Live Auctions

Modern Classic? 1997 Mazda Miata MX-5 “M” Edition

Mazda certainly knows how to market cars.  Take the ubiquitous Mazda MX-5, for example–it came out in 1989 as a $14,000 second childhood/midlife crisis machine and sold nearly 59,000 cars in the U.S. for sales years 1989 and 1990 combined.  That’s about 9,000 more units than Corvette sold in the same model years–as a newcomer.  Huh: a lower-priced open-air sports car in a market where Corvette could only sell 9,749 convertibles.  How did Mazda come in and just create this market share? Part of Mazda’s sales wizardry is producing “Special Edition” limited production models–and there have been a bunch of ’em.  This particular Marina Green Miata falls into the category of the 1989 “M” Special Edition that Mazda limited to just 3,000 cars.  It can be found here on Craigslist for sale in Medford, Oregon with an asking price of $12,500.

Seller’s photography skills are excellent–this pic is NOT from a sales brochure and is typical of the well-staged pictures of a very well-detailed car taken in an urban industrial environment.  This MX-5 has just 41,640 miles on the clock and has upgraded features such as the wood shift knobs, cut pile carpeting, upgraded stereo system, air conditioning, and six-spoke chrome wheels.

Again, actual photos of the car, not Mazda promo shots. Seller states that the car has had limited annual use (no salt road experience) and has been detailed annually including the engine.  Pride of ownership extremely noticeable.

Seller notes a few nits: in the far lower-left corner of this photo, the driver’s seat bolster is showing some wear in an otherwise very well-kept interior.  There is a small tear in the soft top (not shown in any photo) reported with no leaks. And there’s a minor door ding not visible in the pix.  This is a 24-year old car that doesn’t look like it has gone through its first bottle of windshield washer fluid.

The MX-5 engine room sports an 1,839 cc (112.2 cu in), four-cylinder, 133 horsepower engine that has, through experience by owners,  little trouble achieving high-mileage with minimum attention and normal maintenance.  The 4-speed close-ratio manual transmission makes for a fun driver capable of (hush-hush) 120-mph top speeds.  (It’s OK, we won’t tell she/he/Dad who holds the wallet about that part.)  This model year was the last of the “first generation” MX-5s. This particular final model year for the first-generation MX-5 would likely be a safe bet to buy as a used car especially after more than 400,000 MX-5s made from 1989 through 1997 in Hiroshima, Japan.  Mazda is getting it right apparently because the car is STILL in production although the maturity of the model may be showing in the 7,753 sales figure for 2019. Hagerty’s opinion on the value of this car?  A base 1997 Mazda MX-5 in EXCELLENT condition is about $15,700.  But wait, there’s more–add 20% for the “M” package and add even more for some of the other options chosen by the original buyer.  Add all that up and recognize this attractive car has a pretty attractive asking price.




  1. Moncton(was Winnipeg)carnut Member

    4 speed?

    Like 5
    • Kenneth

      The seller told me personally that this is a FIVE speed.

      Like 1
  2. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Nice car, fair price.

    Like 4
  3. Skorzeny

    Whatever you guys think of Japanese cars, this is worth every penny.
    As a side note, I remember when these first came out, there was talk that you had to ‘remove’ a motor mount to change the oil filter. Not true. I never had to. BUT, Mazda (IMO) had the oil filters over tightened from the factory. On my own mother’s new 626, first oil change, with the right tools on hand, took me half an hour to get that filter off. No excuse for that.

    Like 2
  4. Jim

    Miatas are just too plentiful to merit the “classic” label.

    Like 2
    • Frank Sumatra

      How do you define a “classic”?

      Like 2
      • Skorzeny

        For him, not a Miata. Maybe a Coke?

        Like 5
  5. Tin Box

    Jim…too plentiful? With over five million classic Mini’s made, 6 1/2? Beetles and no one considers them not classics…
    Limited Edition, great colours, relatively low mileage, not California sun baked or east coast rusty – this is great value for someone who wants a small, dynamically excellent sports car, that will need nothing but very basic maintenance for decades.

