NA Miata, Take 2: Black & Tan

A few weeks back, my scruffy little 1990 NA Miata project trackday car, El Cheapacabra, met an untimely demise. I posted a quick sob story describing the incident, and got some great leads from readers – thank you guys for the input! However, I couldn’t help myself from setting up a craigslist alert with a few key criteria: model = Miata, year = up to 1993, transmission = manual, price =< $3500. With a barrage of daily autobot emails there were bound to be some good ones, and today I pulled the trigger on El Cheapo’s replacement, using insurance payout cash to buy this 1993 “C package” car in black & tan. Hooray! Back to jinba ittai for me.

The car I found was being sold by a college student who needed the money for school, but obviously she enjoyed the little guy. It has a few upgrades already including a Mishimoto aluminum radiator and a Sparco suede-covered steering wheel. Overall, it’s a relatively low mile (130k), relatively clean (a few minor bumps & bruises), rust free ’93, last of the 1.6L Miatas in the US. DT’s Editor-in-Chief Vince has not so subtly tried to convince me to get an M Roadster instead of an NA, but I already have two needy BMWs under my care – and wanted a low-fuss solution for getting out on our local tracks.

The engine bay needs a healthy cleaning but everything looks in order with some fresh maintenance parts and no leaks. The inner fenders have no signs of crumpling at all – unlike my last car, even prior to the killer accident. It idles smooth and pulls cleanly, like a rev-happy Mazda B engine should. The seller even smogged the car last month (!) which makes it the first in a long line of vehicles I’ve bought that fall into the category in a while, even though California private sellers are legally obligated to get the car through emissions testing successfully (most aren’t aware of that requirement, it seems).

I wasn’t looking for a black & tan car, which are somewhat rare to find in good shape, but I can’t complain about the color combo. The Black & Tan (capitalized) edition was ’92 only; in ’93 the color combo was an option when the highest trim level was selected. The leather driver’s seat has been thrashed harder than one of Kirk Hammett’s ESP KH guitars, but it is strangely more comfortable than the decent cloth seat in the last car. I like the aesthetic in here especially with the Sparco wheel. Seats will be changed out for something that can accept 5-point harnesses, so no worries there. I felt a bit of shimmy at highway speed from the wheels & tires, but the Falken Azenis RT615K and cheap light 15 x 6.5″ wheels from El Cheapacabra survived that accident and will be going onto this car along with the Racing Beat stainless exhaust I scored on CL.

So I suppose that t-bone into the E46 wasn’t such a bad deal after all – I was able to upgrade to a better baseline car, and now I’m back in the groove of lightweight 5-speed motoring. Stay tuned for updates as we get this one ready for its maiden track day.

CFlo is Daily Turismo’s co-founder and Technical Editor. When he’s not driving an “emissions spewing” TDI he’s underneath a Volvo, on top of a Land Cruiser, cursing at a broken BMW, or driving the piss out of a crapcan race car. And that’s all before 10AM.