Two Paths To Take: 1990 Mazda NA MX-5 Miata – Sold!

Apr 2020 | Classifinds, Sports Car Saturday

Update: This one got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

Last week, we featured this 1991 Mazda Miata listed for $13,000 that was essentially a 29-year-old like-new example for sale by the original owner.  At the other end of the spectrum is this mechanically tired first-year example listed on Craigslist near Allentown, Pennsylvania the caretaker since 1997 has decided to part with as the car is in need of a well-deserved mechanical overhaul.  Offered at $3,000, the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his MX-5 priced $1,400 below the current #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $4,000.  

With the body repaired and repainted six years ago, we see this example as the perfect car that could go one of two ways.  The first is making it a great father-child first-car project in which the latter can learn how to wrench an already cosmetically nice example back to mechanical health that will provide reliable and fun transportation for years to come.  The second path is this car is the quintessential candidate itching for a “Monster Miata” V8 conversion that can blow the doors off of just about anything you meet up with.  Whichever path you choose, good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s detailed description:

“1990 Miata–read entire listing please.

I’ve owned it since 1997.

Body completely redone about 6 years ago. Picture I posted on Craiglist is from a few years ago; body is in great shape. All rust repaired. Miata patch panels in front of rear wheels. New front fenders. 100% repaint with basecoat/clearcoat. Since being repainted car has never been in rain. Garage kept and no winter driving. Behind front fenders cleaned out and washed every year to keep front fenders from rusting from behind.
Unmolested car—stock springs, no underhood/”cold air intake” type of modifications.
Newer: KYB AGX shocks, brakes/rotors, front suspension, battery.
Exhaust: Borla stainless steel cat-back. A little throatier than stock but zero “ricey”.
Stereo: Boston Acoustics component speakers, large amp in trunk, CD changer, but needs replacement of head unit.
Stock “daisy wheels” in very good shape.
Replaced vinyl top with glass zip out rear window.
Original keys, owners manual, etc.
Clean title—not an “R” title.
Overall I’d say the Interior and Exterior are a 9 out of 10.

Drivetrain. 249K miles on it.
Engine problems: late fall car started running very rough at a stop light—towed home and compression test shows:
30 PSI cylinder 1
30 PSI cylinder 2
175 PSI cylinder 3
110 PSI cylinder 4
Engine is the original short nose 1.6—zero indication of keyway issues—I have done the timing belts and seals personally over the years and followed all recommendations regarding new bolt, proper torque of crank bolt etc. I believe head gasket failure and/or valve work is needed at a minimum.
Transmission: 5 speed grinds a bit when downshifting into 3rd.
Clutch: at 140K on the clutch—it is probably near its end of life.
Car runs above 2500 RPM but the engine shakes pretty heavily.
Removed AC compressor years ago when the bearing started to squeal. All AC components are there but a full re-do of the system is recommended to get AC going again.

$3000 firm.

SO: if you are looking for a good looking NA Miata and are prepared to do the drivetrain work you have a great project. I’ve found body work/paint is incredibly expensive any more—finding a car with good body/paint and working on the mechanicals is often the best path.
My recommendation is to replace the entire drivetrain. Engine/clutch/transmission. But, if it is just the head/head gasket, the clutch and transmission have been working and I was driving it 60 miles one way to work on sunny dry days for years.
PS: a good option would be to put a 1.8 drivetrain into it as there seem to be many more 1.8s out there than 1.6s–FlyinMiata has the kit/parts to do it.

WHY I AM SELLING IT: Out of garage space, thought of doing a drivetrain swap & desire to be crawling around under cars wanes with age, have another Miata I do drive in the rain, etc.

Located: near White Haven

Voice calls to: FOUR 8 four 3 five zero one zero 6 four

So what would you do with this Miata?  Comment below and let us know!


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