The Buyers Guide for Mazda NA Miata MX-5. The Mazda NA Miata has always embodied the sports car of the 1990s. They are light, agile, and infinitely customizable. Since their introduction in 1989, the MX-5 has been the weapon of choice for aficionados seeking rear-wheel roadster excitement on a budget. In the 30 years since, the MX-5 community has grown into a vast collection of hardcore Miata enthusiasts that support all types of Miata builds.
The most desirable model in the Miata lineup is the first-generation NA Miata. The NB, NC, and ND Miatas that followed are all regarded as excellent drivers’ vehicles, but the NA has a unique place in many enthusiasts’ hearts. The NA is the most barebones, pure, and lively Miata of the four, and it will likely remain so.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most important factors to consider before purchasing a NA Miata. This article is designed to assist you in locating the best NA Miata for your specific requirements.
Miata MX-5 History
Japan was a refuge for low-cost sports vehicles in the 1990s. Nissan and Toyota introduced some of their most renowned cars of the time, including the R32 GTR and MKIV Supra. Mazda entered the fray with the RX-7. While most of those automobiles were reasonable in comparison to the higher-end cars with which they competed, they were still a bit out of reach for the ordinary public.
The NA Miata was Mazda’s answer to a lightweight performance car on a budget, with a $14,000 MSRP. This was a major factor in the Miata’s instant success, as customers leaped at the chance to own a fun, reliable, and inexpensive roadster.
The design of the Miata was influenced by classic British sports car concept. Mazda prioritized making the NA Miata as light as possible in order to improve cornering and agility. Because of the NA’s light weight, power was not a top focus for Mazda. In M2-1028 Special Edition configuration, even the most powerful factory NA MX-5 produced only 150hp.
While the power of NA MX-5s is unimpressive, big horsepower was never the objective of a Miata. The Miata’s lightweight structure and ability to corner well were its selling points. The general public appeared to agree.
Mazda sold nearly 400,000 NA Miatas globally between 1989 and 1998. As a result, the Miata is still one of the most successful sports cars in the world today.
Variants of the NA Miata from 1990 to 1998
Mazda released a wide range of special edition MX-5s with distinctive upgrades and additions during the NA Miata’s 9-year manufacture cycle. The NA also featured two separate engines: a 1.6L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder and a 1.8L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder. Unsurprisingly, the 1.8L engine is the more powerful and desirable of the two engine options.
Mazda Miata 1.6L Specifications
The NA Miata was originally equipped with a 1.6L inline-4 B6ZE engine that developed 116 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. Despite its modest power and torque output, the B6 engine has a higher redline than most other 4-cylinder engines, at 7,200 rpm. The most of the pleasure is found in the high-rev regions, particularly with the 1.6L engine. The 1.6L NA was offered with either a 5-speed manual or an optional automatic transmission.
A viscous LSD was available as an option on well-equipped 1.6L Miatas. And stated that the early NA 1.6L Miata could go 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds and attain a top speed of 117 mph with all factory performance options.
Mazda Miata 1.8L Specifications
Mazda chose to develop a beefier 1.8L variant for the 1994 model year after the first success of the 1.6L NA Miata. The 1994 Miata’s 1.8L BP-ZE engine was based on Mazda’s updated B8 engine platform and included upgraded engine technology such as a forged crankshaft, piston oil-squirters, and an oil pan with cooling fins.
Horsepower of 1.8L Miatas increased to 129 hp and 110 lb-ft of torque. The 1.8L featured a lower 7,000 rpm redline than the 1.6L, which had a higher 7,200 rpm redline. The 1.8L NA MX-5 also had an optional Torsen LSD, which was a small improvement over the viscous LSD present in the 1.6L model.
Special Edition NA Miatas
Mazda also produced 15 special edition MX-5 models during its production run. In general, special edition NA Miatas command a higher price depending on the model, even on the used market.
Most NA Miata special editions had a distinct interior/exterior color scheme that was distinctive to the location in which they were produced or what the edition was commemorating. Performance improvements included firmer suspension, updated sway bars, a unique differential, and aftermarket wheels on some special editions. A couple SEs also have distinctive visual enhancements.
The following are the NA Miata special editions that were released between 1990 and 1998:
- Limited Edition (UK) 1991
- Special Edition 1991
- Sunburst, 1992
- 1992 Miata Black
- Limited Edition 1993
- Energia Electric Vehicle, 1993
- M-Edition 1994
- 1994-1997 R-Package
- M-Edition 1995
- Concept 1995 M Speedster
- M-Edition 1996
- 1996 M Coupe Design
- M-Edition 1997
- Speedster Edition 1996
- 1997 Touring Package Option
How much does a NA Miata cost?
Naturally, one of the first considerations that arises when purchasing a new vehicle is what the pricing range should be. The secondhand price of a NA Miata, like any other car, fluctuates based on a few things.
