1989 Mazda Miata: Does It Qualify?

Miata Barn Find

I’m sure you saw the ’54 Corvette that we featured earlier, but if you dont have deep enough pockets for it, may I recommend this? It’s an early production Miata with only 68k miles on the odometer. Heck, it’s even sitting in a barn complete with hay and barn dust! These little cars are great fun and silver paint does help combat the “chick car” image that plagues these. If you want British sports car fun in a slightly safer and more reliable package, the Miata can’t be beat. It will be fun to see if this one generates much interest since these are currently teetering on the line between plain old used car and classic. It will be offered at the same auction as the Corvette and you can find more info here. So, what do you think – does this Miata qualify as a barn find?


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  1. Alberto

    I’m pretty sure that silver Miata’s didn’t come out until 1990. When I bought mine new in 1990, I was told it was one of the first silver ones in the US. This one’s got cruise control it looks like which I think was a dealer install, leather wrapped steering, alloy wheels. I can’t tell from the pics, but it might have the upgraded stereo and air conditioning? After market cupholder, replacing the ash tray.

    These are pretty reliable cars, but the early cars suffered from a potential crankshaft problem if belt replacement wasn’t done carefully. Unless it has that issue, clean this one up, change fluids and tires and drive it.

    • Kcodegreg

      Alberto is on the money. I have herd some horror stories about crankshaft problems. I sold my 1990 when timing belt replacement was due…….Chick car or NOT I miss that car

  2. Synchromesh

    I believe Alberto is correct – Silverstone was only available 1.6 cars for about 2 years – 1990-1992 I believe. It’s pretty rare and a nice find.

    Stereo looks stock from here (tape player) and AC was an option. This is probably the A or B package car with power windows.

  3. CanadaStick

    been painted? no lower black along the rockers

    • Rick

      I saved the full drivers side photo and also the side/front end shot and blew them up to 200%. The black is clearly there along the rockers, although some people did repaint the rockers to the main color.

  4. Bobsmyuncle

    Maybe it’s my testosterone count but it’s going to take more than the colour silver to get me into one.

  5. jim s

    try watching a spec miata race and see if that helps. this car may have a 1989 build date on its VIN plate/sticker but it should have 1990 on the title. 1990 was a long model year for the miata.

  6. Jim

    I laugh every time I see a guy driving one of these, it’s like they had to leave their balls with the wife before taking it out for a spin. Total chick car.

    • Catfishphil

      Careful, there are a lot of male Miata owners, bigger, stronger, richer and taller than you, with hotter looking wives and girlfriends who would love to show you their men’s balls, intact.

    • ORacer

      Sorry but I could not pass up commenting, what a bunch of bull. I am not sure what you call a ‘man’ car or should I say a ‘macho’ car and where you get your jollies, but if it is on a race track consider this.

      Mazda advertisements say, ‘On any given day there are more Mazdas (Miatas) racing than any given make’ and most of them are ‘Spec’ Miatas. Spec Miatas run two classes, ‘sealed’ which is stock block and ‘spec’ which is basically blueprinted. Have you seen a Spec Miata at a track day event eat up Porsches, Corvettes and BMW’s (add Mustangs and Camaros too).

      I welcome you along for a ride at Laguna and see if you still call it a chick car after a 1:45 lap.

      Other, the first Miatas came to the US in 1989 and were called 1990. They only came in red, white or blue, silver was introduced later.

      They stopped calling them Miatas in the US since the NC model and now use MX5 which is the name used everywhere else.

  7. Rick

    Mine was first sold in August of 1989. However, it is a 1990 model. Almost all manufacturers practice this….the model year is ahead of the calendar year. I had the timing belt on mine changed twice and oil changed every 3 months. It only had 106k on it when I gave it to a friend a year ago and it’s back on the road, running better than it did when I got it. Even the A/C works. Mine was a total base model with the exception of the A/C. Can’t drive in Arizona without it. It’s on its 4th or 5th top now though. I never had a garage or any kind of cover. Now it’s new top is under cover. It now has alloys which came off an Escort GT, one size larger than Miata stock and a tad wider. The only thing I don’t like on the new ones is even though they are still called Miata, that word is nowhere on the car or paperwork. They will be hitting showrooms soon. Gorgeous, but need a coupe/hardtop.

