Modified NC special enough?

I’ve posted on piston heads but this looks like a better place for info.

Always been into my cars (and bikes) and had a few what I would consider, half decent motors - Clio cup, fiesta st, M2 competition, m140i.

Currently driving a diesel VAG company car and I’m considering getting something to go along side this as a weekend/B road car, which has lead me down the path of mx5’s. I’ve looked at S2000 options and even cayman’s but you need a good chunk of cash for a good clean low mileage example. I’ve got a budget of around 13 - 15k which from what I can see would get me a clean sort tech NC and enough money left over for coilovers, bbr super 200 and other tasty bits.

To those who have modded NC’s, am I going to feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and money at the end of this? Will it feel special enough or should I just be saving for something that won’t need modifications. The problem is I’ve never driven a modded NC.

Thanks for any advice in advance!

S2000? It buzzed like crazy and gave me a serious headache. Thankfully I was only delivering it to a dealership, but after 105 miles, I nearly tossed him the keys with relief, rather than provide a gentle handover.

I have never wanted to mod my MX-5, and it is suitable for my needs, so I am not really qualified to help on that point. You should get replies though from members who can.

That’s a good combination of upgrades to give you smooth linear power delivery together with well sorted (and adjustable) handling. Next stage up is some kind of FI and that will add a good few thousand to the equation.

Test drive an MX-5, any of them if you haven’t already to get a feel what they’re about, it’s a momentum car not a power car.

I came from a motorbike to a 2.0 Sport Tech PRHT NC 3.75 2013 in 2016.
Never drove one, flew from Bristol to Inverness to pick up a 3 year old 6000 mile minter and have never looked back since. Basically, I had already made my mind up anyway.
A year later, modified with the Skuzzle (very similar to BBR/Roddinsons) package and absolutely wonderful.
Kept the suspension standard on the Bilstein’s due to extended trips away and still fine for me.
Likewise, I have kept all the bits so if I “Ever” sell it, it can be put back to standard.
What I can say is this. When we drove back from Inverness to Wiltshire, I instantly thought that something was holding back on the engine side.
So putting the 4-1 IL header on, remap etc etc freed it up as how I initially imagined how it would drive.
Trust me, you won’t be wasting your money, except that prices have gone up some what for the bits/package since I did mine.
Of course as you say their are many cars out there that have the power straight out the box, but are they as much fun to drive on good A and B roads. probably, but who cares.:man_shrugging:
Good luck. :+1:
PS roof always down unless really raining hard. :slightly_smiling_face:

The main point of the MX5 is that the roof comes off. If this is not high on your ‘want’ list then there are a vast number of other alternatives that may be more suitable for your particular needs. Just being honest.

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i spent 11k on a 30thousand mile 8 year old sport tech.
it was and is a very nice car.
however when i first got it i thought i could make it even better!
turns out that i was right.

thus far iv put coilovers on (meister zeta crd), chassis braces (nearly full il motorsport kit), stiffer anti roll bars and better brake pads.

my 5 now feels and handles like a +£60k car
which for a price tag of roughly 13,5k. is a damm good deal.
(ive actually spent more and done other mods but im just listing and pricing for the important ones)
my other mods are: full underseal, K&N air filter, fast road aligment. backbox and basic servicing and care stuff.

now that i have finished the ride and handleing i am moving on to power mods.
im currently saving for the BBR 180 kit + exhaust center section.
after that my next power mod will be a supercharger, tho unless i dip my savings it will be sometime before i can do it!]

as to the question is it worth it, i would say a BIG YES!
but these things are extreamly subjective so the next man could say no!

however what i will say is that the MX5 is very easy to mod and there is alot of modding options out there and due to the popularity of the mx5 and modding it, they tend to be cheeper to mod that other cars (more demand = making stuff in biger volumes = stuff gets cheeper!


Can’t agree with that, sorry. The MX-5s are famous drivers cars, great chassis and a rear drive config.

