean up. With the numerous aftermarket (or stock) options, I don't know that I feel very strongly about making more investment in these tired steel rims. They're 2 different date codes - two with 1990, two with 1994 - so something happened along the way. The rim date codes are split diagonally (right front & left rear). The tire date codes are split front/year, 3 years apart. They'd put "tire blackening" goop on the tires, which was smeared all over the rims & along the fenders. Might just go the low-cost-enjoyment route & have the no-tread rear tires replaced & not think about improving the rims for a while. Space-saver spare has a hole in it, so I'll be replacing that.

 

Repainted the wiper wing (or whatever it's called). Got the emissions done yesterday. I'll get the license plate this upcoming weekend. Full-time job & all that.  

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Yes, always like steel rims like these! About the only issue we have had with our 92 NA6 is the CAS(crank angle sensor) on the back of the camshaft - at 140k kms it starts failing when really hot. Mostly recovers after 10-15minutes to cool down. Curiously the NA8 version, on the other camshaft, with different internals, is also prone to fail at around the same mileage. Down here we can get aftermarket refurbished units, so you should be able to avoid paying stealership prices. 

jp 26 Rover 9, 83 Porsche 928, 92 NA6 MX-5

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The 1.6 liter CAS fails? Wow. Well, I never had that happen or even heard of it. I have changed that stupid o-ring more times than I can count. The thing that really surprises me is that the airflow meter has never failed. The car has over 300k miles (480,000km), and made a 4800 mile road trip in September.

 

I am not 100% sure, but I do not believe the engine has ever been apart. It still has a short nose crank, and the defective 1990 hydraulic lifters that rattle when you slow down after a freeway run. There was a TSB for the lifters. The original owner could have had them replaced on warranty had he/she bothered. I am a former mechanic, and can usually tell if something has been overhauled. Apart from the heatshield and mounts on the header (that always break), I have not found a single mismatched bolt or missing washer on the engine or the transmission. No sealer showing where it wouldn't have been, and the hoses were all Mazda original until 2 years ago when I replaced them wholesale. It is daily driven, and fairly low maintenance, even at this mileage.

 

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Pulled the shipping hooks front & rear. On the rears, the 2 nuts at each location go back on because they hold other items. These hooks are not for towing or recovery - they served to secure the cars to the ships' decks for transport from Japan. Saw a video where the guy was claiming massive weight savings from removing these. I weighed them - 1 lb, 8 1/2 oz for each of the rears, 1 lb, 7 oz for each of the fronts, and 9 oz of bolts for a total of 6 1/2 lbs removed. I'll hold onto these parts in case there's ever a need or desire to put them back, but I don't need to drive with them. I may add a front screen for debris protection - there's 2 styles. One with cutouts to work around the hooks, and another that needs the hooks out of the way.

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Edited by Eric W
add photo (see edit history)
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They call them "baby teeth" on the miata forums. I would guess only about half the remaining cars still have them (mine does).

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