Mazda MX-5
(1989 - 1997)

  • Brilliant driving experience
  • Superb dynamics
  • Inexpensive to maintain
  • Possible investment opportunity
  • Lacks safety tech (or any real modern safety of any kind)
  • Very few creature comforts
  • Finding a good one can be a challenge
  • Good ones are getting expensive

Let’s not beat around the bush, the first-generation Mazda MX-5 (Miata) is a motoring icon.

No other car brought the joy of driving to the masses like the MX-5. Front-engined with rear-wheel drive in a small, lightweight, topless body is the perfect recipe for motoring fun. Throw in sublime steering, a balanced and communicative chassis and Japanese reliability and it’s no wonder prices for good condition MX-5s are on the rise.

But being a performance car, it pays to be extra careful if you’re in the market for one as many have been badly modified or driven far too hard for far too long.

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What goes wrong
  • Rust can be an issue. Be sure to check the rocker panels, subframes, door bottoms, shock towers and frame rails for signs of crusty metal
  • As some MX-5s are now over 30 years old, it’s important to inspect things like rubber hoses, suspension bushings, and electrical connections as they can wear out and fail
  • Check for fluid leaks but make sure the previous owner(s) kept up with maintenance and servicing
Model range, pricing and features

Series 1 & 2

  • Price when new: $29,550 - $38,250
  • Price used: $4,000 - $10,500

Standard features:

  • Alloy wheels
  • Power windows
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Radio cassette

Series 3

  • Price when new: $36,260 - $45,270
  • Price used: $4,500 - $25,000

The Series 3 brought with it the biggest changes to NA series with a host of mechanical upgrades and the option of an automatic gearbox.

Series 3 adds:

  • 1.8-litre engine
  • Torsen limited-slip differential
  • Larger brake rotors
  • Slightly wider wheels
Should you buy it?

YES, we highly recommend it.

Ok, it’s not exactly safe, it lacks any real luxuries and compared to even today’s hatchbacks, it’s not actually all that fast, but if you want a completely involving driving experience with the wind in your hair and a huge smile on your face, the NA MX-5 is an incredibly affordable way to embrace the love of driving.

Warranty & servicing


3 years/unlimited kms


10,000kms or 12 months

Tech specs

Body style:

  • 2-door, 2-seat convertible

Engine & outputs:

  • Series 1 & 2 – 1.6L, 4-cyl petrol – 85kW / 130Nm
  • Series 3 – 1.8L, 4-cyl petrol – 98kW / 155Nm


  • 5-spd manual, RWD

Fuel use:

  • 7.3L/100km (combined)


  • Height: 1230mm
  • Length: 3975mm
  • Width: 1675mm
  • Weight: 955kg (Series 1 & 2), 983kg (series 3)

Information correct as of January 07, 2021.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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