To the OP. They’re fantastic cars. Depending on which one you get they range from not much power, to adequate power (obviously a matter of perspective) For my 2.0 NC I really enjoy being able to use every bit of go it has, that’s a great deal of fun on back roads. I may go down the power mods route in the future (and for me it would be the BBR 200 kit too, not interested in FI of any type.) but for now I think the car is great fun as is!

Also, for what it’s worth you wouldn’t need to spend all that money (unless you want to, of course!). MX-5s are generally much cheaper than S2000 and Boxsters. I had change from £4k with mine. That being said, if I had £13-£15k, I’d be looking at Elise’s all day long! :yum:

We will agree to disagree. There are quicker, more grippy, better handling and practical cars out there at any price point on the MX5 scale.
The MX5 is a fantastic open top car that does many things ‘competently’. What it does excel at is providing very economic and reasonably ‘comfortable’ open top motoring.
We love ours to bits and have no plans to change and this post is in no way meant to ‘degrade’ any decisions you or others have made.

The only Elise’s at that price point are dogs, your talking around £20k for something with a decent history that’s going to be reliable.
I’ll be honest, I thought £15k would open up a world of options but in reality it doesn’t get you anything out of the ordinary, car prices (like everything else) seem to be high at the minute. That’s why I’m looking into doing my own thing with a good base.

For me a car is to be enjoyed - if you want to modify your car and that makes you happy by all means go and do it. However if you are the type of person that buy a car with intention to resell and get the maximum amount of money for it then do not modify the car or at least keep the parts and make sure you can put it back to standard when its time to resell.

The people who want to buy a modified car are few, but some mods may actually be desirable to people that are planning to have the mods on the car anyway. My only personal concern with buying modified cars is whether the previous owner has messed with the car and a few months after purchase I have to put things right.

IMHO going for a known / respected tuning (as opposed to DYI job) may actually keep most of its value - however it is my opinion that you will never get back the money you have spend on car mods especially these days where kit prices have gone up significantly for the various bits/packages.

Having said that if you like modified cars there is a whole community for JDM modified vehicles that sway from performance to body kit modifications that have only visual function. Bottom line I think it depends what you consider “special enough” mean to you personally.

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For the £3.5k I paid, maybe you can get one of those. Mind it would have to be in fantastic condition with only 60k though… Also, practical? Where did that come in to it with 2 seater roadsters? Or was that just to assist with your slightly ropey point? :wink:

I’m not saying they are the best cars ever made, I’m not that silly. I’m saying if you want a 2 seater roadster with good handling and adequate power, for the money I paid they can’t be beaten, and I stand by that assertion.

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You appear not to be reading my reply to TM correctly. You are saying exactly what I have written yet still seem to want to argue the point. We are in agreement.

If you say so chief. Cheerio

Out of curiosity, how does it handle now? Is it playful? My old fiesta st would move around and was so much fun to drive where as my M2 just held on to the road and you needed to be at silly speeds to get it dancing.

In simple terms, no.

My NC has Super 200, adjustable suspension (Bilsteins/Eibach), it’s probably cost around £6k in total.

The road and track manners are impeccable.

I can’t think of any 2 seat roadster that could match it for the price.

I’ve had Boxsters, a Cayman and a GT86 Cosworth, this MX is definitely the best bang for buck I’ve had.

Hope this helps.

They are great cars out of the box. All of them. Will give anything a good run for the money on a twisty B road.

Don’t be too hasty with mods. Just get used to it the way it is. Only then will you know what needs changing to suit your tastes.

I’ve had many cars over the years including a Porsche 944 and a 2WD Sapphire Cosworth. My first '93 1.6 MX-5 was more fun than any of them.

In the words of Michael Jordan (of Automobile magazine), “If you can’t go fast on 90hp, 900 won’t help you.”


My late night ramblings on the subject as follows.