  8. J Jefferson

    Silver is not a naturally occurring colour on a Miata until ’91.

    To my knowledge, first year Miatas were brought to the North American market in only three colors: Red, White and Blue! (except for the 6 famous one off test cars http://www.miata.net/faq/colorcars.html) The marketing history around the Miata car is well documented elsewhere on the net, but the basic rule was to make the car as American (patriotic) as they could, for the least amount of money. That is why so many arrived without A/C or power windows, or anything else that added weight or cost. I seem to remember that A/C and cruise were only available as dealer ad ons (perhaps not in all US locales, but many). Once the car was a success, Mazda started to add features and colors. I think it wasn’t until ’94 that they moved the antenna a bit further back to allow for a power mast. I’ve had to retro fit my ’90 (with 85k miles) with a trunk release lever in the console, replaced the short nose crank, and added a much newer OEM stereo headunit and lots of other small mods/updates that all look stock if you don’t know the year of my car. I can tell you that I don’t feel at all like a girl when I drive it…

  9. Dolphin Member

    I think Rick is right….built/sold in ’89 but a M.Y. ’90 car. I test drove one of the first in 1989. Reminded me of the MGs I had owned, but more refined and modern.

    I don’t think the ‘chick car’ label is deserved, any more than for a Sprite or MG, which I never heard used for those cars. I might have mentioned this before….Peter Egan covered a Miata club annual meet one year in Texas I think it was, and the wrote it up for Road & Track. There were lots of people there with stock and modified cars, both men & women, and there may have been some racing at a nearby track.

    What Egan’s story conveyed was just lots of people who liked their cars and liked to get together to have a big meet with both men & women involved. It made you want to buy one and join the club and the fun. Could be the best way for a guy to meet women who like cars.

  10. Rick

    The chick car thing always bugged the heck out of me. I can’t recall the times I took a person who thought it was a CC for a ride and proceeded to make them want to throw up. Indeed. As of last year there were still a couple racing in major league ST and higher class races. They were regularly in the lead and winning. The other thing that bugged me was when someone would say it is/was underpowered. The jackwagons didn’t know how to shift, use the power band and revs and most likely drove a car with an automatic..the bane of good driving.

  11. Booya

    There are two sorts of guys I see driving Miatas: Ones who really know driving and want a real, actual sports car, and ones who probably think it’s cute.

    But then there are two sorts of guys I see driving pony cars (F-bodies, Mustangs, Chargers): Old guys, nerds, and gays looking for a boy-magnet.

    Miata FTW.

  12. Bobsmyuncle

    Don’t get yer knickers in a bunch. It’s a chick car and that’s how it’s perceived by the general public.

    I know it’s a great handling car and all and so do most ‘car guys’ but it’s still a chick car to me and many others.

    All vehicles have some cliché attached. How many here dismiss North American cars as poor handling vehicles only able to go straight a quarter mile at a time?

    And if you drive a muscle car you must hate the environment and are obviously compensating for a small unit.

    How many dismiss anything with four doors?

    Or wagons?

    Who cares?

    I drive a North American four door wagon around curves (quite quickly BTW) but I don’t waste any time defending my car to anyone.

    As for my earlier comment, in the cars defence I think all convertibles are chick cars.

    Now if we want to really ruffle feathers maybe I’ll tell you what I think of most M3 drivers ;)

    • Tim H

      Just so you know, you are not talking to the general public, we are supposed to know a little about cars.

      And no car can make you a man or take away your manhood. Well I did see a pink Miata with teddybear wheels, that one might take my manhood.

  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This car reminds me of a first-gen Miata – red with hardtop – that has been sitting outside in a driveway just a few houses away from me. I have already decided that a first-gen Miata will be my next fun car, and I’ve thought about knocking on his door to see what the plans for the car might be.
    I just have to decide if buying a needy car that is simply a used car at this point is worth the effort – it hasn’t moved in 10 years. But what a fun project if it can be bought for cheap money.

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