Ger's 2006 MX-5 NC 2.0 Sport

Hello everyone, I’ve been running a thread for a few weeks on PistonHeads, but I thought I’d start one on here to update you all, as it would be nice to be part of this community. As I’ve already owned this a couple of weeks and have made some progress already, I’ve put all of the updates in the past two weeks into one post to start this thread.

Grab a cupper, this is a huge first post.

I’ve owned a 2003 Boxster S for around 5 years, and loved owning it. I’ve sold it for a 2006 MX-5 NC 2.0 Sport. The reason was simple: we’re buying a house next year. I didn’t want something that was expensive to run whilst saving for a deposit. The difference with keeping or selling was a two bed house or a three bed with a garage. We both benefit from that, so it had to go.

Bye Beefy:

And truth be told, I miss having a small Japanese car. The car I owned before the Boxster S was a Toyota Celica T-Sport, and I regret selling it. Reliable, cheap, fun on the road. I’ve also wanted a car that I can get onto the track with, and start to build a fast road/track car. So I went shopping for a two-seater Japanese sports car, rear wheel drive for around £3,000.

It had to be the MX-5. I’ve never been a fan of the NA and NB cars (expecting a slap), and always had a soft spot for the NC. Plus with the rust issues of the NA and NB cars, for the money I was going to spend it was a no brainer. I had driven an NC about four years ago, a year after I bought the Boxster S and instantly thought I’d made a mistake in buying it after I drove an MX-5. I still remember what it drove like and wanted one since.

The criteria for my search was:

  • Not silver (just a preference)
  • NC 2.0 Sport
  • No retractable hard top (harder to fit a roll bar for the track)
  • As little rust as possible
  • Around £3,000

Cars of this price had around 90,000 miles. I didn’t mind mileage, but soon realised that mileage on the 5’s had quite a correspondence with rust. I saw one the day before yesterday that had around 100,000 miles, and I managed to put my hand through the sill. Not good. That made me nervous with finding one for around £3,000.

But just over two weeks ago, I bought one!

It’s a 2006 MX-5 NC 2.0 Sport in Black. It’s got good and bad points, but the good outweigh the bad monumentally.

I’ll start with the good:

  • No rust. It’s got some very light subframe surface corrosion, not even enough to be an advisory on an MOT. But that’s it. There’s no mention of rust on the MOT’s, and the only thing its failed on are tyres and brake pads. The sills are absolutely solid for two reasons. The first is that the owner regularly ensured the water runs were clean with a trombone cleaner. The second is the next good point:

  • It’s only on 43,000 miles! I was surprised at the mileage, but the MOT history checks out.

  • New shock absorbers all round. This isn’t just good because it has fresh suspension, it’s good because it’s not the Bilstein shocks that come with the Sport model. It’s got Sachs shocks. That’s good as I want to eventually get rid of the 4x4 look with some lowering springs (to start, coilovers later), but lowering the Bilstein shocks on the Sport model has proven troublesome from my research with a numb feeling ride. The fact it’s a Sport with Sachs shocks means I get the benefit of a Sport (6-speed gearbox, heated leather seats, Bose, etc) but with suspension I can lower cost effectively.

  • It’s been looked after mechanically. A lot of service history with some nice products used, from Micheline tyres to Bosche wipers. That’s a small thing I know, but it says a lot about an owner who doesn’t hold back on looking after a car mechanically.

  • Bose system, but with a Pioneer head unit. I thought this was a positive, but turned out to be a negative… read on to fine out.

  • It was £3,500. Originally £4,200, then £3,800, but the seller and I agreed a price. A lovely guy who still wanted something fun, but a little higher to get in and out of.

And now for the bad.

  • Paint work is horrible condition, but nothing a machine polish couldn’t do. It’s unloved, but well used. It also has scratches from a previous boot rack. Luckily there’s no deep scratches anywhere, but the paintwork has clearly been neglected. There’s swirl marks, scuff marks, matted paint, etc. It needs a 2-stage correction. The headlights and exhaust are also in need of wet sanding. Here’s a walk around of the car showing how bad the paint is: https://youtu.be/iU82VXktGzY

  • Rear discs aren’t in great condition.

  • Whilst the head unit is good, one of the previous owners hasn’t wired it in correctly. The rear speakers between the seats are almost silent, and there’s a constant hiss.

  • It has a subwoofer, which is pointless, and doesn’t work.

  • The suspension is very, very high at the front.

  • Chrome indicator bulbs at the front. They look great when off, but barely light up, so these need to go

I’m sure you’ll agree though, the bad points are very little considering this is an example that has no rust, new suspension, 43,000 miles and for the price I paid, it’s an absolute bargain.