I had the same dilemma last year, Boxster or 3.0 Z4 or MX5. Went with the MX as I wanted a fun and reliable car. Bought a low mileage NC 3.5 and visited BBR for the 200 upgrade along with the mid section and GT back box. So far it’s been great, it sounds fab and drives well. Like a few others I will sort the suspension but for me it’s ok at the moment. The 185 or 200 obviously gives it more poke but I can see why many folk are happy with the car as standard.

You won’t get your modding money back but you will have a great car that will be cheaper to run than the above. I spent a fair bit of time on the PH forums of those cars and I seemed to read about a lot of issues with the owners cars. On here tales of woe appear to be few, it’s mainly people who seem to just enjoy owning their MX5.

Could you not go for an ND with that budget? However I love my NC and while I appreciate the ND I don’t feel I’m missing out by having the older car. Also the powered hardtop I think is what won me over.

As for the Elise, yes going up in value for a good one. A friend of mine came over in his at the weekend. I think they have aged really well but for me I would find it hard to live with and the top doesn’t come off in a second, or in my case 12 seconds.


I had an M140i (with Bilstein and Mpower LSD) from new as my daily alongside an MX5 as my play thing. Used the BM on trackdays, but if the weather was good preferred to drive the MX5 on the road (unless covering big distances).

As MadMalc points out above, the thing with the MX5 is the massive headroom. Gives you almost bike like feeling of freedom. If that doesn’t matter much to you (and you wont know until you try it for a couple of weeks) then there may be better options for you.

Personally, I caught the cabriolet bug from a BMW E93, which I traded for my M140, then found I missed the open air thing and bought an old rust box MX5 with a view to building a kit car. Loved it so much I bought a better MX5 which I still have, and eventually sold the M140 as it wasn’t getting used when I wanted to drive for pleasure (bought an old SUV as a winter hack/box shifter).

Compared to the E93, the MX5 is much nimbler and more fun to drive, easier to park and still get out of (doors on the BM were the length of a football field) but not as spacious or luxurious.

I explored mods, specifically forced induction, but once I owned the car for a while, the charm in them is not (for me anyway) in more and more power. So I spent money on suspension, hifi, and petrol and just run the standard 160hp, which is no rocket ship, but no slouch.

But I am aware there are a lot of us 50+ blokes driving these things, and it may be that we have “been there and done that” when we were young and maybe that is why the adrenalin side of firebreathing horsepower machines does not appeal to us as much as it once did. The grin factor comes from driving and being at one with the world (sorry, went a bit Zen there…) as opposed to the (admittedly huge) grin of letting 400hp break loose the rear-end as you launch from 30 to 100 in four seconds spitting the world out behind you. It is a very different feeling.

So, if I were you, I’d keep your £15k and buy an NC 2 litre for around £4 or 5k and run it for a couple of months as a second car - then decide what to do. You then have the option of selling it for what you paid for it and moving on, upgrading it (some have even fitted v8s) or buying a newer shinier one. If you jump straight into buying and modding you will likely have a bit of a money pit that you will never get your money back from - and if you dont end up enjoying driving it then you may feel a little bit burnt by the experience.


the good thing about adjustable coil-overs is that you can set it up to behave anyway that you like!

i have set mine up for road holding and steering precision.
point n squirt! like a ferrari or high end porsche.
though right now it needs more power as the engine is still standard.

to achieve that i have put on meister coilovers set at 9 clicks front 8 clicks rear, 30% stiffer antiroll bars, and full chassis bracing.

as for a fun,dancey set up? i have no idea! sorry!
but im sure someone on here could give advise on how to do it!
however that being said the standard sport tech set up is a lot of fun anyway.

and the only i changed mine was becuase of a broken spring and i wanted a firmer ride with more precise steering and the broken spring gave me the excuse to do it! .


I concur, as an ex M140i owner, and serial big power RWD car junkie.
‘Engaging’ is how I’d describe my MX5,
Driving quickly with <200hp/<150lbs ft is a lot more of a challenge than with >400hp/>400lbs ft, but somehow more satisfying. Planning and momentum is everything :joy:.