Budget Roadster: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata

It makes interesting reading. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is now the best selling 2-seater convertible sports car in history. Since its release in 1989, Mazda has sold around 1.2 million cars, with US buyers snapping up 450,000 of these little gems. It also means that the Miata is by no means a rare car, but it has sold in those sorts of numbers for one very good reason. It’s a good car. This 1990 example looks like a nice, clean little car, and the owner has decided to part with it. He has set a BIN price of $3,975 for the Miata, but the option is there to make an offer. If this little car grabs you, then you will find it located in Thomaston, Connecticut, and listed for sale here on eBay.

It’s really hard to find much to fault about the appearance of this little Miata. The paint looks good, there are no obvious signs of accident damage, and the soft-top also looks to be in good condition. The fact that the car is a convertible was its main selling point (naturally), but the ease of operation of the non-power soft-top was a real strong point. While some cars featured quite elaborate and complicated soft-top operation, with the Miata it was possible for one person to lower it without leaving their seat. I’ve given the photos a long, hard look, and about the only things that I can find are the fact that the rear window might be starting to get cloudy, and that the center caps on the wheels are discolored. Otherwise, it looks pretty good for a 29-year-old car.

Once again, this is a 29-year-old car full of 29-year-old plastic trim, but it is all in pretty remarkable condition. The carpet looks to be a bit scuffed around the driver’s left foot area, there is some wear visible on the wheel, along with some on the parking brake and the driver’s side seat belt, but the rest of the interior has held up quite well. While you get air conditioning, a driver’s airbag, and an AM/FM radio/cassette/CD player, window operation is manual. Mazda designed the Miata to provide good performance from a small and light package, and this is why power windows and a power top were not a standard feature on early cars. Over the years, Mazda started to integrate more alloy and composite materials into the construction of the Miata, and this has allowed the addition of more luxury features, while not compromising vehicle weight or performance.

Under the hood is the peppy little 1,598cc twin-cam 4-cylinder engine, which is backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. An automatic was also available but only sold in very limited numbers. The little engine pumps out only around 115hp, but in a lightweight package like this, performance is more than adequate. Braking and handling are also impressive, with 4-wheel independent suspension providing sure-footed handling, while 4-wheel power disc brakes provide great stopping power. Once again, things look quite tidy under the hood, with no obvious signs of any ongoing leaks or problems. The owner says that the car runs and drives really well, and with only 95,000 miles on the clock, this isn’t really surprising.

At the end of the day, a Miata can be a truly great car to drive and enjoy on the weekend. However, it is also a great little daily commuter and is capable of taking virtually anything that the cut and thrust of commuter traffic can dish out. For those who might be worried about security when leaving the car unattended, there are hardtops available which are easy to install and remove, which is another option to consider. I look at this little car, I look at the condition, and I look at the price. I’m trying to find a reason not to buy it, and I just can’t. This looks like a great little car to me.

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Comments

  1. Jferrelllancaster Member

    They are great cars. Very easy to work on, modify and just plain bag thru the gears and scream weeeeeee!! I owned(and wished I never let go of) a limited edition yellow 92 model. Working on the customers Miatas for so long and finally getting my own play toy was so much fun! I still yearn for another one. This one is extremely tempting and is in very good shape. ZOOM ZOOM!

    3
  2. Howard A

    I’ve overlooked the Miata in my sports car quest. I don’t know much about them, they look cool except the belt driven cams is a deal beaker for me. No more cam belts, ever! PITA.

    1
    • Jferrelllancaster Member

      These are so simple to work on. Could do a t belt in 45 minutes on these. For a cheap dependable toy they are fun. Tach em out to 7 grand and grab that snappy short throw shifter! Add a turbo and really get ya rocks goin! If ya have never driven one it is a must.

      9
      • Howard A

        Meh, I’m an old man who couldn’t care less about turbos,,,no more cam belts.

        2
  3. Stephen

    I’m sorry, but this is one guy that wouldn’t be caught dead in a miata.
    This is a chick car period.
    Every guy I’ve known that drove one was a total weasel.