    Like 6
  6. MarveH

    Clearly Miatas, especially NA’s, are nearing classic status. Right now, I’d call them collectable. They are purpose built for fun and nothing else, reliable as sunrise, small and easy to store, and you can hoon all day on $25 in gas.
    I’ve had four, my wife’s 94 R Edition is a our keeper and I’m getting ready to sell a 91 Special Edition for charity.
    My wife and I get in ours on a summer evening and get lost, looking for roads we have never been on. Where I live the twisty roads go on forever and if I encounter two traffic lights in three hours that’s congestion.

    Like 11
  7. John

    The early cars, pop open headlight cars, are truly not that plentiful.
    Many of the NA cars have been tracked, drifters,lowered, modified in every sense you can think of.
    Getting used up, and or wrecked in big numbers
    Kind of like back in the day when we would throw original smog, air cleaners, shifters, seats etc away for hemi cars, Boss cars, Z cars, Ferrari. Alfa , Jaguar etc. Get the drift?
    The pop open headlight cars are the ones rising.

    Difference in general,>>>> post 1973 rubber bumper cars of all types are a boundary for some collectors. One of my early chrome bumper panteras’, compared to >>> not being happy about rubber gaudy bumpers made std equip on 73-7 cars.Had a few of those too..
    For Miata, the simplicity, light, quick, agile, first examples, like a street 65 Shelby.

    NB, next generation, lost the spirit of the early cars.

    Consider they have been produced for over 31 years now.
    Yes they Miata is a car of the masses that want affordable enjoyment>> should add reliable and track fun.
    They are the most popular and driven spec cars in North America.
    They will continue to climb in value and show use.

    They are now being allowed and considered for Invitationals and Concours D’ Elegance events too. That drives their value even more.

    The 97 M editon above is worth every penny he is asking.
    OLD adage, could of, would of and should of. !!!!!!!

    Just me own opinions from being an old dog that has been around the block.

    Like 5
  8. Greg

    I had a 1976 tr6 first sports car for many years. But Now I up graded to a 2007 sky redline That is very fun and fast I would take that any day over a mass produced Miata….

  9. roland schoenke

    I love to add this car to my garage, they will be the most reliable collectibles, especially compared to a British sports car they emulate. Better built and fun

    Like 1
  10. trdave

    Agree with comments. Just bought an NB. Will sell the NA . NA a much preferred driving car. NB feels bigger, heavier, less nimble. Only replacements on the NA have been rear bearings and u-joints last year in 179K miles. This M is a buy.

    Like 1
  11. yes300ed

    One of the saddest days of my life when I check out a 1990 MX5. I’m 6’5″ 275lbs with size 14 feet. I can’t fit! Dammit!!!

    Like 1
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Man do I know how you feel, yes300ed.

      Cars I have drooled over for decades since the age of 13 are either too small or the steering wheel is uncomfortable for anything more than a grocery store run. Sold the ’60 Corvette.

      I played ice hockey as a right defenseman even when players were still 6’3 or smaller and less than 225 pounds.

      So, now at a reduced height of 6’1 1/2 and 197 pounds, I still face discomfort in anything less than a Big Healey or nothing smaller than a ’65 Pontiac GTO.

      I tried a Viper. I tried a Miata. I tried a Nova. I represented drag racing Funny Car teams and what a laugh getting out of one of those cockpits after burn-in–not funny. They laughed, though. Haha. Can’t beat the smell of lingering burnt nitro in the pits.

      Yes300ed, we were meant for the luxury of a 1939 Packard 1708 Limo with the jump seats securely stowed. Maybe wide receivers, second basemen, and fleet-footed left-wingers were meant for the racy, sporty tight-fitting cars–and maybe the same goes for pants and tapered shirts, too.

      We need to start an all-big guy car lovers thingee. MGs, Miatas and American Bantams–puh. What do you think?

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