Nowadays, finding an unmolested NA MX-5 in decent condition is quite tough. To be honest, it has been 30 years since their initial publication, so time has played a significant role. Because Miatas are so changeable and popular in the aftermarket, it’s difficult to locate one that hasn’t been “upgraded” in a tinkerer’s garage. Because of these characteristics, NA Miata costs are often higher than they should be.
Obviously, the condition of the car plays a significant role in the pricing. Rust on NA Miatas is a major role in sale price, as substantial rust repair is usually not worth the bother. Other common cosmetic faults on Miatas include ripped or damaged soft tops, cracked inside trim, and faded paint. While Miatas are known for being absolutely durable, certain difficulties, such as crankshaft issues on early versions, do have an impact on price.
How much does a 1.6L Miata cost?
Early, automatic, 1.6L cars with limited extras and no LSD are the least desirable versions, as evidenced by normal asking costs. It is common to locate less desirable early model NA Miatas for around $3/3,500. Most enthusiasts do not believe they are worthwhile purchases. While all Miatas are enjoyable, base model 1.6L NAs with automatic transmissions sap some of the Miata formula’s enchantment.
Early model 1.6L NA MX-5s with manual gearboxes and an LSD will provide a far more fun driving experience, albeit at a somewhat higher cost. This standard can be found in driver’s condition for roughly $4/4,500. Because the 1.6L engine lacks the required oomph of the 1.8L, Miatas powered by the 1.6L are less expensive. In terms of NA ownership, this is most likely the best starting place. Despite the 1.6L’s shortcomings, the 5-speed/LSD combination will put a grin on your face.
How much does a 1.8L Miata cost?
1.8L Miatas are a considerably hotter commodity than early 1.6L NAs. Everyone in the MX-5 community understands that the 1.8L BP-ZE-powered cars are superior in almost every way, resulting in inflated prices. Cars with an automatic transmission and no LSD in the 1.8L range sell for less on the used market. The same general approach applies here as it did for 1.6L vehicles. Automatic, open-diff NA Miatas simply aren’t as entertaining. While you can probably get one for around $4/4500, consider whether something else would be more worthwhile.
The crème of the crop are good grade, stock, 1.8L Miatas with a 5-speed transmission and LSD. As a result, they are the most expensive. Because there is such a strong Miata community these days, they are in high demand and often sell very quickly. If you do chance to discover one for sale, expect to pay between $6,000 and $10,000. Low mileage specimens can get up to $12,000. That seems a little excessive for a 30-year-old Mazda with 120 horsepower. Beauty, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder.
Miata Special Edition Price
In terms of sales price, NA special edition Miatas are when vendors start to become a little ridiculous. Because most special edition Miatas were produced in limited quantities for their respective markets, the exclusivity factor is frequently overstated. Nonetheless, many die-hard Miata enthusiasts are willing to pay the extra money for one.
The 1995 M-Edition NA Miata is one of the most popular limited edition cars, with just 3,500 produced for the US market. M-Edition standard automobiles with typical mileage can easily sell for $15,000.
Low mileage vehicles often sell for the highest prices. A 1993 Limited Edition NA with barely 8,000 miles on the clock sold for a ridiculous $36,750 in a recent auction.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Mazda Miata
NA Miatas are well-known for their dependability. That is one of the key reasons why people adore them. Miatas can typically reach 200,000 miles without breaking a sweat with regular minor maintenance and general upkeep. They are, however, 30 years old at this time and frequently exhibit troubles typical of cars of their age.
There are three major areas to pay strict attention to in order to ensure that the NA you are purchasing is of high quality. The drivetrain, body/cosmetics, and suspension components are the three sections. As a general rule, if these three regions are in good condition, the car is likely to be a nice one.
Fortunately, Mazda still produces new parts for NA Miatas three decades later, making it reasonably simple to replace broken parts or refresh pieces that are failing due to age or wear. While most technical difficulties on NA Miatas are easily repaired, issues such as significant rust or a damaged frame from a previous crash are not.
Body/Cosmetic Issues with the MX-5
Rust is the nemesis of any aged car, especially in areas where roads are salted in the winter. Unfortunately, Miatas rust frequently. The bottom rocker panels of a NA Miata are the most vulnerable to rust. Even though there is no obvious rust, if the paint on the rocker panels is bubbling or distorted, there is a significant chance that rust is present underneath.
Rust is also frequent on the interior and exterior surfaces of NA Miata fender arches. The worst part about rust is that it will undoubtedly spread; it is not a matter of if but of when. If a Miata has rust on the rocker panels or fender arches, it is likely that the rust has entered deeper into structural parts. If the NA MX-5 you’re contemplating has extensive rust, it’s probably more cost-effective to find another one.