    6
    • Carstories Member

      Hey guys, I don’t agree at all. These little cars have the charm of the old Mg’s, Triumph’s, Fiat’s, Alpha Romeo’s, etc. which have always been such great cars absent of any gender consideration. What makes the desire for a fun car feminine? I just don’t understand this. Why do people think this way today? This kind of labeling is nonsense!

      And I guess my next comment would be that old elephant-in-the-room scenario here, the question just waiting to be asked… and that is: Why do you know so many weasels? Just sayin’.

      24
    • Bill Wilkman

      That stereotype died a long time ago. It was stupid when it got started and was perpetuated by guys who were insecure about their manhood. The fact is the Miata is one of the best sports cars ever produced. Today’s generation reveres them for their drifting abilities and the demand for them among today’s youth is strong. It is also the most road raced sports car ever, with hundreds of these pocket rockets dicing with each other every weekend.

      13
    • Paul

      More for me, then.

      4
    • CanuckCarGuy

      A two-passenger convertible, that appeals to the ladies…maybe I’m missing something, but how’s that a bad thing to drive?

      3
    • Dave Mazz

      Steve;

      This Miata is *THIRTY* years old!!! Wouildn’t that make it a”Real Old Lady”
      car instead of a chick car?? Or at least a vey old weasel car. :-) :-)

      2
  4. hatofpork

    I spent a few hours with a new ’91 LE. A memorable afternoon. Not for the overly image-conscious. Maximum bang for the buck.

  5. Stephen

    I never said they were friends, just a couple guys that hung out around my friends and I.
    Met others at car shows and they were just as cheesy.

    • Fred W

      Can’t blame the car just because a few weasels bought them. Somewhere in the world there must be some “men’s men” type owners. And I’m pretty sure when you find them, their cars won’t be red and they won’t be bone stock. And they’ll be using their “chick car” to pick up chicks. Kind of like the big guys that own cute little dogs.

      7
      • exartist

        You can find a lot of those guys at the track, pushing their Miatas to the limit. Not sitting around, bench racing.

        11
      • Waltguy

        Isn’t this THE Most Raced car in the World?

        7
  6. Linda

    Anyone overweight would not love a Miata. I’m small, I’m thin and I’m older. This is my second Miata and I love these cars. 1995 automatic with 96,000 miles, learner seats, no leaks, no rust, no damage and come fall I will finally sell it.

    1
  7. Keith

    I bought my 1993 Mazda Miata MX5 when I saw it here on Barn Finds a few months ago. [https://barnfinds.com/15k-original-miles-1993-mazda-miata/] Here’s an updated picture of the car now.

    13
  8. Keith

    Another picture of the 1993 Mazda Miata…….It only has 15k original miles.

    13
  9. exartist

    Never liked these until I purchased one. Back around ’02 or so my Honda civic was crushed by an uninsured, drunk and judgment-proof cretin. It was coming into winter in Maine and I needed SOMETHING and I found one of these for very cheap down in CT. I hitched a ride and drove it home. I was blown away. Sure the fit and finish and sound-proofing wasn’t a Civic, but it was probably the most reliable car I’ve ever owned, certainly the simplest car to work on that I’ve ever owned, and no matter how much you asked of it, it delivered. I drove this through Maine blizzards, auto-xed it, drove it from Maine to Ohio on a whim, turbo-charged it (grenaded the engine on that stunt, but that wasn’t the car’s fault), and drove it on logging roads, tracks, and the streets or NYC. It never complained. It had about 160K on it when I sold it to my brother and he and his wife logged another 70K on it before rust claimed it. My brother and his wife are both serious speed freaks and their garage always has a mix of American muscle, European sports cars, and sports bikes. In the years they owned it they put more miles on that Miata than all their other vehicles combined.

    13
  10. Miguel

    This seems like a great price for a fun little car.

    Things sure have changed since this car was new and they were asking way over sticker for them.

    3
  11. Sal

    I don’t understand the thought process either. I see a lot more woman driving giant Suburbans then guys, so does that make it a ‘chick car’?

    Or as my buddy used to say.. “Call it what you want… Your GF/wife/sister/mom likes it just fine.’