First thing first, I had to fix the high suspension at the front:

I saw this when viewing the car. I also saw that in September last year the car was treated to four brand new Sachs shocks. Putting 2 and 2 together here, I’d imagine the suspension wasn’t pre-loaded whilst tightening the bolts. I was a little worried about it sitting at this height for almost a year, putting stress on the wishbone bushes, but it all turned out fine.

I jacked the car up, removed the wheels, and loosened both wishbone bolts and the bottom shock bolt. Then jacked the ball joint up until the car lifted off the axle stands and was under normal load. At this point, I tightened the bolts, replaced the wheels and lowered the car.

Before:

After:

A few snaps of the car the day after I bought it, after lowering the suspension. I haven’t done anything here, no wash, nothing.

The yellow wire there leads to a ridiculous subwoofer

With an equally daft remote

That has to go.

But the previous owner gave me a box full of stuff

Onwards with things that need doing.

First up, four wheel alignment.

The technician said “Is that genuine mileage? That’s outstanding”, which gave me a smile. We looked underneath and, aside from some slight surface corrosion on the rear subframe, there’s no rust. The sills are solid, and that’s made me incredibly happy.

All done. I’m aware that there’s better set-up’s than this, but it’s fine for now.

This was a little annoying as I couldn’t remember which was lock or unlock.

A new keyfob and keyring later and we’re laughing.

And then a problem hit. As I was driving, the car started to shudder and slow. Initially it was so violent that I thought it was a blow-out, but stepping outside showed that my tyres were fine. The front N/S wheel, however, was scalding hot. A binding caliper it was.

After nursing it home, I ordered a caliper rebuild kit.

Should be everything I need. Time to inspect the caliper

It doesn’t look that bad after the initial edge

These certainly look terrible, and badly fitted.

Cleaned and re-shaped the clips to ensure they were free of corrosion

Onwards with the caliper build

Doesn’t look great inside…

After using PlusGas, sand paper, and a wire brush as well as a flat head screwdriver in the runs to ensure a good seal with the new rubber seals.

All finished. The car drives lovely, and all of the brakes are even temperatures all round.

Before I go and detail the paintwork, the first thing that I need to do is the roof. This is due to the product potentially staining the paintwork, so I may as well do it first as I’ll be correcting the paint anyway.

Roof had a lot of mould:

But a lot of scrubbing later with an iron brush and some AutoGlym renovator, the results were fantastic.

Slowly getting there.

The radio, even though it’s an Apple CarPlay radio, was bugging me. There’s a constant hiss (amp issues conflicting with the Bose amp) and it screamed ‘aftermarket’. If I could implement an AUX port into the original Bose unit, that would be fine for me. So I went about replacing the system with the original Bose unit.

This was behind it…

Oh my word.

It all had to come out.

Out comes the yellow sub power lead

The reverse camera has to go too. Not great quality, not in use with the Bose head unit, and more leads that I don’t want.

I plugged the hole with a spare rubber caliper slider boot I had from a Ford Focus. Weirdly it went in perfectly.

This took me forever, but the amount of leads that came out…

All of that was for the head unit. Absolutely ridiculous, and a horrible install at that.

Far better. Sounds much nicer, and looks far neater.

I had a lead that was 3.5mm to the Bose media socket, which allowed me to enable the original AUX Media function on the stereo.

Installed in a nice neat location, along with USB power.

Much better.

After all of this was done, I finally gave the car its first wash to assess the paintwork.

Swirl city!

I spent an hour or two on the engine bay with a fine brush, engine de-greaser and dressing.

The brakes needed a good coating of hammerite

Much easier on the eyes. Next up, the wheels:

They need a refurb, but I’m not going to spend hundreds on a refurb. Instead I’ll go at them myself as I’ve done a few in the past. They’ll look far better than this and will cost nothing as I already have the sprays and equipment.

Ye ol’ playing card trick.

But the finished results were great!

Which leads us up to now.

The interior is going to be tackled today as I still haven’t cleaned it in the two weeks of ownership. I’ll be doing a thorough detail to bring it as close to factory condition as I can.

After that, the only thing that’s left is the paintwork. For this I’ll be two-stage correcting the whole thing, and that’s after I remove the bumper to wet sand and polish the headlights. Once the headlights and paintwork are done, this car will be in outstanding condition, and the only thing that’s left (for the time being) is to drive it.

For now though, what a car. How does it compare to the Boxster S? Well, the S was exceptionally capable. The flat-6 was responsive and pulled like a train, and there was no knocking how the car handled. But for me, I felt a bit disconnected. It could well have been my confidence with the car. I never felt like I was controlling the car, but rather making inputs whilst the car was driving me. It felt quite heavy and I never pushed the car to its limit. This was a problem in itself though, as it did 72mph in second gear.