NA Miata Frame Examination
Another crucial factor to consider while shopping for a Miata is the frame’s trueness. It is generally a good idea to inquire about the vehicle’s title. If the Miata has a salvage title, it was involved in a significant collision in the past, which frequently resulted in frame damage. Looking under the car for overspray paint can often help you pinpoint the spot of a significant accident. If paint is found on rubber trim components, it is likely that the parts have been changed and repainted.
Because of their age, fading paint is another typical concern with NA Miatas. Severe clear coat fade or paint damage is an indication of how long the automobile has been sitting in the sun, which can often be a bad reflection of how well the car has been cared for overall. While terrible paint will not harm the car’s drivability, it is a crucial concern in terms of pricing.
MX-5 Soft Top and Interior Inspection
Because most NA Miatas come with a foldable soft top, it is critical to ensure that it folds and unfolds correctly to avoid future difficulties. Most NA soft tops have a zipper above the rear windshield that must be closed before the soft top can be fastened to the front windshield latch. Check that the zipper works properly and that the soft top opens and closes without snags or resistance.
The rear windows on NA MX-5s were either plastic or glass. Check for scratches, holes, or discolored spots on vehicles with a plastic rear window. If colorful spots accumulate on the plastic glass, it will eventually become opaque and require replacement.
In general, Miata interiors hold up nicely over time. Leather seats are prone to cracking and uneven wear as they age with usage, which is to be expected. Plastic trim fractures frequently, however it can be replaced using Mazda OEM parts.
MX-5 Drivetrain Problems
The NA Miata is regarded as one of the most dependable sports cars ever produced. This applies to both the 1.6L and 1.8L engines. In general, assuming the previous owner kept the car in good condition by performing frequent oil changes and timing belt changes at 60-90k intervals, the powertrain should be in good shape. In terms of dependability, they are truly pocket-sized tanks. However, there are a few things to keep an eye out for.
1.6L Miata Drivetrain Inspection
In terms of drivetrain troubles, early model 1.6L NA Miatas are the most problematic of the bunch. Crankshaft problems have been reported in 1990-1991 NA Miatas, which can lead to engine failure. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to assess the crankshaft’s strength during a pre-purchase check. The simplest technique to detect the problem is to look for wobbles in the crankshaft pulley.
Checklist for the Engine of the NA MX-5
Check the coolant and vacuum hoses for leaks or cracks as well. Most hoses on NA Miatas are brittle and prone to cracking if not replaced. They are simple and inexpensive to repair, but it is useful to know ahead of time.
The sound of a “lifter tick” is quite common in NA Miatas. The lifter tick is a characteristic sound that grows in intensity and frequency when the throttle is pressed. While bothersome, it is not a significant problem and does not indicate that there is damage in the engine. Knocking noises that are loud and pronounced are a different issue. Rod and main bearing deterioration can create loud knocking from the engine’s lower section. Damaged or damaged rods or main bearings could cause serious problems in the future.
On NA Miatas, oil leaks are also common, particularly from the valve cover gasket and the O-ring below the crank angle sensor. If there is an oil leak near the crank angle sensor, the heater hoses or water plug are likely to fail and must be replaced.
Checklist for NA Miata Suspension
Last but not least, it is critical to inspect the Miata’s suspension. It’s rather simple to identify whether the suspension on a NA Miata is out of whack. The top hats, bump stops, and shock mounts are among the most common sites where Miata suspension breaks.
When driving over even tiny bumps or flaws in the road, a crumpled top hat will provide an exceedingly rough ride. Under the hood, examine for collapsed top hats by determining their places in the strut tower and inspecting to see whether the top hat has split from the rest of the suspension body.
Bumper failure might potentially result in an exceptionally unpleasant ride. Many rubber bump stops have lost their stiffness or crumbled after years of wear. Other symptoms of malfunctioning suspension components should be looked for during a test drive. It is critical to feel for any strong vibrations or extra bounciness from the suspension at greater highway speeds. Violent shaking can be caused by worn tie rods, failed ball joints, and unbalanced wheels.
Summary of the NA Miata Buyers Guide
There aren’t many better options for a genuine taste of 90s sports car pedigree than a NA Miata. NAs are in high demand in today’s market since they are very inexpensive, simple to maintain, and fun to drive.
When looking for a Miata, keep your long-term objectives in mind. Some people may be satisfied with the 1.6L early models, while others will require the extra power of the 1.8L.
For most people, a Miata is only desirable if it has a 5-speed manual transmission and an LSD, as those two components compensate for the lack of speed and power. Because of the cheaper price point, most people who buy automatic NAs utilize the car as a base for more extreme modifications.
Unlike other cars of this era, there aren’t many major concerns to look out for when purchasing a used Miata. Mazda clearly stressed build quality and dependability when building the NA, and this remains true today. Nonetheless, worn suspension components are the most noticeable issue that plagues the majority of MX-5s on the road today. However, with so many aftermarket solutions for NA Miatas available, there are very few concerns that cannot be quickly and affordably resolved.