Any Mk3 buying advice please

  1. My model of MX-5 is: currently a 2.5
  2. I’m based near: _Gloucester _
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on: Mk3s
    Hi all,
    I have had a number of Mk2s in the past and currently run a Mk2 1.6 Roadster & a Mk2.5 1.8VVT, I’m seriously thinking about getting a Mk3 now.
    I don’t really know much about the Mk3 so would welcome any known issues or things to look out for when buying one.
    Do they suffer the same sill and wing rust problems as 1s, 2s, and how about the front chassis rails?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I believe that they Suffer from similar rust issues. from what i looked for when buying mine, I looked for Sil rust, wheel arch rust and chassis rail rust. Underneath the boot liner if the seals on the boot lid fail it can be rusty. They also suffer from cosmetic rust underneath the boot lid where the water collects but this isn’t a structural issue.

This is not a comprehensive or probably massively accurate list but its what I could discern from looking and purchasing one for myself.

Hope It helps, if even a little.

You don’t say what age of Mk3 you are looking for and whether soft top or PHRT. However there is plenty of advice here on the forum of the Mk3 issues but to summarise things to be aware of:

NC1s are starting to show corrosion around rear wheel arch and sills where they join the rear arch and surface corrosion on underside of floor and suspension arms. Therefore I would be looking for a car that had been rust proofed underneath or if buying a later car then budget to get it rust proofed.

Soft top boot lid suffers aluminium surface corrosion around number plate lights. Easily treated by rubbing down, priming and painting.

Water ingress into cabin from blocked roof drains and windscreen scuttle, check for wet carpets. Lots on the forum about these issues.

Engines are reliable if oil is changed regularly and kept at the max mark on the dipstick. Also spark plugs, gearbox and back axle oil should have been changed on early cars along with F22 coolant, so check service history.

Check tyres are all the same and decent make, makes a big difference to handling.

Obviously check MOT history, known issues are sticking brake calipers and worn anti-roll bar drop links, both easily replaced.


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Excellent advice above…

I’ll just add, the front chassis rails don’t seem to be a problem on the Mk3, not known any owners report anything.

Do also include checking the boot floor, the bits each side of the recess in the boot. These catch the muck and can easily be overlooked, I had a little corrosion on mine. Also the rear chassis rails, especially around the back box exhaust hangers, again I’ve treated that area on my car.

If you do look under a Mk3 unless treated you may see most of the suspension components rusty, seems the normal as not much protection has been applied at manufacture. The rear subframe can rust quite badly in some.

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Here you go:


Having owned simultaneous both a Mk 2.5 and Mk3.5 they are very different cars.
To me the 2.5 felt so much older, lighter, nose heavy (or tail light take your pick) and you sit up more in the MK2.5.
I feel more sat in and part of the 3.5 and the 50:50 weight balance really let’s you explore the handling.
I test drove a few and the standard suspension sits too high. It’s a decent ride but floats over crests.
I found one with the Mazda lowering kit fitted from new. (Eibach springs 30mm lower), the rest of the suspension is standard. Not only does it look better the handling is much improved so I would either look for one of these or swap the springs when you get it.
Quite cheap for the spring set but factor in having the alignment adjusted.

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Thank you all very much, very enlightening. I was hoping not to have to spend yet another weekend on the drive cutting, grinding and welding but it seems the norm on earlier 5s what ever the model.
I think I may stick with my 2.5, its had extensive work on Sills, arches, chassis legs and paint work and looks the bees knees now.
It’s just developed a top end knock somewhere when hot so I guess that’s the next project in the spring. Better the devil you know and all that!
Thanks all again for tips and advice.