The first generation Mazda MX-5 Miata (internal code NA) was launched in 1989 and sold a staggering 400,000 units through 1997. It was a surprise hit given its Skunk-Works style genesis and everyone from Mazda’s product planners to all the out of work former MG, Triumph, Fiat, and Alfa-Romeo employees were shocked that a cheap, reliable, fun, sports car could sell so well. Anyway, the good news for automotive vultures of the world (that’s us) is that Mazda sold so many that the market is flooded with cheap used examples and you get get them cheaper in bulk. Find these two 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miatas offered for $2,650 (both!) in Morgan Hill, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Fiat first used the name 124 Spider on a little convertible sports car that was built from 1966 through 1985. Styling was by Dutch descended, but Detroit born Tom Tjaarda who spent most of his career with Ghia and Pininfarina. However, in 2015 the world was re-introduced to a newborn Fiat 124 with design by Virgilio Fernandez that pays homage to the original 124, but uses Mazda MX-5 ND underpinnings. Italian styling, Japanese reliability — what could go wrong? Unfortunately for Fiat, the Mazda version (MX-5 ND) is prettier, faster, sportier, and more fun to drive (that last bit is according to one famous beefsteak wielding automotive journalist.) The only thing the Fiat 124 has as an advantage is that it depreciates faster. Find this 2017 Fiat 124 Spider offered for $16,990 in Aliso Viejo, CA via craigslist.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t a car for everybody. If you are too large or if your family is too large, fuggedaboutit– you’re not gonna fit. But for all the people who want a convertible with a driving experience that is sublime, you need to at least consider a Miata. Obviously, the latest generation (ND) has the best combination of styling, performance, etc…but if you want the best bang for your buck — look to the NB generation Mazdaspeed MX-5. It was a limited production version that added a small turbocharger, Bilstein shocks, and a limited slip diff to 5428 versions equipped with the 6-speed manual for the 2004-2005 model years. Expect them to be collectible in the future, but for now, they are affordable. Find this 2005 Mazda MX-5 MazdaSpeed offered for $7,800 in Temple City, CA via craigslist.
We continue the Loony Labor Day celebrations with this next car that’ll be perfect to cruise around in the blistering heat…uggg, it is so hot right now. But you won’t worry about the heat when you’ve got a paint job like this, because you’ll be more concerned that wild animals will want to take up residence in your MX-5 or city graffiti cleanup work crews will try and remove the paint. Find this 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata offered for $10,000 in Long Beach, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Living in southern California has its pluses and minuses as car lover. One of the positives is that cars do not rust away. The big negative is the smog rules making imported vehicles nearly impossible to legally drive. So this Japanese import with a clean California title is a unicorn. Find this 1986 Mazda Bongo Brawny offered for $14,500 in Santa Barbara, CA via Craigslist.
This next car is a Mazda Protegé5 . Not a Mazda Protegé..space..5 or a Protege 5. It is actually the Protegé5 and this predates Mazda’s current obsession with everything having a numeric name..but this pedantic nomenclature hides a very capable eighth generation BJ Familia/323 wagon. This next car isn’t the Mazdaspeed version, it does look to be in remarkable condition and is offered by a dealer who (despite an exhaustive application of ArmorAll) claims it is a 1-owner vehicle and it does have a manual gearbox. Find this 2002 Mazda Protegé5 offered for $5000 in Shingle Springs (yes, that is a real place, and no it isn’t a good name for a retirement home) CA via craigslist.
It seems that a car auction site is popping up every time I turn my head or cough…sometimes when I turn my head AND cough, but that is a discussion for another time. This next car comes from Doug DeMuro’s carsandbids.com, which combines Doug’s infectious optimism with nifty late model cars. What we are talking about today is this bearded Spock universe Mazda MX-5 that has a Jaguar S-Type AJ30 V6 (which is actually a specialized version of the Ford Duratec V6) that puts 220 horsepower into the stock Miata 5-speed manual gearbox. The company that sells conversion kits (Rocketworks in Eugene, OR) claims twice the power and torque of the stock MX-5 and twice the fun. Find this 2002 Mazda MX-5 Miata V6 Swap bidding for $4,567 with less than a day to go, located in Broomfield, CO via carsandbids.com
This next car will need some kind of introduction, because unless you are the curator of a Mazda museum…you probably don’t know what this next car is…because I was totally completely unaware of the existence of the kei-sized, JDM only, ’72-’76 Chantez…wait…we’ve featured one of these Chantezes (Chantee?? Chanteux?) before…and here it is. The exact…identical, same Chantez offered for $6000 in PA back in 2016. Yup, and four years later and it still has the same skuzzy mummy skin steering wheel wrap…find this 1974 Mazda Chantez offered for $5,900 in Tampa Bay, FL via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
If I learned anything from the entire PE coaching staff of my high school, it is that everything is a competition. There is no such thing as fun sport and everything ends in a collection of losers and one winner. Today we’ve got a simple face-off for you — pick the pile of parts that you’d rather restore from these two abandoned classics. Do you want a rat chewed 1977 Mazda Cosmo for $4200 or a moldy 1966 Chevrolet Impala Coupe for $3900? Tip from Evan and Dascpcu.
I know that the RX-7 rotary purists (Wankers as they call themselves) will cringe at the average pushrod V8 swapped RX-7, but they’ll be decidedly appalled that the builder used a GSL-SE to turn into a piston pumping pavement pounder. However, despite the vintage Cali sunset plate, the car itself is pretty ragged — rust appears in bubbles all over the paint and the seller reported having a blown engine…so this wasn’t some cherry collectors item, this was an RX-7 that needed some love…which it got in the form of a Ford V8 swap. Find this 1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE offered for $3100 in Palo Alto, CA via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!