Advice on buying a MK1 or MK2

Hi all.

Looking into buying an MX5 soon and was wanting some advice. I’m setting myself a budget of maximum £3000, preferably nearer the £2500 mark. For that money what would be the better option, a 1.6l MK1 or MK2?

I like the look of both, although would lean towards the original, however am looking for a car to be as low risk/maintenance as possible. I intend on using it year round, in most conditions, including torrential rain. It will be my only car and I’d like to keep it for at least a couple of years before selling it on in good condition.

Apart from regular servicing and the usual work such as replacing tyres or the cam belt I want to do as little work to the car as possible. However, for the money would I be better off buying a poorer condition car, near the £1000 mark and having welds and any rust repairs done, buying a car with good repairs already carried out or simply buying a low rust example?

Finally, if I were to buy an example with relatively low rust around the sills and arches, how long would you expect this car to last before failing an MOT and needing repairs?

Thanks for any responses and apologies for the long winded questions, I’m finding it hard to decipher these MX5’s and what sort of car will fit my requirements best :grinning:.

Mk1 rot.
Relatively “easy” to fix…pick your pain level. No chassis rail issues to speak of.
Mk2/Mk2.5 rot
Different can of worms. Not so “easy” to fix…must take into account possible engine-bay chassis rail “inside-out” rot…plus similar Mk1 cill/ rear wing arch issues.
But, there are still bags of solid enough decent ones around of both…with a load of caveat emptor applied and very careful inspections. You really need to get down & dirty and buy NOTHING if the ads say stuff like " light bubbling here and there"
Read…Oxide Vesuvius ready to erupt.
Be ready for liars, cheats, and vagabonds. And…some nice honest folk.

Always best to put your location, someone may have just what your looking for .
Good luck in your search :+1:t3:

Sounds like a minefield :joy: but one that’s worth it.

And good idea, I’m around Southampton if any one’s looking to sell and fits the bill.

With such a budget you can get a really nice Mk1 eunos roadster. I have seen a few Mk1s being garaged on Facebook for sale. Maybe those people on here too perhaps?

Hadn’t thought of looking at Marketplace actually, I’ll have a little look.

I hate to dampen your dreams of MX5 ownership, but my immediate thought is that given the age and likely mileage of the Mk1/Mk2 cars you are going to be looking at, then expecting to get a 20 year old ‘low risk’ daily driver to be used all year round whilst doing ‘as little work on the car as possible’ is like asking for the moon and the bag to take it home in. You are talking about the older (Mk1/Mk2) cars, but you could find a Mk3 at your upper budget. The oldest of those is now 15 years old. Running an old car on an every day basis needs time, tools, skill and money and you don’t mention your level of car maintenance skills. Morse and Bergerac live in a fantasy world, so my answer to the question in your first paragraph, is ‘neither’. It’s the reason cheap PCP deals on modern small cars are so popular.

I’m with JS46.
You’re looking for a 15 year old (or older car), you want to run it year round and have no issues.
Ask yourself, how many 15 year old Mondeo, Astra, Focus, Fiesta, Punto, Megane etc etc etc are there, which are trouble and rot free. Few and far between.

Please don’t expect the MX5 to be any different.
Don’t set your expectations too high.

I don’t wish to deter anyone from owning an MX5, it’s the second best thing I ever purchased.
Just be prepared to walk away from a few rough ones before you encounter a good one.
Do your home work, ask many questions on here.

Very fair points and I have certainly considered them. However, I am aware that things will pop up and the car will need working on. I’ve little mechanical experience however it’s something I’d happily expand if necessary with the car with the use of tools such as this forum. Thankfully despite mentioning it will be used year round, I am not dependent on the car and have other means of travelling to work or Uni, I’m buying it for the fun but also to be used as an option for getting to these places.

I guess my points were that I’d like a car which will need little to no expensive work done on it, ie. not a rust bucket or with an engine that’s been sat unused for 10 years and fails to start. Off of that can any one give any indication of how much money I should plan to put aside for general maintenance of the car over the course of 3 years, such as servicing and those unlikely problems that (knowing my luck) will undoubtedly occur? I know that’s personal to each car but a rough indication will help me to budget in enough for if :poop: happens.

Thats impossible to say really, a basic service will cost about £150, maybe £75 if you did it yourself. Tyres at £50-£100 per corner.
Anything else depends on the car and whether anything fails.
50p for a sidelight bulb.
£300-£500 for a clutch.

I have an early MK3, apart from servicing, I’ve spent no more than about £200 on repairs in 5 years of ownership, but I have spent many hours tinkering.

One real issue with the Mk2 genre is the front chassis rails can rot out. THis goes unchecked on MOT’s as they are obscured by plastic under trays.
They could have been rotting for years and no one noticed.
If you plan on buying a MK2, get underneath, get some plastics off and satisfy yourself that it’s a good one.
Anything that looks like bubbling on the rear wheel arches and rear sills, walk away.

Check it’s MOT history online, and mention of seat belt anchor points corroded, walk away.

A lady at work bought a MK2 about 3 years ago. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she bought a pup. Needless to say, she no longer has it.

Okay thanks, I’ll start doing my sums and looking at what levels of rust to avoid.

Bear in mind that it is difficult to assess what level of rust a car has, as they rust from the inside out, so it is not all visible - good luck!!

So is there no way of finding out unless cutting a car up? Could I tell by the sound say an arch makes when tapped or is that all getting a little bit finnicky and technical?

I wasn’t in the buying market, but walked by two MX5s for sale, that I couldn’t tell apart with my knowledge, and chose the 1.8, which had been standing outside for 10 years.
I drove it home with the brakes rubbing and all.
After belated studying, I saw the rust problems to look out for, and after checking found it had very little rust, all rust was cleanable and cured, then undersealed again.
It appears that the trick is to buy one with a hard top, which helps to shield the rain from going into the internal body drain system.
£550 plus new belts, filters brake discs etc, perhaps £1000. I love it and as the weather in the next few days is looking good, I’m looking forward to some country side driving/walking
Good, luck.

Glad yours worked out for you, sounds a bargain. I’ve also seen that hardtops are supposedly better at draining the water away. Trouble is half of the cars appeal to me is based on it being convertible and easy to put up or down.

Hi E,
I’ve taken the hard top off for the summer, as there’s a soft top under it. I had a sail maker fit a new platic window in for me, a good tip if your near sail boats
I’m finding out more about it as I ‘play’ with it. Last week I had to keep the top up because of the Virus situation, and it was hot. I pushed the AC button, and it worked.
Yes, very lucky. I have a van I 've had for ages, and this was a fun toy for me, so I only look after it mechanically, so lucks teribble, with each panel a different colour.

Cheers, C.

Good to consider thanks, didn’t realise the soft top could fit under a hard top. Probably something I’d like come winter when it’s hammering down.

Nice looking car and certainly a good deal but insurance is slightly too high on the mk3’s for me unfortunately.