The main thing with the two cars is that, I can use more of what the MX-5 is built for, than what the Boxster was built for. You have to be doing something illegal to have a thrill in the Boxster, but the 5 is fun in every sense of the word. Driving the two back to back, I actually prefer the Mazda, and if I had realised this car was up for sale whilst I still had the Boxster (and had driven it), I would have sold the Porsche for it. It’s that good. If you haven’t driven one yet, go and do it.

I’ve been on the track a few times, several in a Formula Ford single seater in Silverstone. This is what the MX-5 reminds me of. Beautiful low driving position, gearstick shaking under your hand with the transmission vibrations traveling through it, lots of feedback through the wheel, and a perfect weight balance making you feel like you’re sitting dead center in the pivot point of the car. I felt I could put the car exactly where I wanted it to be, something which I felt I couldn’t do with the Boxster.

So it’s cheap, reliable and is a dream to drive, even compared to the likes of cars far more capable than this. I’ve driven a lot of cars, and this is up there with one of the sweetest handling cars, if not the best. The future plans are to tighten up the suspension with lowered springs to start and coilover suspension in the future, uprated brakes, air filter, light weight wheels, and one or two little bits and bobs, whilst keeping it comfortable on the road and sticking to Mazda’s ethos. Think 911 GT3 compared to a standard 911. I’ll be keeping it comfortable for the road, but capable for the track.

I’ve already got a to-do list for this car, but at the moment it’s mainly to get it back to standard condition. I’m going to enjoy it standard for what it is for a while, and see why everyone else in the world loves the MX-5.

I’m already starting to see why.

P.S. if you’ve read this entire thing, here’s to you!

18 Likes

Great post, thanks for sharing.

I think you win the award for the most excessive front arch gap I’ve seen :exploding_head:

As for the 3lb of spaghetti behind the head unit, that’s also special and not in a good way.

I think you’ve got a good un there and if it means you can have a Car and an extra Bedroom that has to be a win :slight_smile:

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Nice write up.
I still beat you on how much spaghetti I found behind my head unit though. I sold some of it for scrap on eBay and got £20 for it!

I’d be keen to know where you got that key fob from, I tried a couple of eBay specials but struggling to get them to fit together properly. I’m busy adding layers of glue to the rear of the buttons to make it all fit - it’s not going well!

Hi,
I really enjoyed reading about your car - what a great write up!
I have owned four MX5’s over the last fifteen years, and my current one is a 2006 MK3 Sport too - it is totally standard, with just 32,000 miles on the clock now! I have owned it for three years, and I love it! They are fun to drive and make you smile even when you are not actually going that fast!
Enjoy!
JMK

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looks identical to mine - ebay : https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Replacement-4-button-flip-key-case-for-Mazda-3-5-6-MX-5-RX8-remote-key-fob-Shell/333268347278?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

I just swapped over the ‘fronts’ and it works fine - buttons are very stiff though.

Ger, I’ve been following your thread over on PH and I must say, hats off to you for your dedication, ability and tenacity in getting the “jobs” done.
I wish I had half the knowledge (and tools) that you have and I’m really looking forward to your finished product (and your opinion on the Tein coilovers if you go that route)

Thanks

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Only one word really… RESPECT.

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Good write up , thanks for sharing,

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Apologies for the deleted posts, just figured out how the multi-quote option worked.

Thank you! It certainly was enormous. I was a little worried to start with but thankfully it settled after the suspension was loosened.

You’re absolutely right about the house though, I’m very much looking forward to it and it’s been worth it.

I just got the keyfob from ebay. The buttons can be stiff, but that’s only because they’re missing the ‘push’ part under the button. Cut a tiny piece of cardboard and place it under the rubber, and you’ll be fine.

Kind words, thank you very much. Always nice to see another owner with the same car and the same amount of enjoyment. I know what you mean by having fun even when it’s going slow, as I’m making excuses to pop to the shops now…

Much appreciated, very kind words. I have a tendency to be a little impatient, and to fix things rather than replace things, which sometimes isn’t a good combination! I just dive into things and think of worst case scenarios before I do it. Often it’s not as bad as I think.

Thought I’d do the interior yesterday, but it actually took me two and a half hours to hoover this car. The amount of dog hairs was beyond belief. What you can see in the photos is nothing to what was under the seats and down the sides of them. Honestly, where the belt buckles are were just full of hair, you (and I’m not joking here) couldn’t even see the carpet. The dog hairs had weaved themselves into the fabric of the carpet, so it took a lot of brushing and hoovering to get them to move.