    6
  12. Francisco

    Gone.

    1
  13. Eli

    The most reliable and affordable sports car available these days. Simple and inexpensive.

    9
  14. Comet

    It’s too bad that these Miata’s can’t shake the “chick car” stigma. Great little sports cars, fun to drive and blessed with Japanese reliability. I wonder how long prices will be reasonable. This looks like a really nice car for the money.

    4
  15. Bill Wilkman

    The chick car stigma is largely associated with an older generation of guys who think pickup trucks can never be too mean looking or be too big. The current generation appreciates the Miata for the fantastic sports car it is. The car featured in this post is way under priced. I’ve had folks in their late teens and early twenties offer me over $10,000 for my first generation Miata.

    8
  16. SteVen

    I always wanted one, and a guy I knew(BTW he wasn’t a weasel or any other type of rodent) had a blue 1990, base car(no A or B package) with the steel wheels and only a limited slip diff as an option. Really fun car, but maybe not for the insecure man given the undeserved rep the car has gotten as a chick car.

    I likely would have bought one if I had not fallen in love with another cute but serious roadster, the super rare(50 made) Maxton Rollerskate. My 1992 ‘skate is an even more rare(1 of about 10) long-wheelbase version, and this 1700 lb. roadster uses a 200+ hp injected Mazda 13B rotary. Scary fast and super rigid structure makes it a blast to drive

    5
  17. Francisco

    I drove a blue Miata in the 90’s. At that time I worked as an elementary school principal. I parked it with the top down in the reserved principal’s spot. The kids passed it daily on their way to recess. They were in awe of it and called it “The Barbie Car.” Did that ever bother me? Never.

    3
  18. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Nice car that is now gone, replaced with a similar car with slightly higher miles and lower price.
    You can get these rather cheaply, for now.

    1
  19. RandyS

    That was an early car #5026, built May 1989.

    https://sites.google.com/site/miata00508/

  20. Will Owen Member

    Golly – some of these commenters would be amazed at all the weasels and hairdressers burning through any of the Willow Springs tracks on any racing or time-trials weekend. Miatas and Super Miatas pretty much rule there; a lot of the events and HPD schools are put on by the SoCal Alfa Romeo club, but I put out that club’s newsletter, and almost every photo in any track-event story, other than the occasional Alfas-only runs, will have a Miata or two in it. That goes for the midwinter Laguna Seca weekends we’ve had the last couple of years, too.

    10
    • Dave Mazz

      Many years ago, I was at Lime Rock Park in CT, at an SCCA regional road race and I happened to meet a “chick” there who liked motor racing. Her name was Janet Guthrie. She eventially made it to the Indy 500. Does this make an Indy race car a “chick car” ? :-) :-)

      2
  21. Bill B

    I’m guessing no one would call a lotus a chick car……funny.

    2
  22. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Only a narrow-minded”weasel” would care what other people look like when driving a car. Glad to see that this type of opinion is in the minority here.

    My wife has what you “weasels” would call a “chicks” car – a VW Beetle Convertible. I could care less what anyone thinks when I get behind the wheel, drop the top, and row through the gears. It sure beats the heck out of driving a generic, “acceptable”, jelly bean-mobile.

    5
  23. randys

    relisted.

  24. SteVen

    I’d look very cool driving one.
    Then again, I look cool driving ANYTHING! :-)

    Personally we should be grateful for folks who see the Miata as a chick car.
    If they all realized it is truly an awesome sports car, then demand would drive up the price. So THANK YOU Stephen for doing your part to keep the price of these cars reasonable.

    2
  25. Joe gundlach

    Get a life Stephen. I can imagine that you are very uncomfortable in your own skin. Too bad for you

    1
  26. Mark J. Soderberg

    Chick car? Absolutely! That’s what my 3rd gen MX-5 attracts! 21k, no problems what so ever with the car. Been there done that with big block mopars. Now it’s time for trolling (lol) in the Miata! Top down, XM radio booming out the Bose system, watching her hair trail in the wind. Just smiling, no buyer remorse here. Zoom-Zoom!

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