They were vacuumed and shampooed, and turned up great.

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The mark of a true enthusiast in my view.
That’s all really. :ok_hand:

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The interior is clean! I’ve not given it a coating of dressing yet, so it’s just bare plastic at the moment.

The amount of dirt was… surprising.

The pad on the right started like the one on the left. All I’ve done is wash the interior plastics with interior shampoo. That’s not even the seats.

Nevertheless it’s come up very well.

Here’s a few photos of some close-ups after some wok with the detailing brush in every tiny groove.

Not sure what to do about that gear knob. I’ve absolutely love a wooden ball, in a very Carrera GT style, like this:

I’ll keep an eye out. In the meantime, I may sand and polish this back up.

Whilst masking the car up to start machining the paint, I removed the side indicators. One is more faded than the other, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to polish this back up being so small, so I’ll look for a replacement.

I started the bonnet and front bumper, but only managed one pass on each as this happened…

Another one is on the way, but I may not have time for a few days to continue with the paint.

Either way, the first pass is promising.

You can see the line where I’ve polished the left hand side.

That’s better than the scratchy mess before.

I did the headlights while the bumper was still on the car to see if I could get away with it. Turns out I can.

Original

Sanded

Machined. The colours are from the CP lens of the camera.

I really want to drive this car, but as I’ve clayed the paintwork I’ll have to ensure it’s spotless again if I do before I continue with the machining.

3 Likes

Okay some of you might think I’m daft or insane, but I’m going to make my own gear knob. I love the idea of a dark, mirror-finished wooden ball of a gearknob. I think it would go well with the black interior, would look quite ‘classic’ in an odd way, and would feel fantastic. I’ll be keeping the original, just in case I don’t like it.

Basically, I’m ordering two relaxing wooden balls:

And an m10x1.25 thread insert:

Drill a hole, pop in the insert, job done. £6 for the balls, £2 for the threads, gives £8 for the project. The balls won’t come for a few weeks as they’re from China.

If it goes well, the balls come in pairs, so I could make a second for someone if anyone’s interested.

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Absolutely loving your thread Geraint, keep it coming…

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Thank you, appreciate the kind words.

And for a very crude mock-up

I think it’ll look and feel quite nice. Thoughts?

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Excellent. I think though that when you’ve done it you’ll need to find a way of bringing the gaiter up so it sits flush to the knob - in the way voodoo knobs sit. It’s why they are machined with an extension below the thread. (I’ve gone the other way on my black 3.5 - Mazda’s “Wood” dash trim and a piano black voodoo ball.)

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What a transformation. Your car looked ok in photos before but the improvements are tangible.
Neat idea in the wooden gear knob too.
How will you secure the threaded component into the wood?
Two pack or another means?

Wow, amazing. Is the usb conector socket in the center console original for your Mx5. Mt mk2.5 is original… but that is such a neat addition, I’m tempted lol

Thank you. The thread fit was quite tight on its own, but with superglue it’s worked great. Have a look below!

It’s aftermarket, off ebay (type in ‘car usb flush’). I’m going to wire up another 12v socket that you can’t see, and will fit a USB car socket into it to power it, so that it’s just USB power.

We took a drive through the valleys today, over the Rhigos mountains, up through Brecon, on the B4520 and up to Builth Wells in mid-Wales today. Beautiful drive!

I didn’t seem to see any stone chips when I was cleaning the car, suddenly after a long drive it’s got quite a few. It must be the polish in the chips as for starters, it wasn’t like this up until today, and I only just started the first stage when machining it, so I’ll have to go over it again with the Megs 105. To be honest, black glaze does wonders under wax to hide stone chips so I’m not too worried.

I’d drive all the way there for the bacon benedict any day.

When we got home, my wooden balls (snigger) and thread insert had arrived!

The Chinese ones were resin and not wood, so I had to cancel them and buy some more off Amazon that were wood. £8 to give this a go in total, so it’s worth a try.

The aim was a bit of a homage to the original MX-5:

And to the Carrera GT, one of two of my favourite Porsches. The other being a 964 Turbo.

I practiced on the lighter one, and finally did it on the darker.

Bit messy, but it’s underneath.

The thread was a tight fit, so I had to hammer it in, then superglue finally bonded it in incredibly well. It isn’t coming out anytime soon.

And finished

I quite like it, but I’m still torn. I love the dark wood against the black, and I love how it feels. I’ll give it a try and will see how it goes.

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That looks great :+1:
Very neat job and most impressive, well done.
You certainly picked a nice area for a drive. Some superb roads and splendid views in that neck of the woods. Thanks for sharing.

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